Here’s what to expect at the theaters this month.
Each month, The Dissolve looks ahead at what’s coming to theaters over the next four weeks, both opening widely and in limited release. (Limited releases are marked with an asterisk; movies being released on VOD are considered to be opening widely; links are to Dissolve reviews.) Plan your schedules accordingly.
The big one: Life Itself
Is it indulgent for a film-criticism website to declare a documentary about a film critic to be the most important movie of the week? Probably. But given that the director of Life Itself is Steve James, the man behind the excellent documentaries Hoop Dreams, Stevie, and The Interrupters—and given that the subject of Life Itself is Roger Ebert, a man who helped an entire generation expand its love and understanding of movies—a little indulgence is allowable. For many cinephiles, this film’s release is one of the year’s major events.
Earth To Echo… It may sound reductive to call this movie “found-footage E.T.,” but if the three-toed shoe fits…
My America… Hal Hartley’s new film will be available exclusively on Fandor beginning on July 4, and consists of 21 monologues about life in these United States.
Tammy… Melissa McCarthy co-wrote this comedy with her husband Ben Falcone (who also directs), building an entire story around one of McCarthy’s oddball improv characters.
The big one: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
There was little reason to expect that 2011’s franchise-reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes would be as good as it turned out to be. The downside of Rise’s surprising awesomeness is that fans of that film now have higher hopes for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, which has a new director (Matt Reeves, of Cloverfield and Let Me In), but the same producer-writer team, and the same astonishing motion-capture technology turning Andy Serkis into the brainy revolutionary ape Caesar. According to the early reviews, Dawn lives up to Rise’s promise, adding even stronger emotional underpinnings to the story of a near-future Earth where humanity is being ravaged by disease, and apes are developing their own society.
Affluenza*… Holy Rollers director Kevin Asch takes a look back at those strange, faraway days of 2008, in an upscale Long Island suburb.
Boyhood*… Richard Linklater’s remarkable cinematic experiment follows one kid’s life over the course of 12 years, as he grows up in Texas.
Land Ho!*… A Sundance favorite, this collaboration between Cold Weather director Aaron Katz and Pilgrim Song director Martha Stephens follows two estranged, elderly friends on a trip to Iceland, where their spirits and relationships are renewed by the big country (and, on the soundtrack, Big Country).
Rage*… Nicolas Cage channels Liam Neeson, playing a seemingly normal family man who gets all Cage-y when criminals invade his home and his daughter is taken.
And: Closed Curtain, A Long Way Down*, Made In America*
The big one: Sex Tape
There’s one huge reason to be excited about yet another raunchy, post-Apatow R-rated comedy about the modern problems of middle-class, middle-aged suburbanites: director Jake Kasdan, who, when he has the right material (Zero Effect, The TV Set, Walk Hard) is one of the best comedy directors working in movies today. In Sex Tape, Kasdan is working with a script by Kate Angelo, Nicholas Stoller, and Jason Segel, telling a story about a bored married couple (played by Segel and Cameron Diaz) who try to improve their love life by making a sex video, which then gets accidentally uploaded to “the cloud.”
I Origins*… Writer-director Mike Cahill follows up his cult science-fiction film Another Earth with another yearning, philosophical take on the genre, starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling.
Mood Indigo*… Michel Gondry gets back to being Michel Gondry, telling the tragic romantic story of a woman (played by Audrey Tautou) who has a flower growing dangerously inside of her.
Planes: Fire & Rescue… Animated aircraft get civil-service jobs.
The Purge: Anarchy… Is it time for The Purge again? It seems to come around more quickly every year.
Video Games: The Movie… Jeremy Snead’s documentary promises a wide (but reportedly not that deep) overview of one of the world’s favorite pastimes.
Wish I Was Here*… A.k.a. “that Zach Braff Kickstarter movie,” Wish I Was Here has Braff playing an actor who tries to teach his kids important lessons (like which Shins song works best for staring blankly into the distance) after circumstances force him to home-school them.
And: Aftermath, Among Ravens
The big one: Magic In The Moonlight*
Film critics have been fairly divided over whether Woody Allen’s late-career commercial resurgence has been as fruitful creatively, but Allen seems to have discovered something in his recent work that connects with people, whether it’s the romantic urban settings or the low-stakes stories about fumbling eccentrics. There’s no reason to believe Allen’s Magic In The Moonlight won’t be at least a modest success, if not another breakout hit like Midnight In Paris and Blue Jasmine. Emma Stone is utterly charming in the trailer, playing a spiritualist who bewitches a skeptical stage magician, played by Colin Firth, in the 1920s French Riviera. Expect some genteel but perhaps unexpectedly moving conversations about what it means to believe.
The Congress… Waltz With Bashir creator Ari Folman leaves the past behind and predicts the (disturbingly near) future, making a half-animated film with Robin Wright as “herself”—an aging actress who sells her image for a studio to use as digital avatar.
Happy Christmas… Joe Swanberg’s latest won raves at Sundance for its well-realized portrait of a circle of aimless friends, played by Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Mark Webber, and Swanberg himself.
Hercules… Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gets in on the comic book-ish sword-and-sandal business, playing a famed mythological warrior for director Brett Ratner.
The Kill Team*… Dan Krauss’ documentary follows a military whistle-blower trying to draw attention to his platoon’s war crimes.
Lucy… After Under The Skin and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the main takeaway from the cinema of 2014 should be this: Scarlett Johansson is a dangerous person. Here, she plays a vengeful, super-powered badass for director Luc Besson.
A Master Builder*… Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn collaborate again onscreen, in a modern-dress version of a Henrik Ibsen play, directed by Jonathan Demme.
A Most Wanted Man*… Anton Corbijn directs one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last performances, in a reportedly reserved adaptation of a John Le Carré novel.
Very Good Girls*… Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen play college-bound best friends determined to lose their virginity over the summer.
And: And So It Goes, Beneath*, The Fluffy Movie, Ironclad: Battle For Blood, My Man Is A Loser*, Step Up: All In