E: Some of Summer 2014’s most promising offering pop up in June — at least they do for my tastes!
M: No, it’s not just you. After being a bit disappointed with the lack of both depth and top level offerings in May, I am much more excited with the June slate.
C: I’m still riding high from the total awesomeness of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
E: That did set the bar high.
M: A bar I’m still trying to find the time to see, unfortunately.
C: Oh no! Get on it!
M: I’m trying, three cancelled attempts last weekend alone.
C: Well, I suppose I can bring myself to think about other blockbusters coming down the pipeline, if I try.
Edge of Tomorrow
E: Like last summer’s Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow is one of those high concept sci fi movies that I would be all over if it didn’t star Tom Cruise. As is, however, this Groundhog Day-set-during-a-futuristic-space-war interests without sparking true fire.
M: I agree. I know you’re not sports fans, let alone sports geeks, but bear with me here. In baseball there’s an advanced statistic called WAR — Wins Above Replacement. Simplified, it calculates how much a player contributes over the “average” player at their position. If a player is bad they have “negative WAR.” That’s Tom Cruise to me. If you replaced him with a generic actor I would be REALLY excited for this.
C: Um, maybe if you replaced Tom Cruise with an actor I loved, I would be. Or, God forbid, let Emily Blunt headline the movie on her own. But a generic actor starring? Didn’t add anything to the appeal of Godzilla…
M: It didn’t add to the appeal of Godzilla, but it also didn’t detract from it. Cruise detracts, yet still I find myself getting more and more interested in this despite his presence. I did not get this interested in Oblivion, and have yet to catch it, even for a buck at Redbox.
E: I did eventually see Oblivion; slick where Edge of Tomorrow looks gritty, it was the vanity project I expected it to be, though tolerable enough to catch on cable or Red Box. The addition of Emily Blunt attracts me to this summer’s would-be tentpole quite a bit more, but I doubt it will be enough to get me to theaters.
M: Oh, Blunt totally makes a difference, and I would have been very happy with Blunt as the lead instead of Cruise. I can’t think of anything that I’ve seen her in that I didn’t like, actually.
E: Fair point. Neither can I. I’m with you both — it’s a shame she’s not the star of this movie, without a certain annoying, played-out ham in the way.
C: She rocks. And she looks steely-fierce in this, which is a cool side of her talent to play up. But the movie overall doesn’t grab me. Cruise as an actor is, I guess, “zero WAR” for me. Can one say that, M?
M: Yes, that works.
C: The concept is neat, I guess, but I feel like after seeing the trailer three times, the novelty’s already over for me.
M: See, it’s the concept that really attracts me. The idea of one person, over and over, repeating the same disastrous day, having to die every time, trying to learn and learn and learn until they can prevent an apocalypse of sorts? Having to convince the same people to help him anew every time? Love that.
E: I’m with you, bro. It sounds very watchable. I hate that Tom Cruise is attracted to film ideas that interest me, because he inevitably turns them into the Tom Cruise show. Bah.
C: Maybe it’s because every paranormal- or science-fiction TV show has to have a Groundhog Day episode, but I feel like just making it bleak and violent isn’t enough of a twist on a familiar idea to get me excited.
M: That’s fair, but it doesn’t make me like it any less.
C: Who knows, maybe Edge of Tomorrow has a few surprises up its sleeve, though!
The Fault in Our Stars
E: Now we’re getting down to it. Yes, the stars are too old. But. If John Green thinks they’re the perfect people to play the characters from his beloved novel (and he does) then I’m not going to make a fuss about it. I really cannot wait to see this “sick” love story about cancer-ridden teens.
C: Let’s just allow the weirdness of that statement to sink in with our baffled readers. Yeah, she said that. Okay, pressing on.
E: Which part are you objecting to? That’s the tagline of the movie — “one sick love story.”
M: I don’t think she’s objecting, just letting it wash over people who don’t know that the story is about teenagers with cancer who fall in love.
C: No, I’m not goggling at the concept. It’s the connection of “cannot wait to see” with “sick love story” and “cancer ridden teens” that I was pausing over. Just, you know, not something you hear every day.
E: Um, C, I think that’s just you. The trailer has 20 million hits. It’s a phenomenon.
M: Phenomenon or not, 20 million hits or not, C’s point is fair. Moving on (I think it’s been enough of a pause), unlike E, and I would assume C, and unlike my eldest child, I have not read the highly beloved novel. However, I know the basic plot. I’ve seen the trailers. And man, it looks like it “gets it.” So, despite the creepiness of Tris and Caleb having a romantic relationship, I’m in on this.
C: I haven’t read it either, actually. Dying teenager fiction has never been a subgenre I enjoyed. (And come on, you know it is its own subgenre.) And while I enjoy his Youtube videos, the little I’ve read of John Green’s prose struck me as a bit too affectedly offbeat. You know, that whole “we all have whimsical nicknames and talk like New Yorkers at cocktail parties but are also deeply innocent yet broken and edgy!” thing YA authors do sometimes.
E: You both definitely need to read the book. (Actually, our bookclub is reading it next, so you’re going to need to grab a copy to join the virtual conversation!) I’m not generally a fan of the dying anyone subgenre, but there’s such bracing humor in this that it transcends cliche for me. It’s not as affected as you think, C; what it actually is is funny and touching and sad and romantic and all good things.
C: Great Paul Simon song! Not sure what to think about the movie, in which “the worst person in the world” (no, really) from Parks & Rec stars in what critics are calling a charming “abortion comedy.”
E: Comedy up-and-comer Jenny Slate is that central character – a stand-up comic who gets dumped, loses her job and then gets pregnant, and has to put her life back together again. Slate has earned rave reviews for her role as the brassy, vulnerable, funny lead in this much buzzed-about indie.
M: And she comes from The Kroll Show, so in essence this single-woman-puts-her-life-together comedy is spawned from a show about fantasy football! Yay The League!
E: Which is it, The Kroll Show or The League?
C: Yeah, I’m confused now.
M: Sorry, that was definitely not clear. The League made Nick Kroll famous, which got him his own show, which made Slate famous. So, two degrees of separation, but using my twisted logic the The League spawned this movie. The end.
Ping Pong Summer
E: ’80s throwback summer vacation comedy — as in, the film looks like an ’80s comedy and is set in 1985. Amy Sedaris, Lea Thompson, Susan Sarandon and John Hannah provide back up; Sarandon is star Marcello Conte’s ping pong Miyagi.
C: Now THAT, that last thing you just said, makes me want this to be amazing.
M: Meh, soooo not a Sarandon fan. That aside…. seriously, E, where did you even find this? I can find no sign of it opening this weekend on any of my go-to sites. Not that it doesn’t sound like a fun idea, with a great cast. But still.
E: Rotten Tomatoes – where I found The Birders Guide to Everything, which I still want to see and was unable to find anywhere, so I hope this is an actual release. If it’s anywhere near as good as last summer’s ’80s coming of age comedy The Way Way Back, it will be well worth checking out.
E: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Greg Clarkson stars as a talent agent who specializes in kids.
M: Wait… back up…. Who the elf is “Greg Clarkson”? Pretty sure you’re combining the actor who stars in this movie, Clark Gregg, with his SHIELD character Phil Coulson, and being dyslexic.
E: Oh, crap, sorry. Yes.
C: HA! Folks, the Sibs have been known to irritate people to exhaustion by dropping random actors’ names, so please do feel free to mock us mercilessly when this kind of this happens.
E: Hey! You’re just saying that because I did it.
M: I don’t know, I’d say there’s maybe a 49% chance she’d have said it if it was me.
E: Anyway… wackiness ensues as Gregg’s character tries to land one client a dream job that would propel his business to the next level.
C: Sort of a wackiness-frustration-heartwarming combo, it looks like. At least that’s what they seem to be aiming for with the familiar sad-sack protag for whom everything is going wrong.
M: I believe he’s a former child star, who is now failing miserably trying to represent future child stars.
E: Kind of looks like an update of the Disney Sunday movie; the lovable loser makes good.
M: I was thinking it looked like a version of Jerry Maguire, actually.
E: And that, yes, though I’d see Gregg over Cruise any day. The film costars Allison Janney, William H. Macy, Amanda Peet and Sam Rockwell as Clarkson’s…
M: …now you’re just trying to get it wrong…
E: … slimy nemesis.
C: Something Rockwell does so well!
E: Found footage horror flick attempts to do for Big Foot what The Blair Witch Project did for — found footage horror flicks? Unseen witches? Directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite.
C: Give it up, dude. We all know Big Foot is a nice guy who just wants to be left in peace.
M: I’m sorry, but now all I can think of is Bobcat Goldthwaite doing his voice shtick in the woods while he and some idiot eat beef jerky and mess with Big Foot. I have to admit, my mental image is pretty amusing.
C: I wish I knew who that was.
E: I feel like such a failure as a big sister now. (BTW, I don’t get the impression the movie itself is funny.)
M: Double failure, the two of us. How has she not at least seen Scrooged? And no, I highly doubt the movie itself is supposed to be humorous.
M: Super creepy-looking psychological thriller starring Mark Strong and Taissa Farmiga — Vera’s younger sister. Like, 21 years younger. And I thought my kids were far apart!
C: And I thought Vera Farmiga was an unusual name!
M: Strong plays a shrink of sorts, but it’s set in a world where telekinetic abilities are real. He can probe into people’s minds, and is brought in to figure out what’s going on with Farmiga’s Anna, who may or may not be evil.
E: Oh. So, like, Professor X might have him on speed-dial if he needed a hand with a difficult mutant?
M: Yeah, kind of like that. The trailer looked promising, up until the last 20 to 30 seconds, when it made it clear that she is not just a victim, and is setting him up in the process of their sessions. Suspense gone, story told. Boo to trailers that give away too much!
C: And boo to you for giving it away to all our readers, who may have been unspoiled.
E: I don’t know, C. When was the last time you heard of a horror flick where the spooky child turned out to be a sweetheart?
M: I don’t know, does The Sixth Sense count?
E: Hmm, that doesn’t seem apples and apples, though. I mean, what’s the movie otherwise, weird therapy?
C: You’re right. I guess I was just hoping this belonged to a more interesting genre than plain horror.
M: Aaron Paul (again, he’s been busy since Breaking Bad wrapped) in what looks to be a redneck version of Evelyn. It actually looks like it has potential, but I might just pop in Evelyn again instead.
E: That was a Pierce Brosnan movie? I have a vague recollection that existed.
M: Yes, and a highly underrated one at that.
C: Pierce Brosnan plays a father in 1950s Ireland whose kids are being taken away by the state because their mother ran out on them; he fights the law that denies him custody of his own children. I can’t believe you don’t remember it, E — not merely because it’s a good movie, but because Julianna Margulies has a supporting role!
E: I’ve never seen it — but perhaps I’ll check it out after that recommendation from you both. That definitely interests me more than the redneck, shoot-em up version.
M: Definitely do. I own it, and even gave it to my in-laws as a gift years back. Well worth the watch.
E: Then I guess I’m borrowing it from you this weekend!
C: Pretty sure Dad owns it too. And that’s all we have to tell you about Hellion, folks.
22 Jump Street
M: The best comment I’ve seen about this was a quip that it’s fun to live in a world now where Jonah Hill can be a bigger movie star than Canning Tatum.
E: Is he?
M: Yes. Totally.
E: More Oscar nominated, anyway.
M: That too.
C: I’m not correcting M’s typo on purpose, because “canning” perfectly evokes Mr. Tatum’s acting: air-sealed and bland as old peas.
M: Well, apparently it’s typo month for the quibbling siblings. And unlike E, I will gladly accept any flames that come my way in the comments, they’re deserved. That said, “Canning” does works pretty well in this case, doesn’t it?
C: There are only two entertaining things in the trailer to this: 1) Nick Offerman, and 2) the fact that even the movie itself can’t pretend these two are remotely plausible posing as college students.
How To Train Your Dragon 2
M: Yay, return to Birk! And bringing in Hiccup’s mom, a slew of new dragons, and a new bad guy. I’m on board.
E: Oh yes. We love the first movie, the shorts, the television show, and the very different book series they’re based on. I am as excited about this as any movie coming out this year. I am a little bothered that when it came down to it, Hiccup’s mother (long presumed dead) arrives with a much more Hollywood physique than had been implied by the first film, where father and son wore her breastplate cups as helmets.
C: That’s a disappointment. But God forbid they have a central female character with a large frame.
M: True. And with the cartoon size of his dad, wouldn’t she have to be enormous? Very disappointing.
E: Oh and M, it’s Berk.
M: Geesh, what the heck is wrong with us this month? And I thought you didn’t want the correcting and mocking?
C: Who keeps correcting everyone? Not her!
E: Anyway, I think I may just be even more excited about this than my kids, which is saying something for sure. The first movie boasted one of the best uses of 3D I’ve ever seen; definitely take that into consideration if you go!
I’ll Follow You Down
E: A physicist goes missing in this creepy thriller starring Rufus Sewell, Gillian Anderson, Haley Joel Osment and Victor Garber. Creepy pseudo-science with Scully? Yes please!
C: That’s a super cool cast right there. They’ve all been great at least once.
M: Dark City, X-Files, Sixth Sense, Alias… some of my favorites of the big and small screen right there!
C: And the premise involves wormholes, time travel, regret, and daddy issues.
M: Ok,wormholes and time travel I love. Regret and daddy issues not so much, but still.
C: It’s like a dark-edged blend of Fringe and Frequency!
E: Please be good, please be good, please be good…
M: *crossing fingers*
M: Guy Pearce, as previously mentioned in these pages, has been a family favorite–
M: –since his leading role in the remarkable L.A. Confidential. In this Aussie post-apocalyptic film about a man chasing down the men who ruined his life (hello Mad Max!), he teams with a only mildly recognizable Robert Pattinson, who is still trying to find his post-Twilight career.
C: Would that be his night job, then? *rimshot*
M: C, it’s horrible of you to make that joke about Cedric Diggory. Or, at least, horrible of you to think of it before I did. Anyway, unlike the trailer for Anna, this one gives very little away, and piqued my interest at least enough to want to know more.
E: The early reviews for this are quite good, even if sandy, post-apocalyptic revenge flicks are not at all my bag.
C: Pearce isn’t one of my faves…
M: …you clearly need to get over that and watch more of his work, he really is great.
C: Maybe… but in any case, I do appreciate that the guy (the Guy?) who was once the villain of The Count of Monte Cristo is now doing a little Monte Cristoing of his own.
M: Hmmmm, is that right, Cristoing? Cristoeing? Cristing? Kristoffersoning?
C: Correction, then: Inigo Montoyaing.
C: Some young guy has an idyllic life we see in flashes. He heard “the signal” (we don’t know what this refers to, he doesn’t seem to either) and now Laurence Fishburne in hazmat suit has him locked up in a post-apocalyptic bunker with a number tattooed on his arm. Make of that what you will.
M: I choose to take the blue pill; not sure I want to know how deep that rabbit hole goes.
E: Based on the musical, which is based on the life and music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
M: Directed by Clint Eastwood, who after a long stretch of rarely missing as a director, has had a few disappointing box office results as his last few films. Looks to me like this might break that streak.
C: They’re doing this show at my local repertory theater soon, so I have a chance to compare the film to a live performance if I so choose. Could be interesting.
E: I saw the trailer with a friend who’d seen the live show, and she was over the moon about both. So, good signs.
Think Like A Man Too
M: Did Think Like A Man really warrant a sequel?
C: What was it? I feel like that makes my answer “probably not.”
M: Pretty sure it does.
E: Here’s what I think, which is ever so slightly tangential: while I’m glad that Michael Ealy’s shown up in movies here several times lately, and while I like that he’s becoming a romantic comedy lead, I am totally peeved that his exciting, funny, well-made Almost Human got abruptly canceled by FOX. Why studios can’t put their money behind quality products, instead of into paint by numbers sexist crap like this? UGH.
M: Oh, I’m soooo upset about that. Hands down that was the best new show on TV this year, and it was pulling solid ratings. I don’t get networks sometimes. Or all the time. But then they go and green light ideas like Galavant and give me hope again. Ugh.
E: I’m sure it cost too much to make something worth watching. Growl.
M: Director Paul Haggis (no relation to the Scottish food), trying to recapture the success he had with 2004’s Crash. In that effort, he’s putting forth an interconnected tale with a great cast once again. Looks intense, and I don’t know what Mila Kunis’ character did, but it had to be pretty freaking bad.
C: Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Adrian Brody, Kim Basinger, and inevitably, James Franco. It’s sort of like, you know how Wes Anderson gets a lot of people together and makes a fun movie about their intersecting lives? This is like that, without the fun.
E: It certainly doesn’t look like your typical summer fare, does it? I don’t object to angst-ridden movies on principle, but I’m not really sure I want to see one in June as opposed to, say, November. I’ll be curious to hear the reviews on this one; is it gloom for gloom’s sake, or does it say something moving and important?
M: You’re right, this does feel more like an “Oscar season” release.
E: Which suggests to me that if it’s an Oscar type flick appearing so long before Oscar contenders season, that the studio has no faith it could actually contend for awards, and that’s a whole other layer of depressing.
M: Unless they feel like it could be MORE commercially successful? Maybe?
Venus in Fur
E: Controversial director Roman Polanski’s latest, a version of the David Ives play.
M: The trailer for this is very, very strange. It’s narrated in English, but all the dialog is in French. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with the bizarre subject, a director and either aspiring actress or aspiring assassin reading lines in theater after hours and maybe getting it on on stage, or maybe getting killed. Very odd.
C: Venus in Furs (plural) is a 19th century Austrian novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, and if the last bit of his name makes you think of people who like black leather and getting whipped, there’s a reason for that. This looks like one of those oddly common people-get-caught-up-in-living-a-story-they’re-closely-working-with movies, like The Chatterley Affair.
M: If you say so, didn’t know that was a thing.
E: This is the moment where readers guess which sibling wasn’t an English major with a concentration in theater. M? Ding ding ding!
M: Pretty sure that if they didn’t know that already, the WAR reference up above might have led them in the right direction.
C: Maybe Charlie Kaufman‘s Adaptation would’ve been a better reference.
M: Unfortunately no.
C: But this looks theatery-er.
E: Yeah, stick with your original assessment. We don’t have to convince M.
M: Unsurprisingly, I’m fine with that.
Transformers: The Age of Extinction
M: I loved the 80’s cartoon and toys as much as just about anyone, but can we just get to extinction already?
E: No argument from me. These movies have been a huge disappointment from the start, and not even losing whiny, public relations disaster Shia LaBeouf can compensate for lame plots or the bad CG of the titular robots.
M: This one looks to be a bit of a mess. It’s a dystopian action movie starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. In it all remaining life on the frozen planet of Earth lives on a train.
C: Hold up. A train?
E: Yes, really? A train. Because that makes sense?
M: Total sense.
E: A train, which would have not only limited fuel but limited track, and so limited travel options.
M: They do explain (sort of) the fuel issue… the train has some sort of super perpetual motion engine. Voila!
E: But wouldn’t it still just go back and forth over the same terrain? Don’t tell me it lays its own track…
C: Maybe it’s a hover train?
M: That is not addressed in anything I’ve seen. However, from the looks of it, the train is basically the Titanic: a technological marvel (doomed to destruction, I assume) with two classes of people, the uber-rich and the oppressed grunts who have nothing. Very subtle. Because of that disparity, Captain America leads a revolt against Jadis, fake Queen of Narnia.
C: Hard to know where to side in a real morally gray fight like that.
M: I know, right?!?! Now the mess that starts with the perpetual motion train continues with the rumors that Harvey Weinstein hacked the crap out of director Joon-ho Bong’s final cut to “dumb it down” so audiences would be able to follow it.
E: Huh. The Weinsteins aren’t exactly known for their dumbed down fare. That’s a weird rumor. Plus, the concept has a few too many holes in it for me to imagine that it made sense even smarted up.
M: Agreed. In addition, the rumors go on to say that they even added more action so it would sell in “middle America.” The Weinsteins aren’t usually interested in catering to middle America. So, weird. Oh, and the release has also apparently been delayed for a long time, to the point where it’s out on BluRay in other countries already.
C: Never a good sign.
E: Male stripper movie by Joe Mangianello of, oh yes, Magic Mike.
M: Another person that is less of a movie star than Jonah Hill!
C: More of a TV star, I think he’s on the Southern vampire show, or was. But he’ll always be Marshall’s friend Brad to me.
C: Does this have a plot beyond “he’s a male stripper”?
E: Actually, I think I started that off too vaguely — it’s a documentary about male strippers at a real Texas strip club, made by Marshall’s friend Brad, who either did a lot of research before making that movie or just ended up drawn to that world. You see the dancers training, at home, and even hear the tale of one dancer’s shocking death.
M: So, you guys complain frequently about sexism in places where I think it’s not always warranted. This is one of those “reverse sexism” cases. No shot someone funds a doc about female strippers, it’d be widely denounced as sexist, sensationalist crap.
E: Leaving aside the reasons why stripping might be different for the sexes, I agree that it’s gross and objectifying.
C: M, all you’d have to have done was google to find out that there are, in fact, several documentaries about female strippers (or strippers in general). And while I don’t have plans to see this film, I don’t think we can write it off as either sexist or sensationalist without any information other than the subject matter. If it is those things, it’s not very good at being a documentary.
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
C: Documentary about the tragic life of one of the founders of Reddit, an internet phenom from childhood, who went up against the government on issues of internet privacy and censorship, and was, some say, driven to suicide. He also, in certain stills in the trailer, bears a notable resemblance to childhood photos of the Quibbling Siblings’ dad. Just a fun fact for the folks at home.
E: Oh. Huh. He kind of does. It’s the eyebrows, I think. And the eyes.
M: It’s just that one, but yeah, I can see it, too.
E: And yeah, I land on the side of believing he was driven to suicide by a malicious prosecution — but I’d like to see this to get a more complete perspective. And certainly I’m very interested in the issues he cared most about, like public access to knowledge.
M: Such a sad end to Swartz’s life. The doc looks very well done.
Whitey: The United States of America v. Whitey Bulger
M: There’s a dramatization of Whitey’s life in production, with Johnny Depp starring, too, but this is a straight-up documentary. Contrary to my comments last month, though, this one is not aimed at taking down someone or something that the film maker had a personal vendetta against, it looks to tell the story of something that has been sort of kind of known for years, but never delved into enough. And it looks really good.
E: Wait, you feel like Whitey hasn’t been covered enough in the news? Do you not listen to or read local news? After his trial last fall, I’ve kind of had my fill.
C: Maybe what M means is that it hasn’t been synthesized into a coherent, rigorous, fact-based narrative made widely public, yet. Which does seem to have merit.
E: Okay, I guess that’s a reasonable assertion. Considering that many of his crimes occurred as long ago as a half century, a thorough retelling might be a helpful thing; the news does generally assume his history is public knowledge. Maybe that’s something I could rent someday, although again, it’s not very summery.
M: Oddly enough, considering our history of misunderstandings, that is exactly what I meant. Also oddly, that’s back-to-back documentaries that I want to see.
C: Folks, it’s a June miracle!
E: Two miracles, even!