Saturday, March 28, 2009

hot/not fun in the summer time

A couple of months ago I drove past the remnants of a bad traffic accident on a nearby highway. Tragically, a man had been killed and, as grotesque as it may sound, my traveling companions and I could not help but gawk at the tattered bits of clothing and the pool of blood that had been left on the road. It's probably callous of me to compare this sense of morbid curiosity to my feelings about the summer/blockbuster movie season, but I swear that the carnage I witnessed on the 401 was far less unnerving than my encounters with
The Love Guru and You Don't Mess With The Zohan last year. Inasmuch as I would like to avert my eyes from such car wrecks, I can never seem to muster up the will to look away.

I'm not quite certain what it is about these warmer months that makes me ignore better judgment and shell out funds to see so many lackluster films on the big screen. Sure, there are always a few big budget pictures that stand to exceed my expectations, but I am also drawn to the films that (95% guaranteed) I
know will disappoint me. Childhood nostalgia is not enough to explain my willingness to endure two Hasbro toy inspired movies this summer (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Transformers 2), especially knowing that I writhed through Transformers not so very long ago.

My inability to engage in a conversations that don't involve the movies, coupled with the fact that most of my peers watch more films during the summer than any other time, may account for a fraction of this drive to see all of said season's releases. I don't blame my friends for catalyzing my desire to be "in the know," but I do have to acknowledge my chum over at Big Thoughts from a Small Mind for inspiring me to take a look at
the top 10 summer movies that have caught my interest so far. Having his template to outright steal makes it all the easier to talk about the following flicks:

10. X-Men Origins : Wolverine

As a comic book fan who grew up reading X-Men and Wolverine almost exclusively, my expectations going into this movie are kind of low. The character has a pretty comprehensive history, and I worry that there's a bit too much story for one film to tackle (even without the extra burden of incorporating Gambit). Still, my connection with the material ensures that I will be amongst the first in line to witness Logan's first claw pop.

9. The Boat that Rocked

If you're keen on quality romantic comedies, you probably know the work of Richard Curtis:
Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, & Love, Actually. Although Hugh Grant is suspiciously absent from Curtis's latest cast, the writer/director has nevertheless assembled a delightful troupe of British actors and managed to throw Philip Seymour Hoffman into the mix, to boot. It looks as if love will take a backseat to rock 'n' roll in this picture, but I am just as eager to see Curtis romanticize the past.

8. Drag Me to Hell

How good is it to see Sam Raimi return to his horror roots? Some are touting this as an Evil Dead remake, but I tend to think that these "critics" are simply Jonesing for Bruce Campbell. As much as I would like to see ol' Bruce take the lead role in another Ash project, I am more excited to see what kind of thrills and chills Raimi can muster up with a budget that honors his Spiderman-free vision.

7. Whatever Works

I'm no expert when it comes to quantum physics, but movies and T.V. have taught me that if one meets oneself in the past, present, or future, the world will implode. So I am dying with anticipation to find out what culminates when renowned neurotic Woody Allen works with Larry David, star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the man upon whom Seinfeld's George Costanza is based. This will either be one of Allen's most entertaining pictures or a catalyst for the apocalypse.

6. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

It's not nostalgia that urges me to see this movie so much as my desire to find out how the filmmakers have managed to make any of these characters look straight. Generally, I prefer homosexual undertones to blatant American propaganda, but I'm currently on a mission to support any film that's based on a line of action figures in hopes that we will one day see a live action adaptation of Thundercats. (Sorry, Courtney; it's how I feel)

5. Public Enemies

My thanks goes out to director Michael Mann for casting Johnny Depp in a role that forced him to get a badly needed haircut, and for providing a professional working environment for the tantrum-prone Christian Bale. Moreover, I'm excited to see some tommy guns back up on the big screen, especially in what appears to be a film of exceptional quality-- even outside the realm of summer standards.

4. Inglorious Basterds

I'll never understand what people felt was so ingenious about
Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, but I've really dug Quentin Tarantino's subsequent films. He seems to be at his best when paying homage to arcane genre styles, and Inglorious Basterds stands to be his most gritty ode to the Giallo pictures of the '70s. If you're squeamish about blood, you might want to skip this flick, but I for one am intrigued to see Brad Pitt collect some Nazi scalps, especially through the eyes of Q.T.

3. The Time Traveler's Wife

Bearing in mind that the book is always better than the movie, I am cautiously interested in this adaptation of one of my all time favorite novels. The cast doesn't necessarily mesh with the images in my head, but since no official trailer has yet been released, I'll reserve my ultimate judgment for the time being. Author Audrey Niffenegger's complex story may be a challenging one to translate for the screen, but in the hands of the guy who penned
Deep Impact and Stuart Little 2, what could possibly go wrong?

2. The Limits of Control

Counter programming tends to be futile during the summer months, but film goers like me who need a break from being marketed to like we're mindless will likely glom on to this picture from director Jim Jarmusch. Indie fans (not to be confused with Indy fans) will appreciate the cast that has been assembled, including Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael García Bernal, and Isaach De Bankolé. The trailer suggests echos of Jarmusch's earlier film about the code of the criminal,
Ghost Dog, which was equal parts art film and entertainment. I expect The Limits of Control to be a breath of fresh air amongst the typical mid-summer stinkers.

1. Star Trek

I can hardly contain my excitement for J.J. Abrams reboot of the only Star Trek incarnation I have been a fan of: the one where the captain is Kirk. I've never been big into any of the subsequent Treks, including any of the feature films, but I am a product of syndicated reruns and grew up with my eyes glued to the T.V. screen once a week for the adventures of the original Enterprise crew. I always thought these characters deserved better treatment after the show was untimely canceled, and despite my fondness for Shatner, I do believe that this film and its cast stand a very good chance of exceeding my expectations. Abrams has proven his talent both on television (Felicity, Alias, and LOST) and on film (with a surprisingly engaging third installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise). Given his track record, I am quite convinced that he can satiate the hunger of rabid Trekkies and deliver enough creative dynamite to attract and/or win the attention of more reluctant viewers. In honor of the film's release, I have spent the past few months attempting to grow eyebrows like Zachary Quinto. Problem is, my pet tribble keeps trying to hump my face.


Anonymous said...

You don't like Star Trek: The Next Generation? John, I'm not sure we can be friends any more. I'm decidedly more suspicious of J. J. Abrams' reboot because I don't want Star Trek to be Lost and I don't want Star Trek to be dark and gritty and grey like reboots of the current day tend to be (e.g., Batman). Star Trek is about optimism and moral clarity.

CS said...

I am convinced that Eric Bana is slowly taking over the world. I think he has surpassed Jude Law in the number of films one man is allowed to be in.

Good list you have compiled here; there a lot of flicks that I did not know was coming down the pipe (e.g. The Boat that Rocked, Drag Me to Hell, Whatever Works, The Limits of Control, etc.) The new Jarmusch film looks fantastic. I think I will have to add that, and the new Raimi and Allen films, to my must see list.