Every four weeks, ORWAV explores the movie month ahead through the medium of song! Upcoming releases, notable births and anniversaries and a general celebration of the films, directors, technicians and performers that we love so much. This month, we and the Playlist face the not-entirely-necessary return of three beloved franchises. It can only be June…
The mentality of Hollywood studios has become increasingly scrutinised in recent years for leaning so heavily on recycled ideas, reboots, remakes, sequels and prequels. The early summer months, naturally, find this process in full flow as the blockbusters hit in droves. Last month had Age of Ultron, this month sees Jurassic World. Other recent hits include Furious 7 and Cinderella.
Not that this really matters much, as the machine can’t quite destroy all remaining vestiges of daring creativity. What’s hilarious, though, is that this month sees the release of The Look of Silence – a companion piece, in arthouse parlance (definitely not a dreaded sequel!) to The Act of Killing. So not everyone’s immune (by the way: go see The Look of Silence).
June’s playlist kicks off with the song that just won’t go away: Despicable Me 2 über-smash “Happy”. Minions – which will be accompanied by its own tie-in single, performed by Owl City – lands later in the month and based on the trailers we couldn’t be happier. Minions looks to take its franchise, remove the human element, and transform into a remarkably Aardman-esque work of almost daringly pure comedy. With the kids’ market strongly targeted, however, it may still retain one of those crappily maudlin climaxes where everyone learns something.
Was the kids’ market ever thus? Yes. Yes it was. But it only came about in the ’80s as a natural evolution from the first-ever strongly-merchandised, major-saturation summer blockbuster. That blockbuster turns 40 years old this month, so follow us on a trip down memory lane, from a kiddie animation to… a killer shark. John Williams’ main theme from Jaws, the movie that led us down this inescapable path, is still as lush and terrifying as ever.
But then, there’s still room to breathe if you like your summer releases a little less spectacular. With trailer track “The Dance”, by Your Laundry, we’re looking forward – if only out of morbid curiosity – to David O. Russell’s “latest”, the decade-delayed Accidental Love. Though Russell is one of the decade’s greatest film artists, Accidental Love (for years known as Nailed) was such a huge personal disappointment that he nixed it during his “wilderness years”, rethought his entire approach, and came back with The Fighter. And Silver Linings Playbook. And American Hustle. Suffice to say, this may be a two-steps-back car crash ahead of his real next release, this winter’s Joy. But the song’s entertainingly rowdy, in an iPod commercial kinda way.
Back to the “anniversary” theme, Total Recall is 25 this month. The milestone is significant not just for being one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest moments, but because Paul Verhoeven’s Philip K. Dick adaptation features the first-ever use of computerised motion capture and analysis technology in a feature film. It is admittedly brief, but those skeletons are the bedrock for much of today’s most iconic VFX. Jerry Goldsmith’s “The Dream” is our big pick to honour this great landmark in filmmaking.
13 months after Total Recall reinvented special-effects cinema, another landmark was released: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations“, probably the definitive white-boy rap single (plus a truly excellent video courtesy of Scott Kalvert). Sadly, there’s no great reason to include “Good Vibrations” in this month’s playlist, but it does lead us into June’s next big sequel: the Entourage movie. The beloved/went-on-for-too-long HBO show vaguely based on Mark Wahlberg’s formative years will now move on to chronicling Vincent Chase’s directorial debut, and if our playlist pick – the show’s theme tune “Superhero” – isn’t deployed for some epic big-screen opening credits, we’ll be very unhappy.
Shout-out, by the way, to one of Arrested Development‘s finest one-off gags.
Of a slightly different tempo is Jason Schwartzman (aka Coconut Records)’s “West Coast”, a lovely track we’ve inserted here to mark his latest film, Listen Up Philip. This indie flick, featuring Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce, premiered at Sundance last year to fine reviews and gets a UK release this month. It’s increasingly rare these days to see Schwartzman in a leading role (although his own HBO show, Bored to Death, was much better than its reputation suggests), so we’re very much looking forward to this.
This month, struggling actor Chris Pratt returns to lead the charge against scientific hubris in Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World. Reservations may still abound, but there’s nothing we can do to quell the excitement and frankly only one thing we can say to describe it: “Theme from Jurassic Park”, by John Williams. Full disclosure: I last watched the original six months ago, and cried real, salty tears when the brachiosaurs were unveiled. Fucking brachiosaurs.
The June playlist’s final new release may not be a literal sequel, reboot or spinoff, but Spy does mark a solid re-team for Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne (plus newly Oscar-nominated cinematographer Robert Yeoman). We gave it a cautious but appreciative review, and the rest of the world is even more effusive – so as summer comedies go, it’s an exciting prospect. The team’s last movie, a little thing called Bridesmaids, pumped up its denouement with Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On”, so we’re gonna do the same.
A final song, and a final note: this month in 1965, comedian Woody Allen made his debut as both actor and screenwriter, in What’s New Pussycat?. This is, in many ways, as important a cinematic landmark as the first summer blockbuster and the first use of CG mo-cap. Allen’s influences on film range from re-popularising the spoof film, to inventing the modern rom-com, to pioneering a new model for independent dramedies. Heck, Annie Hall is still one of the most bizarre films to have won the Best Picture Oscar. To mark the golden anniversary of such a seminal writer (and, from his next film on, director), here’s Louis Armstrong’s “Stardust”, from Allen’s own legacy-critiquing Stardust Memories (key line, spoken by an alien: “You want to do mankind a real service? Tell funnier jokes”).