Summer Guide 2015

Summer Movies

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TrainwreckThe 'Trainwreck' and 'Inside Amy Schumer' star makes feminism funny without seeming didactic

I like spies, dinosaurs, and superheroes as much as anyone with both an X and Y chromosome. But when it comes to triumphing over oppression, I feel confident in Captain America and Chris Pratt's character in Jurassic World. The person I really want to see make the grade is a certain 33-year-old New York comedienne. In her new season of Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central, the Archbawd is transcending the sketch show format to become an important cultural figure. She's launching her new film, Trainwreck, with a seven-city live tour benefitting the charitable organization CrowdRise.

Trainwreck (out Jul 17) is scripted by and starring Schumer, and concerns "Amy"—a writer for a Vice-like media organization. She's been living her life willfully ignoring every toxic paternal trope she's ever been fed about monogamy—engaging gleefully in a string of one-night stands. That is, until she meets her match in a well-off sports doctor, played by Bill Hader (and is subsequently disturbed by the fact that she is interested in more than just his body).

Hader is certain to take some of the dull smoothness off of that rom-com cliché.  Schumer is completely on Hader's wavelength, as per the amazing Inside Amy Schumer sketch last week where she played a nubile, wiggly guest on Hader's chat show. Hader was mostly based on Letterman, thumping his pencil like a horny woodpecker. Concealed under the impenetrable name "(Amy) Lake Blively," Schumer was so tightly dressed, so fawning, so boy-culture loving, so "approachable" that she precipitates a literal geekgasm.

And this is the kind of, eh, seminal work that has won Schumer a deserved Peabody Award. The tribulations of a young woman with a few extra pounds on her, worried about whether she's hawt or nawt, may not be precisely what's meant by feminism. Sadly, it is exactly what's meant by television. Worse, it's what is meant by David E. Kelly television, as in his justly derided idea for a Wonder Woman show. Years after Kelly's big idea was hooted down, it's back in the new CBS Supergirl trailer. Take a drink every time Kara Zor-El frets about whether her cape makes her butt look fat.

What is Schumer doing differently? Why is she not didactic? Is it her reluctance to be seen as being wiser or more righteous than anyone else? Is it the lack of victimization—the toughness that tells God himself (Paul Giamatti) "Pass!" when he orders her to stop drinking? Schumer proved that body image makes for prime comedy if you tie it to something that matters: sheer economic survival.

Once Lenny Bruce did for comedy what bebop did for jazz, bringing out what was being played out behind closed doors. Similarly, Schumer exposes the vicious chat she was overhearing about her own physique, which would have been called "statuesque" in a smarter era.

Inside Amy Schumer's true breakthrough was the episode-long parody of "Twelve Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer." An all-male focus group, aggravated about her lack of hotness, merges seamlessly with the sweaty jury from a 1950s movie... a movie Schumer wouldn't have heard of, if she were truly the drunken blonde matressback she purports to be. Moreover, Schumer's parody of Aaron Sorkin's snappy writing in a burger joint exposed the dumbth lurking inside toe-to-toe, proactive macho-man dialogue.

Maybe only a woman of great appetites can bring to an end the comedy scene as it is was before she arrived: a non-stop sausage party.

San Andreas

San Andreas

Upset about Bay Area housing prices? A correction is just a quake away. The Rock rolls through it all and at the Camera 7 in D-Box the perfect way to shake rattle and roll. (May 29)    

Max

I don't especially want to see this, but I wish I had gross points on it—it looks like a hit. This Max, a war-traumatized Army dog, may not be as mad as Mad Max, but he does have personal demons—"animals can get PTSD too" we're assured. Director Boaz Yakin may be able to revive Rin Tin Tin for a new millennium. (June 26)

Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Round the World

Local documentarians Dana Nachman and writer Kurt Kuenne opened Cinequest with this already hotdoc about Miles Scott, a 5-year-old with lymphoblastic leukemia. He had the wish to meet Batman, and much of the city of San Francisco turned out. The kid in the picture: definitely more convincing than Bat-Affleck. (June 26)

Self/Less

If we can hope that M. Night Shymalan will return to some previous quality vis a vis the good previews for The Visit(Sept.)... we can also hope that Tarsem Singh, despite previous splendid looking disappointments, will make something as sterling as his The Fall. Ryan Reynolds is the new host of a mentality formerly living in Ben Kingsley. The long memoried will recall a Rock Hudson/John Frankenheimer movie titled Seconds, but if you do, you're probably living in a new body already. (July 1)

Ant-Man

Ant-Man

Despite much noted pre-production troubles, it may not be the Marvel Crash quite yet—there's ingenuity in the weeness of the hero Paul Rudd (The Atom ripoff though he be) psyching a bunch of ants into flipping a coin, as well as having a fist fight with a teeny-tiny villain on top of a speeding Lionel toy train. (Jul 17)

Listen To Me Marlon

Stevan Riley assembles an audiovisual collage from hundred hours of tapes Marlon Brando made talking to himself. Sixty-five years after his film debut, there is still no such thing as post-Brando acting, and that brings continuing importance to study of that essentially shy and introverted actor. Hear Brando's dismay at being mistaken for Stanley Kowalksi: "I hated that guy." (August)

Ricki and the Flash

 Jonathan Demme collaborates with scriptwriter Diablo Cody; the director of the best ever rock movie Stop Making Sense may bring kineticism to this story of Meryl Streep as a rocker in her middle years who wants some closure with her angry family. Playing Streep's daughter is her real-life offspring Mamie Gummer. (Aug 7)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Guy Ritchie's film reopens channel D. Henry Cavill as the Yank Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as the Russian Ilya Kuryakin angry at each other and forced to work in harness; Alicia Vikander (Ava from Ex Machina) is the daughter of a German scientist, Hugh Grant as the boss Waverly; and Jared Harris as "Sanders" (hopefully as in "George".) (Aug 14)

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