'Summer' at the movies now lasts about half of the year, from April (it kicked off in earnest with Zack Snyder's repellent Sucker Punch) to the end of August or the beginning of September. It's a bad time for people who love movies; cinemas become choked with blockbusters, the mainstream squeezing out the smaller, and usually much more interesting, films more each year. But you don't HAVE to go and see the latest superhero movie.
So, rather than telling you about Thor (again), 24FPS now presents its guide to the interesting alternatives coming your way in blockbuster season. In this first part we'll cover releases up to the end of June, and we'll return with a second installment in a few weeks time, when there are more confirmed releases for July and August.
The comments on each release are either by me (in bold type) or by Mike Ewins (in italic type).
The Big Releases: Scream 4, Red Riding Hood
THE LAST PICTURE SHOW
This is one of my favourite films of all time, and if you only go to the cinema once all summer it should be to see this.
Some people won't warm to the film's bleak and abrupt ending, but for me it works perfectly, indeed it's one of the main reasons this film has been going round in my head since the London Film Festival.
It's not often that you get a feminist mumblecore Western, so you should really make the effort to check one out when it comes along. It recalls the novels of Paul Bowles (especially 1950's 'The Delicate Prey') in its story, themes, and utilization of landscape, but as Sam says, this is also deeply reminiscent of the works of Terrence Malick. Tensions boil underneath sand-swept veneers as the characters verge more and more off their track... it all leads up to one of the best endings in years, and think this is a film which will endure the test of time.
The Big Releases: Arthur, Fast and Furious 5
HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER
TAXI ZUM KLO
I'm not sure I'll go and see it, or pick up the uncut DVD which follows this cinematic run, but this is another happy and notable turning point in the liberalisation of UK censorship for an audience that has been more marginalised than most by censorship policy.
The Big Release: Thor [3D]
I SAW THE DEVIL
Kim is one of the most interesting voices in South Korean cinema, and has been at the forefront of their new wave with films like A Tale of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life, combining his talents, those of Oldboy star Choi and Korean megastar Lee, and a genre I'm a huge fan of already makes this one of my most anticipated of 2011.
The Big Releases: Hanna, Water for Elephants
NB: It's worth noting that we at 24FPS are hugely excited for Hanna, but it is a large mainstream release, so doesn't qualify for this preview.
THE TREE OF LIFE
The Big Releases: Priest [3D], Attack the Block
LOVE LIKE POISON
Quillevere draws wonderful work from the young leads and directs with a sure, sensitive and unobtrusive hand. This is a film to make time for and a filmmaker to watch out for.
The Big Release: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [3D]
FIRE IN BABYLON
The Big Release: The Hangover Part 2
The Big Release: X-Men: First Class
I wanted to see this at LFF last years, but missed it, if nothing else it ought to be worth a look for the cast which, aside from Depardieu, includes Isabelle Adjani, Yolande Moreau, Philippe Nahon and Anna Mouglalis.
This could be a magical and moving film, but it will need a careful directorial hand from Julie Bertucelli to ensure that it doesn't become cloying and sickly.
The Big Release: Kung Fu Panda 2 [3D]
The Big Release: Green Lantern
Ozon's colourful 70's styled visuals are fun, and Deneuve and Depardieu seem to be having a wonderful time (Depardieu is more animated here than he's been for years). It's a light film, but one that still has something to say (though the political comment may get a little lost for British audiences), but most of all it's just a wonderfully, effortlessly entertaining confection.
As well as being refreshing, if only because it's a film about Muslims that almost entirely ignores questions of extremism, terrorism and September 11th, it's a politically intelligent and engaged film, and a sharp comedy. There are stand out performances from Noureen DeWulf, playing a young woman with an unothrodox interpretation of Islam, who nevertheless wears a bhurka at all times and the charismatic Dominic Rains as muslim punk Jehangir. At the very least, you won't see another film like this one in 2011.
The Big Releases: Bad Teacher, Bridesmaids
COUNTDOWN TO ZERO
See you in a few weeks with July and August.