Summer 2013: The Ones You Might Miss

In the final installment of this series it seemed fitting to conclude with a few films that you may or may not have heard of and put an emphasis on them and reason enough why you should still check them out despite the fact they will be overshadowed by the films that took over the first few entries of this series. Fortunately, I have seen a trailer for four out of the five and have been either genuinely surprised by how much I was enticed by it or have recognized potential simply from the credentials it has going for it whether that be in front of or behind the camera. As the Summer movie season is usually pretty sparse when it comes to delivering the horror flicks this year sees no disruption in that trend as I've only seen ads for two major studio horror flicks and one, despite the fact it stars Ethan Hawke who made one of the best horror films in recent memory with last years Sinister, doesn't interest me at all. Needless to say, that other horror film has made this list and I'm genuinely excited to be scared by it. The other films include a star studded studio flick that almost seems out of place in its release date while the others are smaller, indie pictures that promise quality not only with their scale but with the fact they seem to be stories worth telling and that may be the biggest reason they landed on the list you where they might become easy to overlook, but likely deserve your attention.

The Ones You Might Miss

Clockwise from Top: The East, The Conjuring, Prince Avalanche, Now You See Me, and Girl Most Likely.
Let's begin with what will no doubt come out as the most successful of these five simply due to the amount of famous people it has in its cast and the prime release date the weekend after Memorial Day where it has no competition except for the two major releases that come out the week prior. I'm talking about Now You See Me which stars, count them, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine. I'd probably check out a film if only a couple of these people were in it (some if just one) but the fact they were all attracted to the script and have come to deliver what is seemingly a slickly stylized and ultra cool heist flick that has the flair of a magic show is all the better. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk)the film centers around a group of FBI agents (led by Ruffalo) who track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. It sounds like a standard steal from the rich and give to the poor template and comes off this way in the trailers, but the portal through which it's told is what intrigues me. While this years previous magic-themes flick, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, flopped I've always enjoyed movies that are fascinated with illusions such as Chris Nolan's The Prestige and this seems very much in that vein or maybe that's just because Cain shows up in both. Either way, I'm pretty excited and optimistic that this flick will pull through and be extremely entertaining with the feel of pure escapism seeming to overtake it while still delivering a few messages that comment on the state of the economy and society in general. That is, unless Leterrier has disregarded any allusions to anything real world and simply gone for straight up brainless B-movie storytelling which I wouldn't put past him, especially after his last film, but like I said, I'm optimistic and I'm going to stay that way.

What will be the only contender in giving Now You See Me a run for its money on this list will be the July release of The Conjuring. Originally scheduled to be released in the doldrums of January warner Bros. decided to move the film back six months to the middle of Summer after what must have been extremely positive test screenings. I don't usually get too excited over horror films anymore as it takes more and more each year to make a genuinely scary movie without resorting to all the cliches and known traps of what were once fresh but now plague the horror genre. What makes The Conjuring different though is the fact that director James Wan is attached to the project and if he has produced anything close to his surprise 2011 hit, Insidious (which gets a sequel this September that Wan also directed), than this is sure to stir up just as much talk around it and set a new standard for scary. The first trailer for the film was perfectly cut setting up what kinds of chills we were in for without revealing two of its major stars (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) while setting a tone, a mood, and creating an atmosphere that was so tense and so creepy that it was as intriguing as the setting seemed off-putting. I felt lucky to actually see that trailer play in front of a movie and see the audiences reaction and it was just what I hoped it would be. Gasps abounded as the hands came out of the dark and clapped next to Lili Taylor's frightened face. The film also stars Ron Livingston (Office Space) as Taylor's husband who move into the haunted Rhode Island farmhouse while Wilson and Farmiga portray The  Warren's, a real life team of psychic investigators who claim this as the most horrifying case of their career. If you've been watched A&E's Bates Motel you know the talent Farmiga has for playing the strange and tormented and as she is only a part of the bigger puzzle here, and in Wan's hands no less, I'm sure this will not disappoint.

The East opens against Now You See Me, but in fewer markets I'm guessing as it is being distributed by Fox Searchlight. Still, this is one of my more anticipated films of the Summer as it is director Zal Batmanglij's follow-up to last years The Sound of My Voice which also starred Brit Marling and was one of my favorite films of last year. While Batmanglij's and Marling's collaboration last year was a science fiction film in the confined space of a character-centric story the two have seemingly gone a different way here and focused on an anarchist group known for executing covert attacks upon major corporations. The intrigue of the story comes from the point when Marling, who plays an operative for an elite private intelligence firm, is tasked with infiltrating the titular group and finds her priorities irrevocably changed after she begins to fall for their charismatic leader played by Alexander SkarsgÄrd. Besides these major players the film does feature a rather solid ensemble cast that also includes Ellen Page, Shiloh Fernandez (Evil Dead), Patricia Clarkson, and Jason Ritter. The latest trailer which premiered only a few days ago gives the film a strong sense of how it plays up the thriller aspects of the script and the kind of social commentary it will be providing. Marling co-wrote the script with her director and while the investigative thriller is a genre that has always been able to grab me from the beginning and have me tuned in no matter how generic it becomes I have high expectations for these two and hope that they take the confines of the genre (as they did with their prior feature) and hope that they can transcend those walls and create a thriller that will ultimately test the audiences own feelings toward the conflict at the heart of its story. While I am interested to see where Marling's career goes from here and what film she might choose that really puts her on the map, I am more than happy to watch her collaborate with her friends and make innovative, genre-pushing films that truly have something to say.

Finally, the last two films in the last category of this series are two quirky comedies you probably haven't even heard of prior to reading this. Still, even as I don't know much about either of these films I am simply anxious to see more or anything at all from them as they feature one of my favorite comedic actors and a comedy queen in the making. We've seen just a little bit more from David Gordon Green's (Pineapple Express) new film Prince Avalanche as the trailer premiered last week. Like I said in my introduction for the trailer last Friday, I really enjoy Rudd's work despite his string of recent misses (How Do You Know, Dinner for Schmucks, Wanderlust, Admission) and I hope that this film might prove to be a turning point for both he and director Green who also has seen his last two films flop (Your Highness and The Sitter). Prince Avalanche tells the story of two highway road workers who spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives repainting traffic lines. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind. Along with Rudd, indie darling Emile Hirsch and when the film premiered at Sundance last year it received generally positive reviews as its dramedy label seems to prove a successful recipe of balance between the directors early, character-driven work and his big budget studio comedies. And last but not least we have Kristen Wiig's Girl Most Likely. The film hasn't received a trailer yet and when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year it received mixed reviews at best which made me skeptical to place it on the list, but seeing as Wiig is in it I have to hope it has a few redeeming qualities plus it also features a solid supporting cast in the form of Annette Benning, Matt Dillon, and Darren Criss of Glee fame. The premise sounds slightly ridiculous but the film will get a nationwide release the same day as The Conjuring on July 19th so the studio must have some kind of faith in it unless they too are simply counting on the appeal of their lead actress.

Thanks for following along and have a great summer at the movies.    

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