The movie year of 2019 has officially gotten past the winter doldrums, and there's lots of exciting stuff on the local movie calendar this spring.
This includes new movies, festivals, and plenty of repertory offerings.
Spring officially begins March 21, and the following day sees the arrival of Us, director Jordan Peele's follow-up to 2017's groundbreaking Get Out. The film, which drew rapturous notices when it premiered at South by Southwest last week, features a family headed by Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong'o visiting a beach house and revisiting some early trauma. The film, according to early buzz, recalls Get Out in combining old-school horror with both social resonance and cutting-edge filmmaking.
Also on March 22, Netflix will debut of The Dirt, an adaptation of Neil Strauss' Motley Crue biography of the same name, which is one of the filthiest, most hedonistic rock books ever published. Directed by Jackass co-creator Jeff Tremaine, "The Dirt" stars Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee and Iwan Rheon- Ramsey Bolton from Game of Thrones – as Mick Mars. Unless this film is uncompromising as hell — nothing like Bohemian Rhapsody, in other words-fans of the book will surely revolt.
Speaking of rated hard-R, Dragged Across Concrete, the latest film from Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 director S. Craig Zahler, stars Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as cops who get into hot water when a brutal video surfaces. Dragged Across Concrete would probably draw huge controversy if it weren't getting a mostly straight-to-VOD release on March 22.
Disney can't stop making remakes, and neither can Tim Burton. The two come together with Dumbo, a remake of the 1941 Disney animated classic, which arrives March 29. This one is mostly live action, with a human cast led by Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, and Michael Keaton, with the elephant himself a CGI rendering. Danny Elfman, naturally, is doing the music.
On April 5 we get Shazam, the DC Extended Universe film that was filmed partially in Philadelphia. In it, a 14-year-old (Asher Angel) becomes an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) when he says the magic word of the title. The film, directed by David F. Sandberg, represents a thankfully jarring tonal shift from the Zach Snyder era of DC superheroes.
Speaking of comic book adaptations, on April 12 there's another remake of Hellboy, this time with David Harbour stepping into the shoes of Ron Perlman, with Neil Marshall directing.
On April 19, we get Under the Silver Lake, the long-delayed Los Angeles thriller from It Follows director David Robert Mitchell and A24. The film is a neo-noir mystery that stars ex-Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield.
The following week is the release date for the third comic book movie of the month, and probably the biggest: The Avengers: Endgame, which is expected to go down as the final film for the current core group of Marvel superheroes. How will it end? Will Spider-Man and Black Panther be brought back to life in time to re-appear in future sequels? What's the point of mass death if it's always easily reversible? Find out on April 26.
In Long Shot, arriving May 3, Charlize Theron plays a presidential candidate, with Seth Rogen co-starring as her speechwriter and possible lover. The film was directed by Jonathan Levine, who earlier made Rogen's 50/50 and The Night Before.
On May 10, it's time for Detective Pikachu, as Ryan Reynolds voices the Pokemon character-turned-gumshoe. Hopefully, you won't need a special smartphone app to find the laughs.
Also on the 10th, it's a movie called Wine Country, which is Amy Poehler's directorial debut, in which she stars along with fellow ex-SNLers Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Ana Gasteyer.
On May 17, get ready for the third and (possibly final) chapter in the John Wick series, as Keanu Reeves returns for more hitman fun in John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum.
And on May 24, get ready for another Disney remake, as blue Will Smith stars as the genie in the update of Aladdin. The film may have drawn a lot of mockeries based on its early teasers, but it has a lot going for it, starting with an all-time great score of songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.
– STEPHEN SILVER | @STEPHENSILVER