News Column

CINEMATIC SUMMER [Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)]

May 10, 2013

YellowBrix

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby," "the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg" are a symbol of God or fate or some other mysterious presence.

"Blue and gigantic," with irises "one yard high," they watch over the characters from a billboard advertising an optometrist's services.

Apparently, it's now time to cover those famous eyes with a pair of 3D glasses.

With Leonardo DiCaprio as the mysterious millionaire of the title, director Baz Luhrmann's $127 million adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" opens Friday, bringing the 3D process to a work with flappers, bootleggers and Long Islanders, but no robots, monsters or superheroes.

"Gatsby" follows the 3D megahit "Iron Man 3" by a week. The films represent the opening salvos in the so-called summer movie season, when the studios fire their big guns, hoping to attract record numbers of moviegoers with the cannonade's noise (in THX and Dolby sound) and flash (sometimes in three dimensions).

At the same time, stealthier artists are at work, like the cunning mammals that burrowed beneath the feet of the dinosaurs, to bring promising art and independent films our way.

So, Memphis movie fans, get out your calendars. Here's a chronological roll call of many of the summer's upcoming movies. (As always, opening dates are subject to change.)

"Midnight's Children" (May 17): This adaptation of Salman Rushdie's epic novel of India returns for a regular run one month after its local premiere during the On Location: Memphis International Film & Music Fest.

"No" (May 17): Enjoy "Mad Men"? What about leftist politics? Gael Garca Bernal stars as an ad man with Don Draper's skill set if not his situational ethics in this political drama set in 1988 Chile.

"Star Trek Into Darkness" (May 17): Director J.J. Abrams reunites Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the other Version 2.0 crew members of the starship Enterprise.

"The Hangover Part III" (May 23): I don't know, man: To me, the "comic" depiction of the decapitation of a giraffe in the trailer is a real turn-off.

"Epic" (May 24): "The Borrowers" meets J.R.R. Tolkien in this computer-animated version of a William Joyce book about a girl who enters a land of miniature forest warriors when she is shrunk to bug size.

"Fast and Furious 6" (May 24): Is this moviedom's most reliable franchise? Expect more and better pedal-to-the-metal high-speed high- jinks.

"Renoir" (May 24): What, "Fast and Furious 6" sold out? Well, you could go see this French-language biopic about the master French Impressionist painter (Michel Bouquet).

"The Purge" (May 31): In the near future, all crime is legal for one night a year. The trailer suggests this great premise has been wasted on a standard-issue home-invasion horror thriller.

"After Earth" (May 31): A thousand years in the future, Will Smith and Jaden Smith crash-land on a deadly Earth inhabited by killer creatures. Spoiler: Although M. Night Shymalan is the director, there is no shock twist in which a monster eats Jaden.

"Frances Ha" (June 7): Greta Gerwig is a New York would-be dancer in the latest from writer-director Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale").

"The Internship" (June 7): Out-of-touch out-of-work salesmen Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn try to compete with the tech-savvy smart alecks of the digital age in what appears to be a feature-length promo for Google.

"This Is the End" (June 12) Party at James Franco's house! The good news: You can get down with Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Rihanna and other celebs. The bad news: The world is coming to an end.

"Man of Steel" (June 14): Is this the year's most anticipated blockbuster? Producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder ("Watchmen") try to resurrect the original superhero, Superman (Henry Cavill), with the level of seriousness and artistry Nolan brought to his "Dark Knight" films.

"Before Midnight" (June 14): Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy return as the beloved romantic cult indie franchise (dare we use that word?) started by Richard Link-later in "Before Sunrise" (1995) and "Before Sunset" (2004) continues.

"Monsters University" (June 21): If Pixar must make sequels, better Mike and Sulley than Lightning and Mater. (Spoken like a true 50-year-old.)

"World War Z" (June 21): Judging from the trailers, the swarming zombies in this movie's trailer are as insatiable, unstoppable and inescapable as army ants as they pursue Brad Pitt and friends. Cool! Based on the best-seller by Max (son of Mel) Brooks.

"The Bling Ring" (June 21): Fame-obsessed teens use the Internet to locate and burglarize celebrities' homes in writer-director Sofia Coppola's fact-based fifth feature film.

"The Heat" (June 28): No longer an "Identity Thief" but still a scene-stealer, Melissa McCarthy is a Boston cop teamed with uptight FBI agent Sandra Bullock in the new comedy from Paul Feig, director of "Bridesmaids."

"White House Down" (June 28): You mean there's still enough White House left to fall down after "Olympus Has Fallen" and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation"? This time, Channing Tatum, as a D.C. police officer, and Jamie Foxx, as perhaps the most kick-butt U.S. president since Harrison Ford in "Air Force One," battle paramilitary invaders.

"The Lone Ranger" (July 3): Tonto may be a sidekick, but when he's played by Johnny Depp, he gets top billing in the credits if not the title. Sorry, Masked Man (Armie Hammer).

"Despicable Me 2" (July 3) Supervillain-turned-softy Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is recruited to battle a new super-criminal in this digitally animated sequel.

"Pacific Rim" (July 12): Battlebots vs. giant monsters? If the auteur responsible were Michael Bay, I'd be wary; but it's Guillermo del Toro, so I say, "BRING IT ON!"

"Grown Ups 2" (July 12): For those who prefer their summer movies surprise-free.

"Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" (July 12): The documentary about Memphis' influential power-pop band of the 1970s gets a theatrical run, some eight months after its local public premiere at last year's Indie Memphis Film Festival.

"Turbo" (Juy 17): A garden snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds)- turned-super-speedster competes in the Indy 500 in this computer- generated cartoon.

"Red 2" (July 19): More action-violence for the "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" set, with Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins.

"R.I.P.D." (July 19): A supernatural "Men in Black," as young slain cop Ryan Reynolds joins curmudgeonly old-timer Jeff Bridges on an undead police force.

"The Wolverine" (July 26): Hugh Jackman heads to Japan in a Marvel Comics outing directed by James ("Walk the Line") Mangold.

"The Smurfs 2" (July 31): Oh, no! Gargamel (Hank Azaria) has kidnapped Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry)!

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" (Aug. 7): I didn't realize 2010's "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" was successful enough to warrant a sequel, but any excuse for a sea of monsters is OK by me.

"Elysium" (Aug. 9) Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in a futuristic adventure in which the gap between the poor and the wealthy has grown to literally out-of-this-world proportions. Why are we excited? Because the writer-director is Neil Blomkamp of "District 9."

"Planes" (Aug. 9): From the makers of "Cars." And "Cars 2." But think higher.

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