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May 21, 2013

Summer movie round-up

SPACE 

Brit Marling, who starred in and co-wrote both Another Earth and The Sound of My Voice, is back again with Voice partner Zal Batmanglij for The East, which opens May 31. The biggest venture we’ve seen so far from the ingénue, The East co-stars Alexander Skarsgård and Ellen Page as members of an anti-corporate anarchist collective. Marling’s character is tasked with the job of infiltrating its ranks before it can cause too much damage. If Sound of My Voice is anything to go by, expect heaps of moral ambiguity with a side of general slow-baked intensity (alternately, talented pretty people looking conflicted).

On June 27, Sebastián Cordero makes his English-language directorial debut with Europa Report, starring District 9’s Sharlto Copley. Copley is part of a team of astronauts en route to Europa, one of Jupiter’s icy moons theorized to have an ocean deep beneath its frozen crust. The trailer promises a gorgeous, gritty take on what could be hiding within those depths, à la the first two-thirds of Danny Boyle’s underrated gem, Sunshine.

For all those fans of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, or for the occasional layman who likes seeing dudes trip over fences, the director’s latest, The World’s End, drops August 23. World’s End is the third and final installment in the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy (also called the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy): Shaun was strawberry red for zombified blood and gore, Fuzz was blue original for Sanford’s finest, and this one’s apparently mint green—aliens, anybody?

ANGST

The season’s first high school-themed entry is Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s The Kings of Summer (May 31), which focuses on two best friends who take to the woods one summer to build a house and “live off the land,” because puberty is hard, or something. While early reviews suggest that Vogt-Roberts leans a little too heavily on established indie cues, a strong supporting cast including Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Allison Brie is more than enough to make up for it.

The Way, Way Back (July 5), about an awkward kid coming of age while working a summer job at a theme park, is being billed as “from the same studio that brought you Juno and Little Miss Sunshine,” if that gives you any indication about what it’s hoping to be (costars include Toni Collette and Steve Carrell). Nat Faxon and Jim Rash co-wrote and both are directing; the latter won an Oscar for co-adapting The Descendants, which is only a good sign.

I’m personally most excited for James Ponsoldt’s The Magnificent Now, which enters limited release in early August. Miles Teller stars as a failing high school senior battling alcoholism. Shailene Woodley (who’s having a moment) is the requisite bookish girl who may be the key to getting him redemption. The film won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for the “rare honesty” of its performances, and Ponsoldt was recently tapped to direct the upcoming Hillary Clinton biopic thanks in no small part to the empathy he displays here.

I.R.L.

July 12’s Fruitvale Station stars Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) as Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old who was infamously shot and killed by a BART officer on San Francisco public transit on New Year’s Eve 2009. Written and directed by newcomer Ryan Coogan, the film apparently brought Sundance crowds to tears and was enough of a standout for the Weinsteins to pick it up for distribution (can the Academy just announce Jordan’s Oscar nod right now?). Speaking of Jordan, rumors are swirling that he may be first choice to play the Human Torch in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot; he’d be the first African American in the role.

To lighten the mood, catch Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring (June 14). The movie’s based on the Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales. Emma Watson stars as a member of the fame-obsessed teen posse whose idea it was to rob the houses of their favorite “dumb” celebrities. Most famously, the group used Google Earth and a key under her front doormat to rob Paris Hilton no fewer than five times (she purportedly didn’t notice until one of the thieves got overeager and looted over two million dollars worth of jewels in one night).

SALIVA

When Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise came out in 1995, it was meant to stand alone as an understated, timeless love story that was, paradoxically, all about time. Yet nobody complained when nine years later, Linklater quietly released Before Sunset, and similarly, nobody’s mad about this month’s Before Midnight either. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy return, this time allowing us a peek into what happens a decade after the best night of one’s life. The film comes to Chicago on May 31.

David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (August 16) stars Rooney Mara (Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) in a Terrence Malick-esque tale about a couple of outlaws separated after one of them kills a cop in a gunfight. The film has drawn obvious comparisons to Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands, but early buzz says Lowery’s aesthetic propels it into something gorgeous and chemistry-laden in its own right. Plus, Mara and Affleck are (in my opinion) respectively miles ahead of their more famous older siblings, so we should all support them accordingly.  

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