Summer movies are dominated by things that explode or travel through
galaxies, and there is certainly an audience for them among the 18-24 cherished
demographic, but there are still some sweet, smart and well-written small movies
that might not make your radar screen.
As the industry launches the summer season earlier and earlier every year, we've already waded through the remake of the year ("The Great Gatsby") and several of the wall-shakers and sequels ("Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," to name two) with more on the way: "RED 2" (July 19), "Smurfs 2" (July 26) and "Kickass 2" (Aug. 16).
Here is a look at some of the anticipated biggies, as well as some of what we still like to call films -- gems that will tickle the brain without blowing out the eardrums.
OUT NOW "Now You See Me," starring Jesse Eisenberg and Melanie Laurent. Fans of "The Social Network" star Eisenberg may be interested to see him as part of a Robin Hood-like gang of bank-robbing illusionists.
"After Earth," starring Will and Jaden Smith. M. Night Shyamalan tackles the old what happens when Earth is demolished, with the father-son co-stars.
OUR JUNE GEMS
"Much Ado About Nothing," starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and "Castle's" Nathan Fillion. Trailer looks charming and sophisticated (June 7); "Twenty Feet from Stardom," Morgan Neville's documentary about the ups and downs of the life of a backup singer, with cameos by many of those whom they sing behind (June 14); "This Is Martin Bonner," starring Paul Eenhoorn and Richmond Arquette, won the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival in February. A middle-aged man tries to start over in Reno, Nev., where he befriends a young recently released ex-con who has a different take on life after 12 years in prison. Hopefully this got enough distribution money for a wide audience release (June 27).
JUNE 7 "The Internship," starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. The goofy twosome somehow land internships at Google. Enough said.
"This Is the End," starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel -- as themselves -- stuck in a house together as Los Angeles goes bye-bye. Seth Rogen directs, so it's not "The Impossible."
JUNE 14 "Man of Steel," starring Henry Cavill (as Superman), Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner. Good cast, good franchise, but is it a tired one?
"The Bling Ring," starring Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga and Nina Siemaszko. Early buzz was mixed, but who doesn't want to see Sofia Coppola's take on this ripped-from-the-headlines film about the teen home burglars who targeted celebrities?
JUNE 21 "World War Z," starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox. Brad Pitt fought hard to make this zombie movie. Has the makings of a biggie, but have we reached the zombie plateau?
"Monsters University," starring Billy Crystal and John Goodman in a prequel to "Monsters, Inc." Pixar, with a huge cast of funny people.
"The Heat," starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids") directs these two comedy vets in a female law enforcement buddy movie.
"White House Down," starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. One of these guys will save the White House. Guess which one. Not a new idea.
OUR JULY GEMS "The Way, Way Back," starring Toni Collette, Liam James and Steve Carell, about a neglected boy who comes into his own when taken under the wing of a water park manager -- Sam Rockwell, playing against type (July 5); "Fruitvale Station," starring Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance this year. It's based on the true story of Oscar Grant, who died at a subway stop in 2009 (July 26).
JULY 3 "The Lone Ranger," starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. One of the summer's more anticipated relationships, told by Tonto.
"Despicable Me 2," starring Steve Carell, Al Pacino and Kristen Wiig. Another sequel, but with this cast ...
"Grown Ups 2," starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek. This wasn't funny the first time.
"Turbo," starring Ryan Reynolds and Paul Giamatti. Cute concept for these two: Reynolds voices a snail who dreams of winning the Indy 500.
"The Conjuring," starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, as paranormal investigators who find themselves in over their attractive heads.
"R.I.P.D.," starring Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon. The title stands for Rest in Peace Department, which goes after those who murdered policemen.
"The Wolverine," starring Hugh Jackman. Need we say more? One franchise that even this franchise hater will see.
"Blue Jasmine," starring Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett, is the summer's gift for Woody Allen fans, though, as usual, it's top secret till release.
OUR AUGUST GEMS While others may line up for "Lovelace," the story of porn star Linda Lovelace, we'll be in line for "Prince Avalanche," starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, who become acquainted while painting lines on a Texas highway. Need a Paul Rudd fix every few months (Aug. 9). "The Patience Stone," starring Golshifteh Farahani, is Atiq Rahimi's own adaptation of his Goncourt Prize-winning book in which a young Middle Eastern woman pours her heart out to her comatose husband about her life of oppression in their country (Aug. 14). "Austenland," starring Keri Russell and Jerusha Hess. OK, our heroine uses all her savings to attend a Jane Austen conference in England, where maybe, just maybe, a Mr. Darcy is waiting. It's summer, folks. We're allowed some romance. "Haute Cuisine," is a simple movie about sharing, or in this case, renewing, the joys of eating well. Catherine Frot and novelist Jean d'Ormesson star. (both Aug. 16).
AUG. 2 "300: Rise of an Empire," starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, based on Frank Miller's graphic novel "Xerxes," which should be reason enough to fill plenty of seats.
AUG. 9 "We're the Millers," starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts and Nick Offerman. A family gets involved in drug smuggling.
"Elysium," starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The former Jason Bourne, Damon is reborn as the hero Max De Costa in this political science-fiction action movie from "District 9" director Neill Blomkamp.
"Closed Circuit," starring Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Riz Ahmed. Bana and Hall are lawyers who once were a couple. Now they're on the same defense team representing a terrorist.
Contact Donna Doherty at 203-789-5672.
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