Up for a blazing, summer-hot debate about the movies? Talk to the people who see them all: the staff of Spotlight Theaters on Front Street. From the bartenders and the kitchen team to the ushers and managers, these Siskels and Eberts divide according to taste: Some are film school grads who gravitate to the indies, others fall squarely into the superhero/ Will Ferrell camp.
We asked these experts to break down the buzz, with a few choice words from Nick Clement, film blogger at Podcasting Them Softly.
“I want to see my food talk!”
So says supervisor Kyle, jazzed about Sausage Party, the movie that answers the question, What do you get when you cross Seth Rogen with animation? (There may be something in the Geneva Convention about that.)
Frank the sausage, Brenda the bun and Sammy Bagel Jr. (Rogen, Kristen Wiig and Edward Norton) discover the horrible truth—they’re destined for slicing and dicing. It’s a Food Fight for their Lives.
“Seth Rogen can’t do anything wrong—Neighbors, The Interview, and now Neighbors 2—and with Jonah Hill and James Franco, they’re all on a roll.”
Presumably, a Kaiser roll.
His colleague Joe agrees: “It looks like a kid’s movie at first and then it goes a completely different way.”
Seth Rogen taking things a completely different way: Enough said!
Sleeper of the Summer?
Bartender Kareena is psyched for Suicide Squad—and the bartenders will be concocting special cocktails to toast it, as they do for all the films, from the Mockingjay to the Spectre.
Supervillains join forces on a secret black ops mission (natch)—including Will Smith (Deadshot), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbake (Killer Croc), and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who’s greatest criminal act may be stealing every scene she’s in. Jared Leto unleashes his inner psychopath as The Joker—and never broke character during the whole shoot.
“It’s directed by David Ayer, who’s known for hard-hitting, realistic movies,” says Kyle. Ayer wrote Training Day, and wrote and directed End of Watch, Sabotage and Fury. This is the first DC film that goes outside the core characters. Kyle likens it to Guardians of the Galaxy: “Nobody really knew the comic book, but it turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the year. This one, in the right hands, will be a lot of fun.”
At Podcasting Them Softly, Nick picks Suicide Squad as one of the three summer films he’ll see first-run, along with Jason Bourne and War Dogs—Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as aspiring arms dealers to Afghan allies.
Finding Family Fun
Joe says that people are already arranging birthday parties around Finding Dory. The ever-forgetful Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) set out to find her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy). Ed O’Neill, Dominic West and Idris Elba are just a few of the star (fish) added to the talent pool.
While everyone agrees that Disney has a leviathan-sized hit on its hands, Kyle says that scientists are actually worried about it. After Finding Nemo, sales of clownfish blew up. “The Dory fish is endangered and can’t breed in captivity. They’re afraid that the same thing will happen.”
So parents: Go for the inevitable plush toy and leave the Pacific regal blue tangs where they belong.
After ET: The BFG
Steven Spielberg directs the family-friendly adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic story of the Big Friendly Giant—“which will likely delight and scare children in equal measure,” reports our Podcasting devotee.
Young Sophie befriends the BFG, who’s too tenderhearted to eat tender young children—the reason he’s shunned by the not-so-friendly giants.
“Spielberg is the perfect director for a nostalgic movie for all audiences,” says Kyle. “I’m not a fan of motion capture, but he’s done it before really well, and visually, it looks great.”
Who’ll win the CGI Wars?
“People want to see how the new Independence Day film will do without Will Smith,” says Joe. Will Resurgence resurge with audiences? That’s a safe bet. “It looks epic,” adds Kyle.
If you’re itching to see massive destruction on an intergalactic scale, Warcraft and Star Trek Beyond are primed for their respective fan bases. Warcraft takes the orc vs. human combat out of the hands of gamers, who will no doubt rush to see if director Duncan Jones (aka David Bowie’s son) can outplay their hand on the joystick. And the Enterprise crew once again battles fearsome aliens, but the big mystery is whether the franchise will live long and prosper when director Justin (The Fast and the Furious 3-6) Lin assumes the bridge.
You can also plan on razor-tipped chariot wheels flying at you as Ben Hur goes 3-D—and the SFX folks will no doubt have a field day with the leper colony scenes.
“Horror continues to be big,” says Kyle. “Lights Out started as a 3-minute viral video. It was so frightening that they bought it and made it into a full-length feature.” The story of a paranormal entity that stops moving when you turn on the lights, it may have you sleeping with the lights on until fall.
The Conjuring was 2013’s highest-grossing horror film, and the same production team and cast are back for The Conjuring 2—based on a (true?) terrifying demonic encounter by Connecticut’s own ghostbusters, Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Boom or Bust?
Right now, you can see one of YouTube’s most disliked videos ever—but you’ll have to wait until July 15 to weigh in for yourself on the new Ghostbusters. Even before the trailer, the female leads have been getting slimed by the trolls.
“A lot of the criticism is misogeny,” says Kyle. “And people don’t like to have their childhoods ruined. But I’m excited. I think it will be really funny. Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids) has been directing comedies forever, and he’s done great work with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.”
Under the Radar
If reboots and sequels aren’t your thing, Kyle recommends The Founder with Michael Keaton, the story of the man who built McDonald’s. Keaton’s presence hints at a quirky and engrossing performance, and director John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks, The Rookie, The Blind Side) brings a fine eye to an offbeat story.
He’s also intrigued by Birth of a Nation, which reclaims the title from the 1915 D.W. Griffith classic, but not the controversial point-of-view. “It’s not a redo, it’s an original story about Nat Turner’s slave revolt, and the most expensive purchase from the Sundance festival. Watch the trailer. It’s really powerful.”
Nick at Podcasting Them Softly points to Breathe, a 2015 French psychological drama about two teenage girls and a dark secret. “It’s amazing.”
And the Eternal Question
Favorite movie? For Kareena at the bar, it’s The Princess Bride. For Joe, it’s “anything with Seth Rogen.” And Kyle has Alien, Blade Runner and The Fly duking it out for the top spot.
This summer, that question is up to you. At Spotlight Theaters, take your custom-crafted cocktail into the show, settle back in the cushy leather seats, and see for yourself.
If you’re up for a spirited exchange on matters cinematic, ask anyone who works there. You might start by posing a loaded question: “Which Die Hard?”
“Never got through the first one,” says Joe.
“One. It’s the perfect Christmas movie,” says Kyle.
As for the fans at Podcasting Them Softly—that would be a whole other blog.