Let’s be honest. Last summer was a sore disappointment. Out of the many blockbusters to be released — “Thor,” “X-Men: First Class” and the laughably awful “Green Lantern” — no film stood out as the centerpiece of the summer season (except maybe “Harry Potter”). There was no “Inception” or “Dark Knight.” And, to make matters worse, Big Boi didn’t even play during his slot at Outside Lands. But this summer, things are going to be different, bigger and better than before.
Big Boi’s making a return to Outside Lands, Christopher Nolan is back with the final installment of his acclaimed Batman series. This week, our arts writers bring you the best of summer.
Prometheus (Release Date: June 8, 2012)
Doomed to an eternity of punishment by Zeus, Prometheus was known to the ancient Greeks as the Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to mortals, forever enshrined as the martyr of mankind. In Ridley Scott’s upcoming blockbuster “Prometheus,” a crew of space explorers aboard the spacecraft Prometheus follow a celestial map left behind by ancient civilizations in hopes of finding the origins of humanity.
If the trailer is any indication of the film’s trajectory, we are sure to witness cutting-edge special effects and a talented ensemble cast. “Prometheus” works as a loose prequel to the 1979 classic “Alien,” also directed by Ridley Scott. Obviously versed in the field of special effects, Scott aims to bring the extraterrestrial movie into the 21st century in a post-“Avatar” landscape. Whether you’re a fan of the original, or an average moviegoer, “Prometheus” is sure to provide some out of this world entertainment.
— Carlos Monterrey
Safety Not Guaranteed (Release Date: June 8, 2012)
It’s not every day that a classified ad seeks out a time travel partner. When three Seattle magazine writers need to pitch a story, they set out to investigate the unusual wanted ad. “Safety Not Guaranteed” stars Aubrey Plaza from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” It is her first leading role in a time travel movie that is very decidedly not about time travel at all.
Instead, Darius Britt (Plaza) is put up to the challenge of being the time travel partner for Kenneth (Mark Duplass), the oddball who has apparently “done this once before.” Expect Plaza’s trademark deadpan delivery and cutting wit as well as all that quirky movie charm and charisma that’s so damn hot these days.
The film has already been touted as an “indie darling” at Sundance — itself the indie darling of film festivals — and promises to be the independent summer comedy to warm the cockles of the hearts of the young, hip and sardonically-satiated.
— Natalie Reyes
To Rome with Love (Release Date: June 22, 2012)
It’s impossible to justify a Woody Allen obsession. He’s had some strokes of genius (“Annie Hall” “Crimes and Misdemeanours”) and, more recently, some pretty big misses (2004’s “Melinda and Melinda”). There’s something about Woody that keeps his fans coming back year after year. We are annually treated to a few pithy one liners, self-deprecating New York intellectuals, painful neurotics and more recently, an exotic European locale to explore.
Beginning with 2005’s “Match Point” and culminating in last year’s lauded “Midnight in Paris,” Allen’s annual cinematic offerings to his die-hard fans have been enjoying something of a critical renaissance recently. This year, we are especially lucky as the neurotic “Woody Allen Character” will once more be played by Allen himself. The screenplay – written by Allen of course – is based on stories from Boccaccio’s “The Decameron.” “To Rome With Love” is likely to be the most hilarious and literary popcorn flick offered this summer.
— Thomas Coughlan
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Release Date: June 22, 2012)
When news that a 70-mile wide asteroid is set to strike Earth in three week’s time, Dodge, an insurance salesman, is left in numb shock after his wife leaves him. Penny, his next door English neighbor with a devil-may-care attitude and a few relationship hang-ups of her own, sets out to fix his romantic life.
Although featuring space bodies colliding with our planet, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is no “Melancholia” or even the 1998 thriller “Armaggedon.” Instead, this film is the type of feel-good dramedy where people faced with the finite ticking of life’s clock embark on journeys of self-discovery. Steve Carell plays Dodge with the same comedic, downtrodden air of Frank Ginsberg from “Little Miss Sunshine” and Keira Knightly steps out from her typecast role of period actress to portray a manic pixie dream girl — beguiling her way into our hearts as an asteroid sets to end her world.
— Natalie Reyes
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Release Date: June 22, 2012)
History is boring. Vampires are entertaining. These are two facts that we are all aware of, but rarely consider to be related. This summer, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” will change that. Adapted from the 2010 New York Times Bestseller of the same title by Seth Grahame-Smith, the film rewrites history, turning everyone’s favorite American historical figure into a vampire-killing-machine. With a plot that reveals the “real” truth behind Lincoln’s abolitionist beliefs — vampires can easily buy and eat slaves, and thus no more slaves equals no more vampires — the film has moderate potential to be a compelling re-examination of our country’s past. Most likely, however, the Timur Bekmambetov directed and Tim Burton-produced flick will be more about sweet axe-twirling tricks and silhouette shots of star Benjamin Walker with a Lincoln beard. But hey, it’s summer. Hyper-patriotic bad-assery is all that you could ever hope for.
— Sarah Burke
The Amazing Spider-Man (Release Date: July 3, 2012)
Five years after the original Spider-Man film series called it a wrap, Columbia Pictures has opted to reboot the franchise with an entirely new cast and director. Gone is director Sam Raimi. Instead, newcomer Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”) controls the helm while Andrew Garfield (“Social Network”) takes on the title role that at one time seemed perfectly suited for a young Tobey Maguire. And don’t expect Mary Jane Watson to rear her red head in this picture. Actress Emma Stone will try to prove that timeless adage “blondes have more fun” as she plays Spidey’s high school sweetheart, Gwen Stacy.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” avoids taking on any stories already covered in Sam Raimi’s films, as Spider-Man’s origin is completely sidestepped. The film instead focuses on the little known history of Peter Parker’s parents and the secret behind their disappearance, creating the possibility of exploring more of Peter’s past in a new summer franchise.
— Jawad Qadir
The Dark Knight Rises (Release Date: July 20, 2012)
While Hollywood has overdosed audiences with superhero movies for the past 10 years, Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, particularly “The Dark Knight” (2008), has felt surprisingly fresh and inventive. The movie’s dense plotting, grand scale, and ensuing terror feels quite atypical of a superhero movie. Nolan’s ability to transcend the genre by turning a simple good-versus-evil tale into a more universal metaphor of human morale led audiences to hail it as the best superhero movie yet. It’s understandable then that Nolan’s third and final installment in the trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” has earned unreasonable amounts of hype.
But can Anne Hathaway reinvent Catwoman so it doesn’t feel like a repeat of Michelle Pfeiffer’s unbeatable performance? Can Nolan expand on the epic scale that made “The Dark Knight” so … well, epic? Does Tom Hardy have Ledger’s ingenuity and courage to create yet another iconic villain? Can it beat “The Avengers,” a movie breaking box-office records as we speak? Although instinct tells me otherwise, I pray that Nolan has enough flair to outdo himself once again.
— Braulio Ramirez
San Francisco Carnaval (May 26-27, 2012)
You haven’t fully experienced San Francisco until you’ve experienced San Francisco Carnaval. As California’s largest multicultural celebration, the two-day festival includes a parade with more color and pride than Mission Street can hold. Floats adorned with huge, shimmering decorations, flags and lively dancers in outfits that range from bedazzled bras and feather headdresses to traditional saris take over the street and fill the air with cultural songs from around the world. As for the rest of the festival, food tents offer an almost overwhelming array of ethnic cuisine, and long rows of booths display goods that range from handmade jewelry, to textile handbags to kilts. With the theme “Spanning Borders; Bridging Cultures,” the weekend-long event brings unique cultural communities together to celebrate diversity. Produced by the nonprofit San Francisco Cultural Arts Tradition, the free festivities will take place on Memorial Day weekend throughout San Francisco’s Mission District.
— Sarah Burke
Live 105’s BFD (June 2, 2012)
Summer means outdoor fun, and what’s more fun and outdoorsy than a summer music festival? If the sunburned-to-a-crisp attendees of Coachella this last April are to be believed, absolutely nothing.
Believe this: While the Bay Area might not be a hotbed for, well, actual heat, it is and has historically been fertile ground for some of the best concerts around. Case in point? Live 105’s BFD, held annually at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View.
June 2 will be the alternative rock station’s 18th Big Fucking Day. You can bet your basslines it’s going to rock hard. With headliners like Jane’s Addiction, Silversun Pickups, genre-defying Garbage, NorCal natives Cake and Australian synthpop group The Naked and Famous, BFD will feature 40 bands on two stages. For all the headliner hype however, don’t miss the Bay Area players. Check out local bands the Stone Foxes, the Dirty Ghosts, Trophy Fire and Young Science.
— Natalie Reyes
Fillmore Jazz Festival (July 7-8, 2012)
San Francisco’s precipitous streets are steeped in cultural history, its storefronts witnesses to the passage of time and its artistic players. But the city doesn’t stop at observing history -— it regularly pays homage and adds its own flavor.
The Fillmore Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast does just that, gathering jazz musicians of all types, from classic American jazz to Venezuelan-inspired sounds to Nigerian beats. From July 7 to July 8, the festival will feature music from Fillmore’s past — in the ‘40s, Fillmore Street jazz clubs hosted the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday — along with gourmet fare and art.
Get jazzed about jazz, seek that sexy saxophone and dance right into the fun. Basic swing lessons accompany the festival, and the “Any Swing Goes” Dance Contest NorCal Championships wrap-up the festivities. Foxtrot your way to the Fillmore this July weekend and celebrate the free spirit of jazz.
— Natalie Reyes
Silent Film Festival (July 12-15, 2012)
Instead of celebrating the masterpieces of narrative cinema, summer usually becomes a time of 3D superheroes, flashy special effects and cliche rom-coms. Fortunately, the Silent Film Festival organization annually brings the past back to light with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Although often overshadowed by the Bay Area’s various summer music events, the Silent Film Festivals provides one of the few chances to see classics such as William Wellman’s 1927 film “Wings” or Lubitsch’s “The Loves of the Pharaoh” remastered with live musical accompaniment. All films will be shown over the course of four days from July 12 to the 15 at the beautiful Castro Theater further adding to the history of film theme.
— Jawad Qadir
Outside Lands (August 10-12, 2012)
The Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival will once again grace San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on August 10-12. As one of California’s premier festivals, this year’s lineup will include acts such as Stevie Wonder, Skrillex, Justice, Jack White and Big Boi. The success of past years has made the event a likely destination for top artists encompassing a wide range of genres.
Though most flock to the festival for the music, the venue also offers an array of other attractions that might be of interest to the artistically inclined.
The fair takes pride in providing a stimulating atmosphere for those who enjoy wine, music and art. A separate lineup is presented at the wine lands section of the festival. Along with a sports lounge, arcade, bar and various food and art vendors, the festival presents a unique alternative to the average weekend.
— Carlos Monterrey
A previous version of this article misspelled Steve Carell’s name.