The waning days of Summer attempt to rescue this mostly-awful year-so-far.
Hello, and welcome to The Month In Movies UK! If you were around Screened.com throughout 2011, and occasionally 2012 and 2013, then you might recognise this feature and what we do. For those of you who aren’t me and therefore don’t fit that criteria, however, allow me to introduce you. The Month In Movies UK was a feature in which I ran down the schedule of what’s coming out in cinemas this month and give you an idea as to what looks good and what looks crud. Actually, I don’t know why I’m using the past tense when nothing’s actually changed in this revived version. Point is, it’s your preview for the coming month.
And August certainly has its work cut out for it. I’m really at my wits end with regards to Film this year. Yeah, there have been some great films and some OUTSTANDING films, but they’ve been matched at every turn by bad films, disappointing films, and some of the worst things I have ever witnessed with my eyeballs. It’s also been a very bad Summer, let’s be honest. August, though, seems determined to try and fix things. Amy Schumer finally crosses the Atlantic, the world’s most dangerous group gets the biopic treatment, Guy Ritchie looks to bring back the slightly campy 60s spy movie, and Terry Jones releases his first directorial effort in 19 years. Throw in some other films that I want to be good but am remaining cautious about, and we’ve got a very interesting month ahead of us. So, let’s take a butchers, hmm?
Note: This is not a complete list of films due for release this month. All release dates are subject to change. List is adapted from the Film Distributors Association
The Month In Movies UK: August 2015
Fantastic 4 (Thursday 6th)
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
Oh dear. This one does not look good. Like, at all. None of the trailers have made it look decent, the cast and crew are already making excuses for it, and the reviews that have already come in are confirming those “no, it really is just as bad as it looks” fears. I’d sit here and smugly say “I told you so,” but then I remember that I actually have to watch this in about 48 hours and suddenly every desire to gloat goes out of the window.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Friday 7th)
Director: Marielle Heller
Starring: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Meloni
Hang on. A Summer Indie that’s getting its UK cinema release at the exact same time as its American release, instead of hanging around in limbo for god knows how many months? What God did I please?! Apparently not one that’s willing to release it in the area, but hey ho. For those of you who are that lucky, you get the opportunity of watching this Sundance favourite about a teenage girl’s sexual awakening. It’s caused some minor controversy here for being rated 18 – the film’s director is claiming gender bias due to films like Kidulthood and The Reader exploring similar thematic ground but being rated 15 – which has raised its profile somewhat, so maybe it might come around to your neck of the woods!
The Gift (Friday 7th)
Director: Joel Edgerton
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Joel Edgerton teams up with horror producer of the moment Jason Blum for a psychological thriller that he’s also written and directed. Edgerton is apparently a very talented writer when it comes to thrillers – I’ve heard strong things about The Square and Felony – so I’m curious to see how well he makes the jump to directing. Yes, you read that right, I will be seeing this one in cinemas. Psychological thrillers are my kind of horror/thriller, and I am trying to get myself in a position where I can eventually make it through horror films in the cinema, so I’ll give this a shot. Maybe, assuming I don’t wuss out just before it’s time.
Manglehorn (Friday 7th)
Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine
Look, even though Danny Collins wasn’t really anything more than pleasant and this looks to be something similar, I will still applaud Al Pacino for deciding to act again. Seriously, after something close to a decade of phoning it in in dreadful movies, it’s heartening to see him try for once. Now all he needs to do is star in something different and interesting again…
“He’s going to be in Harmony Korine’s next movie”? Well this I’ve gotta see!
Max (Friday 7th)
Director: Boaz Yakin
Starring: Josh Wiggins, Lauren Graham, Thomas Haden Church
Nope! Nu-uh! Not going anywhere near this one. Have you seen this trailer? Have you seen this goddamn trailer? I don’t care that it’s apparently not very good, and is directed by noted hack Boaz Yakin, that film will ruin me! Look! The dog’s desperately clawing at the casket because his master is there and… oh, God, I’m about to cry for the fourth time. Here, just watch the trailer.
Pixels (Wednesday 12th)
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage for some reason
Ahem. My review. That is all.
Absolutely Anything (Friday 14th)
Director: Terry Jones
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, the voices of Monty Python, the voice of Robin Williams
Ah, this is nice. Terry Jones returns to filmmaking with this tale of a hapless schmuck (Pegg) who is unwittingly granted the power to be able to do anything by a secret alien counsel as part of a test: if he uses the powers for good, Earth is saved, but if he uses them for his own selfish desires and evil, then Earth will be destroyed. That’s a very fun premise and Jones is exactly the kind of guy who is up to the task of milking this for all that it’s worth, which the trailer seems to indicate he will. Plus, it features Robin Williams’ last role and, dammit, that is a wound that is never going to heal for me.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Friday 14th)
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant
Sorry, I still can’t get over the fact that Guy Ritchie is now a big-name Hollywood director. It was weird when he did Sherlock Holmes in 2009, it was weird when he returned and did A Game of Shadows in 2011, it’s weird now, and it’s going to be weird in that King Arthur movie he’s making for next year. Especially weird is how the poster proudly trumpets that it’s “from the director of Sherlock Holmes and Snatch”. Like, the fact that they mentioned Snatch on the poster for a 12a Summer blockbuster. It’s all very weird.
Oh, the film? Yeah, looks like fun, genuinely can’t wait to see it.
Mistress America (Friday 14th)
Director: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke
Wait, two Noah Baumbach films in one year? Slow down, man! You keep pumping them out like this and Joe Swanberg might come and kill you for stealing his whole thing! Anyways, this one reunites him with the immensely talented Greta Gerwig for another co-written character study about an insufferable woman in New York City. OK, I’m being unnecessarily mean. The only Baumbach film that I’ve seen was April’s While We’re Young and I did enjoy it… right up until its last third turned into “Old Man Yells At Kids To Get Off His Lawn” and ends with one of the stupidest final shots that I can ever recall in a movie. Maybe that was an anomaly, though, I should just watch Frances Ha already.
Precinct Seven Five (Friday 14th)
Director: Tiller Russell
Good lord, this week is ridiculous for movies. Here’s a documentary about police corruption. Specifically, the case of New York City Police Officer Michael Dowd, a member of Precinct Seven Five, who got heavily involved in the drug and money laundering game in the 1980s. That’s an interesting, possibly even timely, topic to make a documentary about, but I worry that it may accidentally end up glorifying what he does, since Dowd himself is one of the primary interviewees. I don’t know for sure, since I don’t know any of the particulars of the case, but we’ll see.
Trainwreck (Friday 14th)
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton
Have I adequately gotten across yet just how excited I am for this movie? Because I am. I really, really am. Amy Schumer is one of the most important voices in comedy right now, and I am dying to see what she can bring to the rom-com genre. Hurry up and get this thing in front of my eyeballs already!
Paper Towns (Monday 17th)
Director: Jake Schreier
Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith
Got a nice early review over here for you. Short version: those of you who like John Green’s thing (like I seem to) will really like it although it’s nothing brilliant and will fade from memory soon after watching, those of you who don’t will despise it with a burning intensity. In other words, however you react to the trailer will mostly likely be how you react to the film. Isn’t it nice when that happens? Saves a whole load of time and effort.
The Bad Education Movie (Friday 21st)
Director: Elliot Hegarty
Starring: Jack Whitehall, other people I guess
Oh, for f*ckssake, hasn’t the artform of comedy already suffered enough this year?
The Dance of Reality (Friday 21st)
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Starring: Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, Jeremias Herskovits
Oh, hell, Jodorowsky’s back. Or, more accurately, Jodorowsky’s been back for two years now but his film has only just now found somebody mad enough to distribute it in the UK. That’s also a full year after it got a US cinema release for those who, like myself, get driven mad by stuff like this. As for the film… I really got nothing. Watch the trailer, you be the judge.
Escobar: Paradise Lost (Friday 21st)
Director: Andrea Di Stefano
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Claudia Traisac
So… why is this not getting a bigger release? Del Toro is a big deal, Josh Hutcherson is becoming a big deal, and it looks like it’s got a good mix of action, romance, and drama. So what’s the problem here? Mediocre reviews? Like that ever stopped anything. Is it the Escobar part of the romance story? Cos, if so, I’d like to remind you that Suite Française, a film about a woman falling in love with a literal Nazi, got a full-on release. What gives?
Gemma Bovery (Friday 21st)
Director: Anne Fontaine
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Luchini, Jason Flemying
At least Gemma Arterton’s free of that awful Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters movie from a few years back. Urgh, she deserves better. Relatedly, The Voices is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from all good video shops.
Sinister 2 (Friday 21st)
Director: Ciaran Foy
Starring: Shannyn Sossman, James Ransome
Ha ha ha ha ha nope. You can all go enjoy this, like crazy people who enjoy being scared to death, I’m gonna stay well away.
Strange Magic (Friday 21st)
Director: Gary Rydstrom
Starring the voices of: Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristen Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph
Oh, Disney! Are you trying to hide your crappy-looking animated movie acquisition away from me by moving to a limited release plan at the last minute, after having already delayed its UK release by 9 months? That’s adorable! Seriously, it’s just so cute that you think that you could get away with that! Like I’ll just see you do that and go, “Well, guess I’m just going to have to not see this movie now!” Your naivety is adorable, it really is.
Vacation (Friday 21st)
Directors: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis D’Angelo
Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth
Sigh. Why do I have to watch “comedies” like this, yet genuinely interesting looking comedies like Sleeping With Other People are stuck on the other side of the Atlantic with no apparent release date on the horizon?
Hitman: Agent 47 (Thursday 27th)
Director: Aleksander Bach
Starring: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto
So I’m actually kinda looking forward to this. I’m a big fan of the Hitman games – but not Absolution, cos that one’s garbage – but they don’t make ideal candidates for movies for very obvious reasons. Therefore, I accept that a Hitman movie will be one in name only and am just looking forward to a hopefully fun and incredibly ridiculous action movie that occasionally puts on the airs of Hitman. Plus, Pixels is officially the rock-bottom of videogame-related movies so this really only needs to be adequate to properly grab my enjoyment.
We Are Your Friends (Thursday 27th)
Director: Max Joseph
Starring: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Jonny Weston
OK, so, yeah, this is probably going to be terrible – specifically, a film that completely fails to interrogate or examine the privileges inherent in its cast and setting yet still puts the stakes as all or nothing regardless – but, but… what if it isn’t? Like, for real, what if this is actually good? I really like Zac Efron, music films always have my full attention (because I adore music), and the Drunk In Love joke from the trailer given me hope for this movie all by itself (because goddamn do I ever want to tell idiots that their music taste sucks when I’m providing music at certain uni events). So, yeah, it’s probably going to be terrible… but what if?
Barely Lethal (Friday 28th)
Director: Kyle Newman
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Sophie Turner, Samuel L. Jackson
Oh, hey! This finally got a UK distributor! As my review will tell you, it’s not a good movie, but a film like this is the kind of thing that gets lapped up by people who love cult teen comedies of questionable value! If you’re going to willingly ignore the crowd of people who will try and stupidly tell you that Jawbreaker is anything but a cool idea marred by mediocre execution and a hateful tone, then you’re just voluntarily pissing money away!
Straight Outta Compton (Friday 28th)
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge
Oh. Hell. Yes. Right, this film is going to go one of two ways. This will either be a gripping, insightful, and just plain brilliant look at the impact of one of the most important music groups to ever walk this planet, and will also interrogate the culture that they helped alter. Or this will be an embarrassing Walk Hard for the rap world, torpedoed by an unwillingness to say anything besides “N.W.A. were pretty great” due to Dre and Cube not wanting this movie to be anything but that. This will not be anything in the middle. It’s going to be one or the other and I absolutely cannot wait to see which it ends up being. Seriously, I am pumped as all hell for this.
That’s August in movies. Which are you looking forward to? Anything I missed? Hit up the comments and let me know!