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Filmstalker's films for July 2011

Diary.jpgJuly is, surprisingly a quiet month. You'd think that it would be filling up with bigger films but the releases are pretty thin on the ground, however that doesn't mean it's a bad month because as the films thin out so the quality ones rise to the top.

There's quality films like Tree of Life, but there's still space for a few blockbusters like Captain America: First Avenger, plus there are a few off the wall that are sure to surprise Cell 211 and Playing Burton.

There are some interesting films to be had this month, and a few you really should watch. Here's the Filmstalker recommendations for the month.

The Conspirator
Robert Redford directs once again and tackles an interesting tale that could be looked at from many different angles, all of which are very relevant today, the biggest and most obvious would be terrorism, nay homeland terrorism. The story is about Mary Stuttart, the woman charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. With popular opinion set against her she relies on one reluctant lawyer to help save her life and uncover the truth. Robin Wright, as gorgeous as ever, James McAvoy and Tom Wilkinson star so it's not just the talent behind the camera that should draw you in.

Larry Crowne
Tom Hanks stars and directs a film which also seems to strike a chord with today's society, a middle aged man who has worked in the same company for years and years is laid off. Not really knowing what to do or much about a new career, he heads back to college in an attempt to learn something new. There he falls for his rather jaded teacher, played by Julia Roberts, dear me will she ever look unattractive? It looks cheesy but a lot of fun, and sometimes that's what we need.

The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick directs Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain in a story about the eldest of three boys growing up and their family life with the promise of something much broader and more insightful, this is Malick after all. I'm looking forward to the performances of Pitt and Pean, two great actors who I'm sure will be on top form for this film.

Now the idea of a David Schwimmer directed film isn't as interesting as it used to be, after all his previous outing was rather bad. However this is something new, something with a lot more meat to it. The film tells the story of a teenage girl who is targeted and groomed by an online sexual predator, and when her father discovers the truth he's none too pleased. It looks like there's going to be a little of the revenge genre to it and since it stars Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Viola Davis and Noah Emmerich, you have to think there's something more to this than Run Fatboy Run delivered.

It sees like ages since we heard about this film but it was only released in the US on the first of April, and that was rather limited. Rainn Wilson plays a man who decides to win his wife back from the new man she's fallen for, a man who happens to be a drug dealer. He decides to turn himself into a superhero to fight crime and destroy him, bring in The Crimson Bolt and after a while his side kick Boltie, played by Ellen Page. Liv Tyler's also in there as is Kevin Bacon, Gregg Henry, Nathan Fillon, and Michael Rooker. Interesting cast, but will it be a funny film? It looks like it has its fair share of darkness too.

Holy Rollers
I'm really not sure about this film, the story of a young Orthodox Jew who becomes an ecstacy dealer for an Israeli drug cartel, apparently based somewhat on a true story. It seems an interesting idea for the film but I'm not so sure these days about Jesse Eisenberg, is he going to break out of the mould of playing himself? If he is, this sounds like one of the films to do just that.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The end of Harry Potter...well his story anyway...maybe! After all it's already continuing online in a way so I wonder if it really is the end? Regardless of whether it is or not we know that this ending is going to be pretty dark and very serious. This isn't the young kid that we watched grow up, he's not floundering his way into the teenage years now, this is a grown up Harry and the world around him has grown up. The trailers make this look dramatic, serious and a lot heavier than we've seen so far, and that's going to suit a lot of the audience down to the ground. A fitting end?

Cell 211 (Filmstalker review)
This thriller does have a few flaws, but the story of a prison guard on his first day caught up in a prison riot and mistaken for a prisoner in the highest security prisons there is in the country. He plays along with being a prisoner to save himself, but he just gets caught deeper and deeper in events and closer to those behind the riot. It's a very strong thriller which will surprise you with some of the turns it takes. Well worth watching amongst the standard fare.

Bobby Fischer Against the World
You surely remember the name of Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players there has been, but his story is a complex and largely unheard one. The film looks at the man that the public saw and the one that they didn't, and it's a hell of a story. Here's the blurb for a film that promises to be very interesting.

...the first documentary feature to explore the tragic and bizarre life of the late chess master Bobby Fischer. The drama of Bobby Fischer's career was undeniable, from his troubled childhood, to his rock star status as World Champion and Cold War icon, to his life as a fugitive on the run. This film explores one of the most infamous and mysterious characters of the 20th century.

Horrible Bosses
This could go either way, it could turn into one standard American comedy filled with the usual bodily function and sex jokes, or it could be something rather clever and funny. Three men, hounded by their dreadful bosses, get drunk one night and follow the advice of a stranger who suggests they each kill the other's boss. So they try to do just that. The thing that gets me interested is that Kevin Spacey is playing one of the bosses, reminiscent of Swimming With Sharks, and another is played by Jennifer Aniston. There's also an appearance from Donald Sutherland. I'm on the fence, but I hope one of these films can turn me around.

Mike Mills, last film Thumbsucker (Filmstalker review), writes and directs Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent and Goran Visnjic in this film that has a great premise and potentially a great role for the superb Plummer. He plays an elderly man who tells his son, played by McGregor, two very surprising pieces of news. One is that he has terminal cancer, and the other is that he's gay and has a lover. Early reviews are mixed, but there are some good names in there.

Cars 2
I'm just choosing this for my nephews, I don't think this will live up to the original, even with the new names, characters and the hugely expanded storyline, but you know, the kids will love it. Let's see Pixar deliver something new and refreshing.

Captain America: First Avenger
I have to admit that I was turned around by the trailers for this film, I thought that a film about an all-American superhero fighting for the flag wasn't going to go down all that well with the rest of the world, the tone just wouldn't sit right. However after seeing the trailers I have to say that I've been pulled right into the story, it's exciting, the visuals look great, and there's a sense of the fun that Iron Man delivered too. I've actually gone from doubting to wanting to see it and just maybe it'll deliver a hit in more places than the country the character was born from.

Whisky Galore
A re-release of the classic Scottish film from 1949 that sees a group of islanders trying to get their hands on fifty thousand cases of Whisky just sitting on-board a stranded ship. It's a classic film and surely one to be savoured in a cinema where you can have a nice whisky yourself.

Playing Burton
Here's what I wrote about this film back when it was supposed to be released in March: I know nothing about this film, but I was named after Richard Burton playing Richard III on stage, something my mother saw while she was pregnant with me and was convinced enough to call me Richard. Regardless of that I've admired the actor immensely throughout his career and I love his performances, so a film that says it charts his rise from South Wales, through the theatre and to the Hollywood icon he became, his love affair with Elizabeth Taylor and his troubled later years sounds fantastic.

It's the adaptation of a stage play about the man, what looks like it could be a one man stage play, but that's all I know. Still, I'm in.

Richard Burton moves from impoverished boyhood in the working class South Wales Valleys to acting genius of the theatre, Hollywood millions and turbulent love affair and marriage to actress, Elizabeth Taylor and drink-fueled divorce and Faustian fall.



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