The annual trickling away at the end of summer is upon us (no Guardians of the Galaxy in the wings to explode at the last minute, I fear), which is just as well for me: it’s going to be a crazy month with much less time for theater-going than I’m used to. So for me, this monthly preview is an unusual chance to actually work out my priorities, since “see everything unless I decide against it later” isn’t going to be a strategy this time around. And before we leave July behind, I know I still need to catch up with Trainwreck; soon, I promise.
A big weekend of smallish releases: Fox’s second attempt at Fantastic Four isn’t shaping up to be the world-beater we might have hoped for. I liked the early suggestions of where the tone was headed, but the too-visible woes in the film’s production history have left that moot, along with the bland-ass trailers. And it’s been fun watching people tie themselves in knots about Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, and I personally think he’s a great pick for the role, but the rest of the cast is whiffy as it gets.
Going down the line, we come to Ricki and the Flash, which unites Jonathan Demme, Meryl Streep, and Diablo Cody, and while Streep/Cody seems like a brilliant match made in Heaven, Demme/Cody is a very “things fall apart, the center cannot hold” proposition, don’t you think? Is there any overlap in their respective filmographies. And also more bland-ass trailers that pretty thoroughly reveal all the important emotional beats. Next up is The Gift, the Joel Edgerton directorial debut we didn’t know we apparently needed, with Jason Bateman making the weirdest bid for artistic stretching ever, turning his everyman shtick to the service of a sleazy hero in a psychological thriller.
Surely set to be last in the box office race, but first in my heart, is Shaun the Sheep Movie, whose grammatically ghoulish title cannot hide the fact that it is a new Aardman film, and Aardman films are a holiness above all else.
In limited release, and given GKIDS general release strategies, I’d bet I’ll have to wait until the end of the year to even think about catching up with it, we find Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, a Salma Hayek passion project that unites a killer list of indie animation directors in a narrative/anthology hybrid. One of my most anticipated films of 2015.
I confess that I was more interested in Straight Outta Compton when we didn’t know that it was going to be two and a half hours long. I mean, political importance and cultural flashpoint and all, it’s still a biopic, and that’s a fuckton of time for a biopic. But what else is going to be worth seeing that weekend? Guy Ritchie’s attempt to salvage a film that Steven Soderbergh couldn’t get off the ground in the feature-length update of the old Cold War spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., with its playfulness replaced by Ritchieisms? Underdogs, a monstrously clumsy-looking Argentine animated feature with visibly awful dubbing into English? No, and no.
At least the other two wide releases for the week sound like actual movies: Sinister 2 is clearly a bad idea, given that 2012’s Sinister unraveled so hard in its second half, but horror sequels are a thing that exist in their own world and always have been. And while a stoner comedy about Jesse Eisenberg as a spy who is also a pothead feels like something that should have come out in, like 2009… No, I take it back, Sinister 2 is the only film that sounds like an actual movie. But American Ultra is coming out anyway, and it has the odd fortune to be the first Kristen Stewart film of her critical renaissance.
Did you know that revolutions in Southeast Asia can sometimes inconvenience expatriated Americans? If not, No Escape has you covered. I feel like I thought this was going to come out months ago.
We Are Your Friends is a movie about EDM starring Zac Efron, which is great, because it means I can avoid two things I dislike at one time.