Press on if you’d like to see my Grand Unified Theory of Terminator, but there are four smaller films you should take a look at here first. I also tell you why the Ant-Man trailers aren’t exactly making me feel any better about the potential of the film. Hopefully I’m wrong, but let’s face it – Marvel’s overdue for a disappointment, and an experiment as grand as theirs always earns a few bumps in the road.
Here’s one of the most exciting movies of the summer that doesn’t involve any explosions or man-sized robots. The biography of Brian Wilson, lead singer of The Beach Boys – that might catch my eye on its own. Look at this cast, though. Paul Dano and John Cusack both play Wilson, young and old. Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti square off over how he gets to live his life. Bill Pohlad is a first-time director, but it’s funny the names you don’t know are important – his list of projects as a producer includes 12 Years a Slave, Into the Wild, and Brokeback Mountain, as well as a host of the last decade’s best documentaries. June 5.
If you haven’t seen anything from South America’s film boom, you’re missing some of the best horror, surrealism, and drama that’s been produced in recent years. Many viewers are familiar with Gael Garcia Bernal as a Mexican heartthrob, but the real excitement in this is Alice Braga. Leading roles in Predators, I Am Legend, Elysium, and Repo Men make her one of the most important science-fiction actors of this generation. If she were a man, she’d be a household name with her own franchise. No U.S. release set.
Glee and American Horror Story. If that’s your resume as a director, you’ve already established that you have range. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is a promising director, and a movie about making movies is still a surprisingly under-used conceit. Think about it – Ed Wood, Boogie Nights, Singin’ in the Rain, and 8 1/2 are all classics in different genres, but these films only come along so often. Even Be Kind Rewind had a special and honest magic to it. We still don’t have many films that go the Juno route of awkward teenage discovery either. You’d think we would after that movie’s success, but Mumblecore is the only genre that’s even remotely explored these possibilities. Add all that together and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl starts to look unique. June 12.
Whatever else you want to say about this film, Emilia Clarke is killing it as Sarah Connor. The rest of it looks like a greatest hits collection in which everyone trades classic lines with each other. What made the first two Terminators special is that the plot centered around James Cameron’s favorite theme: self-destruction. It clung like a cloud of smog to the originals, and it made them feel like we weren’t just watching action movies. We were being told we were on a clear, unequivocal path toward destroying ourselves, and this was our second chance. The first mirrored the Cold War and the second reflected the environmentalist fights of the early 90s. The time travel was never just a gimmick; it translated the seriousness of warnings about mutually assured destruction and climate change. You can’t just remix Terminator as a new action riff. You have to tell the story as a parable for something greater. That’s the measure of a Terminator movie, not how well something blows up. July 1.
Writer-director Claudia Llosa is responsible for one of the most haunting and challenging pieces of magical realism ever filmed – The Milk of Sorrow. The Peruvian revolutionary group Shining Path had used a strategy of mass rape in the 1980s as a component of psychological warfare. A folk belief grew that the traumas from these rapes were passed on to children through a mother’s breast milk. Llosa made this literal in her film, creating a deliberate yet relentless kind of soft nightmare – not the kind that terrifies you, but the kind that refuses to release your psyche for days afterward. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Llosa returns to some of these themes of disease and abandonment in Aloft, which looks no less abstract or powerful. It stars Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, and Melanie Laurent. May 22.
This…this may just be the first movie for the Marvel/Disney alliance that’s genuinely bad. Little moments click, but the whole thing still looks like it’s hanging together pretty loosely. They’d better know exactly when they’re going for humor and when they’re going for action drama, because if they try to balance between the two without a firm filmmaking hand, this won’t work. The big question is how much scar tissue will remain from former writer-director Edgar Wright’s 11-year involvement in the film. There’s still a sour taste for fans that Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), perhaps the best comedy director working today, was forced to leave the project. Replacing him with Peyton Reed feels like too much of a step down. Reed’s directed Jim Carrey comedy Yes Man and a few episodes of New Girl, but long ago he did helm Upright Citizens Brigade and The Weird Al Show. Not exactly reassuring, I know. July 17.
Love at First Fight could be something special, but the trailer’s all over the place. I’m not quite sure of what to expect, but the two leads look connected and determined, which is more than you can say for many American romances.
Someone else can tell me why Sinister 2 might look good. The trailer’s full of jump scares, and while they’re unpredictable and therefore effective, if that’s all the movie’s got up its sleeve, it’s going to be a long 2 hours.
Check out HBO’s football expose Ballers, because life isn’t complete until The Rock, Rob Corddry, and Richard Schiff have starred in a series together.
Season 2 of True Detective is a line-up of underrated leads – Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell, and Taylor Kitsch.
Do you think the new Terminator will be any good? Are you worried about Ant-Man?