The blockbusters are coming, but this spring Hollywood offers a brief respite, movies that transport audiences to different realms, that awaken dreams, and evoke the magic of love and the imagination, films with titles like Trance, To the Wonder, and Oblivion.
What better place to start such a journey than somewhere over the rainbow? Sam Raimi directs OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (March 8), a prequel of sorts to the classic. James Franco plays the Kansas charlatan who takes in the rubes in the Emerald City by posing as the title pooh-bah. With Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz.
When it comes to playing with illusions, Abbas Kiarostami gives the Wizard a run for his money. His enigmatic LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE (March 15) features a Tokyo call girl and an elderly widower whose relationship stirs associations and memories that might be imaginary.
By now you probably could use a dose of REALITY (March 29), although the title of Matteo Garrone's parable of media manipulation might be ironic. In it, a fishmonger on a reality show descends into megalomania. But the title of TRANCE (April 12) gets right to the point, as Danny Boyle spins a psychological thriller about an art auctioneer who enlists a hypnotist to find a stolen painting. James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson star.
Terrence Malick unironically dubs his latest TO THE WONDER (April 12). Here Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko play lovers who flit about in scenes of natural beauty while Javier Bardem's priest serves the poor. Some might prefer OBLIVION (April 19) to Wonder, though both films feature Kurylenko. Here she co-stars with Tom Cruise; he plays a soldier assigned to destroy an alien race. Will this Joseph Kosinski sci-fi epic save Cruise from the title state?
IRON MAN 3 (May 3) is a surer bet at the box office. Director Shane Black reprises Robert Downey Jr.'s armor-clad billionaire, this time battling the Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. Which elitist will win? J.J. Abrams's STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (May 17) will also put bums in seats, as young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise search a war zone for weapons of mass destruction. (Didn't we already make that mistake?)
But before plunging into the summer sequels, take time for BEFORE MIDNIGHT (May 24), the third in Richard Linklater's series of wistful romances that began in 1995 with Before Sunrise. Once again, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke play soul mates making fleeting contact, this time in Greece, in what some have deemed the best of the three movies.