Spring Movie Preview

Some interesting films are on tap for March and April — read on

We work a bit in advance here on each issue, so I’m currently in the throes of creating a summer movie preview.

Summer — where “summer” is defined as Memorial Day through Labor Day — is a huge time for movies. Studios hold on to their biggest spectacles, their hottest properties, and their splashiest effects and unleash them right at the time where people are dying to sit in overly air-conditioned theaters to escape the heat. It’s a hallowed moviegoing tradition!

Usually, the months before May are no great shakes for movies. You get Oscar holdovers and a bunch of junky horror films, teen comedies, and low-stakes thrillers to hold you over until things start to heat up.

As I was perusing the schedule, though, I noticed something funny. While this summer is stuffed with superheroes and sequels, the spring doesn’t look as lean as usual. Some interesting films are on tap for March and April. I don’t know if the studios just want to beat each other to the punch and therefore, have inched up the placement of some key movies, or if they worry that some artier and weirder films would be lost in the shuffle if held until summer. Last year, Alice in Wonderland made roughly a bazillion dollars with a March release date, so perhaps studios just aren’t as gun-shy about releasing a cool movie outside the safety of summer.

So, what should we watch this spring? My humble suggestions:

Rango (March 4)
It’s an animated western. It’s about talking lizards and other small animals. It’s got Johnny Depp. These seem like an unlikely mix, especially for an adult movie, but Salon.com called it one of those “kidult-oriented” movies that “barely pretends to be for kids.”

Take Me Home Tonight (March 4)
This is one of those one-crazy-night coming-of-age movies and, since it takes place in the ’80s, the easiest thing to compare it to is a John Hughes film. But Topher Grace, the film’s star and executive producer, says in the A.V. Club that it’s more akin to American Graffiti, and promises no cheesy winking-at-the-camera, didn’t-we-all-dress-funny-in-the-’80s jokes.

Battle: Los Angeles (March 11)
Aliens are invading — again! (After watching the trailer, a friend leaned over and said he hoped they brought firewalls/virus protection this time, to avoid the mistakes they made in Independence Day.) I know this is shallow, but, as a New Yorker, I feel relieved that there’s finally a disaster movie taking place in California for once (special-effect people must think that our East Coast monuments are more fun to virtually destroy).

Red Riding Hood (March 11)
The director of the first Twilight movie moves from vampires to werewolves, and tarts up the old fairy tale for a modern audience. Get used to these types of fairytale remakes. After the success of Alice in Wonderland, reworkings of Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and Jack and the Beanstalk are all in the hopper.

Jane Eyre (March 11)
I may get my English BA revoked for this, but I never made it through my dusty old copy of this book. Still, the trailer for this version of the film — starring Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right) and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) — makes it look intense and even a little bit cool.

Paul (March 18)
A lovable alien comes to Earth and needs some help — only this isn’t E.T. It’s packed with comedic talent: Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star in it, the voice of the alien is Seth Rogen, and Superbad’s Greg Mottola directs.

Win-Win (March 18)
In the smaller, festival-going crowd, there’s a subset of people who like watching the schlubby Paul Giamatti work through things. This one is for them, and it won Giamatti — who plays a high school wrestling coach who wants to help a struggling student — some good notices at Sundance.

sucker punchSucker Punch photograph by Clay Enos

Sucker Punch (March 25)
Watchmen and 300 director Zack Snyder’s women-in-trouble film wouldn’t feel out of place in an amped-up summer lineup. It’s about girls trapped in a mental institution who retreat to a world of their imagination to find freedom. And that world looks, well, crazy (in a good way). Think zeppelins, dragons, and girls in pigtails kicking ass.

Source Code (April 1)
Thinkers who liked figuring out the dreams-within-dreams in Inception and sci-fi fans who loved the ultra-tiny budgeted Moon will want to come back for director Duncan Jones’ second feature film. I’ll say just one thing about it: It involves time travel.

Arthur (April 8)
Yes, it’s a remake of the old Arthur. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a travesty depends on if you like Dudley Moore more or less than British comedian Russell Brand. (Brand certainly tops Moore in the crazy-hair deparment.)

Your Highness (April 8)
High-toned people make a low-brow comedy: Artsy director David Gordon Green (George Washington, Snow Angels) and recent Oscar winner Natalie Portman join perma-grad student James Franco and Danny McBride (a.k.a. Kenny-freakin’-Powers) in some kind of medieval pot-smoking adventure comedy.

The Conspirator (April 15)
Robert Redford directs a period courtroom drama about the lawyers who prosecute and defend a woman charged in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. This should not to be confused with The Lincoln Lawyer.

Water for Elephants (April 22)
Hunk du jour Robert Pattinson trades his brooding vampire pallor for a colorful movie about working in a Depression-era circus. There’s nary a shirtless werewolf in site, but he still finds himself vying for a young woman’s affection against a romantic rival. Poor kid can’t catch a break.

That’s a lot of movies to see in two months — get cracking! Which spring movies are you most excited for? Let me know in comments.

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About This Blog

Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY

Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.



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