May 30, 2014 | by Keith Loria
Summer screens
summer films, gay news, Washington Blade

Angelina Jolie in ‘Maleficent.’ (Photo courtesy Walt Disney Pictures)

The summer blockbuster movie season started early this year with films like “The Amazing Spider-man 2,” “Neighbors,” “Godzilla” and “X Men: Days of Future Past” already crossing the $100 million mark by Memorial Day.

But fret not movie fans, there are plenty of big-budget, action-packed films heading your way throughout June, July and August.

The following is a small sampling of buzz-worthy films hitting D.C. screens this summer.

Following a recent craze of reimagining Disney characters into live action roles, Angelina Jolie plays the title character of “Maleficent” in a new take on “Sleeping Beauty” and the glam villainess antagonist. The film starts its run Friday.

Tom Cruise looks to reestablish his blockbuster cred with “Edge of Tomorrow,” a sci-fi thriller about a soldier who must relive the same battle day after day until he finds a way to save the world. It hits theaters June 6.

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort star in “The Fault in Our Stars,” an adaptation of John Green’s popular young-adult novel that explores the budding relationship of a 16-year-old terminal cancer patient and her newfound love. The romantic dramedy comes to screens June 6.

Like any summer, sequels are in full-force and movie enthusiasts can follow the further adventures of past favorite characters in films like “22 Jump Street” (June 13), “How To Train Your Dragon 2” (June 13), “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (June 27), “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (July 11), “The Purge: Anarchy” (July 18), and “The Expendables 3” (Aug. 15).

Two films that aren’t getting the blockbuster treatment, but nevertheless should be on the radar of the LGBT community, are “The Case Against 8,” coming out Aug. 8, and “Love is Strange,” scheduled for release on Aug. 22. Both have generated positive buzz at film festivals around the country.

“The Case Against 8” is a documentary that follows the overturning of California’s same-sex marriage ban, focusing on Ted Olson and David Boies, former political foes who team to champion the rights of two gay couples. Directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White, the documentary garnered best directing honors for the pair at Sundance and the film was the audience award winner at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

Expected to be screened in a wider release is “Love Is Strange,” starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Oscar winner Marisa Tomei. Directed by Ira Sachs, the film tells the story of an older gay couple that gets married only to see their lives fall apart. A festival darling already, critics are talking about all three leads as possible major award contenders.

Music lovers will be singing “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” as the film version of the Tony-winning smash “Jersey Boys” makes its way to theaters on June 20. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film chronicles the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in all their musical glory.

Other musical biopics hitting the screen this summer include “Jimi: All Is By My Side,” the true story of Jimi Hendrix starring rapper Andre 3000 in the title role, and “Get On Up,” a look at the true story of the Godfather of Soul starring Chadwick Bowman (of “42” fame) as the legendary James Brown. Both films are scheduled to be released in late August.

While the summer season is better known for epic blockbusters, there’s actually a lot to look forward to in terms of independent films.

Richard Linklater’s ambitious “Boyhood” starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke, hits theaters July 11. Filmed over short periods from 2002-2013, the movie examines 12 years in the life of a family. At the center of the story is Mason, who with his sister Samantha, are taken on an emotional and transcendent journey through the years, from childhood to adulthood.

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman pops up in two indie films this summer, appearing in the just-released “God’s Pocket” and the July 25 release, “A Most Wanted Man.” The former was directed by John Slattery and follows a man whose life spins out of control. Meanwhile, the latter deals with a tortured and near-dead half-Chechen, half-Russian man who heads to the city’s Islamic community looking to reclaim his late Russian father’s ill-gotten fortune.

They Came Together” reunites Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler with their “Wet Hot American Summer” director David Wain in a rom-com spoof that follows the love story of a small candy store owner and the executive of the chain who wants to buy her out. Love hits and hilarity ensues. Out June 27.

The film that caused quite the stir on Kickstarter last year finally hits theaters on July 18, when Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here” makes use of the money that was donated. The film follows Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find himself. A multitude of Braff’s celebrity friends play a part, including Donald Faison, Josh Gad, Pierce Gagnon, Ashley Greene, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Jim Parsons and Mandy Patinkin.

The AFI Silver (8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring) has several old movies of LGBT interest planned throughout the summer such as “My Own Private Idaho” (June 7-8), “Nine to Five” (on June 9, one of several Jane Fonda films slated for the month), the aforementioned “Boyhood” (in August) and more. Visit afi.com/silver for details.

Finally, any lover of movies will want to check out “Life Itself,” a documentary based on Roger Ebert’s best selling 2011 memoir, and directed by Steve James of “Hoop Dreams” fame. Expect two thumbs up when this film is released on July 11.

John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Love is Strange, films, gay news, Washington Blade

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in ‘Love is Strange.’ (Photo courtesy Sundance Institute)

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