Saturday, May 12, 2007

Summer's not all bad...

Sometimes I lament the coming of summer. It cuts down on good projector hours in the evening (too much west sun) and generally lots of crappy movies. On the other hand: my truck stays parked in the drive and I am on my bike; nothing is better than grilling and eating outside; and it is easier to choose which movies to see. First let me make clear that I like crappy movies as much as the next person, but so far this summer is proving me wrong about the crappy movies (by this I mean overblown Hollywood mega-movies) out balancing decent ones. If I look at my choices for the weekend, Spiderman 3 is way down the list. There are a handful of critically acclaimed films and much more interesting films hovering in theaters. Still playing: Black Book, Red Road, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, and two films I have already seen, Man Push Cart and The Valet. Opening: Away From Her, Waitress, and Offside. Oh yeah, and then there is the Tibetan Film Festival. I'm excited that summer might be full of nuggets like these. As long as everyone else is doing it, here's my summer movie preview with my limited knowledge of what will be playing:

The A-list:
I Don't Want to Sleep Alone/Spider Lilies/Itty Bitty Titty Committee
By far my most anticipated films of the summer are in the form of the Walker's Queer Takes next month. Tsai Ming Liang's new film, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, was part of a larger series commission for the Toronto Film Festival last year. His last film never screened here, so this is progress. Spider Lilies is from Taiwan and won the Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival. And Itty Bitty Titty Committee is new film from Jamie Babbit (But I'm a Cheerleader) and it looks like a total hoot.

Day Watch
Night Watch was certainly not the best movie I had ever seen, but it wasn't bad and it begged for a sequel. Word is number two in this trilogy is better than the first, and by the looks of the trailer, nothing was spared for special effects. The fact that it is Russian is just icing on the cake (as Tarkovsky roles over in his grave.) Let's hope the story holds up next to eye-candy.

Triad Election (aka Election 2)
I guess they didn't want people to think this was a sequel to the Alexander Payne film.... Although I have seen Johnny To's Election 2, and generally think it is inferior to the first Election (and Exiled), I am willing to be won over by this film on the big screen. Either way, it's a shame that this is the first To film to hit the big screen in the Twin Cities since Asian Media Access stopped their Cinema With Passion series.

Paris, je t'aime
Sure there are 20 segments (or is it 18) to this film, but when you start looking at the list of directors and actors, how can you not get excited. No doubt some will be better than others but who cares. And who doesn't love Paris - the city of love and the city of film.

Killer of Sheep
I have heard so much about this legendary film, it is hard to believe that I (and everyone else) will finally get to see a restored version this summer. Charles Burnett's student film about life in 1970s Watts is not to be missed.

Yes, it is about bestiality, and yes, it is kind of a documentary, and yes, I am curious. The real question is whether or not midwestern morality will get in the way of a screening of this film. We will have to wait and see. (Great interview with director Robinson Devor in current issue of Cinema Scope, by our very own Rob Nelson.)

Summer standouts list:
Private Fears in Public Spaces
The new film by Alain Resnais has been playing in NYC for about a month and gotten quite a bit of press from it. I am interested in how a modern master will update his oeuvre with this "comedy of manners" about individual connections/disconnections.

Away From Her
I missed Sarah Polley's debut feature at the MSPIFF, but never fear it is playing in Edina now.

Fay Grim
I like Hal Hartley, and I like Henry Fool, and I love Parker Posey. Word is this film is not so good, but the preview looks pretty funny and I'm willing to give it a chance.

Rescue Dawn
Werner Herzog never ceases to amaze me. (Talk about updating his oeuvre - anybody see Wild Blue Yonder?) Herzog turns one of his documentaries, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, into an action drama staring the ever impressive Christian Bale.

Forget the happy-go-lucky summer movies, and let's have a film about international sex trafficking. The New York Times article, "The Girls Next Door", that this film was inspired by was devastating. Although this film is fiction, the situation in human trade is not.

Maybe bad, maybe good list:
Luc Besson needs a good movie. Maybe this is it, maybe it isn't.

I liked Rob Zombie's Devil's Rejects more than most (lots more), and although I am befuddled by his choice to remake this horror classic I am convinced Zombie has the goods. (Trailer on YouTube.)

William Friedkin's big return or big flop. I just re-watched The Exorcist recently and it is still pretty damn scary. Since then Friedkin just seems like director for hire, having nothing that really stands out. Will this be it?

This is a total wild card. Transformers either your thing or its not. Michael Bay is either your thing or not. Here's what I expect: good special effects, terrible script.

A Mighty Heart
Everything about this movie just screams exploitation, and Angelina Jolie has yet to prove she is a decent actress....but it is Micheal Winterbottom.

And last but not least, there is the Cannes Film Festival

No silly, I'm not attending, but it is exciting nonetheless. Loads of films I'm really excited about are playing, and this will be everyone's first crack at thumbs up or thumbs down. As much as I hate it, I have no choice but to live vicariously through critics who go and write about it. The blog has yet to garner the support for my trip to the south of France.

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