I like to start these previews off with a theoretical bit of noodling about the nature of the month to come, but this time, it’s so tightly linked to the big release on the first weekend that I’m just going to save it. Let’s jump right in!
So, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. A film that I should not be indifferent to, given that Captain America: The First Avenger is probably my favorite of the Marvel movies that exist so far (not the one I think is best, just my favorite), but I am far more fascinated by its position in the ecosystem than I care about it as a work of cinema. See, we’ve had March blockbusters for a while, and April blockbusters for a couple of years, anyway, but something about the exact position of this film, with the usual release overseas a week earlier, makes it feel like Disney isn’t trying to extend summer earlier, or force a brand new blockbuster season; it feels sort of like they’re trying to connect the spring and summer movie seasons, making one long stretch of popcorn blockbusters reaching from March to August; and that, honestly, is not a future that I am terribly excited to contemplate. The sameness and ubiquity of Big CGI Action Event Pictures has made it virtually impossible, for me at least, to find any of them genuinely special, and the idea of a wave of indistinguishable tentpoles covering fully half of the calendar sounds as much like the death of cinema as anything else ever has.
But then, here to make me feel better is Under the Skin in limited release, finally showing up Stateside. The third film by Jonathan Glazer, whose Sexy Beast and Birth I both love, is surely cause for celebration, all the more since it’s been such a long decade since his last release.
A pair of horror films, because Captain America notwithstanding, it is still the offseason: Oculus, which is somehow crossed with a murder mystery; and Rio 2. Now, the latter of these is not being marketed as a horror film, but surely we all know better.
Once again, the limited releases come to the rescue: I don’t actually expect Only Lovers Left Alive, an art house vampire film, to be any good, but it’s never wise to count out Jim Jarmusch or Tilda Swinton, and when they’re collaborating? Mercy me.
The unexpected glut of Christian themed films in the first third of the year continues right along to Heaven Is for Real One of these days, one of these movies will go to #1 and I’ll have to see it, but it’s not going to be this one.
Meanwhile, we can all enjoy the spectacle of Disney making another documentary that shamelessly anthropomorphises animals with Bears, whose poster is confusingly and unpleasantly similar to their 2003 obscurity Brother Bear. Or we can enjoy watching Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer, make his directorial debut with Transcendence, which happens to exactly look like the kind of product that Nolan secretly knows himself to be too good for nowadays. But hey, anything that throws a paycheck at Rebecca Hall deserves my attention.
There is a 2004 Luc Besson production, District B13, which kicked off the most ambivalent review I have ever written, wondering if its phenomenal, legitimately masterpiece-level opening act justified the tedium of the rest. I do not expect to be similarly ambivalent about its weirdly late American remake, Brick Mansions.
Other sacrificial lambs being put on the chopping block to be completely forgotten in a week, once summer proper starts: The Other Woman, a peculiarly mean-looking female-driven comedy, feeling oddly like a relic from the ’90s and the days of The First Wives Club; and The Quiet Ones, the newest horror picture from the revived Hammer Films. Having thus far thought that the studio’s attempt to navigate the 21st Century has been noble and intelligent if not uniformly successful, I think I can count myself excited for this one, kind of.