August is often considered a barren wasteland for new movie releases. The idea has long been that in the month of August the families are off on vacation or spending days at the beach or finding activities outdoors rather than thinking about devoting two hours indoors watching a flashing screen. The movie studios often hold off on their big event movies and usually just blow off those pictures they've lost hope in or have been rotting away in storage. Of course, that doesn't always mean bad movies and August has been the home to pictures like Guardians of the Galaxy, Kubo and the Two Strings, Logan Lucky and Straight Outta Compton. This means that August may be full of movies that the studios have little faith in being big hits, but there is still reason for us to be excited and have some hope for something special. I will once again be looking at all the major releases of the upcoming month and remain completely positive about each one.
The Darkest Minds (Fox): We are now in August and this is only the second major movie adaptation of a Young Adult novel about a dystopian future with an evil government that has less than stellar plans for our teenage heroes (the other being the long delayed Maze Runner: The Death Cure that came out back in January). This is opposed to a few years ago where studios seemed to be churning out at least one a month in hopes of capturing some of the Twilight and Hunger Games magic. No matter the quality, this now feels more like something a little different than the other big CGI spectacles rather than "oh, not one of these again." Plus Amandla Stenberg (Everything Everything, the upcoming The Hate U Give) seems destined to be a big star, so discover her before she becomes a superstar.
Death of a Nation (Quality Fix): If you've ever said to yourself, "Man, I wish my crazy far-right uncle's Facebook page could be turned into an insane movie" than Dinesh D'Souza's latest documentary is here to fulfill your dreams.
Disney's Christopher Robin (Disney): Disney has been incredibly successful in re-imagining their animated classics into live action features with good to great results in Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. I have tons of faith that they not only know what they're doing but am prepared for a whole slate of wonderful new movies that I can enjoy with my kids. The trailer hints that they have perfectly captured the charm, wit, humour and sweetness of the animated movies, and this may challenge Paddington 2 as the ultimate feel-good movie about a talking bear in 2018. The idea of an adult losing touch with the magic of his childhood is an often-used classic tale, but it is a classic one for a reason, because when told in expert hands it can be uplifting, whimsical, and magical.
The Spy Who Dumped Me (Lionsgate): When you get the right pairing in the buddy action comedy then you get cinematic magic like The Nice Guys, 21 Jump Street, Hot Fuzz, 48 Hours, The Heat, and Midnight Run. Mila Kunis has proven her comedic skills in movies like Bad Moms and Friends with Benefits, and Kate McKinnon has almost always been the best part of any comedy she has played a (mostly) supporting role.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Filmrise): The 1990s set story about a young girl being forced into a program that is trying to reprogram her into being a heterosexual is something very timely. It looks to be focusing more on the characters rather than hammering down its message. It also looks like it has material that is worthy of the incredible talents of Chloe Grace Moretz. The movie is coming in with really strong reviews from critics and if it was distributed by a bigger studio may have been an Oscar contender.
Eighth Grade (A24): A coming of age tale soften end up being one of my favourite movies of the year, probably because it is an universal tale that everyone can connect with, since we've all had to go through the terror, pain, joy and adventure of growing up. This movie has a great score on Rotten Tomatoes with only contrarian critic Armond White giving it rotten, which in of itself I take as a plus.
Dog Days (LD Entertainment): Piper has been such an amazing dog who gets along great with our kids and has been quick to learn a lot of new tricks. The biggest issue has been that she has mistaken our upstairs hallway as a toilet, which means everyday I've had an unwanted job. In the last few days, she has been going to the door to alert me that she needs to go outside, which means a much cleaner and nicer smelling upstairs hallway. This is wonderful.
The Meg (Warner Brothers): Dino shark!
Slender Man (Sony/Screen Gems): Watching this trailer makes me think about great horror movies like The Ring, Exorcist, The Evil Dead, Candyman and The Blair Witch Project.
BlacKKKlansman (Focus Features): Spike Lee makes some of the most provocative and challenging movies, but has also maintained a slick style to keep his message entertaining. This movie looks to have tons of energy, humour and thrills, but is also the type of story that we really need now in our broken society. Plus we never can get enough Adam Driver in movies and he looks typically great here, and it is nice to see Topher Grace back on the big screen too.
Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Brothers): This is based off a huge bestselling novel that was applauded for its wit and humour, something we need more of in modern mainstream comedies. You know what else we are lacking in modern comedies that this movies delivers? It is a romantic comedy that is a genre that is now almost extinct as a big studio movie. Even more important, this is first all-Asian cast big studio wide release movie since 1993's The Joy Luck Club, and that is way too long ago.
Alpha (Sony/Columbia): This story about a caveboy and his wolf companion is being marketed as a live-action family adventure movie, which is something that we do not get very often anymore. It is a fictional take on how the canine became "man's best friend" and looks to have a lot of heart along with some big action set pieces. This is another movie that benefits from being a subgenre that we don't see on the big screen very often, so it feels a bit more special now.
Mile 22 (STX Entertainment): Director Peter Berg is very good at immersing the audience into explosive and chaotic action scenes. The trailer promises to blow lots of stuff up.
Juliet, Naked (Roadside Attractions): The trailers makes Juliet, Naked look like a sweet, adorable, and charming little romantic comedy about a women who is stuck in a relationship with a guy obsessed with a long lost rock star and then finding herself in a potential relationship with once lost rock star. It is definitely a different take on the love triangle, and even if that idea doesn't seem fun, it is bolstered by amazing and funny performers in Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd and Ethan Hawke.
The Wife (Sony Classics): Another movie that fits well into current social movements. Glenn Close plays Joan Castleman who has been the supportive wife of Nobel Prize winning author Joe Castleman, The trailer reveals that she has had to put up with lot from Joe including his infidelities but also it appears that he may have stopped her pursuing her own writing career. After 40 years of marriage, there is a confrontation brewing. It not only has got great reviews on the festival circuit but the early talk is Close is a favourite for Best Actress nominations.
A.X.L (Global Road): It will probably be the very best 'boy finds a robotic dog at the dump then must protect it from the government' movie this summer.
The Happytime Murders (STX Entertainment): It is Who Framed Roger Rabbit but with profane and sexually explicit puppets. Finally, the movie for those who feel the Muppets is way too kid-friendly and needs more jokes about ejaculation.
Searching (Sony/Screen Gems): It is a unique spin on the parent searches for their missing child after the police fail story. If you want to know about your kids today then you check their computers (or phones). Searching is completely from the perspective of the daughter's laptop with the father looking for clues about his missing daughter. This has also done a festival circuit and came out with glowing reviews.
Papillon (Bleecker Street): The 1973 Papillon was a prison island escape movie starring big actor heavyweight Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman and was based off Henri Charriere's autobiography of the same name (and has since had its authenticity seriously challenged). Even if the movie and the work it is based on isn't historically accurate, I'm a fan of the original movie and it is worth tracking down. This movie gives me another chance to become a fan of Charlie Hunnam and is holding a respectable score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Operation Finale (MGM): A new twist on the 'holocaust movie' with the events after World War 2 and being about the manhunt and capture of one of the infamous holocaust architects, Adolf Eichmann. It looks like a slow-building thriller with heavy dramatic elements, and despite being about events that happened almost 60 years ago, it had some eerie relevance today. Also Ben Kingsley is chilling as Eichmann and Oscar Isaac should be great as the Mossad agent, Peter Malkin, who captured him.
Kin (Lionsgate): This looks like something that I'd have been super excited about seeing in 1985, just like how I was super excited in '85 to see Return to Oz, Santa Claus: The Movie, He-Man and She-Ra the Secret of the Sword, and Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend.
Ya Veremos (Pantelion): When they dye their hair blue, they really dye it blue.
The Little Stranger (Focus Features): Lenny Abrahamson's follow-up to his Best Picture nominated Room looks to be a chilling Gothic horror that questions if the house really is haunted or are the character descending into madness. The settings look gorgeous yet spooky and promises some nice creepy twists and dark family secrets. It is complimented by a powerhouse cast that includes Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling.