Who am I kidding? There is only one film to rule them all this month. After you’ve seen it your fifth time or it is sold out, here are nine other choices at the theater this month. Click the synopsis for the trailer.
10.The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Turteltaub; July 14th)
Synopsis: Master sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) recruits a seemingly everyday guy (Jay Baruchel) in his mission to defend New York City from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfed Molina).
Why You Should See It: Bruckheimer tried to recreate the Pirates feel with Prince of Persia and after that failed horribly, here is his second summer attempt with a better cast, a better idea and what looks to be a lot more fun.
9. Salt (Noyce; July 23rd)
Synopsis: When CIA officer Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is called a spy by a Russian defector, she goes on the run, putting all of her experience and skills to use to elude capture, learn the truth of her identity, and hopefully clear her name.
Why You Should See It: Tracking is positive, but can this somewhat bland-looking thriller deliver? Noyce is a great director and Jolie knows action so count me on the positive side.
8. A Town Called Panic (Aubier + Patar; July 20th)
Synopsis: Animated plastic toys like Cowboy, Indian and Horse have problems, too. Cowboy and Indian’s plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they destroy his house instead. Surreal adventures take over as the trio travel to the center of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy-headed (and dishonest!) creatures live.
Why You Should See It: After writing this feature every single month for the last year and half I’ve never once had trouble filling the list, but unfortunately this month was so spare I had to reach into the DVD picks to find this one. This 2009 animation was highly overlooked, although it garnered great reviews. Now is your chance to check it out the audience award winner at Fantastic Fest 2009.
7. [Rec] 2 (Balagueró + Plaza; July 9th)
Synopsis: The action continues from [Rec], with the medical officer and a SWAT team outfitted with video cameras are sent into the sealed off apartment to control the situation.
Why You Should See It: The original is fantastic and the same team is back with this one. After mostly positive reviews, I can’t wait to see the story continue. They even have two more films in the series planned.
6. Winnebago Man (Steinbauer; July 9th)
Synopsis: Jack Rebney is the most famous man you’ve never heard of – after cursing his way through a Winnebago sales video.
Why You Should See It: Someone actually made a feature-length documentary on the viral video we all know and love. It also garnered quite positive reviews at Sundance, providing a more intimate look at something we don’t normally get; what happens after a viral explosion dies out.
5. Life During Wartime (Solondz; July 23rd)
Synopsis: Friends, family, and lovers struggle to find love, forgiveness, and meaning in a war-torn world riddled with comedy and pathos.
Why You Should See It: Todd Solondz solidified himself as the heir to John Water’s filth crown with his 1998 black comedy Happiness. The director has hit a few missteps along the way but his latest feature appears to be a return to form. He’s made a quasi-sequel to Happiness with all new actors taking over the roles from the original cast. His last feature, 2004’s Palindromes, tread similar water as a semi-sequel to his first feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse. – John L.
4. Get Low (Schneider; July 30th)
Synopsis: A movie spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about the mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who famously threw his own rollicking funeral party… while he was still alive.
Why You Should See It: I was able to catch this film at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and it is a very heartfelt film about aging, grieving and forgiveness. Robert Duvall is the best he’s been in decades and the supporting turns from Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black are stellar. This is a very unique film that will likely struggle to find an audience but those who do seek it out will be quite glad they did. – John L.
3. Predators (Antal; July 9th)
Synopsis: A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race.
Why You Should See It: Nimrod Antal has yet to live up to his excellent debut Kontroll and Predator films have yet to live up to the original. Could this be what we’ve all be waiting for? With Robert Rodriguez producing, all signs point to yes.
2. The Kids Are All Right (Cholodenko; July 9th)
Synopsis: Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their birth father into their family life.
Why You Should See It: Poised to be this summer’s big indie breakout hit, The Kids Are All Right has been gaining serious buzz since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film features Julianne Moore and Annette Benning as a lesbian couple who are reunited with the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) that fathered their two children. The film looks hilarious and hopefully it’s somewhat controversial subject matter doesn’t deter viewers. – John L.
1. Inception (Nolan; July 16th)
Synopsis: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief who specializes in the art of extraction, the stealing of secrets from a target’s subconscious. Though his profession cost him everything he has ever loved and has turned him into a fugitive, an offer for a final job — one that requires him to plant an idea instead of pilfering it — could be his chance at redemption.
Why You Should See It: One of the best directors of the decade brings together one of the best ensemble casts for one of the most original intriguing blockbusters in what seems like an eternity.
The Last Airbender (Shyamalan; July 1st)
Synopsis: Aang (Noah Ringer), a young successor to a long line of Avatars, learns that he possesses the power to engage the Fire Nation and hopefully end their century-long war against the Water, Earth, and Air nations.
Why You Should Avoid It: Paramount deserves a gold f*cking medal for marketing Shyamalan’s latest disaster. Instead of the decent blockbuster the trailers suggest, it’s looks to be worse than that. Much worse. Worse than The Happening-worst.
The Extra Man (Berman + Pulcini; July 30th)
Synopsis: A man who escorts wealthy widows in New York’s Upper East Side takes a young aspiring playwright under his wing.
Why You Should See A Matinee: The American Splendor directors are back with this new comedy featuring an impressive cast of Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, John C. Reily and Katie Holmes. It’s been riding the festival circuit after its Sundance debut to good reviews.
Despicable Me (Coffin + Renaud; July 9th)
Synopsis: A trio of orphan girls cause the normally deplorable Gru to rethink his plan to steal the moon.
Why You Should See A Matinee: I saw an early screening of this a few weeks ago and, while it had a few entertaining moments, the whole thing falls flat. The 3D was atrociously distracting and with Toy Story 3 in theaters there is just no way I can highly recommend this, unless you have strong interest.
Charlie St. Cloud (Steers; July 30th)
Synopsis: After his younger brother Sam passes away, Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) finds a way to deal with his grief by working as caretaker at the cemetery where Sam is buried. Charlie and Sam keep their bond with nightly conversations and playing catch, however, when a girl enters Charlie’s life, he struggles between remaining with Sam or pursuing real-world love.
Why You Should See A Matinee: 17 Again director Burr Steers teams up again with his star Zac Efron. While I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed that film, they look to be heading into more serious territory and I quite welcome it.
Dinner for Schmucks (Roach; July 30th)
Synopsis: Tim (Paul Rudd) is a rising executive who “succeeds” in finding the perfect guest, IRS employee Barry (Steve Carell), for his boss’s monthly event, a so-called “dinner for idiots,” which offers certain advantages to the exec who shows up with the biggest buffoon.
Why You Should See A Matinee: This remake looks like a trainwreck, but I can’t totally write it off considering the amount of talent involved. Hopefully the combo of Rudd, Carell and Galifianakis will provide some comedy.
Twelve (Schumacher; July 30th)
Synopsis: In New York City’s Upper East Side, the life of a young drug dealer begins to fall apart after his cousin is murdered and his best friend arrested for the crime.
Why You Should See A Matinee: Earlier this year Dan Mecca gave us 12 reasons why this film just may work. While Schumacher’s latest doesn’t look too great, I’m still holding out hope.
What are you seeing this month? What are you avoiding?