Film

The PopMatters Summer Movie Preview - May 2014

It's that time of the year again. Time for the days to get longer and hotter and the moviegoing experience more complicated and chaotic.

It's that time of the year again. Time for the days to get longer and hotter and the moviegoing experience more complicated and chaotic. The summer of 2014 shouldn't be any different than the past, especially when we see a May line-up including a couple of crude comedies, the return of two of Marvel's most beloved non-Avengers franchises, and a wealth of indie efforts to hopefully drag you away from the mundane mainstream and into something more substantial.

 
Director: Marc Webb

Film: The Amazing Spider-man 2

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field

MPAA rating: PG-13

Image: http://www.popmatters.com/images/blog_art/a/amazingspiderman2poster1.jpg

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2 May
The Amazing Spider-man 2

With it already out in theaters overseas and review embargos lifting left and right, the verdict is in on this second go-round for the rebooted webslinger... and it's a mixed decision to say the least. Many believe it's an improvement over the Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone original, while others point to Sam Raimi's definitive part two as proof that this revisionism has no idea how to handle the character. Whatever the eventual consensus, one thing's for sure. As the first film out of the Summer 2014 gates, Spider-Man 2 is bound to make millions. Whether it can hit Marvel's billion dollar benchmark remains to be seen.

 
Director: Amma Asante

Film: Belle

Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson

MPAA rating: PG-13

Image: http://www.popmatters.com/images/blog_art/b/belleposter.jpg

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2 May
Belle

Call it counterprogramming. Call it an opportunity for some arthouse fare to breathe during the otherwise crowded popcorn movie mania. Whatever you decide, be aware that this is a based-on-a-true story about a young black orphan raised by British aristocracy in an age of slavery and outrageous bigotry. The main thrust of the narrative revolves around the out of place noble, her treatment by her adopted family, and the reaction of those in the English uppercrust who don't shy away from their ignorance and intolerance. Early reviews call it shallow and lacking drama. Still, as an example of race in an earlier time, it could be an eye opener.

 
Director: Steven Brill

Film: Walk of Shame

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright, Ethan Suplee, Oliver Hudson, Willie Garson

MPAA rating: R

Image: http://www.popmatters.com/images/blog_art/w/walkofshameposter.jpg

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2 May
Walk of Shame

Everything's coming up Elizabeth Banks right now. She's part of the popular Hunger Games film phenomenon, was a part-time fixture on 30 Rock, and has had a multitude of movie roles, all of which has helped her land her first directing gig (Pitch Perfect 2). Opening in limited release, she's also part of Steven Brill's (Little Nicky, Drillbit Taylor) latest comedy, playing a TV talking head who gets a shot at network legitimacy. Only problem is, she's stranded miles away from the interview with no money, car, phone, or means of identification. Sounds like a female-ccentric After Hours. It also sounds right up the actress's alley.

 
Director: Prachya Pinkaew

Film: The Protector 2

Cast: Tony Jaa, RZA, Mum Jokmok, Yanin Vismitananda

MPAA rating: R

Image: http://www.popmatters.com/images/blog_art/p/protector2poster.jpg

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2 May
The Protector 2

Summer means occasionally shoving some unknown product at the Western moviegoing public, hoping something will stand out among the familiar sequels, prequels, revamps, and reimaginings. In this case, we have the second installment of a popular Thai action franchise. The first film, made more than nine years ago, focused on a young man named Kham who travels to Australia to help retrieve a stolen elephant. This time around, an animal camp owner is murdered and Kham is the chief suspect. Go in expecting coherent storytelling and Hollywood level polish and you'll be disappointed. If all you want is well choreographed fight chaos, this will satisfy your martial arts jones.

 
Director: Karl Mueller

Film: Mr. Jones

Cast: Jon Foster, Sarah Jones, Mark Steger, Faran Tahir, Stanley B. Herman

MPAA rating: R

Image: http://www.popmatters.com/images/blog_art/m/mrjonesposter.jpg

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2 May
Mr. Jones

Time for some tepid horror to go along with the city destroying and the super-heroics. What we have here is another example of the "found footage" film approach meshed with an actual narrative that comments on such a cinematic gimmick. A couple head out to a remote cabin to work on their relationship while he films a nature documentary. He then runs into a reclusive artist and things get weird? Apparently, instead of being scary, this movie wants to go all meta on Banksy and other solitary creators. Sounds... well, it sounds weird. It also sounds like it's about as frightening as a fake Picasso.

 
Director: Huck Botko

Film: Bad Johnson

Cast: Cam Gigandet, Jamie Chung, Nick Thune, Casey Tutton, Katherine Cunningham

MPAA rating: PG-13

Image: http://www.popmatters.com/images/blog_art/b/badjohnsonposter.jpg

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2 May
Bad Johnson

A womanizer, played by Cam Gigandet (whose name reminds one an elusive foreign car part) wakes up one day to discover that his penis has left his body and taken on human form. Naturally, such emasculation leads him to reform, while his walking, talking wiener gets in all kinds of trouble. Sounds like an uproarious and raunchy comedy, right? Well, according to sources, the most clever thing about this wannabe laugher is the title. Apparently, the penis calls its previous owner and asks for help, getting him in trouble with the ladies in the process -- and not in a good way. Yeesh.

 
Director: Paweł Pawlikowski

Film: Ida

Cast: Agata Trzebuchowska, Agata Kulesza , Joanna Kulig, Dawid Ogrodnik, Adam Szyszkowski, Jerzy Trela

MPAA rating: PG-13

Image: http://www.popmatters.com/images/blog_art/i/idaposter.jpg

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2 May
Ida

In a post-World War II Poland, a young nun is sent on a mission to earn her family's blessing. She discovers a deep dark secret about her parents, as well as her Aunt's role in the Stalinist regime. Hoping to find her mother and father's final resting place, she embarks on a journey that becomes a serious self-awakening. Of course, the Holocaust comes into play when our heroine discovers her Jewish heritage, but co-writer/director Paweł Pawlikowski prefers a personal approach. In fact, with its black and white cinematography and reliance on period piece panache, the end result is more like a home movie than a feature film.

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