Going Beyond the Franchises of 2012

This is a preview of what’s coming in Sunday’s PopRox column in the Pocono Record.

You already know about the big ones — Batman, James Bond, The Avengers, Spider-Man, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games.

Yeah, 2012 is chock-full of your favorite heroes and mystical places, but that’s not all there is. The 2012 movie slate gives good reason to be excited about some of the lesser-known flicks that are getting swallowed up by the publicity blitz surrounding the admittedly impressive docket of big-time franchise releases.

Here are five lesser-known movies scheduled to be in theaters this year that are every bit as exciting as “Dark Knight Rises.” Okay, maybe not that exciting. But exciting nonetheless.


The players: Sacha Baron Cohen stars, Larry Charles directs.

Release date: May 11

Let’s give Cohen and Charles a mulligan for the not-entirely-as-bad-as-people-said Bruno and chalk it up to being a rushed, ill-advised, studio-ruined, quasi-sequel to Borat. This is their chance to make up for it and now they’ve got a cast to take some of the pressure off (Anna Faris, John C. Reilly, Ben Kingsley). It’s an actual movie this time, not just a mockumentary, but it’s written by Cohen and three former Seinfeld scribes, so it’s got that going for it. Hopefully the movie is better than most of the trailer, which leans far too heavily on unfunny ethnic jokes but does have some laughs.


not one of these guys is in moonrise kingdom. shouldn't that be unconstitutional or something?

The players: Wes Anderson directs Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray … wait, there isn’t a Wilson brother in this? Is that even legal for Anderson to make a movie without a Wilson brother?

Release date: May 25

As per the usual Anderson, we don’t know much about the movie other than it’s about two New England kids that run away together, and the town sends out search parties to find them. So looking forward to this is basically putting your trust in Anderson. I’m fine with that. He’s going back to former writing partner Roman Coppola, who co-wrote The Darjeerling Limited with Anderson and another Coppola cousin, Jason Schwartzman (who also stars in Moonrise). Got all that? Whatever, it’s worth looking forward to.


The players: Ben Affleck (also directing)

Release date: Sept. 14

Picture yourself six years ago and think about the following statement, which is completely true here at the start of 2012. “I can’t wait for the next movie that Ben Affleck is writing and directing!” You’d be a little skeptical, no? You’d think about punching 2006 you for being a big fat liar, right? But then came Gone Baby Gone in 2007 and The Town in 2010, and Affleck is on the new list of about a dozen people whose name inspires confidence behind the camera. Seeing as he’s starring with two of the best television actors of the last decade — Bryan Cranston and Kyle Chandler — there’s no reason to think this “based on true events” movie about freeing Americans during the Iranian Hostage Crisis would be any kind of step down in Affleck quality. Yeah, that’s right. I said “Affleck quality.”


The players: Brad Pitt, Bryan Cranston

Release date: Dec. 21

If you don’t get excited from hearing the words “zombie apocalypse,” then I just don’t know how to help you. You may be beyond help, actually. Anyway, Pitt is a United Nations-type who travels the world interviewing the survivors of said apocolypse.


and hello to you too!

The players: Quentin Tarantino directs Jamie Foxx, Leo DiCaprio, Sam Jackson, Cohen and others.

Release date: Dec. 25

Nothing says Christmas like Quentin Tarantino and what people already are calling a controversial look at race from a script about a freed slave and a bounty hunter in the Deep South. In other hands, you might worry about this movie’s future. With Tarantino, who also wrote the script, you have more confidence that this could be a leading Oscar 2013 candidate.

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