by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN Contributing Writer
As the summer movie season continues, July and August are filled with their fair share of familiar faces. The months feature four sequels, one prequel, a return to the 100 Acre Wood, two remakes of cult '80s classics, and another Marvel Comics icon gets the spotlight to help set up next year's The Avengers. Superstars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts team up for the second time, Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig ride the range and shoot it out with invaders from another world, and Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman trade lives in a body-switching comedy.
With that in mind, here's what's on tap at the multiplex during the second half of the summer. As a reminder, release dates are tentative and subject to change, so don't come crying to me if something listed here ultimately doesn't get a release.
Larry Crowne - Tom Hanks tries his hand at directing a second time (That Thing You Do was his first attempt) and he's brought Julia Roberts to help him in this story of a middle-aged man who gets downsized and subsequently goes back to college, reinventing himself in the process.
Monte Carlo - A mistaken identity comedy with Leighton Meester, Selena Gomez, and Katie Cassidy as three students traveling in Paris who suddenly find themselves living the life of royalty and whisked to Monte Carlo when one of their party is mistaken for a British heiress.
Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times - Exactly what it sounds like. Director Andrew Rossi gets unprecedented access inside the Times newsroom to document a year in the life of the reporters and editors who make the paper click.
The Perfect Host - A small-time criminal on the run manages to talk his way into a dinner party hosted by the outwardly charming David Hyde Pierce, only to discover he's picked the absolute wrong place to hide. Pierce received rave reviews at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for his supposedly devilishly unsettling performance.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon - The Autobots and the Decepticons continue their fight. This time, it has to do with the events surrounding the 1969 moon landing. Now ask me if I care.
City of Life and Death - One of the standouts from the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival, this rough, uncompromising, and at times devastatingly depressing drama chronicles the rape of Nanking by the Japanese in 1937. Not for the faint of heart, this is a sensational effort for those who have the stomach to witness it.
Horrible Bosses - A pitch-black comedy about a group of three friends (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis) who conspire to murder their bosses, whom they believe are holding them back. Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Jennifer Aniston costar.
The Last Mountain - A documentary pitting a small Appalachian community against the corporate coal industry as both vie to take control of Coal River Mountain. The movie has its local premiere during the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival.
Zookeeper - New York City zookeeper Kevin James talks to the animals to get some help wooing the lovely Rosario Dawson.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II - After 10 years and seven previous motion pictures, Harry Potter and Voldemort finally face off, bringing to a conclusion the most financially successful motion picture fantasy series of all time.
Pianomania - This documentary follows Steinway piano tuner Stefan Knüpfer as he tunes the pianos in some of the world's most prestigious concert halls.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) directs this drama split between the 19th and 21st centuries following two sets of female friends bound together by circumstance and fate.
Winnie the Pooh - Disney returns to the 100 Acre Wood for a new hand-drawn animated adventure following everyone's favorite 'silly ol' bear' and his friends as they all try to find a replacement for Eeyore's lost tail. This film will have its local premiere during the Seattle International Film Festival.
Another Earth - A strange, surreal drama about an MIT student and a famous composer who tragically cross paths the same evening that a duplicate Earth is discovered in the night sky. The film will have its local premiere during the Seattle International Film Festival.
Captain America: The First Avenger - Marvel's second comic book feature of the summer (Thor being the first). This one depicts the origins of the famed red, white, and blue superhero as he battles Nazis and the Red Skull to help turn the tide for the Allies during WWII.
Friends with Benefits - A comedy with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher about & no, wait, that was No Strings Attached. Sorry. Friends with Benefits stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as two friends who decide to sleep with one another but not pursue a romantic relationship. Yeah. I know. It sounds just like No Strings Attached.
If a Tree Falls: The Story of the ELF - A behind-the-scenes doc chronicling the Earth Liberation Front. Filmmakers Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman apparently got unprecedented access to the group that the FBI calls 'the number-one domestic terrorist threat.'
Sarah's Key - An apparently stunning drama with Kristin Scott Thomas as a modern journalist investigating the truth behind the French Vichy government's roundup of Jews in 1942 and the startling discovery she inadvertently makes about her own family's part in this historical tragedy. It got rave reviews at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, and this is one summertime drama I can't wait to see.
Cowboys & Aliens - Based on the graphic novel, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde draw their six-shooters and form a posse to combat an army of invading interstellar marauders with designs on taking over Earth.
Crazy, Stupid Love - An awesome-looking comedy about love, sex, and marriage with Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, and Kevin Bacon directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the minds behind last year's intelligently transgressive I Love You Phillip Morris.
The Devil's Double - Based on fact, this dramatic thriller stars Dominic Cooper as a man forced to become the body double of Saddam Hussein's sadistic son Uday.
The Future - Miranda July's follow-up project to Me and You and Everyone We Know revolves around a couple who decide to take in a stray cat - and how doing so nearly destroys their lives and disrupts the space-time continuum.
Good Neighbors - A serial killer thriller set in 1995 in a small Montreal neighborhood on the eve of the second referendum on the separation of Quebec. Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman, and young Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan (Heartbeats) star.
Point Blank - A French thriller about a nurse who inadvertently saves the life of a master criminal whose henchmen subsequently take his pregnant wife hostage and force him to spring their boss from the hands of the police.
Bellflower - A drama about a pair of friends who prepare for the apocalypse by building flamethrowers and other weapons of destruction in hopes they'll be able to rule the coming wasteland. Things change when one of this pair falls in love and begins to mature, leaving the other to let his apocalyptic fantasies spiral out of control.
The Change-Up - A body-switching comedy with Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds as a pair of best friends who both imagine their lives would be far more fulfilling if they could spend some time in the shoes of the other.
Dirty Girl - A road trip comedy set in 1987 with Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich, Mary Steenburgen, William H. Macy, Tim McGraw, Dwight Yoakam, and Brian Baumgartner (yes, that Brian Baumgartner) about a pair of teens (one the supposed school slut, the other its requisite closet case) who join forces to escape the mundane normalcy of everyday life.
The Man Who Fell to Earth - An anniversary re-issue of the 1976 Nicolas Roeg classic about an alien (David Bowie, in arguably his most iconic cinematic role) who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet and finds himself becoming more and more human in the process.
Mysteries of Lisbon - A jealous countess, a wealthy businessman, and a young orphaned boy race across Portugal, France, Italy, and Brazil, finding adventure and mystery along the way.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes - A Planet of the Apes prequel (that apparently completely discounts Escape from the Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes) with James Franco as a visionary scientist whose discoveries in genetic engineering inadvertently lead to the simian revolution.
30 Minutes or Less - A comedy-thriller hybrid with Jesse Eisenberg as a nebbish pizza delivery guy kidnapped by criminal Danny McBride who straps a bomb to his chest forces him to rob a bank within the next 30 minutes.
Final Destination 5 - Remember how The Final Destination was, you know, supposed to be the actual final destination for this horror franchise? Surprise! Thanks to that film's surprising box office success, here comes another one, with more silly teenagers and 20-somethings attempting to cheat Death, even though Death won't have it.
Glee Live! 3D! - Really? A concert film featuring the cast of Glee? Singing songs from the show? In 3D? Can't this phenomenon just die already?
The Guard - Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle in a thriller about an unorthodox Irish policeman and an uptight FBI agent who team up to smash a team of international drug smugglers.
The Help - Based on the best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett, Emma Stone stars as an aspiring writer just home from college in 1960s small-town Mississippi. Viola Davis costars as a local maid who spills the beans on the secrets her white employers have been hiding through the years.
The Tree - An Australian drama about a family grieving over the loss of one of their own and the child who comes to believe he's been reincarnated as the gigantic fig tree growing in their backyard.
Circumstance - A drama about two female Iranian best friends who share a secret, clandestine relationship that, if revealed, could threaten both of their families. The film will have its local premiere during the Seattle International Film Festival.
Conan the Barbarian - A new version of the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic directed by gory remake king Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th) and starring unknown Jason Momoa as the titular Cimmerian. Ron Perlman and Rose McGowan costar.
Fright Night - A remake of the awesome 1985 favorite about high schooler Charley Brewster, who discovers his next-door neighbor is a vampire and calls in horror movie legend Peter Vincent to help him rid the neighborhood of this undead evil. Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, and Toni Collette star.
Life, Above All - This South African import is based on the acclaimed novel Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton, about a young girl and her mother who must reconcile their differences in order to fight against the fear and shame that have poisoned their community.
Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World - Eight years after the fact, a sequel from director Robert Rodriguez reunites almost grown-up stars Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara as the titular characters are once again drawn into the spy game.
Higher Ground - Actress Vera Farmiga makes her directorial debut with this story about a woman struggling with her Christian faith over three decades.
Apollo 18 - A low-budget 'found footage' thriller about an aborted Apollo mission NASA never told us about.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - Co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is an incredibly creepy suspense thriller about a young girl who discovers there really are monsters under the bed and in the closet, and they want to claim her as one of their own.
Griff the Invisible - An independent comedy about a mild-mannered office worker who moonlights as an invisible superhero and the woman who changes his life forever.
Our Idiot Brother - Paul Rudd stars as the estranged, idiosyncratic brother who barges back into the lives of his three sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer), wrecking havoc and creating chaos every step of the way.
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