COMING SOON: August 2015 – voting poll
August is typically considered the last month of the summer movie season and in recent years there have been surprises at the box office. Back in the 90’s Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” was released in August as was “the Fugitive” starring Harrison Ford, both of which turned out to be some of the best films of their respective years. So, what about this year? Will there be any movies that will wind up on the year-end list of 2015 or at least become sleeper hits? Well, I have a few August releases on my radar that I definitely want to share. I’m ignoring any sequels or superhero flicks (sorry “Fantastic Four” reboot), since those already have a fan base and I would much rather discover something different. Alright, so mark these down fellow film enthusiasts….
SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE – Any animated project from British studio Aardman Animation (“Wallace and Gromit”, “Chicken Run”) is an absolute treat! Here the stop-motion TV series is moving to the big-screen as Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, getting himself into a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with a Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them Shaun and his pals to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home. Directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton and featuring the voice work of Justin Fletcher, John Sparks and Omid Djalili. (rated PG)
COP CAR – Here’s a film that earned some buzz last January at the Sundance Film Festival and is directed by Jon Watts (who will be helming the new “Spider-Man” movie) . It’s about a small town sheriff who sets out to find the two kids who stole his squad car and took it out for a joy ride. It stars Kevin Bacon, Shea Whigham and Camryn Manheim. (rated R)
DARK PLACES – The second Gillian Flynn adaptation to come out in less than a year (last fall’s “Gone Girl” was the first) and this one has Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, both of whom starred in the recent “Mad Max: Fury Road” (one of the best films of the year) – so, count me in. Theron plays Libby Day, who was only seven years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. 25 years later, she agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night. Also starring Corey Stoll (“Ant-Man”) , Tye Sheridan, Sterling Jerins and Christina Hendricks. (rated R)
RICKI AND THE FLASH – 9 years ago, “Devil Wears Prada” proved that Meryl Streep can reign supreme in August and now she reteams “The Manchurian Candidate” director Jonathan Demme, in which the acting icon plays a musician who long ago gave up everything to pursue her rock-and-roll dream now returns home, looking to make things right with her family. Of course Streep can rock! I have no doubts. Written by “Juno” screenwriter Diablo Cody, the drama also stars and also starring Rick Springfield, Sebastian Stan, Kevin Kline, Audra McDonald, Charlotte Rae and Mamie Gummer. (rated PG-1)
THE END OF THE TOUR – I’ve seen this Sundance premiere film, based on David Lipsky’s 2010 book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, and it’s another great film from director James Ponsoldt (“Smashed” and “The Spectacular Now”). Adapted by David Marguiles, it follows Lipsky (played by Jesse Eisenberg), a Rolling Stone writer, as he interviews author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) during the final week of the promotional book tour for his best-selling tome, Infinite Jest. Tou can bet there will be awards buzz fluttering around Segal’s transformaive performance. The film also stars Joan Cusack, Anna Chlumsky and Ron Livingston. (rated R)
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. – While this is an established property, it’s not a sequel, prequel or reboot, so it’s got that going for it. Classic spy TV buffs, may balk at the cast or director Guy Ritchie (“Snatch” and recent “Sherlock Holmes” movies), but the trailer for this adaptation looks stylish and funny amid a ton of action. In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Also starring Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant Jared Harris and David Beckham (rated PG-13)
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – From director F. Gary Gray (“Friday” and “The Negotiator”) comes a look at the origin of the rap group N.W.A in the mid-1980s, which revolutionized pop culture with their music that reflected their lived in the hood. It stars O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dr. Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E and Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller. Their story looks compelling and the trailer looks great. (rated R)
PHOENIX – This film, written and directed by German director Christian Petzold, has been earning a ton of buzz on the festival circuit. It takes place in 1945 in post-World War II Berlin as a disfigured concentration-camp survivor (Nina Hoss), unrecognizable after facial reconstruction surgery, searches ravaged city for the husband (Ronald Zehrfeld) who might have betrayed her to the Nazis. Heavy stuff, but from what I hear compelling and unforgettable with a stunning ending. (rated PG-13)
MISTRESS AMERICA – If you are a completist of writer/director Noah Baumbach, than seeing this is a no-brainer. His latest has him re-teaming with Greta Gerwig (“Frances Ha”) as a lonely college freshman whose life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister. Also stars Charlie Gillette, Seth Barrish and Lola Kirke. (rated R)
TEN THOUSAND SAINTS – It’s se t in the 80s and it’s about a teenager from Vermont moves to New York City to live with his father in East Village. I was a teen in the 80s and I like Ethan Hawke, Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield. Also, it’s directed by Shari Springer-Berman and Robert Pulcini, the pair who directed “American Splendor”. Sold. (rated R)
GRANDMA – Writer/director Paul Weitz may have had a misfire with 2013’s “Admission” , but I’ve been interested in his work since 2012’s “Being Flynn”. Here’s a comedy headlined by 75 year-old Lily Tomlin, who plays the titular character – self-described misanthrope Elle Reid, has her protective bubble burst when her 18-year-old granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), shows up needing help. The two of them go on a day-long journey that causes Elle to come to terms with her past and Sage to confront her future. Also starring Judy Greer and Marcia Gay Harden (rated R)
LEARNING TO DRIVE – Here’s a dramedy that sounds like it had real characters in it. As her marriage dissolves, a Manhattan writer (Patricia Clarkson) takes driving lessons from a Sikh instructor (Ben Kingsley) with marriage troubles of his own. In each other’s company they find the courage to get back on the road and the strength to take the wheel. Directed Isabel Coixet. (rated R)
SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY – How about a new film from legendary director Peter Bogdanovich (“The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon”) that’s being marketed as a screwball comedy starring Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots and Jennifer Aniston (among other great names). Who knows? It could be awful, but it has me interested and it could be some great late-summer viewing. (rated R)
There you have it. Of course, those are Chicago release dates are subject to change and keep in mind you can likely find many of these films On Demand or iTunes. Either way you watch them, that’s a solid list to keep with you as you try to escape the August heat.
Now, go vote and tell us what August release is at the top of your must-see list!!