British Summer Movies: More Than Just ‘Harry Potter’
The Fourth of July marks not only Independence Day for the United States but also the halfway point for summer movies. The beach season kicks off at the multiplex the first week of May and ends Labor Day weekend.
British movies (Submarine and The Trip) and stars (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class and Angela Lansbury in Mr. Popper’s Penguins) blazed bright during the first part of the season, but there are still plenty more English movies and actors teed up for your potential viewing pleasure in July and August.
Here’s a week-by-week look at what’s on tap:
July 8: Welshman Ioan Gruffudd and Irishman Colin Farrell both have amusing, prepare-to-be-shocked cameos in Horrible Bosses, a raunchy comedy. British director James Marsh, whose 2008 documentary, Man on Wire, won an Oscar, follows up with Project Nim, another well-regarded doc, this one about a chimp used in a language experiment in the 1970s. Jared Harris (son of Richard) plays a doctor at a mental institution in The Ward, which marks director John Carpenter’s return to horror films. And James Purefoy, Jason Flemyng, Derek Jacobi, Charles Dance and Scotsman Brian Cox all star in Ironclad, an sword swinger about knights battling it out in 13th century England.
July 15: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the big story this week. It’s the eighth and final film and our last chance to spend time with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and the usual crème de la crème assortment of British character actors in the supporting cast. A splendid new animated version of Winnie the Pooh features voice work by Craig Ferguson (as Owl) and John Cleese (as the narrator). And retired 007 star Pierce Brosnan plays a self-promoting fundamentalist preacher in Salvation Boulevard, a wacky dark comedy with Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly.
July 22: The movie may be called Captain America: First Avenger, but there are Brits aplenty in this tale of a comic book superhero. They include Hayley Atwell, Natalie Dormer (who was Anne Boleyn on The Tudors), Richard Armitage (MI-5), the fast-rising Dominic Cooper and Toby Jones. Kristin Scott Thomas stars in Sarah’s Key, a heartstrings-tugging drama about a woman who realizes she’s connected to a horrifying event that occurred during the French Occupation in WWII. The movie is based on Tatiana De Rosnay‘s bestselling novel of the same name.
July 29: So how does James Bond look in a Stetson? Damn fine. You’ll get to find out for yourself when Daniel Craig stars alongside Harrison Ford in Cowboys & Aliens, a high-concept action film with a title that’s self-explanatory.
July 29 definitely marks the week for extra-terrestrials: it’s Brits versus aliens in Attack the Block, a low-budget, British sci-fi film, in which a youthful South London gang must ward off an attack by otherworldly invaders. A hit at last spring’s South by Southwest Film Festival, the movie is written and directed by comedian Joe Cornish (The Adam and Joe Show) and stars Nick Frost.
(Warning: adult language)
Also on July 29, Scotsman Alan Cumming provides the voice of Gutsy Smurf in The Smurfs. Brendan Gleeson plays a clever small town cop in Ireland who finds himself paired with a visiting American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to track down an international drug smuggling gang in The Guard, a charming comedy. Dominic Cooper plays dual roles – and is outstanding in both – in The Devil’s Double, a drama based on a real story about an Iraqi man who served as a body double for Uday Hussein, the sadistic playboy son of ruler Saddam Hussein. Lastly for the week, Dominic Cooper plays dual roles – and is outstanding in both – in The Devil’s Double, a drama based on a real story about an Iraqi man who served as a body double for Uday Hussein, the sadistic playboy son of ruler Saddam Hussein.
Aug. 5: Planet of the Apes gets a reboot in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which, in addition to that busy busy busy star James Franco, will also features Harry Potter veteran Tom Felton, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox, David Oyelowo and David Hewlett. Rachel Weisz plays an American cop turned international peacekeeper in Bosnia in The Whistleblower, a true-life crime drama. Other Brits who show up in the indie film include Vanessa Redgrave, Liam Cunningham and, for a couple of way too brief scenes, Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch.
Aug. 12: David Oyelowo will be using his best Mississippi accent when he turns up as Preacher Green in the film adaptation of The Help, based on the bestselling novel.
Aug. 19: One Day, the popular romantic novel by David Nicholls (Starter for 10), pairs London-born Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway on screen. Romola Garai, Rafe Spall andJodie Whittaker costar. Colin Farrell plays a vampire in disguise as a regular neighborhood guy in Fright Night, a remake of the 1985 horror film of the same name. David Tennant and Imogen Poots costar. Ricky Gervais will be heard but not seen in Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, when he provides the voice of the Argonaut character. Brighton Rock is a British crime drama set in the early 1960s in the titular seaside town and is based on a Graham Greene novel. Rising stars Sam Riley (Control) and Andrea Riseborough (Made in Dagenham) star, along with reliable vets Helen Mirren and John Hurt.
Aug. 26: The ever handsome Callum Blue will doubtless perk up Colombiana, an action drama starring Zoe Saldana as a professional assassin bent on revenge. Paul Rudd portrays the none too bright title character in Our Idiot Brother, a comedy, but Brits Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan and Hugh Dancy all turn up in supporting roles.
Which of these do you hope to see?