05 May 2008

Summer 2008


Wow; so, I've just taken in the long list of summer fare that awaits us for this year in film 2008 and, I have to say, things are looking better than ever. Not only are we to be treated to films the likes of which seem distant in our memories (e. g., Wall-E, Brideshead Revisited), but we are also lined up for the more mainstream films (i. e., the summer blockbusters) that this year have forgone the exclusively special-effects driven route of years past and actually garnered themselves quite impressive casts and hopefully therefore similarly impressive screenplays (e. g., Mamma Mia, Speed Racer, The Hulk). Of course, there are the few rotten-looking apples in the bushel - ahem, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, ahem - but as with any summer stock the heat is bound to addle one or two in the bunch and these minorities are acceptable losses. So, without anymore aplomb or ado, here is my brief list about the films that I'm excited to see this summer 2008:

  1. Iron Man (2 May) - Robert Downey, Jr., bringing back that "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" sardonic wit-bravado - only this time with eye-candy techno-toys - there's nothing more to say. (All right, Terence Howard, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges are pluses too.)
  2. Speed Racer (9 May) - A blown-out, no-stops, FX-driven movie for sure, but with Emile Hirsche at the wheel (i. e., our Best Actor from 2007) and a somehow catchingly quirky supporting ensemble of Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, and Christina Ricci I say that this chariot is going to give a much sharper ride.
  3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull (22 May) - Sure, the Jones franchise has been dormant for the last - er - several years and, sure, our leading man Mr. Ford has eclipsed into full-on senior-citizen status (i. e., he's 65); but Cate Blanchett in that fabulous jet-black bob says, "Shut the fuck up; it's going to be awesome." Here's to hoping she's right.
  4. Sex and the City (30 May) - OK, so I'm not going to make any excuse for the extremely "Gag-me/Did-they-even-try-writing?/This-is-all-so-predictable" apparent nature of this, the most stylized, film of the summer career (mostly because it is blatantly clear that there is none and they basically made this film so that the girls could hang out together and look pretty one more time [or so that the Zeitgeist of girls in the real world will not come to a crashing demise after four-years without their elect quartet of models for behavior]) - whichever - but I will say that it is sure to be entertaining for at least that quality/reason. The glitter and glamour that was the iconograph of the SATC franchise is there in full flush and Ms. Fields may be looking at another potential Oscar nomination. (Too early to call?)
  5. The Incredible Hulk (13 June) - Edward Norton is a class-A actor who knows how to pick his scripts. His being on board, especially in the leading role, as well as Mr. Hurt's involvement look to solidify this FX-pic into at least an Iron-Man level of quality (which gets a B from me by the way).
  6. Wall-E (27 June) - Pixar sets itself up for another major hit, both critically and popularly, with this innovative storyline about a rather Zen, little robot. The trailer at once put me in mind of the greatness that was the studio's last amazing project Finding Nemo - a huge plus, since I was less than thrilled by the interstitial films between then and now - and, moreover, it put me in mind of that Walt Whitman poem "A Noiseless Patient Spider" (from his Leaves of Grass [1900]) which is an endlessly more promising link. Any inspired connection like that one immediately sets my mind on the greatness track. (I wonder if the Pixar people were actually jumped off from that work. Anyone?)
  7. The Wackness (3 July) - Admittedly probably the least solid of all these films, but Ben Kingsley and Mary-Kate Olsen in a performance that the Times has already called one of the summer's best (Durbin, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/05/04/movies/20080504_DURBIN_FEATURE.html) could tip the scales in this boutique film's favor.
  8. The Dark Knight (18 July) - Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Heath Ledger do not just sign onto a project together because they think it may be cool to hang out, especially when Mr. Ledger is stepping into Jack Nicholson's very weighty shoes. No, they mean business; the Batman is back and is looking quite thrilling.
  9. Mamma Mia (18 July) - Meryl Streep, similarly to the The Dark Knight's cast, does not just join a project on a whim. She has to see the potential in it, despite whatever maternal impeti she may have to provide fine family entertainment for her daughter - um, that means you, Ms. Kidman. I mean, Ms. Streep rocked that otherwise fluffy The Devil Wears Prada two years ago, when it was in a very similar spot to where Mamma Mia now finds itself: the bubbly, fun-loving adaptation niche of the summer spectrum, a position more recently held by a one Hairspray; and so who is to say she hasn't done it again? Like its predecessors, Mamma Mia looks like it will at least be a well-acted, decently done sensation of entertainment.
  10. Brideshead Revisited (July) - Another new-century Waugh adaptation - huzzah! I'm incredibly excited by this one - for several reasons, namely the president presence of the great Emma Thompson, the smart source-material that is the Waugh text, and the swift and becoming featuring of Matthew Goode (of Match Point fame) in the leading role. I can't wait to touch this one! I'm predicting it will be at least as enjoyable as was 2003's Bright Young Things (taken off Vile Bodies).
  11. The House Bunny (22 August) - And, semi-limping in as this list's only late summer entry, this easy farce of a film has one significant redeeming feature: the comic brilliance that can be Anna Faris. A beautiful addition to the casts of such A+ films as Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain, Ms. Faris here delivers up one of her probably less significant pieces but nonetheless seems to shine in that quirky but endearing and captivating way that made her the staple of the Scary Movie franchise. And, because it must be repeated as it was said quite deftly by Manohla Dargis of the Times in her recent article "Is There a Real Woman in This Multiplex?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/movies/moviesspecial/04dargi.html), Ms. Faris who "tends to do the dumb-blonde thing with sizable quotation marks [...] could [very well] be the next Judy Holliday [... with] the right material." So, look out for this film; it could surprise you as well as me.
Cheers, film-goers. I'll be with you throughout this season 2008.

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