The sun is shining, the kids are playing, and Alice Cooper blares from many a radio set. Yes it’s the summer holidays once more. For us here at Culturefly, that means the cinema schedules will be jam-packed with a vast assortment of scintillating films to try and coax us away from the blazing heat and in to the cool confines of the auditorium.
From brainless blockbusters to dark dramas, hilarious comedies to historic reissues, childish animations to adult thrillers, this month in film there really is something for the whole family to enjoy. So extinguish that BBQ, get off that sun lounger and get yourself down to your nearest cinema… you won’t regret it!
August’s Top Pick
The Inbetweeners 2 (Dir. Damon Beesley & Iain Morris) – Released August 6th
As the likes of Harry Hill and Mrs. Brown have recently proved, it’s no easy task modifying a much-loved British comedy for the big screen. Though it’s all very well to try and utilise the cinematic format in order to create something bigger, it shouldn’t come at the expense of what originally made it better. Therefore The Inbetweeners Movie can stand tall as a rare example of what can be accomplished when a balance is struck between the two. Given its astronomical returns at the box-office, a sequel was inevitable. However, the question remains as to whether creators, writers and now directors Damon Beesley and Iain Morris can replicate the lewd and ludicrous magic that made the first film such a hit.
From what we’ve seen so far, much of the boys’ crude and tasteless charm appears to have remained intact. This time they’re off to Australia, where Jay is in the middle of a “mental gap year”. Cue a mayhem fuelled road trip in which the foolish foursome travel across the length and breadth of Oz in search of awesome adventure and as much “clunge” as they can handle, while no doubt pushing the levels of vulgarity to its limits. Expect boobs, banter and and more “down under” jokes than you can shake a Boomerang at.
Having mainly been dominated by aliens and apes thus far, this month it’s us humans that are enjoying much of the gung-ho blockbuster action. Back again with his forever-aging group of action-movie mercenaries, Sly Stallone leads the charge in The Expendables 3 (Aug. 14th). This time Hollywood’s senior soldiers are at war with a maniacal Mel Gibson, who, like many film fans, wants to see the Expendables destroyed. Maybe he should have called Scarlett Johansson, as it certainly looks like she is more than capable of handling herself in Luc Besson’s Lucy (Aug. 22nd). Johansson plays the eponymous heroine, who accidently ingests a new synthetic drug that unlocks 100% of her brain’s capability and allows her to seek revenge on the men forcing her to be their drug mule.
Nearly 10 years since we first skulked through its viscously violent streets, the time has come to return to Sin City in A Dame To Kill For (Aug. 22nd). Robert Rodriguez and creator Frank Miller are once again at the helm as we descend into a vast labyrinth of crime and corruption, guided by some of the city’s toughest citizens as they take on its most powerful foes. None of them are going to be as powerful as Mother Nature herself though, who is about to unleash all her fury onto a group of unsuspecting students in Into The Storm (Aug. 22nd). Seeming to amalgamate the ideas of The Day After Tomorrow and Twister, this 3D extravaganza may be light on brains, but certainly appears to be heavy on tornado-twirling thrills.
A huge hit at Cannes this year, Two Days, One Night (Aug. 22nd) pertinently and poignantly observes the desperate struggle of a woman on the brink of unemployment. Marion Cotillard stars in this latest triumph by the magnificent Dardenne Brothers, whose keenly focused tales of human hardships have propelled them to the front of modern French cinema. Another festival favourite, this time from last year’s London Film Festival is Hide Your Smiling Faces (Aug. 1st), which finally gets a wider release this month. First-time director Daniel Patrick Carbone draws on his own experiences as he delicately entwines a tale of small-town tragedy and young male morality.
There’s a very real element of heartbreak about God’s Pocket (Aug. 8th), as it is one of the final times we will be able to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman act in a lead role. He plays Mickey, a man whose life gradually begins to spiral further away from his grasp following the death of his crazy stepson Leon. Making his feature directorial debut, actor John Slattery writes and directs this dark and unconventional drama, which will stand as part of the astonishing swansong to the late and great Hoffman.
It’s the Brits who are at the forefront of this month’s top comedy picks. In Hector And The Search For Happiness (Aug. 15th) Simon Pegg plays a psychiatrist determined to improve on his humdrum existence by setting off on a global quest in search of the secret to true happiness. Meanwhile, having finally broken free of his wizard’s cape, Daniel Radcliffe now finds himself pondering the age-old question about whether being friends can ever lead to anything more in What If (Aug. 20th). He soon finds someone to explore his hypothesis with in the form of Zoe Kazan’s Chantry, whom Radcliffe’s Wallace immediately connects with. There’s just one problem, Chantry currently lives with Ben who also happens to be her long-time boyfriend.
The Outback has always been a place instilled with a viscerally potent aura of danger. In The Rover (Aug. 15th) we travel there 10 years after a global economic meltdown to find a land inhabited by outlaws. In to this milieu stumbles Eric, a man determined to get his only possession, his car, back from a group of bandits who have stolen it. Back in the modern day, we find a detective wrestling with the locals as he tries to solve the murder of a young girl in Mystery Road (Aug. 29th). Exploring the conflicts between the Outback’s white and Indigenous populous, Ivan Sen weaves a generic thriller that’s bolstered by its cultural observations.
Fans of Nordic Noir can rejoice at the release of The Keeper of Lost Causes (Aug. 29th), which plunges us into the heart of a cold-case involving a woman’s disappearance. Soon enough, the detectives investigating find themselves drawn in to a chilling web of misogynistic malice that seeps through Scandinavia’s veins.
What price is acceptable in order to protect the environment? That’s one of key the questions burning at the heart of Night Moves (Aug. 29th). Following three radicalized environmentalists as they try to blow up a hydroelectric dam, the film examines issues of belief and consciousness, vividly told through a gloomy aesthetic.
With it’s crazy hairdos and swanky styles, actor/director Guillaume Canet looks to have successfully embodied the look of the 70s for his first English Language film Blood Ties (Aug. 15th). Though the story of two brothers facing off from either side of the law may not pulse with originality, the talented cast and the brooding Brooklyn setting effortlessly sparks your interest in this old-school story of organized crime.
Winner of five Academy Awards, Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (Aug. 1st) continues to be revered as a masterful study of war’s horror. Remarkable for its exceptional use of imagery, this is a film that deserves to be seen on the big screen. As does The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (Aug. 29th), Robert Wiene’s extraordinary impressionist film that continues to stand as a visual landmark on the vista of film. Now restored, this pinnacle of German Expressionism heralded the start of one of cinema’s most exciting eras and remains one of its most hypnotic treasures.
Satyajit Ray called Charulata (Aug. 22nd) his own personal favourite of the films he made and now you can see why. Examining themes of loneliness and longing from the view of a bored housewife in Calcutta, whose isolation tenderly drives the film’s raw emotion, the film is celebrated for its rich visuals and resplendent performances.
No matter how many times you watch them, Alfred Hitchcock’s finest works continue to dazzle all these years later and with its playful blend of laughs and thrills, To Catch A Thief (Aug. 8th) embodies the director’s lighter side. Though it may not conjure the same levels of excitement found in his most celebrated films, Hitchcock’s relaxed approach allows you to simply bask in the brilliance of his enthusiastic ensemble and sumptuous cinematography.
Best Of The Rest
Travel further than before into the surreal mind of Michel Gondry with Mood Indigo (Aug. 1st), another alluring blend of visual wonderment that paves the way for an inventive tale of human connection; this time it’s between Colin and his girlfriend Chloe, who becomes ill after a flower begins to grow inside her lungs.
Sadly no Pixar for the youngsters, and indeed the adults, this year, so Planes: Fire & Rescue (Aug. 8th) will have to do for the kids. Though the original was heavily criticised for its focus on style over substance, early word on the sequel suggests more balance this time, with Dusty training to become a fire fighter after his racing career is put on hold. For the adults, look no further than The Congress (Aug. 15th). Robin Wright plays herself in this thought-provoking drama, which endeavours to examine the darker side of film’s future.
If it’s chills you crave however, then As Above, So Below (Aug. 29th) will hopefully have you covered. The Parisian Catacombs have a naturally menacing quality to them, what with the walls being covered with human skulls, so what better place for two archaeologists to journey to in search of lost treasure. As you would expect, they find far more than they were expecting within Paris’ ominous tombs.