June 08--Summer isn't here yet, though I guess that depends on whose calendar you're using.
If we're on Hollywood time, the season began more than a month ago with the opening of "Iron Man 3." "The Great Gatsby," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Fast & Furious 6," "The Hangover, Part III," "After Earth" and "Now You See Me" have since hit the screen.
I enjoyed "Gatsby," "Now You See Me," the third "Iron Man" and the third "Hangover." But if I have to sit through too many movies like "F&F 6" and "After Earth," fall can't come soon enough.
The best films I've seen in this period? "What Maisie Knew," a drama about a 7-year-old girl in the middle of a custody battle, starring Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as the parents; and "Renoir," set at the rural home of the French impressionist painter toward the end of his life. Not exactly the stuff of summer blockbusters.
The rest of the "summer season" will include plenty of those, however. Among this year's high-profile offerings: Johnny Depp (as Tonto) and Armie Hammer in "The Lone Ranger"; "Man of Steel," the latest Superman movie, from the director of "300"; "World War Z," with Brad Pitt in a world overrun by zombies. And let's not forget "White House Down," the second movie this year about Washington under attack. (The first? "Olympus Has Fallen." Ugh.) This new one's directed by Roland Emmerich ("2012," "Independence Day"), meaning there will be special effects aplenty.
The movies I'm most looking forward to aren't necessarily big on special effects, though some will have them. Most of my choices are based on the cast, the director, the premise, or maybe the trailer (preview clips).
Some could turn out to be dreadful, and films that aren't on my radar could turn out to be the best of the year. That's the way it often works out ... and that's OK.
1. "Before Midnight." Richard Linklater's bittersweet "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, are almost all talk as they explore the romance of an American and a Frenchwoman. They're also two of my favorite movies, thanks to their wit, heart and depth. This is the third movie in the series; I have no idea where the couple's relationship is headed, but I can't wait to find out. The movie already is playing in Boston; it arrives on the Cape on Friday.
2. "The East." A private detective infiltrates a terrorist group targeting corporations in this thriller starring Brit Marling ("Arbitrage"), who co-wrote it; Alexander Skarsgard (HBO's "True Blood," "Melancholia"); and Ellen Page ("Juno"). The trailer promises intense suspense.
3. "The Spectacular Now." Shailene Woodley held her own with George Clooney as Clooney's daughter in Alexander Payne's great "The Descendants" from 2011. I'm curious if she's as good as I think she is. This time she plays a high school student who befriends a drunk boy who passes out on her lawn. Another plus: The film was written by one of the co-writers of the romantic gem "(500) Days of Summer." "The Spectacular Now" will screen at the Provincetown International Film Festival and the Nantucket Film Festival (see accompanying box).
4. "Stories We Tell." This documentary by director-actress Sarah Polley also is playing in Boston; hopefully it will make it down to these parts. Polley's film is apparently about her unconventional family, including a secret that's revealed. Polley directed "I Shout Love," the best short film I've ever seen, while in her early 20s, and went on to make the impressive feature-length drama "Away From Her," starring Julie Christie. Polley is also a compelling actress ("The Sweet Hereafter") -- a major talent.
5. "Wish You Were Here." Four Australian friends vacation in Cambodia. Three come back. What happened? No, it's not "The Hangover, Part IV," but a thriller starring Joel Edgerton ("The Great Gatsby," "Zero Dark Thirty"). And it sounds intriguing.
6. "The World's End." Actor-writer Simon Pegg and writer-director Edgar Wright, the team that gave us the hilarious zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," have joined forces again for a story about a pub crawl that takes an unexpected turn. If it's as funny as the trailer ...
7. "The Bling Ring." Writer-director Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation," "Marie Antoinette," "Somewhere") takes risks and respects the intelligence of her audience, so it's always worth seeing what she's come up with next. Here she tells a story, based on real recent events, about teenagers who rob the rich and famous in Los Angeles.
8. "The To Do List." Aubrey Plaza (TV's "Parks and Recreation"), she of the perpetual, funny deadpan, charmed in last year's delightfully offbeat rom-com "No Safety Guaranteed." Here she plays a high-school grad determined to gain more experience before college. Oh, and Bill Hader of "Saturday Night Live" is in the cast, which pretty much guarantees laughs.
9. "This Is the End." Not to be confused with "The World's End," this looks like it could turn out to be really awful, or a gut-buster. Based on the insane trailer, I'm betting on the latter. James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and others play themselves as party guys caught off-guard by the apparent arrival of the apocalypse.
10. "Blue Jasmine." The latest from Woody Allen, who makes a lot of duds (last year's "When in Rome") but is still capable of greatness ("Midnight in Paris"). This one stars Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins and ... Louis C.K.!
Tim Miller's reviews can be found at www.capecodonline.com/miller.
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