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Friday, May 31, 2013

Silver Screen Surprises Coming in June

Between the Explosions: The Potential Hidden Gems Being Released This Month

By Chris Sabga

"Man of Steel" and "World War Z" are among the many blockbusters slated for June, but there are also several other options that are more off the beaten path.

I haven't seen any of them yet, so I'm merely projecting what looks good to me. Inevitably, one or two – or all of these – could end up being duds. However, I'd like to think that my radar is refined enough that I'm on target more often than not.

A few of these are limited releases, which means you might not get them right away – or at all. If you have a budget theater, your movies of interest could pop up there a few weeks after their initial release date. Otherwise, you may have to wait for video.

For example, "Before Midnight" still hasn't come to my area. Do you smell that? It's the smoke coming out of my ears. But such is life when it comes to certain types of films – especially during the blockbuster summer months.

Here's what's on the docket for the next 30 days:

The Purge (June 7th): Yes, this also appeared on last month's list. With the competitive summer season in full swing, release dates tend to shift around as every movie jockeys for position. To recap: For one night of the year, people are legally allowed to commit any crime they want. A family – led by "Before Midnight's" Ethan Hawke – has to protect themselves from the madness just outside their doors. It's a tantalizing idea. Horror movies these days are usually hit or miss, but Hawke rarely appears in junk. 

Much Ado About Nothing (June 7th): Joss Whedon gathers his friends together for a modern day retelling of Shakespeare's classic tale. Instead of taking a vacation, Whedon shot this in twelve days (in black and white), in his own house, with a hand-picked cast of actors: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, and Jillian Morgese. Seasoned "Whedonites" will recognize those names from his other television and film projects. If you're not sure why you should be excited about this, you're not among the rabid converts familiar with the "Whedonverse."

Rapture-Palooza (June 7th): This will either be a complete train-wreck or downright hysterical. The rapture has occurred and now it's raining blood, locusts have appeared, and the devil (played by Craig Robinson) has come to Earth. Anna Kendrick proved she could handle wacky material well in "Pitch Perfect." This time, she's joined by comedy stalwarts John Francis Daly ("Waiting...") and Rob Corddry ("Hot Tub Time Machine"). Ken Jeong ("The Hangover") is also in the cast.

Violet & Daisy (June 7th): Alexis Bledel ("Gilmore Girls") and Saoirse Ronan ("Hanna") portray a pair of teenage assassins who set their sights on a new target, played by James Gandolfini. The premise sells itself, but it's far from a sure thing. Subplots about pop idols and terminal cancer could weigh it down. Still, I'm definitely curious.

Tiger Eyes (June 7th): Like many of you, I grew up reading Judy Blume. It's almost impossible to believe, but none of her books have ever made it to the silver screen – until now. She teams up with her son, director Lawrence Blume, for this film adaptation of her bestselling 1980s novel (which I haven't read) about a girl who moves to New Mexico with her family after her father is shot.

Vehicle 19 (June 14th/July 23rd):  After a long flight, a recent parolee (played by Paul Walker, "The Fast and the Furious") unwittingly rents the wrong car. There's a woman tied up in the backseat and the entire police force is after him – in South Africa. The international location might give this "Vehicle" some juice – or it could end up being bargain bin schlock. We'll soon find out. It comes out on video July 23rd – only a month after its limited theatrical release – which means that most of us will probably catch this one at home.

Byzantium (June 28th): Two strange women (Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton) seek shelter at a coastal resort named Byzantium, but they have a secret: they're 200-year-old vampires. Ronan's specialty seems to be playing mysterious girls who are slightly off-kilter.

I'm So Excited! (June 28th): Most of us have been stuck on a plane at one time or another for far too long because of some vague technical mishap. That's the idea behind the newest project by acclaimed Spanish writer and director Pedro Almodóvar. The flight attendants do everything they can to distract their passengers from possible danger. Naturally, the plane is filled with various eccentric personalities. This foreign-language film could potentially be one of the surprise comedies of the year.

Redemption (June 28th): Jason Statham plays a homeless former soldier who assumes another man's identity to seek revenge and redemption. The strange trailer makes this seem like more than just the typical Statham action flick. "Redemption" may end up being a beefier dramatic role than usual for the underrated British actor.

Blockbusters: The Internship (June 7th), Man of Steel (June 14th), This is the End (14th), Monsters University (June 21st), World War Z (21st), The Heat (June 28th), White House Down (28th)

To be honest, I can't bring myself to care about zombies ("World War Z") or an Englishman playing the American icon Superman ("Man of Steel") – is he fighting for truth, justice, and tea and crumpets? – but I'll keep an open mind, of course. The only June blockbuster really grabbing me is "The Internship" with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. I didn't even love their previous outing, "Wedding Crashers," but the idea of two 40-something men interning for Google sounds like it could be fun. My expectations are modest. "Monsters University" might end up in my rotation if I ever get around to watching "Monster's Inc."

Which ones are you looking forward to? Comment below or discuss it on Facebook or Twitter.

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