I have grown to appreciate summer. I haven’t always been a fan. I find that I appreciate my nights being dark and my mornings being light. As a child, growing up on a farm, summer simply ment more daylight to do chores. However, last year when we purchased our house (and deck), I got a newfound appreciation of it. Now I can enjoy outdoor barbeques, drinks on the deck, and gardening. It’s a good thing that I have all of these activities because if I was looking for relief from the heat of the cinema, I would be sorely disappointed.
As those of you who read my little column know, I love good film. I live for the late fall and winter months to enjoy all of the Oscar fare that gets rolled out. However, finding quality film in the summer has proven to be daunting. Once in a while, we might get a surprise (Dark Knight) but for the most part, summer is relegated to the sound and special effects categories and rarely contains much in the area of script or plot development.
In recent years with the newly shortened Oscar race, we have seen a bit of the wealth spread around, though. For instance, three years ago, “Little Miss Sunshine” was a nice summer surprise. Then, of course, came “The Dark Knight” which remained on the radar throughout the summer. Both of those films were very successful at the Oscars where they both picked up a few trophies including Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin and Heath Ledger, respectfully). Last year we got to enjoy “Julie and Julia.” even though this great film tends to still get bunched up at the end of the year.
This year, there is not a ton on the radar to get excited about. There are a few films that may not make a huge impression with critics, but prove to at least be entertaining which is asking a lot in a season of endless action films with little plot. It might be a good idea to catch one of these films over the next few months. I hope I can come up with five.
Toy Story 3
It is hard to believe that it has been fifteen years since Buzz Lightyear arrived in theaters. For those of you who appreciate this genre, “Toy Story” was the pioneer of this type of animation and opened the door for other Pixar/Disney fare like “A Bug’s Life,” “Wall-E,” and “Up.” In fact, these films have had a pretty good track record at the Oscars and have dominated the Animated category. Last year, “Up” made the shortlist for best overall picture. It is safe to say that “Toy Story 3” will at least be in the running in the animation category since the writing of the Pixar films and general production value is always incredibility high. Tim Allen and Tom Hanks return as the voices of the beloved Woody and Buzz, and introduce us (and Disney theme parks) to a whole new world of characters.
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Sex and the City 2
Okay, I am not normally a huge fan of sequels. I wasn’t even that into the idea of making the first “Sex and the City” as I thought the show ended perfectly. All of that changed, however, when the movie actually started and I heard that iconic theme song. The truth is, I would watch those four actresses read the phone book. Watching old episodes of “Sex and the City” makes me realize how damn good that show was and how iconic it has become. If you aren’t a religious viewer, rent the DVDs (never the edited versions) and watch fine acting, writing, and commentary at its best. The sequel picks up two years after the first movie left off. I think the premise sounds fairly interesting; put the glamor girls in an entirely different culture that doesn’t have the sexual expression of New York. We shall see how it works, but like I said, I would watch them read the phone book.
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Eat, Pray, Love
Touted a few years back by Oprah, “Eat, Pray, Love” was a hugely successful book. The story is a classic one that seems to get told often; follow someone on a journey to find themselves. In this case, the lead tries to find herself through spirituality, love, and best of all, food. This movie might not be so anticipated if it weren’t for the return of Julia Roberts. The Oscar winner has been off raising a family and has pretty much stayed under the radar in the past few years. Turns in “Duplicity” and “Charlie Wilson’s War” were largely liked, but forgotten. This material should give Julia her own “Julie and Julia” crowd of people who simply don’t want to watch the action movies.
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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
It’s hard to believe, but it has been almost 25 years since “Wall Street.” Oliver Stones’ 1987 tale of greed and corruption won Michael Douglas his second Oscar and cemented Charlie Sheen as a movie star (or tried). When we left “Wall Street,” Douglas’ character was spouting that greed is good. The sequel tells us that Douglas’ lead was sent to jail for insider trading for eight years and just got out of prison. Of course, he now gets to discover the fun the rest of us are having with the economy. The new film co-stars Shia LaBeouf (why is he working?), Josh Brolin, Frank Langella, and recent “An Education” Oscar nominee Carrie Mulligan as Douglas’ daughter. The film premiered to mixed reviews at Cannes, but that could be attributed to the film being very “American” in a “European” film festival with different tastes and sensibility. Then of course, it could just be bad.
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I guess it would be wrong to not include at least one action film. Since we will probably have to wait a few more years for another Batman, I suppose that I will at least have to go with “The A-Team.” The film version of the 80s classic stars Bradley Cooper and I don’t anticipate it being good. However, I can only recommend it on two principals: 1) It couldn’t possibly be as bad as we want it to be, and 2) Bradley Cooper. Enough said!
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Okay, so that may not be the most exciting fare to get you to the movies. But popcorn and air conditioning should be enough to at least tempt you when we hit upwards of 95 degrees. The movie selection might not be so hot, but at least the seats are comfortable.
Wayne Bell is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He moved to Fayetteville in 2003 for his Master’s Degree and you can almost always catch him at Little Bread Co. or Hammontree’s. For more of Wayne’s contributions, visit his author page.