Summer Preview: Blockbusters v Art-house
The (Rare) Female Protagonist
The Brave: Pixar’s latest, set in an olden-days Scotch-land where the men are big and drunk and the wummin ken their place, sees fiery Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) get in supernatural scrapes and rebel against this oppressive patriarchal hegemony. Or something. With classy comic voice talent (actual, real-life Scottish folk!) and the promise of an action-packed, swords-and-sporrans-fest, wee’ans and old-yins alike could be in for a treat. Trailers suggest dazzling visuals, a pure-hard-as-nails female lead and some good-natured fun-pokery at fairytale convention. Fingers crossed.
Director kudos: Not great: with the likes of Andrew Stanton and Brad Bird moving into live action the reins fall to Pixar newbies Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapmen. (2/5)
Fan fever: It’s Pixar… everyone loves Pixar (4/5)
Explodiness: Archery! Spookiness! Cabers! (4/5)
Sexiness: They’re drawings, weirdo. And Merida ain’t no Jessica Rabbit. (2/5)
Funniness: If Connelly, Ferguson, Coltrane and Thompson are given decent stuff, they can make it great. (4/5)
Total: 16/25 [Chris Fyvie]
Anna Karenina: Joe Wright, with the aid of muse Keira Knightley as the titular aristocratic heartbreaker, tackles Leo Tolstoy’s gargantuan treatise of seduction, repression, guilt, politics and... well, everything, really. Optimists will point to Wright’s success in essaying the desires that lurk beneath austerity in previous work and habit of getting the best out of Knightley; sceptics will be weary of the difficulty in adapting such opaque prose successfully and eliciting a performance from the rubbish bloke off Spooks (Matthew Macfadyen). A tough one to call, but it’ll sure look pretty.
Director kudos: Though an undoubted talent, Wright’s very much hit-and-miss. Frequently in the same film. (3/5)
Fan fever: Russian literature enthusiasts: not renowned for salivating over film adaptations. (2/5)
Explodiness: Plenty combustible emotions, but don’t hold your breath for a car chase. (3/5)
Sexiness: Stolen glances, unbearable sexual tension, all-consuming passion — basically the good bits from Atonement. (5/5)
Funniness: Leo saved the LOLz for War & Peace. (1/5)
Total: 14/25 [CF]
The Light Side of the Summer
The Amazing Spider-Man: Just 5 years after Sam Raimi slung out the spandex after taking a radioactive $890 million with Spider-Man 3, the money spider has come crawling back up the drainpipe. Brit Andrew Garfield will suit up as Peter Parker to tangle with his parents’ disappearance and first love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) whilst variously mentored and menaced by Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Director Marc Webb may accomplish a gutsy, glossy reboot with The Amazing Spider-Man, but any parallels to Nolan’s Batman are (spidey) senseless.
Director kudos: An incongruous choice bar his surname, Marc Webb’s only other feature is endearing quirk-com (500) Days of Summer. (3/5)
Fan fever: Factor in the comic book guys and it’s looking malarial. (5/5)
Explodiness: Acrobatic gimp plus vicious, pixelated lizard equals carnage. (4/5)
Sexiness: A feline Stone secures the sexy; spideysuit and accompanying odours not so much. (3/5)
Funniness: Well, it couldn’t be more emo than the Raimi franchise. (2/5)
Total: 17/25 [Kirsty Leckie-Palmer]
Moonrise Kingdom: A crayon correspondence between fledgling sweethearts Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) sends the preadolescents flitting into the wilderness together, leaving their parents to exasperation, a brewing storm and some caricatured authority figures. As Wes Anderson scatters yet another ensemble over his tawny snapshot of 1960s New England, it’ll be eccentricity, not a showboat cast, that navigates Moonrise Kingdom beyond its strange promise of Ingmar Bergman’s Summer with Monika, with kids.
Director kudos: Wes Anderson. Not so much signature style as oddity incarnate. (5/5)
Fan fever: Rushmore alumni are already scribbling fan posters and sewing patches onto kitsch tat for their Etsy stores. (3/5)
Explodiness: Bruce Willis looks more Death Becomes Her than Die Hard, but there’s hope for some lightning (2/5)
Sexiness: Bill Murray’s topless gooseflesh or Ed Norton in scout uniform? (1/5)
Funniness: If you take your humour desert dry with a side order of enigma. (3/5)
Total: 14/25 [KLP]
The Dark Side of the Summer
The Dark Knight Rising: Spare a thought for Christian Bale's Batman, always playing second fiddle to his antagonists. This ignominy looks to be compounded in the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s money printing trilogy as Bale’s millionaire vigilante has two charismatic combatants to contend with: Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman and Tom Hardy’s heavy breather Bane, who was revealed to the moviegoing public last year in a six minute apéritif that showed him blowing up an American football pitch and mumbling some inaudible nonsense about taking over Gotham.
Director kudos: Nolan’s the master of the kind of portentous bombast that dazzles both Sight & Sound subscribers and Nuts mag knuckle scrapers. (4/5)
Fan Fever: Fanboys have been nursing stonners since last year’s Bane-heavy prologue. (4/5)
Explodiness: Nolan’s responsible for more cases of tinnitus than Led Zeppelin. (5/5)
Sexiness: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (5/5); Tom Hardy as a nude from the waist up Darth Vader (1/5); average. (3/5)
Funniness: The last laugh to be had in a Nolan movie was David Bowie’s accent in The Prestige. (1/5)
Total: 17/25 [Jamie Dunn]
The Turin Horse: Don’t wear a watch to a Béla Tarr movie. Time is immaterial. The Hungarian’s universe is one of both exacting boredom and sweaty-browed tension. Winner of the Silver Bear at the 2011 Berlinale, Tarr’s latest, and reportedly last picture, tells the story of a decrepit farmer and his stoic daughter as they weather a six-day storm in their modest farmhouse. Action consists of 63% hardscrabble labour, 32% jacket potato scoffing, 4% drunk Hungarian philosophising and 1% gipsy cursing.
Director kudos: It’s Béla fucking Tarr. (5/5)
Fan Fever: You don’t really get excited about seeing a Tarr film, you get prepared. (3/5)
Explodiness: No explosions, but you start to get the feeling that the incessant gales that batter the farmhouse might be from some distant nuclear blast that’s wiped out humanity. (3/5)
Sexiness: Couldn’t even give John Leslie wood. (1/5)
Funniness: The unrelenting monotony actually becomes quite amusing. (3/5)
Total: 15/25 [JD]
The British Stalwarts
Prometheus: With fifteen years lapsed since the last disappointing instalment, Resurrection, the xenomorph maestro Ridley Scott returns with his attention turned to an oft-forgotten question; just who was the giant space jockey sat gut-wrenched in the original Alien film? Now undeniably established as a prequel to the original sci-fi masterpiece, a stellar cast including Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron assemble to investigate the far corners of the universe. The Skinny had the privilege to view the opening footage of the film and can inform it is unlikely to disappoint.
Director kudos: That's Sir Ridley Scott for a reason you know. (5/5)
Fan fever: Twice bitten by floundering sequels means audience may reserve judgement on this one. (3/5)
Explodiness: Planet imploding eruptions may ensue. (4/5)
Sexiness: An undeniably aesthetically pleasing Hollywood cast is more likely to space suit-up than strip down. (2/5)
Funniness: In space no one will hear you laugh. (1/5)
Total: 15/25 [Thom Atkinson]
The Angels’ Share: As whisky distils in the Highlands about two percent of it evaporates into the air, which becomes known as the Angels’ share. Such rustic filmic flavours are that which instil Ken Loach's latest look at British (Scotland this time) social realism. A tale of new father Robbie (Paul Brannigan) who narrowly avoids a jail sentence and instead finds a nose for whisky as his life takes an unexpected turn. But just what does he have in mind for one of the world's rarest bottles?
Director kudos: Having never sold out to the mainstream, Loach remains a class act. (5/5)
Fan fever: There may be little fever, but Loach maintains a dedicated following. (3/5)
Explodiness: More scrapes and tumbles than explosive rumblings. (1/5)
Sexiness: A heavy bit of kilt action, but all in good humour. (2/5)
Funniness: Expect light charm, but be prepared for true grit. (3/5)
Total: 14/25 [TA]