Sunday, 22 May 2016

Summer Arts Agenda: Film (ST 22/05/16)

Twenty titles to keep an eye on this summer, for the annual Sunday Telegraph Top 100:

The Nice Guys (June 3)
Snark merchant Shane Black (Iron Man 3) pairs Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as disreputable detectives driving the Mob from 1970s L.A. in this knockabout actioner. Expect trashy Friday-night fun, and frankly terrible menswear.

Fire at Sea (June 10)
Cinema’s recent run of exceptional travellers’ tales continues: our own Tim Robey described this close-up documentary study of migrants circling Lampedusa as “shattering” at this year’s Berlin festival, where it won the Golden Bear.

Gods of Egypt (Jun 17)
Hollywood turns to CGI in an attempt to revitalise the old-school epic. Alex Proyas’s film sparked “whitewash” controversy after casting Caucasian actors as Arabs: bellower-in-chief Gerard Butler aims to drown out the lukewarm buzz.

Independence Day: Resurgence (Jun 23)
Twenty years on, and with Hollywood running out of fantasy franchises to rejig, the aliens return to Earth. President Bill Pullman and nerd-for-hire Jeff Goldblum return; original breakout star Will Smith, conspicuously, does not.   

Elvis & Nixon (Jun 24)
Liza Johnson’s film offers a light-comic take on the 1970 incident when Elvis pitched up on the White House lawn. Michael Shannon, a performer in peak form, dons the rhinestone jumpsuit; Kevin Spacey is Nixon.

The Secret Life of Pets (Jun 24)
Despicable Me’s animation powerhouse Chris Renaud ponders what animals do once their keepers go to bed: butt-sniffing and death metal, the trailer suggests. A fine comedic voice cast (Jenny Slate, Louis CK, Albert Brooks) assists him in his research.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (Jul 1)
Big-screen Britcoms face a make-or-break summer (cf: Aug 19). Jo and Jen’s perma-pickled Patsy and Edina here acquire a showcase accessorised with front-row fashion faces; let’s hope the jokes aren’t so last century.

Maggie’s Plan (Jul 8)
A textbook “Sundance sensation”, Rebecca Miller’s indie comedy sets up a love triangle examining the impact a hot-to-trot Greta Gerwig has on happily married Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore. Early reviews have been glowing.

The Neon Demon (Jul 8)
Few modern filmmakers have arrived at images as boldly gaudy as those Nicolas Winding Refn did in Drive and Only God Forgives: the world of high fashion, setting for his latest, Cannes-applauded freakout, would appear a perfect, sheeny fit.

Ghostbusters (Jul 15) [above]
To the chagrin of fanboys, they’ve redone 1984’s supernatural extravaganza with – eww – girls. The less virginal can but savour a considerable comedy pedigree: Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig directs Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig alongside SNL alumna Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

Ice Age: Collision Course (Jul 15)
Yes, we know: somewhat amazingly, there have been five of these now. The latest picks up where last year’s (rather good) short Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe left off, with heroes Sid, Diego and Manny facing a new threat from the heavens. 

The BFG (Jul 22)
Pre-eminent storytellers power this live-action/animation hybrid: Roald Dahl’s book has been adapted by the late Melissa Mathison (E.T.) for Steven Spielberg to direct. Early reviews suggest a generally whizzpopping experience; Penelope Wilton plays the Queen.

Chevalier (Jul 22)
Leftfield counterprogramming: Attenberg’s Athina Rachel Tsangari floats another absurdist comedy, this time about six men in a boat engaging in increasingly ridiculous competitions – because, well, men. Tackle will be measured; ribs tickled; heads scratched. Everyone’s a winner.

Jason Bourne (Jul 28)
After 2012’s sidestepping The Bourne Legacy, the millennium’s premium action franchise gets back on track: director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon both return as a now-ageing JB remembers what he came in the room for. Or something.

Finding Dory (Jul 29)
2003’s Finding Nemo remains a high animated watermark; expectations for this sequel are no less elevated. With Pixar buoyant after last year’s Inside Out, fins crossed it’s more Toy Story 2 than Cars 2.

Suicide Squad (Aug 5)
Heaven forbid summer should be a comics-free zone: D.C. follow March’s ill-received Batman vs. Superman with this raucous/noisy-looking mash-up, in which motley supervillains – including Jared Leto’s Joker – are enlisted to do America’s dirty work.

David Brent: Life on the Road (Aug 19)
After Derek and Special Correspondents, Ricky Gervais could do with renewed momentum: here, his best-loved creation leaves the paper behind to pursue his first love, music. Capable comedy faces lend support.

Swallows and Amazons (Aug 19)
Arthur Ransome’s classic of kidlit – filmed in 1974 as Saturday matinee material – receives a 21st century scrub-up from Call the Midwife’s Philippa Lowthorpe. In an age of digital delights, will it still hold water?

Ben-Hur (Aug 26)
Lew Wallace’s Biblical doorstop gets whipped into lean, globalised multiplex shape, with Russian Timur Bekmambetov at the directorial reins, Brit Jack Huston as Hur, and Brazil’s Rodrigo Santoro as Christ. A 3D chariot race awaits us.

Julieta (Aug 26)
Fresh from Cannes, Pedro Almodóvar’s latest stems from that sincere interest in mother-daughter pairings that previously powered 1995’s The Flower of My Secret and 2006’s Volver. After 2013’s limp farce I’m So Excited!, that sounds muy bueno.

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