7. Searching For Sugar Man"
There's already been more than one excellent music documentary this year (see above), but most believe that "Searching For Sugar Man" transcends the genre and becomes something else. Picking up excellent reviews at both Sundance and SXSW, the film, directed by Malik Bendjelloul, tells the story of '70s Detroit folk-pop artist Rodriguez, who reportedly killed himself on stage, and the two South African fans who tried to get to the bottom of the life of their mysterious hero. As our Todd Gilchrist said in Park City, the film not only serves as a reminder of Rodriguez's music, which survives "as much for its social consciousness as its remarkable melodic complexity," but also a portrait of "a person who felt a need to explore himself creatively, had the talent to do so, and then possessed the grace to deal with his failure in a simple, pragmatic way." Read that original original review here.
When? July 27th
Joel Kinnaman is a hot prospect these days. The Swedish-American actor was an early stand-out in AMC's "The Killing," and that part has seen him become one of Hollywood's hopes for leading men of the future; he's already cropped up this summer in "Lola Versus," and next year will star in the title role in the remake of "Robocop." But later this month, U.S. audiences will get to see where it all started for him, as "Snabba Cash," the film that saw him come to international attention, arrives two years after it became a box-office smash back in Sweden. The film, now with the English title "Easy Money," and presented by Martin Scorsese, stars Kinnaman as JW, an economics student in Stockholm who becomes involved in organized crime, crossing paths with a Yugoslav hitman and a Chilean coke smuggler. Future-Robocop aside, there's another reason to check the film out -- it also served as the calling card of Daniel Espinosa, who went on to direct this year's hit "Safe House." Plus when we saw it way back at TIFF in 2010, we dug it a lot -- read that review here.
When? July 11th
It's fair to say that Oliver Stone's been a little off his game for a while: films like "Any Given Sunday," "Alexander" and "W" all held promise, but never quite came together, and the less said about "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" the better. But the crime tale "Savages," seems to mark the return of a side of Stone we haven't see in a while -- the gonzo crime helmer who wrote "Scarface" and directed offbeat material like "Natural Born Killers" and "U-Turn." Based on Don Winslow's best-seller, it concerns two low-level weed dealers (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch), who after resisting attempts to join up with a Mexican cartel (led by Salma Hayek), have their girlfriend (Blake Lively) kidnapped, and are forced to take up arms to save her. Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Demian Bichir and Emile Hirsch are also involved in an A-list cast, and it looks like it could be pulpy crime fun, even if it's not going to be a return to "JFK" form. We've heard mixed word from screenings (look for our review later in the week), but there's enough positive word that we're keeping our fingers crossed for it.
When? July 6th
It's become clear over time that "The Watch" wasn't the film we were expecting it to be. Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade in the lead roles, featuring a premise involving a suburban neighborhood watch group fighting off an alien invasion, and with Shawn Levy producing, we were assuming it'd be a PG-13 family-friendly effects comedy, along the lines of "Night at the Museum." But then we recalled that Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg worked on the script. And that director Akiva Schaffer is a member of Lonely Island, and helmed the underseen "Hot Rod." And that the casting didn't just include "Submarine" director in one of the lead roles, but also people like Billy Crudup (as a villain) and the great Rosemarie DeWitt (as Stiller's wife, and looking like she gets more than you might assume to do). And the trailers have been increasingly funny, looking like it's loose, profane and genuinely chucklesome. It could still turn out to be a mess -- aspects of "Land of the Lost" were promising too, let's not forget. But we're getting increasingly good vibes on this, and in a summer without a true home-run comedy (even if "The Dictator" and "Ted" were close), we've got our fingers crossed it'll really deliver.
When? July 27th