Hi, boys and girls! Do you know what time it is? That's right --- it's Summer Movie Preview time! And we totally love summer movies, what with all the car chases, naked chicks, gore galore, bells, whistles, and other shiny stuff! Plus there's popcorn! And candy! And cupholders! How lucky we are!
I'm sorry. You're probably wondering why I sound so condescending. That's because Hollywood believes that when the mercury rises, our IQs take a nosedive. How else to explain the uneagerly awaited Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo?
Don't tell the movie industry, but I don't think we're that stupid (except for a couple of you --- you know who you are). I'd hate to incur Tinseltown's wrath, however, so I've decided to try to bamboozle them with this year's setup. On the surface it looks like your basic alphabet lesson, but hidden within are films for those of us who are more smartish.
(Shhh! I know! It's all part of the illusion... )
A is for The Aristocrats
If you watched Comedy Central at all in the '90s, you probably saw standup Paul Provenza occasionally and wondered how he kept his family fed. But now he's directed this side-splitting documentary which features 101 comedians --- including George Carlin, Sarah Silverman, and Gilbert Gottfried --- each putting their own unbelievably foul-mouthed spin on one notorious joke. (July 29)
B is for Bad News Bears
Richard Linklater follows up last summer's swoony gabfest Before Sunset with this remake of the 1976 Walter Matthau comedy about a group of ragtag ballplayers and their uncouth coach, this time played by Billy Bob Thornton. But I will refrain from pointing out that Linklater's School of Rock is basically the same movie, only with guitars. I'm just that disciplined. (July 22)
C is for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Every time I cop to never having seen 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory I catch oodles of hell. I'll try not to miss Tim Burton's spin on the Roald Dahl classic, but Johnny Depp looks awfully creepy in the trailers. Charlie also features Depp's Finding Neverland co-star Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter, and Christopher Lee. (July 15)
D is for Dark Water
Brazil's Walter Salles already has an Oscar (for Central Station), and after the success of The Motorcycle Diaries, he goes Hollywood with this Western version of Hideo Nakata's (Ringu) hit Japanese horror flick about a really soggy apartment building... which doesn't sound all that frightening. But Tim Roth is in it, and that's reason enough to empty your wallet. (July 8)
E is for Everything is Illuminated
The critically acclaimed novel by Jonathan Safran Foer is brought to the big screen by actor-turned-director Liev Schreiber. It stars Elijah Wood as a young Jewish-American on a quest to find the Ukrainian woman who rescued his grandfather during World War II. (August 12)
F is for Four Brothers
John Singleton's career resurgence continues (hopefully) with this crime drama about four men (including Mark Wahlberg and Andre 3000... I mean Benjamin) who return to Detroit for the funeral of their foster mother, only to find that her untimely death is shrouded in mystery. (August 12)
G is for Gilliam
Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam's latest film is The Brothers Grimm, which stars Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as titular brothers Jake and Will, whose investigation into a haunted forest leads to adventures involving an evil queen (the luscious Monica Bellucci) that echo the fables for which the siblings would go on to become renowned. (August 26)
H is for Hustle & Flow
They shelled out $9 million out for the distribution rights to this Sundance Audience Award winner about an unsuccessful Memphis pimp (Terrence Howard, Ray) in the throes of a midlife crisis who takes a stab at the rap game. (July 15)
I is for The Island
If you thought Bruckheimer-Bay was an unholy alliance, try Spielberg-Bay. E.T.'s dad produced Mr. Pearl Harbor's summer submission about futuristic clones that must... um... the plot sounds kind of confusing. But maybe something will explode! (July 22)
J is for Jim Jarmusch
The King of Kool was recently honored at (please forgive me) Kannes for Broken Flowers, which stars Bill Murray as an aging Lothario whose newfound 20-year-old son prompts him to hit the road in search of the kid's mom. Possible suspects include Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone and Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy. (August 5)
K is for Keira Knightley
hottest It Girl has a couple of flicks coming out this summer, including one in
which she plays a real-life bounty hunter (!), and I continue to be puzzled by
the fact that she's an above-the-title star.
L is for Last Days
The end of Kurt Cobain's life gets the fictionalized treatment in Gus Van Sant's latest. The juicy-lipped Michael Pitt (The Dreamers) plays the doomed rock star and shares the screen with people as diverse as Harmony Korine, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, and the combustible Asia Argento. (July 22)
M is for Murderball
The title of the Documentary Audience Award winner at Sundance 2005 is the cute little nickname for quad rugby, a brutal sport played by paralyzed guys in tricked-out wheelchairs. The film looks at the lives of these dedicated athletes on and off the field of battle. (July 8)
N is for 9 Songs
The Guardian has called the new film from chameleon Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People) "the most sexually explicit film in the history of British cinema." A yearlong fling is intercut with nine songs performed from each of the concerts the couple attends, such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Dandy Warhols, and Franz Ferdinand. (July 22)
O is for Ozon
François Ozon (Swimming Pool) cements his reputation as one of France's most important and interesting filmmakers with 5x2, a kind of Eternal Sunshine-meets-Memento look at five scenes chronicling the unraveling of a marriage in reverse. (June 10)
P is for Penguins
Morgan Freeman narrates potential sleeper hit March of the Penguins, which was filmed in Antarctica over the course of 13 months and follows the exploits of a group of emperor penguins as they raise their furry babies in a place where they're the only existing life-form... well, them and a pesky film crew, who wore tuxedoes to blend in. Maybe. (June 24)
Q is for Quizno's
I really don't like the idea of a toasted sub. I worry that the heat would eventually make the bread tough and the toppings mushy. Is the toasting mandatory? I've never actually eaten there. And there is nothing movie-related this summer that starts with the letter Q, which you have likely figured out by this point.
R is for Romance & Cigarettes
John Turturro wrote and directed this story about a cheating husband forced to choose between his wife and his mistress. The massive cast is led by James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, and Steve Buscemi. Did I mention that it's a musical? (August 19)
S is for Saraband
Ingmar Bergman one-ups Linklater with what he claims to be his final film. It's a sequel to his 1974 Scenes from a Marriage, in which Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson reprise their roles 30 years later as the now-divorced couple. (July 8)
T is for Touch the Sound
Documentary filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer (Rivers and Tides) turns his lens on a year in the life of Evelyn Glennie, a woman who lost most of her hearing around the age of 8 yet went on to become a famous solo percussionist. (August 19)
U is for An Unfinished Life
Finally, Jennifer Lopez and Robert Redford together in a movie about... oh, who cares. I'm just going to sit here and reminisce about the once-upon-a-time when director Lasse Hallström made interesting films instead of treacly Miramax Oscar bait. (September 9)
V is for Valiant
This is a Disney cartoon... I mean animated feature film about a runty bird who dreams of joining an elite squad of homing pigeons and doing battle with Nazi falcons during World War II. Features the voices of Ewan McGregor, Tim Curry, and The Office's Ricky Gervais. (August 19)
W is for War of the Worlds
Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, and Tim Robbins modernizing H.G. Wells for Steven Spielberg. I just thought they could use a little publicity. (June 29)
X is for X-rated movies
They're out there. Go see 'em if you want to --- I don't mind. Neither does Spielberg.
Y is for Yes
Joan Allen stars as an American scientist who embarks on a passionate affair with a Lebanese cook, despite already being married to a British politician (Sam Neill). Overrated arthouse darling Sally Potter (Orlando) directs, but I remain optimistic. (June 24)
Z is for Zhang Ziyi
The seemingly ubiquitous Asian stunner has two movies unspooling this summer. She plays a prostitute in 2046 (August 12), Wong Kar-wai's long-awaited (by me, at least) follow-up/sequel to In the Mood For Love, and straps on the wires for Zu Warriors (August 19), yet another martial arts adventure that I will probably adore.
Release dates are never carved in stone, kids, so don't demolish your piggybanks just yet!