With last week’s unnecessary X-Men sequel? prequel? reboot? oh who cares?—and this week’s Star Trek hullabaloo, someone like me is left to wonder when will it be safe to venture back into the darkness of the movie theaters? Thankfully the summer movie season has become a refuge for some decent counter-programming ignored by most feasting on Hollywood’s fatty products, but even better, it’s a good time to start checking out the early trailers and buzz for the gilded autumnal slate of films reeking of prestige.
Here’s my list of the most anticipated films for Summer 2009 and beyond ordered chronologically by alleged release date. No sequels or franchises allowed beyond this point!
Drag Me to Hell: (5/29/09) This is that horror flick from guru Sam Raimi for those who enjoyed The Evil Dead trilogy over his Spiderman trilogy. It looks kinda goofy, kinda ghouly and kinda fun with a smoking hot Alison Lohman playing a mortgage broker who gets damned to hell after turning down a little old lady’s application for an extension–how timely! My only concerns are why this thing isn’t rated R and where the heck is Bruce Campbell? Check out the trailer or go to hell.
If this one cops-out on the gore, be sure to check out the Norwegian zombie Nazi romp Dead Snow due to infect art-houses in June.
Away We Go: (6/5/09, limited) After giving us one of the most depressing films of recent memory with Revolutionary Road, Sam Mendes goes all quirky dramedy on us with this one featuring a surprisingly likable John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as an expecting couple re-examining their life together. Let’s hope this doesn’t suffer the same unfair fate of Sunshine Cleaning, which was mostly ignored by mainstream audiences due to a bad marketing campaign that endlessly compared it to other (and lesser) quirky dramedies. Novelist/memoirist du-jour Dave Eggers co-wrote the screenplay. Check out the trailer or go away.
Public Enemies: (7/1/09) This is an A-lister all the way and promises to be the thinking person’s summer event flick. Michael Mann, who has proven that both filming in digital doesn’t mean things have to be shaky and grainy and that Depression era films need not be saturated in sepia tones, has crafted what looks to be a crackling period gangster flick inspired by true events featuring a swaggering Johnny Depp, an always brooding Christian Bale and a seductively demure Marion Cotillard. This thing looks like a real brick that is about to be thrown through everyone’s window. Check out the trailer or go to jail. I reckon I won’t be all alone when I take that ride come July.
District 9: (8/14/09) It’s so rare these days to see a non-franchised non-comic book based sci-fi flick come out during the summer. It’s even cooler when that sci-fi film is presented by Peter Jackson, has been kept mostly under wraps, and is just now releasing the early stages of an ultra-clever viral marketing campaign. The trailer for this one is wickedly deceptive (it looks like some political documentary) and reveals just enough of the “alien…shall we say, invasion?” plotline to tantalize viewers. This one has some major potential for social commentary, satire and some kick-ass alien action as it blends elements from V, Alien Nation and Starship Troopers. Check out the humorous mock-site Maths from Outer Space, or better yet, check out the hella-cool trailer.
Antichrist: (Unknown) The only thing more interesting to watch than an established director attempting to go back to his roots (see Sam Raimi above) is watching a controversial auteur go off the deep end with something he’s never attempted before. Here, Great Dane Lars Von Trier (last seen directing people acting on minimalist chalk-lined stages in Dogville and Manderlay) goes the psychological horror route with this tale of an emotionally crippled couple seeking refuge at their cabin in the woods and perhaps coming in contact with…Satan? Guaranteed to be his most stylistic film since Zentropa (aka Europa), Antichrist‘s reception at this month’s Cannes Film Festival will go a long way in determining its potential success in the States. Look for a limited Fall release and prepared to be disturbed.
Shutter Island: (10/2/09) Leonardo DiCaprio stars in a Martin Scrosese adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel. Need I say more? Added bonus for me: my favorite underrated actress Emily Mortimer co-stars. I was in line for this before I even knew it was being made.
Where the Wild Things Are: (10/19/09) Any doubts about this Malkovich-less Spike Jonze adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book should be wiped away by what is hands down one of the most infectiously appealing trailers ever crafted. The versatile Eggers appears again as co-scripter. Go ahead, get wild and check it out.
Amelia: (10/23/09) Will Indian born Mira Nair finally achieve a massive cross-over hit with this bio-pic of Amelia Earhart, or will this be another well intentioned and glossy miscalculation like Vanity Fair? If Nair can inject the emotional connection she so effortlessly achieved with Salaam Bombay, Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake into the still unsolved mystery surrounding the famed female pilot, then we should be in for something special, and watch out for Hilary Swank in the lead role to nab her third Oscar nod.
Tree of Life: (Unknown, potentially 2010) Having once allowed two decades to pass between films, legendary auteur Terrence Malick has now adopted a more Kubrickian five to ten year span between projects. Given his notoriously long post-production process, this one might not find its way into theaters until the end of 2010 even though principle photography has been completed for some time. Though this Brad Pitt/Sean Penn drama has been kept tightly under wraps, the advanced buzz surrounding a potential IMAX companion piece and a special effects team working on the “dino shots” make it clear this will be more than just some dreamily poetic coming-of-age mood piece. For the first time, we might witness Malick go whole-hog. As such, film purists should be waiting with baited breath.
Other potential films of interest include Quentin Tarantino’s spelling and good-taste-be-damned WWII flick Inglourious Basterds (to be released in August) and James Cameron’s uber-secretive sci-fi epic Avatar (to be released around Christmas) that will either be the biggest bomb or hit of the holiday season.
What films are you most looking forward to? Leave your top pics in the comment form!
Written by David H. Schleicher
David, I am not so down on STAR TREK, as the early reviews have been extraordinary, as you may have seen. Plus, I’m a lifelong trekkie, so there is a built-in excitement for me. But you are right to lament the “general” state of affairs.
Of the upcoming films, none pumps me more than Malick’s TREE OF LIFE, even if the post-production delays won’t allow it to be seen until late 2010. I am also much intrigued by the Von Trier, the Tarantino and WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and SHUTTER ISLAND. But we shall see. There is always a big surprise or two. Great round-up here!
Sam, the one thing that gets me about the new Trek is that J. J. Abrams claims to have not been a fan before being asked to direct. I’m a Next Generation fan, so the Kirk backstory doesn’t interest me much, but it could be good so we’ll see. Tree of Life is shaping up to be really something else…I am much intrigued. –DHS
Not sure if it’s just a rumor, but I think Martin Scorsese has agreed to reboot the Laverne and Shirley franchise. I’m breathless with anticipation……
Horsie…oh…what fun to guess the casting on this one! I’m seing it being narrated by an elderly Squiggy played by Joe Pesci reminiscing about the good ol’ days. I see Cameron Diaz as Laverne and Angelina Jolie as Shirley…and Marty’s gonna take these gals places we never imagined. Some really dark stuff…you think I’m being funny ’bout it? –DHS
Haha. The Pesci narrative, I would love to write it.
And Bruce Springsteen could redo the theme song with real undertones…….
Pesci opens up the movie with ” Schmeeel Schmazzel, F**k That. Things weren’t the same at the factory after Laverne’s murder trial.
Make all our dreams come true ? Maybe if you didn’t owe the mob 10k for those dreams……….Shirley was on hard times and the addictions were too numerous to count.
My dear equine friend, it’s gold! Solid golid! I think we might be on to something. Quick, call Marty! –DHS
Where the Wild Things Are is gonna be one of the best movies of the year… hands down.
And District 9 has strong potential to be my favorite film this summer.
I have the same high hopes for these two films. –DHS
Great list Dave, but I’ve heard the same great things about “Trek” that Sam has. Also, I interviewed Leonard Nimoy recently, and he said it’s extraordinary. Of course, he has a bias but I’ve found him to be a straight shooter.
Forrest, I am always skeptical when all of the advanced buzz is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone wants this Trek to succeed, so much of the goodwill might be wish fulfillment. I admit it could be very good, but one can not judge a film until it has been seen by thine own eyes. –DHS
You are so right Dave. I’ll probably see it tomorrow night, so I may chime in again then.
Forrest, I look forward to your review! –DHS
Thanks, Dave, I’m really looking forward to Where the Wild Things Are. It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest books ever written! 😉
I watched the trailer and if the movie is half as good, we’ll all be delighted.
Teresa, the trailer is very impressive. I just hope the film can live up to the hype. –DHS
David, what ever happened to “The Road” and “Good”? I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting…. (smile)
Cinda, Good question! Good actually had a very limited release round here awhile back and I believe it is on DVD now. The Road is allegedly coming out in October after a long delay and some apparent studio tampering. –DHS