Saturday, May 16, 2009

Black Sheep's Summer Longin' (Part One)

It’s gotten off to quite the start. Sure, WOLVERINE was pretty dull but STAR TREK blew our minds into warp speed before the momentum could be lost. Even ANGELS & DEMONS isn’t all that bad really. All in all, it is a pretty great summer movie season already and we’re still a good few weeks away from it actually being summer. And I’m excited! This doesn’t usually happen to me. I feel like I want to see it all. I even want to see that Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds fake wedding movie. I’ve got summer fever apparently, which is better than swine flu, I suppose. Anyway, I’ve narrowed down the films I am most keyed up for down to 10 and the following is the first half …

UP! Written by Bob Peterson Directed by Pete Docter (MONSTERS INC) Co-Directed by Bob Peterson Voices by Edward Asner and Jordan Nagai Release Date 05/29
Don’t we love to watch people fail? Pixar has successfully released nine consecutive hits, both critically and financially and people are just waiting for them to trip up. At first, I thought the haters probably didn’t have much longer to wait with UP! Here you have a story about a 78-year-old man who wants nothing to do with society and decides it is high time he inflate the hundreds of balloons he’s got lying around with helium so he can leave it all on the ground. And who does this old man hang out with, albeit reluctantly, an 8-year-old boy scout. It all sounds potentially awkward and unfunny but the early reviews from Cannes are flying very high. If there’s one company I will always give the benefit of the doubt to, it’s Pixar. Bring on the old guy and his balloons already!

DEPARTURES Written by Kundo Kuyoma Directed by Yojiro Takita Starring Masahiro Motoki Release Date 05/29
I was concerned there would be WALTZ WITH BASHIR upset at the Oscars this year in the Foreign Language film category. Not that I didn’t like the animated documentary; I just really wanted to see THE CLASS take the Oscar home … that and I had THE CLASS on my Oscar poll. I was certainly surprised to hear that DEPARTURES would take the honour over both titles. And though I would likely never have noticed this film if it didn’t win the Oscar, I need to know why it won now. All I know about it is that an out of work cellist takes a job in funeral home preparing the dead for their viewings and that director, Takita, used to do porn. What more do you need to know though?

THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE Written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien Directed by Steven Soderbergh (CHE) Starring Sasha Grey and Chris Santos Release Date 05/22
To be honest, I can’t say that I am very excited about seeing this film but that’s pretty much because I already have seen it. I am actually just excited for everyone else to see it. I caught this film at the Tribeca Film Festival in a private press screening and had the privilege of meeting Mr. Soderbergh and Ms. Grey the next day for an interview. The interview itself will be published next week to coincide with the film’s release so you can soak it in all at once. Trust me, there is plenty to soak too in this behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a high priced escort in today’s crumbling economy. TGE is a very relevant, very timely picture that is not only fascinating but also sharp and brilliant to behold visually.

AWAY WE GO Written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida Directed by Sam Mendes (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD) Starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph Release Date 06/05
After winning an Oscar for AMERICAN BEAUTY, Sam Mendes has only had mixed success with his films. Some have even suggested that his accomplishments were a total fluke. He returns to cinemas this summer though with a decidedly different approach that may just remind people why they felt he had such promise to begin with. In AWAY WE GO, John Krasinski (“The Office”) and Maya Rudolph (“Saturday Night Live”) play an unmarried couple in their early thirties who are expecting their first child. With the ultimate responsibility coming on quickly, they realize that they haven’t really gotten a strong hold on this game called life just yet. So they set out to find a new place to call home so that they can grow into the capable adults they know they can be if they just put their minds to it. Its unpolished look and fresh screenplay could mean that Mendes is looking for a new place to call home himself.

WHATEVER WORKS Written and Directed by Woody Allen (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA) Starring Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood Release Date 06/19
We all know that Woody Allen is often hit or miss. Still, I always look forward to seeing which way it’s going to go. In this case though, there is the Larry David factor. David stresses me out ordinarily. However, a friend bought me a complete season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for my birthday and, much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. He still stressed me out but I got over my reluctance to watch him in anything so now I am ready for more. I actually think that Allen and David will make a perfect match; their social anxieties may just compliment each other brilliantly. The prospect of an inappropriate relationship between David and Evan Rachel Wood, a good forty-year gap, may be a little trickier though.

Part 2 of Black Sheep's Summer Longin' will be here tomorrow. Will you?


Chazz said...

Good list, Joe! I too am excited for "Away We Go," and "Up," and I absolutely LOVED "The Girlfriend Experience".

Oh, and a heads-up, "Departures" pretty much sucks. That is all :-)


Black Sheep said...

DEPARTURES doesn't even come out here until June. How can it possibly suck that bad? Have you reviewed it?