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Arts and Entertainment

The 2014 LAist Summer Movie Guide

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Memorial Day has passed, which means we can officially start the summer season. And that means two things: getting sunburned and watching movies.

While the studios try to push the summer season earlier every year, we really couldn't care less about superhero movies and thankfully they frontloaded the year with those so the annoying fanboys won't crowd the multiplexes. Even though it seems like May has been packed with about 20 superhero movies, there's still plenty of dreck coming out this summer, so here's a guide to what we're looking forward to in the coming months.

'Night Moves' | Director: Kelly Reichardt
Kelly Reichardt's indie films have always found individuals reckoning with their place in nature, although lately her work has taken a more aggressive political turn with her last two films, Wendy & Lucy and Meek's Cutoff. Night Moves confronts nature vs. politics quite bluntly, as it stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard as eco-activists (or terrorists, depending on who you ask) plotting to blow up a dam somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. No idea if the Bob Seger song is involved. (May 30)

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'Obvious Child' | Director: Gillian Robespierre
Gillian Robespierre’s feature directorial debut follows a stand-up comedian (Jenny Slate) as she gets dumped, fired and then finds out she’s pregnant after a one-night stand. The indie romcom navigates the themes of contemporary adulthood, economic hardship, and abortion with an off-kilter affectation. Slate brings heart and lots of off-color jokes about being Jewish, relationships, and the female anatomy. (June 6) — Christine N. Ziemba

'The Rover' | Director: David Michôd

Director David Michôd's The Rover, which debuted outside of competition at the Cannes Film Festival this month, is set in the scorching Australian Outback of a post-apocalyptic near future of economic collapse a la Mad Max. Robert Pattinson, in a role very unlike his pasty vampire in Twilight, portrays a hillbilly who gets dragged into joining a bitter and former soldier (Guy Pearce) on a journey to get back his most prized possession: his stolen car. (June 20) — Jean Trinh

'Snowpiercer' | Director: Bong Joon-ho
Thankfully the battle between Harvey Weinstein and Bong Joon-ho came to a conclusion that preserved the full-length runtime of Snowpiercer for its American release. Although it doesn't mean a wide-release on June 27th, what matters it that Harvey Scissorhands' grubby fingers aren't all over Bong's original vision that was named best Korean film last year by critics. Bong, a genre craftsman who is the best mainstream director out of South Korea, makes his English-language debut with this adaptation of a French graphic novel set in a world where all of humanity is left on train circling a frozen planet stuck in a new Ice Age. (June 27th)

'They Came Together' | Director: David Wain
Wet Hot American Summer fans will be happy to see Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler together again on screen with filmmaker David Wain at the helm in They Came Together. It's a spoof on the romantic comedy genre where Rudd portrays a mega-corporate candy store executive set on closing down Molly's (Poehler) mom-and-pop candy shop and, true to romcom form, an unlikely romance forms. They Came Together comes packed with plenty of nudge nudge wink winks. (June 27) — Jean Trinh

'Life Itself' | Director: Steve James
You'd be hard-pressed to find a man more important to film culture in the last twenty years than Roger Ebert, so it's only fitting that he'd be granted a cinematic farewell. Directed by Steve James, the man who directed one of Ebert's personal favorite films, Life Itself brings together colleagues, friends, and filmmakers to celebrate a man who dedicated his entire life to the movies. (July 4)

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'Begin Again' | Director: John Carney
Begin Again, which stars Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld and Adam Levine, closed out the Tribeca Film Festival last month, and features Knightley’s on-screen singing and Levine’s acting debuts. They play a songwriting couple who move to New York after he’s offered a record deal. But with the big time comes big temptations, and she suddenly finds herself alone in the city—until she meets a washed-up A&R guy (Ruffalo), who hopes that her songs can save both their lives. Begin Again is written and directed by John Carney, the man behind the 2006 little-film-that-could, Once, another film about two lonely people making music throughout a city too big for the two of them. Maybe this one should be called Once Again. (July 4 The film now opens on June 27) — Christine N. Ziemba

'Boyhood' | Director: Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater's Boyhood was the most buzzed about film at Sundance this year, with many quick to proclaim it a masterpiece. Filmed over a span of 12 years, the film follows the coming of age of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), from ages 6 all the way up to 18 for both the fictional Mason and real-life Coltrane. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette also star as Mason's divorced parents. (July 11)

'Land Ho!' | Directors: Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz
Filmmakers Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz bring youthful indie cred to Land Ho!, a film that otherwise would barely register on the radar of anybody under the age of 50. Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn (fresh off a breakout performance in last year's This Is Martin Bonner) are senior citizen former brothers-in-law who go YOLO on one last trip through Iceland, a bromance that feels like a David Gordon Green film with an AARP card. (July 11)

'Jupiter Ascending' | Directors: Lana & Andy Wachowski
The latest from The Wachowskis since 2012's Cloud Atlas, this sci-fi adventure is their first original story since the Matrix trilogy. Starring Mila Kunis as a Jupiter Jones, a cleaning woman who’s unaware that she's destined for greatness. She doesn’t know of her destiny until she meets Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered, intergalactic warrior who rocks guyliner quite well. Caine reveals that Jupiter is next-in-line for an inheritance that changes the course of the world—and beyond. It seems quite silly, but the trailer points towards that marvelous flair the Wachowskis bring to any of their works. (July 18) — Christine N. Ziemba

'Mood Indigo' | Director: Michel Gondry
French filmmaker Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) brings another dreamy, whimsical, and sad love story to the big screen with Mood Indigo. Starring Amélie star Audrey Tautou, the story is based on a 1947 French novel, Boris Vian’s L’Écume des Jours. It follows a woman (Tautou) who becomes ill during her honeymoon with her husband (Romain Duris) after they discover a flower growing in her lung. Although her husband finds out that she can be cured if she is surrounded by flowers at all times, their future together is still in limbo. (July 18) — Jean Trinh

'A Most Wanted Man' | Director: Anton Corbijn
Anton Corbijn's previous two films (Ian Curtis biopic Control and the slow-burning The American) were better on paper than in execution, but at the very least he always brought a sharp sense of visuals that he fostered in a long career of photography and music video directing. A Most Wanted Man, an adaptation of the John le Carré novel, pairs Corbijn's compositions with one the last performances of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. This modern spy thriller also stars Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe. (July 25)

'Wish I Was Here' | Director: Zach Braff
Did The Shins change your life in 2004? If so, then Wish I Was Here, Zach Braff's Kickstarter-funded, sort of follow-up to Garden State comes back with a full-on Braff Attack with a trailer that features yet another Shins song and a Braffian affirmation of self: "You can pick any one you want... Just as long as it's unique and amazing like you." I think I just Braffed all over my keyboard typing that out. This time around, Braff, who directed and co-wrote the script with his brother Adam, plays an actor, father and husband who at 35 is still trying to figure life out. Hopefully in Braff's next film his aimless male protagonist will have sorted everything out (I wouldn't count on it). Braff has repeatedly defended his decision to crowd-source this film, saying that it afforded him creative control of the project. No word on whether or not Mitt Romney saw the film at Sundance with Braff. (July 25)

'Guardians Of The Galaxy' | Director: James Gunn
OK we lied. There's one superhero movie this year that intrigues us, if only for how downright odd it looks. We don't know anything about the Guardians of the Galaxy, but Wikipedia informs us that it's a relatively recent entry to the Marvel Galaxy and the film adaptation has Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel as a "tree-like humanoid," and Bradley Cooper as a "genetically-engineered raccoon." As stupid as this looks, it seems like Disney's only hope at actually making a Marvel superheroes movie seem interesting with the recent news that Edgar Wright had left Ant-Man. (August 1)

'Love Is Strange' | Director: Ira Sachs
Ira Sachs' last film, Keep The Lights On, made him a rising star in the indie queer circuit two years ago and with Love Is Strange he is bound for a mainstream breakthrough with the power of two talented actors sharing buoying his film. Alfred Molina and John Lithgow play two men in Manhattan who are finally able to marry, but are quickly forced to live apart by economic circumstance. It's a poignant look at modern romance through a lens that hardly ever reaches the big screen. (August 22)

'The Congress' | Director: Ari Folman
The Congress is director Ari Folman's (Waltz With Bashir) latest film is a mind-bending mix of live action and animation. Robin Wright is an aging and out-of-work actress (who also happens to be named Robin Wright) who decides to sell off her acting rights to a company that scans her body into a digital image, making her a virtual actress. The film also touts some other heavy hitters in the acting biz, including Paul Giamatti and Jon Hamm. (August 29) — Jean Trinh

The Fault In Our Stars | Director: Josh Boone

Get your tissues ready for The Fault in Our Stars when it gets released in theaters on June 6 because it's going to be a sob-fest. The film adaptation based on the popular YA novel with the same title follows the story of two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group. Hazel (played by Shailene Woodley), who needs to bring an oxygen tank wherever she goes, forms a relationship with Gus (Ansel Elgort), who has a prosthetic leg. The book's author John Green gave the adaptation his blessing and said at a recent Q&A: "I don't think it's just faithful, I think it's extraordinarily faithful, not just to the story which is kind of the less interesting and easier thing to do, but to the tone and themes of the novel which is a much more complex job. I couldn't be prouder." —Jean Trinh (June 6)

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