By Kristen Lopez | The Playlist July 1, 2013 at 12:14PM
Synopsis: A shocking documentary uncovering the lives and treatment of orca whales, their history in the sea-park industry, and the poor reputation they’ve received over the last few years.
What You Need to Know: Magnolia Pictures presents an expose on the world of the majestic orca whale with “Blackfish.” After a string of attacks at the hand of orcas, or “killer whales,” the question was asked if the animals were to blame, or is the sea-park industry which makes millions by marketing and training these whales to do tricks. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite lifts the veil, exposing the sea-park industry and the abuse and neglect that orcas endure. Of course, controversy will arise based on the movie‘s thesis, but look for this to stir up a firestorm of criticism akin to the 2009 dolphin documentary, “The Cove,” which caused similar public outcry. “Blackfish” will easily snag animal lovers, although as with any documentary, it will probably make you incredibly angry.
Release Date: July 19th in limited release with plans for expansion.
Synopsis: An American (Ryan Gosling) living in Bangkok, must hunt down and take revenge on the Thai police lieutenant who murdered his brother.
What You Need to Know: Director Nicholas Winding Refn made waves with 2011’s “Drive,” catapulting star Ryan Gosling even further into the stratosphere, as well as asserting Refn’s style of bloody, uncompromising violence. His latest offering is a reteaming with Gosling, and our own Jessica Kiang, in her review from Cannes, states that while the film is similar to “Drive” it yields “diminishing returns.” Refn, himself, is aware of the raised expectations, with audiences clambering for a spiritual sequel to “Drive,” and he doesn’t particularly worry about expectations. In our interview with the director in May, he explains, “For me, the greatest pleasure is when you make something and everyone argues about it. Because you know it’s the only time that people are actually affected by what they see… so obviously I’ve reached into your deepest soul.” In spite of its lack of “emotional engagement,” audiences who have come to enjoy Refn’s streak of violence and vengeance will definitely flock to this opening weekend.
Release Date: July 19th in limited release.
Synopsis: Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a wealthy socialite who ends up flat-broke. With no one to turn to, she’s forced to go to San Francisco and move in with her sister (Sally Hawkins).
What You Need to Know: Director Woody Allen has been on a tear of late, directing and releasing at least one movie a year with a diverse range of actors and locations. His last few films (highlights include “Match Point,” "Vicky Christina Barcelona," "Midnight in Paris") have been located in the wondrous world of Europe; with “Blue Jasmine,” Allen is returning to the States with a film that's been puzzling both audiences and critics, not only about where it will stand in Allen's filmography, but also in its overall tone. The first trailer, released only a few weeks ago, emphasizes the blend of comedy and drama. Might we be seeing something in the vein of Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters”? We'll find out in a few weeks.
Release Date: July 26th in New York and Los Angeles
Synopsis: Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) is about to enter college, but feels insecure because she’s still a virgin. Her goal during the summer is simple: experience every sexual thing that can be done in order to go to college sexually mature.
What You Need to Know: “The To-Do List” feels like it’s been limping towards release forever. Supporting cast member, Bill Hader (who is married to the film’s director and screenwriter, Maggie Carey) has compared the film to a “raunchy ‘Sixteen Candles'” which certainly raises expectations. But the red-band trailer is hilarious, and filled with dialogue that would make your grandma blush. Plaza is becoming quite the indie darling, and “The To-Do List” could be enough to propel her into leading lady territory. The movie is set during the summertime, so its late July release seems to be a perfect hit for what should be a pretty naughty diversion.
Release Date: July 26th
Synopsis: “X-Men” regular, Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) goes to Japan in order to take down an enemy from his past.
What You Need to Know: It’s been four years since the troublesome “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and it’s unknown if audiences have forgotten about it, or not. Leading man Jackman has intimated that “Origins” “could have done better,” and it’s that film’s disastrous shoot that has led him to question whether he’ll wear the claws after “The Wolverine.” Other than Jackman’s name and the “X-Men” connection, there are no big names to sell the film (director James Mangold has crafted an equal number of hits to disappointments). With a release date in late July, and no other comic book films to offer up competition, “The Wolverine” could succeed if comic book fans want something to watch. Let's just hope it's a course correction for the character.
Release Date: July 26th