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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, May. 26, 2010 7 years ago

Summer smashes


Summer is upon us, and there's nothing like beating the heat in a cool, dark, movie theater. Refreshing new releases in the upcoming months will, hopefully, be just what the doctor ordered for that annual affliction: post-Oscar disorder. The following films look as though they could provide that shot-in-the-arm we cinephiles so desperately crave this time of year.


Another director not to be ignored, Phillip Noyce (“Dead Calm”), also casts a lead who all but guarantees a big box-office draw: Angelina Jolie. In the title role, Jolie plays a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy.
We know that Ms. Tomb Raider can kick butt, and the trailer demonstrates she can do it as good as, if not better than, the big boys. In fact, she replaced Tom Cruise in this espionage thriller. Mistaken-identity plots always play well with audiences. Think Jason Bourne.
The title alone of this movie (featured on the cover) was news to me. The passionate affair between these two artistic revolutionaries didn’t last long, but an entire film devoted to it has to be a huge guilty pleasure. It’s been described as a “deco delight.” Mads Mikkelsen (the villain whose eyes bled in “Casino Royale”) and Anna Mouglalis star, as Jan Kounen directs.

Billed as “cowboy noir,” Michael Winterbottom’s film is generating lots of controversy for its brutal violence and disturbing subject matter. Better yet, Casey Affleck stars as a corrupt sheriff/deranged killer. A super strong supporting cast, including Elias Koteas, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Bill Pullman, could possibly elevate this film to Oscar level. But it’s the incredibly talented Affleck who has me convinced that this will be the big summer must-see. 


A lesbian couple’s (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) two children decide to track down their anonymous sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). Given the impressive resume of director Lisa Cholodenko (“Laurel Canyon” and “High Art”) and the star power involved, this film definitely deserves attention. With all of the controversy over gay marriage, Cholodenko surprisingly opted to skip politics and, instead, concentrate on an in-depth exploration of the importance of family and long-term commitments.

This film is hailed as “a Scorsese-esque bit of violent escapism.” It charts Jacques Mesrine’s rise from a low-level thug to one of France’s most notorious criminals. Vincent Cassel is one of those gifted supporting actors who always manages to scene steal in films such as “Eastern Promises” and “Derailed.” His work in this movie has already garnered a César Award for best actor. I can’t wait to catch both parts, “Mesrine: Killer Instinct” (part one) and “Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1” (part two).
The ever-great Robert Duvall plays a 1930s recluse who decides to host his own funeral. What better way to find out what people really think of you? Sins, secrets and suspense abound in this strange yet true story set in rural Tennessee. Big draw: Bill Murray plays a disgruntled funeral director, tired of people living too long.

Patricia Clarkson is one of those actors who shines in whatever role she plays. In this film, she portrays a married workaholic magazine editor with “unrequited yearnings.” Enter her husband’s dashing former security officer (Alexander Siddig) assigned to assist her with taking in the Egyptian sights. Once again, taboo trysts take their toll. Director Ruba Nadda won the award for “Best Canadian Feature Film” at last year’s Toronto Film Festival.

Tagline: “Your mind is the scene of the crime.” Director Chris Nolan (“The Dark Knight”) isn’t revealing much about his new film in hopes of enhancing curiosity (translation: ticket sales). When one casts Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead that shouldn’t be a problem. What we do know is that “dream thieves” steal from the subconscious for corporate gain on a global scale. Trust Nolan to deliver the goods — big time.
If Tilda Swinton’s in it, I’m there. In this tale of forbidden love, Swinton plays the trophy wife of a wealthy Italian businessman. When she falls for her son’s best friend, a family’s unity is shattered. Rumors of a climax so shocking “it would have Hitchcock applauding” is more than enticing praise.

Director Todd Solondz returns to Miami to update the characters and their stories examined in “Happiness” back in 1998. Profoundly hip, Solondz boldly goes where other directors dare not. Pedophilia, race, terrorism, crack and ghosts permeate the lives of the Jordans’ disturbingly dysfunctional family. Starring Allison Janney, Shirley Henderson, Ally Sheedy and Ciarán Hinds.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir was so intoxicating that Oprah devoted an entire show to it. Now Director Ryan Murphy nabs Julia Roberts to play the author, who, after a bitter divorce, sought solace globetrotting for a year. Poor Julia put on seven pounds and had to make movie love to Javier Bardem. No predictions — this is definitely one giant chick-flick.

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