Friday, May 3, 2013

2013 SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW


The time has come to once again see what's in store for movie fans this upcoming summer season. Having scanned what's on the horizon, much of what's on this slate feels particularly underwhelming as it's filled with even more sequels, superheroes and obscenely-expensive action flicks. Nothing wrong with any of these types of films I might add but this leaves fewer alternatives than ever as Hollywood throws most of it's money at a tiny number of overly familiar movies while completely ignoring the possibility of spending a smaller amount of cash on creating something fresh and innovative that audiences could discover. Sure, it may be a potentially risky gamble but no more of a risk than investing over two hundred million dollars on one film.

This year has already gotten off to a rough start with many pricy releases turning out to be major disappointments. I have a strong feeling that not nearly enough of these films of summer are going to be strong enough to be able to adequately turn things around. Despite my grumblings, I have still managed to find a few things of interest that I'm looking forward in checking out:

"STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS"

Release date: May 17, 2103

"Star Trek" was another franchise that was successfully revived back in 2009 by director, J.J. Abrams and is finally back with a follow-up. "Star Trek Into Darkness" brings the crew of the USS Enterprise, headed by Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, back out on a mission to track down a mysterious dark figure (Benedict Cumberbatch) who has wrecked havoc on Earth and are out to bring him to justice. Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy), Simon Pegg ("Scotty"), John Cho (Sulu) and Zoe Saldana (Uhura)are all back on board.



"FRANCES HA"

Release date: May 17. 2013

Noah Baumbach, the director of one of my favorite films, "The Squid and The Whale" and actress, Greta Gerwig who had her first major role in his comedy, "Greenberg" have teamed up to write the screenplay for their new film together, "Frances Ha". This black & white comedy about a young modern dancer(Gerwig) living in New York who begins to feel as if she is relying too much on her best friend (Mickey Sumner, daughter of rock star, Sting) as she struggles to find her own way in life. The comparisons to Woody Allen and his "Manhattan" is inevitable (and slightly intentional) but "Frances" seems to offer it's own quirky outlook on life in the Big Apple.




"BEFORE MIDNIGHT"

Release date: May 24, 2013

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy return in "Before Midnight", the third film in the series that explores a couple's relationship as they don't do much more than talk to each other but manage to make it endlessly fascinating. This time, the two have been married for nine years and have a couple of kids but have now reached the point where they are beginning to feel restless and searching for meaning in their lives while vacationing in the Greek isles. Director, Richard Linklater has co-written the screenplay once again with Hawke and Delpy.



"THE MAN OF STEEL"

Release date: June 14, 2013

Although the 2006 film, "Superman Returns" failed to generate much excitement, that doesn't mean that our hero from Krypton is down and out. Inspired by the successful re-boots of Batman and Spider-Man, director Zack Snyder and writer, David S. Goyer have attempted to revive the franchise once again but this time have decided to slightly alter the Superman we're all familiar with. While most of the basic origin story in "The Man of Steel" remains intact, much has been re-imagined all the way down to his red and blue costume. The relatively unknown British actor, Henry Cavill has been cast as Superman but the rest of the supporting cast has been filled with familiar faces; Kevin Costner (Johnathan Kent), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Amy Adams (Lois Lane) and Russell Crowe as the man of steel's father, Jor-El. Of course, there has to be a villain and Michael Shannon fills that role as General Zod.



"I'M SO EXCITED"

Release date: June 28, 2013

After venturing in a more serious, dramatic vein with his last few films, Pedro Almodovar has seemed to have returned to the outrageous campy fare that helped put him on the map. "I'm So Excited" is a farce set in the friendly skies involving a flight to Mexico City and what happens to everyone on board when faced with a life-changing event. Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz appear along with the director's cast of regulars.



"BYZANTIUM"

Release date: June 28, 2013

In "Byzantium", the residents of a small British coastal town become suspicious of a mother and daughter (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) when people are found with the blood drained from their bodies. The films by director Neil Jordan can either be very good ("Mona Lisa", "The Crying Game") or very bad ("High Spirits", "In Dreams"), so the jury is still out on this one.



"LAURENCE ANYWAYS"

Release date: June TBA

One of my favorite new filmmakers is Xavier Dolan. At only twenty-four, this French-Canadian has confidently created thoughtful and mature dramas earning him several awards for his first two films. His latest, "Laurence Anyways" tells the story of a successful author and scholar (Melvil Poupaud) who makes the difficult descion to begin living life as a female. His girlfriend (Suzanne Clément) is certainly shocked by this revelation but tries to be understanding which proves to be more difficult than she imagined. "Laurence" was featured in the Un Certain Regard section at last year's Cannes Film Festival and won Ms.Clément the Best Actress Award.



"BLUE JASMINE"

Release date: July 26, 2013

To say I was disappointed with Woody Allen's last film, "To Rome With Love" would be a gross understatement but I'm not one to hold grudges. I'm still anticipating the writer/director's latest effort, "Blue Jasmine". He has once again returned to American shores after many recent films set overseas with the story of a New York housewife (Cate Blancett) who, after a marriage crisis with her husband (Alec Baldwin), heads to San Francisco to start a new life. This drama also stars Bobby Cannavale, Sally Hawkins along with performers better known as stand-up comedians, Louis C.K. and Andrew "Dice" Clay.


"ELYSIUM"

Release date: August 9, 2013

Set in the distant future, "Elysium" tells the tale of an Earth now separated by two classes; one that lives high-above in a space station in comfort and wealth while the majority remain to suffer on an overpopulated planet in decay and despair. Matt Damon plays an ill man determined to get in to Elysium no matter what the cost but the head of security (Jodie Foster) is just as determined to stop him. Writer/director, Neill Blomkamp has returned with his latest sci-fi thriller following, "District 9" which received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture in 2009.




"LOVELACE"

Release date: August 9, 2013

A young Linda Boreman is transformed in to Linda Lovelace and stars in the notorious 1972 porn film, "Deep Throat". Later, she becomes a major celebrity but behind the scenes, her life was a nightmare of drugs, abuse and intimidation by her husband, Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Amanda Seyfried plays the title role in "Lovelace" the second feature film by documentary filmmakers, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. James Franco, Chloë Sevigny, Adam Brody (as co-star, Harry Reems) and Sharon Stone also star.