POSTED ON MAY 1, 2013:
The 2013 Summer Movie Preview
Sequels, reboots and a few films to get excited about
Iron Man 3: The latest annual entry into the Marvel cinemaverse finds our titular hero, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) protecting the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow) and the rest of the world from The Mandarin (the decidedly not-Asian Sir Ben Kingsley). The addition of director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) gives Iron Man 3 a good chance at being better than the lackluster Iron Man 2.
Room 237: Director Rodney Ascher's conspiratorial documentary fixates over the exceptionally subjective messages "hidden" within Stanley Kubrick's masterful, 1980 horror adaptation, The Shining. Was it a metaphor for Native American genocide? Was the geometry of the Overlook Hotel meticulously framed to give the impression of an Escher-like puzzle of impossible architecture? Was Kubrick tacitly admitting to his role in faking the first Moon landing? I have no idea. But Room 237's nerdy obsession with minutia is utterly fascinating.
The Great Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic again finds its way to the big screen in the hands of glam director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!). Expect sumptuously Hollywood visuals and an anachronistic soundtrack to tell the tale of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a Midwestern, WWI vet who winds up living next door to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). It's 1920s Long Island, and the wealthy, enigmatic Gatsby's extravagant mansion and opulent parties entice Nick to discover how much better the other half actually lives.
Peeples: This Tyler Perry-produced joint stars Craig Robinson (The Pineapple Express) as an insecureprospective fiancée who bumbles through asking for his potential father-in-law for his daughter's hand in marriage. The trailer gives away 90% of the rote plot, and if the middle-of-the-road jokes on display are any indication, then it'll be about as funny as watching Amour the night before major surgery.
From Up on Poppy Hill: From Goro Miyazaki, son of the acclaimed Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke), Poppy Hill tells the '50s-set story of Umi, a 16-year-old high school student who is transferred to a boarding house where she makes a friend, a newspaper nerd named Shun. When the pair decides to renovate their school's clubhouse, they run afoul of a local businessman who intends to level the club house to make way for new development. Fans of pastoral Japanese stories and Miyazaki's distinctive style will find something to like here.
Star Trek Into Darkness: Über-geek director J.J. Abrams (who's also directing the next Star Wars; nice going, man) is back with the sequel to his 2009, way-more-fun-than-it-had-a-right-to-be reboot of Star Trek. This entry finds Kirk, Spock and the crew going up against a warrior with a thirst for revenge, whose name will be familiar to even passing Trek fans. Stunning visuals, high velocity action and lens flares galore promise a popcorn-munching good time. At least I hope they do.
Epic: The studio that brought us Ice Age is back with a new, old-world animated adventure that follows Mary, a young girl who lives with her father in a medieval forest. When her father doesn't return from a survey expedition, Mary sets out in search of him and, after getting the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids treatment, discovers hidden worlds in the magical woodlands. Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried and Aziz Ansari's voices star.
Fast & Furious 6: The vehicular mayhem continues as Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew find themselves filthy rich but on the lam when Agent Luke Hobbs (The Rock) tracks them down with an offer of a clean slate in exchange for their help in taking down a criminal mastermind and his lethal pack of mercenaries. Shit blows up, and somehow Michelle Rodriguez returns (from the dead), which actually looks like fun.
The Hangover Part III: Yeah. Another one. The overpraised, overhyped comedy juggernaut returns to Vegas with all of the usual suspects (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis) intact and likely another cameo from an unlikely celebrity. Maybe they forgave Mel Gibson. The Wolfpack is back. And you can tell how excited I am about it.
After Earth: I'm not sure how M. Night Shyamalan keeps getting his hands on big budgets and stars after the hilariously bad The Happening and the financial flop of The Last Airbender. And yet here he is, writing and directing Will Smith and his Mini-Me son Jayden through this tale of a post-apocalyptic Earth, abandoned by humans and overtaken by bloodthirsty flora and fauna. When the father/son duo becomes trapped on the surface, they must do everything they can to survive.
Now You See Me: This odd-looking, well-cast film finds a group of Vegas-style magicians blowing audiences' minds as they stage magic bank robberies (seriously) and eventually pull a heist on a white collar criminal, funneling his ill-gotten millions into their bank accounts (and those of the audience members). Mark Ruffalo, as an FBI agent and Morgan Freeman, as a debunker of "magic" join forces to take the team of magical outlaws down.
The Internship: Want to see what the faces of desperation look like? Then check out the trailer for The Internship. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play two clueless salesmen who missed out on this thing we call the internet, which has just rendered their jobs obsolete. So they somehow get an internship at Google and learn comedic life lessons. Yep.
The Purge: From the why-didn't-anyone-else-think-of-that-before category, The Purge tells the near-future horror story of an American society that has become nearly crime-free thanks to the annual Purge; one night where nothing is illegal and vigilantism reigns. Ethan Hawke stars as a family man with a reinforced house who comes under attack when his daughter saves a masked mob's would-be victim.
Man of Steel: I try not to get too excited about movies just from a trailer, and it's not as though we needed another Superman origin tale. But the combination of Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight) producing and Zack Snyder (300) directing this new reboot, the visual splendor of the action and Kevin Costner putting a lump in my throat with a simple line delivery (really, when does that ever happen?) gives this new outing a chance at being something worth the retread.
Love Is All You Need: If you prefer Danish drama to superheroes, then this story of a recovering cancer patient (Trine Dyrholm), a hair dresser who has lost her hair, who comes home to find her husband in bed with another woman is sure to be your thing. Love those upbeat Danes. Writer director Susanne Bier gained much critical acclaim with her 2007 drama, Things We Lost in the Fire. Peirce Brosnan co-stars.
World War Z: Starring Brad Pitt, this adaptation of Max Brooks' great novel has gone notoriously over schedule and over budget. Whatever that might mean for the quality of the film, the book's best qualities are elements that are generally unfilmable. That said, the scope looks huge, and there are worse bets than Brad Pitt carrying a big budget, zombie-laden suspense film.
Monsters University: Pixar is back with this prequel to their beloved 2001 hit, Monsters Inc. We pick up the story of Mike (Bill Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) when they were attending Monsters U, learning the ins and outs of scaring the kids. They wind up in the same fraternity, and we find that the good friends we know didn't always get along. Feels like second-tier Pixar, which hasn't been upholding it's stellar track record of late.
The Heat: Director Paul Feig follows up 2011's hilarious smash, Bridesmaids with his take on the buddy cop comedy genre, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Following the unlikely partners -- one a by-the-book solider, the other no-rules loose cannon (sound familiar?) -- The Heat doles out action and profane one-liners as the duo attempts to take down a Russian mobster.
White House Down: Paramilitary forces invade the White House and the guy from 300 has to save the president from the terrorists. Wait, that was Olympus Has Fallen. This is White House Down, director Roland Emmerich's (2012) awkwardly-timed new film that finds Channing Tatum trying to save President Jamie Foxx and his own daughter from heavily armed assholes. It's still probably better than A Good Day to Die Hard.
Despicable Me 2: 2010 was a good year for animation, and Despicable Me was a pleasant surprise that couldn't quite avoid the shadow of the great How to Train Your Dragon. The sequel finds the Slavic supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) joining forces with the Anti-Villain League in order to thwart Al Pacino's super criminal, Eduardo. The trailer seems not so despicable. Or original. Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand and Steve Coogan co-voice.
The Lone Ranger: Director Gore Verbinski somehow made pirate movies cool again, so why not a property whose initial demographic is mostly dead? Armie Hammer (The Social Network) dons the mask while Johnny Depp plays his second most-trusty sidekick Tonto (not sure who plays the horse), the Lone Ranger's Native American tracker -- which seems vaguely wrong in a Sydney Toler sort of way. Apparently, the biracial duo fights corruption in the Old West. William Fitchner, Tom Wilkinson and Helena Bonham Carter co-star.
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The Found Footage Festival rewinds to T-Town
The first mass market video format VHS tape -- despite its inherent, crappy resolution -- still holds a special place in the heart. For anyone who grew up during the rise of home video, with indie video stores, wired remotes, players so big they qualified as furniture, and freeze-framing the nude scenes in old movies, VHS cassettes are still little time capsules of inexplicable nostalgia. And those were just the mainstream memories.
It's the utilitarian videos, poorly-produced training vids, Jazzercise tapes, direct marketing for all kinds of misguided products and other bits of unclassifiable weirdness that embody the unintentionally funny spirit of the Found Footage Festival.
"Founded" in 2004 by Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, years after discovering a Conflict in the Workplace video in a McDonald's storage room that apparently tickled their funny bones, the duo spent months poring over hundreds of hours of VHS detritus and errata, unearthing magnetic gems of '80s amusement for 21st-century audiences with a fetish for kitsch. They've been touring the U.S. and international venues with their ever-growing collection for nearly a decade since.
Prueher and Pickett, who between them share credits ranging from Mystery Science Theater 3000 to The Onion and The Late Show with David Letterman, act as emcees for the presentation, making fun of and giving context to their eclectically odd collection of video rarities.
"Sometimes, what we watch is so bad we have to hold hands to get through it," Prueher told UTW's Joshua Blevins Peck back in 2011. "But then we discover this gem and we can't wait to show it to the public because we find it so humorous."
And it's paid off with wild success that has allowed them to take their U.S. tour abroad, most recently to the United Kingdom and Ireland -- and expanding their opportunities to stockpile their vintage archives with even more material. After all, there are a lot of obscure flea markets and secondhand stores out there.
And now they'll get a chance to mine Tulsa's stores again, when the tour returns to the Circle Cinema on Tuesday, May 7th with Found Footage Vol. 6 for a one-night-only, all-new extravaganza of nerdy laughs at the expense of dated people. If you're a fan of MST3K, Something Awful, or you're just the kind of geek who delights in Tim-and-Eric-infused, comedy-of-the-absurd aesthetics, then this is a night of cultural camp with your name all over it.
Seats are $11 with the show beginning at 7:20 p.m. To get a taste, visit www.foundfootagefest.com where you can find some samples of Prueher and Pickett's bizarre video affections. For ticketing information call 918.585.3504 or visit www.circlecinema.com.
Don't forget your Ray-Bans.
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