By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
Summer of Salvation
Harry Potter is back. Plus, 39 other movies we can’t wait to see this season
“The cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake,” Alfred Hitchcock once said, and if that’s true—and who are we to dispute the Master?—then summertime is when we gorge (unhealthily, most of the time, on ear-splitting smash-’em-ups and nerd-filled sex comedies). This year’s summer-movie season is sure to contain its share of brain goo—is that the march of angry zombies we hear?—but there are more satisfying things on the menu, too. Gorging, we say, is good—it’s the American way—but as we peruse the upcoming multiplex offerings, let’s pledge to seek out the occasional rare delicacy. To help, we’ve narrowed down the season’s gazillion releases, and what follows is our list of the best, most intriguing, most promising films. All dates are subject to change. Happy summer.
Away We Go
Married novelists of staggering genius, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida team with director Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road) to send pregnant newlyweds (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) on a sweetly comic road trip across America. Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Paul Schneider co-star as the friends and family (a.k.a. eccentrics) who offer the couple temporary refuge. June 5.
Yolande Moreau stars as the French painter Séraphine Louis, who worked as a servant before her gift for painting was discovered in 1912. Director Martin Provost tracks Séraphine’s fast rise and heartbreaking fall in a film that won seven César Awards (the French Oscars), including Best Picture and Best Actress. June 5.
In writing his first original screenplay since 1974’s The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola reportedly mined his own backstory for this tale of two brothers (Vincent Gallo and Alden Ehrenreich) trying to come to terms with their complex family history. Set in contemporary Buenos Aires, Tetro was filmed in black-and-white, a style Coppola last employed for 1983’s Rumble Fish. June 11.
Moviegoers aren’t likely to rush to the supermarket after seeing this disturbing exposé of the underregulated, profit-mad American food industry. It’s time to plant that garden. Directed by Robert Kenner. June 12.
After three years alone on the moon, a spaceman of the near-future (Sam Rockwell) begins hallucinating—and eventually wakes up to find he’s sharing the ship with an exact replica of . . . himself. This is the first feature for Duncan Jones, whose father (just so you know) is David Bowie. June 12.
Woody Allen returns to Manhattan after an extended European vacation and casts Larry David as a hypochondriac physicist whose spirits are lifted when he befriends and later weds a dippy 20-year-old (Evan Rachel Wood). The film is reportedly based on a script Allen wrote 30 years ago—luckily, neuroticism is timeless. June 19.
New York animator Tatia Rosenthal traveled to Australia to make this acclaimed stop-motion comedy concerning the peculiar adventures of the residents of an Aussie apartment building, including two boys who’ve spent $9.99 (and not a penny more) on a book that promises the secret to life. June 19.
The Hurt Locker
Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Guy Pearce go to war in this intense drama about a bomb-defusing unit stationed in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq War. Look for cameos by Ralph Fiennes and David Morse. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. June 26.
Nanni Moretti stars as an Italian film exec devastated by the death of his wife. Left to raise a 10-year-old daughter, the man finds himself unable to part from her and ends up spending his days in the park opposite her Rome school. Directed by Antonio Grimaldi and featuring Roman Polanski in a small role. June 26.
The Beaches of Agnès
The renowned French filmmaker Agnès Varda (Vagabond), now 80, continues her ongoing cinematic autobiography with this César Award-winning documentary. Using the world’s beaches as both backdrop and metaphor, Varda recalls the important people of her life, including her late husband, filmmaker Jacques Demy, as well as rock star Jim Morrison. July 1.
Johnny Depp is 1930s bank robber extraordinaire John Dillinger; Christian Bale is FBI super-agent Melvin Purvis, hot on his trail, Tommy gun in hand. The director is Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat), who knows a thing or two about bad-guy/good-guy showdowns. Bullets will fly. July 1.
It seemed like a fun idea at the time: Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard), lifelong buds, get high at a party where they agree, in front of witnesses, to “do it” (with each other) for a sex-tape film festival. Their girlfriends are amused, and then . . . they’re not. Lynn Shelton directed. July 10.
In the days preceding Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s 1974 fight, musical giants such as James Brown, B.B. King, Bill Withers and Celia Cruz gathered in Zaire for a three-day concert. Oscar winner Jeffrey Levy-Hinte (When We Were Kings) has restored a mountain of found footage of the concert and the chaos that surrounded it for this high-energy doc. July 10.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
A nerdy but increasingly sexy teenage boy with magical powers and an invisible cloak learns the true history of his archenemy, whose name we dare not utter. David Yates directs this installment of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series. July 15.
(500) Days of Summer
An LA greeting-card writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds true love in the form of a beautiful co-worker (Zooey Deschanel) in Marc Webb’s romantic comedy, which literally counts the days of this up-and-down relationship. July 17.
In the Loop
British satirist Armando Iannucci (BBC’s The Thick of It) goes to Washington in this fictional riff on the political scrambling—British and American alike—that preceded the Iraq War. Starring Tom Hollander and featuring James Gandolfini as an American general who speaks in snappy one-liners. July 17.
Flame and Citron
Flame (Thure Lindhardt) and Citron (Mads Mikkelsen) were the code names for two resistance fighters in Denmark during the Nazi Occupation. Ole Christian Madsen tells their story in a film that’s been a smash hit in its home country, where Mikkelsen is a superstar. July 31.
Belgium’s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (La promesse, L’enfant), among the world’s finest filmmakers, return with this story of an Albanian refugee (Arta Dobroshi) who finds herself going to extremes in order to gain Belgian citizenship. Advance buzz, including a screening at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, heralds Dobroshi as a great discovery. July 31.
In the 1960s, Richard O’Barry captured five dolphins and trained them to play “Flipper” on the popular TV show. Since then, he has become obsessed with getting footage of the brutal slaughter of dolphins in a Japanese port town. Louie Psihoyos tracks O’Barry’s quest in this wrenching documentary. July 31.
Julie & Julia
Nora Ephron adapts Julie Powell’s memoir of the year she spent making all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Amy Adams portrays Powell, whose inner musings on Child’s life and times are enacted by none other than Meryl Streep. Looking forward to that accent. Aug. 7.
In a documentary that’s not really a documentary, comedian Charlyne Yi (Knocked Up) conducts interviews to see if anyone still believes in true love. Enter actor Michael Cera, playing himself (sort of) and falling for Yi, who, in real life, is already his girlfriend. Got that? Directed by Nicholas Jasenovec. Aug. 7.
From first-time director Neill Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson, a sci-fi epic about extraterrestrials that landed in South Africa 30 years ago, only to be captured, segregated and brutally mistreated by the government. The rest of the plot is a secret (so far), but we all know what happens when you piss off a space creature. Aug. 14.
From Disney, the new film by master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle). In Miyazaki’s take on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid,” a goldfish named Ponyo longs to become human. Looks like Ariel’s got competition. Aug. 14.
Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee lightens up for this tie-dye-filled adaptation of Elliot Tiber’s terrific Woodstock memoir. Tiber, played here by comedian Demetri Martin, isn’t famous, but his family’s dilapidated motel was ground zero for the iconic festival. Aug. 14.
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Henry (Eric Bana), a Chicago librarian, is forever bouncing around in time (literally). This makes life/marriage hard for Clare (Rachel McAdams), his wife, whose attempts to hold him still are captured in this film version of Audrey Niffenegger’s best-seller. Directed by Robert Schwentke. Aug. 14.
Blame the bad spelling of the title on those infernal Nazis, who refer to the band of Jewish-American soldier/assassins led by Brad Pitt as “The Basterds.” Quentin Tarantino’s World War II action flick also stars Diane Kruger, B.J. Novak (The Office), Hostel writer/director Eli Roth and last, but never least, the mighty Cloris Leachman. Aug. 21.
It Might Get Loud
Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) cuts loose in his new documentary, which finds rock gods Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White singing the praises of their respective electric guitars. Then they jam. Loudly. Aug. 21.
The Boat That Rocked
It’s 1966, and rock & roll has yet to make it to the airwaves of the BBC, which controls all radio stations in England. So Philip Seymour Hoffman leads a renegade band of disc jockeys as they broadcast the devil’s music from a boat off the U.K. shore in this comedy from Richard Curtis, the director of Love Actually. Aug. 28.
Mesrine: A Film in Two Parts
Vincent Cassel, who was so extraordinary as the mob boss’ son in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, moves up the crime ladder in this four-hour epic about the action-packed life (murders, kidnappings—the works) of modern-day French criminal Jacques Mesrine. Directed by Jean-François Richet. Aug. 28.
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