Blockbuster season. Typically the season where most of the most anticipated films of the year — the ones that were hyped perhaps years in advance — are released. Since 2012 was the year when The Avengers gave us the first superhero team-up film and the year when The Dark Knight Trilogy came to a close, 2013 looked like it was going to be rather underwhelming this time of year. I already mentioned that Iron Man 3 was released in April, starting the season early, but Thor: The Dark World wasn’t coming until October!
So that left us with two major superhero films to look forward to: Man of Steel, which divided audiences and critics alike in its more serious, violent portrayal of Superman, and The Wolverine, which made good on its promise to improve upon its abysmal predecessor and managed to be both coherent and quite entertaining. Pixar and DreamWorks continued their rivalries, however, with the release of Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, and DreamWorks’ first sequel to cash-cow Despicable Me. (The less said about Turbo, the better.) World War Z finally came out and, predictably, did very well for itself, what with people being starved for zombie entertainment until the next season of The Walking Dead started. Summer also saw the release of some fairly big “prestige” films, however, the likes of which you’d normally expect to come out during the fall and winter Oscar season: Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, and Blue Jasmine each received widespread critical acclaim.
Perhaps my most anticipated films of the summer were Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, and The World’s End, which were all released during this time, and I personally actually enjoyed each of them immensely, though to also varying degrees. This was the time period where I did get promoted at my job and also got a raise, so I was able to see a few more films that I just wanted to see during this time. Nevertheless, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon…
I made it clear that I really tend to not go out and see foreign films within the year that they are released. This is not because I hate them, nor because I am lazy. I just… tend to get caught up in all the big releases, and I never have the time to keep up with the latest releases. Because I use Wikipedia for my source of these lists, however, I tend to notice interesting films from all over the world because of it, and I’ll gladly watch some of them as I see them sometimes on Netflix, for example. Like this one, which is an anthology off four short films, assembled in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema.
Greetings from Tim Buckley
I gotta admit, I’m not all that familiar with the work of both Tim Buckley and his son Jeff Buckley, two rock musicians who have gone on to achieve a sizeable posthumous following. This film imagines what might have been Jeff’s struggles as he found his voice in the wake of his father’s legacy and as he develops a friendship with a girl working at a tribute concert to his father. Due to its fictional nature, it’s not likely that this would be the best source of getting to know either artist, but as a film, it received solid reviews, so, perhaps it’s not a bad place to start, all the same.
Kiss of the Damned
Good grief, more vampires? I remember the trailer for this one – a dark, acid-washed, adult take on modern vampire romance and inter…species?… politics. The film is the directorial debut for Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes, daughter of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. It doesn’t look great, but it certainly looks interesting.
Shootout at Wadala
Directed by Sanjay Gupta, it would be important to note to American audiences that this is not Dr. Sanjay Gupta, though, given the director’s reputation for taking Western films and remaking them, you could apparently be forgiven for being fooled.
2013 certainly was a good year for Michael Shannon, appearing in Man of Steel and playing a supporting part in Mud. But this was his big starring role this year, playing notorious hitman/family man Richard Kuklinski opposite Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, and James Franco. The film received mixed-to-positive reviews, with performances being singled out as the highlight, so perhaps something to watch when you get in the mood for a crime thriller?
Co-produced, co-written, and starring horror aficionado Eli Roth, the film’s premise is incredibly high concept: tourists from America go to Chile to party down and are in an underground club when a massive earthquake hits, setting loose hell on earth, mostly in the form of person-on-person violence. Because that’s how Eli Roth rolls.
Go Goa Gone
A Bollywood zombie film. A Bollywood stoner zombie film. That bills itself as a “zomcom.” I’m not saying that it’s a rip-off, but it’s clearly a cash-in. But then, isn’t anything zombie these days?
He’s Way More Famous Than You
“Celebrities don’t make a movie great. Heart makes a movie great.” You just keep telling yourself that, film featuring a bunch of second and third-stringer actors and has-beens playing themselves. It’s not because you’re relative unknowns that your film looks like crap. It’s because your film looks like it has been made by a bunch of second and third-stringer actors and has-beens who don’t really seem to know what they’re doing or what makes something funny and heartfelt. When plucky Halley Feiffer in the trailer compares herself to River Phoenix and Janis Joplin and Marilyn Monroe as examples of people she wishes to emulate in order to gain fame, it doesn’t come off as subversive, controversial, or satirical – the delivery is so flat, it just seems like the writers thought of whatever mean thing they could have this cheerful girl say and settled on the most obvious choices of more famous celebrities who died in their prime. I don’t want to sound mean, either, but… there’s such a thing as being a sore loser.
No One Lives
A man goes on a revenge killing spree after witnessing the murder of his girlfriend after they are kidnapped and whisked away to the woods, utilizing a series of what look to be very elaborate traps and tools. The film received mixed responses, likely due to the torture porn nature of the film. Make of that what you will.
Tyler Perry Presents Peeples
Nope. … Nooope, nope nope.
A high-impact looking police crime action flick that also involves identical twins. That’s… really about it.
Girls just can’t have any fun, can they? Three old friends meet up and go on a trip together but end up fighting for survival when they run afoul of three men also on the island with them. It’s most notable for being directed by Katie Aselton, wife of indie poster child Mark Duplass, who wrote the screenplay. The film received mixed reactions, leaning negative. Not exactly groundbreaking work, but if you’re pressed for a thriller?
Fast & Furious 6
I never much cared for this series. I had seen the first two and swore them off. When they started getting actually, you know, good, apparently with the fifth entry, I felt as if I needed to catch up on the series… but was completely unwilling to sit through the rest of the films again to get any sort of context. I suppose I should one day, but until then, I’m likely going to just remain ignorant about the only franchise that has gotten better with the addition of extraneous sequels.
The English Teacher
Single and underappreciated, teacher Linda Sinclair reunites with a former student turned failed playwright and offers to produce his play at his old school. She intends to reinspire him, despite his father’s objections, but emotions run high and the two become involved, complicating both of their lives. The trailer looks a bit dull, and reviews were not the brightest. Looks like another Julianne Moore film that doesn’t put great use to her talents.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
A Pakistani immigrant, Changez Khan, becomes the target of racial profiling in the wake of 9/11, despite his embracing the very westernized ways of his new homeland, America. The story is told in flashback, after his return to Pakistan, as Changez gives an interview with an American journalist who suspects his involvement in the kidnapping of an American professor. The premise sounds intriguing, but this adaptation of the original novel was critiqued for its heavy-handed approach to the subject.
The only reason why I didn’t watch this third entry Richard Linklater’s trilogy of films that began with Before Sunrise and continued with Before Sunset was because I had never seen the previous two entries. I always hear good things about them, and this was apparently one of the best films of 2013, but I just never really got around to seeing any of them as of yet.
Only God Forgives
… and yet critics were not in this follow up to director Nicolas Widneing Refn’s previous collaboration with Ryan Gosling, Drive. Unlike Drive, this film about a criminal Thai boxing club owner in Bangkok getting revenge for the murder of his brother disappointed critics expecting much more from the director who gave them one of the more stylish and well-made action films to come about in quite some time. Only God Forgives maintained the style but apparently not the finesse.
I remember seeing the trailers for this film and thinking it looked like garbage, and not because it involved vampires. Gemma Arterton isn’t exactly the most compelling actress of our times, and the story about a mother and daughter seeking to live out their secret lives as bloodsuckers in peace could have easily gotten mishandled. Critics were mostly kind to it, however, with director Neil Jordan once again proving to be adept at adapting vampire lore into entertaining film drama.
A private investigator for a large corporation is assigned to infiltrate an anarchist group known as The East but soon finds herself sympathizing with their cause, questioning her own work, life, and morality. The concept could have easily been just as heavy-handed as other political thrillers, like the aforementioned The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but this Brit Marling-written-and-starring film managed to impress critics. Something to look out for when browsing.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
It looks like your typical good-times-having young people in a romantic comedy, with that necessary Bollywood musical element added for good measure. One of these days, I will watch a Bollywood film, I promise.
The film tackles the obviously touchy subject of school shootings and what ultimately would lead a teenager to commit such acts, with Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus playing a journalist named Lax Morales, who receives clips of the latest school shooting from the attacker, Herman. The trailer suggests that bullying is seen as the main culprit, with Morales reluctantly identifying with the shooter after reluctantly granting him the post-shooting interview Herman requests. Is Herman a monster, or is he just the product of an unjust society? That’s heavy material – material that the film’s trailer doesn’t seem to indicate it’s capable of handling in a levelheaded and serious manner.
Not quite the Wedding Crashers reunion people may have hoped, this movie kind of looks more like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s adventures at the wonderful Google headquarters. It’s not like none of these three elements has never done anything good in the past on their own, but even as a Nexus 4 and 7-owning fan of Android, I don’t think I could stomach what looked to me like one big commercial for Google.
Davey, her sister, and her mother relocate to Los Alamos, NM after the death of her father. She attempts to find herself again, slowly making friends with the new people around her and exploring the desert wilderness alongside a Native American named Wolf. The film was co-written by Judy Blume and based on her 1981 young adult novel of the same name, so I’d imagine that fans of the book would be satisfied with the adaptation. It did alright with critics, too.
Violet & Daisy
Saoirse Ronan makes yet another appearance in my list of films I haven’t seen in this poorly received film that pairs her with Alexis Bledel as two young women who work as hired assassins looking to earn enough money to go to their favorite pop idol’s concert. A dark comedy written and directed by Geoffrey S. Fletcher, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Precious, the film also features James Gandolfini as a man dying of cancer who implores the girls to do a mercy kill for him, forcing them into an existential dilemma, as these situations tend to do. The film was likely trying to be pretty clever but ended up being quite a flop.
Hey, that’s not very nice!
My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
I have no problem with the latest My Little Pony series existing. Being a big nerd, I even sat through a couple episodes of the Cartoon Network TV show, Friendship is Magic, just to see what all the fuss was about. It was a cute series, and certainly I could see why some would think it’s fun, but it wasn’t for me, and I never watched passed the first couple episodes. The problem with the series isn’t its girliness – I like the Powerpuff Girls, afterall – it’s the annoying fans it has amassed, particularly the annoyingly named Bronies. I’m certain it’s an exaggeration, but some of them take the series a bit too far, if you know what I’m saying. Something about the concept of Equestria Girls, where the titular ponies open a gateway to a world where they are humanoid teenage girls instead of ponies, just really didn’t set right with me.
Despicable Me 2
Call me a killjoy, but I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about with the first movie. It wasn’t bad, mind you. It had its amusing moments, and I love Steve Carrel’s voice acting. The Minions were bizarre and borderline annoying, but were at least mostly entertaining. And the kids in the film were cute, I guess. But I didn’t adore it like everyone else. I wasn’t exactly clamoring to see the sequel, either. Don’t be surprised if it shows up on a future 2013 in Review list, though. I’m planning on renting this one.
This Is Martin Bonner
Nice to meet you, Martin. Never heard of you before. This film about a man, Martin, who moves to Reno, NV and begins work helping released prisoners transition back into daily life outside the cellblock, befriending a recent release named Travis Holloway in the process, received strong reviews. Luckily, if you have Netflix and are craving a serious emotional drama, it’s available for streaming right this minute. I’ve already added it to my queue.
100 Bloody Acres
Two brothers, struggling to keep their organic blood and bone fertilizer business afloat after a dearth of car crash victims causes stock shortages, resort to killing unwitting victims – only one of the brothers develops a crush on one of the victims. It looks absolutely mad, and plenty gory, but this Australian grindhouse comedy received positive reviews from critics who could stomach it, so … you know… why not?
I don’t’ know why, but I keep picturing the DC Comics villain whenever I hear about this film. Tangents aside, this is actually about the American Civil War reaching the far north and affecting the life of a stubborn farmer. Watching the film’s trailer, with all its dramatic music and labored dramatic performances and line readings, I couldn’t help but laugh at it by the end. Its 24% Tomatometer rating just corroborates with this feeling.
Hammer of the Gods
I’m sure it wasn’t trying for much, but this Viking actionfest looks like absolute, cheap crap.
The cinematography on this romantic film, based on The Last Leaf by O. Henry, looks very pretty, and was very well received in India.
Stuck in Love
Greg Kinnear works out a midlife crisis, Jennifer Connelly second guesses leaving him, Lily Collins plays their daughter who is reluctantly falling in love while publishing her novel, and Nat Wolff plays their son who is struggling through his teenage years alongside a troubled dream girl. This was bound to be mediocre.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (भाग मिल्खा भाग)
A biopic based on the life of Olympic runner Milkha Singh, “The Flying Sikh,” and based on his autobiography, The Race of My Life, chronicling his struggles with the massacre of his family, civil war, and homelessness. The film has received fairly widespread acclaim, though questions regarding accuracy hang over the production.
Dealin’ with Idiots
A standup comedian, Max Morris (fictional surrogate for star and director Jeff Garlin) decides to coach his son’s youth baseball team but frustration arises in the form of the eccentric and angry parents of the kids on the team. A relatively large cast is peppered with familiar faces like Christopher Guest, Jami Gertz, Fred Wilard, and Timothy Olyphant. What could have been a funny concept for a movie, however, just looks to fall flat on its face – and never reaches home base. (Was that a good sports analogy? I don’t really know…)
Daredevil and Ghost Rider director Mark Steven Johnson directs a film about two men, one an American military vet (Robert De Niro) and the other a Boris-and-Natasha-accented European tourist (John Travolta), who come to blows on a hunting trip when the tourist’s true intentions are revealed. The action looks fairly impressive for the two aging actors, but the film looks as crappy as Johnson’s directing efforts have always looked.
The horror anthology continues in this sequel to the poorly-received 2012 horror flick. Only, this time, critics apparently had a change of heart, as this second go at telling the story of evil-encompassing cassette tapes apparently took a page from Fast & Furious and learned from its predecessor’s mistakes. I had considered reviewing the first film this past Halloween, but never really got around to it. The fact that the sequel is apparently better kind of makes me want to dig in, though, just to get here.
Pokémon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened (劇場版ポケットモンスター ベストウイッシュ 神速のゲノセクト ミュウツー覚醒)
I remember when the first Pokémon movie in America was released and how I showed up to one of the earliest showings just to get an exclusive trading card. I had the “music from and inspired by” soundtrack to the film, too, which was really more like a list of late-90s pop music singers, including Britney Spears, M2M, and B*Witched. After my fandom died down and the disappointment I felt in seeing Pokémon: The Movie 2000, however (apart from the Ancient Mew card promotion), I never saw another Pokémon movie again, including this one, meant to promote the new X & Y generation of games on the Nintendo 3DS.
An Indian political thriller about four RAW agents tracking down a Pakistani terrorist, “the most wanted man in India.” It looks rather standard for an action-packed thriller.
I didn’t actually care all that much for the first film, despite really really wanting to, but, truth be told, I can no longer remember exactly why. Perhaps my expectations were too high? This one didn’t fare too well, however, so perhaps with my expectations set, I should probably try this series out again?
Many thought this was a shoe-in for a Best Picture nomination this year, but, as of this writing, it’s just been revealed that Woody Allen’s latest acclaimed film has, much like Inside Llewyn Davis, been snubbed by the Academy – at least in that category. I hear fantastic things about Cate Blanchett’s Oscar-nominated performance, however, as a woman who is losing her grip on her life again. Something I’ll definitely be renting once it’s available.
The To Do List
Aubrey Plaza is known for her caustic sense of humor. It’s one of those things that has always been fairly constant, and yet also just so reassuringly unceasing. So it’s kind of weird to see her branching out and playing a pretty nerd who is trying to lose her virginity (Get the title now?) as she transitions into college in 1993. The supporting cast is strong, including Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Donald Glover, and Clark Gregg, but I can’t say that it looks all that hilarious, either.
The Smurfs 2
Yeah, like I’m stupid and masochistic enough to watch this. Not even to put it on my Worst list!
I admit – I resisted this film. I did not want to see it. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as opposing undercover officers who are assigned to investigate each other and then end up betraying their organizations and partnering up on a snarky crime spree? No thank you. It did well enough, critically, but I honestly have next to zero desire to see this film based on what I saw from the trailers. Nope! No thank you.
I would really like for Lindsay Lohan to get out of this funk of hers. The trailer seems to suggest that it’s all about film being degraded into nothing but sex and celebrity controversies, which seems like something Lohan, trying to make a comeback, would be driven towards. Unfortunately, The Canyons failed to impress anyone except maybe the director, Paul Schrader.
The Spectacular Now
On the off chance that I don’t get around to seeing this movie but only because I really do plan on watching it this weekend (along with some of the Best Picture nominees I need to catch up on, too), I’m just going to comment about how I never would have seen this movie if not for the buzz it got for its honest portrayal of teenage life and the performances of the film’s leads. That’s pretty much all I’ll say, though, as, again, I plan on renting this now that it’s at Redbox…
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
What feels like a decade after the first film in the series (but was really only 3 years), a sequel was finally and randomly released in 2013. It apparently took some liberties with the original novel, and apparently not for the best, as the film was criticized for being overloaded with blandness. Also, those effects look awful.
We’re the Millers
This story about a group of neighbors who band together, pose as a fake family, and then attempt to smuggle in weed from Mexico looks like the mixed bag that its reception with critics, overall, suggests. The trailer hints at some amusing bits, though, which is more than I would have expected, so it’s possible that, lowering expectations, some enjoyment can be derived from it afterall?
I… did not see this Telugu film…
… nor Hindi/Tamil film…
… nor this Tamil film. I’m sorry! I really probably should pay more attention to foreign cinema, perhaps especially Indian cinema!
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star in this film about an outlaw couple who get in trouble with the law, with Affleck escaping custody and rushing to meet back up with his wife and daughter while a police officer makes circles around his wife. It looks quite good, and beautifully shot, too. The title suggests an ominous ending…
Too soon? Seriously, this Ashton Kutcher-starring Steve Jobs biopic that chronicles his rise, fall, and then rise again at Apple very likely needed some time to be thought out a little better. And perhaps some better talent. Kutcher only somewhat looks like the famed innovator, but that’s the least of the film’s troubles. I’d seen clips from the film prior to release that suggested some kind of rose-tinted view of the man who was, quite frankly, a well-known asshole. The trailer hinted at a wannabe The Social Network, while also remaining mostly uncritical towards Jobs himself. Granted, you can’t go solely off a trailer, but critics derided it (as did Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who is actually helping with Social Network scribe Aaron Sorkin’s own Steve Jobs movie). I’m ultimately more intrigued by the Justin Long-starring preemptive parody, iSteve.
Ouch. 4% on the Rotten Tomatoes. This thriller about a double agent stealing information for two companies who then finds himself caught in the middle of two companies and two bosses trying to sabotage each other. It could’ve been dumb fun, given a relatively strong cast in Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, and Harrison Ford, but… apparently that was not to be.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, The Butler is an all-star assemblage of familiar faces playing familiar historical figures as it follows an African American White House butler across eight presidencies, right up until the historic election of current President Barack Obama, examining the change in social and political climate along the way. Many thought the film would be guaranteed at least a few Oscar nominations but were surprised when it was revealed that not a single golden statue would be going its way, despite widespread affection for the film.
Named after the Beethoven composition Für Elise, this Spanish film about a young woman taking a job as a caretaker for a mentally challenged girl seems to take a terrifying turn, if its trailer is anything to go by, with the mother of the girl suddenly turning on the caretaker and keeping her captive. Also, blood? I dunno. It looks freaky. Apparently is pretty good, though.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Some apologists for the film stated it’s not really the Twilight rip-off you’d expect, saying it was a little more self-aware of its silliness. Not so, said critics of this fantasy action romance. And… yeah. I didn’t watch it.
No, this isn’t some bizarre adult spinoff of Air Bud. It’s a film about coworkers at a brewery, Luke and Kate, whose relationships with their significant others are strained by their close friendship with one another. It sounds like the premise for a crappy romantic comedy, but the film has been praised for its humor, realism, and winning cast – Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston. It’s on Netflix streaming, so, yeah, it’s in my queue now, too.
Apparently this is a psychological thriller, but it almost looks like a dark comedy if you look at it in the right light. The film stars Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler as two best friends who get stranded in a desert when their truck breaks down. With the sun beating down on them, and the boredom of isolation getting to them, the two friends begin to turn on each other – first attacking the details of each other’s lives, then pummeling each other’s faces. I think the most amusing part of this was the fact that it’s actually received decent reviews.
Short Term 12
Wow. I apparently missed out on this 99%-scoring film about the adults and youths involved at an at-risk youth home, particularly Grace, played by Brie Larson, who develops a connection with a troubled girl who was recently placed under her care even as she faces her own past and fears of the future. It could easily have been schlocky, but that overwhelmingly positive response promises a film that is emotionally fulfilling and honest. If only it were streaming! … Whatever, that’s what a DVD queue is for!
A slasher film that actually looks pretty freaking terrifying, with animal-masked killers targeting a family reunion for their victims of brutal killings. It looks slick, well designed, and certainly scary. Critics were kind to the film, which is an achievement, so it’s very likely that this’ll show up on during a future Scary Movie Month.
Terrorism. Romance. Thrills of the political sort. Somebody saying, “Get out of there now!” I know it’s pretty late, but I got bored and nearly fell asleep watching the trailer just now.
One Direction: This Is Us
And I did not care.
Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, and Jon Voight star in a film that looks like someone who heard the buzz surrounding Drive and then decided, after viewing the trailer, “I can do better!” and then didn’t.
Girl goes through a quarter life crisis, moves back in with her parents, and gets a job as a lifeguard again as she figures out, over time, that she really does need to grow up. Even though I know the feeling of that obnoxiously named stage in life, I honestly remain skeptical of minor a Kristen Bell film’s ability to say anything deep and truly meaningful about what it means to move on into your 30s and grow up. I do imagine it was likely better than what either of the Grown Ups films had to say about anything, but there was a while when I looked at this movie and strongly thought about giving it a shot, if only to round out my worst films I saw this year, whether it was at the Redbox or when it showed up on Netrlix streaming. I opted instead to save my time.