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10 Films to See In August

Written by on July 31, 2014 

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With summer winding down, more often than not August has us wishing we could simply skip ahead a month to kick off the fall festival season. This year, however, there’s a handful of worthwhile options, including Marvel’s best offering yet, peculiar festival titles that are finally arriving in theaters (some 15 months later), and much more. Check out what we’re looking forward to below and let us know what you plan on seeing this month.

Matinees to See: The Strange Little Cat (8/1), Child of God (8/1) Get On Up (8/1), What If (8/1), The Dog (8/8), What Now? Remind Me (8/8), Coldwater (8/15), Ragnarok (8/15), The Abuse of Weakness (8/15), Life of Crime (8/29), Dinosaur 13 (8/15), Canopy (8/29), The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (8/29), The Last of Robin Hood (8/29)

10. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Robert Rodriguez; Aug. 29th)

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Synopsis: The town’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants.

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Why You Should See It: While this spot could’ve gone to a number of worthwhile titles above (Canopy, The Dog, What If, The Strange Little Cat, to name a few), the curiosity surrounding a Sin City sequel might get the better of me. I’d argue Rodriguez hasn’t crafted a flat-out good film since 2005’s original feature, so my hope is that his return to this material will foster creativity. With some promising additions — including Josh Brolin, Eva Green, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt — we can hope this closes out the summer with a bang.

9. Calvary (John Michael McDonagh; Aug. 1st)

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Synopsis: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.

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Why You Should See It: Far bolder, darker, and altogether different than his debut The GuardJohn Michael McDonagh‘s Calvary is an odd beast of a drama, but one that will certainly stick with you. According to us, “McDonagh’s writing talent is without question and the themes throughout are undeniably intriguing. This is a man who’s wrestling with the application of faith in the real world, the townspeople his petri dish.”

8. Starred Up (David Mackenzie; Aug. 29th)

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Synopsis: A troubled and explosively violent teenager is transferred to adult prison where he finally meets his match – a man who also happens to be his father.

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Why You Should See It: While he was seen in the 300 sidequel this spring, by the year’s end, one will know the name Jack O’Connell. He’s leading Angelina Jolie‘s go-for-broke Oscar bid Unbroken, but if one wants a preview of his talents a bit earlier, you can do no better than checking this prison drama. In our review from last fall’s TIFF, we said this is “masterfully controlled cinema that isn’t afraid to mix some intimate emotional moments amidst the crushing blows.”

7. Love is Strange (Ira Sachs; Aug. 22nd)

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Synopsis: After Ben and George get married, George is fired from his teaching post, forcing them to stay with friends separately while they sell their place and look for cheaper housing — a situation that weighs heavily on all involved.

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Why You Should See It: After the authentic drama Keep the Lights On, Ira Sachs returned to Sundance with Love is Strange, led by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. We were fans of it, saying in our review, “Well-acted and directed despite what may be ambiguity for the sake of ambiguity, Love is Strange is a rare thing of beauty: a New York City drama infused with the wit about the shrinking middle class, made by a New York City filmmaker.”

6. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn; Aug. 1st)

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Synopsis: In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.

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Why You Should See It: While this one will certainly outgross every film on this list combined (and then some), Guardians of the Galaxy‘s inevitable success is actually warranted. Marvel may not be able to craft a central plot that’s worth much yet, but James Gunn’s rollicking space adventure is a step in the right direction. Featuring the studio’s best ensemble yet (partly due to the fact there’s no superheroes involved here), we said, “Gunn demonstrates a heedless energy and zeal that’s reminiscent of Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi when they made the jump from bargain basement to blockbuster.”

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