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Thursday, May 19, 2011 07:41 pm

No popcorn necessary

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More than any other summer, this one features a particularly strong slate of films that would seem out of place on hot hazy days. There are no superheroes here, just fascinating people attempting to deal with the curves life throws them, told by some of the smartest filmmakers working today. Below are seven upcoming features that will likely engage your mind and heart and prove much more satisfying than any special effects-driven movie. (Note: All of the below release dates are for the film’s original screening date and some of these features will arrive in the Springfield area a few weeks later.) 

Midnight in Paris
(May 27) – Woody Allen returns with his strongest feature in five years. This valentine to the City of Lights finds him in a nostalgic and romantic mood. Owen Wilson is his on-screen surrogate and plays a man who finds himself transported to the Paris of the 1920s every night when he takes a stroll after midnight. Touching and thoughtful on the subject of living in the past, the film also stars Rachel McAdams. 

Beginners
(June 3) – Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor play father and son whose relationship changes when the elder reveals that, not only is he dying of cancer, but that he’s gay and has a much younger lover. Laughter and tears are to be expected in equal measure.

One Day
(Aug. 19) – Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess star as lovers who reunite every year on the same day they met. Covering the course of 20 years, the novel on which the film is based is a poignant look at friendship and the long-term consequences of the choices we make.

Larry Crowne
(July 1) – Tom Hanks, who co-wrote and directed the film, takes on the title role as a man who finds himself adrift when his middle management job at a big box retailer is cut. He returns to the local community college and gravitates towards others like him, as well as a professor (Julia Roberts) suffering from burnout.

Crazy, Stupid Love
(July 29) – Steve Carell stars as a newly divorced man who comes under the tutelage of a slick ladies man (Ryan Gosling). While his confidence soars and he does his best to win his wife (Julianne Moore) back, his carousing mentor finds himself falling in love with a sweet woman (Emma Stone) with trust issues.

The Help
(Aug. 12) – This adaptation of Kathryn Hackett’s bestseller takes place in the Deep South in the 1960s and deals with an ambitious journalist (Emma Stone) who gets a corps of local African-American housekeepers to tell their stories. Needless to say, the view from the traditionally silent employees causes a sensation.

The Tree of Life
(May 27) – The elusive Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) returns to the screen for the first time in six years with a tale of a troubled man (Sean Penn) trying to come to terms with his childhood which was ruled by his domineering father (Brad Pitt). As always with Mallick’s films, little is known about the overall plot, but with this cast and the director’s track record, expectations are high.

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