If your car’s air conditioning is busted like mine or if you just need an excuse to get out of the heat, cinema makes a more-than-adequate sanctuary, and the summer movie season is just beginning. Here’s a quick look at some films that have been or are being released this month.
In theaters now
Troy (Warner Brothers)
The epic story of the Trojan War finally comes to the screen under the able guidance of acclaimed director Wolfgang Petersen (“Das Boot”). After Prince Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) kidnaps the stunningly beautiful Princess Helen (newcomer Diane Kruger) from the Spartan king, the 1,000-ship Greek armada lays siege on Troy, culminating in a 10-year battle between Achilles (Brad Pitt) and Hector (Eric Bana, “The Hulk”). Also starring Brian Cox and Sean Bean.
Breakin’ All the Rules (Screen Gems)
After his fianc?e dumps him, Jamie Foxx becomes a millionaire by writing a manual to guide men through the breaking-up process. Things get tricky when he accidentally falls for the woman (Gabrielle Union) his best friend (Morris Chestnut) intends to dump.
Coffee and Cigarettes (United Artists)
Written and directed by Film-geek god Jim Jarmusch (“Stranger than Paradise,” “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai”), this series of 10 short, brilliantly scripted vignettes was filmed over the course of 20 years. Starring Bill Murray, the RZA, the GZA, Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, Cate Blanchett, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan, Steve Buscemi, Cinque and Joie Lee, and Jack and Meg White.
Super Size Me (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
In this hilarious and twisted documentary, director Morgan Spurlock goes on a McDonald’s-only diet for 30 days. Although he was in excellent health at the beginning of the diet, by the diet’s end, Spurlock gains 25 pounds and is on the verge of liver failure. The film is a sardonic indictment of the fast food industry and the corporate entities propagating its grip on American culture. GW law professor John Banzhaf, the man known for suing McDonald’s in real life, appears in several scenes of the film.
Shrek 2 (DreamWorks)
Nobody loves a sequel like Hollywood producers. And so the lovable, animated, green monster whose voice is eerily similar to Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers films (both are played by Mike Myers) is back to meet the parents (Julie Andrews and John Cleese) of Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Eddie Murphy again voices the smart-talking donkey. Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett and Jennifer Saunders join the gang as Puss in Boots, Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother, respectively. Keep your ears open for Larry King, who plays the Ugly Stepsister.
The Day After Tomorrow (Twentieth Century Fox)
Director Roland Emmerich, who established himself as king the of uh-oh-disaster’s-coming-we’re-all-gonna-die flicks with 1996’s “Independence Day,” shows audiences that doom doesn’t have to come from outer space. At the onset of the next Ice Age, greenhouse gasses and global warming bring about massive tornadoes, hurricanes and instant freezes. While the rest of the American population flees southward, the story focuses on paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), who attempts to go north to New York City and save his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Raising Helen (Buena Vista)
Kate Hudson is a prime example of what I call the Cameron Crowe Effect, an epidemic suffered by new actors who get a break in Cameron Crowe films. The reverse of the Quentin Tarantino Effect, which tends to take actors wallowing in obscurity and reestablish them in the mainstream, the Cameron Crowe Effect begins new actors’ careers with a bang but quickly sees them dwindle off deep into mediocrity. Kate Hudson, the star of Crowe’s “Almost Famous,” is no exception. In this film, she plays a young socialite who becomes the guardian of her sister and brother-in-law’s children. Wonderful.
In what could be her first worthwhile role, this small satire of Born Again Christianity stars Mandy Moore as Hilary Faye, the leader of a group of devout teens out to save the world from sin, starting with the pregnant Mary (Jena Malone). The young cast is rounded out by Patrick Fugit and Macaulay Culkin.