Summer Movies Don't Have to Suck

Flicks to look into on the edge of tomorrow—and the next months

The Trip to Italy
A road movie about two past-their-prime Brits wining and dining their way through the sun-dappled Italian countryside? Only if they're Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, reuniting with director Michael Winterbottom in this second course to 2011's The Trip. (Like that film, this was a BBC series whittled to feature length for a theatrical run.) If The Trip is a reliable harbinger, they'll keep the annoying foodie-talk to a minimum and the simmering mutual antagonism—and perhaps the dueling Michael Caine impressions—turned up to 11. Confidence: 80 percent. (Aug. 15, limited)

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THE METHOD RHYTHM (dramas)

Night Moves
Who knows why co-writer/director Kelly Reichardt repurposed the title of a great Arthur Penn detective movie from 1975 for her drama about environmental activists plotting to blow up a dam? Her brilliant, languorous western, Meek's Cutoff, was the spiritual photo-negative of the "summer movie," thoughtful and unresolved. This one has at least a whiff of a thriller engine, which could be a good thing or a less-good thing. Stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard. Sold. Confidence: 80 percent. (May 30, limited)

Boyhood
Writer/director Richard Linklater re-teams with his Before trilogy confederate Ethan Hawke for this story of a kid's shifting relationship with his divorced parents (Hawke and Patricia Arquette). In 2002, Linklater cast seven-year-old Ellar Coltrane and shot scenes with him every summer through 2013, allowing us to watch Coltrane grow into a young man before our eyes. Has no one has used this gimmick in a fiction film before now? Not on this scale, apparently. I'm glad a filmmaker as sensitive and reliable as Linklater got there first. Confidence: 95 percent. (July 11, limited)

A Most Wanted Man
Who better to direct a twitchy John le Carré adaptation set in post-9/11 Hamburg than Anton Corbijn, the photographer-turned-filmmaker who got U2 to not-smile for album covers for decades? His prior existential thriller, 2010's The American, was a lean, chilly gem that hearkened back to the morally ambiguous suspense pictures of the '70s. Besides featuring one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final performances (the film was shot in 2012), the film features Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, and Daniel Brühl. Confidence: 85 percent. (July 25, limited)

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