Movies in Theaters on June 3, 2011
It's June already! Now that the indulgences of Memorial Day Weekend are over (feeling the effects of that Hangover, anyone?), the summer movie season is officially in full gear. School may be out, but for Charles Xavier's merry band of mutants, class has just started with the new X-Men adventure; meanwhile, three indie movies with lots of festival buzz, Submarine, Mr. Nice and Beginners, are looking to lure audiences that don't dig on comic book movies (or at least maybe not on opening weekend).
Brace yourself, X-fans: this is probably going to be the best X-Men movie to date. Yes, even better than X2 (have you watched that recently? It doesn't really hold up...).Early word says this prequel -- directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) -- is, indeed, a class act, with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender doing Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen proud as they take over the roles of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr for a '60s-set origin tale that chronicles the founding of the School For Gifted Youngsters. Plus, we never thought we'd say this before, but it's nice to have an X-Men movie without Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, who has sometimes frustratingly stolen the focus of the screenwriters and directors of X-movies of yesteryear. You've had your time, Logan -- now let the kids have their shot. Bonuses: Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and January Jones working the half-nakedness as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club herself, Emma Frost.
The trailer for Submarine is witty and flip to the point of being exhausting, so we can't imagine what an endurance test the entire feature film might be like. Still, if you're into the films of Wes Anderson (and who isn't, really?), Submarine looks like it might have some Rushmore-like sweetness and melancholy amidst all of the endless self-conscious cleverness as it tells the story of Oliver Tate, a 15-year-old who vows to both lose his virginity before his next birthday and to rekindle the flame between his mother and the ex-lover who has suddenly resurfaced in her life. If nothing else, this will probably make stars out of the two young leads, Craig Roberts (Oliver) and Yasmin Paige (the young lady he hopes will help him fulfill Goal #1) -- how long before Hollywood snatches them up and puts them in a Hunger Games sequel or something?
A movie whose trailer opens with an extended scene of Ewan McGregor talking to his cute dog and the dog responding in subtitled silence is probably going to end up being a little too precious for its own good, but so what? A film about an aimless young man (Ewan McGregor) trying to deal with the fact that his father (Christopher Plummer) is both gay and dying of cancer (suddenly on both counts) should have a dog that speaks in silent subtitles, lest it all falls into melodramatic despair. Speaking of aimless young men, Ewan McGregor seems to be meandering a bit in the career department since the Star Wars movies wrapped, so it's always good to see him actually show up in something -- and check out that Christopher Plummer, somehow still in fighting shape and just as charming as he was during the Sound of Music days. Written and directed by Mark Mills, who brought us the pretty good (and probably equally eccentric) Thumbsucker, Beginners will make you laugh, cry and shake your head in amusement at its harmless indulgences (such as a dog that speaks in subtitled silence).
Apparently, if anything, this biography film about Welsh drug smuggler Howard Marks might be a little too nice, but there's nothing wrong with a little revisionist history, right? Besides, when you cast a charmer like Rhys Ifans as one of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century -- already known for being kind, polite and constantly stoned -- then drug dealing isn't going to seem so bad after all. Mr. Nice also features eternal edgy indie queen Chloe Sevigny as Marks' lady and -- in a perfect bit of casting -- David Thewlis as Irish drug trafficker and IRA volunteer Jim McCann. You'll spot Crispin Glover hovering around as well, though the icing on the cake is definitely 83-year-old Ken Russell as Oxford don and historian Russell Meiggs -- the director of such gonzo pieces of cinema as The Devils and The Lair of the White Worm will probably live to be 1000. Mr. Nice looks to have the manic energy and anarchic spirit of Trainspotting, and as it's been a while since we had a movie like that, it's best to inhale deeply.