Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer can be great for movie fans


As a big fan of movies, I love the summer because I know I can enjoy all that summer has to offer — the outdoors, swimming, picnicking, baseball, taking my dog out for runs in the meadow and dips in the pond, cookouts, and a whole lot more — without every worrying that I’m going to miss something worthwhile at the movies. For the most part, summer is "Movies for Dummies," that time of year when studios dump all their high price garbage sequels on a non-discriminating public willing to shell out good money for this junk.

Yes, movie lovers know that the true movie-going season begins around mid-September and lasts until the end of the year. That’s when the great ones appear.

At least I thought so until I looked at the schedule and saw that 57 films are scheduled to open between Labor Day and Christmas Fay. That’s a lot — between three and four per week. I scanned that list of 57 and found nine that really pique my interest. They are (listed in the order they are scheduled to open):

Sully directed by Clint Eastwood. This is the story of pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks), who heroically landed that troubled US Airways flight full of passengers on the Hudson River. Aaron Eckhart plays the plane’s first officer and Laura Linney portrays Sully’s wife. Opening is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Personal Shopper directed by Olivier Assayas. This film had both its ardent admirers and strident detractors at the most recent Cannes Film Festival where Assayas was co-winner of the best director award for it. It’s supposed to be a ghost story that takes place in the Paris fashion underworld. Kristen Stewart stars and I hear she’s very good in the film. It’s opening Oct. 16 in France, but I have yet to learn of a firm domestic release date. Here's the trailer.

Silence directed by Martin Scorsese. The film stars Liam Neeson and Adam Driver as two Jesuit priests who face violent persecutions when they travel to Japan to seek out their mentor and attempt to propagate their religious beliefs. I am a big Scorsese fan, but I have this terrible feeling this could turn out to another Kundun. Anyone remember that dud fondly? To be released sometime in November.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk directed by Ang Lee which is apparently about how America’s perception of the war in Iraq differed from its realities. Joe Alwyn stars as the title character whose war memories are recalled as he participates in a victory tour back home. Scheduled to open Nov. 11. You can see the trailer here.

Manchester By the Sea directed by Kenneth Lonergan and featuring a performance from Casey Affleck that’s a slam dunk for an Oscar nomination. Affleck plays Lee Chandler who is made a legal guardian of his dead brother's son and who returns to his hometown to care for the teenage boy. Limited release Nov. 18, expanding in mid-December.

Nocturnal Animals directed by Tom Ford. This concept intrigues me. Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) receives a package from her first husband (Armie Hammer), an unpublished writer she divorced 15 years earlier, containing the manuscript of his first novel. As she begins to read the story about a math professor (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is driving his family to their summer house in Maine, she is drawn into its plot and grows fearful for her own life. Also opening Nov. 18.

Collateral Beauty directed by David Frankel and starring Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Naomie Harris. It’s about the downward emotional spiral of a New York adman that’s caused by a tragic event in his life. Opening Dec. 16.

Gold directed by Steven Gaghan, a thriller starring Matthew McConaughey as an unlucky man who teams up with a geologist to find gold in the uncharted jungles of Indonesia. Unsure of opening date.

Fences directed by Denzel Washington, based on the play by August Wilson, adapted by Tony Kushner. That’s a pretty darn good pedigree of names I just mentioned. The film stars Washington as Troy Maxson, as a former Negro League baseball player who, in the 1950s, struggles to provide for his family as he works as a garbage man. Haven’t heard of a firm release date for this one either.

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