I’ve been fearing this for a little while now. And now it’s here, and I have a drab, listless feeling at the pit of my stomach. I’m referring, of course, to the month of June.
May contained most of the movies that I was most looking forward to this summer and, for the most part, I was pleased with what I got. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a rocky start, sure. Dumber than hell, but still kinda fun. But then we had Star Trek, and what a blissful excursion to the movies that turned out to be! It was an absolutely terrific film and when the following week gave me the monstrous shittiness that was Angels & Demons, I didn’t care. After that, there was Terminator: Salvation, which I was really excited to see, and while it was certainly a bit on the disappointing side in some areas, it was very entertaining and cool.
But friends, this past weekend was the absolute tops. Up and Drag Me to Hell are probably my two favorite films of the year thus far (with Coraline, Star Trek, and Watchmen close behind). It was a hell of a treat for them to be released together–and quite amusing too, being so obviously of two distinct polarities (north and south, if you will). It made for quite the novel double feature on Friday night when I saw Up followed by my second helping of Drag Me to Hell. I doubt we’ll get a better single weekend for movies all year than the one that just waved goodbye.
And now there’s very little left for me to get behind in the scraps to be found in the coming months. First, there’s going to be quite the assortment of comedies that don’t look very good, like The Hangover, Land of the Lost, I Love You Beth Cooper…even Harold Ramis’s Year One looks kinda lame, and the over-hyped Bruno looks to be trying way too hard for some attention. On the action front, The Taking of Pelham 123 looks a little ho-hum, and while Michael Mann’s Public Enemies certainly looks very good, I just can’t seem to get myself really hyped about it. G.I. Joe, as expected, looks terrible, and don’t get me started on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I know a lot of people love this stuff, but I just can’t bring myself to get behind it. I just can’t.
I have, however, managed to find five movies that I’m reasonably excited to see. Some are big, some are small, and some find a safe spot on that nice middle-ground.
Tetro (June 11 – Limited)
Francis Ford Coppola’s new film looks to be pretty artsy and wild–but it stars Vincent Gallo, so I suppose that’s to be expected on some level. I love black and white, and I love a good film about the obsessive nature of artistic ambition (rock me, Amadeus!!). Frankly I just like to see Coppola back on the scene and making films that he seems to really care about. While Youth Without Youth didn’t totally work for me (and a lot of other people), I nevertheless admired it. I can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve with this one!
The Hurt Locker (June 26 – Limited)
Now, I’ll admit that this trailer has problems. The dialogue leaves a little something to be desired in certain spots, and it’s just not really the best trailer in the world. Nevertheless, I really want to see this movie. Let me tell you why: first of all, it’s Katherine Bigelow’s first film in several years, and I think we’re all happy to see her back. Second, the cast list sports names like Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, and David Morse–three actors I always enjoy watching no matter how minimal their screentime probably is. And third, it’s a war movie with that one-false-move-and-we’re-dead flavor that reminds me so much of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear, which, for my money, is one the best films ever made. Of course this looks absolutely nothing like that movie in terms of tone, but I still see shades of it which I find very encouraging.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 15 – Wide)
Well, what can I say about this one? It’s fuckin’ Harry Potter, folks. True, early word-of-mouth was a bit dissuading–something to the effect of “We’re just having a bit of a laugh” with this one (from the mouth of director David Yates) rammed home the earlier reports that the film would focus very heavily on the goofy romantic element of the story and not be so darn dark. And then it got that PG-rating, a drop down from the PG-13s earned by the previous two films. It wasn’t looking good. And while we haven’t heard anything quite yet about the quality of the film in its presumably new state (after having been pushed way back from last November), I refuse to believe that a film with a trailer this dark and awesome could amount to “a bit of a laugh.” Half-Blood Prince was one of my favorite books in the series, and it looks like they’ll do it terrific justice.
Moon (July 17 – Limited)
More evidence to the fact that I love Amadeus…I’m a crazy whore for a descent-into-madness movie, and this certainly looks to fit the bill on that one. Also, whoever decided to put Sam Rockwell by himself in an existential science fiction film with only the robo-voice of Kevin Spacey to talk to is a genius who should be awarded a medal from Hollywood. On that basis alone, I’m more than exhilerated to see this film, but the trailer is even more stirring. Give it a watch and tell me I’m wrong.
Funny People (July 31 – Wide)
I, like most, love the Judd Apatow movies, especially the ones he has directed. The 40-Year-Old Virgin set the bar for raunchy high-concept smart comedy, and then Knocked Up went and created a whole knew beast. It was just as funny but far more sensitive and knowing. I’ve always stated–and this is true–that Knocked Up is not a comedy, but a drama about funny people. And lo and behold, Apatow’s new film (starring a subdued Adam Sandler, no less) is his most dramatic yet and it’s titled Funny People. So…I called it? …Yeah…yeah, I think I called it. Anyway, it looks very good. Indulge yourself in the trailer right below.
It’s nice to know that the rest of the summer won’t be a total wasteland of crap. Will we have another outstanding summer blockbuster to give us those manic thrills we all crave so much? Probably not. Most of these are small limited-release flicks that you’ll have to keep an eye out for. Our last hope for a big flashy summer-time movie that could blow us all away is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so let’s cross our fingers for that one to deliever the goods that it should. In the mean time, go see Drag Me to Hell about twelve more times. I know I will!