BIG RELEASE: Getaway (Aug. 30),
BIG PICTURE: The ultimate Frankenfilm. It's Wizards of Waverly Place meets Before Sunset meets Taken meets Speed -- with a dash of Fast & Furious. In order to save his kidnapped wife, a professional race-car driver (Ethan Hawke) is forced behind the wheel of a car by a mysterious man with a sinister, Eastern European accent. He is ordered to "drive" and begin an epic crime spree or his wife will be killed. To make matters worse, Hawke's character's name is "Brent Magna." To make matters worse than worse, he soon finds himself trapped in the car with Selena Gomez. Gomez plays a baseball-cap and hoodie-wearing street hustler who tries to steal Brent's car and gets caught up in the whole zany blackmail scheme. First Gomez plays a deviant teen in Spring Breakers (2012), and now a would-be car thief? Maybe Gomez and Justin Bieber are meant to be together after all.
FORECAST: An entertaining summer getaway. Hawke is due an Oscar nod for his performance in Before Sunset, but maybe he deserves one for playing a guy named Brent Magna.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Closed Circuit (Aug. 28). At first I hoped this was the long awaited third installment in the Short Circuit series (Johnny 5 is alive!). Instead, it's a drama about two British defense attorneys defending a suspected terrorist who may or may not have been a double agent working for MI5 (that is, James Bond's employer). Faster than you can say John Grisham, they find themselves in grave danger. The star-studded cast includes Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent and Julia Stiles -- a clear indication the silly summer season is almost behind us and Oscar season (movies for people who don't post comments like "can't wait for this!" under trailers for films like Getaway) is almost upon us.
BIG EVENT: Cutthroat Kitchen (August 25, Food Network Canada, 10 p.m.
BIG PICTURE: It's Iron Chef meets Pirates of the Caribbean. Alton Brown hosts this cutthroat (figuratively, not literally) kitchen competition in which would be chefs are encouraged to steal, sabotage and outwit their opponents. In an unpredictable twist, each chef is given $25,000 with which they can buy ingredients, utensils and other advantages that can help them win. They can also use their coin to hinder opponents. The winner of the three-round cook-off gets to keep the money he has left.
FORECAST: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If any of these chefs-turned-rogues needs inspiration, I'd look to Captain Jack. Make rum the primary ingredient in every dish and pay for all the other chefs to walk the plank. You can't lose.
BIG RELEASES ON AUG. 27: Neko Case (The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, The More I Love You), Federal Lights (We Were Found in the Fog)
BIG PICTURE: American indie pop goddess Neko Case delivers another album to be worshiped. As a member of Vancouver band The New Pornographers, she's practically Canadian. The charismatic, profound songwriter is supported on the album by the likes of M. Ward (I think he is contractually obligated to appear on every indie record) and A.C. Newman, her Canuck bandmate. Case's sixth album charts her way out of a period of grief with power and poignancy. Meanwhile, Winnipeg's Federal Lights releases its full-length debut, and you can expect big things to come from its lively brand of hook-laden Prairie pop. The album was recorded in the winter (when I assume all Winnipeggers are snowed in and working on indie rock albums).
FORECAST: Federal Lights is a good find, but the Case is closed. Neco is this week's must-listen. From melancholy folk ballads to power pop, she does it all. She's also a contender for my favourite album title of the year (we've all had a relationship that can be summed up with those 17 words).
HONOURABLE MENTION: Franz Ferdinand (Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action): The Scottish dance-rock masters are back to make you move. There are no wrong actions.