Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Movies 2013

Summer movies are here which means lots of explosions, computer graphics and dumb fun.  The only complaint I have about all those these things is that I can’t enjoy a movie if the story is stupid.  Luckily, a few of my options look like they will be pretty solid movies, based on the trailer, the cast and past history.  Below is a list of the movies due out this summer and I’ve commented in purple on a few that I’m looking forward to.

Summer Movie Guide 2013
(By Stephanie Merry, Washington Post, 02 May 2013)

The carefree days of summer are just ahead, which means warm weekends, light traffic and vacation plans. And yet, filmmakers seem to have something darker in mind: doomsday.  Movie releases promise a zombie apocolyse and massive monsters, humans moving to another planet and others relocating to a space station. There are even a couple of catastrophe comedies. Of course, if armageddon isn’t your thing, there will be other options. Read on for a look at upcoming theater releases, including some lighter, less cataclysmic entertainment. Opening dates and film ratings may change. The release dates listed below are for Washington-area theaters; some movies may open earlier in other cities.

May 10

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton
Scoop: A star-studded cast will bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel to the big screen in 3-D with a soundtrack that includes Jay-Z and Lana Del Rey. This would sound preposterous if writer-director Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge,” “Romeo + Juliet”) hadn’t helmed the fireworks display of a movie.

Baz Luhrman is the very definition of hit or miss.  Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge were good, Romeo + Juliet was awful and histrionic while Australia was mediocre.  I’m not expecting this to be very good but I’ll see it nonetheless.  Maybe not in 3-D though.

Stars: Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier and Kerry Washington
Scoop: Despite the title, Perry merely produced this comedy, which can only be good news after the mess that was “Tyler Perry’s Temptation.” Tina Gordon Chism, who penned “Drumline,” wrote and directed this “Meet the Parents”-like circus of discomfort.

There is no way this can be good.  I like Craig Robinson and would be willing to see him in a lead role but not this one.  The trailer makes the film look awful so I’m not even thinking of seeing it.

Stars: Josephine de La Baume, Roxane Mesquida and Milo Ventimiglia
Scoop: Part romance, part horror, Xan Cassavetes’s vampire movie follows an undead woman at war with her sister.
Stars: Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer and Kristin Scott Thomas
Scoop: The mysterious French film looks at the relationship between a jaded literature teacher and his pupil, a talented writer who insinuates himself into a classmate’s home and secretly chronicles the family’s day-to-day activities.

Scoop: The documentary reflects on the rise of the tennis-playing Williams sisters from Compton, Calif., as they fight injuries and obstacles during the 2011 season.

May 15

Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana
Scoop: With a total of 12 films, this franchise has definitely lived long and prospered. And after J.J. Abrams’s 2009 reboot struck box-office gold, a sequel couldn’t be far behind.
Why to see it: The most recent “Star Trek” was that rare action movie that pleased both filmgoers and critics, not to mention the franchise’s legion of fanatics. Abrams has reassembled almost all of the same players, adding rising star Benedict Cumberbatch to the mix to play the mysterious John Harrison.

This is one I have fingers crossed for.  The last one was smart and thrilling and the same team is back in front of and behind the camera.  I’m guessing the villain is actually Khan so a battle of wits should be involved somehow and I'm psyched for that. 

May 17

Scoop: Child actress-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley turns the camera on her family for this documentary. The non-linear accumulation of story fragments and interviews ultimately releases a skeleton from the Polley family closet.

Stars: Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta and Winona Ryder
Scoop: Shannon portrays Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer responsible for more than 100 murders who led a double life as a suburban family man.

May 24

Stars: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker and Jason Statham
Scoop: The ride continues, and it may never end, given that Diesel recently announced “Fast and Furious 7” will drop next year. But back to our current reality: The gang reunites for some engine revving, including one character who looked pretty dead the last time we saw her.

Is it possible to make a “car movie” as good as the last one was?  Fast Five was actually a heist movie with cars so unless they make a similar juke I might be a bit letdown by the movie.  On the plus side, they added Gina Carano and there is a potentially kick-ass girl fight between her and Michelle Rodriquez so there is that to look forward to.  I’m hoping this is a good follow-up that duplicates what was good about the last one, like how The Italian Job was a fantastic remake of the Michael Caine movie earlier.

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Melissa McCarthy
Scoop: For the supposed final installment of lost-and-found, the wolf pack returns to Las Vegas where they bump into old favorites, including Heather Graham’s hooker with a heart of gold and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, likely making some kind of full frontal cameo).

I’ll watch it but I’m not expecting much from it.

Epic (PG)
Stars: The voices of Amanda Seyfried, Beyoncé Knowles and Josh Hutcherson
Scoop: A teenage girl goes looking for her father in the forest and is transformed into an itty-bitty version of herself in this animated adventure.

Stars: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner and Adam Driver
Scoop: Writer-director Noah Baumbach turns awkward situations into watchable entertainment, but his new film adds an element of surprise: Indie darling Gerwig, who also worked with Baumbach on “Greenberg,” co-wrote the script. She also stars in this black-and-white tale of an offbeat protagonist adrift in society.

Stars: Alexander Skarsgard, Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan
Scoop: The modern and loose adaptation of Henry James’s novel tells the story of a little girl as she witnesses her parents viciously part ways and re-couple with new partners.

May 31

After Earth (PG-13)
Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Isabelle Fuhrman
Scoop: Centuries after humans emigrated from Earth to a new planet, a father and son crash land in mankind’s unruly former home. M. Night Shyamalan directs the real-life father and son pairing of Will and Jaden Smith.

Shyamalan can direct well so as long as he wasn’t involved in the screenplay, this should be okay.  Will Smith usually delivers a quality product and the CGI looks really interesting here.  Of course, it could be another Oblivion or Prometheus where the graphics were the best part of the movie.

Stars: Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Isla Fisher
Scoop: In this mind-bending heist movie, a group of illusionists have some stellar and crowd-pleasing tricks up their sleeves. Their shows feature bank robberies, and the audience members enjoy the spoils. One FBI agent (Ruffalo) is determined to find out how they do it.

This preview really got me excited.  I’m so hoping this is good.  The cast is interesting- they've all had excellent movies as well as big dogs and big disappointments.  This is my pick for the underdog movie of the summer, the one that no one thought would be as good as it was, like Fast Five was two summers ago. 

Before Midnight (R)
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick
Scoop: Nearly two decades after “Before Sunrise,” writer-director Richard Linklater concludes his trilogy about the on-again, off-again relationship between an American man and the French woman he met on a train.

I’m a little sad that they made a third movie.  Not that I won’t see it but because it seems impossible they can capture magic again, for a third time.  The first two were so great and lately Linklater has gotten sloppy as a director which is why I’m thinking this will be a big disappointment.  Also, Ethan Hawke had a hand in writing it.  (That’s a minus, by the way.)  This will be the movie that breaks my heart this summer.

The East (PG-13)
Stars: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Jason Ritter
Scoop: Marling’s star launched at Sundance a couple of years ago with a one-two punch of films she wrote and starred in. She teams once again with writer-director Zal Batmanglij for this thriller about a spy embedded among a group of anarchists that wages war on companies that have nefarious aims.

June 7

Stars: Nick Offerman, Moises Arias, Nick Robinson and Alison Brie
Scoop: Two best friends and one oddball interloper decide to escape their stifling parents and live in the woods for the summer in director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s feel-good feature debut.
Why to see it: Chris Galletta’s hilarious, heartfelt script could turn this little dramedy into the breakout indie hit of the summer. A cast filled with established comedians, such as Offerman and Megan Mullally, plus fresh talent, including Arias (looking like the next Zach Galifianakis), provides plenty of laughs.

The Internship (not yet rated)
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and Rose Byrne
Scoop: Vaughn and Wilson, playing their customary characters (the motormouth and the straight man), are dropped into another fish-out-of-water scenario. After the salesmen lose their jobs, they somehow snag internships at Google, despite their lack of tech knowledge.

This could be another Wedding Crashers or it could be another The Watch or Drillbit Taylor.  I’ll see it with fingers crossed.

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey and Tony Oller
Scoop: One night a year, the police let murder and mayhem ensue while turning a blind eye. The one-percenters bolt their doors and turn on their security systems, but the 12-hour period is going to prove especially harrowing for one family when their daughter lets in an outsider.

This is a neat sounding concept.  I definitely want to see this but I have no idea what to expect, which is a rarity with summer movies, and that is something I enjoy.  On the down side, it does have Ethan Hawke so I might be disappointed by two Hawke movies this summer.

Stars: Felicity Price, Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer
Scoop: The non-linear feature debut for Australian writer-director Kieran Darcy-Smith is about four friends who go on vacation together. But when only three return home to Sydney, the group tries to piece together the events of a drug-fueled night in Cambodia.

Sounds like a Hostel remake, which means a disgusting movie.  Then again, I like Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four) so I’ll decide about whether to watch after I’ve seen a preview of it.

Shadow Dancer (R)
Stars: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough and Gillian Anderson
Scoop: Documentary director James Marsh tries his hand at fiction with an adaptation of Tom Bradby’s novel. Set in the 1990s, the drama follows an Irish woman and IRA member who is forced to supply information to British intelligence.
Syrup (R)
Stars: Brittany Snow, Shiloh Fernandez, Amber Heard and Kellan Lutz
Scoop: The adaptation of Max Barry’s cult novel satirizes the gleaming deception of marketing by looking at a slacker with a get-rich-quick scheme.

Speaking of Teresa Palmer, here’s a movie with her doppleganger- Amber Heard, a total hottie.  I’ll wait for a preview on this one as well.

June 12
This is the End (not yet rated)
Stars: James Franco, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill
Scoop: Members of the cast play themselves, watching Los Angeles collapse around them and facing doomsday with as much urgency as a stoner can muster.
Why to see it: Writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg also penned “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” which should give some indication of the idiocy, but also the laughter, audiences can expect. The movie marks the pair’s directorial debut.

This is the Craig Robinson movie I want to see.

 June 14

Man of Steel (PG-13)
Stars: Russell Crowe, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams
Scoop: It seems like yesterday that Superman was getting a reboot with Brandon Routh as Krypton’s most famous export. But that was seven years ago, which is long enough (in Hollywood years) to warrant another creation story, this time with “The Tudors” star Cavill in the cape.
Why to see it: In addition to Crowe and Adams, the big-name cast boasts Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and the seemingly ubiquitous Michael Shannon. And Zack Snyder, who also directed “300” and “Watchmen,” knows his way around special effects.

If this is good, I will be thrilled beyond believe.  I’ve been waiting for a good Superman movie since Superman II.  Snyder was good with Watchmen, so-so with 300, and failed honorably with Sucker Punch so Superman could go any which way.
Stuck in Love (R)
Stars: Greg Kinnear, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell and Jennifer Connelly
Scoop: This might be the “Crazy Stupid Love” of 2013, starring Kinnear as a recently divorced writer struggling with his single status, just as his kids and ex-wife grapple with their own relationships, both within and outside the family.

It’s got Kristin Bell so I’m seeing it, enough said.
The Painting (unrated)
Stars: The voices of Jean Barney, Chloe Berthier and Julien Bouanich
Scoop: In this fantastical animated French film, fighting breaks out among the characters in an unfinished painting, leading some of the figures to search for the artist to restore order.

June 21

World War Z (PG-13)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and David Morse
Scoop: If you thought the zombie takeover had run its course, think again. Seven years after writer Max Brooks’s post-apocalyptic thriller, director Marc Forster is bringing the adaptation to life. Pitt plays a United Nations worker who might save humanity if he can figure out how to stop the proliferation of the undead.
Why to see it: Although rewrites and delays are often the harbingers of disappointing films, it’s hard not to be intrigued by this adaptation. Yes, it’s a zombie movie, but it’s one that seeks to be more of a thoughtful thriller than a campy confection filled with face-eaters.

With all the problems that “plagued” this movie, especially featuring the director who did the lackluster Bond movie Quantum Of Solace, can it possibly be any good?  I’m thinking it will be a impressive looking failure like Brad Pitt’s Troy instead of a marvelous surprise like his Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Much Ado About Nothing (PG-13)
Stars: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg
Scoop: The cast may look familiar to Joss Whedon’s army of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans. Despite populating the film with his usual collaborators, the writer-director defies predictability with a black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.
Why to see it: Whedon reportedly shot the film in just 12 days, using his own house as the set. And yet, the homemade creation received fairly glowing reviews at its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, proving great things can come from little budgets.

Whedon and Shakespeare?  Why wouldn’t I want to see it?

Stars: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard and Emma Watson
Scoop: Director Sofia Coppola’s latest was inspired by the true story of a group of California teens who robbed the houses of famous tabloid fixtures.
Why to see it: Coppola, who directed “Lost in Translation” and “The Virgin Suicides,” has her detractors. But she undoubtedly has a talent for creating mood and establishing a specific time and place, all of which could come in handy here. Plus, the film was chosen to open the Cannes Film Festival’s “Un Certain Regard” series, which spotlights innovative approaches to making movies.
Monsters University (not yet rated)
Stars: The voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi
Scoop: The prequel to Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” chronicles how the odd couple of animation met.
Why to see it: It turns out Mike (Crystal) and Sulley (Goodman) were college roommates and rivals before becoming best friends and colleagues. That opens up all kinds of possibilities for Pixar, which got a little inspiration from “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” The result worked for enthusiastic early audiences at CinemaCon.

Why not?  I need to see some animated stuff now and then and this looks fun.

June 28

White House Down (not yet rated)
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Scoop: It’s the second coming of “Olympus Has Fallen.” The other terrorists-take-Washington film of 2013 comes to the screen courtesy of the prince of the apocalypse, director Roland Emmerich (“2012,” “Independence Day”).

Why did Roland Emmerich (i.e. a director who is fun to watch) cast Channing Tatum (i.e. an actor I can’t stand watching)?  It’s not like thhe other White House hostage movie (Olympus  Has Fallen) was that bad so what can this do differently or better?

Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock and Marlon Wayans
Scoop:Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig oversees this comedy about an FBI agent (Bullock, doing her perfected persnickety thing) forced to work with a disheveled Boston police officer (McCarthy, looking especially unkempt) on a big drug case.

For me, the only more must-see actress than Kristin Bell is Sandra Bullock.

Byzantium (unrated)
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton and Caleb Landry Jones
Scoop: There’s nothing campy about this vampire movie. The British drama about a cursed mother and daughter is more for gothic thriller fans than swooning tweens.

A Hijacking (R)
Stars: Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling and Dar Salim
Scoop: The suspenseful Danish drama looks at what happens after Somali pirates take control of a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean. The film is the first of two movies from buzzy writer-director Tobias Lindholm getting a stateside release this summer.

Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries And Mentors of Ricky Jay (unrated)
Scoop: The documentary looks at the life of magician, author and actor Ricky Jay, as well as his inspirational illusionist predecessors.

The only documentary I’m thinking of seeing in theaters.  (The other I will see, on DVD, is Venus And Serena.)

July 3

The Lone Ranger (not yet rated)
Stars: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, William Fichtner and Helena Bonham Carter
Scoop: After countless setbacks and budget concerns, audiences finally can confirm that director Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) did in fact cast Depp as the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick, Tonto.

I’m expecting Wild Wild West, Part Two.  In other words, suck-i-tude.

Despicable Me 2 (PG)
Stars: The voices of Al Pacino, Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig
Scoop: The sequel to the 2010 animated hit finds the reformed bad guy, Gru, recruited by an anti-villain league.

I have to go see it just for the minions.

July 5
Hammer of the Gods (R)
Stars: Charlie Bewley, Clive Standen and James Cosmo
Scoop: Expect lots of blood as a Viking warrior heads on a quest to find his estranged brother.

Stars: Javier Camara, Pepa Charro and Lola Duenas
Scoop: The always outlandish Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar returns to comedy after 2011’s uber-creepy “The Skin I Live In.” The farce centers on a plane full of zany flight attendants and passengers who try to enjoy themselves despite believing they may soon crash.

Stars: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Liam James and Sam Rockwell
Scoop: Occasional actors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who collaborated with Alexander Payne on the Oscar-winning screenplay for “The Descendants,” wrote and directed this coming-of-age tale about a boy’s unlikely friendship with the manager of a water park.

July 12

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13)
Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Chris Rock
Scoop: Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison, seem poised to continue their streak of critical bombs and Razzie contenders, which included the first “Grown Ups” installment.

Sandler has gone from a must-see, in his first four movies, to a only-if-it-is-on-cable for his last four movies.  This is the first sequel he decides to do?  At least it will be harmless, unlike a Little Nicky sequel.

Pacific Rim (PG-13)
Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Charlie Day
Scoop: Humans build robots to defend the Earth after massive monsters emerge from the ocean and threaten to conquer the planet.
Why to see it:Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro brought this big-budget action movie to life, which explains why there’s as much early chatter about mood and atmospherics as there is about special effects.

The previews make this look like a thinking man’s Transformers movie.  Yes, I just said that which is why I’m expected it to be awful.

 V/H/S/2 (unrated)
Stars: Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Al Rashid and Devon Brookshire
Scoop: In the horror sequel, a cache of VHS tapes offers clues in a missing-person case.

July 17
Turbo (not yet rated)
Stars: The voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Maya Rudolph
Scoop: The protagonist of the kid-friendly animated comedy is a snail with dreams of racing in the Indy 500.

July 19
Girl Most Likely (PG-13)
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Matt Dillon and Annette Bening
Scoop:Bridesmaids” proved Wiig’s talent for portraying rock bottom-bound characters with just the right mix of comedy and emotion. This time around, she’s a failed playwright forced to move in with her mother and younger brother.

Red 2 (not yet rated)
Stars: Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovich
Scoop: The sequel to the 2010 sleeper hit finds Willis reassembling a group of over-the-hill assassins.

I have to see it, because the first one was somewhat cheesy, somewhat cool, violent fun.  Plus, Mary Louise Parker is back.

The Conjuring (not yet rated)
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Ron Livingston
Scoop:Saw” mastermind James Wan dreamed up this horror movie about a couple of paranormal activity investigators who take on a case that shocks even them.
R.I.P.D. (PG-13)
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges and Mary-Louise Parker
Scoop: Reynolds plays a recently killed cop recruited by the Rest In Peace Department, which apprehends deceased souls lingering on Earth. The comedy co-stars Bridges as his grizzled, grumpy partner.
Another Mary Louise Parker movie, two weeks in a row?  Yeah!  Plus, Jeff Bridges looks to be hilarious in this movie.

July 26
The Wolverine (not yet rated)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen and Will Yun Lee
Scoop: The never-ending saga of the clawed, hirsute Canadian continues, this time in Japan.
If you know me, you know that I’m in the theater for this on opening night.  I’m sure I will be disappointed with how my favorite superhero was treated, once again, but hope springs eternal.  I think I know this plot already (someone steals Logan’s mutant healing power to save their own life and he has to fight to regain his powers and his honor but with superhero movies, it is all in the execution.  (For an example, see The Punisher with Thomas Jane and John Travolta and compare it with the The Punisher that later followed starring no one you ever heard of.)

July 31

The Smurfs 2 (not yet rated)
Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria and Jayma Mays
Scoop: In this cerulean twist on the damsel-in-distress routine, the little blue creatures try to save Smurfette from Gargamel’s clutches.

Um, no.

July TBD

Passion (R)
Stars: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace and Karoline Herfurth
Scoop: Veteran filmmaker Brian De Palma directs this remake of the French film “Love Crime,” a steamy thriller about a rising star at an advertising agency who gets double-crossed by her boss.

 Rachel McAdams and Brian De Palma?  Could be very interesting.  Show me a trailer for it.

Aug. 2

Europa Report (PG-13)
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist and Christian Camargo
Scoop: A crew of astronauts head to one of Jupiter’s moons searching for signs of life.

Blue Jasmine (PG-13)
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Peter Sarsgaard
Scoop: Woody Allen has been cagey about the details of his next film. What we do know: The cast is stellar, and after a handful of European-set films, the auteur is back on American soil.

300: Rise of an Empire (not yet rated)
Stars: Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton and Lena Headey
Scoop: The violent CGI-filled action flick is a prequel to the 2007 hit.
2 Guns (not yet rated)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington and Paula Patton
Scoop: Baltasar Kormakur, who directed Wahlberg in the well-received “Contraband,” once again collaborates with the actor in this convoluted story about two undercover agents who start out investigating each other and end up allies when they wind up on the wrong side of both the mob and the law.

Should this movie have been the one titled Pain And Gain?  There are so many pluses and minuses to this one that I can’t even begin to go into them.  (for instance, Mark Wahlberg alone is a plus and a minus.)

Aug. 7

Stars: Logan Lerman, Nathan Fillion and Alexandra Daddario
Scoop: The sequel to the kid-friendly 2010 fantasy follows Percy on his quest to find the golden fleece and save his home.

Aug. 9

Elysium (not yet rated)
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley
Scoop: In the futuristic sci-fi film, the wealthy live on a state-of-the-art space station, while the prols are stuck on Earth with no hope of gaining access to the Shangri-la above. Damon plays a man capable of bringing the two groups together, but only if he succeeds on a dangerous mission.
Why to see it: This is the second feature from writer-director Neill Blomkamp, the man behind 2009’s “District 9,” which artfully inserted political undertones into sci-fi action.

I’m game.  Let’s see how it turns out.  I’m not expecting the plot to surprise me but maybe the execution of the ideas will be well-done.

We’re the Millers (not yet rated)
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts and Ed Helms
Scoop: A small-time drug dealer assembles a faux family — including a stripper, played by Aniston, posing as his fake wife — in order to smuggle two tons of weed out of Mexico.
I had no hopes for this until I saw the preview today.  Now I’m interested in it.

Computer Chess (not yet rated)
Stars: Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins
Scoop: The 1980s-set fuzzy black-and-white faux-documentary looks at a crew of nerds who meet up for a weekend of fun — which means comparing their computer-based chess programs.
Why to see it: Mumblecore aficionado Andrew Bujalski (“Funny Ha Ha”) wrote and directed the understated dramedy that took home the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, awarded to movies that focus on science or technology, at Sundance.
Prince Avalanche (not yet rated)
Stars: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch and Lance LeGault
Scoop: Rudd and Hirsch play road workers who become friends — mostly because there’s no one else around in David Gordon Green’s understated 1980s-set dramedy.

Nope- the words “understated 1980s-set dramedy“ nixed this one for me.

In a World . . . (not yet rated)
Stars: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed and Demetri Martin
Scoop: A Los Angeles voice coach toils away in the shadow of her egotistical father, who happens to be the king of movie trailers.
Why to see it: The comedy is Bell’s writing and directing debut, and she snagged a screenwriting award, plus positive reviews, after the film showed at Sundance.

Bell is attractive and I enjoy her Maxim car review articles but can she write a movie?  An enjoyable one?
Planes (not yet rated)
Stars: The voices of Dane Cook, Val Kilmer, Gabriel Iglesias and Brad Garrett
Scoop: Think of Disney’s animated feature as “Cars” but in the sky.

 The Spectacular Now (not yet rated)
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Scoop: After a drunk high school senior (Teller) passes out on the lawn of his classmate (Woodley), the pair become friends, despite his live-in-the-moment mantra and her hopes for a bright future.
Why to see it: In addition to two impressive up-and-comers in lead roles, the film joins James Ponsoldt, the director of “Smashed,” and Scott Neustadter, who co-wrote “(500) Days of Summer,” for a movie that reportedly spans a gulf, speaking to both teen and adult audiences.

Aug. 16

Kick-Ass 2 (not yet rated)
Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Scoop: Carrey joins the crew for this sequel to the comic book adaptation featuring a girl with a foul mouth and some serious martial arts skills.

A wait-and-see attitude is essential for this one.  I’m also afraid to say these words without irony but can Jim Carrey fill Nicholas Cage’s shoes in this sequel?  Can Moretz duplicate her kick-ass spunk and can the newbie director match the intensity and awesome-ness of the original movie?

I Give it a Year (not yet rated)
Stars: Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall and Minnie Driver
Scoop: Frequent Ali G collaborator Dan Mazer wrote and directed this British comedy about a mismatched husband and wife trying to make it to their first anniversary.

Aug. 23

The World’s End (not yet rated)
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman and Simon Pegg
Scoop: The British team behind the much-loved “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead,” including actor-writer Pegg and writer-director Edgar Wright, team up for this black comedy about a group of hard-partying friends that may be mankind’s last glimmer of hope.

This team has hit 100% so far.  Please let them be three for three.

Stars: Lily Collins, Lena Headey, Jamie Campbell Bower and Robert Sheehan
Scoop: After her mother is kidnapped by a demon, a teenage girl finds out she may not, in fact, be human.
You’re Next (not yet rated)
Stars: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen
Scoop: A family’s celebration at a remote vacation house takes a turn when a band of killers with axes interrupts the festivities.

Aug. 28

Stars: Rebecca Hall, Eric Bana and Ciaran Hinds
Scoop: Bana and Hall star as lawyers and exes forced to work together on a case defending a terrorist in this thriller.

Aug. 30

One Direction: This Is Us
(not yet rated)
Scoop: Something seems wrong here, and yet it’s true: “Super Size Me” director Morgan Spurlock directed this 3-D documentary about British boy band One Direction.

Getaway (not yet rated)
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight
Scoop: Hawke plays a retired racecar driver trying to save his kidnapped wife with the help of a young hacker .

Another freaking Hawke movie?

Drinking Buddies (not yet rated)
Stars: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick
Scoop: Wilde and Johnson work at a brewery, where they banter all day with amazing chemistry. If only they weren’t dating other people . . .

Kendrick is a little hottie with a quick mind, based on Pitch Perfect and Up In The Air, so I will see this and hope it is better than the normal Olivia Wilde movie.

Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Alia Shawkat and Bill Hader
Scoop: Plaza plays a studious high school grad who feels she squandered opportunities for debaucherous fun during long hours of studying. Before hitting college, she prepares to experience the Cliffs Notes version of all she missed.

I don’t know if Plaza can carry a movie herself but I did like her in Safety Not Guaranteed and in interviews, particularly the one with David Letterman so I think I might see this in theaters.


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