The PopMatters Summer Movie Preview - August 2013

by Bill Gibron

31 July 2013

 

23 August...

 

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The World’s End

Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
23 August
The World’s End

First they took on the horror genre. Then they tackled the over the top bombast of the American action film. Now director Edgar Wright and his partners in satiric crime, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, are giving science fiction a run for its money in a bizarre combination of pub crawl and The Stepford Wives. Having already opened overseas, the comedy is receiving raves, which is typical for this talented triptych. On the other hand, Wright’s films don’t always fare well at the box office (right, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World?) and Universal’s decision to release it so late in the season means they either hope it’s a sleeper hit, or have little faith in its financial prospects.

 

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Lily Collins
23 August
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

There should be a concrete rule in Hollywood when it comes to attempted franchises forged out of popular young adult novels: if someone as clueless as yours truly has never heard of it, it probably won’t work. After all, you’re tapping into an eager zeitgeist, not trying to create and then capitalize on same. About the only example where this didn’t work out so well was Lemony Snicket. Otherwise, the vast majority of movies like this must rely on crossover, and while the books have been popular, they’re not Harry Potter popular. Of course, the notion of adolescents with special powers might win over a few of the uninformed.

 

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You’re Next

Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Barbara Crampton, Wendy Glenn
23 August
You’re Next

At the beginning of the summer we had the surprise hit The Purge which centered on a dystopian future where, one night a year, all crime was legal. The resulting home invasion effort took its $3 million and has raked in almost $80 million since. We don’t think this similarly themed film will follow suit. For one, it’s being vastly undersold by its studio, Lionsgate. Secondly, director Adam Weingart’s genre resume is a bit wobbly at best (his efforts for V/H/S and V/H/S/ 2 were some of the worst in those otherwise excellent horror anthologies). On the other hand, the film has received decent notices (mostly from the typical dread-oriented websites, though).

 

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The Grandmaster

Director: Wong Kar-wai
Cast: Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Zhao Benshan, Song Hye-kyo, Wang Qingxiang
23 August
The Grandmaster

Chinese cinema is currently OBSESSED with Ip Man, the martial arts master who would teach Bruce Lee all he knows about kung fu. There’s an already established franchise under the iconic instructor’s name, and now Wong Kar-wai—that’s right, Wong Kar-wai of My Blueberry Nights, In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, and 2046—is tackling the subject. Bringing famed fight choreographer and wire-fu expert Yuen Woo-ping along to handle the histrionics, the results have been praised as both visually stunning and cinematically exciting. Others have found the characterizations wanting. Still, just to see what Wong does with this material would be worth the price of a ticket.

 

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Frozen Ground

Director: Scott Walker
Cast: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, 50 Cent, Vanessa Hudgens
23 August
Frozen Ground

Nicolas Cage where have you been? Between 2009 and 2012, you made 12 films. Since then, only three? What’s wrong? Paychecks not profitable enough? You’ve started paying attention to the scripts you’re selecting? Whatever it is, it’s good to have you back buddy, and this oddball police procedural seems right up your alley. Cage is an Alaskan cop who partners with the survivor of a serial killer to track and capture the madman. And who is this Hannibal Lecter wannabe? Why, none other than that bastion of bad behavior and evil acumen, John Cusack? First timer Scott Walker wrote and directed this, so we’ll cut the guy some slack. As long as Nick goes gonzo, we’re sold.

 

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Drinking Buddies

Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston
23 August
Drinking Buddies

Many might known writer/director Joe Swanberg from films like Hannah Takes the Stairs, Kissing on the Mouth, and Uncle Kent. He is the king of what’s been called the “microbudget” indie film. Now he tackles the tale of two Chicago brewery workers—Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson)—who are clearly meant for each other. The only problem is, both are betrothed to others. She is with Chris (Ron Livingston) while he has a gal pal (Anna Kendrick) who is desperate to get married. One imagines many pseudo-mumblecore complications ensue. We’ll just call this one a “catch it on cable” offering and move on.

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