The PopMatters Summer Movie Preview - May 2014

by Bill Gibron

2 May 2014

 

MAY 30

 

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Maleficent

Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville
30 May
Maleficent


Time to confess a bit of personal bias, this critic loves the character of Maleficent and hates the idea of Angelina Jolie playing her. Now, this actress is not a member of my “cinematic Kryptonite”, but the idea of taking a sensational, one-off villain and building a CG heavy mythology and backstory for her, and then casting one of the planet’s most identifiable actresses in the role, just reeks of pandering and a creative cash grab. Still, Disney may be able to prove me wrong. I did enjoy their Oz overhaul, but Sam Raimi was behind the lens. This time around, the guy who worked on the F/X for that film, Robert Stromberg, is in charge.

 

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A Million Ways to Die in the West

Director: Seth Macfarlane
Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi
30 May
A Million Ways to Die in the West


Seth MacFarlane had a surprise hit with his talking toy comedy Ted. Now he wants to take on the old West in a hard R spoof that will have to struggle to survive comparisons to the ultimate cowpoke comedy, Blazing Saddles. Granted, the light from Mel Brooks’ genius would take several millennia to reach Mr. Family Guy, but he can be funny when he wants and the trailer indicates he plans on being very humorous indeed. And when you’ve got such unexpected stars as Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron in the cast, this could be more than just some crude, lewd laugher. Or perhaps not.

 

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Filth

Director: Jon S. Baird
Cast: James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Shirley Henderson
30 May
Filth


Filth is based on a novel by Irvine Welsh, the writer responsible for a little heard of novel called Trainspotting. While his output has been uneven, and fans are still eager for a Spotting sequel, if this is anything like its far more famous literary cousin, we could be in for quite a time. James McAvoy plays a demonic dervish of a police officer. To call him a “bad lieutenant” would be an understatement. As part of his daily routine, he indulges in “games” against his coworkers. As he starts to investigate the murder of a Japanese student, he slowly starts to lose his sanity.

 

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Night Moves

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
30 May
Night Moves


Three environmentalist plot to blow up a dam. What takes place is more morality play than edge of your seat thriller, which is apparently what director Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) and her co-writer Jonathan Raymond have in mind. They are more curious about the reasons for this radical action than the deed itself. Considering how good their previous films are, it’s a safe bet that this will be equally engaging, with a timely pro-Green message to boot. On the other hand, one fears this getting lost in the Summer season bedlam. Sometimes, it’s the indie efforts that have more impact than the F/X epics.

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