Last month was all over the map in terms of reactions. Almost every major, and a few of the minor, releases were met with raves and naysayers: Iron Man 3 made up for the second Tony Stark film, but wasn’t without its own issues; The Great Gatsby, which yours truly ate up, saw some critical venom; Star Trek Into Darkness has its feverishly passionate fans, despite a clunky villain and plenty of leaps in character and dramatic logic; Now You See Me was good fun, but didn’t fare well with critics; and some took Noah Baumbach’s charming Frances Ha to task for following a character who can go to Paris for two days.
There’s a handful of releases this month which are destined for heated discussion, at least during their opening weekend. A few of those movies make up the must-see releases of June 2013.
What Maisie Knew
Now in limited release
Admittedly, listing What Maisie Knew is a cheat. It’s an under-the-radar drama – and one that didn’t catch my eye last month – so, to make sure it doesn’t go further unnoticed, here it is featured on this month’s recommendations. Anyone who’s experienced their parents divorce at a young age will find quite a bit to relate to and tear up at this film, which stars Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Alexander Skarsgård, and newcomer Onata Aprile. The critical support for this movie is high, and since it’s still around in theaters, make sure to check it out.
Much Ado About Nothing
Opens June 7th
Our own Rob Hunter and Neil Miller never agree on anything, but there they were at SXSW this year, both coming to the conclusion that Shakespeare and Joss Whedon are the peanut butter and jelly of the wordsmith world. I’ve yet to see the film myself, but Rob’s A- review of the film already has me sold, saying, “Whedon has delivered a whimsical, enchanting and laugh aloud adaptation that should find a welcome embrace with fans new and old.” Rob’s opinion is suspect, but according to his peers, he’s not off-base on this one.
Man of Steel
Opens June 14th
It’s been seven years since Bryan Singer’s soapy, but all-around solid, Superman reboot. Singer made a movie for fans of Richard Donner’s original film, including himself, and it didn’t quite land with the massive audience Warner Bros. was hoping for, which is why hiring Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and David S. Goyer was a smart move to take the glasses-wearing alien in a new direction. Knowing Zack Snyder, we’ll finally see Superman punch someone in all its violent PG-13 glory, but will Man of Steel have the heart to make it rise above the average superhero movie? With that cast and Snyder at the helm, it probably will.
This is the End
Opens June 14th
Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen had a grandiose screenwriting intro with Superbad and Pineapple Express. Those two comedies are rightfully beloved by many, while the same can not be said for their last collaboration, The Green Hornet. Their anti-superhero pic was overlooked by fans and critics, but, so far, that hasn’t been the case for This is the End. This during-apocalypse comedy, which sees Rogen and Goldberg behind the camera for the first time, has been earning rave reactions from early screenings.
The Bling Ring
Opens June 14th
Sofia Coppola’s fifth movie wasn’t met with raves at the bipolar Cannes Film Festival. Fans of the director, such as myself, shouldn’t take that news as a surprise. When her original and invigorating Marie Antoinette premiered there, it was greeted with boos. Based on my twitter feed every May, getting booed at Cannes is an easy feat. Perhaps the fact that Coppola is following more despicable characters than usual this time that some were left cold by it. Or, hopefully not, maybe this truly is her first misfire. Either way, it’s a Sofia Coppola movie, so miss or hit, The Bling Ring will have some value.
Opens June 21st
Monsters University could represent a pleasant comeback for Pixar. Even though the studio’s batting average is preposterously good, after two mediocre efforts, some fans’ perception of the studio has dipped. What better way to win some of that fanship back than with James P. Sullivan, Mike Wazowski, and the monster gang? Right behind Up, Monsters Inc. is the studio’s second most heartfelt movie. Sullivan and Wazowski are naturally lovable characters, and seeing them in their younger and more immature days should make for a good time. From what I’ve heard, it does.
Opens June 21st
I may not love seeing Elijah Wood scream and kill as much as Rob does, but count me as a fan of this P.O.V. slasher film. Seen through the eyes of Wood’s character, Frank, a mannequin obsessed dweeb by day and killer by night, Maniac makes great use of its point-of-view approach. The final result makes for a darkly funny and violent horror movie with a tremendous score as the cherry on the top.
World War Z
Opens June 21st
Out of all the movies coming out this summer, none of them have the baggage World War Z has. The extensive reshoots, the supposed turmoil between Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster, and a budget that’s been rumored over the $200M line add up to a hellish production. All of these problems may have some rooting for this one to fail or to expect a pricey disaster, but Forster and Pitt should be given the benefit of the doubt. They generally make quality pictures, and with a gigantic zombie movie scale we’ve yet to see, the odds of a good popcorn movie are considerable.
Opens on Vimeo June 28th.
Some Girl(s) made its premiere at South by Southwest a few months back, and since then, it’s remained one of my favorite films of 2013. The acclaimed Neil LaBute, who’s recent work hasn’t fully satisfied his fans in the way his early features did, returns to the signature humor and drama he’s famous for. LaBute isn’t behind the director’s chair this time around, but his uncomfortably funny and honest voice couldn’t be more present in this excellent character study.
Opens June 28th
Another minimalist genre gem from director Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire, Mona Lisa). If you’re tired of moping vampires – and, no, that doesn’t include the Twlight franchise only – then Byzantium is for you. It’s a stylish family melodrama with the right amount of blood, tears, and laughs. It’s a shame this one is a limited release, because it’s a movie meant to be seen on the big screen with its gorgeous landscapes and precise framing. There’s plenty to marvel at here.
Honorable Mentions: Wish You Were Here, The Heat, White House Down, Berberian Sound Studio