Hot Stuff: The PopMatters Summer 2012 Movie Preview (June)

June arrives on full film fire, with a new one from Pixar, a look at a Presidential monster killer, and Ridley Scott's return to a certain extraterrestrial franchise...

Director: Rupert Sanders

Film: Snow White and the Huntsman

Cast: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane

MPAA rating: PG-13


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1 June
Snow White and the Huntsman

Just last month, we got to see the veiled visual splash of Tarsem's take on the formidable fairy tale. It was all light and airy and snarky. Now comes the serious, and though some of the elements exceed expectations (Charlize Theron looks incredible as the evil queen), a first time director and the presence of the inert Kristen Stewart should give any potential viewer pause. Indeed, filmmaker Rupert Sanders has no clear credits to his name, and while the trailer speaks volumes to his own unique eye, movies do not work on optics alone. Just ask the man who made Mirror, Mirror.

Director: John Gulager

Film: Piranha 3DD

Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Gary Busey, Christopher Lloyd, David Hasselhoff

MPAA rating: R


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1 June
Piranha 3DD

After Alexandre Aja reinvented the moldy old Roger Corman 'classic' as a splatterific gore fest, fans were eager to see where the money-mandated sequel would go. Turns out, a water park was the answer. While the delays in release don't guarantee a good time (studios don't hold off on releasing something they think will burn up the box office), the presence of Feast director John Gulager (son of Clu and previously featured on Project Greenlight) assures that most of the genre requirements will be met. And since he's listed in the credits, we're still trying to figure out how Ving Rhames' deputy survived for this installment.

Director: Chris Stokes

Film: Battlefield America

Cast: Gary Sturgis, Tristen M. Carter, Marques Houston, Kida Burns, Zach Balandres, Camren Bicondova, Edward Mandell, Kyle Brooks

MPAA rating: PG-13


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1 June
Battlefield America

Writer/director/music entrepreneur Chris Stokes introduced the street smart slang and underground dance dynamic with his You Got Served. Now, he's returning to the source of his first success (after a couple of oddball horror films) to discuss the disenfranchised and... you guessed it, the fine art of body rocking. The story is stereotypical (wealthy man brings together a group of misfits and then hires a headstrong instructor to teach them the ways of the dance world), but one envisions some remarkable moves come show time. Besides, the generic nature of the narrative allows for more pizzazz for the parts people really care about (read: fancy footwork).

Director: William Friedkin

Film: Killer Joe

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple

MPAA rating: R


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1 June
Killer Joe

Wow, who knew the man who made The Exorcist and The French Connection was still trying to make viable cinematic statements. With Bug a distant memory (2007, to be exact) and the lack of a legitimate hit since 1994's Blue Chips, the once important auteur is in desperate need of a critical reboot. This may not be the movie to right his reputation. Already struggling with an NC-17 rating (for excessive violence and brutality), this tale of a murderer meeting up with a young man who wants his mother dead sounds promising. Sadly, it looks like Friedkin went for gratuity instead of greatness.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

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