With the summer’s first two blockbusters not nearly the stunners for which I’d dreamed, my hopes shift to the third spectacle in as many weeks: J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness. Four years after the impressive series reboot, the crew of the Enterprise is back, this time to do battle against a terrorist (Benedict Cumberbatch) within Starfleet. Almost from the moment Cumberbatch was announced as the villain, rumors began that he was actually Khan, the memorable baddie from the first Star Trek II. In typical Abrams fashion, all involved were sworn to secrecy on the matter, but have been so coy about it that a Khan reveal seems all the more likely. I’ll find out Friday morning, though will be abstaining from seeing it in 3D. As with many recent efforts, Into Darkness is a post-convert job, meaning it wasn’t filmed in 3D but added later. After Iron Man 3‘s negligible extra dimension, unless you absolutely have to don the glasses, don’t: it’s probably not going to be all that special.
An Academy Award nominee this year for Best Foreign Language Film, Pablo Larrain’s No tells of Chile’s 1988 referendum on whether or not to keep dictator Augusto Pinochet in power. Feeling that their cause is hopeless, the opposition turns to innovative ad executive
Don Draper René Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) to head their campaign, one that will convince the Chilean people of democracy’s appeal. I respect Lorrain’s Post Mortem, but it’s not exactly the kind of film that elicits the word “like.” By contrast, No‘s positive message and likable characters make it appear worthy of such distinction. Look for my review on Friday.
The Grand Jury winner for Best Narrative Feature at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival and recipient of the Someone To Watch award at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, Adam Leon’s Gimme The Loot makes its way to town. The film follows the exploits of Bronx graffiti artists Sofia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson) as they scheme to tag the Home Run Apple at the New York Mets’ Citi Field. Given the seal of approval from Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), who so graciously “presents” the debut feature, the film looks like a pleasant, all-around winner. Look for my review on Friday.
Fleeing the Scene
No major loss this week as “Grade C” alums The Croods, 42, Lore, and Disconnect check out. With four new movies set for next Friday, it’s also looking like The Place Beyond the Pines, Pain & Gain, and The Company You Keep will be gone come the 24th.
The briskest of last year’s 2.5+ hour epics, the intertwined, multi-narrative Cloud Atlas is an absolute must-see. There’s also Texas Chainsaw, which isn’t great but at least has a general idea of where to point the camera and how to heighten its horror film tropes. And despite the horrendous reviews, I remain curious about Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, featuring the intriguing combination of Charlie Sheen, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman.
On Netflix Instant
No clear Queue-’em-ups this week, though the variety suggests that at least one will make it to your list. The biggest mainstream title and the only one to feature Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks is the action comedy Hit & Run. If, like me, you’re still waiting on a Best Actress Oscar recall for Cooper’s Silver Linings Playbook co-star Jennifer Lawrence’s, her House at the End of the Street should strengthen our shared cause.
On the indie side there’s the comedy Price Check, starring the ever-wonderful Parker Posey; The Other Woman, a romantic drama from The Opposite of Sex and Marley & Me director Don Roos, starring Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow; and an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Freaky Deaky, with the interesting teaming of Christian Slater, Crispin Glover, and Black Dynamite‘s Michael Jai White.
Documentary-wise, there’s Jonathan Caoette’s difficult but rewarding look at his mentally ill mother, Walk Away Renee (which I reviewed for DVD Snapshot) and, slightly more uplifting, Brooklyn Castle, about a talented middle school chess team whose funding is threatened.