(100) Days of Summer Movies
First off, forgive us for not having the budget to upgrade this summer movie preview to 3D. Rest assured, there are plenty of eye-popping (brain-numbing?) epics in the preview list that follows, but to our pleasure and surprise, there is a surplus of attention-worthy 2D flicks, too. Happy summer, movie fans. And this time we mean it. (As always, all dates are subject to change.)
Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and UFC champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson are a disgraced special-ops team out to clear their name in director Joe Carnahan’s adaptation of the 1980s TV show [insert Mr. T joke here].
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
In 1920s Paris, Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) invites a penniless Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) to bring along his wife and children and live with her in her famed Parisian villa, Bel Respiro. Soon, the great designer is seducing the great composer in this opulent drama from Dutch director Jan Kounen.
El Súperstar: The Unlikely Rise of Juan Francés
After his parents die, Beverly Hills white boy Jonathan French (Spencer John French) is raised by his Mexican nanny (Lupe Ontiveros). As an adult, Jonathan becomes Juan Francés, ranchero singing star, in this faux documentary comedy from filmmaker Amy French.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Co-directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg track the indefatigable comic over the course of a recent year, forming a documentary that festival audiences expected to disdain and ending up loving. At age 76, Joan has buzz.
The Karate Kid
This remake of the 1984 Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita flick about a teenage boy who gains personal wisdom as well as mad skills from a kung-fu master stars Jaden Smith (son of Will) as the pupil and Jackie Chan as his teacher. See review.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead
There are vampires in the state of Denmark, or so it appears to a young Manhattan director (Jake Hoffman, son of Dustin) whose staging of Hamlet has more bite than he expected. Written and directed by Jordan Galland.
In her follow-up to 2004’s Down to the Bone, the movie that put Vera Farmiga on the map, filmmaker Debra Granik adapts Daniel Woodrell’s powerful novel about an Ozark mountain girl’s desperate search for her missing father.
Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly are newly, blissfully in love in this drama from the brotherly filmmaking duo of Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair). Jonah Hill co-stars as Tomei’s clinging, interfering son.
8: The Mormon Proposition
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) narrates this expose of the Mormon Church’s alleged financial support of California’s Proposition 8, which denied marriage rights to same-sex couples. Co-directed by Steven Greenstreet and Reed Cowan.
French filmmaker Christian Carion enlists two acclaimed actor/directors to star in a fact-based thriller about a KGB colonel (Time of the Gypsies director Emir Kusturica) who passed secret documents to a French businessman (Tell No One director Guillaume Canet) in the early 1980s.
I Am Love
In this extravagantly romantic film from writer/director Luca Guadagnino, the ever-fierce Tilda Swinton plays a Russian who married into a powerful Italian family when she was young. Nearing middle age, she’s happy, she thinks, until she begins an affair that will either save her life or destroy it.
Based on a long-running DC Comics character, this supernaturally tinged comedy-Western features Josh Brolin as a badly scarred post-Civil War bounty hunter in search of a mad-dog killer—played, of course, by John Malkovich.
The Killer Inside Me
Casey Affleck is Lou Ford, a 1950s-era West Texas deputy sheriff who also happens to be a psychopathic killer. Directed by Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart) and based on Jim Thompson’s brilliant and brutal 1952 novel. Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba co-star.
Let It Rain
Veteran French actor/filmmaker Agnès Jaoui (The Taste of Others) stars as a feminist writer who returns to her childhood home and finds herself embroiled in a comic roundelay of romance, sibling rivalry and political intrigue.
The Nature of Existence
“Why do we exist?” That’s the first question on filmmaker Roger Nygard’s long list of things to ask the philosophers, spiritual leaders, scientists and artists he’ll meet as he travels the world over four years for this documentary.
Filmmakers Kate Davis and David Hellbrone re-examine the 1968 police raid on Greenwich Village’s Stonewall bar, an event that sparked a riot, days of protest, and the modern gay-rights movement.
Toy Story 3
Where do toys go when their kid grows up and moves away? After they survive one of their patented Pixar adventures, be prepared to well up as Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the toys of Andy’s room see their favorite human off to college. Written by Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) and directed by Lee Unkrich. (We hear Mr. Potatohead steals the movie.)
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider star as childhood buddies reuniting for the first time in 30 years. We’re thinking it’s a comedy. Directed by Dennis Dugan (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry).
Knight and Day
Tom Cruise is a renegade secret agent and Cameron Diaz his unwitting blind date and, all too suddenly, his reluctant sidekick in a mission to save a brilliant scientist (Paul Dano). Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma).
Journalist Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and photographer Tim Hetherington take along a movie camera to shadow the 173rd Airborne Brigade as they battle the Taliban amid the unforgiving terrain of the Korengal Valley. Winner of this year’s Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
South of the Border
Early reviews suggest director Oliver Stone’s documentary about America’s rocky relationship with its South American neighbors, which features the director taking a road trip with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, is surprisingly even-handed, though we aren’t expecting FOX News to snap up the broadcast rights.
French auteur Alain Resnais (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad), who turns 88 this summer, enlists two of his favorite actors, André Dussollier and Sabine Azéma, for this comic tale of romantic obsession, unending movie-love, and the transcendent glories of the colors red, yellow and blue.
Taylor Hackford (Ray) directs his wife, Helen Mirren, along with Joe Pesci, in the so-crazy-it-has-to-be true story of Sally and Joe Conforte, whose 1970s Reno brothel, known as “Mustang Ranch,” led the way to legalized prostitution in Nevada.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
A dreamboat vampire, a hunky werewolf, a confused teenage girl—stop us if you’ve heard of this one. Directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night).
The Girl Who Played With Fire
For the second film in the Stieg Larsson “Millennium Trilogy” (the first was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace return as a financial journalist and tattooed hacker, respectively, who are once again up to their necks in murder and intrigue.
The Last Airbender
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) adapts Nickelodeon’s animated fantasy series about a 12-year-old (Noah Ringer) with the ability to control all four elements—Water, Earth, Air and Fire. No pressure there.
Gossip Girl heartthrob Chace Crawford is the best-looking drug dealer on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Emma Roberts his clueless girlfriend in this adaptation of Nick McDonell’s best-seller, published, famously, when the author was only 17. Directed by Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire) and featuring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as Crawford’s rival.
The Kids Are All Right
Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play a Southern California lesbian couple with two teenagers they had with the sperm of an anonymous donor. When the kids track down their biological father (Mark Ruffalo), the mothers are more than a little freaked. Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon).
Countdown to Zero
In this documentary about the likelihood of a nuclear bomb going off in the near future, director Lucy Walker divides the cause for a possible detonation into three categories: accident, miscalculation and insanity.
There are villains aplenty in this 3D animated comedy, chief among them the cranky, unfulfilled Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) whose plan to steal the moon is hitting a few snags.
Some of the world’s filmmaking iconoclasts—Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch and Agnès Varda among them—discuss their methods and madness in this documentary by Angela Ismailos.
The alien creature that stalked Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 1987 and spawned a host of bad sequels is back, thanks to executive producer Robert Rodriguez. Adrien Brody, Lawrence Fishburne and Topher Grace are the unlucky mercenaries about to become alien bait.
This sequel to the decidedly creepy Spanish horror film Rec (the Hollywood version was called Quarantine) picks up moments after the original ended, as a special-ops team enters a Barcelona apartment, the inhabitants of which are infected with a virus that turns them drooly and demonic.
A disgraced Russian conductor (Aleksei Guskov) seeks to rewrite history in this drama from Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu. Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) co-stars.
Arguably the most anticipated movie of the summer, if not the year, this thriller from writer/director Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) is shrouded in secrecy. We do know that Leonardo DiCaprio heads up a team of “dream thieves” that includes Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe (though maybe he’s the bad guy).
A 10-year-old boy fights with his father on Christmas Eve and runs away to Dublin with a neighbor girl in tow. Filmmaker Lance Daly’s follow-up to The Halo Effect has been much-admired on the festival circuit.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Nicolas Cage, teaming up again with National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub, plays a modern-day conjurer who enlists an NYU student (Jay Baruchel) to help him save the world from an evil wizard (Alfred Molina). The adventure film was reportedly inspired by the Mickey Mouse-as-sorcerer sequence in Fantasia (that scares us just a little bit).
Dinner for Schmucks
The schmuck is Barry (Steve Carell), a nerd deluxe who’s thrilled to be invited by his boss (Paul Rudd) to a dinner for big shots. What Barry doesn’t know is that he’s being set up for big-time ridicule in this comedy from director Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers).
Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel
With the full cooperation of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, Canadian filmmaker Brigitte Berman looks back at Hef’s tumultuous early days, when his newfangled ideas about nudity, sex, gay rights and drug use, among other things, shocked readers and seriously annoyed the Feds.
Life During Wartime
It has been 12 years since writer/director Todd Solondz’s hilarious yet emotionally wrenching suburban black comedy Happiness. In this sequel, the filmmaker catches up with the original characters, but he has recast all the roles, as if to acknowledge that neither he nor his characters can possibly be the same people a decade later.
Ramona and Beezus
In the film version of young-adult novelist Beverly Cleary’s iconic “Ramona” character, created in the 1950s, 11-year-old Joey King plays the spunky third grader with Disney Channel star Selena Gomez as her older sister, Beatrice, a.k.a. “Beezus.”
Angelina Jolie channels her inner Jason Bourne—she leaps, she kicks, she kills—in director Phillip Noyce’s action thriller about a CIA operative who’s accused of being a Russian spy. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor co-star.
Circa 1000 A.D., a Norse warrior (Mads Mikkelsen) leads a band of hyperactive Christians on a quest for the Holy Land. Prepare to wince: Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s movies, including last year’s Bronson, as well as the astonishing Pusher trilogy, are never less than brutal.
The Adjustment Bureau
It’s love at first sight for Congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) and ballerina Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), but is fate or sinister earthly forces conspiring to keep them apart? Screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of a 1954 story by Phillip K. Dick.
Seventeen-year-old Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) thinks he’s hot stuff until the night he disses a Goth girl named Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), who’s actually a witch. Kendra’s revenge sends Kyle on a search for love in writer/director Daniel Barnz’s adaptation of Alex Finn’s popular teen novel.
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Putting their ongoing war—chronicled in the 2004 hit Cats and Dogs—on hold, canines and felines team up to stop a creepily hairless cat with dreams of world domination. Bette Midler is the voice of the evil Kitty Galore in this live-action family film.
The Dry Land
After a reunion with his wife (America Ferrera) takes a violent turn, James (Ryan O’Nan), a West Texas soldier newly home from the Iraq War, takes a road trip to visit his war buddies (Wilmer Valderrama, Diego Klattenhoff) and hopefully find some inner peace. Written and directed by Ryan Piers Williams.
The Extra Man
It’s a collision of eccentrics when a lonely, cross-dressing teacher (Paul Dano) becomes the roommate of an “escort” (Kevin Kline) for wealthy widows. Based on a novel by Jonathan Ames, this film from co-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (American Splendor) features Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly and the rarely seen but always welcome Patti D’Arbanville.
Legend has it there once was a secretly wealthy Tennessee hermit who decided to throw his own funeral so he could hear the stories people had to tell about him. In this beautifully acted 1930s period piece from director Aaron Schneider, Robert Duvall is the hermit, Sissy Spacek his old flame, and Bill Murray the town’s newly energized funeral director.
I Killed My Mother
French-Canadian writer/director Xavier Dolan, 20, not only makes his feature debut with this drama about a 16-year-old gay teen’s battles with his mother, but he stars in the film as well.
Newly released from the Dutch army, a young man (Thure Lindhardt) falls in with a neo-Nazi street gang, only to find himself having romantic feelings for one of the members (David Densik). When they become lovers, things get dicey in this debut feature from Nicolo Donato.
Patricia Clarkson is a Canadian journalist who has come to Egypt to meet up with her husband. When he’s delayed, the husband sends an Egyptian friend (Alexander Siddig) to keep his wife company. Probably not a great idea. Written and directed by Ruba Nadda.
Hey, man, don’t delete that chain letter that just landed in your inbox. If you do, the sender is going to snatch you up, wrap you in chains (get it?) and torture you. To death!
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
There’s reportedly a memorably clever bit of business involving a stray bullet casing in this British kidnapping thriller from first-time filmmaker J. Blakeson. Eddie Marsan, the addled driving instructor in Happy-Go-Lucky, stars.
Mao’s Last Dancer
From director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) comes the true story of Chinese-born ballet dancer Li Cunxin, who was sent to dance with the Houston Ballet as part of a 1970s cultural-exchange program. Li eventually married an American, sparking an international tussle between the two countries. Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan and Chi Cao star.
In this fact-based drama, set in the late 1990s, Luke Wilson stars as a fixer of troubled businesses who meets two guys (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) who’ve figured out a way to transmit pornography over the Internet. Wilson helps them get organized and super-rich, and then the real trouble begins. Co-starring James Caan and directed by George Gallo.
The Other Guys
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg channel their inner Serpico in this comedy about two mediocre New York detectives who get a shot at the case of a lifetime. Co-starring Eva Mendes and Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman).
Step Up 3D
Filmmaker Jon M. Chu, who received some surprisingly good reviews for his work on Step Up 2, returns to direct the third installment in the popular series about the underground dance scene in New York. This edition has been filmed in 3D, so expect to be kicked in the face by a hot dancer.
The Wildest Dream
In June 1924, English mountain climber George Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, vanished near the summit of Mount Everest. Mallory’s body was found 75 years later by American climber Conrad Anker, who joins first-time filmmaker Anthony Geffe to re-create Mallory’s original climb. Narrated by Liam Neeson.
Bill (Robert Hill) and his son Karl (co-writer Robin Hill, acting opposite his father) of Brighton, England, are gangsters, but not the really scary kind. Fresh out of prison, they want to relax but can’t helping thinking there’s a traitor in their midst in this black comedy from writer/director Ben Wheatley.
Eat Pray Love
Writer/director Ryan Murphy took time away from his hit TV show Glee to direct Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir about her worldwide search for enlightenment after a rough divorce. James Franco, Billy Crudup and Richard Jenkins co-star.
Action gods Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren join forces to kick ass and blow things up in a film co-written and directed by Sly himself.
Writer/director Samuel Maoz takes us inside a four-man Israeli Army tank as the soldiers move into a bombed-out Lebanese town in this war drama set in the early days of the 1980s war.
Mesrine: Killer Instinct
In what’s sure to be one of the great roles of his career, Vincent Cassel (Eastern Promises) plays legendary French gangster Jacques Mesrine, who both charmed and terrorized the nation in the 1970s. This is the first of a two-part epic from director Jean-Francois Richet.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
The road to everlasting love isn’t going to be easy for musician Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), who must vanquish his new girlfriend’s seven exes, all of whom happen to have super powers. Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead).
Tales From Earthsea
Taking over a project his father, Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), long dreamed of making, first-time filmmaker Goro Miyazaki helms this anime adaptation of Ursula LeGuin’s revered Earthsea fantasy novels.
On the road from Johannesburg to Capetown for his wedding, a groom and his best man encounter all manner of oddities—including a pro-apartheid bar and a hitchhiking goat—in this South African comedy hit directed by Jann Turner.
The Lottery Ticket
It takes luck to win a mega-millions lottery ticket, but it may take a miracle for Kevin (Bow Wow), a young Atlanta man, to keep his family, friends and neighbors from getting their mitts on the ticket over a long Fourth of July weekend. Ice Cube and Loretta Devine co-star in director Erik White’s debut comedy.
Nanny McPhee 2
When two spoiled city kids visit their country cousins on an English farm, it’s a culture clash that only the ugly-yet-magical Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) can resolve. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maggie Smith co-star for director Susanna White in the second film of a projected trilogy.
After the dramatic intensity of his acclaimed films Head On and The Edge of Heaven, Turkish-German director Fatih Akin lightens up with this comedy about a young Hamburg man’s attempts to save his failing restaurant, win back his girl and keep his parolee brother out of jail. Co-writer Adam Bousdoukos stars.
Drunk and jealous that his best friend Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) didn’t choose him to be her sperm donor, Wally (Jason Bateman) replaces the donor’s swimmers with his own. Kassie moves away, but seven years later, she’s back, and wow, that kid sure looks like Wally, doesn’t he? Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory) co-direct.
For the snazzily dressed, super-efficient, LA-bank-robbing gang led by Idris Elba (Obsessed), there’s one last big heist to pull off. (Isn’t there always?) Their plan is brilliant, but the LA detectives played by Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez have one of their own. Paul Walker, Zoë Saldana and Hayden Christensen co-star.
The Tillman Story
Josh Brolin narrates Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary about Dannie and Patrick Tillman’s crusade to prove that their son Pat, a pro football star who enlisted right after 9/11, died from friendly fire in Afghanistan.
Going the Distance
Drew Barrymore and Justin Long play it for laughs in this comedy about the perils of sustaining a long-distance love. Christina Applegate and Ron Livingston co-star; Nanette Burstein (American Teen) directs.
The Last Exorcism
An evangelical priest (Patrick Fabian) who has spent his life performing fake exorcisms on deluded people may have finally stumbled upon the real deal. Daniel Stamm directs this horror movie produced by actor/director Eli Roth (Hostel).
The Milk of Sorrow
Fausta (Magaly Solier), the daughter of a woman who was brutally raped during the political upheavals of 1980s Peru, believes she was born without a soul due to the violence she witnessed from her mother’s womb. Her search for peace informs this recent Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film from writer/director Claudia Llosa.
Spring break. College kids. Zillions of flesh-eating piranha fish. Got it? Elizabeth Shue and Jerry O’Connell try to save the day (but not their careers). Directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes).
After a fierce battle with local tribesmen in northern Britain, circa 117 A.D., a beleaguered band of Roman soldiers tries to get home in this action drama from the talented writer/director Neil Marshall (The Descent). Michael Fassbender and Dominic West star.
“I am death’s booking clerk, death’s bellhop.” So states the narrator of Martin Booth’s 2004 novel, A Very Private Gentleman. In this film version, directed by Anton Corbijn (Control), George Clooney is that “bellhop,” who may or may not be an assassin, but either way, he might soon be hunted like one.
Born to Be a Star
When a Midwestern nerd (Nick Swardson) finds out that his parents were once porn stars, he hits the road to Hollywood to see if he, too, has the goods. Tom Brady directs this comedy, co-written by Adam Sandler.
Director Robert Rodriguez, with the help of co-director Ethan Maniquis, has gone and made a real movie out of the fake trailer he created for the 2007 anthology flick, Grindhouse. In his first starring role, the great Danny Trejo plays an ex-Mexican Federale who has been (as the faker trailer puts it) “set up, double-crossed and left for dead.”
This article appeared in print in a shortened version as "(100) Days of Summer Movies: Enjoy the great indoors!"
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