I’m finally free from my school obligations, and now I’ll be on movie-mode for the remainder of the summer. I want to see what Big Bad Hollywood has to offer, of course… but I hope that the arthouse films will continue to bring the hard-edge excellence that I can always depend on (such as the amazing indies of last summer including “Joshua” and “Sunshine,” to name a few).
I’ll also have a lot of non-2008 write-ups, because I’m really trying to hone my craft as a film scholar/critic and it helps to write on classic DVDs and read your feedback. I really enjoy writing about older cinema, especially in a world of very different filmmaking styles… I like to use my perspective as a fresh key to the past.
Back to ’08 – Here’s a few films I plan on viewing this summer, both of the industry known as Hollywood to the dark indies that ALWAYS deserve a bigger audience.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Indy’s return to the screen in surrounded by mysteries that only its title character could unravel… also – mediocre early reviews. No matter what, the movie seems to be in the vein of the original trilogy (unlike another Lucas trilogy sequel… hmm…) and just looks like a whole lot of fun. It also features the best actress working today: Cate Blanchett – As the creepy villain. Spielberg, “Iron Man” jump-started my summer of fun, please don’t put a damper on that.
The Visitor – Actor Tom McCarthy’s directorial follow-up to one of my favorite films of all time: 2003’s indie dramedy “The Station Agent.” This is technically an April release, but it’s still in theaters so I hope I get to see it before it runs away from my closest arthouse theater. Richard Jenkins is one of our most underrated character actors (a similarity to the film’s director) and to see him in a starring role in a serious drama, I can honestly say that this may be an undeniably lovable film.
Mister Lonely – A group of celebrity impersonators live on a island together. An original idea from indie king Harmoney Korine (“Gummo”) starring the absolutely gorgeous Samantha Morton as the fake Norma Jean, and Diego Luna as the King of Pop. A very intriguing trailer drew me in, and I can’t wait to experience it.
The Tracey Fragments – I feel bad for Ellen Page. She gets a lot of flack from the blogosphere for playing the same character in every film. From what I’ve seen, this is completely untrue. The trailer for this particular film blew me away. This looks to be a superbly different role – and if it doesn’t come to theaters in my area, it’s thankfully coming to DVD this summer as well.
The Foot Fist Way – Danny McBride. That name doesn’t mean a lot to American audiences… yet? McBride made this extremely indie comedy a few years ago, and with the help of a few friends including some guy named Ferrell this Tae Kwon Do laugh-fest is finally hitting theaters. The trailer isn’t completely encouraging, but I have faith. McBride had a small role in the unfortunate-looking “Drillbit Taylor” earlier this year that had me laughing hard (I watched a clip online – I, like many Americans, would never pay to see the movie). Basically, this could be the “Napoleon Dynamite” of the year.
The Happening – M. Night Shyamalan’s follow-up to the dreadfully self-indulgent “Lady in the Water” looks… promising. Mark Wahlberg has the potential for leading man status, and this might be the vehicle that brings him the respect he deserves (watch him in “I Heart Huckabees,” I guarantee you’ll agree with me that the man has talent… and that he’s unjustly overlooked because of his rap career that ended over FIFTEEN years ago). Shyamalan has my attention with an interesting premise looks to be a return to form for the once respected auteur.
The Incredible Hulk – I don’t have a lot to say about this. It could be terrible, and looks to be only a step above the horrible 2003 Ang Lee travesty… We’ll see if the bad trailers will deliver an equally bad film.
Get Smart – I love Steve Carell, although I can’t stand his present career path. He hasn’t made a good film since “Little Miss Sunshine” and this project – which was announced right after his success with “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” seemed to fit the comic actor like a glove. I’m confident in the cast, let’s see how it plays out.
Wall-E – Looks like it could be one of the best films of the year, and possibly Pixar’s best. I was in the minority of people who weren’t completely fond of “Ratatouille” (it just didn’t wow me… I felt as though they had made their first incomplete feature), so for me, “Wall-E” looks to be a reinstatement for my unwavering love for the billionaires that brought us “Toy Story” and “Cars.”
Hellboy II: The Golden Army – I’ve never read the comic series, but I had a heck of a lot of fun with the first film. After “Pan’s Labyrinth’s” success, it appears that Guillermo del Toro was given a lot more creative control on this sequel. The trailer was fantastic, the action appears to be flawless… hopefully it’s a bit shorter than its predecessor and a bit more cohesive.
The Dark Knight – I can’t wait… Do I need to say anything? Sure, Heath’s Ledger’s death has surrounded this with a shroud that will either turn away the audiences or bring them in droves… but I can’t help but feel this will be his greatest performance -adding a bittersweet nature that we’ve never seen before on the screen. I’m going on the record now as saying that a posthumous Oscar nomination will be perfectly alright…
The Wackness – The Sundance Film Festival always serves some of the best indie-cinema, but unfortunately can bring some disasters. Last year we were told that “Rocket Science” would be the Sundance fave of the year… that turned out to be a total misfire. This film was the critical hit of the fest, and even though the teaser trailer scared me (not in the good way) I’m willing to see if Josh Peck is the new actor of a new generation.
Lou Reed’s Berlin – I’ve been a long-time fan of Mr. Reed and his fantastic music – and a short-time, yet devoted fan of Julian Schnabel. The artist/director brings us the second concert film of the year… this one I might actually see. I could still see “Shine a Light,” but I’ve never really been a big Stones fan, and my perspective may have be misleading so I decided to pass. I guarantee that I totally plan on seeing this.
(no trailer yet)
American Teen – This was another Sundance hit… which boggles my mind. The trailer made it seem like a feature-length MTV series in the vein of shows like “Made” and “My Super Sweet Sixteen.” It just appears to be a chance on banking on those shows by making a new docu-genre, that’s not really new at all.
Tropic Thunder – Could be the summer’s big comedy hit, if “The Foot Fist Way” doesn’t get as big an audience as I believe it might. Stiller, Black, Downey (in black-face!), Coogan, and the return of the dreaded Cruise… Could either be a recipe for success or could blow up in their faces. No matter what, Downey seems to be having an amazing year.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Looks disappointing, but I can’t say no to a Star Wars film in the theater. I wish I had the power to put WHATEVER I wanted into theaters like Lucas… He could film mayonnaise for 10 minutes, and it would be distributed all over the world.
Hamlet 2 – An indie musical comedy starring Steve Coogan as a failed actor who writes a sequel to the bard’s tragedy and puts it on a high school stage… forget what I said about “Tropic Thunder” or “Foot Fist Way”… this will be the surprise hit of the summer. Who can say no to a musical film that features songs called “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” and “Raped in the Face?” I can’t… I can’t. Watch the trailer – it’s amazing.