Summer of Same: August 2009

Director: Stephen Sommers
Film: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Channing Tatum, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid, ,Ray Park, Rachel Nichols
Website: http://www.gijoemovie.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-07 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/g/gijoeriseofcobraposter.jpg

7 August

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

It reads like a match made in ’80s cartoon nerd heaven — the animated action adventures of a real American hero and the mind behind the excessively guilty pleasures of The Mummy and Van Helsing. Together, something spectacular should result. But if director Stephen Sommers is guilty of anything (and his filmic rap sheet is rather large), it’s allowing his oversized imagination – and desire to depict every fragment of it onscreen — to run rough shot over elements like character, story, and believability. So far, aside from an action fueled teaser trailer and some impressive high tech warrior pics, little else is known about where the filmmaker will take this potential franchise. If it’s like his take on the classic Egyptian icon, it could be a lot of mindless fun. If it’s more like his attempted reboot of the masterful Universal monsters, on the other hand, we could be in for one of Summer 2009’s biggest disappointments. There’s really no middle ground with Sommers.


Director: Nora Ephron
Film: Julie and Julia
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Jane Lynch
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-07 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/j/julieandjuliaposter.jpg

7 August

Julie and Julia

Reteaming after the terrific Doubt, Amy Adams is a wannabe chef who decides to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking — and Meryl Streep is the legendary culinary queen herself. While we have yet to see her acting the part of America’s favorite TV show cook, he’s betting the talented actress pulls it off with her usual skilled aplomb. The big question mark here is writer/director Nora Ephron. While she did helm a pair of the best RomComs ever — When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle — her recent track record is enough to give even decided fans cause for concern. Here’s hoping this is more Michael than Mixed Nuts.


Director: Robert Rodriguez
Film: Shorts
Studio: Warner Bros.
Cast: Jon Cryer, Leslie Mann, William H. Macy, James Spader, Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings
MPAA rating: PG
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-07 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/s/shorts1.jpg

7 August

Shorts

Robert Rodriguez has been playing Hollywood outsider for so long that it’s important to remember his continuing creative output. He’s one of the few filmmakers that balances kid-oriented fare with more adult oriented efforts. For every Sin City, there’s a Spy Kids, for each Planet Terror, there’s an Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. Now comes another potential underage classic — the story of a magic rock that grants wishes, and the tiny community that goes crazy trying to get their hands on it. Some dislike the From Dusk ‘Til Dawn director reverting back to his childhood every few films, and Rodriguez does overflow the screen with CG eye candy. Still, he’s always inventive, which is more than you can say for most Hollywood children’s programming.


Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Film: When in Rome
Studio: Touchstone Films
Cast: Kristen Bell, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Will Arnett, Josh Duhamel, Don Johnson
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-07 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/w/wheninrome1.jpg

7 August

When in Rome

Mark Steven Johnson steps back from the comic book genre (he’s made Ghost Rider and Daredevil) to return to his more dramatic roots (Simon Birch). This time around, he guides Kristen Bell through an Italian travelogue about a desperate career gal and the lovers whose romances she ruins. It all involves a cockamamie scheme to steal some coins from a famed fountain and…well, you get the idea. The rest of the cast shows promise. Still, this sounds a little cloying for its own good.

14 August

Director: David R. Ellis
Film: Final Destination: Death Trip 3D
Studio: Warner Bros.
Cast: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Krista Allen, Jackson Walker
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/f/finaldestination4poster.jpg

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14 August

Final Destination: Death Trip 3D

With 3D horror clearly the new fear fad (isn’t that right, My Bloody Valentine???), it’s no surprise that this fourth go-around for the Grim Reaper splatter satire is using the added dimensions of the format to refuel the franchise. While the first film used a more meaningful combination of suspense and Rube Goldberg-like gore, the remaining sequels have stuck to the slaughter and very little else. The NASCAR based set up at least taps into something different, though it might be hard to top Part 2’s horrific car crash opening, and it must be getting harder and harder to turn coincidence and circumstance into a killing spree. Still this has been one of the more amusing fright franchises, and the added appeal of 3D makes it a theatrical must-see. Final Destination: Death Trip 3D

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Film: District 9
Studio: Sony
Cast: William Allen Young, Jason Cope, Sharlto Copley, Kenneth Nkosi, David James, Venessa Haywood
Website: http://d-9.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/d/district9poster.jpg

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14 August

District 9

For fans still fuming over how the Peter Jackson produced adaptation of videgame fave Halo was treated by Universal, here’s the next best thing – a sci-fi film based on writer/director Neil Blomkamp’s political allegory about illegal extraterrestrials hiding out in South Africa. The original short, entitled Alive in Joburg, has an eerie, ‘you are there’ quality, and the Kiwi mastermind behind the Lord of the Rings phenomenon promises more of the same here. This might just be the Summer 2009 effort to watch out for. District 9

Director: Todd Graff
Film: Bandslam
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Cast: Gaelan Connell, Alyson Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Scott Porter, Lisa Kudrow
Website: http://bandslam-movie.com/
MPAA rating: PG
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/b/bandslam.jpg

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14 August

Bandslam

The poster looks like a reject from Camp High School Musical Rock, and fledgling filmmaker Todd Graff appears to be re-mining territory he covered in his 2003 tale, Camp. Still, with a hot young cast including HSM’s Vanessa Hudgens and a surprise cameo from David Bowie (an influence of the characters in the film), this might be able to tap into the wannabe wishes of a Guitar Hero heavy populace.

Bandslam

14 August

Director: Ang Lee
Film: Taking Woodstock
Studio: Focus Features
Cast: Demetri Martin, Jonathan Groff, Eugene Levy, Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Website: http://www.facebook.com/TakingWoodstock
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/t/takingwoodstockposter.jpg

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14 August

Taking Woodstock

Before he became the bane of every Marvel Superhero geek’s existence, Ang Lee made complex films about intriguing people and unique places. Thankfully, he’s returning to said territory with this terrific looking take on the seminal concert experience of the 1960s. Woodstock will forever be known as the moment when the Peace Movement found its final freak flag statement, and looking at what Lee has done with the supposedly true story of a small town motel owner instrumental in getting the festival to upstate New York, he’s apparently hit a home run. While there will always be cynics who see any celebration of the ’60s as rose-colored revisionist history, the genial spirit wafting through the recently released trailer suggests something magical. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Lee.

Taking Woodstock

Director: Davis Guggenheim
Film: It Might Get Loud
Studio: Sony Classics
Cast: Jimmy Page, The Edge, Jack White
Website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/itmightgetloud/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/i/itmightgetloudposter.png

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14 August

It Might Get Loud

The rock guitar – the standard bearer for every failed and/or wannabe musicians superstardom dreams. Davis Guggenheim, a TV director turned Oscar winning documentarian (he helmed Al Gore’s global warming exposé An Inconvenient Truth) is turning his attention on the ever-present artist axe and he’s bringing six-string experts The Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jack White (The White Stripes) along for the ride. Sounds intriguing, especially for those of us less enamored with the new school of auto-tune technology. It Might Get Loud

Director: Nicholas Jasenovec
Film: Paper Heart
Studio: Overture Films
Cast: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/p/paperheart1.jpg

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14 August

Paper Heart

She was the hilarious Jodi, the stoner gal pal of beard bet participant Martin in the classic Knocked Up. Now Charlyne Yi is taking on the post-modern concept of romance in her documentary style comedy co-starring Superbad‘s Michael Cera. Those looking for more Friend of Apatow facets will need to focus elsewhere. This wry, observant take on love was a Sundance smash, and while it does contain a few familiar ex-Freaks and Geeks faces, Yi’s take on this material (with help from director/co-writer Nicholas Jasenovec) is all her own, and it looks really wonderful.

Paper Heart

14 August

Director: Robert Schwentke
Film: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Studio: Warner Bros.
Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Jane McLean, Stephen Tobolowsky, Arliss Howard
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/t/thetimetravelerswife1.jpg

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14 August

The Time Traveler’s Wife

German director Robert Schwentke follows up his surprise suspense thriller hit from 2005, the Jodie Foster vehicle Flightplan, with this tantalizing take on Audrey Niffenegger’s fascinating novel about a man with a predisposition toward traveling through time. Apparently it’s genetic, and the title character must deal with his frequent absences and the dangers that result from his visits through the continuum. Originally purchased by then couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, the final casting finds the busy Eric Bana as the man with the daunting DNA and Rachel McAdams as his somewhat understanding spouse. The last time something like this worked, it was written by Richard Matheson and called Somewhere in Time. Gimmickry does not necessarily make convincing drama, and this all sounds so high concept. Still, Niffenegger’s book had some fascinating undercurrents. Here’s hoping Schwentke added a few to the standard cinematic formulas. The Time Traveler’s Wife

Director: Vicky Jenson
Film: The Post Grad Survival Guide
Studio: Fox Atomic
Cast: Alexis Bledel, Jane Lynch, Michael Keaton, Carol Burnett, Zach Gilford
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/p/postgradsurvivalguideposter.jpg

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14 August

The Post Grad Survival Guide

What to do when the real world comes calling? That’s the plight of every matriculating college kid. Thankfully, Alexis Bledel of The Gilmore Girls and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is on hand to offer this take on how to make it through the post-graduation blues. Of course, there’s an eccentric family to return to, as well as the mandatory manhunt to live through. Through it all, Shrek and Shark Tale director Vicky Jenson brings some of her animation sensibilities to Kelly Fremon’s far too familiar live action script. A clear case of “wait and see”, though here’s betting the release get bumped to a less “commercial” climate.

The Post Grad Survival Guide

Director: David Twohy
Film: A Perfect Getaway
Studio: Universal
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Marley Shelton, Steve Zahn
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/p/perfectgetaway.jpg

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14 August

A Perfect Getaway

Another unknown quantity as Summer skips merrily toward Fall. Writer/director David Twohy, best known for his horror efforts Pitch Black and Below has crafted a new thriller about a pair of lovers who come face to face with a murderous group of killers while vacationing in Hawaii. It sounds so Turistas it’s not even funny. Still, this is the filmmaker who was once championed as a possible macabre master. Unfortunately, the release date has been bumped a couple of times, with a direct to DVD plan plotted and then rejected.

A Perfect Getaway

Director: Neal Brennan
Film: The Goods: The Don Ready Story
Studio: Paramount Vantage
Cast: Jeremy Piven, Jordana Spiro, Ving Rhames, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Kathryn Hahn
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-14 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/t/thegoodsdonready.jpg

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14 August

The Goods: The Don Ready Story

We’re not exactly sure of this film’s title. Some sites have it listed with the moniker above. Others use The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard as the official name. Whatever the case, Entourage‘s Jeremy Pevin recuperates from his recent bout with Mercury poisoning long enough to play a used car liquidator desperate to turn a failing dealership around. A special July 4th promotion just might do the trick. Some have resorted to calling this film Extreme Used Cars, in reference to the Kurt Russell/Robert Zemeckis cult comedy from 1980. Apparently, it is all in the name. The Goods: The Don Ready Story

28 August

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Film: Inglorious Basterds
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Brühl, B. J. Novak, Til Schweiger, Diane Kruger
Website: http://inglouriousbasterds-movie.com/#/trailer-us
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-21 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/i/inglouriousbasterdsposter.jpg

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21 August

Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino is like an obsessive-compulsive kid with ADD. One moment, he’s bemoaning the many projects he can’t get off the ground, the next he’s knee deep in the production of another one of his homage heavy masterworks. For the longest time he’s been bellyaching about being unable to make his dream epic — a balls out, violence heavy World War II example of ‘Grunt’ Guignol. Now, Inglorious Basterds is about to compete at the Cannes Film Festival. This tale of a group of Jewish American soldiers in France, hand picked to spread terror amongst the occupying forces of Nazi Germany, has everything Tarantino could want — history, bombast, machismo, potential cinematic references, a killer cast, and more excuses for blood and bedlam than Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs combined. While some were disappointed with his last effort – the Grindhouse bound Death Proof — here’s betting he’s back in the geek’s good graces with this gore-laced love letter to the brutality of war.

Inglorious Basterds

Director: Rob Zombie
Film: H2: Halloween 2
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Matt Bush, Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif, Tyler Mane, Danielle Harris, Sheri Moon Zombie
Website: http://www.halloween2-movie.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-28 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/h/halloween2poster.jpg

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28 August

H2: Halloween 2

Nothing is more satisfying that being one of the few voices of reason during an otherwise marginalized film’s first few weeks of release. While this critic championed Rob Zombie’s first foray into John Carpenter’s classic slasher mythos back in 2007, he was one of a rare few. Many decided to defend the original post-modern master of suspense, letting fandom fuel what were typically one-note judgments. Now, in the light of a DVD release day, there are more appreciators of Zombie’s reinvention of the Michael Myers legend than legitimate haters. Now, after initially vowing not to return to the franchise, Zombie is back, preparing to take the masked spree killer into territory both fresh and familiar with this hospital based showdown. The trailer looks especially brutal, and as the mind behind The Devil’s Rejects, this is one director who understands the nasty. Here’s hoping that, with the bellyaching over “trodding on tradition” done with, audiences give this film an unbiased look.

H2: Halloween 2

Director: Richard Curtis
Film: The Boat That Rocked
Studio: Universal
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Sturridge, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost
Website: http://www.theboatthatrocked.co.uk/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-08-28 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/b/boatthatrockedrposter.jpg

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28 August

The Boat That Rocked

1960s pirate radio circa Swinging London. A cast that includes Rhys Ifans, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost, and Bill Nighy. The writer behind such feel good hits as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually (which he also directed). So far reviews have been good to mixed, with the large company being pointed out for much of the praise/problems. As long as the music stays true to the context, this could be a genuine jukebox gem. Still, there’s more than enough room for error here, especially among die-hards in ‘tune’ with the era.

The Boat That Rocked

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