Thursday, June 28, 2012

Films to See in 2012: July

We are, rather officially as it turns out, in the full storm of summer, though it really feels like its dying throes at this point. Of course, we do have the most ridiculously anticipated film of the year, but besides that the gems are rather wide spread. Don't read me the wrong way, since from the very start we have some potentially fantastic cinema on our hands. "The Amazing Spider-Man" is only days away, and seems all the more like a nice, if relatively minor, superhero escapade. Less optimistically on the roster is Oliver Stone's "Savages", which seems like a misfire in the same degree as "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps". Even far less promising is "Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D", the latest in a run of concert films that really do not need to happen.

The following week gives us both something more, and something less. On the former side is "Ice Age: Continental Drift", and given that franchise has proven guiltily quite fun, I wouldn't be disinclined to experience this latest adventure. There's also "Red Lights", which looks extremely pointless, much like the career of Robert De Niro at this point. We know what comes the following week, and we'll get more on that later. The last week of the month is a full serving of mainstream comedy ("The Watch"), pointless franchise retread ("Step Up Revolution"), and dark comedic plant ("Killer Joe"). And then there's...

3. "Ruby Sparks"
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

I rarely have much fancy for dual filmmakers, outside the obvious pairing of the Coen brothers, who have their things laid pretty symbiotically between each other. I'm even less interested by the fact that this is from the same folks who stole the buzz several years back for the honestly ordinary "Little Miss Sunshine". However, the pairing of Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan as a writer and his creation girlfriend piques my interest on a comedic level. What matters from there is story, and making it real and emotional, but not pointless. There's a tendency to go for these films based on their plot gimmickry, but there needs to be a purpose and meaning behind it. I'm not totally convinced yet that there is.

2. "The Dark Knight Rises"
Directed by Christopher Nolan

Not #1? Heresy! True, it is unthinkable that I can be anticipating something more than Nolan's finale to his long developed "Dark Knight" trilogy. I do not believe that this will be a conclusion in the same vein as "Toy Story 3" certainly was, and this is a very different being. It's more aggressive and blood-pulsing, and Nolan seems to be intent on giving a finale that pushes that to certain extremes. The 2.75 hour running time may seem somewhat excessive, but it opens room for them to fully round all the character arcs they've been nurturing, along with the new ones they are bringing about for this particular edition. This is an event feature, first and foremost, and if Chris and crew can dazzle and bring some close-to-heart thrills, they will have done their job.

1. "Alps"
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

My most anticipated film of the summer is a holdover from Venice of last year, and the latest from the director who last slapped us in the face with "Dogtooth", a film that's maybe more honest about family manipulation than people would like to believe. From all that I've heard, "Alps" is traveling along similar narrative lines, and few other films can so encouragingly say that people left the theater during the film. With little to no knowledge of the goings on regarding this film, I have Lanthimos' name to go on, which is all I need to make a concise decision.

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