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Eric D. Snider

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Eric has been a film critic since 1999, and a beard wearer since 2008. He holds a degree in journalism and used to work in "the newspaper industry," back when that was a thing.

Our Most Anticipated Summer Films Besides the Ones You’re Thinking Of

Yeah, yeah, The Avengers and Batman and the new Pixar movie. I’m excited about those. But you probably are too. You don’t need some fancy-pants “website” telling you to look forward to them. You’re already looking forward to them! I should quit wasting your time, that’s what you’re thinking.

I hear that, brother. (Literally. I actually hear your thoughts.) Having your time wasted is a great offense, and totally at odds with what the Internet is all about. So I’ve compiled this list of summer releases that pique my curiosity that have not been as widely discussed as Men in Black 3 or Prometheus (which, now that I think about it, might actually be the same movie). If nothing else, use this as a back-up list for when all the Spider-Man screenings are sold out.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (May 4th) is about old British people staying at a funky hotel in India. That doesn’t grab me. What grabs me is the cast — Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson — and the director, Shakespeare in Love‘s John Madden. If it’s done right, it could fill this year’s slot for Charming Brit-Comedy That Makes Us Wish We Were Friends with Judi Dench.

Hysteria (May 18th) is, in the words of director Tanya Wexler, “a romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator in Victorian England.” Already we are intrigued. Victorian England? Was it steam-powered? Tell us more!

Chernobyl Diaries (May 25th) was co-written and produced by Oren Peli, the Paranormal Activity guy, and it’s about some people who find creepy things near where the Chernobyl nuclear reactor had its big uh-oh in 1986. Maybe this is a tasteless premise for a movie — people actually died at Chernobyl, after all, and the effects on local human, plant, and animal life are still being felt — but the Titanic was real, too, and we still got a big kick out of seeing that guy clonk his noggin against the hatch when he fell off of it. So bring on the mutants!

Savages (July 6th), a violent thriller about American pot growers who get tangled up with a Mexican drug cartel, is based on a novel by Don Winslow. But what catches the eye is that it was directed by Oliver Stone, who hasn’t made a film that could be described as containing “strong brutal and grisly violence” (the MPAA’s phrase) in over a decade but who is always interesting when he does.

The Campaign (Aug. 10th) is this year’s Will Ferrell comedy, in which he plays a smooth congressman running for re-election against a newcomer played by Zach Galifianakis. The screenwriters, Shawn Harwell and Chris Henchy, come from Eastbound & Down and Funny or Die. I feel like a summer comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis should be more hotly anticipated than this currently is. Let’s get on that, people.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Aug. 15th) is a PG-rated tale with Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as would-be parents who get their wish when a young boy appears out of nowhere, seemingly growing from the ground. A fantasy premise like that could go either way, but I’m optimistic because of writer-director Peter Hedges, whose previous films were Pieces of April and Dan in Real Life, both perceptive and heartfelt examinations of human relationships. Hedges also wrote the novel and screenplay of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and co-wrote the About a Boy adaptation. Basically, whatever he wants to do next, I’m onboard.

Lawless (Aug. 31th) is not the Lucy Lawless biopic, unfortunately. But it is a fact-based crime drama about moonshiners during the Prohibition, directed by John Hillcoat (The Road, the gritty Australian Western The Proposition) and starring Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Dane DeHaan (the main kid from Chronicle) and, OK, Shia LaBeouf. I suspect it will be a very dusty movie.

And here are a few more that we don’t have to anticipate because we’ve already seen them and they’re good!

Creepy haunting-based Lovely Molly (May 18th); nutty and romantic indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8th); funny sex-based Your Sister’s Sister (June 15th); poignant Sundance prize winner Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 27th); slight but amusing sibling rivalry comedy The Do-Deca-Pentathlon (July 6th); insane Southern-fried noir Killer Joe (July 27th); intriguing Orlando Bloom thriller The Good Doctor (Aug. 31th); unsettling fact-based sexual-assault drama Compliance (TBA August).


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Tags: Chernobyl diaries, Hysteria, Savages, Summer 2012, The best exotic marigold hotel, The campaign, The odd life of timothy green