Monday, May 30, 2016

The Do-Over Review

Last year, the Netflix-Adam Sandler collaboration began with the film The Ridiculous Six, and despite the fact that I advertise myself as being willing to watch anything and it being only a click away, I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. I added it to my queue and I would occasionally hesitate over it with consideration, but in the end I would move on to presumably greener pastures.

Round two of their partnership landed on Friday with the new movie The Do-Over, and when I decided to browse through Netflix options, there it was being advertised at the very top of the page. I couldn't help but smile, not only because of the temptation to torture myself but also the nostalgic wave of seeing Sandler and David Spade in the frame, remembering a time when I was much younger and would actually seek out these two actors for entertainment. Often times that nostalgic bath is warm and inviting. This time it was tepid and dirty, more of a reflection of what the hell happened than a joyous gateway into the past.

There was a time in which the question of one's favorite actor would come up, and it was a normal and expected answer to say Adam Sandler. Growing up his earliest films were celebrated and viewed on repeat, as if Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were The Godfather and Citizen Kane of comedies. Now even spending 90 minutes of your life sitting and watching one of his movies feels almost shameful, like you should apologize to others for not utilizing your own fleeting free time more efficiently. Well, I am here to admit I did it this time. I didn't move on to presumably greener pastures. I pressed play.

Much to my surprise, the first 10 to 20 minutes weren't awful. Let's be clear, it was never even borderline good, but I wasn't feeling pained or physically ill enduring it as usually I am disgusted by the misogynistic, homophobic and horribly crude attempts at garnering laughs with low hanging, juvenile fruit. These opening scenes passed by and they were completely unfunny, but I fell into a mindless daze of watching with boredom rather than finding anything egregiously offensive. I considered the possibility that perhaps I may even be entertained eventually during The Do-Over? Could it be?

No. It couldn't. While a majority of the movie is in fact simply boring, I should have known better that going an entire Happy Madison picture without some sort of straight male gay panic or a terribly written, objectified female character was an impossibility. To be fair, Paula Patton's character Heather Fishman isn't really poorly written as much as she's treated apathetically, a completely wasted character meant to wear sexy clothing and do nothing more than get out of the way of the bag of shit jokes being delivered by Sandler playing...well, himself in every other movie like this, and David Spade being the pathetic push-over, life is meaningless nerdy guy, which is a really original take.

The plot of The Do-Over revolves around Sandler, who plays Max Kessler, and Spade as Charlie McMillan, both looking for a fresh start in life so they fake their deaths and get away from it all. What follows are a series of headache inducing twists and turns in this ridiculously awful story that you will be begging for simplicity, as sometimes the most satisfying laughs come from simply developing character and relationships rather than seeing how many locations and set pieces and cartoonish cameos you can cram into the nonsensical narrative.

The last 20 or so minutes of the movie, I was still present and I continued to listen to the horseshit spilling through the speakers of my television, but I admit I started playing Yahtzee on my phone. Best decision I could have made. Hell, who could blame me? I am still far more embarrassed that I even watched The Do-Over or am even writing this review. I couldn't ignore that voice inside my head asking what it was that made me love Sandler so much when I was a kid. This movie didn't provide any answers. In fact, I am more confused now than ever before.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hardcore Henry Review

Have you ever seen a trailer to a film and thought, wow, I bet I am going to hate that, only to actually experience it and be proven totally, unequivocally wrong? Whether the marketing just simply didn't capture the magic of the entire picture or was completely altogether misleading, it's a terrific feeling to discover something wonderful from a work that inspired zero expectations from you initially.

That has happened to me numerous times.

Hardcore Henry was not one of them.

It's a difficult thing, for me to completely critique this film because a major factor towards my lack of enjoyment is based on personal appeal rather than an actual cinematic failure. The reason I was pessimistic way back with the first trailer was because the very brief look at the first-person shooter style already made me feel queasy, so how could it possibly play well over the course of 90 minutes? Answer: it couldn't. I lasted about 8 of those minutes before I had to look away from the screen and collect myself, because watching a man crashing into shit and flipping in different directions from his own perspective was more than I could handle.

The plot of the film revolves around a man named Henry who is brought back to life with no memory of how he got there, and it takes only minutes for shit to get fast, frenetic and furious as he is fleeing the scene with his wife, and after she is taking away from him his mission is to save her. That's pretty much all you need to know, that and the fact that he is befriended by a man named Jimmy (played by Sharlto Copley, who I have come to realize I can pretty much only enjoy/take seriously in District 9). The rest of the film is meant to replicate the experience of playing a video game and one thing is completely clear, Hardcore Henry isn't going to work for everyone. It didn't work for me.

It didn't really help that I found pretty much all the dialogue to be complete nonsense either. I am far more willing to buy into a gimmick if it can win me over in another fashion, but when the action is nauseating and the screenplay feels completely contrived, I really couldn't buy much of anything Hardcore Henry was selling. Perhaps I would be more compelled to praise the attempt at cinematic innovation, because trust me, I am a sucker for when a filmmaker wants to do something new and unique, had this been limited to a 30 minute short feature rather than a full length work, but even then I don't think I would be able to call myself a fan. It's impossible for me to label the entire film as a failure though, because a few set pieces were well constructed and exciting and the style allowed for some humorous perspective-related comedy, but overall my gut feeling from the beginning proved to be spot on.

Maybe next time I doubt a movie I will be proven wrong. Today is not that day.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

There Will Be Blood Review

I would love to believe that anyone who stumbles upon my reviews will feel compelled to read every word, but I am not that naive. We live in a fast world that is only getting faster, with a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, and often times the entire reputation of a film hinges on a percentage score based on the consensus. Such convenience and simplicity signals the downfall of nuance, the absence of a desire to gather information and try to piece together the bigger picture or even to make up ones own mind prior to forming a bias. Who needs to dig deeper when nothing more than a number is capable of telling them whether something is good or bad?

Sure, this is a criticism of modern society but I am both pointing the finger and the thumb. Have I, too, clicked on a review and scrolled down to the bottom in order to obtain a quick recommendation? You bet. Of course I have, and whether fair or not fair, with some films that feels good enough. Some, though, deserve more. So much more. I have seen thousands of movies and there are only so many ways to describe them, and much like the sparseness of words there are only 11 possible scores between 0 and 5. When you come across a work so inspired, so utterly brilliant that it serves as a reminder of the potential of art to move you, does a handful of words and a number paint a good enough portrait of such an experience? Doesn't cinema like that deserve more?

There Will Be Blood. Read every fucking word you can, because all of them still isn't enough. How often can you witness something so original, so bold, and so fiercely, beautifully strange? Not often enough. This is a sprawling epic about power and greed and the dark and deranged core of capitalism. A picture that celebrates but is not limited to the power of performance art, as we can bask in the sublime perfection that is Daniel Day Lewis in the lead as Daniel Plainview and the supporting genius of Paul Dano as the young preacher Eli Sunday, yet it isn't as if they are asked to carry the picture but rather blend seamlessly into the overall masterful vision of director Paul Thomas Anderson. Often times I will be so wowed by a performance that the remaining aspects of the experience play second fiddle, and as such I will celebrate the achievement of one over the collective whole. There Will Be Blood is a masterpiece through and through, a work that defines what the final result should look and feel like when everything comes together. A celebration of the collective whole. A celebration of what the medium is capable of.

If we are to believe in the notion that much of our world no longer craves nuance, There Will Be Blood is the antithesis of this. It's a work of art that transcends convenience or simplicity, and no words I write or number I rate it could do it justice. There is this delicate, delicious balance between sincerity and madness that this picture manages to flawlessly navigate thanks to the gorgeous photography from Robert Elswit, the musical score from Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood and the indescribable talent of Paul Thomas Anderson, whom was clearly inspired stylistically by Stanley Kubrick, especially during a final showdown sequence in a bowling alley that not only feels overwhelmingly Kubrickian but also quite literally pays homage to his science fiction masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey with a familiar camera angle and violent action.

There Will Be Blood. See the film, read every word ever written about it and then see it again. Study it. Bathe in every frame because it's a movie that deserves that kind of attention. That and so much more.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

The 5th Wave Review

The 1st wave, I checked the clock on the wall to see what time it was. How long had it been since I pressed play? A little over an hour?

Balls. 8 minutes.

The 2nd wave, I ate some cookies and drank a tall glass of milk. 2 percent. 2nd wave. Coincidence? Of course. A delicious one.

The 3rd wave, everyone gets some sort of avian flu. Body bags everywhere. I had a slight tickle in my throat. I dramatically wonder aloud to myself as I looked at the once beautiful but now battered and bloated man staring back in the mirror...are terrible films contagious? No time to wait and find out. The damage was already done. I had to amputate my left arm. Even now I am not sure why, but it felt right.

The 2nd wave was cookies and milk. That was a much better wave.

The 4th wave hits and I am watching yet another god damn young adult dystopian franchise film try to build a romance from two characters that have about as much chemistry as me and that raccoon that once tore open the side of my house in search of a place to rest. I hired a guy to put a trap on my roof, and by the next morning it was stuck inside it looking quite feeble. I never saw that critter again.

The 5th wave arrived when I realized how badly I had to go to the bathroom. I did so without pausing the film. From there I heard a lot of atrocious dialogue and gun shots, which is essentially the entire movie from start to finish. A lot of the conversing between young characters in the film is just finding excuses to yell the word shit, which reminded me a lot of myself in 5th grade trying to impress my first crush. It didn't work then and it sure as hell isn't working now. Instead of a gun though, I typically had a 64 ounce soda and a pack of cupcakes in hand. Remember when I self-described myself as battered and bloated? I think I just found the root of that problem.

I blamed the 2nd wave for how long it took in the restroom, and I repeat the 1st wave as I exit on my way back to the couch. Not touching that 3rd wave again though. It's hard enough to type this with only one.

A painfully boring cinematic slog that seemingly appeals to absolutely no one, The 5th Wave is what happens when tired tropes crash at full speed into uninspired dialogue, forgettable set pieces and a total disregard for the concept of characters being even remotely interesting. I just finished watching the film and I remember basically everything that happened, yet I couldn't even begin to put those moments into a chronological order. It's not because the storytelling was at all complicated or challenging, it's because I can't even muster a fuck to give. Just sequences I have seen numerous times before in other (better) films lazily thrown at the screen, one by one until it ends. Will I even remember that this picture exists two weeks from now? Probably, but the recollections of plot or performance will be fleeting. I still like you, Chloe Grace Moretz, and I look forward to far more compelling work from you in the future. Hell, just a year ago I saw you in Clouds of Sils Maria. That was fun. Let's do that again sometime.

I watch a lot of really bad films, but at least with many of them the memories down the road become fond because their quality is humorous. Fun bad, I like to call it. Perhaps an inside joke between friends or family. The biggest negative I can say about The 5th Wave is that there will be no memories and no jokes. There is no fun to be had.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Shining Review

The film opens as Jack Torrance takes the long and winding road towards the Overlook Hotel. The music isn't merely an example of ominous tones, it defines them. The journey is scenic and beautiful yet seemingly never-ending. Inviting when conditions are welcoming. Terrifyingly impossible during the devastating local winter. The interview. The moment when a writer decides to house sit for a massive hotel storing something haunted. Something evil. Something inescapable until the warmth of May arrives and the lodging season commences once more, but that may be too late.

When you first witness The Shining, you are likely to experience it at face value, and that alone is enough to fall madly in love with the vision of Stanley Kubrick. It's later on after numerous revisits and learning more about his genius that you discover just how perfect the craft is. The set designs are literally impossible, but it isn't an error in planning by a director who simply doesn't make such mistakes. No, everything here is calculated. A window in an office where there couldn't possibly be a view of the outside. A layout of halls that don't add up and carpeting that is disorienting. Everything about the Overlook feels like the hedge maze that sits just outside, a tourist attraction that isn't so appealing under the wrong circumstances. A maze that initially doesn't even exist. Watch the opening shot of the grounds again and try to spot it. You won't. Some websites list this as a continuity error. I don't buy that for a second. Once the Torrance family arrives, they are constantly trying to escape a maze they never knew they were entering. One that feels as if it has no way out.

Kubrick is the master of subtlety but once you take notice, you can never shake it. Why would you want to? There was a time when the utilization of sound in The Shining was something that barely registered, and now I hear everything. The way the wheels of Danny's big wheel rumble through the halls and become jarringly quiet when he rolls over the carpeting. The echo of Jack's ball slamming against the wall as he battles writer's block. The way the music absolutely destroys my nerves at exactly the right moments, like when Jack looks at a model of the hedge maze and I can't help but literally feel nauseous when the camera slowly takes us closer in and we see Danny and Wendy standing in the middle. It's one of many moments designed to overwhelm the senses. The fact that this goal is achieved so effectively is cinematic perfection.

"Are you out of your fucking mind?"

I could sit here all day and rave about the direction and the performance of Jack Nicholson, but right now I can't stop thinking about the technical genius that went into every frame of this masterpiece. The usage of color and lighting, the way spacing and camerawork make the same room feel either cavernous or claustrophobic without ever leaving it. I paused the film a few times just to dissect the occasional frame, illustrating the way psychosis looks even more disturbing when seen in the reflection of a mirror or how everything seems to glow both inside the Gold Room and throughout the hallway just outside of it. The way the color green in Room 237 feels serene before turning wicked and the restroom Jack visits is bathed in a blindingly violent shade of red. I sit here and wonder if I were to watch The Shining 100 more times, would I ever stop seeing something new?

Across the screen is the word Thursday, and the camera stays perfectly level as it moves to the left, following Wendy and Danny running playfully through the snow. It's a moment of joyous freedom in a place where such experiences are fleeting. The high pitched piercing sound that rattles through our ears as the camera cuts to Jack...something isn't right. We zoom in on his face. A look of insanity that cuts through me like a hot knife through butter. This sequence only lasts maybe a minute or two total before a new day arrives in their lives, but it stays with me because it feels like the official transition from cabin fever to the Donner party flu. Everything about it feels wrong, and yet I can't help but smile every time I see it. This admiration mixed with unsettling dread isn't an accident. Nothing is an accident. Every shot, every look, every word said. It's a hedge maze you can't escape from, at least not until the lodging season commences once more. That may be too late.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dazed and Confused Review

"All I'm saying is that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life - remind me to kill myself."

The most fascinating part of Linklater's Dazed and Confused is that even the most seemingly ridiculous, over-the-top characters in the film are completely believable. The first time I watched the movie I wasn't even in high school yet, so while what I was seeing was entertaining, I had no personal experiences that would have enabled me to relate. I recall finding the behavior of the stoners to be silly, as if they were putting on an act rather than actually depicting pot heads, except here's the thing - I not only ended up knowing those guys in real life, I became one. 

Driving around, smoking grass and trying (and failing) to meet girls. Adolescence. It's something I can wax nostalgic over and yet be thrilled I have left it in the rear view mirror. On the one hand I miss it all, the freedom from personal responsibility and the pressures of both adulthood and fatherhood, although I don't really know if "miss" is the right word. I don't necessarily long for what did happen, but rather I regret what could have been. The days, weeks, months wasted crying over being picked on before I finally realized none of it fucking mattered at all. The obsession over looking the part and playing the role of "cool" only to discover at the very end of it all that the coolest thing you can do is just be yourself. The numerous moments a cute girl would smile at me but my insecurities would destroy that fleeting glimpse of confidence and would stop me from saying a word.

The best years of my life? Horseshit. Not a chance. Not when I can put the last decade of my life under a microscope and see the vows I made to the love of my life closely and recognize that I have kept every one of them and will continue to until my final breath. The birth of a gorgeous tiny girl and watching her become a person before my very eyes. Safe to say these have been the best years, and I hope the ones to come are even better. In the far too short yet somehow vastly long journey of life, the high school experience is a blip on the radar and a mostly forgettable one at that, and yet it all mattered so much in the now of then. 

Despite all of this, Linklater's film reminds me that those years not being the best doesn't mean they weren't beautiful in their own way. Dazed and Confused is an expertly crafted picture that perfectly encapsulates an era of time as well as a formative period of living with every frame oozing out of the 70's despite being released in 1993 and every performance dripping with teenage authenticity. Richard Linklater delivered the ultimate coming-of-age masterpiece by devoting 12 years of his life to Boyhood, and yet he presents a tale of transitioning towards the next phase over the course of only one day here and he does it both with eloquence and also a desire to deliver cinema that is fun. 

One thing I noticed this time around that I never have before is a specific music cue when they are entering the Emporium and playing over everything is Bob Dylan's "Hurricane". Not that I never noticed the song, I am a huge Dylan fan and hearing it is no surprise, but this time I couldn't help but wonder if the choice was merely a chance to use music as a nod to the time period or if it was also making a statement about the ignorance of adolescence. Here we have a room of almost entirely white teenagers whose concerns are report cards and football and doing drugs and getting laid, and yet the music that fills the aural background of this moment is a socially and racially charged track regarding the wrongful murder conviction of a man whose life has been destroyed by real world injustice and consequences. This isn't to say that Linklater is being critical of their ignorance, but rather that he is encouraging current and future generations of likewise aged people to ignore the noise and live in the moment. There will always be a time to hear the lyrics and be plagued by their truths, but on a night when nothing else matters but looking cool while walking into the Emporium, it should be nothing more than just another song.

Dazed and Confused is silly, yet it isn't at all. It feels ridiculously real watching sequences of drugs, lust, and meaningless destruction and they all take me back to a moment in time when being young and dumb was more than ideal, it was essential. When Mitch (Wiley Wiggins) throws a bowling ball out the car window and it crashes through the windshield of another parked vehicle, the adult in me starts thinking about the ramifications of such behavior, the unfair randomness of the person who has to fix it and just how fucking angry I would be if it happened to me, but there was a time in life in which I would react like Mitch does. After a moment of stunned silence, they begin laughing and applaud the young man for the chaos he created. Mitch just smiles. 

Linklater's story is about the young and the dumb and the laughter and the smiles. Dazed and Confused reminds me why it was so important back then to worry about the consequences later.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Captain America: Civil War Review

"There will be consequences."

Eight years. For eight years now the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building to something uniquely special, demonstrating brilliance on both a business and storytelling front by playing the long game with precision and patience and confidence. We met the cinematic incarnation of Tony Stark back in 2008 and while the first Iron Man is a terrific film and was a massive financial success, no one could have possibly seen this coming. Eight years of solo films and team up spectacles and post credit teases, terrific performances and dazzling special effects and wonderfully fleshed out characters and relationships. Eight years of cinema that has at times been disappointing yet at other times been a reminder of why sitting in a movie theater is such a glorious experience. 

Captain America: Civil War is one of those spectacular, incredibly assembled reminders, a big screen bonanza that balances both the awe inspiring action set pieces that are associated with superhero pictures and a strong desire to stay grounded through character and really terrific dialogue. I recall prior to the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier that I was openly decrying the choice of the Russo brothers to do the film because of their run of the mill comedic background, as I was hopeful that such a story would be taken more seriously. I was thrilled to be proven so wrong when that film featured a tremendous tonal balance and kicked my ass with its hard hitting action, and the exact same can be said of their return to the MCU here. Civil War showcases just the right amount of action and when it hits, goodness does it bash us against the wall with ferocity (and some of the concepts of Cap's shield and what it is capable of are ingenious). What the Russo brothers deliver overall though is the full range of entertainment, an experience that makes you laugh, thrills you and also is jam packed with emotion that resonates because everything that happens has eight years worth of consequences built into it.

The movie isn't perfect, but nothing is, and even at its absolute best (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Winter Soldier and Civil War) the MCU is flawed. The villains of the film are a bit disappointing for different reasons, as Crossbones is all kinds of awesome but used extremely briefly and then Baron Zemo gives you that feeling of a character that could have been truly special but is held back due to being underwritten. His place in the film and the universe as a whole is enormous as he is the catalyst to the conflict in Civil War, and it's game changing stuff, but his motivations aren't fleshed out quite enough to resonate. They are there and are explained, and while his actions aren't justified his reasons for the anger and pain he lives with are, but it just felt like he was a couple of missing scenes short of being a truly top notch antagonist.

The new additions to this cinematic landscape are not only handled well but have me absolutely psyched for their own standalone films and places in the bigger picture in the future. Black Panther is beautifully portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, delivering an emotionally complex performance that gave me a little extra investment in any sequence he was involved in. Safe to say I cannot wait for a deeper look into his character when fantastic filmmaker Ryan Coogler brings it to the big screen in 2018. After an entire trilogy of Spider-Man films featuring Tobey Maguire and then a quick turnaround into reboots with Andrew Garfield, I wondered if I would really be that interested in another actor taking on the role so soon after but those concerns were dismissed pretty much instantly when Tom Holland made it clear that he plans on owning that damn character going forward. His smart-ass teenage attitude and look just felt right, and by next summer we will already be witnessing his standalone as well (although rumor has it other familiar MCU faces could appear). I'm in.

In regards to other standouts, the way Ant-Man is incorporated into the film is wonderful and while he doesn't have a ton of screen time, every second he is around Paul Rudd and the outstanding screenplay from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely make them count. The other usual suspects all bring their typically rock solid performances to the table, and I am really finding myself developing a fictional world movie character crush on Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch played by the beautiful and remarkably talented Elizabeth Olsen. We were only given a relatively small taste of her capabilities in Age of Ultron, but here she really shows off just how powerful the character is capable of being and seeing some of it during the superb airport battle scene filmed with the brand new IMAX/Arri cameras was a stunning, jaw dropping experience. That entire piece of the film as a whole is so epic in scale and blends everything you could ask for from blockbuster cinema, it's worth the price of admission alone.

It feels like eventually these movies will feature "too much" in terms of character and story, and the goal of making it all fluidly gel together will be impossible but today is not that day. It's so impressive how each character in Captain America: Civil War not only matters but is given a chance to stand out, even if it's briefly. Eight years in the making, what started as Tony Stark building his first suit to escape death has become an all encompassing world of different faces from iconic comic book lore that even after all this time has me excited for what's to come. Some are feeling superhero fatigue I'm sure, and to each their own, but as long as the releases are as great as Civil War, I never will.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

10 Most Anticipated Films - May and June 2016

When I put together a list of my most anticipated films of March and April, I had intentions to see every film I listed by the time May rolled around. Unfortunately I only saw 7 of the 10, and I can't take blame for The Lobster since its release was delayed until this month (and I won't include it despite the fact that I am still excited because one list is enough). Of those 7, I either really liked or completely loved 6 of them. Sorry Batman v Superman, you got a passing grade from me but that's as far as I am willing to go and the fact that I really haven't even thought about the film much since then tells you how little it resonated with me.

May and June have some big titles, and it's important to remember that I am not necessarily looking for only the movies that I expect to be great, but rather whatever intrigues me for any reason. A few of the blockbusters I plan on seeing over the next two months are far from guarantees to be great or even any good at all, but I still can't wait to see them.

Captain America: Civil War - May 6th

Many people across the world have already gotten the chance to go see Captain America: Civil War in theaters, but here in the U.S. we are still waiting...but the wait is about to end. I already have my tickets to see it both late Friday night and again on Sunday afternoon, both in IMAX and I can't wait. I expect a terrific and entertaining cinematic experience.

Dheepan - May 6th

Honestly, I don't really know much about Dheepan. I haven't seen a trailer or read a plot synopsis or anything. So why am I eagerly anticipating it? Because it won the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year, a top prize that has gone to some truly special films in the past. I actually plan on keeping it this way and avoiding any information or footage and going into the experience with a completely clean slate.

X-Men: Apocalypse - May 27th

The entire Batman v. Superman thing went well beyond the film itself, with fans angry at critics for sharing their honest (and in my world pretty accurate) issues with the film and the box office results being big yet disappointing for the mega budget film. Now Civil War comes out and the hype is enormous. Lost a bit in the shuffle is the newest X-Men film, but trust me, I haven't forgotten. I loved Days of Future Past and adding Oscar Isaac to the mix is never a bad thing.

Me Before You - June 3rd

Yep, I included a sappy, drippy romantic story. No, I have no idea if I will even remotely enjoy this film, but it is talked about often in my household because my wife and her best friend both read and loved the novel it is based on. As such, they will likely dislike the movie more than me because I have nothing to compare it to and zero expectations, and being completely honest, I am a sucker for sappy, drippy romantic stories as long as they are made well. Hopefully Me Before You fits that bill.

The Conjuring 2 - June 10th

One of the bigger surprises for me back in the summer of 2013 was just how terrific The Conjuring was, because truthfully I expect very little from most modern horror films, especially those that seem to follow a similar formula and promote being produced by the people who brought us Insidious or Saw or Sinister, because much of those movies fail to interest me. Director James Wan really nailed the first film, and while I hesitate to get excited about horror sequels too often, his return to the directors chair for this one has me optimistic. 

Warcraft - June 10th

No film has me more befuddled this summer movie season than Warcraft. Why? Because the trailer looks like really mediocre, been there done that before blockbuster stuff and I feel very little excitement from a pieced together advertisement for the film meant to excite. The problem with this is the picture is directed by Duncan Jones, which may mean nothing to you but the man crafted the BRILLIANT film Moon back in 2009 and then delivered another winner with Source Code in 2011. This is his first foray into big budget territory and I am hopeful that he was giving full reign by the studio to pour his creativity into Warcraft and can transcend the less than impressive marketing campaign thus far.

Finding Dory - June 17th

I am far more excited these days for Pixar when they release original material like the beautiful and pretty much perfect film Inside Out, but the fact that Finding Nemo is so good makes a follow up impossible to resist. When you have a single digit child in your household, it's a safe bet that most animated films will be seen on opening weekend and Finding Dory will be no exception. Considering how terrific some of the films we see are, I'm not complaining.

The Neon Demon - June 24th

With the exception of Dheepan, this list has been pretty much big, profitable films that everyone knows about...until now, and ironically The Neon Demon is the one I am most excited for. Nicolas Winding Refn, the man who directed visionary pictures like Drive and Only God Forgives is set to bring us his new work and man does it look terrific. Of course it will likely be polarizing much like OGF is (booed at Cannes and still hated by man), but after multiple viewings I consider it to be absolutely masterful, a movie that sits comfortably in my top 100 of all time. Drive, by the way, is in my top 20, so yes, if a new Refn is due out I am going to shoot it to the top of my must see list.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople - June 24th

Taiki Waititi, the wonderful mind that helped bring What We Do In The Shadows to us last year and has been tasked with directing Thor: Ragnarok for Marvel due out next year, brings a film that looks and sounds absolutely delightful called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The reviews have been outstanding and the trailer is immensely appealing so I can't wait to check this one out for myself.

Unfortunately that June release date is when it will hit a limited amount of theaters, so it may not play near you or I until well after, but it technically comes out then so I had to include it.

Independence Day: Resurgence - June 24th

Is the sequel to Independence Day going to be any good? Lord only knows. It's a sequel to Independence Day released 20 years after the first film. It's a complete crap shoot if it turns out to be surprisingly great or a total mess. On the positive side, the trailer shows that it will probably deliver what should be expected from the film and it has Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman among others returning and Maika Monroe is a new addition as a 20 years older version of the President's daughter. So yeah, shit or not, I will be there excited for this baby.