by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN Contributing Writer
With the release of The Avengers last Friday and its record-breaking $200-million haul, it's clear that the Summer Movie Season has begun with a very large bang. If bigger, louder, shinier, and more expensive is your cup of tea, Hollywood has boiled up a steamy hot brew specifically for you.
Without further ado, here are the films and events expected to grace Seattle-area theatres during May and June. As always, release dates are subject to change, so don't be surprised if some of what's mentioned here doesn't appear exactly as scheduled.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) brings together a cast of elder heavy hitters (Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith) in a story of British retirees in India who are somewhat tricked into checking into a rundown hotel run by Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel and have their lives forever changed as a result.
The Cup - Based-on-fact sports drama concerning the 2002 Melbourne Cup horse race, directed by Simon Wincer of Free Willy fame. He also made the great Quigley Down Under and, sadly, this movie ain't no Quigley, holding far more in common with the aforementioned melodramatic whale tale.
Girl in Progress - Tale of a young girl whose single mother (Eva Mendes) is dealing with a variety of problems, and who finds inspiration in the coming-of-age stories she's forced to read for school.
Dark Shadows - Tim Burton's take on the popular, long-running 1960s gothic soap opera looks like an inspired (or potentially absurd) amalgamation of his own Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, and Sweeney Todd. Personally, I can't wait to give it a look, and I'm guessing many of you feel the same way.
The Dictator - Sacha Baron Cohen returns as a Middle Eastern dictator who finds himself stripped of his identity and power after a trip to New York City goes horribly wrong. Didn't have high hopes for this but recent trailers and festival buzz have me reconsidering.
May 17 - June 10
2012 Seattle International Film Festival - 25 days of movie-going madness featuring the local debuts of Pixar's Brave, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, and Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister, the latter the Opening Night attraction and easily the best SIFF has offered up in that slot since 2009's In the Loop.
Battleship - Peter Berg's naval adventure based on the popular board game features an alien invasion, Liam Neeson barking orders, and pop star Rihanna firing a very large gun.
Bernie - Director Richard Linklater (Before Sunset) mixes documentary with docudrama in this true-crime account of a Texas mortician's (Jack Black) friendship with, and eventual murder of, a well-to-do harpy (Shirley MacLaine) whom he then goes to great lengths to convince everyone is still alive.
Headhunters - Awesome Scandinavian import about a corporate headhunter who finds himself over his head when he gets involved in the heist of a valuable painting owned by a vicious ex-mercenary. Funny, clever, violent, and suspenseful, this film has it all and deserves to be seen by a wide audience.
Mansome - Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) documentary about masculinity in the 21st century.
What to Expect When You're Expecting - All-star production based on the Heidi Murkoff best-seller directed by Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee, Everybody's Fine) chronicling five variously interconnected couples going through the highs and lows of having a baby. While the behind-the-scenes pedigree is solid, the trailer is beyond dreadful, and I can't say I'm holding my breath.
4:44 Last Day on Earth - End-of-the-world sexual melodrama directed by Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant) and starring Willem Dafoe. To call it depressing would be a disservice to every other depressing film ever made, as I don't think there's a word dark, distressing, and nihilistic enough to fully describe this motion picture in suitable detail.
Chernobyl Diaries - Six young American tourists looking for an extreme adventure while on holiday in Russia decide to tour Chernobyl. As you might suspect, this isn't a very good idea.
First Position - Ballet documentary chronicling a group of young dancers as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix.
The Intouchables - International favorite concerning a French millionaire who becomes a paraplegic in a paragliding accident, who hires a young man from the Parisian projects to be his caretaker.
Men in Black 3 - Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and director Barry Sonnenfeld return with a third, tongue-in-cheek interstellar adventure, this time sending Agent J to the past to unlock a secret only young Agent K (Josh Brolin) knows and that holds the secret to preventing alien annihilation back in the future.
For Greater Glory - A chronicle of the Cristeros War (1926-29) in Mexico starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Peter O'Toole, Bruce McGill, and Maria Full of Grace Academy Award nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno in her first major role in almost eight years.
The Manzanar Fishing Club - Documentary about WWII Japanese internment camps here in the United States, chronicling the lives of those who secretly made their way under the wires to fish for trout in the waters of the Eastern Sierra.
Piranha 3DD - More blood. More gore. More piranha. And, as I'm sure you've already guessed, more DDs.
Snow White and the Huntsman - Second Snow White adventure of the year, this one a more aggressively PG-13 adventure pitting Twilight heartbreaker Kristen Stewart against Young Adult and Monster scene-stealer Charlize Theron.
Tonight You're Mine - Director David Mackenzie's (Perfect Sense, Young Adam) latest concerns two feuding rock stars who find themselves inadvertently handcuffed together during a 24-hour rock concert where both are scheduled to perform. Sadly, this one never lives up to its potential, the whole thing petering out long before the exceedingly obvious final scenes.
Lola Versus - The great Greta Gerwig in the story of a young woman about to turn 30 who enlists her friends to help buck up her spirits due to her total inability to find romantic happiness.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - The penguins are back, and that's really all I care about. The rest of the animals can go back and sit quietly in their cages.
Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson's (Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) latest will open the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and will have its local premiere during SIFF, and as far as I'm concerned nothing else needs to be said.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding - Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) returns with this saga of an uptight NYC mother (Catherine Keener) who takes her two teenage children to visit their unconventional hippie grandmother (Jane Fonda) at her upstate farm. Hilarity supposedly ensues (but I'm not holding my breath).
Prometheus - Heard about this one? Seen a trailer or two? Maybe one of the numerous featurettes littering the Internet? Excited? Of course you are. Ridley Scott's return to the world of Alien is arguably the most anticipated film of the entire summer (Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises notwithstanding).
Safety Not Guaranteed - Not going to say anything about this one, not a single word. All I will do is proclaim it awesome and urge everyone, everywhere, to see it at their first opportunity.
Hysteria - A comedy about the invention of the vibrator, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, and as far as descriptions go I think that just about does it.
Last Call at the Oasis - Documentary on the world's water crisis featuring interviews with Erin Brockovich-Ellis. Maybe you've heard of her?
Rock of Ages - Musical filled with 1980s rock classics sung by the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Julianne Hough, Will Forte, and Malin Akerman. Oh. Yeah. That's right. It also has some guy named Tom Cruise playing an aging, usually shirtless megastar in the Freddie Mercury-meets-Joe Elliott-meets-Bret Michaels vein, something I embarrassingly have to see for myself.
That's My Boy - Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg team up for an R-rated comedy, a concept which either has you buying tickets right this second or running screaming in the opposite direction.
Turn Me On, Dammit! - Acclaimed Norwegian coming-of-age import concerning the sexual awakening of a 15-year-old girl whose daydreams and fantasies have a life of their own.
Your Sister's Sister - Fantastic comedy from Humpday auteur Lynn Shelton concerning an absurd romantic triangle revolving around depressed everyman Mark Duplass, his sexy best friend Emily Blunt, and her Lesbian older sister Rosemarie DeWitt. Rarely goes where you expect it to, and that's a very good thing indeed.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - I have nothing to say about this historical meandering based on the popular graphic novel of the same name, other than it looks like the second coming of Van Helsing. That is not a compliment.
Brave - Pixar's latest involving a Scottish lass who defies eons of custom to break free and become her own woman. This is the one movie of the entire summer I cannot wait to see (even more so than Prometheus or The Dark Knight Rises).
I Wish - Japanese import about two adolescent brothers separated by their parents' divorce, one of whom believes a new bullet train will produce a miracle bringing them all back together as a family.
Seeking a Friend at the End of the World - Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are two lost souls who bond on a road trip to reunite him with his high-school sweetheart - as an asteroid approaches the earth.
Where Do We Go Now? - Lebanese import concerning a group of driven women looking to ease tensions between the Christians and Muslims in their village.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Bruce Willis and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson pick up arms and do their best to erase the memory of the first G.I. Joe adventure from the minds of every person unlucky enough to have seen it.
God Bless America - Bobcat Goldthwait's scathing indictment of modern America and our inability to communicate with one another that takes potshots at every pop culture target you can imagine, going for blood - quite literally - each and every time.
Madea's Witness Protection - More Madea from writer/director Tyler Perry. Wake me when it's over.
Magic Mike - Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Haywire) takes the true-life tale of Channing Tatum (who was once upon a time a male stripper) and produces this fanciful tale of a sexy, barely-clothed star who tutors a rising talent (Alex Pettyfer) to follow in his footsteps. There is actual Oscar buzz surrounding Matthew McConaughey's supporting performance; I kid you not.
People Like Us - Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks in this true-life story of a somewhat undisciplined playboy who is tasked with delivering $150,000 after his wealthy father's death to the half-sister he never even knew existed. Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde, and Jon Favreau costar.
Polisse - Highly acclaimed French drama concerning the lives and careers of Paris police officers assigned to the bureau's juvenile division.
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