By Dave Montalbano
For the past 10 years, San Diego Comic-Con has become as much of a summer staple as the summer movie blockbuster season. While local businesses like CJ’s Comics, Tate’s Comics and Docking Bay plan local events, Hollywood studios will promote their agendas with Marvel Comics/Disney expected to announce their movie titles until 2019, featuring some of the final screen appearances of Captain America, Thor and Iron Man in their current incarnation.
Lacking the multimillion dollar promotional budget of comic books and cartoons, there are a series of independent films opening locally that could stand scrutiny. One such movie, Boyhood, is generating Oscar buzz for director Richard Linklater.
Filmed once every nine years, Linklater created three films (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) about the maturation of a couple played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Hawke returns in Boyhood, which has been filming for 11 years starting in 2002. The purpose of this project was to document the rites of passage of the film’s leading man, Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr. (Hawke portrays Mason Sr.)
Given the current international crisis in Ukraine, A Most Wanted Man is a timely spy thriller about a half-Chechen, half-Russian fugitive who takes refuge in an Islamic community in Hamburg, Germany. This film is based on Jean Le Carre’s best-selling book of the same name.
This film also features Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final performance in a leading role. This ensemble piece also features Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright and Willem Dafoe. What the film lacks in big budgeted explosions, this thriller will make up with suspenseful character motivation.
A Coffee in Berlin seems to combine two elements of A Most Wanted Man and Boyhood. The winner of six German Academy Awards, A Coffee in Berlin is about the rite of passage for a college dropout slacker.
While the countdown to Halloween does not start until August, A Wolf at the Door opens this weekend and features a parent’s worst nightmare, child abduction. This Miami International Film Festival winner opens this weekend at Cinema Paradiso (www.fliff.com).