The Oregonian asked me to send them a list of "summer movies" I'm excited to see. They added a few of them to their May 9 "Summer Movie Preview." Here's the full list I e-mailed them.
"Boyhood" -- From 2002-13, Richard Linklater would periodically re-assemble the same cast (including Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) to film the story of a boy (Ellar Coltrane) coming of age from first grade through high school. Linklater put his chips on a child actor aging gracefully, and it worked: Early festival reviews are over-the-moon for the film, which checks in on Coltrane on various days of his life between ages 7 and 18.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" -- Marvel Studios' latest looks like "Mos Eisley Spaceport meets 'Firefly': The Movie." It co-stars a talking gun-toting raccoon whose best pal is a giant walking tree. And it's helmed by indie-geek director James Gunn, of "Slither" and "Super" fame. It looks utterly bananas and I can't wait to find out if it connects.
"The Double" -- I really enjoyed "Submarine," director (and British comedy treasure) Richard Ayoade's deadpan-comic 2010 feature debut. Now he's adapting Dostoyevsky's tale of an office milquetoast who meets and competes with his exact lookalike. Jesse Eisenberg plays both characters, backed by a cast that includes Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn and a murderer's row of smart British comic actors.
"Godzilla" -- Director Gareth Edwards had a $500,000 budget and a crew of five when he made his first film, the art-house creature flick "Monsters." His second film resurrects cinema's most famous giant firebreathing lizard with a $160 million budget, a crew of hundreds, an all-star international cast, and of course the ugly memory of the last time Hollywood tried to make its own big-budget "Godzilla" movie. No pressure! Early buzz suggests Edwards rose to the challenge.
"Jupiter Ascending" -- The Wachowskis refuse to stop making heady, loony, expensive sci-fi flicks, damn the box office. Their latest cinematic cliff-jump features Channing Tatum as a genetically modified assassin with wolf-ears who tells a janitor (Mila Kunis) that (a) Earth is actually just one piece of real estate in a larger interstellar land war and (b) she's actually the Queen of the Universe.
"The Trip to Italy" -- A sequel to "The Trip," with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon once again embarking on an all-expenses-paid odyssey of eating, arguing and comparing their Michael Caine impressions.
"Lucy" -- A Luc Besson Euro-action flick in which Scarlett Johansson accidentally ingests a drug that boosts her intelligence tenfold, essentially giving her psychic superpowers. It's the trashy fun version of "Transcendence," I hope, and I also hope Morgan Freeman is playing the same character in both movies.
"They Came Together" -- If you're part of the "Wet Hot American Summer" cult fanbase, you'll be happy to hear that co-writer/director David Wain is back -- and this time he's applying his gift for bizarre genre deconstruction to the Hollywood romantic comedy, with help from stars Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler.
"22 Jump Street" -- If you had told me before the release of "21 Jump Street" that Channing Tatum was a gifted comic actor, or that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller could mine as much comedy as they did from this particular TV remake (and, later, from Legos), I wouldn't have believed you. So this particular sequel gets every benefit of the doubt.
"The Rover" -- "Animal Kingdom" writer/director David Michôd returns with an action drama about a desolate Australian near-future that's been described as "Mad Max" as it would actually play out (i.e., without the cool cars and stylish punks). Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star.
ALTERNATES: "Edge of Tomorrow," "Life Itself," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," "Hercules" (but only because I'll watch The Rock in anything, and frankly "excited" isn't really the word here, let's be honest, because it’s directed by Brett Ratner, but on the other hand it features The Rock wearing a lion's head as a hat), "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" (FWIW, I wrote an explanatory breakdown of the book series for The O way back in 2005), "The Green Inferno," "The Boxtrolls," "Snowpiercer," "X-Men: Days of Future Past," and "How to Train Your Dragon 2"
'18 movies our critics can't wait to see: Summer Movie Preview 2014' (The Oregonian, Friday, May 9, 2004)