Summer at the Cinema Preview

The solstice may be a week away, but summer at the cinema- the three-month period where anything goes- is in full swing. While last summer  was overwhelmingly marred by disappointment after disappointment and the first weekend of June 2014 saw only two releases in very distinct genres (i.e. If you don’t like to cry over cancer card weepies or cheer on Tom Cruise as he saves the day… again, they weren’t for you.), fear not because this rest of this summer has an epic lineup with something for everyone.

Snowpiercer_portraitHere’s a month-by-month guide to 39 of those films- mainstream, independent, documentary, some that are great movies to keep on your radar even if they’re not likely to be blockbusters and some that will be blockbusters even if they’re not likely to be great movies. Use it as you will, but remember to reserve at least part of your summer to indulging in copious amounts of film and buttered popcorn because, really, there’s no other time like it.


Best Bets:

Yes, it’s a sequel and yes, it’s pretty much the same plot as the first film. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if 22 Jump Street (out now) ends up being one of the biggest splashes at the theater this summer. The dynamite chemistry of stars Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum played off Michael Bacall’s comedic screenplay so well the first time around they achieved blockbuster status- a rarity for slapstick comedies- and look for that to happen again as Schmidt and Jenko go undercover to bust a drug ring at a local college.

Thanks to GK Films, which bought the rights in 2010, you won’t have to fork over a big wad of cash to see the smash hit Jersey Boys (6/20) on Broadway. Director Clint Eastwood brings the rags to riches story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to the big screen with original cast member John Lloyd Young filling the role of Valli and belting out some of the greatest rock tunes of all time.

Jersey_Boys_portraitThe action-packed South Korean Snowpiercer (6/27) trades in the worn-out zombie shtick for a post-apocalyptic world set entirely on a train that’s continually travelling the world (or what’s left of it). Based on a French graphic novel, the survivors of the disaster quickly become divided by a class system highlighted with rebellions and retaliation. It’s also nice to see that director Park Chan-wook cast the blockbuster-churning Chris Evans as the star of the show.

If you’re tired of seeing the same old rom-coms endlessly cranked out by Hollywood, then you’ll be glad They Came Together (6/27). Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd recount how they met, hated each other, fell in love, broke up and then realized they were meant to be, all while skewering nearly every aspect of the contemporary big-screen love story in a way only two of the most talented comedians in the business can.

Also in Theaters:

Revisit the Island of Berk in the big-budget animated film How to Train Your Dragon 2, join the ensemble cast of the first film as they travel to Vegas for better or for worse in Think Like A Man Too, and watch Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo bond over music (and more) in Begin Again (6/20)

They_Came_Together_portraitFox and LaBeouf are both out so it could actually be something better than just blockbuster fluff if only someone would show Michael Bay the door as well. Mark Wahlberg takes over Transformers: Age of Extinction (6/27).


Best Bets:

Melissa McCarthy reprises her role of an aloof, plus-size loafer, this time hitting the road after losing her job and discovering her husband’s been cheating on her. Tammy (7/2) leaves life behind and heads to Niagara Falls with her grandma (Susan Sarandon), who just so happens to have the car and money Tammy doesn’t. Here’s hoping Sarandon’s quick wits can add something new to the antics McCarthy’s already played out in several other movies.

There’s no fault in our stars here: Life Itself (7/4) recounts the inspiring story of world-renowned movie critic Roger Ebert, who passed away in 2013 after an 11-year battle with cancer. The documentary, based on the memoir of the same name, features commentaries from the likes of Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog as well as both Ebert’s wife Chaz and the wife of the late Gene Siskel.

Remember all that hype over whether or not Hollywood should be able to use crowdfunding to jumpstart their next project? Well, the movie that started that conversation is finally coming to theaters. Wish I Was Here (7/18) is Actor/Director Zach Braff’s second feature film and, while the premise is anything but new- a 30-something struggles to find his place in the world- Braff’s knack for crafting tight stories and real characters promises a mid-summer flick that’s both heartwarming and entertaining.

Wanted_Man_portraitAnton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man (7/25) marks Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final, non-Hunger Games on-screen appearance and it most definitely will pack a punch. The twisty espionage thriller begins when a mysterious man- half Chechen, half Russian, and brutally tortured- is discovered in the port of Hamburg, Germany- the same location where terrorists plotted the September 11th attack. As the man’s story is slowly revealed, he becomes tangled up in both the international war on terror and the agenda of anti-terrorist operative Gunter Bachmann (Hoffman).

Also in Theaters:

Like so many before them, Eric Bana & Edgar Ramírez attempt to suppress demons in Deliver Us from Evil while Dave Green copies both E.T. and Super 8 to craft his own boy-meets-alien sci-fi adventure Earth to Echo (7/2).

Richard Linklatter’s critically acclaimed Boyhood faces off against the epically staged man vs. ape battle in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes while Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton butt heads and make up in And So it Goes (7/11).

Talking objects become heroes in Planes: Fire & Rescue while humans decide it’s just easier to kill each other in The Purge: Anarchy (7/18).

Dwayne Johnson bulks up to continue the legend of  Hercules while, in another world, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel find out their Sex Tape was leaked. James Franco and Kate Hudson also decide to do a very bad thing in Good People and Luc Besson directs Lucy (7/25), a feminist version of Limitless.


Best Bets:

james-cameron-deepsea-challenger-650x0You know James Cameron the director but do you know James Cameron the explorer? In 2012, he made history as the first solo diver to reach the bottom of the ocean in the Deepsea Challenger, the submersible used in high-pressure waters. While he was 38,000 ft. below surface level, Cameron made some pretty cool discoveries and National Geographic is releasing the documentation of his journey as a feature length film, James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge 3D (8/8).

Twister and its flying cows are no match for Steven Quale’s Into the Storm (8/8), a “found footage” movie revolving around a  series of tornadoes that ravaged the town of Silverton in a single day and the storm chasers that risked their lives to get in the thick of things. Told through the eyes of professionals, amateurs, and regular townspeople, the special effects and stunt work have been hailed as nothing short of dazzling.

Though Oscar Issac may currently be known best for his future role in 2015’s Star Wars sequel, he’ll first appear alongside Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in The Two Faces of January (8/8), a thriller from first-time director Hossein Amini. Rudal (Issac), a tour guide who scams his clients on the side, is invited to dinner with the Chesterfields, a wealthy, mysterious couple. While he quickly becomes infatuated with the Mrs., he also becomes involved in a plot to dispose of the body of a man who attacked Mr. Chesterfield. If the story isn’t enough for you, the sweeping shots of Greece and Turkey- including the world famous Grand Bazaar- should be.

downloadThree years after it first began production, the erotic psychological thriller The Loft (8/29) gets a release date. Five men (led by Karl Urban & James Marsden) purchase a loft to live out their fantasies with a series of mistresses. All is well until they discover the dead body of an unknown woman lying in the bed. With the realization that only five people had a key, the friends begin to suspect each other of the crime and paranoia starts to spread as a tightly wound story begins to unravel.

Also in Theaters:

The Godfather of Soul (James Brown) is alive and well in the docudrama Get on Up while a new team of superheroes is born in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (8/1)

Helen Mirren plays tough as a French chef until she’s won over by warm and fuzzy cultural diversity vibes in The Hundred Foot Journey while Megan Fox prefers to spend her time eating faux Italian pizza with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (8/8)

A team of explorers find terror in the catacombs of Paris in As Above, So Below (8/13) while a group of old men with muscles terrify audiences with another sequel in The Expendables 3 (8/15).

A couple makes an unexpected discovery while attempting to salvage their marriage at a vacation home in The One I Love, A man learns his girlfriend isn’t quite the same person as she was before she died in the horror flick Life After Beth and a boy learns the dark secrets of his community in The Giver (8/15).

No summer’s complete without a beat-the-odds sports flick like Thomas Carter’s When the Game Stands Tall. Similarly, no summer’s complete unless a scantily-clad, gun-toting Jessica Alba graces the screen like in Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.  Meanwhile, a comatose Chloe Grace Moretz makes a tough decision after her family is killed in a car accident in If I stay (8/22).