June 2013 Movie Preview

C: After a big May for movies, you’d expect June to roar in with even more would-be blockbusters. Surprisingly… there are only a few. But there are also some that we hope will be little gems, and a mishmash of strange films, waiting at the starting gates.

M: It’s funny, you would expect June to be a huge “summer movie” month, but it never seems to be as big as either May or July. Bigger than August, yes, but never as many blockbuster releases. I’m sure there’s a monetary reason for it, but it’s still odd.

E: Whether it was the studios’ intent or not, I’m really looking forward to more than a few of these movies.

June 7th

The Internship

C: Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn intern at Google. This is not, in fact, a remake of Wedding Crashers. This is an hour-and-a-half-long commercial for Google, but less funny than one of their April Fools gags.

M: I got passes to see a sneak preview, but was unable to go. I gave them to a co-worker, who found it entertaining and funny in a standard Vince Vaughn-Luke Wilson kind of way. Sounds good enough for me to Redbox or Netflix.

E: Right you are.  If you really want a commercial for Google, I’d suggest reading the wonderful nerd adventure Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore instead.

The Purge

E: Wait, wasn’t this part of our May preview?  What happened?  I have this down opening on May 31st.  Weird.

M: Yeah, it’s never a good sign when a movie’s release date is pushed back. When it’s pushed back less than a month before it’s supposed to open? Watch out. And when the overall premise is “all crime is legal, and we’re going to have you watch one family be completely terrorized”, well, let’s just say I didn’t go to the midnight showing.

E: You know what, though? Maybe it was just about maximizing profit in a more open month, because word of mouth from the midnight showings seems to be good, and box office experts think it might knock Fast and Furious 6 off the top of the pile.  So yes.  Not for me, but it looks like it will be good for a lot of people.

M: Should it be hard to knock Fast6 off the top of the pile at this point, though? That’s not saying much to me.

Much Ado About Nothing

E: It may be the most indie movie on this list, but it is far and away the one I’m most excited about.

C: Is this actually getting a wide release? I know that was in doubt for quite a while, since it was filmed a year or two ago.

M: I hope so eventually, but according to BoxOfficeMojo it’s only opening in 5 theaters.

E: Over all?

M: Actually, it might only be 5 screens, it could technically (though probably not) be less theaters. That’s just this weekend, though, it’ll hopefully add more soon.

E: Pretty sure it’s coming to our area later this month.  You’d think that even a passion project of the man who made The Avengers would at least get a good art house run. For those not in the know, Joss Whedon got a bunch of friends together at his house to put on my favorite play.  Given the actors at his disposal, would I have picked Amy Acker and Alex Denisof to play love/hate relationship pioneers Beatrice and Benedick?  Probably not.  Will I see it in the theater anyway?  You betcha.  And not just for Nathan Fillion as Dogberry.

C: That’s a criminal waste if you ask me. I only know Alexis Denisof from his brief appearances on How I Met Your Mother, and he’s hardly an intuitive choice for Benedick based on that. But who knows! This will have to work hard to please me more than the BBC’s hilarious, stylish, Damian Lewis & Sarah Parish-starring modernization of the play.

E: Oh!  I love that version; I need to watch that again, stat.  Denisof was a regular on Buffy for several seasons (where he met wife and future HIMYM star Allison Hannigan), and Acker starred on Angel. Neither role showed off the actors’ talents as articulate wordsmiths, but I trust that Joss wouldn’t have put them there if they couldn’t carry it off.

M: Hmmm, like C I only know Denisof from HIMYM, but he looks the part in the trailer. Acker, on the other hand, I’ve liked since Alias, and she’s been great on Person of Interest, so I’m good with her as Beatrice.

Violet and Daisy

E: Indie starring Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel as lollypop chomping assassins.

C: Saoirse Ronan’s in everything these days, isn’t she? She’s on her way to becoming an unpronounceable household name.

M: Oddly, IMDb lists this as being a 2011 movie, around the same time on Ronan’s timeline as Hanna. So, it may be “these days” and yet not.

C: At first from the trailer it seems like the movie is nothing more than the prolonged gag of seeing cute little Alexis Bledel ruthlessly murder people. But there’s some weird, confusing stuff in there too that looks potentially sci fi. I don’t know what to make of this one.

M: Yeah, the trailer takes a weird turn about half way through, doesn’t it? Not sure where they’re going with it… or considering it’s actually two years old, where they went with it. might be interesting to see.

E: I don’t know about sci fi, but there’s clearly something weird and creepy going on, right down to the way the leads are infantalized.  How many 18 year olds do you know who play patty cake?  Obviously they’re going for unsettling.

M: And succeeding.

Rapture Palooza

E: Because one movie a summer about the end of days isn’t enough.  Anna Kendrick stars as one of those left behind.

C: There’s more apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories out there than you can shake a stick at; it should probably be no surprise that someone decided to do a comedic Biblical one. But I have to say, a movie that casts Darrell from The Office (Craig Robinson) as the Antichrist definitely has the potential for some chuckles.

M: I think that This is the End (also starring Craig Robinson, but we’ll get to it later) looks better, but there were moments in the trailer that made me think it could be somewhat funny.

E: If I were forced to see one or the other, it would probably be this.  But chances are much better I won’t see either one.

Tiger Eyes

E: Willa Holland looks almost unnervingly like the girl on the classic cover of the Judy Blume novel about a teen grieving the death of her father and dealing with a re-location to the Southwest.  The film was written by Blume and directed by her son Lawrence, and made on a shoestring so the two could keep complete creative control, so it is in all things a labor of love.

C: Am I right in recalling that, against all expectation, this is the first of Blume’s bestselling classic adolescent novels to be filmed?

M: That’s crazy. Seriously, in an industry that will remake, reboot and re-brand anything that’s more than 3 years old, how have none of her wildly popular and best selling books not gone to the screen? Seriously, there have been how many Diary of a Whimpy Kid movies? And I know its not the same genre, but seriously, there are six Fast and Furious movies, and just this one Judy Blume movie?

E: Creative control isn’t an easy thing to get in Hollywood, apparently, and Blume is protective enough – and rich enough – that she won’t sell off her rights without them.

M: Still baffling.

As Cool As I Am

E: Teen girl tries to grow up smart amidst parents struggling with difficult jobs and a waning relationship. Looks bittersweet and lovely.  The parents are Claire Danes and James Marsden (before anyone freaks, they’re supposed to be really young parents) and the lead is played by Sarah Bolger, Princess Aurora from the television show Once Upon A Time – and also one of the two daughters from In America, a beautiful Oscar-nominated movie from ten years ago which you really need to see if you haven’t already.

C: This looks like it has a lot of the same ingredients as next month’s Stuck in Love, but to its credit, it looks like a far better-quality movie. Still looks kinda depressing, though.

E: There’s a lot of adolescent melancholy, but even so, I want to see this one. I’m all about this weekend’s indies.

M: I’m not as interested, but seriously, how many freakin’ movies are being released this weekend! Holy crap, couldn’t they have spaced them out better?

June 12th

This is the End

E: Goofy-looking end-of-the-world movie starring a group of celebrities partying at James Franco’s house, playing exaggerated (or completely fabricated) versions of themselves.

C: Bleh. The usual gang of brainless Guy Humor celebrities… and Emma Watson. What the…?

M: Oh, I think this looks really funny.

E: Yack.

M: I love the idea of a group of movie star friends as themselves, or as E said, exaggerated versions of themselves, dealing with the apocalypse. I love that it centers around a couple Freaks and Geeks stars (Rogan, Franco) with a cameo from another (Jason Segal), and the “Hermione just stole all our sh**” line just kills me. I’m not saying I’ll run out to the theater to see it, or that it wouldn’t be better with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but still. I suppose this makes C’s point about guy humor, but I don’t care, I think it looks fun.

June 14th

Man of Steel

M: Now we’re talking! This is what June movies are supposed to look like!

C: Henry Cavill! I’ve been a fan of him since, as a mere teen, his stalwart Superman chin and twinkling eyes charmed a young C as the son in The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m looking forward to his turn in the red cape.

E: Well, I’m nervous about this – we like to think we live in too cynical an age to make good Superman movies anymore – but the trailer looks freaking fantastic.

M: I am not part of that “we”!

C: I’m one of the few people who quite liked Superman Returns, but I can see how its elegance and melancholy jarred against the tone of today’s action movies. Let’s hope Man of Steel finds — and deserves — a more enthusiastic audience, and that Cavill manages the difficult task of bringing likeable, vulnerable humanity to a character who is an embodied ideal.

M: Ok, not with C on Superman Returns, which was a 2+ hour romantic-drama, with one decent action scene in the middle of it, which isn’t necessarily a bad movie, but is false advertising as Superman.

E: I don’t know that I agree with that either as an assessment or a just criticism – there was plenty of romance in the Christopher Reeve movies, and those were fantastic.  For me it just didn’t live up to the movies of our childhood; I didn’t think it was bad or inappropriately focused, just not great.

M: There was some romance, but Returns was almost entirely romance. And not good romance, but as C put it aptly, melancholy. Plus Brandon Routh didn’t deliver, and Kevin Spacey, who I love, was oddly disappointing as Lex Luthor.

E: Okay, now that much I agree with.  Poor Routh.

M: Apologies, I digress, in my mind that started as a quick “I disagree, but to the point”, but there was too much to say. Anyway, what’s with you two? Have you not been watching the commercials, trailers, and every possible scrap of footage for this? It looks SOOOOO good! While I have reservations about Zack Snyder in general…

C: And gee, why would that be?

M: Not because 300 or Watchmen were bad (300 at least was quite good), but because they were very, I don’t know… MTV, if that makes sense. Style over substance. That said, I have NO reservations about seeing this on opening night. Seriously, I think it looks like it could be one of the best movies of the year. Cavill looks to be up to the task, I love the idea of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the Kents, love Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, love that Chris Nolan and David Goyer wrote it, love the actors for some of the secondary roles (Laurence Fishburn, Richard Schiff, Chris Meloni), and even some of the smaller role players (BSG‘s Tahmoh Penikett, Flashpoint‘s David Paetkau). More importantly, it looks like a superhero movie, and a summer blockbuster, should: epic, action packed, emotional, inspirational, well acted and visually stunning.

E: I’ll say this again – they made a spectacular trailer…

M: …several, in fact…

E: …If the actual film lives up to it, it’ll be the blockbuster of the year.

The Bling Ring

E: Sophia Coppola.  Emma Watson.  This is to the good.

M: And that’s pretty much where the pro’s end. For those that don’t know, Emma Watson and a couple friends decide to start burglarizing celebrities homes, starting with Paris Hilton’s. It looks like a lot of shaky-cam, a lot of celebrity worship (being portrayed as dangerous, as best I can tell, but still), and for me a lot of yawning.

E: Oh, yes, it’s definitely not pro-celebrity worship – more of a biting indictment of what drives these kids to think they should be stars and are entitled to .  Based on a true story, filmed in Paris Hilton’s house, and Hilton (and one of the real cops involve) make cameos.  I like Watson, but I’m not sure I need to see 2 hours of “vapid celebrity worship/total lack of morality” to get the point.  I’ll be very curious to hear the reviews, though.

C: I think this will be the second Emma Watson movie I skip this month.

Twenty Feet From Stardom

E: Documentary about backup singers.

M: E, you put this on the list, I assume you have more to say about it. Pretty sure neither C nor I do, so for our audience’s sake I hope you do.

E: Mostly just that I’ve heard it’s supposed to be good, and features people with spectacular voices whose names we would otherwise never know.  I will probably rent this, but it seems like a neat enough idea that I hope people know it’s out there.

M: Fair enough!

June 21st

World War Z

E: Brad Pitt and Damon Lindelof bring us the epic tale of fast zombies taking over the entire world.

C: I hate fast zombies. They’re such a cheat. And I have to say, when I saw the trailer for this on the big screen all I could think was “geez, this movie looks like a demo reel for MASSIVE.”

E: That is SO on target.  I feel like the zombies are a little too fast, even – all you see is waves of CGI menace.

M: Agreed. Now, lots of people love the best seller that this is based on. I’ve heard interesting things about how they’re going to do the narrative, because apparently the way the book is written is hard to turn into a movie. I thought the exact same thing about Moneyball, which was a great book without a true narrative. That one drew Oscar nominations, so I guess Pitt is hoping for a similar level of success here.

E: You’re right that Pitt seems to excel at finding projects for himself; Moneyball made a lot of money out of baseball statistics, and it achieved this feat by giving Pitt’s character a real arc, a real journey (sorry, C) and passion for changing the game. His hands have been all over World War Z (and he’s hired some excellent costars including Mirielle Enos from The Killing), which is very much to the good – and zombies are hot enough now to make this film wads of cash even if it’s not a perfect cinematic achievement.

M: I have to say, the scenes in the trailers that C mentions looking like demos for MASSIVE freaked me the heck out.

C: So there’s that, too.

Monsters University

E: Ever wonder how oddball besties Mike and Sully became friends?

M: …Actually, no…

E: Sure you did. Wonder no more!  Pixar takes us back to their college days.  Hopefully this will be more successful an attempt than Cars 2, Pixar’s last, unimaginatively named sequel.

M: Are you suggesting that Monsters University is unimaginatively named? Because I thought it was actually pretty clever.  Certainly better than if they’d gone with something like When Sully Met Mike. As for the movie, I too hope it is better than Cars 2, which while not terrible, was not up to Pixar’s usual standards.

E: No, I just thought Cars 2 lost a lot of Cars sweet uniqueness – it’s difficult to put a finger on where, because plot was pretty sound.  The trailer for Monsters University looks really entertaining, however.

C: Yes, let’s hope it retains the charm of the original.

M: Agreed.

June 28th

White House Down

M: Remember my repeated comments about how Hollywood does everything in twos? Here we go again.

E: Yes. Here it is, take two on the idea of the White House under attack.  Will it be less lame than 2013’s earlier attempt on this topic?

M: Doubtful, but sometimes one of the two movies in these kind of pairs ends up being a hit (Dante’s Peak over Volcano, Armageddon over Deep Impact, Alexander over… wait, no, both Alexander the Great movies were miserable failures). Plus, it has Jamie Foxx, and Channing Tatum has had some hits. Maybe?

C: Did you just use Channing Tatum as a reason to see this movie?  I don’t think we need to say anything more.

M: No no, I used Channing Tatum’s recent successes (like Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street) to suggest that this might be a box office success, not that it might be good. Big difference.

The Heat

E: Buttoned up, by the book Fed Sandra Bullock. In your face Boston cop Melissa McCarthy.  Cop buddy movie.  Why did no one think of this before?  Bring on the girls of summer!

M: Your attempts to look at everything through a sexist lens aside, what’s not to like about this one? We’ve seen Bullock successful in the stuck-up-FBI-agent-who-loosens-up-as-the-movie-progresses role in Miss Congeniality (highly underrated movie, with one of my favorite lines of all time), and McCarthy is hilarious. Plus, McCarthy’s police captain is played by Biff from Back to the Future! The line in the trailers about the metal car breaking the guy’s fall? Classic. I’m in.

Byzantium

E: Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as mysterious new comers to a motel in a run down beach town.  Creepy stylish tale of nomadic vampires who hide in the shadows, not merely from humans but also from the misogynistic vampire society as well.

C: See my point? Saoirse Ronan! In everything!

E: Unchallenged.

M: Challenged, actually. To my earlier point, IMDb lists this one as 2012, so I think she was in a lot of things that got wait-listed, and the fact that they’re all coming out at the same time is either people trying to capitalize on her buzz, or just a massive coincidence.

E: Yeah, but why does it matter when she made them?  That’s just how Hollywood works. Ronan’s in a lot of movies coming out this year, like Jessica Chastain last year and Michael Fassbender the year before that – and both of them had films delayed, too.

C: Getting back to the actual point, I will not be seeing her in this, despite the presence of the usually-good Johnny Lee Miller. Vampires are so last decade.

M: No sign of him in the trailers I’ve watched. I like him, Arterton and Ronan, and there are elements of a good story in it. But things like the creepy fast-growing thumbnails, and the massive amounts of blood in the trailer have me backing away. It may be good, it’s just not my cup of tea. Some of the movies lined up for July, on the other hand (Lone Ranger and Despicable Me 2, for example) are, but that’s a story for another day.

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