With five films all unexpectedly worth seeing, last weekend was the most impressive so far this year.  Will this weekend match it?

In Theaters

Before Midnight (Sony Pictures Classics)
Before Midnight
(Sony Pictures Classics)

Back in 1995’s Before Sunrise, French student Celine (Juli Delpy) and American abroad Jesse (Ethan Hawke) met on a train and spent a magical night wandering around Vienna, talking and falling in love.  Nine years later in Before Sunset, they reconnected while Jesse was in Paris promoting his book inspired by their time together.  Nine years after that, Richard Linklater’s unlikely trilogy concludes (maybe?) with Before Midnight, in which the pair contend with the complications of parenthood, careers, and whether they truly belong together.  Shot against gorgeous Grecian landscapes, it may be the saga’s richest chapter and certainly the most gut-wrenching.  If you’re a fan of the first two films, you’ll love this one, too.  Look for my review on Friday.

Man of Steel (Warner Bros.)
Man of Steel
(Warner Bros.)

When many critics saw the first trailer for Man of Steel, they compared the imagery to that of Terrence Malick.  When I saw sheets billowing in the breeze, my first thought was of Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor.  Look for Zack Snyder’s Superman origin reboot to fall somewhere in the middle.  I’ve only seen two of the director’s films, 300 (which I pretty much loathe) and Watchmen (which I pretty much love, despite it being desperately faithful to the source material).  I also don’t remember much about the previous attempt, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, other than wanting it to end, so hopefully Snyder’s version will manage to linger for the better.  It’s also worth noting that as with Iron Man 3Star Trek Into Darkness, and many other blockbusters this summer, the film is a post-conversion 3D job, meaning you should think twice before shelling out the extra bucks.

This Is The End (Sony Pictures)
This Is The End
(Sony Pictures)

If This Is the End (warning: Red Band trailer) is the new film I’m least looking forward to this week, we should be in for another pretty solid slate.  Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (whose work I haven’t liked since Superbad…their first script…but whatever), the film stars Rogen and many of his Apatowian comrades playing versions of themselves.  And so, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and others have a wild night at James Franco’s house, where they are promptly confronted with the apocalypse.  The core cast sounds great, but getting bigger buzz are the supporting players, including apparent 180-degree twists on Michael Cera and Emma Watson.  The film opens Wednesday, so I very well may have a review up by Friday.

Fleeing the Scene

The Reluctant Fundamentalist and The Sapphires (the latter of which really should have run for at least a month) are both sadly out due to lack of audiences.  I mean…both of the new mainstream titles last weekend were surprisingly good, but they were going to be around at least another week.  No so guarantee for the art titles, so away they go with Renoir, which hung around the Fine Arts far longer than I thought it would, and The Hangover Part III and After Earth, both of which I forgot about weeks ago.

On DVD

Nothing much of note this week.  Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters offers decent boredom-vanquishing powers, though the same cannot be said for the tepid Oz the Great and Powerful and the just plain bad Snitch.

On Netflix Instant

Upstream Color, which I’ve previously praised here, there, and everywhere, is now available for streaming.  Seeing as the other new options are Madea’s Witness Protection and The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, that’s two fewer excuses keeping you from enjoying Shane Carruth’s latest wow-fest.

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