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By Sarah Payne
The Art of Self-Defense – June 12th – Writer/director Riley Stearns brings us a quirky, dark comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg as a nerdy loner who enlists at a local dojo to learn how to defend himself. You might think Eisenberg is taking on another typical awkward role in The Art of Self-Defense, but in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he insists that’s not the case: “I didn’t want to do that kind of movie because I felt that I had done similar kinds of movies. But I thought the script was so funny that I just kept reading out of curiosity, and thank God I did, because the movie so brilliantly subverts that trope.” He claims the film has, “some of the funniest dialogue you will ever see.”
Toy Story 4 – June 21st – Can you believe Toy Story – the first-ever computer-animated film – was released nearly 25 years ago? Pixar really upped the ante for this fourth installment. According to a Variety feature on the making of the film, Pixar created what is believed to be its most complicated set ever – an antique mall filled with 10,000 digital props. Each prop can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to make, which is why it took nearly two years to complete the set. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return as Woody and Buzz Lightyear, joined by new characters voiced by Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks.
The Intruder – Here’s the most important thing I learned after watching The Intruder: you should really only pay attention to reviewers who are fans of the genre they are critiquing. In fact, I almost didn’t see The Intruder because it got a splat from critics on Rotten Tomatoes – only 28% favorable. I started to read underneath the headlines and quickly realized that most people are taking this comedy/horror way too seriously. Dennis Quaid as a crazy gun-toting stalker preying on the nice young couple who move into his cherished house is kind of a hilarious premise to begin with. Some critics noted that it’s the kind of movie where people yell at the screen in the theater – as if that’s a bad thing. Unless I’m watching the next great horror classic, I’m willing to have a little fun with the genre (heck, even The Shining has its moments). Quaid is hilarious and disturbing, so essentially everything I was hoping for. The whole time you’re asking yourself why this seemingly intelligent couple doesn’t take action, like call the police on the guy who just won’t leave them alone. But then you realize that nonsensical mentality is what helps spin the plot even further into the realm of ridiculous.
Dead to Me – Looking for a new show to binge? Dead to Me is a dark comedy starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, who play two women that strike up an unlikely friendship after meeting in a grief support group. Applegate’s character is uptight and filled with anger and Cardellini’s is a free spirit who tends to leave chaos in her wake. I haven’t yet finished the first season, but I was immediately drawn in by the chemistry between the two characters and the mystery that unfolds around a hit-and-run death. Will Ferrell is one of the executive producers of Dead to Me, along with Adam McKay, who directed several Ferrell movies (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers) – so there’s got to be some levity even with such a dark premise.
Song of the Month
“ME!” by Taylor Swift, featuring Brendon Urie – I think I’ve completed my transition into a full-fledged “Swiftie,” because I can’t stop playing Taylor Swift’s new song, “ME!” I’ll admit I was wary at first of its cheesiness and playful lyrics, like this one: “Hey, kids!/Spelling is fun!/Girl, there ain’t no I in ‘team’/But you know there is a ‘me.’” But Swift is perhaps an even more brilliant marketer than she is a musician. She’s been commenting on her fans’ theories about the hidden meaning behind the video for “ME!” She recently told Entertainment Weekly: “I love that they like the cryptic hint-dropping. Because as long as they like it, I’ll keep doing it. It’s fun. It feels mischievous and playful.” She also published an Instagram Live video with Urie where they talked about how excited they were to collaborate on the song. Her enthusiasm is seriously infectious, and I can’t wait to hear more from her new album. In the same Entertainment Weekly interview, she hinted that this album might span different genres: “I’m trying to convey an emotional spectrum.”