News Column

Summer Times: Movies -- loud and heroic

May 10, 2013


May 10--It's probably good to be Robert Downey Jr. these days.

"Iron Man 3" ushered in summer with a remarkable $174 million in North America its first weekend, making for the second biggest opening of all time -- behind "Marvel's The Avengers," also starring the actor as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Every weekend will bring one or sometimes two big titles through Labor Day with a healthy sprinkling of smaller movies, including a new Woody Allen, throughout the summer.

As always, dates are subject to change and the list will grow or shrink some weeks.

MAY 10

"The Great Gatsby": Baz Luhrmann directs Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Joel Edgerton in a high-energy version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic about chasing lost love, the American dream and the excesses of the Jazz Age.

"Tyler Perry Presents Peeples": Meet-the-parents comedy, from writer-director Tina Gordon Chism, with Craig Robinson as the fish-out-of-water boyfriend and Kerry Washington as the member of the wealthy Peeples family he wants to marry.

"No One Lives": Ryuhei Kitamura ("The Midnight Meat Train") directs a tale of terror concerning a missing heiress, a gang of vicious bandits, and a vacationing couple who aren't what they seem. Cast includes Adelaide Clemens, Luke Evans, Laura Ramsey, Lee Tergesen and WWE's Brodus Clay

Silk Screen Film Festival: A gala at the Rivers Club at One Oxford Centre, Downtown, will kick off this annual event. The festival will screen 31 features, including opening night selection "Midnight's Children" on May 11, and two shorts. See for details.

MAY 16

"Star Trek Into Darkness": After an act of terror within their organization, the Enterprise crew is called back home to Earth. In defiance of regulations and with a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads his crew on a manhunt to bring those responsible to justice. Pittsburgh native Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock, is among the actors reprising their roles. Opens on IMAX screens May 15.

MAY 17

"From Up on Poppy Hill": Writer Hayao Miyazaki and his son, director Goro Miyazaki, collaborate on an animated story set in 1963 Yokohama. An innocent romance begins to bud as Japan prepares to host the 1964 Olympics amid optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past.

"Kiss of the Damned": Vampire Djuna (Josephine de La Baume) tries to resist the advances of the handsome, human screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia), but eventually gives in to their passion. When her troublemaker sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) unexpectedly comes to visit, Djuna's love story is threatened and the whole vampire community endangered.

MAY 20

"M": Newly restored version of Fritz Lang's 1931 German thriller featuring Peter Lorre as a serial killer who preys on little girls, public hysteria spilling over into guilt by association, an ineffectual police investigation and an insanity defense, all in 1931 Germany.

MAY 23

"The Hangover Part III": Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis are back for the third and final film in this comedy franchise. In select theaters at 10 p.m. May 22.

MAY 24

"Fast & Furious 6": A dozen years after the launch of this franchise, it shows no signs of slowing down, with a seventh installment announced for July 2014. As revealed at the end of the fifth movie, Michelle Rodriguez's Letty isn't really dead, and she rejoins the ever-growing cast led by Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson and newcomers Luke Evans and Gina Carano.

"Epic": Honey, they shrunk the kid, but this time it's a teenage girl who lands in a forest where there's an ongoing battle over the future of the natural world. The 3-D animated adventure has wall-to-wall famous voices including Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, and Beyonce.

"The Reluctant Fundamentalist": A Pakistani man seems to have the American dream within his grasp until the Twin Towers are attacked. A cultural divide cracks open between him and his girlfriend, and he goes from upwardly mobile businessman to scapegoat and perceived enemy in Mira Nair's adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's novel.

MAY 31

"After Earth": A crash landing leaves teenager Katai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father, Cypher (Will Smith), stranded on Earth 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity's escape. Together or singly they must face uncharted terrain, an evolved animal species ruling the planet and an unstoppable alien that escaped during the crash.

"Now You See Me": An elite FBI squad chases a team of the world's greatest illusionists who target corrupt business leaders in this picture starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson.

"Band of Sisters": A documentary about the transformation of American Catholic nuns since Vatican II in the 1960s and the reaction of some members of the church hierarchy who oppose the changes.

"Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bun-yan": Young adults at a first-time offenders' boot camp discover the legend of the giant lumberjack is real, but much more horrifying than they could have imagined.


"The Internship": "Wedding Crashers" buds Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunite, but this time they're unemployed salesmen who crash the gates of Google as possibly the world's oldest interns.

"The Purge": Thriller, set at a time when America is so beset by crime and overcrowded prisons that it sanctions an annual 12-hour period in which any criminal activity -- including murder -- becomes legal. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are a married couple tested by an intruder on this night.

"Wish You Were Here": Psychological thriller, with Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer, about one of four friends who disappears during a carefree Cambodian holiday.

"Frances Ha": Modern comic fable, featuring Greta Gerwig and directed by Noah Baumbach, exploring New York, friendship, class, ambition, failure and redemption.

"Stories We Tell": Sarah Polley, an Oscar nominee for her "Away From Her" adapted screenplay, is filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers.

"The Source Family": A look at a radical experiment in 1970s utopian living. The members' outlandish lifestyles, popular health food restaurant, rock band and beautiful women made them the darlings of Hollywood's Sunset Strip but their outsider ideals and spiritual leader, Father Yod, caused controversy with local authorities. They fled to Hawaii, leading to their dramatic demise.


"This Is the End": Comedy about six friends trapped in a house after strange catastrophic events hit Los Angeles. Cast includes co-director Seth Rogen (with Evan Goldberg), James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson along with Michael Cera and Emma Watson.


"Man of Steel": It's been seven years since the last relaunch of Superman, and this time, the man not of this Earth is Henry Cavill with other key roles filled by Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe. Here's hoping the movie lives up to the promise of its sensational trailers.


"World War Z": Brad Pitt turns all heroic as a man who needs to save his wife and daughters along with the world in the midst of a zombie pandemic. Inspired by the Max Brooks novel.

"Monsters University": Prequel, in 3-D, that introduces Mike and Sulley in their competitive college days and shows how they overcame their disdain and differences to become best pals. Billy Crystal and John Goodman return, and Helen Mirren chimes in as the voice of Dean Hardscrabble.


"White House Down": Olympus falls again, but this time it's up to Channing Tatum as a Capitol policeman, with his daughter in tow, to save the president, played by Jamie Foxx, when the White House is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group.

"The Heat": The director of "Bridesmaids" pairs Melissa McCarthy as a foul-mouthed Boston cop with Sandra Bullock as an uptight FBI special agent. Initially incompatible, they become friends as they work to bring down a ruthless drug lord in this comedy.

"The Bling Ring": Sofia Coppola directs this story, based on actual events, about teens (Emma Watson plays one of them) who burglarize celebrities' homes in LA and steal designer duds.


"The Lone Ranger": Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) and man of the law John Reid (Armie Hammer) are opposites brought together by fate and a fight against greed and corruption in this film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski ("Pirates of the Caribbean").

"Despicable Me 2": Benjamin Bratt joins the voice cast of this sequel returning Steve Carell as Gru, now dad to the three orphaned girls he brought into his home in the 2010 animated hit. Yes, the minions and 3-D are back, too.

"Independence Day": 3-D version of the sci-fi sensation first released on July 2, 1996.

"Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain": A capsule look at Mr. Hart's concert tour, which spanned 10 countries and 80 cities and generated more than $32 million in ticket sales.


"Pacific Rim": Just describing this is like learning a new language about Kaiju (monstrous creatures) and Jaegers (massive robots). Guillermo del Toro directs this sci-fi entry starring Charlie Hunnam from "Sons of Anarchy" and Rinko Kikuchi, a supporting actress Oscar nominee for "Babel."

"Grown Ups 2": Lenny (Adam Sandler) has relocated his family back to the small town where he and his friends grew up. This time around, the grown-ups are the ones learning lessons from their kids on the last day of school.


"Turbo": 3-D animated comedy about a snail (voice of Ryan Reynolds) who wishes he were fast -- and then miraculously becomes a speed demon who wants to compete in the Indy 500.


"R.I.P.D.": Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds are cops dispatched by the otherworldly Rest in Peace Department to protect and serve the living from an increasingly destructive array of souls who refuse to move peacefully to the other side in this 3-D supernatural action-adventure.

"The Conjuring": Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as world-famous paranormal investigators called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse.

"Red 2": Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, last together as the Hitchcocks, reunite, but this time he's a villain living in an asylum for the criminally insane and she's still retired and extremely dangerous and a freelance assassin.


"The Wolverine": Hugh Jackman flexes his muscles, his mettle and his metal as he returns in this 3-D action adventure that takes him to modern-day Japan.


"Smurfs 2": Final film of Jonathan Winters, who speaks for Papa Smurf once more. In this 3-D sequel to the 2011 hit, Hank Azaria returns as the evil wizard Gargamel, who creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties and kidnaps Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry).

AUG. 2

"2 Guns": Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are operatives from competing bureaus forced on the run together, but neither knows the other is an undercover federal agent in this action film based on Steven Grant graphic novels.

"300: Rise of an Empire": Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) is pitted against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy, in this movie based on a Frank Miller graphic novel.

AUG. 7

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters": Logan Lerman ("The Perks of Being a Wallflower") returns to this fantasy-adventure series as the young demigod who, with his friends, must find the fabled Golden Fleece.

AUG. 9

"Elysium": Sci-fi film set in 2154 when the very wealthy live on a pristine space station called Elysium and everyone else is stuck on the overpopulated, ruined Earth. But Matt Damon is one of the have-nots trying to bring equality to these worlds.

"Planes": Disney animated comedy about a crop duster named Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) who longs to compete in an aerial race but has a fear of heights. Once targeted for direct to video and bumped up to a theatrical release.

"We're the Millers": Rawson Marshall Thurber ("The Mysteries of Pittsburgh") directs this comedy in which Jason Sudeikis is a small-time pot dealer forced to become a big-time smuggler posing as a family man with a fake wife (Jennifer Aniston), two pretend kids and an RV.

AUG. 16

"Kick-Ass 2": Sequel to 2010 hit returning Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kick-Ass, Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist who is reborn as a super villain. New to the mix is Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes, a born-again former mobster who runs Justice Forever.

"Paranoia": Corporate espionage thriller with Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in which a costly mistake by an entry-level newcomer leads to spying on a rival.

"The To Do List": Comedy, set in 1993, about a valedictorian who wants to shed her uptight image before college so she makes a list of the activities she missed out on in high school and starts to tackle them.

AUG. 23

"The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones": Cassandra Clare's best-selling book series inspired this fantasy featuring Lily Collins as a teen who discovers she is descended from Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons.

"The World's End": Twenty years after attempting an epic pub crawl, five childhood friends reunite when one becomes hellbent on trying the drinking marathon again. Edgar Wright reunites with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz"), with the fate of humankind at hand.

"You're Next": When a gang of masked ax-wielding murderers descend upon a family reunion, the hapless victims seem trapped -- until an unlikely guest proves to be the most talented killer of all. Reunites principal cast from "A Horrible Way to Die."

AUG. 28

"Closed Circuit": Ex-lovers, played by Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall, find their loyalties tested and lives at risk when they are thrown together on the defense team in a terrorism trial.

AUG. 30

"One Direction: This Is Us": One Direction gets the backstage big-screen treatment as other musical acts have. Director Morgan Spurlock promises "tons of genuine moments with them outside of tour life," thanks to the amount of time he's been tracking the boys.

"Getaway": Ethan Hawke is a burned-out race car driver thrust into a do-or-die mission behind the wheel when his wife is kidnapped.

"Satanic": A college student who remains on campus during a Thanksgiving break becomes the target of a violent gang.


"Kon-Tiki": Foreign-language Oscar nominee about Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who crossed the Pacific Ocean in a balsa wood raft in 1947, together with five men, to prove that South Americans could have crossed the sea and settled on Polynesian islands. (May)

"At Any Price": Dennis Quaid is a third-generation farmer and Zac Efron his son who wants to literally get out of town as fast as he can, as a race car driver. They face moral dilemmas large and small in the drama that touches on the issue of genetically modified corn seed. (May or June)

"Before Midnight": Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's characters of Jesse and Celine, who met in their 20s in "Before Sunrise" and reunited in their 30s, are back for a third time -- in Greece -- as they dodge or set off the little minefields of long-term commitments. (June or July)

"Love Is All You Need": Romcom, set during a wedding weekend in Sorrento, Italy, where characters fall in and out of love. Cast includes Pierce Brosnan as a slick British businessman working in Copenhagen who has not recovered from his wife's death many years earlier and Trine Dyrholm as a sunny woman getting over cancer and a philandering husband. (June)

"What Maisie Knew": Contemporary retelling of Henry James' novel, here focusing on a 6-year-old girl whose parents (Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan) often act incredibly childish, churlish and irresponsibly when it comes to their only child. (June)

"The East": Espionage thriller starring writer-actress Brit Marling as a former FBI agent who goes deep undercover to infiltrate an anarchist collective seeking revenge against major corporations guilty of covering up criminal activity -- and finds her loyalties divided. (June)

"Renoir": Set on the French Riviera in summer 1915, director Gilles Bourdos tells the story of the celebrated Impressionist painter, in declining health at 74, and his middle son, convalescing after being wounded in World War I. (June)

"Fill the Void": Back from a single showing during the JFilm Festival, this is the story of an 18-year-old Orthodox Hasidic woman from Tel Aviv who must choose between her heart's desire and family duty when a death postpones her wedding. (June/July)

"Passion": Brian De Palma directs a remake of Alain Corneau's thriller "Crime d'amour," with Rachel McAdams as an ad executive who steals credit for a daring campaign that was the brainchild of her assistant (Noomi Rapace) and touches off a deadly power struggle. (July)

"V/H/S/2": Sequel to "V/H/S," a collection of six horror shorts, promising to venture "even further down the demented path blazed by its predecessor." (July)

"Girl Most Likely": Kristen Wiig is a failed New York playwright whose career and relationship hit the skids, forcing her back home to New Jersey and her eccentric mother (Annette Bening) and younger brother. (July)

"I'm So Excited": Life in the clouds becomes very complicated when a technical failure hits a plane bound for Mexico City in this comedy from Pedro Almodovar about secrets, confessions and catharsis. (July/August)

"Blue Jasmine": Woody Allen's latest starring Cate Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Alec Baldwin and Andrew "Dice" Clay. Variety reports the story centers on the final stages of an acute crisis and the life of a fashionable New York housewife. (August)

"The Spectacular Now": Miles Teller ("Footloose," "Rabbit Hole") is a partying charmer and high school senior who unexpectedly falls for a good girl, played by "The Descendants" actress Shailene Woodley in this adaptation of Tim Tharp's novel. (August)

"Fruitvale Station": Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay-area resident shot to death by BART officers in this story inspired by actual events. (August)

"The Way, Way Back": From the writers of "The Descendants," a story of a 14-year-old's awkward, funny and sometimes painful summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend and his daughter. With Liam James, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell,

"Unfinished Song": Terence Stamp is a curmudgeonly old soul whose wife (Vanessa Redgrave) introduces him to a local seniors' singing group where he befriends a youthful charmer (Gemma Arterton).

"Haute Cuisine": A renowned French chef (Catherine Frot) is astonished when the president appoints her as his personal cook and she must navigate the corridors of power, which are littered with traps.

"The Kings of Summer": Coming-of-age comedy about three teenage friends who decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land.

"The Iceman": Inspired by actual events, this film follows contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) from his early days in the mob until his arrest for the murder of more than 100 men. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters had any clue about his real profession.


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