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15 Films to See in August

Written by on August 1, 2017 

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The end of the summer movie season is upon us, which normally means a dry spell for studio releases, and while that indeed looks to be the case, this is one of the best months of the year if one digs a little deeper. From European getaways to redneck heists to dramas about riots and terrorism, there’s an abundance of appealing choices at the cinema this August. See our picks below and let us know what you’re most looking forward to.

Matinees: It’s Not Yet Dark (8/4), This Time Tomorrow (8/4), Icarus (8/4), Machines (8/9), After Love (8/9), In This Corner of the World (8/11), The Nile Hilton Incident (8/11), The Wound (8/16), Sidemen: Long Road to Glory (8/18), What Happened to Monday (8/18), Crown Heights (8/25), Death Note (8/25), The Villainess (8/25), and The Teacher (8/30)

15. Lemon (Janicza Bravo; Aug. 18)

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Synopsis: A man watches his life unravel after he is left by his girlfriend of 10 years.

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Why You Should See It: There is no comedy — if one can even define it as such — on the same wavelength as Lemon this year. Coming from Janicza Bravo and Brett Gelman, following the latter’s character as his life unravels in the strangest of ways, the cast is a stacked one, including Judy Greer, Michael Cera, Fred Melamed, Rhea Perlman, Gillian Jacobs, Jon Daly, Martin Starr, Megan Mullally, Jeff Garlin, and Nia Long. One of the few films I saw at Sundance that I didn’t review because I was left dumbfounded at what I just saw, for better or worse, for those seeking to itch part of their funny bone that has perhaps been left untouched, this will do the trick.

14. Wind River (Taylor Sheridan; Aug. 4)

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Synopsis: An FBI agent teams up with a veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.

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Why You Should See It:  With the strongest one-two punch of first produced scripts in Hollywood the past few years, Taylor Sheridan has emerged as a distinctive voice in revitalizing tired (or all but dormant) genres. After scripting Sicario and Hell or High Water, he’s now gone fully behind the camera for his directorial debut Wind River, which blends both crime and western elements. I said in my review, “Let down by muddy characterization and a choppy directorial style, the drama finally coheres in its final act to deliver the uncompromising thrills that have been Sheridan’s trademark.” I’ve now heard Sheridan has gone back in the editing bay a bit since that mixed review, so I’m curious to see what has changed.

13. Step (Amanda Litz; Aug. 4)

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Synopsis: Documents the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore.

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Why You Should See It: “It’s rare for a documentary to inspire applause during the feature, but there you have the power of Amanda Lipitz’s Step, an inspiring crowd-pleaser that provides a positive look at the lives of every day teens in Baltimore, living in the shadow of Freddie Gray and the subsequent unrest related to his death,” John Fink said in his review of the Sundance-winning documentary. “Step is a universal story of triumph, following a year in the life of a dance team at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women as their seniors get accepted into school, experience heartbreak, and ultimately make in-roads in step competitions, crafting an elegant and powerful dance inspired by Black Lives Matter and their neighborhoods.”

12. Gook (Justin Chon; August 18)

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Synopsis: Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers who own a struggling women’s shoe store, have an unlikely friendship with 11-year-old Kamilla. On the first day of the 1992 L.A. riots, the trio must defend the store while contemplating the meaning of family and thinking about personal dreams and the future.

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Why You Should See It: Winner of the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in the NEXT section where it premiered, Justin Chon’s Gook takes an intriguing perspective when it comes to depicting Los Angeles on April 29, 1992, when the Rodney King verdict was handed out and the riots began.  “Warts and all, Gook serves as a perfect example (and reminder) of why the NEXT Section at Sundance is well worth exploring and reviewing and reacting to, perhaps more than any other slate,” Dan Mecca said in his review. “Chon has a vision and a voice and a good story to tell, full of social relevance and fiery emotion. Something this energetic and cared for is hard to criticize all that much. It’s a film worth seeking out and telling others about.”

11. The Glass Castle (Destin Daniel Cretton; Aug. 11)

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Synopsis: A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.

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Why You Should See It: I’ll put this out up front: I’m worried about The Glass Castle. It hits theaters next week and there has been no festival premiere, advance word, or buzz of any kind, but with that said, I’ll watch anything from director Destin Daniel Cretton following Short Term 12, one of my favorite films of its respective year. He once again teams with Brie Larson, who stars alongside Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson and Sarah Snook in what will hopefully be a commendable expanding in scope for the director.

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