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Just heating up

It’s time to kick back with a preview of summer films by Philip Martin | May 8, 2016 at 1:58 a.m.
A girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and a big friendly giant named Oscar (Mark Rylance) star in The BFG, which is directed by Steven Spielberg.

I don't like to write about movies I haven't seen. But Hollywood is nothing if not a conservative industry, and the movies it rolls out in the summertime when the kids are out of school and cool, dark spaces become destinations are increasingly remakes, retreads and reiterations.

Chloe Sevigny (left) and Kate Beckinsale bring Jane Austen’s unfi nished novella Lady Susan to life in Love & Friendship.
Ellen DeGeneres is the voice of Dory in Finding Dory, a sequel to Disney’s Finding Nemo.
They’re back. An alien ship stirs up the skies above a fl eeing ship in Independence Day: Resurgence.
The new Ghostbusters stars Melissa McCarthy (from left), Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones.
George Clooney (center) and Giancarlo Esposito (left) star in Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster.
Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, from left), Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Charles/Professor X (James McAvoy), Alex Summers/ Havok (Lucas Till) and Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) face new challenges in X-Men: Apocalypse.
What our pets do after we leave for work is the subject of the animated film The Secret Life of Pets. Voice talent includes Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet.

So, in a sense, we have already seen many of these movies.

Besides, these are the movies America loves -- it's only elitist movie critics who wish they could take the summer off. Lots of people like to ride the computer-generated lightning of the would-be franchise movie that affects all four quadrants and will thrive in China. So it is in this spirit I present my annual contractually obligated summer movie preview. You should note that, as with all things in the entertainment business, all release dates are subject to change. And just because something is "playing in theaters everywhere," doesn't mean it's playing here. I'm just guessing that these will show up sometime.

See you at the movies. After Labor Day.


Money Monster -- At the recent Tribeca Film Festival, director Jodie Foster described her latest as "a character film [with George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O'Connell] with a backdrop of technology and virtual intimacy. It's also a popcorn film full of guns and bombs." We like her track record.

The Darkness -- Kevin Bacon's family takes a vacation to the Grand Canyon and all you get is this horror film about the "supernatural presence" that follows them home.

Love & Friendship -- Whit Stillman's latest is a period adaptation of Jane Austen's unfinished novella Lady Susan. Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) takes up residence at her in-laws' estate and, while there, is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter and herself. With Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel and Emma Greenwell.

The Lobster -- Yorgos Lanthimos' surreal feature about singletons who fail to find romantic partners being transformed into beasts finally arrives to shock and scandalize the cineplex. With Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman.

High-Rise -- British cult director Ben Wheatley (Kill List) adapts J.G. Ballard's 1970s novel about the breakdown of social order inside a residential apartment block. Allegedly a beautiful mess. With Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans.

Last Days in the Desert -- In the desert, Jesus (Ewan McGregor) struggles with Lucifer in the flesh (also McGregor). With Susan Gray and Tye Sheridan.

Search Party -- A couple of the Silicon Valley guys (T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch) star in this Scot Armstrong comedy. It has been in the can for a while.

Dheepan -- A Sri Lankan Tamil warrior flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris.

Kill Zone 2 -- Undercover cop Kit (Jing Wu) becomes a junkie in order to catch the mastermind behind a crime syndicate. With Tony Jaa.

Sunset Song -- I'm really looking forward to Terence Davies' adaptation of Scottish writer Lewis Grassic Gibbon's classic novel. It will get here, but probably not on this date.

What We Become -- A family of four is quarantined in their home as a virulent strand of the flu spreads into town and they are forced to the extremes to escape alive.

MAY 20

The Angry Birds Movie -- Why doth the pigeons rage? Animated, with the voices of Peter Dinklage, Tituss Burgess, Jason Sudeikis and (!) Sean Penn.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising -- I guess the first one did OK. After a sorority moves in next door that's more depraved than the fraternity before it, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) recruit Teddy (Zac Efron) to help.

The Nice Guys -- If Shane Black's back-to-the-'70s buddy action comedy is half as good as its sensational throwback trailer, it's a winner. With Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling and "introducing" Kim Basinger.

Weiner -- Documentary about the disgraced New York congressman's failed mayoral campaign means to say big things about today's political landscape.

Ma ma -- Julio Medem's soapy drama stars Penelope Cruz, who was nominated for a Goya (the Spanish equivalent of the Oscar).

Holy Hell -- Former cult member Will Allen looks back on his days following a charismatic guru in the 1980s. Nonfiction.

MAY 27

X-Men: Apocalypse -- Rumors are that Taylor Swift might have a cameo as a disco mutant in the latest installment. Bryan Singer directs Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn, Oscar Isaac and others.

Alice Through the Looking Glass -- Couldn't you have predicted this? Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). But it's not Tim Burton, it's James Bobin. (One of Alan Rickman's last performances.)

Chevalier -- Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari's comedy carries the cryptic tagline "a buddy movie without buddies." The synopsis sounds intriguing: "In the middle of the Aegean Sea, six men on a fishing trip on a luxury yacht decide to play a game. During this game, things will be compared. Things will be measured. Songs will be butchered, and blood will be tested. Friends will become rivals and rivals will become hungry. But at the end of the journey, when the game is over, the man who wins will be the best man. And he will wear on his smallest finger the victory ring: the Chevalier." OK, I'm in.

As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM -- Bio-pic of Adam Goldstein, as influential electronic dance music DJ AM.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows -- Giant turtle men do stuff.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping -- Lonely Island, the trio of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, make fun of boy bands and celebrity. Maybe. With Imogen Poots, Bill Hader and Will Arnett.

Me Before You -- This romance, based on a popular novel, is apparently about a small-town girl who falls in love with the handsome, wealthy, recently paralyzed man she has been hired to care for. Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke stars.

The Fits -- One of the highlights of this year's Fantastic Cinema and Craft Beer Festival gets a theatrical release. I've seen this haunting psychological study of childhood, and hope it makes it to local cinemas.


The Conjuring 2 -- A decent cast -- Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, David Thewlis, Franka Potente -- might elevate this otherwise unpromising sounding horror film.

Now You See Me 2 -- Now You See Me gets a sequel? Whatever. Add Daniel Radcliffe, subtract Isla Fisher. Also with Lizzy Caplan, Jesse Eisenberg and Morgan Freeman.

Warcraft -- Maybe David Bowie's director son Duncan Jones can do something interesting with this story of how the peaceful realm of Azeroth was overrun by orc warriors.

Diary of a Chambermaid -- French remake of the sexy 1964 film of the same name that starred Jeanne Moreau. Lea Seydoux plays the scheming servant.


Finding Dory -- Life lessons are imparted in this Finding Nemo sequel. Starring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Idris Elba and Kate McKinnon.

Central Intelligence -- Kevin Hart rides along with his CIA buddy Dwayne Johnson and hilarity ensues.

Swiss Army Man -- Some of my friends are really looking forward to this bizarre tale of a suicidal man (Paul Dano) who befriends a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe). I'm curious.

Clown -- Jon Watts (Cop Car) directs this horror film about a real estate agent who finds himself trapped in a haunted clown suit.


Independence Day: Resurgence -- They're back, 20 years after they were repelled by Slim Whitman records. (Oops, sorry, that was Mars Attacks!) Earth faces a new challenge ... without Will Smith.

The Shallows -- When Nancy (Blake Lively) is attacked by a great white shark while surfing alone, she is stranded just 200 yards offshore.

Free State of Jones -- I think the trailer makes this historical drama about Newton Knight and his armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Mississippi during the Civil War look awful, but it's got some positive buzz and a cast that includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew McConaughey, Keri Russell and Sean Bridgers.

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words -- Documentary about musician Frank Zappa.

Wiener-Dog -- We need a Todd Solondz comedy about a dachshund who "travels around the country, spreading comfort and joy." Not to be confused with Weiner or Sausage Party.


The BFG -- Steven Spielberg directs this fantasy based on the Roald Dahl book. The marvelous Mark Rylance stars as the BFG ("big friendly giant") while 10-year-old newcomer Ruby Barnhill plays the orphan Sophie. Expect a splash.

The Legend of Tarzan -- Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is called back to the jungle after having acclimated to life in London. Also with Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz.

Our Kind of Traitor -- An ordinary couple (Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris) find themselves caught between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service in this adaptation of a John le Carre novel.


The Secret Life of Pets -- This animated film about animals in a Manhattan apartment building looks charming. But we'll see.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates -- Two wanton women (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) answer an online ad to accompany hard-partying brothers (Zac Efron, Adam Devine) to a wedding in Hawaii.

Captain Fantastic -- Viggo Mortensen, a survivalist and devoted father with six kids, is forced to confront the material world after his wife's suicide. Reviews have been mixed, but my sources say it's pretty good. With Frank Langella.


Ghostbusters -- The franchise returns, with new Ghostbusters and the blessing of Bill Murray. Paul Feig directs. My theory is you should never miss a Kristen Wiig movie.

The Infiltrator -- During the 1980s, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) infiltrates Pablo Escobar's cartel. Narcos for the big screen!

Phantom Boy -- A Cat in Paris co-directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol return with another pop-art kids' movie with a hand-rendered look that defies the CGI trend. In this French import, a super-powered boy helps a wheelchair-bound police officer bring down a mob kingpin.


Star Trek Beyond -- The plot for this Justin Lin movie is being kept under wraps. It stars Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine and Simon Pegg.

Ice Age: Collision Course -- They're still making these. True fact -- the real Ice Age didn't have as long a shelf life. I don't think. Maybe I should Google that.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie -- Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are still alive and living the slatternly high life. I have been waiting for this movie for 20 years ; I hope they don't mess it up. Mandie Fletcher directs, with Gwendoline Christie, Cara Delevingne, Rebel Wilson and Jon Hamm.


Jason Bourne -- Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) remembers who he is. And he's rather upset. Director Paul Greengrass is also back. So is Julia Stiles. Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones are new hires.

Bad Moms -- Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn rebel against the expectations of motherhood, and find themselves face-to-face with PTA queen Christina Applegate.

Genius -- Someone made a movie about legendary editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth), who, while at Scribner, oversaw the works of Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce).

Equity -- We saw a preview of this, the first female-driven Wall Street film, at last year's Bentonville Film Festival. Interesting premise. Meera Menon directs Anna Gunn, James Purefoy and Sarah Megan Thomas.

Indignation -- The latest adaptation of a Philip Roth novel. In 1951, a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey attends a small Ohio college (Roth attended Pennsylvania's Bucknell) where he struggles with sexual repression and culture shock.

AUG. 5

Suicide Squad -- Super-villains conduct government black ops. People are very excited about this movie.

Nine Lives -- A tycoon (Kevin Spacey) becomes trapped inside his cat, Mr. Fuzzypants. That's what it says. Really. A PG comedy with Jennifer Garner, Robbie Amell and Christopher Walken.

The Founder -- Who wants to see a movie about McDonald's founder Ray Kroc? John Lee Hancock directs; Michael Keaton plays the great man.

AUG. 12

Cafe Society -- Woody Allen's latest is a romantic comedy set in 1930s Hollywood. With Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively and Jesse Eisenberg as the latest Woody manque.

Pete's Dragon -- Big-deal Disney remake that blends live action and CGI. An orphaned boy named Pete befriends the dragon Elliott. With Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Robert Redford and Wes Bentley.

Florence Foster Jenkins -- Based on the true story of the New York heiress who -- despite her tone deafness -- dreamed of becoming an opera singer. Meryl Streep stars, and for once she's working with a formidable director, Stephen Frears. Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg and Rebecca Ferguson round out the cast.

Spectral -- A special ops team fights space ghosts. Emily Mortimer and Bruce Greenwood are the names you might recognize.

Sausage Party -- I missed this R-rated 3-D-animated film at the recent Tribeca Film Festival, but this Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg project about the secret life of food is a real thing, not the urban legend some suspected. James Franco, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig and Salma Hayek lend their voices.

The Hollars -- John Krasinski directs and stars in this "bittersweet" comedy about a man returning to his hometown and his dysfunctional family after learning his mother (Margo Martindale) has a brain tumor. Already being compared to Garden State, and that's not a good thing -- the word from Sundance was "generic."

AUG. 19

Kubo and the Two Strings -- 3-D stop-motion fantasy action-comedy about a young man who disturbs some old spirits and must join Monkey (voiced by Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) to uncover a secret about his father. There's also a magical instrument involved.

The Space Between Us -- A kid raised on Mars travels to Earth to find romance and his father. Decent cast includes Britt Robertson, Carla Gugino, Gary Oldman and Asa Butterfield.

Ben-Hur -- They made this before. While it is still based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace, the filmmakers are calling this a "re-adaptation," "re-imagining" and "new interpretation." Jack Huston is Judah Ben-Hur. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) directs.

War Dogs -- Comedy based on the true story of David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan. Todd Phillips directs.

Southside With You -- A young Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) goes on an epic date in 1989 Chicago.

AUG. 26

Mechanic: Resurrection -- Just when he thought he was out ... Arthur (Jason Statham) is forced to travel the globe to commit three final assassinations after his arch-enemy kidnaps the love of his life.

Don't Breathe -- They thought it was an easy job, burglarizing the home of a wealthy blind man. They were incorrect.

Hands of Stone -- Boxing legend Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) and his trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) run up against Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond). It's been waiting for a release date for a while.


The Light Between Oceans -- Derek Cianfrance adapts M.L. Stedman's novel about an Australian lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) who, after World War I, rescue a baby from an adrift rowboat and raise it as theirs. The buzz isn't good.

Solace -- A victim of the Relativity Media bankruptcy, this film has been finished for nearly three years. Word is it's nothing special, a "dark and corny serial killer thriller" (according to The Hollywood Reporter) that features a fine performance by Colin Farrell as the culprit.


Style on 05/08/2016

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