Summer Movie Guide: R-Three Style

JGL and Zooey in 500 Days of SummerWhile the fanboys are enjoying spacious, 500-seat auditoriums with DTS sound and the latest in digital projection to catch Wolverines fighting giant Robots that look like sports cars (again) or the typical pot and booger jokes in another laugh an hour, generic comedy, the snobbier among us prefer the cramped and smaller, hard to find theaters that play slightly more ponderous fare as we like to call it.* So with that in mind, we thought we’d have a look at some of the “real” movies that we’re truly looking forward to and are being released sometime over the next four months.

*actually, Cpt. Kirk and John Connor already have our money, so who are we to judge?

The list below is roughly in “date of release” order but consider that to be at your own risk as releases (particularly the indie stuff) can, as we all know, be all over the calendar. Not to mention some of these titles have already played the festival circuit. All title links head over to IMDb (how original).

Also be sure to check out After the Credits podcast this week for their month of MAY PREVIEW

see all of the “must sees” under seats…

Rudo y CursiRudo Y Cursi
Carlos Cuarón, younger brother to Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón, makes his feature film debut here with what looks to be a pretty enjoyable little comedy out of Mexico starring the always quality Gael Garcia-Bernal and Diego Luna; reuniting them from their buddy, road trip film: Y tu Mamá También.

Star Trek
Sure we generally prefer the more “thinking man’s” picture at this site. But then again, we’re all geeks at heart and after all, this is Star Trek we’re talking about. Oh, and for a little icing with your cake, remember this is directed by JJ Abrams.

Silence of LornaThe Silence of Lorna
Don’t really know a whole lot about this one other than the general plot from IMDb and the fact that it is French. Cahiers du cinéma magazine also named co-directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne as their #1 favorite directors of 2008 based soley from having seen this film.

A slow burn of a Hitchcockian-like thriller that pits a man’s paranoia against another’s trust. While it will be a tough film to find over the summer, seek it out at the smaller, arthouse cinemas and summer festivals. For those that like their neo-noir pictures tactile and gritty, while not so much action oriented, Jerichow (our review) is the film that will have you quietly gripped to the arms of your chair.

The Merry GentlemanThe Merry Gentleman
Where has Michael Keaton been for the last few years? Apparently polishing his chops in preparation for his directorial debut; that’s where. Fans are already excited at the prospect of seeing Keaton behind and in front of the camera once again. Also, despite Kelly Macdonald’s second billing, she absolutely shines in her leading role here as the absolutely adorable Kate.
RowThree review

Terminator Salvation
Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure exactly what has everyone pissing in their pants in anticipation for this one. Not to say that I ain’t, because I most certainly am! But after the mediocrity that was part three, I’m surprised this franchise is still as popular as it is. I guess the apocalyptic future is interesting and the whole time travel thing is always intriguing. But really it just comes down to humans battling cyborgs doesn’t it? Well, that and to see if Christian Bale’s uber-rant was actually worth it.

Tilda SwintonThe Limits of Control
First and foremost, an absolutely stellar cast. Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Gael Garcia-Bernal could single handedly get us to plop down our money for just about any film they star in. All three of them at the same time and we really couldn’t be much more excited. Or can we? Did I mention this is another Jarmusch experience? So yeah; and the excellent one-sheet is just icing on the proverbial cake.

Sasha Grey

The Girlfriend Experience
Steven Soderbergh. One sheet. Trailer. Sold. It’s not unusual for Soderbergh to try something… well, unusual. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting; especially when he’s tapped veteran adult film star, Sasha Grey for the lead in his film. Giggity giggity. For this author, this may very well be the most anticipated film of the year… yes, maybe even more than The Road.

Drag Me to HellDrag me to Hell
Sam Raimi returns with some good ol fashioned b-grade goodness. Well, B-grade with some class. All it really took was the trailer for the consensus to be a resounding, “aw hellz yeah!”

Umm, hello? It’s Pixar’s newest. Duh.

When this little Japanese film’s title was announced as the winner at last year’s Oscar ceremony for best foreign language film, I could Departureshear the simultaneous “what is that?” all up and down my street (and indeed, the internet collective). This is the film no one had even heard of much less actually seen. But the foreign committee within the academy seems to be the one voting contingent that doesn’t appear to have their collective heads up their asses. So now with the prospect of this film finally getting some North American ditribution, I very much looking forward to seeing what the hype is about.

Away We Go
Apparently Sam Mendes is going to tackle “quirky comedy with a heart”. I have to admit the marketing does rub me the wrong way – maybe a case of trying too hard (e.g. Juno). Still I’m more than interested to see what Mendes can do with said genre and willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. His dramas are generally pitch perfect and definitely have an alluring aesthetic all their own, but I wonder how he’ll handle quirky; particularly from first time script writers in Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida. But if Mendes isn’t big enough of a draw for you, how bout this: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Chris Messina, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Schneider.

The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3
Yeah yeah yeah. They’re remaking a “classic”… dear god! But hey, this is Tony Scott we’re talking about here. Now I’ll be the first to admit that the Scott’s can most certainly be hit or miss. But when they hit it, it’s awesomeness defined. And again, admittedly Travolta isn’t exactly the draw he once was, but Denzel certainly is, and this trailer is nice and shiny. I like it.

Sam Rockwell in MoonMoon
Hollywood is starving for good sci-fi. Look no further than Moon. With Sam Rockwell (who really doesn’t do much wrong these days) in sort of a lunar version of Cast Away, it makes for compelling story telling and a visual richness severely lacking in most films today. Throw in a bit of a Soderbergh Solaris twist and this thing is destined for underground greatness.
RowThree review here.

Whatever Works

Whatever Works
Woody Allen seems to churn out another film about every 2 weeks. It’s just second nature to him by now. So the prospect of yet another Allen film isn’t really anything to be jumping for joy about (well maybe for some people it is). No, the real excitement here is to see how Seinfeld creator and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star handles the lead in a feature film. With Allen behind the camera, my guess is that this will be a pretty fun experiment… even if it ends up to be a failure. For now, if it stars Larry David, it’s got my money.

The Brothers BloomThe Brothers Bloom
It seems there is no shortage of films this summer that are worthy of my money simply based on interest level of a certain director or writer. With The Brothers Bloom, this is probably the most glaring example. Why? Because it’s the follow-up film to Brick, the fascinatingly new take on neo-noir from first time writer/director Rian Johnson. Now we’ll get to see if Brick was just beginner’s luck or if it is truly the break-out work of an up and coming genius film maker. Row Three’s own Kurt Halfyard contributed his writing skills to a review of The Brothers Bloom over at Twitch.

Like Departures, I really knew nothing about Revanche when it was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film. To be honest, I still don’t. But again, any film nominated for a foreign language Oscar is going to be good. I’m there; are you?

Blood: The Last VampireBlood: The Last Vampire
As big fans of the genre film around here, we can’t very well have a summer preview post without some martial arts fighting vampire chicks can we? To me, this looks like Blade meets Night Watch; Asian style. In other words, as the title of this post (trailer) suggests, “Now Kicking Ass.”

Public Enemies
Shiver shiver. The Mann only directs a film about once every two to three years. I wish they would come off the line a bit faster, but if that’s what it takes to create the kind of fabulous film making Michael Mann gives us every time then I’m willing to wait. It seems like Mann is all over the map of time with his movies and now after three years of waiting after his arthouse action picture of the 80’s, Miami Vice, we move into the great crime wave of the 1930’s with none other than Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Giovanni Ribisi. Officially in my top three of most anticipated movies of the year.
RowThree trailer

500 Days of Summer
Anyone who spends any time at all in the third row knows that we’re pretty big Joseph Gordon-Levitt fans around here (my 4500 shares of JGL stock at HSX has made me a very rich man). And we also spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the merits of Zooey D. So when it was first announced that these two were getting together for a fun, little romantic romp directed by a first timer, Marc Webb, our ears pricked up and we couldn’t seem to stop posting or talking about it. Then the trailer hit and we were all pretty giddy. Maybe not normally our cup of tea, but this one for some reason just strikes the right chord and we’re pretty excited (even if the one sheet is a tad obnoxious).

All Good Things
I admit it. I know nothing about this film. But guess what? It’s Ryan Gosling. Therefore I will be in the theater on July 24th to see what my man crush has in store for us this time. Oh, and Frank Langella and Phillip Baker Hall are here too; joy!

District 9

District 9
This little unknown absolutely stormed onto the scene in early May when the trailer was released and had us all mimicking Homer’s boss, Mr. Burns: “Ickseellent.” As I mentioned with Moon, the world needs more thematically inventive and visually interesting sci-fi. Look no further than Neil Blomkamp’s District 9. Holy balls does this look great.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
Here’s a case of just natural curiosity than anything else. The one book I was able to finish in the past 9 months was Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” Is it fluff? Yeah maybe a little, but so what? It’s excellently written fluff and it blends together my two favorite genres (sci-fi and drama) well enough for me to consider this one of the best and most entertaining books I’ve ever read. Which basically means the movie is going to suck ass. Still, Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams do seem to fit the characters that were swimming in my head as I read. Plus, the premise is brilliant; so as I said I’m very curious. Just maybe this will work… maybe.

Taking WoodstockTaking Woodstock
While the lobby poster made me want to poke my eyes out with a whammy bar, I do have a lot of confidence in Ang Lee – and even more love and fascination with the little farm festival in upstate New York which became known as “Woodstock.” The Woodstock documentary is a great little piece of work that tried really hard at getting at what the experience was like. Unfortunately, the documentary could be 12 hours long and still probably not capture the true essence of the show. And a fictional account of how it was put together probably won’t either, but I’m pretty excited to see how well it fares in trying to do so.
Original review of Woodstock from Rolling Stone magazine: read this.

Inglorious Basterds
Like Michael Mann, everyone’s favorite retro-hip director, Quentin Tarantino, only directs a movie every few years. And when the newest is released, it is always the rage. Tarantino spotlighted his career with Reservoir Dogs, solidified it with Pulp Fiction and everything since has been relative gold. There’s no reason to think otherwise with Inglorious Basterds; a project he’s been working on now seemingly forever. So I think it fair to say that some of us have this on our most anticipated list for all of 2009.
The trailer at RowThree.

Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds

The Boat That Rocked
While the trailer (RowThree hosted) doesn’t overly thrill me, I can only assume that the best is saved for the actual movie. Why do I assume this? Because it stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, that’s why. On top of this, we’ve got Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh and the great Bill Nighy. Not high on the list of things to see, but certainly something that piques the interest buds.

A couple of other films that we’re definitely looking forward to, but the release date of which are a little bit vague. These two are big contenders for the “movies of 2009 that we loved” end of year post, but not sure if they’re coming to a theater near you for the summer or later in the year:

New York, I love YouNew York, I Love You
Paris je’Taime (or, Paris, I Love You) was one of my favorite movies from 2007 for a lot of reasons. Anthology films aren’t always my cup of tea, but when they’re put together this well, I too fell in love with Paris. I can only hope that the homage to New York City (another city I love) will be as captivating and enjoyable as its predecessor. With the same structure and equal number of great directors at the helm, I have no reason to believe it won’t be. Can’t wait.

Black DynamiteBlack Dynamite
If you watch this trailer and aren’t instantly excited by this prospective bit of comedic gold, then you’re probably not reading this post (and you’re an idiot). And Kurt thought it was solid. You Dig?

Now while there are a few more little titles being released here and there that look mildly interesting over the next four months, but we have to leave something for you to discover in your own neck of the woods – and we can’t really say we’re highly anticipating something if we don’t really know much about them yet can we? What else is being released that you’re looking forward to this summer? Got a top three or a most-anticipated for each month? By all means, share your thoughts!

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Very interesting, thanks for the information.

Jandy Hardesty

I stand by my love of the (500) Days of Summer onesheet. It has LOTS OF ZOOEYs. One Zooey = awesome. MANY ZOOEYs = SUPERAWESOME.

Maybe I'll put it in my avatar just to annoy everyone else…

Also, good picks. I want to see almost all of them. And on Terminator, the reason I'm excited about it is The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I know they're different timelines and stuff, but the series got me interested in the world in a way the movies (even the first two, which I enjoy but don't love) didn't.

Bob Turnbull

The Soderbergh, Jarmusch and Pixar are probably my most anticipated from that list. And Moon. OK, and the Tarantino…

Thanks for that Andrew – there's a bunch that weren't even on my radar yet. David Hudson has a huge list at IFC as well.

As for "New York I Love You", I can give you at least one reason to trim your expectations a bit…I saw the Work In Progress print at TIFF and it was pretty darn terrible. I simply don't see how they can save it. But…There were moments and I'm curious to see what changes.

Marina Antunes

That District 9 trailer pretty much put that at the top of highly anticipated movies for the summer. That said, everything on your list looks promising.


So much to look forward to… where to even start?


This is easily the best summer line-up at least on paper that I can remember, particularly for someone like myself who stays away from a lot of the big special effects orgies.

I count 13 films I want to see from that list.