Summer’s here, y’all. Lexington is a hot, soupy mess. I can’t remember having this much rain, ever, and I’ve lived in this area since 1982.
Nasty sweltering weather is good for movies. Any structure I can enter and stop sweating is worth the money. Most of the marquee movies have come out already (Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t open until December 18. Let’s focus on the next couple months. What’s out there worth seeing?
Southpaw: is it selective memory, or does it seem like the last few years have been packed with boxing movies? Southpaw, premiering this Friday, July 24, looks like a dozen other redemption stories. You won’t find a cast much better than Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, and Forest Whitaker, though; and it’s directed by Antoine Fuqua, whose Training Day and The Equalizer probably cancel out Olympus Has Fallen. Southpaw has gotten good early reviews, so it may have enough fight scenes and grit to satisfy the pugilist, but enough depth and character development to reel in those not too into the sport itself.
Unexpected: hmm, this could be a heartwarming coming of (parent)age movie that…OK, it looks pretty blech. A feel-good movie that looks like it’ll deliver a message with all the subtlety of Crash? No thanks. Yes, I’m biased toward big explodey action and sci-fi and horror, but I really can appreciate well-constructed movies about non-flammable things like love and friendship. Love Actually is great. Zooey Deschanel and Michael Cera can turn crap movies into something watchable. Hell, When Harry Met Sally is one of my top ten favorite movies. Unexpected just seems…uninspired? I really want this movie to be good, since I love Cobie Smulders (and I’ve only seen 3 episodes of HIMYM!), and I want Anders Holm to succeed as a thank-you for making me laugh so hard during Workaholics I almost passed out. Prove me wrong, Unexpected. Maybe this would be a good one to watch right before Southpaw on July 24.
The Gift: a young couple suffers the consequence of a terrifying secret from the past that comes to yada yada yada. This has been done a hundred times, even more so than boxing redemption films. Yet, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton? A trailer that teases a good narrative but doesn’t rely too heavily on jump-out-go-boo and doesn’t reveal too much? This works pretty well at getting the viewer interested in what the hell happened 20-something years ago. The Gift might be worth watching. (Opens August 7, 2015.)
Assassination: we should all be able to agree that the trailer tells us virtually nothing about the movie. Someone is ‘posed to get smoked, and there’s lots of guns and explosions. The fun part looks to be the setting: Seoul, 1933. I have no idea what Seoul 1933 actually looked like, but apparently a cross between the American Wild West and The Rocketeer. This is one of the few trailers that could benefit from giving away more of the movie. As is, though, Assassination will serve as a good “oh yeah, I heard about this one,” on Netflix on a sick day. (Opens August 7, 2015.)
These are tricky. While a good director (and a good narrative or script) can make just about anything interesting, a biopic’s success is based mostly on two things: name recognition and timeliness. One can make up for the other, which is why a documentary of anything JFK- or Marilyn Monroe-related could still make a mint today, but a Casey Anthony docudrama better have been in the works before the verdict was read. Three biopics of note:
I Am Chris Farley: a little puzzling that it took this long. Maybe the best physical comedian in the last 30 years (sorry, Jim Carrey) and probably one of the top 10 Saturday Night Live cast members ever, Farley deserves a documentary. But almost 18 years after his death? I just don’t know how much interest this can generate beyond diehard SNL fans and Tommy Boy devotees–and I’m saying this as a Farley fan. Was it finding the right script or director? This wasn’t Elvis, so estate issues probably weren’t a factor. I Am Chris Farley will have to rely on some good marketing (read: re-insert some Farley sketches into the pop-culture mindset, and soon) on top of solid word-of-mouth. David Spade can’t watch it enough times on his own to make it a success. (Opens July 31, 2015.)
Amy: this film, about Amy Winehouse, is certainly timelier, as she passed away in 2011. That voice coming out of that frame was enough to pique interest, but the quality of her voice and music won folks over and sent her to the top of the charts. Will enough people care enough to see a documentary about her life? Probably. She’s definitely still got the name recognition. Amy is garnering great reviews, and has enough insight into her life and what might have led to the end of it to take off on the art-house circuit. Let’s hope it gives her the treatment she deserves. (Premiered July 3, 2015, but won’t reach smaller markets for a while.)
Call Me Lucky: this one blows my hypothesis right out of the water. I’m a huge stand-up fan, but I’d never heard of Barry Crimmins. It doesn’t seem that many other people have either, so it doesn’t matter how timely this is (and given that there’s a lot of talk of AOL, it doesn’t appear so). All that aside, this trailer makes a good case to see the movie, if nothing else to see what this guy’s about. If David Cross and Patton Oswalt are giving Barry Crimmins a thumbs up, let’s check Call Me Lucky out. (Opens August 7, 2015.)