Happy official summer movie season! Time to celebrate by examining what this month has to offer for us, from some of the most anticipated films of the year to tiny gems that may only be playing on one screen near you, if any. Let's break it down.
Major Genre Fare
The Avengers (May 4th)
Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.
Finally. FINALLY. Entry one in the battle for the largest Summer box office numbers (alongside The Dark Knight Rises of course), The Avengers finally hits theaters this Friday after breaking world records overseas and garnering almost universal praise for the incredible work of Joss Whedon and his spectacular cast. Although the Hulk steals the movie, everyone has his or her moment in the sun and man is it nice to have proof that the Whedon gamble paid off.
When Am I Seeing It? Already seen it, but going again for the opening midnight show!
Dark Shadows (May 11th)
An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.
Although some fans of the original have been cringing at the spots for this high camp comedy take on Dark Shadows, others are looking forward to Burton's take on the series. I for one am more or less indifferent, but did find myself chuckling at the trailer and I love Chloe Moretz and Eva Green, so consider me on the "Sure, I'll give it a go" side.
When Am I Seeing It? Opening Week.
Battleship (May 18th)
A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.
Everything I have seen on this movie is utterly stupid. It's possible that the film is stupid in a deliberate call back to action movies of the 90s sort of way, but am I willing to spend $15 to find out? Taylor Kitsch is starting to grate on me the more I see him speak in person, so the only saving graces here are Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard who fact, I would move mountains for. Director Peter Berg is also the man responsible for Friday Night Lights, so perhaps I should give him some more credit, but comeeee onnnn. You can't cast Brooklyn Decker and tell me it's cause she's "smart" before you dress her in a skin tight crop top and expect me to not think your movie is dumb.
When Am I Seeing It? Ugh. Can I wait and see it when it's playing at the local two dollar theater? Are there are local two dollar theaters left in Los Angeles? Don't make me pay for this. Please.
Men in Black III (May 25)
Agent J travels in time to MIB's early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.
That weird feeling where you're SO EXCITED because Men In Black was amazing, but then you become full of dread because you remember how Men In Black II was so painfully awful? A. How did that even happen in the first place? and B. MAN do I hope this redeems the Men in Black franchise. The potential and the talent is there. In fact, there really is no reason for this to suck. Except for the fact that they started shooting without a screenplay and all that. Oh boy. Here comes the dread. I'm pulling for you, guys.
When Am I Seeing It? Opening Weekend.
Chernobyl Diaries (May 25th)
Six tourists hire an extreme tour guide who takes them to the abandoned city Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. During their exploration, they soon discover they are not alone.
I feel like I've been hearing about this movie before, but that might just be because of the word Diaries, which are also kept by entities like vampires and nannies. This movie, co-written and produced by Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity sounds like it will be about humans mutated by nuclear energy, one of those horror things that frightens me more than just about anything. I saw about five minutes of The Hills Have Eyes once and started crying. This film actually looks pretty good, I just suspect it may enter into a realm of horror that goes past my comfort zone.
When Am I Seeing It? Neverneverevernevevrr STOP IT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT AHHH. Not that you shouldn't see it. Be my guest. I have to go hide now.
Laughing and What Not
The Dictator (May 16th)
The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.
Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the big screen as a brand new character, but this time, the film is straight up fiction. Instead of screwing with people, captured on hidden cameras, Baron Cohen takes his style of character and places it within a scripted narrative. Though not to stray too far from his roots, Baron Cohen is promoting the film by staying in character at as many appearances as possible. The trailer is legitimately hilarious, even if his real life outings as the Dictator have proved less fruitful.
When Am I Seeing It? Opening Weekend.
What To Expect When You're Expecting (May 18th)
A look at love through the eyes of five interconnected couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and ultimately coming to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn't always deliver what's expected.
The baby themed answer to He's Just Not That Into You, which more or less sounds like my worst nightmare. The cast includes Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid, Chase Crawford, Chris Rock, Matthew Morrison, Megan Mullally, Rebel Wilson, and the list goes on and on and on. The screenplay is co-written by Shauna Cross (Whip It) and Heather Hach (Freaky Friday remake), so there is a minor chance it won't be unwatchable.
When Am I Seeing It? Bizarrely enough, probably at some point in its opening month as part of a bad movie series I have going with some friends of mine. I'm disappointed in myself too.
Small & Quirky
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (May 4th)
British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
The first time I saw this trailer, at first as I was like "What IS this, probably SODUMB" but as the trailer went on I found myself thinking, "Okay so it turns out I want to see this right now..." This all star who's who of British vets includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton and seems genuinely sweet and funny. When you consider it's directed by Shakespeare in Love's John Madden, this should come as no surprise. The worst reviews (though overall, feedback has been extremely positive) faintly damn it for being old-fashioned, conventional, safe and stuffy, all of which are descriptors I'd rather expect from a movie like this, so I'm not deterred much.
When Am I Seeing It? Ideally, opening month. Realistically, on DVD.
God Bless America (May 11)
On a mission to rid society of its most repellent citizens, terminally ill Frank makes an unlikely accomplice in 16-year-old Roxy.
Bobcat Goldthwait's third film, which screened at both Toronto and SXSW has been getting mixed reviews, many seeing it a step backwards for the exciting comedian turned director from his last film, the well received World's Greatest Dad. Ultimately, the film is still supposed to be entertaining and violent, if not a bit lacking when it comes to having something to say, so I'm still interested, if not planning on rushing out to the theater.
When Am I Seeing It? VOD or DVD.
Hysteria (May 18th)
A romantic comedy based on the truth of how Mortimer Granville devised the invention of the first vibrator in the name of medical science.
I've been really looking forward to this film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy since it premiered at the Toronto Internation Film Fest last year to generally positive reviews. The romantic comedy has been referred to as light, silly and saucy, all pluses for me! Plus, Felicity Jones is in it, who I simply don't get to see on screen enough.
When Am I Seeing It? Hopefully sooner rather than later, though I suspect DVD may end up being the case. Le sigh.
Moonrise Kingdom (May 25th)
A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.
Wes Anderson's first film since one of my all time favorites Fantastic Mr. Fox, which he co-wrote with Roman Coppola. I'm so unbelievably excited for this film, I could scream. And actually have screamed. Specifically over my excitement for this movie. Also, at the end of the trailer, there is a cat in a basket. It's like Wes Anderson has seen my soul and wants nothing more than to keep it happy with his films. Deem me hipster if you must (though I'm really not) but I loves me some Wes Anderson. I actually didn't for a while, but Fantastic Mr. Fox is THE BEST OF ALL OF THE THINGS, so I've been reconverted. Oh and it stars Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. It's gonna rule.
When Am I Seeing It? Opening Day. NOTHING CAN KEEP ME AWAY.
Must See Docs
First Position (May 4th)
A documentary that follows six young dancers from around the world as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious ballet competition's in the world.
A documentary about kids competing for something they are super passionate about? I can feel the tears coming on already. I'm not big on dance in general, I don't really understand it, which frustrates me, but I was incredibly moved by last year's gorgeous Pina, and have discovered that not understanding dance doesn't mean I can't enjoy it and relate to the passion others feel for it. I truly can't wait for this film.
When Am I Seeing It? Opening week, I hope!
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (May 18th)
A documentary chronicling 50 years of international fashion and Diana Vreeland’s rich life.
Caught this wonderful film at the Santa Barbara Film Fest earlier this year and can't recommend it enough. No documentary about Diane Vreeland would be worth its salt if it didn't somehow echo the eccentricities that guided her life. And boy does The Eye Has To Travel do that in spades. Bright, unique and oddly beautiful, just like Vreeland herself, I implore you to make a point of seeing this film, which will be opened in extremely limited release.
When Am I Seeing It? Saw it, loved it, capsule review here
You Have Been Warned
LOL (May 4th)
As a new year at school begins, Lola's heart is broken by her boyfriend, though soon she's surprised by her best friend, promising musician Kyle, who reveals his feelings for her.
This French remake also known as the Miley Cyrus film Lionsgate buried, apparently contains a scene where Cyrus' character takes a shower in the same room where her mother played by Demi Moore takes a bath, and the whole thing was just a little too weird for everyone. Or "they couldn't market it cause they had to focus on Hunger Games." Erm. Sure, Lionsgate. Of course that's the reason. Although I am kind of digging this Douglas Booth fellow and I do kind of like Ashley Greene. Guys, what if I see this movie?
When Am I Seeing It? On like, Starz or Netflix Instant one night when no one is looking.
Hick (May 11)
A Nebraska teen gets more than she bargained for when she sets out for the bright lights of Las Vegas.
I *love* both Chloe Moretz and Blake Lively, for very different reasons (one because she is an amazing talent, the other because she has amazing hair), but this film got staggeringly horrible reviews out of Toronto last year, Collider even going so far as to give it an F.
When Am I Seeing It? Never. Unless someone makes me. But like, never. I don't want Chloe Moretz tainted for me!