Summer Film Preview

The Hot Flashes: Susan Seidelman's latest film sounds like it could be either hellish or delightfully cheesy: a group of middle-aged Texan women try to get their mojo back by challenging a group of high school girls to a basketball tournament. The older women in question include Wanda Sykes, Brooke Shields, Darryl Hannah, and Camryn Manheim. It's been too long since Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan, but with luck, Hot Flashes will be Hoosiers for mature actresses who deserve better roles.

July 19

R.I.P.D.: This M.I.B.-esque, high-as-a-kite-concept action-comedy stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridgesas ghost cops — meaning ghosts that happen to be cops rather than cops that gun for ghosts. The Plot: While Bridges shows Reynolds the ropes of ghost cop-dom, the duo try to track down the man who killed Reynolds' character, probably either Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, or James Hong. This is director Robert Schwentke's follow-up to Red, the only comic book movie where Helen Mirren teams up with a really big gun.

Only God Forgives: Ryan Gosling reteams with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn reteams for this bonkers thriller, recently screened at Cannes. Refn has described Only God Forgives as a contemporary western set in Thailand, and the plot synopsis is no less incredible: Gosling plays a drug-dealing cop-killer and Thai boxing club proprietor who also happens to be a hitman who gets tangled up with the crimelord played by Kristin Scott Thomas. Seriously, this is a real film that's coming out.

July 26

The Wolverine: Another would-be blockbuster that might be good, but probably won't, this X-Men spin-off was originally supposed to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, but is instead being helmed by Knight and Day director James Mangold. Based on the debut story in the first solo Wolverine comic series, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank MillerThe Wolverine is set sometime after the events of the more-beguiling-than-actively-bad X-Men: The Last Stand. Logan (Hugh Jackman) fights some yakuza, and falls in love. Could be busy fun, or it could just be busy, like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Blue Jasmine: There's precious few details available for Woody Allen's latest comedy, but apparently it's about a neurotic housewife. The film's cast is typically varied, and ranges from conventional picks like Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett, to pleasant surprises like Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlberg, Louis C.K., and even Andrew Dice Clay. We're guessing Clay isn't the housewife.

August 2

2 Guns: Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur seems to have adopted a one-for-you, one-for-me approach to filmmaking. Before taking on 2 Guns, a crooked cops-vs.-mob thugs comic book adaptation starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, Kormakur directed soulful, pulpy neo-noirs like Jar City, or last year's The Deep, and, uh, Contraband, a good-enough Wahlberg vehicle. 2 Guns looks like it's Kormakur's return to dum-dum mode, but he's a talented stylist, the cast is solid (Edward James Olmos and Bill Paxton!), and there's nothing wrong with the ol' summer pew-pew.

Europa Report: Most of the people involved with this indie scifi film are unknowns: the closest thing to a recognizable star is Michael Nyqvist, of the original Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies. Still, since serious science fiction films are now almost as rare as westerns, this story about an expedition to Jupiter's fourth moon deserves a look.

August 9

Elysium: Neil Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9 sounds like more of the same blunt science fiction social critique. In the year 2154, Earth is a ghetto for poor people that can't afford to live on Elysium, an orbiting space station. But the Terran plebs are restless, so it's up to Matt Damon to keep the haves away from the have nots. District 10 co-stars Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, and William Fichtner.

August 16

Paranoia: Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Amber Heard, Josh Holloway, and Richard Dreyfuss co-star in Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic's thriller about corporate espionage. Liam Hemsworth of Hunger Games fame plays Adam Cassidy, an entry-level employee who screws up at his job and is then given a choice: spy on a rival corporation or get fired. Is it awful of us to wish the movie were more about one of the old guys?

Kick Ass 2:  Last time, director Matthew Vaughn brought out the best in Kick-Ass, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s obnoxious, hyper-violent satirical superhero comic. Kick-Ass 2's trailer suggests the sequel's subtitle could be More of the Same, but hope stirs in the geek breast thanks to the arrival of new cast members John Leguizamo and Jim Carrey, the latter as a vigilante named "Colonel Stars and Stripes." Carrey's winningly deranged performance in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone suggests that the once-exciting performer can still be funny. And if the trailer is to be believed, Carrey will steal this proudly profane sequel.

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