Summertime St. Louis: Summer of Salvation. The Terminator is back. Plus, 39 other movies we can't wait to see this season.

The cinema is not a slice of life but a piece of cake," Alfred Hitchcock once said, and if that's true — and who are we to dispute the master? — then summertime is when we gorge (unhealthily, most of the time, on ear-splitting smash-'em-ups and nerd-filled sex comedies). This year's summer movie season is sure to contain its share of brain goo — is that the march of angry robots we hear? — but there are more satisfying things on the menu, too. Gorging, we say, is good — it's the American way — but as we peruse the upcoming multiplex offerings, let's pledge to seek out the occasional rare delicacy. To help, we've narrowed down the season's gazillion releases, and what follows is our list of the best, most intriguing and most promising films. All dates are subject to change. Happy viewing.

MAY

Terminator Salvation
Christian Bale goes ballistic in this reboot of Governor Schwarzenegger's signature film series. It's 2018, and Bale is John Connor, the resistance leader whose birth Arnie was trying to prevent, way back in the day. Reviewed in full in this issue. Directed by McG. Release date: May 21

Dance Flick
Damon Wayans Jr. dons tights and ballet shoes for this parody of those teen dance dramas in which a white girl from the 'burbs and a black youth from the 'hood find true love in time for the big recital. Directed by Damien Dante Wayans. Release date: May 22

Easy Virtue
Jessica Biel moves up the social ladder in this adaptation of Noël Coward's 1920s comedy about an American bombshell about to marry into an aristocratic British family. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Biel's future mother-in-law/nemesis. Directed by Stephan Elliott. Release date: May 22

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Ben Stiller returns as a museum security guard who discovers that the statues and exhibits come to life at night. This time, the guard gets to fall in love with a real-life human (played by the increasingly ubiquitous Amy Adams). Directed by Shawn Levy. Release date: May 22

Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, The Evil Dead trilogy) returns to his horror-film roots for this tale of a young banker (Alison Lohman) who makes the fatal mistake of denying a loan to an old gypsy woman. Demonic curses soon follow. (Does this explain the banking crisis?) Directed by Sam Raimi. Release date: May 29

Kambakkht Ishq
Bollywood stars Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor head from India to Hollywood in this romantic comedy about a stuntman and a supermodel who become media sensations. Cameos by Sylvester Stallone and Superman's Brandon Routh. Directed by Sabbir Khan. Release date: May 29

Munyurangabo
This debut feature from a New York-based Korean American filmmaker follows two Rwandan boys out for a walk in the countryside. One boy is Hutu; the other, Tutsi. Wildly acclaimed at recent film festivals, Munyurangabo reportedly begins with the sight of a bloody machete and ends with a poem. Directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Release date: May 29

Pontypool
Veteran character-actor Stephen McHattie stars as a Canadian DJ trying to figure out what's going on when reports start coming in of townspeople viciously attacking each other. Bruce McDonald directed the little-seen but visually remarkable film The Tracey Fragments, starring a pre-Juno Ellen Page. Directed by Bruce McDonald. Release date: May 29

Departures
This year's surprise winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar tells of an unemployed cellist (Masahiro Motoki) who lands a job for which he displays an unexpected aptitude — bathing, dressing and grooming the dead before cremation. A comedy, with tears. Directed by Yojiro Takita. Release date: May 29

Up
Only a Pixar animator — in this case, Monsters, Inc. director Peter Docter — would dare ask studio bosses for millions of dollars to make an animated movie about a depressed 78-year-old widower (voiced by Ed Asner) who doesn't like children. We trust all things Pixar, but don't expect a run on Ed Asner plush toys at your local superstore. Directed by Peter Docter. Release date: May 29

JUNE

Away We Go
Married novelists of staggering genius, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, team with Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road) to send pregnant newlyweds (John Krasinki and Maya Rudolph) on a sweetly comic road trip across America. Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Paul Schneider costar as the friends and family (a.k.a. eccentrics) who offer the couple temporary refuge. Directed by Sam Mendes. Release date: June 5

Séraphine
Yolande Moreau
stars as the French painter Séraphine Louis, who worked as a servant girl before her gift for painting was discovered in 1912. Martin Provost tracks Séraphine's fast rise and heartbreaking fall in a film that won seven César Awards (the French Oscars), including Best Picture and Best Actress. Directed by Martin Provost. Release date: June 5

Tetro
In writing his first original screenplay since 1974's The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola reportedly mined his own back-story for this tale of two brothers (Vincent Gallo and Alden Ehrenreich) trying to come to terms with their complex family history. Set in contemporary Buenos Aires, Tetro was filmed in black-and-white, a style Coppola last employed for 1983's Rumble Fish. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Release date: June 11

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