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Film Reviews

Summer of Salvation

The cinema is not a slice of life but a piece of cake," Alfred Hitchcock once said, and if that's true, then summertime is when we gorge — unhealthily, most of the time, on ear-splitting smash-'em-ups and nerd-filled sex comedies. This year's summer movie season is sure to contain its share of brain goo. But there are more satisfying things on the menu too. Gorging is the American way, but as we peruse the upcoming multiplex offerings, let's pledge to seek out the occasional rare delicacy. To help, we've narrowed down the season's gazillion releases, and what follows is our list of the best, most intriguing, and most promising films. All dates are subject to change. Happy summer.

Terminator Salvation

Releases: May 21

Director: McG

It's 2018, and Christian Bale is John Connor, the resistance leader whose birth Gov. Schwarzenegger was trying to prevent way back in the day.

Easy Virtue

Releases: May 22

Director: Stephan Elliott

Jessica Biel moves up the social ladder in an adaptation of Noël Coward's 1920s comedy about an American bombshell about to marry into an aristocratic British family.

Drag Me to Hell

Releases: May 29

Director: Sam Raimi

Raimi returns to his horror-film roots for this tale of a young banker (Alison Lohman) who makes the fatal mistake of denying a loan to an old Gypsy woman.

Kambakkht Ishq

Releases: May 29

Director: Sabbir Khan

Bollywood stars Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor head from India to Hollywood in this romantic comedy about a stuntman and a supermodel who become media sensations.


Releases: May 29

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

This debut feature from a New York-based Korean-American filmmaker follows two Rwandan boys out for a walk in the countryside. One boy is Hutu, the other Tutsi.


Releases: May 29

Director: Bruce McDonald

Veteran character-actor Stephen McHattie stars as a Canadian DJ trying to figure out what's going on when reports start coming in of townspeople viciously attacking one another.


Releases: May 29

Director: Yojiro Takita

An out-of-work cellist (Masahiro Motoki) lands a job for which he displays an unexpected aptitude — bathing, dressing, and grooming the dead before cremation. A comedy, with tears.


Releases: May 29

Director: Pete Docter

An animated movie about a depressed 78-year-old widower (voiced by Ed Asner) who doesn't like children. We trust all things Pixar, but don't expect a run on Ed Asner plush toys.

Away We Go

Releases: June 5

Director: Sam Mendes

Pregnant newlyweds (John Krasinki and Maya Rudolph) embark on a sweetly comic road trip across America. Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Paul Schnei­der costar as the friends and family who offer the couple temporary refuge.


Releases: June 5

Director: Martin Provost

Yolande Moreau stars as French painter Séraphine Louis, who worked as a servant girl before her gift for painting was discovered in 1912, in a film that won seven César Awards (the French Oscars).


Releases: June 11

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola reportedly mined his own backstory for this tale of two Buenos Aires brothers (Vincent Gallo and Alden Ehrenreich) trying to come to terms with their complex family history.

Food Inc.

Releases: June 12

Director: Robert Kenner

Moviegoers aren't likely to rush to the supermarket after seeing this disturbing exposé of the under-regulated, profit-mad American food industry.


Releases: June 12

Director: Duncan Jones

After three years alone on the moon, a spaceman of the near future (Sam Rockwell) begins hallucinating — and eventually wakes up to find that he's sharing the ship with an exact replica of... himself.

Whatever Works

Releases: June 19

Director: Woody Allen

Allen returns to Manhattan after an extended European vacation and casts Larry David as a hypochondriac physicist whose spirits are lifted when he befriends and later weds a dippy 20-year-old (Evan Rachel Wood).


Releases: June 19

Director: Tatia Rosenthal

This acclaimed stop-motion comedy concerns the residents of an Aussie apartment building, including two boys who spent $9.99 on a book that promises the secret to life.

The Hurt Locker

Releases: June 26

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Guy Pearce go to war in this intense drama about a bomb-defusing unit stationed in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq War.

Quiet Chaos

Releases: June 26

Director: Antonio Grimaldi

Nanni Moretti stars as an Italian film exec devastated by the death of his wife. Left to raise a 10-year-old daughter, the man finds himself unable to part from her.

The Beaches of Agnès

Releases: July 1

Director: Agnès Varda

Using the world's beaches as both backdrop and metaphor, Varda recalls the important people of her life, including her late husband, filmmaker Jacques Demy, as well as rock star Jim Morrison.

Public Enemies

Releases: July 1

Director: Michael Mann

Johnny Depp is 1930s bank robber extraordinaire John Dillinger; Christian Bale is FBI superagent Melvin Purvis, hot on his trail, Tommy gun in hand. Bullets will fly.


Releases: July 10

Director: Larry Charles

Sacha Baron Cohen jettisons Borat for Brüno, a gay, hot-pants-wearing Australian fashion reporter. Beyond that, words fail us.


Releases: July 10

Director: Lynn Shelton

It seemed like a fun idea at the time: Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard), lifelong buds, get high at a party where they agree, in front of witnesses, to "do it" (with each other) for a sex-tape film festival.

Soul Power

Releases: July 10

Director: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte

In the days preceding Muhammad Ali and George Foreman's 1974 fight, musical giants James Brown, B.B. King, Bill Withers, and Celia Cruz put on a three-day concert in Zaire. Oscar winner Levy-Hinte restored a mountain of concert footage and the chaos that surrounded it.

500 Days of Summer

Releases: July 17

Director: Marc Webb

An L.A. greeting-card writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds true love in the form of a beautiful coworker (Zooey Des­chanel) in Webb's romantic comedy.

In the Loop

Releases: July 17

Director: Armando Iannucci

British satirist Iannucci goes to Washington in this fictional riff on the political scrambling that preceded the Iraq War. Starring Tom Hollander and featuring James Gandolfini as an American general.

Flame and Citron

Releases: July 31

Director: Ole Christian Madsen

Madsen tells the story of two resistance fighters, Flame (Thure Lindhardt) and Citron (Mads Mikkelsen), in Denmark during the Nazi occupation. The film has been a smash hit in its home country.

Lorna's Silence

Releases: July 31

Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Belgium's Dardenne brothers (La promesse, L'enfant), among the world's finest filmmakers, return with this story of an Albanian refugee (Arta Dobroshi) who finds herself going to extremes to gain Belgian citizenship.

The Cove

Releases: July 31

Richard O'Barry captured five dolphins and trained them to play "Flipper" on the popular 1960s TV show. He has since become obsessed with getting footage of the brutal slaughter of dolphins in Japan. Psihoyos tracks O'Barry's quest in this wrenching documentary.

Paper Heart

Releases: August 7

Director: Nicholas Jasenovec

In this faux documentary, comedian Charlyne Yi (Knocked Up) conducts interviews to see if anyone still believes in true love. Enter actor Michael Cera, playing himself (sort of) and falling for Yi, who, in real life, is already his girlfriend.

Julie & Julia

Releases: August 7

Director: Nora Ephron

Ephron adapts Julie Powell's memoir of the year she spent making all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Amy Adams portrays Powell, whose inner musings on Child's life are enacted by Meryl Streep.

District 9

Releases: August 14

Director: Neill Blomkamp

From first-time director Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson, a sci-fi epic about extraterrestrials that landed in South Africa 30 years ago only to be captured, segregated, and brutally mistreated by the government.


Releases: August 14

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Japanese animator Miyazaki offers his take on The Little Mermaid in which a goldfish named Ponyo longs to become human.

Taking Woodstock

Releases: August 14

Director: Ang Lee

Lee lightens up for a tie-dye-filled adaptation of Elliot Tiber's (Demetri Martin) terrific Woodstock memoir.

The Time Traveler's Wife

Releases: August 14

Director: Robert Schwentke

Henry (Eric Bana), a Chicago librarian, is forever bouncing around in time. This makes life/marriage hard for wife Clare (Rachel McAdams), who attempts to hold him still.

Inglourious Basterds

Releases: August 21

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Blame the bad spelling of the title on those infernal Nazis, who refer to the band of Jewish-American soldier-assassins led by Brad Pitt as "the basterds."

It Might Get Loud

Releases: August 21

Director: Davis Guggenheim

The Oscar-winning Guggenheim cuts loose in a documentary that finds rock gods Jimmy Page, the Edge, and Jack White singing the praises of their guitars. Then they jam.

The Boat That Rocked

Releases: August 28

Director: Richard Curtis

It's 1966, and Philip Seymour Hoffman leads a renegade band of disc jockeys as they broadcast the devil's music, AKA rock 'n' roll, from a boat off the U.K. shore.

Mesrine: A Film in Two Parts

Releases: August 28

Director: Jean-François Richet

Vincent Cassel moves up the crime ladder in this four-hour epic about the action-packed life (murders, kidnappings — the works) of modern-day French criminal Jacques Mesrine.

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Chuck Wilson is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.

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