Fuck, marry, kill: Batman, Spider-Man, Oliver Stone. Now you see our dilemma.
Ah, fuck, marry, kill. A time-honored parlor game played amongst friends, not unlike charades, or possibly quoits, whatever those are. To further that spirit of boisterous erotically charged debate between chums, we’d like to introduce you to our newest Nerve calendar. The rules are simple: three anticipated pop-culture items, three iconic verbs. Allons-y!
Monolithic Über-Blockbuster Bracket
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
IMDb Says: “Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner.”
I’ll admit I was skeptical that there was any reason to reboot this franchise just over a decade after the original, but the trailer and the roster of talent associated with the film have been gradually changing my mind. Is it sacrilegious to suggest that this’ll be better than The Dark Knight Rises? I almost want to do that, even if I don’t really believe it in my heart.
Savages (July 6)
Director: Oliver Stone
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro
IMDb Says: “Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.”
It’s not that I don’t love Oliver Stone. But between the too-pretty to be real duo of Blake Lively and Taylor Kitsch as leads and Stone’s track record as of late (his most recent film was Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, remember?), this one’s caught between the rock of Spider-Man and the hard place of Dark Knight Rises. Best to mercifully lay it to rest.
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, many others
IMDb Says: “Eight years after Batman took the fall for Two-Face's crimes, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.”
Do you think anticipation for this might be running a tad high? Personally, I think some of the fawning over The Dark Knight is largely due to Heath Ledger — that whole “prisoners and citizens on boats” climax was the kind of moral conflict an eighth-grader would dream up, and Inception’s spectacle largely glossed over its shortcomings as a narrative. All that said: Tom Hardy will be there, things will blow up real good, Anne Hathaway will be wearing leather, and, if nothing else, this will be a fun blockbuster and an appropriately bombastic finish to a beloved trilogy.
Quiet Little Indies Bracket
Ruby Sparks (July 25 — limited)
Director: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas
IMDb Says: “A novelist struggling with writer's block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.”
My only worry about this quirkfest from the directors of Little Miss Sunshine is that it feels a little too forcefully jam-packed with whimsy — I think I liked this concept better when it was the criminally underrated Stranger Than Fiction (and the much-less underrated Pygmalion). Great cast, though — anything with Alia Shawkat and Steve Coogan among its lower-billed rungs should be eminently watchable.
Killer Joe (July 27 — limited)
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon
IMDb Says: “When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.”
When did Matthew McConaughey become so sneakily appealing? I’m not sure, but this NC-17 film from the legendary William Friedkin did well at its limited festival releases last year, and it does have an excellent supporting cast — Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, and Emile Hirsch. Also, Friedkin will presumably be obliging the “Shirtless in At Least Three Scenes” clause of McConaughey’s contract, so there’s that. This has the pedigree (and the super-dark plotline) to be the surprise hit of the summer.
The Queen of Versailles (July 6)
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Starring: Jackie and David Siegel
IMDB Says: “A documentary that follows a billionaire couple who live in a 90,000-square-foot mansion inspired by Versailles, built on the success of the time-share industry.”
Lauren Greenfield does good work — there’s no denying that. But this doc about a 1% couple feels like a return to the well (she previously covered the detestably wealthy and un-self-aware in 2008’s Kids + Money), and there is literally no reason to give Jackie and David Siegel any more attention. (David Siegel actually sued Sundance, objecting to the film’s tagline, “Rags to riches to rags.”)
At Least It’s Two Hours in A/C Bracket
Katy Perry: Part of Me (July 5)
Director: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz
Starring: Katy Perry and presumably several of her worker-drones.
IMDb Says: “A documentary that chronicles Katy Perry's life on and off-stage.”
Much as “part of me” literally wants to fuck Katy Perry, there is absolutely nothing about this self-serving cash grab that deserves to see the light of day. I am sure of two things, though: it will make scads of money and it will warp thousands of young girls irreversibly. Oh, and it represents a new low for American music and cinema. Three things.
Step Up Revolution (July 27)
Director: Scott Speer
Starring: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Peter Gallagher
IMDb Says: “Emily arrives in Miami with aspirations to become a professional dancer. She sparks with Sean, the leader of a dance crew whose neighborhood is threatened by Emily's father's development plans.”
First of all, why did they not go with original title Step Up Forever? Second of all, Peter Gallagher. Third of all, have you ever been with a dancer? In the end, it’s not worth the eating disorders, leotards draped all over everything, and overall insanity, but it is an eye-opening experience. The Step Up movies have always had a kind of stupid, sexy charm to them, and this one will probably be no exception.
Ice Age: Continental Drift (July 13)
Director: Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier
Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Aziz Ansari
IMDb Says: “Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift.”
Ray Romano is a tired-sounding mammoth! Denis Leary is a tough-sounding saber-tooth tiger! John Leguizamo and Aziz Ansari are incredibly grating! But Peter Dinklage will be there. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year or so, it’s that I have a weird thing for Peter Dinklage. Even his voice is sexy.
Agree? Disagree? Leave your own FMK pairings for these brackets in the comments!