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posted Friday, May 7, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 19
SGN's 2010 summer movie preview
Arts & Entertainment
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SGN's 2010 summer movie preview

by Sara Michelle Fetters
SGN Contributing Writer

                Ready for summer? Hollywood is. Even with solid performances from the likes of Alice in Wonderland, How to Train Your Dragon, and Clash of the Titans, there's nothing like the summer to get Tinseltown's box office juices flowing. These are the days when the grosses flow into their coffers like rivers into an ocean, and each weekend is an event the studios pray will become a bona-fide sensation.

                All of this means that audiences can expect more of the same summer movies they've been heading to the multiplexes for years to enjoy. Big-budget sequels like Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Sex and the City 2, and Toy Story 3? Check. Star-driven romantic comedies featuring ample amounts of humor and action like Knight and Day, Killers, and Going the Distance? But of course! High-profile remakes, comic book adaptations, video game spinoffs, and reboots like The A-Team, Robin Hood, Predators, The Karate Kid, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Piranha 3-D, and Jonah Hex? What would summer be without them?

                As always, there are some bright spots for those looking for films with a bit more on their mind than the box-office bottom line. Robert Duvall courts Oscar with 2009 Toronto Film Festival favorite Get Low, Argentinean Oscar-winner The Secret in Their Eyes makes its Seattle debut, and Phillip Noyce's Salt sounds just like the Bourne-style popcorn thriller intelligent audiences have been hoping for.

                Best of all is the return of the Seattle International Film Festival. While this year's lineup isn't yet known, this 25-day marathon of cinema always ends up being a movie-lover's dream. I can't imagine this year will be an exception, as opening night offering The Extra Man is just the type of glorious-sounding enterprise that gets me excited about what the programmers have in store for the remainder of the festival.

                With all that said, here's what's scheduled to come to Seattle throughout the summer. As always, release dates are tentative and subject to change.

                May 7
                Babies - One year in the life of four babies on four different continents. Just as cutesy as you'd think it would be, but a lot more poignant and emotionally stirring than you'd probably imagine.
                The Good, the Bad, the Weird - Three Korean outlaws try to stay one step ahead of the Japanese army and Chinese bandits in 1940s Manchuria in this odd, over-the-top, and incredibly entertaining Western satire/rip-off of the films of Sergio Leone.
                Paperman - Satirical superhero counter programming to Iron Man 2 that's secretly a character-driven melodrama about a failed writer (Jeff Daniels) striking up a friendship with a Long Island teenager (Emma Stone) that reignites his long dormant imagination.
                The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos) - The Argentinean 2010 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film makes its Seattle debut. This retrospective thriller of murder, regret, and love is a solid enough effort, but in no way was superior to fellow nominees The White Ribbon or A Prophet.

                May 13 - May 16
                The 5th Annual Translations Film Festival - Three Dollar Bill Cinema's popular weekend Transgender film fest returns with a series of panels, shorts, documentaries, narrative features, and retrospective works spotlighting the Trans community.

                May 14
                Casino Jack and the United States of Money - The world of disgraced Washington, D.C. super-lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, as seen through the eyes of award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Darkside).
                Just Wright - Queen Latifah stars as a physical therapist who falls in love with a professional basketball player (Common) currently under her care. As silly as it sounds, the trailer actually makes this one look pretty darn good. Color me intrigued.
                Letters to Juliet - A love story set in Verona, Italy, about a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) who takes it upon herself to reunite the author (Vanessa Redgrave) of a lost letter with the love of her life. It's probably going to be a soapy mess, but I'm kind of excited to see if Gary Winick (Tadpole, Bride Wars) can get his directorial career back on track (if only because of the movie's cast, which also includes Gael García Bernal).
                Princess Kaiulani - The based-on-fact story of a Hawaiian princess (Q'orianka Kilcher) who attempts to keep her island's independence from American imperialism. Might be interesting, but considering there are 50 states currently in the Union, I think we know how things turn out.
                Robin Hood - Once upon a time, director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe had the intriguing idea to revisit Sherwood Forest as through the eyes of the sheriff of Nottingham. This Gladiator-like spectacle is nothing like said idea.
                The Secret of Kells - The surprise 2010 Oscar nominee for Best Animated Film finally makes its Seattle debut.

                May 21 - June 14
                The 36th Annual Seattle International Film Festival - The largest film festival in North America returns, opening with The Extra Man, the new comedy from American Splendor directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, and ending 24 days later with a picture still to be announced. We'll be covering all the wonderfulness from start to finish, starting with opening night. Keep checking the front page for details.

                May 21
                Magruber - A very R-rated feature-length adaptation of the supremely unfunny Saturday Night Live skit with Will Forte and Kristen Wiig that somehow actually looks kind of appealing. Go figure.
                Racing Dreams - Go-kart racing! Up on the big screen! Is there really anything else that needs to be said? (Well, maybe that it's a documentary and, in all seriousness, is supposed to be quite excellent.)
                Shrek Forever After - The green ogre returns for what is reported to be the last time, coming face-to-face with an alternate It's a Wonderful Life-style reality where he and Fiona have never met and Far Far Away is ruled by the magically maniacal Rumpelstiltskin. Somebody wake me when it's over.

                May 27
                Sex and the City 2 - Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) return in this sequel to 2008's surprise box office smash and journey to Morocco in order to showcase how American materialism is alive and well, even during a crappy economy. As I was never a huge fan, this is one Middle East frolic I could easily do without.

                May 28
                George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead - The zombie maestro returns, following up 2008's Diary of the Dead with a saga about a group of National Guardsmen who mistakenly think they've found sanctuary on an island just off the coast of Delaware.
                Looking for Eric - British director Ken Loach's latest follows a soccer fanatic whose world falls to pieces until he comes into contact with a famous life coach. Considering this somewhat amusing sounding frolic is from the man who made The Wind that Shakes the Barley and Bread and Roses, don't expect to be uplifted.
                Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - Director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Four Weddings and a Funeral), producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Top Gun), and star Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) attempt to break the video game adaptation curse with this sword and sandal adventure. Anyone out there holding their breath that they succeed?

                June 4
                Get Him to the Greek - An odd spin-off/sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall revolving around Russell Brand's washed-up rock star and the efforts of a record company executive (Jonah Hill) to get him to a concert at L.A.'s Greek theatre.
                Killers - An action-comedy with Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher about a wife who learns three years into their seemingly perfect marriage that her husband is actually a contract killer with a humongous price on his head. In other words, it's a virtual remake of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
                Marmaduke - Deadly looking family comedy revolving around the famous titular canine, voiced by Owen Wilson. Easily one of the worst trailers (and I'm including Furry Vengeance in this assessment) I've had the displeasure to see this year.
                Mother and Child - A film about three women (Annette Benning, Naomi Watts, and Kerry Washington), each interconnected in ways none can imagine, and their personal dealing with motherhood. Strongly acted (Benning is Oscar-worthy), but director Rodrigo García can't quite bring things all the way home in a way that is completely satisfying.
                Splice - The Sundance Film Festival sensation about two genetic scientists (Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody) whose latest experiment goes horrifically wrong. Executive produced by Guillermo del Toro.

                June 11
                The A-Team - Adaptation of the popular 1980s television show staring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton Jackson, and breakout District 9 actor Sharlto Copley, and directed by Narc and Smokin' Aces filmmaker Joe Carnahan. The word pointless would normally come to mind, but darn it if that catchy theme music doesn't somehow have me excited.
                The Karate Kid - So, if this remake is set in China, revolves around kung fu, and stars Jackie Chan, why is it still called The Karate Kid? Wouldn't something like The Kung-Fu Kid have made more sense?

                June 18
                Agora - Rachel Weisz headlines this historical drama that was all the buzz in 2009 as it made the film festival rounds - and then failed to pick up a distributor. Over a year later, the movie finally sees the light of day. Make of that what you will.
                City of Your Final Destination - Director James Ivory and his Remains of the Day and Howard's End star Anthony Hopkins reunite in this adaptation of Peter Cameron's best-selling novel. Fellow Oscar-winner Ruth Prawer Jhabvala writes the screenplay.
                Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work - I have nothing to say here. Apparently, this documentary about the can we talk diva is supposed to be pretty darn good, I just have trouble believing it, is all.
                Jonah Hex - Another fringe comic book adaptation, this one revolving around a disfigured Western antihero (Josh Brolin) tasked by the United States government with stopping a madman (John Malkovich) from unleashing hell on earth.
                Ondine - Neil Jordan's (Mona Lisa, The Crying Game) fantastical drama about an Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) who discovers a woman he believes to be a mermaid (Alicja Bachleda) in his net.
                Please Give - Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money) returns with a new comedy-drama starring Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, and Oliver Platt in a New York story of apartment living, panhandling, and philanthropy.
                Toy Story 3 - Arguably the summers most anticipated sequel. Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toys return to face a future without their owner as he prepares to head to college and leave childhood things behind. Probably the only 3-D film I'm actually looking forward to seeing.

                June 25
                Grown Ups - Adam Sandler's latest comedy revolves around estranged friends (Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, and David Spade) who reunite over the Fourth of July weekend after the death of their high school basketball coach.
                Holy Rollers - The story of a teenage member of the Orthodox Jewish community in New York who is persuaded to become an ecstasy dealer. The movie wasn't exactly a sensation at Sundance, but still might be worthwhile thanks to the presence of Zombieland and Adventureland star Jesse Eisenberg.
                Knight and Day - Vanilla Sky stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz reunite for director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) in this comic action thriller about a supposedly unhinged CIA spy and the woman he abducts in order to save her life from assassins.
                Micmacs - A very, very odd French farce about weapons dealers and junk merchants from visual wunderkind Jean-Pierre Jeunet that recalls the director's early efforts like Delicatessen and Amélie. I'll not see anything else even remotely like this one for the remainder of the year.
                Winter's Bone - The saga of Ozark Mountain teenager Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), who sets out to find her drug dealer father and recoup her family's mortgage money before the bank forecloses on their home. Based on the bestselling novel by Daniel Woodrell.

                June 30
                The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - Vampires are attacking Seattle! Bella must make a decision between Edward and Jacob! The Volturi are in Forks to make sure their orders have been followed! Young women and girls everywhere are going batshit insane!

                July 2
                Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky - A Parisian drama chronicling the relationship between fashion designer Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen).
                I Am Love - The great Tilda Swinton in a 1930s story of Italian adultery amidst the rich and powerful. In other words, it's Gossip Girl for grownups.
                The Killer Inside Me - Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Jim Thompson's pulp noir novel caused something of a firestorm at Sundance, as its unflinching depictions of violence against women caused many to leave the theater in anger. Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas, and Bill Pullman star.
                The Last Airbender - M. Night Shyamalan returns with an adaptation of the popular cartoon series about a youngster named Aang (Noah Ringer) with the power to bend all four of the elements. Paramount recently announced they were converting the film into 3-D. (Lets just hope the job they do on it is better than the one Warner Bros. did for Clash of the Titans.)
                Twelve - Joel Schumacher goes low-budget with his latest effort about a New York City drug dealer (Chace Crawford) whose life is spun upside down after his cousin's murder. Roger Ebert is one of the lone voices praising the independent production, which received a mixed reception at Sundance.

                July 7
                The Kids are All Right - The one film out of this year's Sundance festival that just about everyone and their sister thought was pretty darn amazing. Lisa Cholodenko's (High Art) latest revolves around a Lesbian couple (Annette Benning, Julianne Moore) whose children (Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska) take it upon themselves to discover who donated the sperm for their birth.

                July 9
                Cyrus - A film about a war of wills between the grown son (Jonah Hill) of a single woman (Marisa Tomei) and her recently divorced new suitor (John C. Reilly). Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass' (Baghead, The Puffy Chair) latest is their first foray into studio filmmaking, yet still somehow manages to maintain the loose, improvised charm of their previous micro-budgeted efforts.
                Despicable Me - Anyone see that early trailer with the overweight kid acting like a total jerk before accidentally popping an inflatable Egyptian pyramid and think it was just about the worst, most borderline offensive thing they'd ever seen? Yeah. Me, too.
                Predators - After the disastrous Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Fox attempts to reboot one half of their famous sci-fi franchises and turns to producer Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Sin City) and director Nimród Antal (Vacancy) to do it for them. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but Predators is probably one of the top films of the summer I'm absolutely dying to see.
                [REC 2] - The sequel to the fantastic French original (remade on these shores as the almost equally good Quarantine) follows a group of soldiers and scientists as they head into the infected apartment complex to try and figure out exactly what happened and how they can stop it from spreading.

                July 15
                Inception - The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan returns with a science fiction adventure murder mystery supposedly set within the recesses of the mind. My pick for the gotta-see-it event picture of the summer.
                Perrier's Bounty - Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Wilkinson, and Gabriel Byrne in an Irish thriller about three fugitives on the run - not from the law, but from one of their own, intent on exacting revenge for the death of one of his friends.
                The Sorcerer's Apprentice -Jay Baruchel (with an assist from Nicolas Cage) tries to fill Mickey Mouse's shoes in this live-action adaptation of the beloved Fantasia short. Could be fun, but that early trailer was positively dreadful.

                July 23
                Dinner for Schmucks - A comedy about a rising executive (Paul Rudd) who finds the perfect guest (Steve Carrell) to attend his boss' monthly dinner for idiots where the one who brings the biggest imbecile gets a fantastic prize. Sounds kind of awful, but I do admit early glimpses have me more intrigued than I probably should be.
                Ramona and Beezus - An adaptation of the wonderful Beverly Cleary book about mischievous youngster Ramona Quimby (Joey King), her older sister Beezus (Selena Gomez), and their loving yet frazzled mother Dorothy (Bridget Moynahan) getting ready for an impromptu kindergarten party.
                Salt - A Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, Catch a Fire) thriller about a CIA agent (Angelina Jolie) forced on the run after she's labeled a Russian spy intent on assassinating the president of the United States.
                Stonewall Uprising - A documentary chronicling the 1969 New York riots that helped spark the Gay and Lesbian civil rights movement in the United States.
                Wild Grass - A French romantic comedy about a lost wallet, the person who finds it, and the owner who longs to discover who her kind benefactor was.

                July 30
                Beastly - An indescribable melding of genres revolving around wealthy and cruel Manhattanite (Alex Pettyfer) who is cursed by a jilted ex (Mary-Kate Olsen) to become everything he despises unless he can find someone to love him for who he is, warts and all. This follow-up film for Phoebe in Wonderland director Daniel Barnz looks to be another odd exploration that will perplex as many as it enthralls.
                Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore - Otherwise known as the sequel no one on this planet asked for, and which even fewer will want to see (even if it is in 3-D and features tons of CGI talking animals).
                Charlie St. Cloud - An odd-sounding comedy about a cemetery caretaker (Zac Efron) who has nightly conversations with his dead brother Sam (Chris Massoglia) in order to work through his grief - much to the consternation and worry of his mother (Kim Basinger).

                August 6
                Great Directors - A documentary featuring interviews with directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Catherine Breillat, Liliana Cavani, John Sayles, Stephen Frears, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes, David Lynch, Ken Loach, and Agnès Varda.
                Mao's Last Dancer - A biopic of Chinese ballet dancer Li Cunxin (Chi Cao), his defection to the United States, and later success on the stage in Australia. The runner-up for the Audience Award at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival, directed by Driving Miss Daisy and Tender Mercies filmmaker Bruce Beresford.
                The Other Guys - Action-comedy that can't help but be better than the fantastically horrible Cop Out, even though it carries a rather similar premise (thankfully sans baseball card subplot) revolving around two below-average New York detectives (Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) trying to make names for themselves as ace crime fighters.
                Step Up 3-D - I'm not sure how this hip-hop dancing melodramatic series became so popular. The third chapter is sure to offer just as many eye-popping visuals and brain-dead dramatics as the previous two did, only now in 3-D.

                August 13
                Eat, Pray, Love - Fresh off the continuing success of Glee, director Ryan Murphy tries to make a theatrical name for himself that will make people forget he had anything to do with Running with Scissors - and maybe get star Julia Roberts a second Oscar in the process.
                The Expendables - Sylvester Stallone rounds up Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Mickey Rourke to join him on a violent expedition to the South American jungle, where he will once again push the boundaries of an R rating. Bruce Willis and governator Arnold Schwarzenegger also make cameo appearances.
                Get Low - Oscar fodder with Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Cobbs that had audiences cheering at last Fall's Toronto Film Festival. As alternative summer programming is concerned, this one might just be at the head of the line.
                Patrik, Age 1.5 - 2009 Seattle International Film Festival favorite about an openly Gay couple who accidentally adopt a 15-year-old homophobic teenager instead of a newborn infant.
                Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - An oddly cast Michael Cera stars in director Edgar Wright's (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) adaptation of the popular underground comic book, and I'm intrigued based on the trailers alone. Sure, he's nothing like the written character, but there is something about the manic energy of these early glimpses that's got me ready to give this one a chance.

                August 20
                Down Terrace - An independent thriller about a crime family trying to figure out who the police informant is amongst them and the ways their collective paranoia begins to bring them all down.
                HappyThankYouMorePlease - The polarizing comedy out of Sundance that had people either raving about it to the rooftops or walking out mid-movie. Malin Akerman, Kate Mara, and the great Richard Jenkins headline the mostly teenage and 20-something cast.
                Lottery Ticket - An Ice Cube comedy about a young man living in the projects who wins a $350-million lottery ticket and the turmoil that suddenly causes his formerly laid-back personal life.
                Nanny McPhee Returns - Emma Thompson once again stars as the titular character and writes the screenplay (based on the books by Christianna Brand) for this sequel to the surprise 2005 success, this time helping a frazzled farmers wife (Maggie Gyllenhaal) manage the children while her husband (Ewan McGregor) is off at war.
                Takers - A crackerjack team of bank robbers (led by Idris Elba and Paul Walker) face off against a seasoned detective (Matt Dillon) as they prepare a $20-million heist.

                August 27
                Centurion - Roman soldiers who find themselves trapped behind enemy lines after a surprise attack leaves their legion in shambles must now fight their way to freedom. Director Neil Marshall tries to shake off the wreckage of Doomsday and return to the glorious B-movie heights of The Descent and Dog Soldiers with this very Assault on Precinct 13-sounding biblical action epic.
                Going the Distance - Romantic comedy with real-life couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as two people trying to maintain a long-distance relationship between Los Angeles and Chicago. Documentarian Nanette Burstein (American Teen, The Kid Stays in the Picture) makes her narrative debut with the way-too-cute-sounding cross country love story.
                The Last Exorcism - A low-budget horror shocker about a Catholic priest agreeing to perform an exorcism of a supposedly possessed teen in front of a documentary crew and coming face to face with the devil himself.
                Piranha 3-D - Remake of Joe Dante and John Sayles wonderful 1978 B-movie classic as seen through the eyes of gore aficionado Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes). Featuring a who's-who cast of movie star (maybe) has-beens like Elizabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Dina Meyer, Jerry O'Connell, and - in something of a Jaws homage coup - Richard Dreyfuss.

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by Sara Michelle Fetters
SGN Contributing Writer

                Ready for summer? Hollywood is. Even with solid performances from the likes of Alice in Wonderland, How to Train Your Dragon, and Clash of the Titans, there's nothing li" /> Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

by Sara Michelle Fetters
SGN Contributing Writer

                Ready for summer? Hollywood is. Even with solid performances from the likes of Alice in Wonderland, How to Train Your Dragon, and Clash of the Titans, there's nothing like the summer to get Tinseltown's box office juices flowing. These are the" target="blank">    Share on Delicious

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