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Film

25 July

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Hercules

Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, John Hurt
25 July
Hercules

It’s the Rock to the rescue, especially after the mediocre mythologizing of the famed strongman at the hands of Renny Harlin a few months back. Heck, we’d take the muddled Mr. Olympia facade of Steve Reeves over Kellan Lutz any day. Sadly, the choice of director here, Brett Ratner, doesn’t bode well. Peplum needs someone who can moderate between the needs of the narrative and the inherent cheese in the genre. Ratner doesn’t appear to be that man. Still, Dwayne Johnson is incredibly charismatic onscreen and audiences adore him. This will be popular, if not particularly memorable.


 

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Lucy

Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Mason Lee
25 July
Lucy

Scarlett Johansson as a superhero? Whodathunkit? Well, how about The Avengers, where the stunningly beautiful actress has been kicking villain booty as Russian assassin Black Widow / Natasha Romanoff. Well, Luc Besson wants to cash in on her action heroine cred, and so he’s come up with another of his patented genre knock-offs. This time, our heroine is a drug mule accidentally infected with the product she is supposed to smuggle. Suddenly, instead of ten percent of her brain, she can access all 100 percent. Car chases and beatdowns ensue as our lead levitates objects, instantly memorizes anything she wants, and psyches herself out of any pain or discomfort… OK.


 

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Magic in the Moonlight

Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Erica Leerhsen, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney
25 July
Magic in the Moonlight

Woody Allen. Late period Woody Allen. Late period Woody Allen working in Europe. Late period Woody Allen working in Europe for a film set in the Roaring ‘20s. If that’s not enough to make you shrug your shoulders over the former amazing auteur’s annual cinematic statement, nothing will. Apparently, Colin Firth is a magician hired to discredit a psychic, played by Emma Stone. Complications ensue. Allen has been on a bit of a role recently. He won an Oscar for Midnight in Paris and helped Cate Blanchett bag another Academy Award, as well. Still, this sounds like standard Allen placeholder piffle.


 

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A Most Wanted Man

Director: Anton Corbijn
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Brühl, Nina Hoss, Robin Wright
25 July
A Most Wanted Man

John le Carre is the grand old man of the British espionage thriller. From The Spy Who Came In from the Cold to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, he’s developed a literary canon unmatched by most in his field. This latest adaptation, by music video genius Anton Corbjin, features one of the final performances of the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and centers around a German agent and his secret, underground anti-terrorism group. Constantly clashing with local police, tensions rise even further when an Eastern European immigrant is brutally beaten. To say anymore would be giving away the storyline’s secrets.


 

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Very Good Girls

Director: Naomi Foner
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin, Peter Sarsgaard, Clark Gregg
25 July
Very Good Girls

We liked this better when it was called Foxes. Or was that Little Darlings? Whatever. The plot here finds two besties—Lilly (Dakota Fanning) and Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen)—making a pre-college pact to lose their virginity over one sun-dappled Summer at the beach. Naturally, they both fall for the same fertile hunk and their friendship status is tested. The notion of girls going gonzo for a little pre-secondary school sex was a ripe post-feminist subject back in the ‘70s and ‘80s (see the aforementioned references). Now, it sounds a bit… trashy? Let’s just hope it’s more smart than slutty.


 

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Happy Christmas

Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg, Mark Webber
25 July
Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg is back with another potentially endearing mumblecore subgenre film. This time around, Anna Kendrick is his younger sister, coming to live with him and his doting wife (Melanie Lynskey). Naturally, the newcomer detonates a psychological bomb within the less than nuclear family, causing strife between the formerly happily marrieds. With his acting profile (Proxy, The Sacrament, You’re Next) threatening to dampen his work behind the lens, it’s good to see Swanberg back and in control of his content. When he’s good, he’s very good. When he’s mediocre, he still finds intriguing things to say about his subjects.


Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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