Is it just me, or has this been an especially lame summer at the movies? Hollywood is dishing up its usual junk-food of robots, super heroes, kiddie (or frat) comedies, and sequels, but even the alternative films have been lackluster. Sure, there have been bright spots, but how many times can a person go back to see Midnight In Paris? And surprise indie charmers like Beginners are few and far between.
Where are all the good movies? As we head into midsummer, let's scan the horizon and find a few upcoming films to dream about.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
Ten years, seven books and eight movies later, it all comes down to this: Harry vs. Voldemort. We know how it comes out, but J. K. Rowling made the finale edge-of-your-seat suspenseful in the book, and we're hoping series veterans David Yates (directing his fourth Potter movie) and scriptwriter Steve Kloves can do the same onscreen. If not, it's always fun to watch the maturing of Daniel Radcliffe and the gang, and revel in delicious cameos from basically every British thespian you've ever heard of. (Opens July 15.)
Disney gloms onto Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel about female solidarity and racial stereotype-busting in the American south of the 1960s. Emma Stone is the post-collegiate deb who scandalizes her Mississippi town by befriending the community's black maids and recording their stories. An eye-popping cast—Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Mary Steenburgen, Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Octavia Spencer, and Cicely Tyson—cements this movies femme-centric credentials. Actor-turned-director Tate Taylor is at the helm. (Opens Aug. 12)
COWBOYS AND ALIENS
In the Arizona territory, crica 1873, it's a marauding band of outer space aliens vs. a lone gunslinger with no name (and no memory) who becomes the only hope to save the town from the extraterrestrial menace. This sounds like such a shameless "high concept" goulash, it just might be great. Or it just might be crap—which doesn't mean it won't be just as much fun. But with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in the saddle (not to mention a nutball supporting posse that includes Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, and Keith Carradine), we might be tempted to give it a shot. Although it will require some fancy footwork to surpass Rango in this year's stranger-in-a-strange-western-town sweepstakes. (Opens July 29)
The discovery of a duplicate earth in the universe raises questions about who we are and the meaning of life in this ambitious science-fiction drama from director Mike Cahill in his feature debut. A polarizing event at Sundance, it won two major awards (Feature Film Prize & Special Jury Prize) and cheers from screening audiences, along with substantial boos from skeptical viewers who found the whole thing too touchy-feely. Sounds like Santa Cruz's kind of movie. (Opens in August)
THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE
I was the Son of Saddam; this fictionalized true story tracks the perils of an Iraqi lookalike soldier forced to become the body double for one of Hussein's depraved sons in pre-9/11 Bagdad. Dominic Cooper gets a tour-de-force part, playing both men. Veteran action helmer Lee Tamahori directs. (Opens in August)
Impeccable credentials make this look promising: Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) in the sophomore effort from director Lone Scherfig (An Education), from a novel by David Nicholls (Starter For 10). A couple meets on the last day of college, 1989, then circle in and out of each other's orbit every July 15 for the next two decades—Same Time Next Year with a post-modern pulse? Indie darling Patricia Clarkson co-stars. (Opens August 19)
VINCENT WANTS TO SEA
A possible wild card (maybe just because it's still officially James Durbin Year in Santa Cruz), this German road movie revolves around a young man with Tourette's Syndrome who breaks out of rehab with two other friends for a journey to the sea to take charge of their own lives. It won German Film Awards for Best Actor (Florian David Fitz, who also wrote the script) and Best Film. Ralf Huettner directs. (Opens in July)
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