From blockbuster superhero flicks to musicals and silly satires, there’s a film for every taste this summer
Dark and stormy Knight
The late Heath Ledger’s (front) Joker is the casting wild card in The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale in the latex suit.
Even before Heath Ledger died in January, there was major buzz about The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Batman Returns. Everyone who caught the extended trailer before the IMAX screening of I Am Legend was riveted by the tense bank heist scene and reveal of Ledger as one believably messed-up Joker. Some are even talking about a posthumous Academy Award for him. Opens July 18.
In The Rocker, The Office’s Rainn Wilson parlays his brief, bizarre appearance in Juno into a bona fide starring role as a resentful middle-aged never-was who gets another chance at the brass ring of rock stardom when his nephew’s high-school band needs a drummer. The guy’s equally fearless when it comes to high falls and bodily fluids, but the real breakout is likely to be Emma Stone. Turns out Jonah Hill’s Superbad crush is not only funny and sweet, but pretty convincing as a headstrong musician. Opens August 1.
Off the WALL-E
There’s a reason why Ratatouille, Pixar’s last feature, was a big commercial success and the best-reviewed film of 2007. Every Pixar flick (except maybe Cars) has taken the art of animation and storytelling to a whole new level. So expectations are pretty high for WALL-E, the near live-action-looking movie about a robot in a lonely futuristic universe. Director Andrew Stanton’s last film was the record-breaking Finding Nemo, so this one’s success is pretty much a done deal. Opens June 27.
Is the truth still out there? More importantly: are the fans? By the time The X-Files went off the air six years ago, the storylines had become totally convoluted and David Duchovny wasn’t even in the cast, so it was difficult to care. It’ll be interesting to see how many believers show up for The X-Files: I Want To Believe. Word is it’s a stand-alone suspense thriller – no need to know anything beforehand – and one of its subplots concerns Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) son. Opens July 25.
Mamma Mia! started the annoying jukebox musical trend and earned $2 billion in productions around the world, putting lots of euros in the pockets of ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. With its huge following – many saw the musical more than once – obviously the producers of the film version hope for more Money Money Money at the box office. Meryl Streep, who’s sung before in films like Postcards From The Edge, heads up a fine cast that includes Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan. July 18.
If you can’t wait to see Rainn Wilson pound the skins in The Rocker, he’ll be sticking around during NXNE.
Global Metal kicks off the NXNE music film fest June 12.
The film series at the North By Northeast Music And Film Festival & Conference keeps getting bigger and more influential. This year it kicks off with Global Metal, Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn’s look at the influence heavy metal has wielded around the world. It closes with Adventures Of Power, Ari Gold’s look at an air-drum player featuring a cast of mockumentary greats like Michael McKean and Jane Lynch. (And this just in: The Rocker’s Rainn Wilson is going to help kick off the fest.) June 12 to 15 at the Royal and NFB Mediatheque. www.nxne.com.
Nobody does straight-faced comic idiocy better than Steve Carell, so his turn as silly and self-important spy Maxwell Smart in Get Smart seems like a no-brainer. Still, The Office star, like anyone on a hit TV show, has to beware of overexposure – he doesn’t want another Evan Almighty on his hands. And the track record for big-screen adaptations of little screen hits (Bewitched, Scooby Doo) isn’t great. Opens June 20.
It’s taken two years, but The Sixth Sense’s M. Night Shyamalan has come back from his humongous flop, Lady In The Water, and the tell-all book that detailed the controversy surrounding that film, The Man Who Heard Voices. The Happening stars Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel as a couple fighting for their lives against... what, exactly? The plot twists are being heavily guarded, but apparently there’s an eco theme to the villain. It all takes root June 13.
Low-budget, talky yet oddly compelling films like Mutual Appreciation, Funny Ha Ha and LOL have amassed cult DVD audiences with their intimate indie vibe. Thing is, few of them have played big theatres. Now a travelling festival called Generation D.I.Y. gathers those and other films by the so-called Mumblecore school of filmmaking for an intense series of screenings at the Bloor Cinema. June 19 to 22. www.filmswelike.com.
Actor Marcello Mastroianni helped define European style and sophistication for an entire generation of filmgoers. Now Cinematheque is celebrating the actor with a series of 11 films representing his range, including key works like La Dolce Vita, Divorce – Italian Style and 8½. June 13 to August 1. 416-968-FILM.