Sunday, July 1, 2012

July at the Movies

Cross-posted on and commissioned by

Now smack dab in the middle of the Summer movie season, July gives us the last two giant superhero flicks of the year, along with raunchy comedies, adult dramas, and two giant handfuls of festival darlings. Plus the biggest box office war of all time begins when 'The Dark Knight Rises' steps in to challenge Avengers for the all time throne. So what do we have to look forward to?

Marvel vs DC

"The Amazing Spiderman" - Tuesday, July 3rd
Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner.
Marc Webb's sadly mostly unnecessary reboot of the Spider-Man franchise finally hits theaters on Tuesday. While Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone make a stellar Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, and the film's fight and flight sequences are fantastic, the story falls a little flat, as it feels way too well tread already, not rebooting the series truly from the ground up the way Batman did or to a certain extent, X-Men did with 'First Class'. Still, the ingredients are there and I feel positive that an origin-less sequel, will bring out the best in the new series.

"The Dark Knight Rises" - Friday July 20th
Eight years after Batman took the fall for Two Face's crimes, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.
If any movie this summer has the potential to break the 'Avengers' 600 million worldwide record, it's the final installment in Chris Nolan's Batman franchise. I've tried my damnedest to know nothing about this film as I want to see everything for the first time when I plop down in my cushy IMAX chair, but I can tell you this - early world is that the film is a masterpiece and even better than 'The Dark Knight'. If it meets these expectations, maybe Oscar will finally give this series the Oscar nod it so richly deserved the last time around.

More after the jump!

For The Kiddies

"Ice Age: Continental Drift" Friday July 13th
Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.
I could have sworn this movie came out already, then I realized I was thinking of 'Madagascar 3' *and* 'Ice Age 3D' and just gave up trying anymore with these. I've never seen an 'Ice Age' film, though I know they are major hits. It's just -- can I break this streak when I've come so far already?! This fourth installment once again features the voiced of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary, along with a host of other names, and actually marks the ten year anniversary of the first Ice Age film, which is kind of nuts to think about. For you fellow film nears out there, it's the first of the franchise to be shot in the 2:35:1 aspect ratio, and the second to be screened in digital 3D. I saw some footage at CinemaCon and it looked exactly the same as every other preview for every other Ice Age movie where something silly happens to a small woodland creature. Hooray!

"Step Up Revolution" - Friday July 27th
Emily arrives in Miami with aspirations to become a professional dancer. She sparks with Sean, the leader of a dance crew whose neighborhood is threatened by Emily's father's development plans.
The 87th and thankfully last sequel on this list, 'Step Up Revolution' is the fourth of the wildly popular series that jumpstarted Man of the Year Channing Tatum's career back in 2006. Step Up Revolution has fans extra excited because in a genius move of knowing your audience, stars Kathryn McCormick of 'So You Think You Can Dance'. It's 3D, it's probably filled with sexy times, and no doubt the dance is incredible. I can sense the middle schoolers getting ready to buy their opening night tickets already.


Savages - Friday, July 6th
Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.
After watching footage from this latest from Oliver Stone at CinemaCon, I found myself dying to see it, but also very confused as to whether or not it will actually be….good. Taylor Kitsch has racked up a terrible track record, and frankly Aaron Johnson and Blake Lively's aren't much better. Could this be the film to bring all three critical and mainstream praise? More importantly for lots of fans out there - could this be the film that makes people start caring about John Travolta again? There's a lot on the line with this gritty crime thriller, the first film from Stone since 2010's 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps'. Early reviews suggest it's fun and stylish enough to warrant a theater viewing.

Killer Joe - Friday, July 27
When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.
When I asked friends who caught this movie during LAFF what they thought, I heard a succinct chorus of "wow that was screwed up and weird and screwed up and wow….but in a good way! I think." So take that for what it's worth. One of five Matthew McConaughey movies being released this year for some strange reason, 'Killer Joe' is the latest from legend Willian Friedkin and is definitely rated NC-17. No surprise considering its written by 'Bug' mastermind Tracy Letts, the man responsible for oh so may nightmares of mine in college after seeing that show off-broadway Sophomore year.

Klvwn - Friday, July 27
In order to prove his fatherhood potential to his pregnant girlfriend, Frank 'kidnaps' her 12-year-old nephew and tags along on his best friend Casper's debauched weekend canoe trip.
All of I've heard about this Danish sex comedy to come after six seasons of the 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'-ish tv show of the same name, is that it is one of the most hilarious in a long time. After killing at Fantasia, Fantastic Fest and more outside of the box film fests, its finally getting its US release. Nothing can stop me from checking it opening weekend.

The Watch - Friday, July 27
Suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch group as a way to get out of their day-to-day family routines find themselves defending the Earth from an alien invasion.
Following in the trend of real life - meets - genre that has been dominating a lot of 2012 (see: 'Extrateresstrial', 'Sound of my Voice', 'It's a Disaster', 'Safety Not Guaranteed', 'Robot & Frank'), 'The Watch' pits neighborhood watch dads played by Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and EXCITED ALERT Richard Ayoade against alien invaders. It's written by Seth Rogen who has had ups ('Superbad', 'Pineapple Express') and downs ('Drillbit Taylor', 'Green Hornet'), so it really could go either way, but its directed by Lonely Island mastermind Akiva Schaffer and the trailer is funny enough to convince it might actually be a great time at the movies. Am I naive for thinking so? Whatever, RICHARD AYOADE YOU GUYS!

Coming to an Independent Movie Theater Near You

Alps - Friday, July 13
A group of people start a business where they impersonate the recently deceased in order to help their clients through the grieving process.
Giorgos Lanthimos' follow up to 2009's Oscar nominee 'Dogtooth' has made appearances at every festival from Toronto to Hong Kong to San Francisco and on and on and on, picking up honors for Best Screenplay at Venice. I was disappointed to miss the movie at AFI Fest, but am thrilled to see it getting a US theatrical distribution as the log-line alone gives me chills.

Easy Money - Friday, July 13
A three-tiered story centered around drugs and organized crime, and focused on a young man who becomes a runner for a coke dealer.
This Swedish crime thriller starring Joel Kinnaman (who everyone keeps swearing to me is a real person, but I still doubt, as I've yet to see anything he is in, but keep seeing his name ALL OF THE PLACES, NO I DON'T WANT TO WATCH THE KILLING) is finally coming to theaters after an 18 month long festival run. Reactions out of LA Film Fest were pretty positive, praising its strong performances, though apparently it's a bit of a slow burn.

Trishna - Friday, July 13
The story of the tragic relationship between the son of a property developer and the daughter of an auto rickshaw owner.
'Tess of the D'Ubervilles' by way of Bollywood, this film directed by Michael Winterbottom ('The Trip') stars Freida Pinto in a chance to prove she can actually act. Although it understandably lost to my favorite movie of last year 'We Need to Talk about Kevin' at the London Film Festival, it was still nominated alongside big guns 'Kid with a Bike', 'Shame', and the 'Artist', and positive word on the street has me excited to see it when it finally hits theaters.

Ruby Sparks - Friday, July 25
A novelist struggling with writer's block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.
This film directed by 'Little Miss Sunshine' helmerrs Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris stars real life couple Zoe Kazan (doubling as screenwriter) and Paul Dano, and received wonderful response after its secret screening at LA Film Fest last week. With airs of the underrated 'Stranger than Fiction', aimed at the indie set, I have a sneaking suspicion I will love this movie. Plus, it features bit performances from seminal team players Elliott Gould, Steve Coogan and Chris Messina and 'True Blood' favorite Deborah Ann Woll. It has summer sleeper hit written all over it.

A Look Inside A Life

Katy Perry: Part of Me - Friday, July 5th
A documentary that chronicles Katy Perry's life on and off-stage.
This film almost went into the For The Kiddies section until I watched the trailer. 'Part Of Me' seems like it may actually provide a very candid look at the pop star whose life became non stop tabloid fodder when her romantic life took center stage upon meeting actor Russell Brand a couple years ago. Covering her very Christian upbringing and her recent depression amidst the 3D concert footage could make for an interesting film. Maybe? Seems to me a very bold direction to take when making a doc about a pop star that gets tweens a dancing and hey, I can appreciate that.

Searching for sugar Man - Friday, July 25
Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock 'n' roller, Rodriguez.
One of my favorite films of LA Film Fest, 'Searching for Sugar Man' has been setting the indie scene on fire since walking away with the documentary audience award at Sundance, along with the special jury prize for its celebration of the artistic spirit. It also won second place doc audience award at Tribeca and won audience international award at LA Film Fest. In case you haven't put it together by now, this film is a massive crowd pleaser and beautiful filmmaking on top of that. Check out a more in depth review here.