Summer is always an endurance contest: week after week of Movies You Have to See. Once upon a time the season was four months, like actual summer. But climate change has managed to monkey with the Hollywood release schedule. Now summer starts whenever a studio says it does; last week Universal called summer first. So the season pretty much began in the middle of April, with Oblivion, which delivers Tom Cruise as the last man on Earth. The movie industry is hoping you like the end of the world. It's the source of the season's other endurance contest: seemingly endless months of planetary devastation, alien invasion, and surviving. Armageddon is the new Avengers.
Maybe it's foolish to wonder whether the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the subsequent citywide hunt for the perpetrators wasn't summer movie enough. Maybe this should have been the summer Mark Wahlberg partied with the vulgar teddy bear. We are strong, however. Absentminded, too. So if Brad Pitt wants to race around the globe in the name of stopping a zombie pandemic, we might be helpless not to watch. But there's something going on when even the comedies are horning in on that action. I saw the poster for This Is the End, with the faces of all those funny people — Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jay Baruchel — and assumed it was about a bunch of man-children graduating from night school or getting drunk at a wedding or something. It might still be about that. But it's also about how a disaster has hit Los Angeles and left them stuck with each other. I'm going to go ahead and predict that Robinson dies first.
It's a special Do You Like Olga Kurylenko Movies? edition of DYLPM? this week, during which Wesley lies on a rug that does not tie any rooms together and he and Alex discuss Oblivion, To the Wonder, twists that aren't really twists, the beauty of a Sonic drive-in at dusk, and how hard it is to do a whole podcast in Terrence Malick Interior Monologue Voice. Spoiler alert: It's really hard.
Hey, Oblivion won the weekend box office! Tom Cruise is back! Or, you know, sort of back. I mean, he was more or less back already, after Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. But then he had some serious flops, so he was gone again. But this one did pretty well, so he's back. Yep. Back. For now. I think.
And so it goes. Ever since Oprah's couch signaled the latter days of Tom Cruise, the rising and falling and rising box office fortunes of America's no. 1 most-down-for-the-cause, never-say-die movie star have been endlessly scrutinized. In so doing, we seek nothing less than the true answer to that most timeless of Hollywood questions: Do we or do we not like Tom Cruise right now? And I guess, right now, we do? Who knew?
With Emily still recovering from Coachella, and Molly still recovering from Anthony Mackie in a Dan Marino jersey, the Girls decided to ditch the map this week and free-form jazz their way through their discussion of an eventful pop cultural week. (So eventful, in fact, that we didn't even get around to talking about Amanda Bynes's face! Apologies for going off-brand.) The highlights were of course Emily's weekend in Tatooine Indio, and the Grantland staff's (controversial!) Pain & Gain screening, but other topics discussed include:
Pretty much the one thing I remember from Quantum of Solace (which is, let’s be honest, by far the most forgettable Daniel Craig Bond film) is Ukrainian model/actress Olga Kurylenko striding across the desert in a designer ball gown. Seeing as roughly 80 percent of Bond girls are as interchangeable as men’s magazine covers, I consider that a noteworthy accomplishment. Since then Kurylenko has continued to battle Bond-ian fungibility with eclectic credits in films like hyperkinetic writer/director Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths and Mitch Glazer’s show about the good ol’ days of Cuban crony capitalism, Magic City. This summer, Kurylenko stars in two films that, if not for her, would never even be mentioned in the same breath: Terrence Malick’s latest art house/spiritual experience, To the Wonderwith Ben Affleck, and the sci-fi mega-movie Oblivion with Tom Cruise.
That’s not so much eclectic as paradoxical, but paradoxical sure can be fun. I chatted with her about twirling through Malick's latest film, Cruise’s incomparable running abilities, and the one thing that a big Hollywood blockbuster and a Malick movie have in common. Read on below!
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (September 27)
Silver: I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly entertained by the firstCloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I’d initially disregarded it as yet another Hollywood studio’s half-baked attempt to enter the world of animation, but the writer/director team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller put together a film that was legitimately funny and at times cleverly subversive. (These sensibilities carried over into last year’s 21 Jump Street, their most recent film.) Cloudy definitely merited a sequel, but the first trailer for Cloudy 2 leaves me wanting. I don’t see any of the crafty set pieces or humorous situational business that made the first one so unique. Lord and Miller are (currently) nowhere in sight on this film (they’re not even listed as producers), and their influence is clearly missed. This trailer takes a huge swing and ultimately misses by positioning the film as nothing more than an overstuffed sequel with enough cringe-worthy food puns to make one want to consume a bottle of single malt intravenously. As it was with the first Cloudy, I hope I’m wrong and grossly misjudging this film. Subsequent trailers will hopefully pacify my fears.
Silver:The Internship feels like the sad test-tube baby of Wedding Crashers, Old School, and Dodgeball released 10 years too late.
Now let me explain why, simply based on its trailer, this is one of the worst things I’ve ever said about a film.
Here’s a little insight into my movie mind. I’m a firm believer that all movies are an amalgamation of different elements appropriated from previously released films. And that “originality” should be determined by how filmmakers choose to stitch together these bits and pieces from cinema’s vast and dense history to create and present their own celluloid Frankenstein's monsters. So as a fan who still fancies himself a student, I take a great deal of pleasure in playing “Cinema CSI." It entails analyzing a film all the way down to its complex DNA strand and understanding its lineage, with the hope that I'll be able to fully understand its intentions. (Example: I appreciate Reservoir Dogs because I’m aware of how John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow I and II, Kubrick’s The Killing, and the original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three influenced it.) This is why I sometimes dislike films generally praised (The Lion King) —
The first trailer for Oblivion, Tom Cruise's upcoming foray into sci-fi with Tron director Joseph Kosinksi, was released last night. Here are some initial thoughts upon repeated viewing:
1. Tom Cruise is never less convincing than when involved with sports. "The last Super Bowl was played right here classic game. They call them 'games.' Right? Not matches? Anyway, nameless quarterback throws a prayer pass. Touchdowns!" See also: His awkward free throw at 1:23, his total inability to toss a baseball to his son in War of the Worlds. (And he's still rocking the same Yankees hat. Of course he pretends to like the Yankees. Sigh.)
Considering that this is an Auto-Tune-free ballad whose video features T-Pain gently stroking piano keys in the dark, there is plenty to make fun of. Let’s just focus on this one line, though: “When I’m diseased / I hope you’re dying next to me / In my watery grave.” Thanks for giving him "watery," Lonely Island!