Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and The Beatles in The Beatles: Get Back / Polygram Entertainment
Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which for movie buffs means the summer movie season is in full swing.
For the first time in more than a year, all of Northwest Arkansas’ movie theaters, including the Malco Pinnacle Cinema which re-opens today, are up and operating. With vaccinations on the rise and Covid-19 infections dropping, it’s time for film fans to return to theaters.
Two new movies open in theaters this today. Disney’s “Cruella” stars Emma Stone in the tale of how the villain from “101 Dalmatians” became a wicked fashion magnate with a fetish for spots in the first place. Also debuting is “A Quiet Place Part II,” the follow-up to the 2018 surprise hit that mashed up horror, science fiction, and silence into a startlingly successful concoction.
As long as the virus remains in check, this should be an outstanding summer movie season with a year-long backlog of films, held back because of the virus, making their way into theaters.
Here is a breakdown of my most anticipated movies opening between now and Labor Day:
In the Heights
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote this musical about growing up in Washington Heights, New York. It’s John M. Chu’s directorial follow-up to “Crazy Rich Asians,” staring Anthony Ramos of “A Star is Born.”
(Opening June 11)
This Pixar-animated project is about two friends vacationing on the Italian Riviera. The high concept is that they happen to be sea monsters in disguise. Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer voice the main characters. The movie had me at Pixar.
(On Disney Plus June 18)
F9: The Fast Saga
Vin Diesel and his crew are back once again in the eighth sequel to the original. Early reviews aren’t great, but that’s never stopped this crowd-pleasing franchise before.
(Opening June 25)
Though Black Widow sacrificed her life in “Avengers: End Game,” Scarlet Johansson is back as the character for a film that delves into her origin as well as her family history. The film, co-stars Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour.
(Opening July 9)
Does M. Night Shyamalan put a new twist on growing old? You’ll have to check out this thriller, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps to find out.
(Opening July 23)
Henry Golding of “Crazy Rich Asians” fame stars as the masked, ninja-like G.I. Joe character in this franchise reboot based on everyone’s favorite line of military action figures.
(Opening July 23)
The Jungle Cruise
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt star in this film inspired by the Disney ride and the classic Bogart-Hepburn film “African Queen.” I’m not sure if it will be good, but I am interested.
(Opening July 30)
The Green Knight
Dev Patel stars as questing knight Sir Gawain of King Arthur’s court who must battle the titular Green Knight. The movie co-stars Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, and Sean Harris.
(Opening July 30)
The Suicide Squad
Director James Gunn worked magic with Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. Now he steps into the DC Universe to direct Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Idris Elba (Bloodsport), Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), and John Cena (The Peacemaker) in this R-rated, comic-book ode to “The Dirty Dozen.”
(Opening Aug. 6)
Jennifer Hudson takes on the daunting task of portraying Aretha Franklin in this biopic about the Queen of Soul. The movie co-stars Forest Whitaker as the Rev. C.L. Franklin, Aretha’s father.
(Opening Aug. 13)
Hugh Jackman stars as a salesmen who provides his clients with the opportunity to relive their memories. Sounds creepy. The movie co-stars Thandiwe Newton and Rebecca Ferguson.
(Opening Aug. 20)
“The Beatles: Get Back”
Peter Jackson directs this documentary about the making of The Beatles’ final album “Leti It Be,” using amazing audio and visual tape from the landmark original recording sessions. This is my most anticipated movie of the year.
(Opening Aug. 27)
New in Local Theaters
• Cruella (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 2 hr. 14 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, 112 Drive In, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight
• A Quiet Place Part II (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 1 hr. 37 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight
Classic Corner – Memorial Day War Movies
TCM celebrates Memorial Day with a bevy of war movies
As it traditionally does on Memorial Day weekend, Turner Classic Movies is celebrating with a full schedule of war movies beginning at 7 p.m. tonight with “Pride of the Marines” and ending in the wee hours Tuesday morning with “War Nurse.”
Even a three-day, around-the-clock festival can’t get to all the classic war movies, but TCM selected a solid set of films. Here’s a link to TCM’s schedule.
The Naked and the Dead
The Naked and the Dead
Based on the 700-plus page World War II novel by Norman Mailer, “The Naked and the Dead” is an uneven movie with missteps; however, what director Raoul Walsh got right, he nailed in this hard-hitting 1958 film about the Pacific Theater of War.
Featuring solid performances by Aldo Ray as the brutal Sgt. Croft, Raymond Massey as domineering Gen. Cummings and Cliff Robertson as every man Lt. Hearn, the movie is told in flashbacks. The idealistic Hearn is at odds with Cummings and Croft, who both believe leaders must instill fear in their charges to get the best results.
Those philosophies come to the fore on the battlefield where Croft and Hearn’s basic beliefs are at odds. The film does a nice job of showing the pros, cons, and consequences of the two sets of beliefs, much to the chagrin of Cummings.
The ground the movie covers might remind some of Oliver’s Stone’s “Platoon” or even Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” in the rather simplistic but effective use of stereotypes in the depiction of various soldiers. The film pushed boundaries in its depiction of violence and the character of various soldiers, but a modern audience would likely find the film rather tame.
Perhaps the movie’s greatest accomplishment is its depiction of warfare. Walsh excelled at staging large-scale sequences like the open-beach landing on a bay held by Japan, burning fields during a confrontation, and furious hand-to-hand combat scenes throughout the film.
While “The Naked and the Dead” isn’t a great movie, it is a solid effort that does show Hollywood stretching its boundaries in the late 1950s.