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10 Films To See In August

Written by on August 3, 2011 

Some may call it the January of the summer movie season, but August has its handful of highlights. It is the last chance to have some fun before the serious awards race begins with Venice and Toronto Film Festivals kicking off within the next month. Check out our list of films to see in August below and matinees to check out on the next page.


10. 30 Minutes or Less (Ruben Fleischer; Aug. 12th)

Synopsis: Two fledgling criminals kidnap pizza delivery guy Nick, strap a bomb to his chest, and inform him that he has mere hours to rob a bank. As the clock ticks, Nick, with the help of his ex-best friend, Chet, deal with the police, hired assassins, flamethrowers, and their own tumultuous relationship.


Why You Should See It: While it is a considerable step down from the rollicking Zombieland, Fleischer still knows how to form a great cast with Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson all giving their best, as Jesse Eisenberg is the rock in the middle. I adore dark comedies, but there were a few unnecessary moments here. In the end, there are plenty of laughs and it marks another solid entry into our fantastic R-rated comedy summer.

9. Fright Night (Craig Gillespie; Aug. 19th)

Synopsis: Teenager Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) guesses that his new neighbor Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell) is a vampire responsible for a string of recent deaths. When no one he knows believes him, he enlists Peter Vincent (David Tennant), the opportunistic host of his favorite TV show, to help him take down Jerry and his guardian.


Why You Should See It: One has to hand it to DreamWorks for grabbing a talented director for this remake (see Lars and the Real Girl). I’ve also heard good buzz, especially related to Colin Farrell’s off-the-wall performance.

8. The Change-Up (David Dobkin; Aug. 5th)

Synopsis: After a night of drinking, family guy Mitch (Jason Bateman) magically switches bodies his longtime friend Dave (Ryan Reynolds), a single, responsibility-free hedonist. As the guys experience the realities of each other’s lives, they work on a way to get their old ones back.


Why You Should See It: Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin‘s latest comedy is very by-the-numbers, but thankfully all those numbers are quite hilarious. We’ve seen the formula before but not this raunchy, with the best bits coming from Jason Bateman channeling a dirty Ryan Reynolds. For those that weren’t satisfied with Olivia Wilde in Cowboys & Aliens, she is here and is able to do a much better job.

7. Our Idiot Brother (Jesse Peretz; Aug. 26th)

Synopsis: A pot bust sends nice-guy Ned (Paul Rudd) to jail, and though he’s released early on good behavior, he returns home to discover that his girlfriend has left and taken his dog with her. Homeless and unemployed, his divides his time by couch-surfing at the homes of his three sisters — and causing chaos in each of their lives.


Why You Should See It: The last in the big batch of R-rated comedies is here and it is by far the smallest. We quite liked this comedy at Sundance (back when it was called My Idiot Brother), and will a stellar cast of Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn and T.J. Miller, this is a must-see.

6. The Help (Tate Taylor; Aug. 10th)

Synopsis: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962: aspiring writer Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) returns home after college, where unexpected friendships with African-American maids Aibeleen Clark and Minny Jackson result in a book that gives a previously unheard voice to a community’s suffering.


Why You Should See It: Based on the bestselling novel, this adaptation has been getting fantastic buzz for the last few months. Emma Stone is on the rise (or should I say skyrocket to the top?), aided by a master ensemble including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, and The Tree of Life‘s Jessica Chastain. This could be one of the first Oscar contenders of the early season.

5. Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz; Aug. 26th)

Synopsis: A wealthy Iranian couple struggles to contain the teenager daughter’s growing sexual rebellion and her brother’s dangerous obsession.


Why You Should See It: At once a star-crossed romance and a parable for the revolutionary spirit, this Iranian drama features some of the best cinematography, writing and acting around these days. It’s a story told a dozen time in a dozen ways, but rarely this good. This is one of the best films we saw at Sundance.

4. Higher Ground (Vera Farmiga; Aug. 26th)

Synopsis: A small evangelical Christian community is thrown off balance when one of their own, Corrine (Vera Farmiga), begins to question her faith.


Why You Should See It: Here is another one of our Sundance favorites. Vera Farmiga‘s directorial debut is packed with wit, laughs, and strong performances led by Farmiga herself. Higher Ground tells the life story of a woman and her spiritual struggles. While the concept may seem dry, this new director is able to keep the pace moving, while still building to a heavy emotional payoff, up to the final shot.

3. Senna (Asif Kapadia; Aug. 12th)

Synopsis: A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.


Why You Should See It: And yet another Sundance favorite is getting released this month. You can read our review here, which we called Senna “a straightforward-yet-breathtaking ride whose tragedy ensures the safety of future racers and whose story will continue to inspire generations, especially those who have never heard of him in the first place.”

2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt; Aug. 5th)

Synopsis: In present day San Francisco, a scientist (James Franco) looks for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by experimenting on a chimpanzee named Caesar. The development of animal intelligence brings about a war for supremacy between humans and apes.


Why You Should See It: Here is a blockbuster that is better than anyone could have imagined. James Franco leads the cast including Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, and Tom Felton, but the true star is Andy Serkis and the apes that WETA have created. They are the main characters here and director Rupert Wyatt is able to pack in action along with something so very rare this summer: brains.

1. Bellflower (Evan Glodell; Aug. 5th)

Synopsis: Woodrow and Aiden devote their time to building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction, part of their preparation for the global apocalypse. Their plans are derailed temporarily when Woodrow falls for Milly, but when their relationship sours, the two guys begin to live out an even darker, more violent fantasy.


Why You Should See It: You very well may hate this film as the credits roll. I didn’t know what to think. But then, days and weeks later, you “still can’t shake it” as our review states. In my mind, it has become a clear highlight in a summer full of solid indies. This may be one of the smallest, but it will make one of the biggest dents in your brain. And I mean that in the best way possible.


Check out the matinees to see on the next page >>

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