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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

11 Movies to See This Summer

It’s funny how, as I’ve gotten older, the “thrill” of summer movies aren’t what they used to be. I remember counting down the days until I got Entertainment Weekly’s Summer Movie Preview and reading every story about every film, marking the magazine up with check marks, all the films that I wanted to see immediately if not sooner.

I always fancied myself as something of a film snob, but I still get a little bit of the same thrill when I see previews for a glossy, big-budget Hollywood summer flick. The realist in me knows that films like Clash of the Titans are going to be dreck, but my heart remains hopeful that I’ll be thrilled in some way. Unfortunately, special effects just don’t set my heart on fire anymore; nothing can take the place of a good story.

So, I’ve looked at the calendar for the next four months and picked out the ten films I’m most excited to see this summer. I’ll be right about some, wrong about others, but that is the joy of going to the movies: the thrill of finding out whether something meets your expectations. As always, release dates are subject to change.

Iron Man 2 (Dir. Jon Favreau) – May 7th

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Iron Man. I thought it was a slick, fun package and it delivered exactly what it set out to do, which was to entertain everyone for a couple of hours. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s got a great lead performance from Robert Downey, Jr. and some great effects. The last half hour is excruciatingly awful, but I can forgive it because of everything that came before. Although, it seems to be a problem with most superhero films; the build is great, exciting and fresh and then it all ends with some kind of boring showdown that lasts too long. Watching two big robots fight for twenty minutes is not that exciting. And it seems that the filmmakers behind these films think that the longer the fight lasts, the cooler it is.

It also seems like with each installment in a superhero film, the filmmakers find the need to add more bad guys. Apparently one bad guy isn’t enough. But what happens is that we can’t focus on the story of our hero versus this one villain. Instead, we have the storylines of two or more villains swirling about and then the story of our hero’s journey in the latest installment. As a result, most sequels to superhero films lack focus because it’s hard to find an organic way to integrate all of these storylines that are based not on a need to drive the plot forward, but on a need to sell merchandise.

Regardless, the preview for this one looks fun. Although I wish Downey would use his success to get smaller pictures off the ground instead of being the go-to guy for every Hollywood franchise that wants to be a little bit eccentric (like Johnny Depp), he still remains a charming and charismatic screen presence.  I’m excited to see how Favreau juggles Downey, Paltrow, Rourke, Cheadle and Johansson. And really, no matter how terrible a movie looks, if it’s the first “big” movie of the summer – like this one is – it’s hard to keep me away.

MacGruber (Dir. Jorma Taccone) – May 21st

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think SNL’s MacGruber skit is hilarious and those who think it’s idiotic. I am firmly in the former camp.

I watch SNL every single weekend. Luckily, with the aid of DVR, I no longer have to be a nerd who stays home on Saturdays in order to watch it. I’ve seen almost every SNL episode for the last ten years and have seen many of the ones in the previous decade. I love SNL. Yes, I know, it stopped being funny years ago, blah blah blah. SNL has always been a hit or miss affair. Sometimes it misses the mark badly and frustratingly, but sometimes it’s hilarious and game-changing for the comedic world. Love it or hate it, SNL is an interesting barometer for what’s happening in comedy and it still remains a fertile breeding ground for comedic talent. This year’s cast is especially talented, with Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Jenny Slate, Abby Elliott, Seth Meyers, and a whole host of others. But for the past few years I’ve thought one person was just about the most hilarious and irreverent and underrated cast member.

Will Forte.

There’s something about Will Forte that just makes me laugh and I think a lot of it has to do with his skill at staying completely in character. He seems to have a total commitment to whatever it is he’s doing, whether it’s a nerdy office worker trying to talk his co-workers into a threesome or the closer organizer trying to catch water and dirt or singing his heart out in the Bon Jovi “opposite band” Jon Bovi.  He’s hysterical to me. And I love MacGruber.

MacGruber is a character based on MacGyver, except he’s terrible at his job. There are usually three or so short skits that run throughout the course of the show, involving MacGruber trying to defuse a bomb and failing miserably. Meanwhile, there’s usually another thread happening, like his drug problem or his son’s homosexuality, that plays itself out as the timer counts down to zero. Check out some of the clips on Hulu if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, MacGruber plus Val Kilmer – someone I’ll always have a soft spot for – equals me at the theater on opening day. Can’t wait.

Sex and the City 2 (Dir. Michael Patrick King) – May 28th

This is a tough one for me. While I was a fan of the show’s earlier seasons, I think the last few seasons and the last film essentially killed the characters.  The last movie had the characters acting completely at odds with what the show had spent years trying to build. Suddenly, Steve cheats on Miranda, despite the show beating us over the head with the idea that Steve would never do such a thing because he’s so head over heels for her. Carrie has become more and more of a despicable person that is absolutely impossible to root for.

In the beginning of the series, she was charming and focused on her relationships. In the last film, she cares about nothing except materialism. Samantha and Charlotte are caricatures of themselves. Charlotte spent the last film doing nothing but screaming and Samantha kept “surprising” everyone with her visits from LA every ten minutes until it wasn’t that surprising anymore. Oh, and a show that was supposed to be about how single women shouldn’t be judged and that it’s acceptable to be a single woman in your thirties ultimately became a series about how women need men to be happy.

Yet, I feel like since I’ve seen every episode of the show and seen the last film, I have to see the new movie.  I’m sure it’ll just be the final shovelful of dirt on the coffin that was the show’s original conceit, but I can’t miss the funeral.

Toy Story 3 (Dir. Lee Unkrich) – – June 18th

I can no longer doubt the Pixar folks.

When I first heard that Toy Story 3 was in the works, I thought it sounded like nothing more than a cash grab (which, it very well might be). But even if it is, I have faith that the Pixar people will still make it something better than average because that’s what they do. The closest Pixar has come to making a bad film was Cars, which was perfectly decent. So, if somehow Toy Story 3 isn’t up to snuff, it’ll be the biggest surprise of the summer, as it will be the first misstep Pixar would have made.

But, I doubt that will happen. The first two Toy Story films laid the groundwork with compelling characters and real emotions, despite the fact that the films were about toys that could talk and move and all that jazz.  So if the newest installment just continues to allow those great characters to roam about in the world that’s been created already, then it should at least be two hours well spent.

Knight and Day (Dir. James Mangold) – June 25th

I am an unabashed Tom Cruise fan.  I think his acting has been unfairly maligned for two reasons: 1) he’s a good looking guy and 2) he’s apparently a bit unhinged. But I have always been pretty good at compartmentalizing these things. If someone is a great actor or filmmaker, then I don’t really care what they do off-screen. And if I do care, I don’t let it affect how I look at their work. Sometimes the greatest artists are also the most fucked up people, which helps them create their art. I might not want to hang out with Tom Cruise, but I love watching him on the screen because he’s a great actor. That’s right, I said he’s a great actor.

If you disagree, then I would ask that you watch Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut, Jerry Maguire, and Collateral.  Oh, and when you’re done with that, please watch Risky Business, Vanilla Sky, The Firm, A Few Good Men, and Rain Man. You might have issues with the movies, which definitely have their faults, or you might say that some of them aren’t “high art,” but I dare you to find a flaw with any one of the performances given by Cruise. He commands the screen and he does so with panache. He’s a great actor that happens to be a movie star.

I think James Mangold is a serviceable director. He’s never made anything I’ve outright hated, but he hasn’t made a film I’ve loved either. And I think Cameron Diaz suffers from the same problems that Cruise has, because she’s pretty damn good too when she wants.  Just watch Being John Malkovich, Gangs of New York, or In Her Shoes. Unfortunately, she has a few too many films like What Happens in Vegas on her resume, overshadowing her undeniable talent.

Okay, so this film has two charismatic stars in an action comedy. And Cruise has always done well with comedy and I’m excited to see him given the chance to finally, once again, carry a comedic film.  I doubt that this is going to be a film for the ages, but it the preview makes it look like the perfect summer film, much the same way that Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a few summers ago. Fun, loud, funny, entertaining, with two beautiful leads. Sign me up.

(When it turns out to be atrociously awful, please feel free to copy and paste the last few paragraphs e-mail it to me with taunts. I give you my permission.)

Inception (Dir. Christopher Nolan) – July 16th

Even if you weren’t a fan of The Dark Knight (and I wasn’t), this has to be everyone’s most anticipated film of the summer, right?  Besides the fact that Nolan is an incredibly talented filmmaker, there’s the cast that consists of Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, and the triumphant return of Tom Berenger. So, before there’s anything else revealed, I’m already on board.

Which is a good thing because nothing else has really been revealed. The plot of the film has been kept closely under wraps. What we know is that the film takes place in a future where people can invade each other’s dreams in order to get information. So it’s sort of like The Matrix by way of Luis Bunuel. Which sounds pretty awesome to me. And that trailer looks insane.

My one worry is that when any film or novel deals with dreams, you’re entering very tricky territory.  Kubrick and Bunuel were experts at navigating the world of dreams, but the problem that is easy to run into is this: 1) nobody cares about other people’s dreams and 2) dreams don’t really matter.  That second part is crucial.  Dreams have no consequence because what happens in a dream doesn’t have an effect on our real lives, not really anyway.  I’m guessing there will be a few “dream sequences” in this film and the hard part is to make those scenes matter in a real way.  Anything can happen in a dream, so our natural inclination is to shrug everything off as “oh, well, it’s just a dream, who cares?”  But hopefully the concept that Nolan has will help these dreams have some stakes.

I have the confidence in Nolan and DiCaprio and the enormous budget that we’ll be seeing something pretty epic.

Dinner for Schmucks (Dir. Jay Roach) – July 23rd

I love Paul Rudd and Steve Carell.  Individually, they are both fun to watch but combined, they are terrific. Watching the two of them riff off one another was one of the greatest joys of watching Anchorman and The 40 Year Old Virgin. There’s something about the two of them, with Rudd’s sarcasm and Carell’s deadpan, that just works so well and so effortlessly. When we watch the two of them interact in those films, it just feels natural and organic and there’s no forced chemistry. And now, with Dinner for Schmucks, that rapport will be front and center.

The film is a remake of a French film that I never saw, but the plot follows an executive (Rudd) who is invited to a dinner party by his boss where the goal is to see who can bring the biggest idiot. And Steve Carell plays that idiot. And Zach Galifiniakis plays another idiot, I’m guessing.

For me, that’s all I need. That logline and those actors either have you opting in or out.  And considering how much I love the actors, I’m in.

Salt (Dir. Phillip Noyce) – July 23rd

Angelina Jolie is a terrific actress, capable of giving gripping and haunting performances like the ones she gave in Changeling and A Mighty Heart.  But it seems that what Jolie really longs for is to be an action star. With the Tomb Raider films, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Wanted on her resume, Jolie seems intent on being one of the world’s biggest action stars.  That’s no small feat for a woman to do.  We’re used to Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone saving the planet and we’re okay with Matt Damon kicking some ass as Jason Bourne, but Angelina Jolie?  Apparently, we’re cool with that too.

I’m not really a fan of when Jolie does these action movies because I find films like Wanted to be excruciating to sit through. But Salt doesn’t seem to be a typical action film, instead it seems to be going for something more in the Bourne vein, where there are great action scenes that are integral to pushing the plot forward, rather than a plot that is structured around action set pieces.

Phillip Noyce is one of those action directors who isn’t afraid to inject some politics into his films, like in his masterful The Quiet American or Rabbit-Proof Fence.  Even his Val Kilmer vehicle The Saint is about the political ramifications of cold-fusion.  That gives me hope that this film, about a CIA officer who is accused of being a Russian spy, will be more than just the typical summer action flick.

The Adjustment Bureau (Dir. George Nolfi) – July 30th

I’ve made no secret of my man-crush on Matt Damon. I think he’s one of the top five mainstream actors today and aside from just being good at his job, he always seems to pick films that are just a little bit out of the ordinary. He’s not afraid to take risks, like gaining a ton of weight for a satire (The Informant) or playing a lead role quietly and subtly (like his masterful work in The Good Shepherd). He’s also got a knack for choosing quality scripts with talented filmmakers. This isn’t a guy who is just out to make some money and some shitty films. Matt Damon is an actor that seems to care about his output and his legacy as an actor.

The Adjustment Bureau will hopefully be a return to form after the hiccup of Green Zone and the beginning of a hopefully stellar year for Damon (which also includes the Clint Eastwood flick Hereafter and the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit).  The Adjustment Bureau is based on a Philip K. Dick story about a politician (Damon) that meets a beautiful and mysterious ballerina (Emily Blunt). It’s described on IMDb as being a Romance/Sci-fi film, although it’s hard to discern where the science fiction aspect would come in, having not read the story.  Either way, a romantic sci-fi film with Damon and Blunt, based on a Dick story sounds like it’s worth a shot.

Eat Pray Love (Dir. Ryan Murphy) – August 13th

I have a soft spot for films about characters taking journeys across the country or around the world while also going on a spiritual journey.  I like to see the beautiful locales in far-flung places that I might never visit for the same reason that I enjoy watching the Travel Channel.  There’s a wish-fulfillment aspect of seeing a film that has a character doing what you wish you were doing, whether it’s Russell Crowe running a vineyard in France in A Good Year or Diane Lane moving to Italy in Under the Tuscan Sun, I just enjoy seeing beautiful people in beautiful places. It’s one of the joys of going to the movies.

I didn’t read the book this is based on and Julia Roberts hasn’t made an interesting choice since playing “herself” at the end of Ocean’s Twelve, but I’m going to the theater for the reasons state in the first paragraph.  And honestly, the trailer makes the film seem very appealing.  I always enjoy a good romantic comedy too, so if this film has some believable romance, a few laughs and some location footage of India and Italy and Bali, then it shouldn’t be too much of a chore to watch.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World (Dir. Edgar Wright) – August 13th

I’m really torn on this one.

Every geek in the world is telling me that this is going to be the most epic movie ever made ever!  But, the trailer looked absolutely horrific to me.  I can’t get over the fact that Michael Cera can’t seem to stretch beyond what he first showed us on Arrested Development and I don’t really “get” what the big deal is with this movie or the comic that spawned it.  So, he has to literally fight his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends?  What is the world this taking place in?  The trailer left me confused and cold.  I had wanted to see the film pretty badly based on the chorus of geeks raving about the comic, but the preview was just a jumble.

I know I’m supposed to love Edgar Wright, but I thought Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were merely okay.  I enjoyed them both, but I didn’t see why they were so highly praised by the geek community except for the fact that Wright seems to be a geek himself who is familiar with what geeks enjoy.  I still trust me geek friends enough to believe that this film is worth seeing, but I’m not feeling the excitement that I should be feeling.

Noah Forrest
April 12, 2010

Noah Forrest is a 26-year-old aspiring writer/filmmaker in New York City.

The opinions expressed in these columns are the writer’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Movie City News or any of its editors or other contributors.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon