The PopMatters Summer Movie Preview

July 2014

by Bill Gibron

2 July 2014

We take another trip to a certain simian world, we have another experience with an annual government authorized night of lawlessness, and we get our second sighting of a mythic Greek muscleman.
 

We take another trip to a certain simian world, we have another experience with an annual government authorized night of lawlessness, and we get our second sighting of a mythic Greek muscleman.

 

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Tammy

Director: Ben Falcone
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates
2 July
Tammy

After earning an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy became the “big girl” of post-modern comedy. Her turn in Identity Thief was tolerable, her work with Sandra Bullock in The Heat much better. Now it’s time to test the waters with little more than a premise and a larger than life personality. In this film, McCarthy is the title character, a down on her luck drone who decides to take a road trip with her goofy, alcoholic grandmother (Susan Sarandon?). Interestingly enough, this is a family affair, with McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone directing and co-writing the script with his bride.

 

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Deliver Us from Evil

Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale
2 July
Deliver Us from Evil

Two years ago, writer/director Scott Derrickson took some eerie Super 8 footage, a desperate crime novelist (Ethan Hawke), and a monster known as Bughuul and created the intriguing horror film Sinister. That film was a surprise hit, landing the filmmaker a chance to make his next project, this tale of a police detective on the trail of a demon-related crime spree. It sounds promising. The trailers show both the standard scary movie ad campaigning, as well as those silly “night vision” spying on frightened audience members. The bad news then? It won’t be screened for most critics. Ouch.

 

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Earth to Echo

Director: Dave Green
Cast: Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese C. Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt
2 July
Earth to Echo

Apparently, every generation needs its own E.T. And Goonies. And Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mac and Me, and Explorers. For anyone too young to remember those films, this is the movie for you. It takes equal parts from all these efforts, places them in a blender, and then adds the “novelty” of the found footage experience to make it all seem contemporary and up to date. Sure, it’s still a slightly saccharine stranger in a strange land story, but even those who know their Spielberg from their Raffill will enjoy its combination of wonder and workmanlike storytelling.

 

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Begin Again

Director: John Carney
Cast: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, CeeLo Green, Catherine Keener
4 July
Begin Again

Once was a phenomenon in 2007. It earned critical acclaim, sizable box office returns (for an indie film) and an Academy Award. It has since been turned into a Broadway musical which won eight Tony Awards. So naturally, film fans have been wondering what writer/director John Carney would do for an encore. Well, his Zonad came and went with little fanfare, but his latest, starring Ruffalo as a down and out music exec, and Knightely as a struggling singer/songwriter that inspires him, treads familiar territory. Critics are calling it enjoyably manipulative. Hopefully, that’s a good thing.

 

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Life Itself

Director: Steve James
Cast: Robert Ebert
4 July
Life Itself

No other film critic has been idolized like Roger Ebert. Before this generation of cinephiles, he was seen as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who partnered with his Chicago rival Gene Siskel for a successful PBS movie review show. Somewhere along the line, he went from darling to deity, as this documentary on his life and influence suggests. There’s been no other member of the critical community whose received this kind of adulation and by all accounts, the film is outstanding. On the other hand, where’s the documentary for Pauline Kael? Vincent Canby? Heck, for Ebert’s equally adept partner, Siskel?

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