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15 Films to See in August

Written by on July 31, 2018 

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As the summer comes to a close, it seems as though most distributors–especially on the indie side–were holding onto their gems before the busy fall festival slate as a number of the year’s best films arrive this month. If we’re being honest, though, our most-anticipated film won’t actually get a theatrical release, but will instead arrive on The Criterion Collection with Terrence Malick’s extended edition of The Tree of Life. However for this feature, we’ll stick to those films one will be able to see in theaters, so without further adieu, here are the 15 films we recommend this month.

Matinees to See: Nico, 1988 (8/1), Christopher Robin (8/3), A Prayer Before Dawn (8/10), Buybust (8/10), Summer of ’84 (8/10), Crazy Rich Asians (8/15), Juliet, Naked (8/17), Memoir of War (8/17), Notes on an Appearance (8/17), We the Animals (8/17), The Wife (8/17), The Night is Short, Walk On Girl (8/21), What Keeps You Alive (8/24), Papillon (8/24), The Happytime Murders (8/24), Arizona (8/24), Operation Finale (8/29), A Paris Education (8/31), Destination Wedding (8/31), and The Little Stranger (8/31)

15. Makala (Emmanuel Gras; Aug. 24)

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Synopsis: The trials and tribulations of a young farmer who earns a living by making and selling charcoal in Congo.

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Why You Should See It: Before the memeification of Werner Herzog, the director was better known for reaching the deepest corners of the world, profiling people and places that might otherwise not get their due. A new film, which won the Grand Prize at International Critics Week in Cannes, follows in the spirit of that quest.  Dan Schindel said in his review from True/False, “A top-notch process documentary, it begins with a single intact, thick tree, which over an agonizing day Kabitwa manages to fell on his own with just an ax. Over subsequent days, he chops up the tree and burns the wood into charcoal – again, all by himself.”

14. Let the Corpses Tan (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani; Aug. 31)

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Synopsis: After stealing a truckload of gold bars, a gang of thieves absconds to the ruins of a remote village perched on the cliffs of the Mediterranean. Home to a reclusive yet hypersexual artist and her motley crew of family and admirers, it seems like a perfect hideout. But when two cops roll up on motorcycles to investigate, the hamlet erupts into a hallucinatory battlefield as both sides engage in an all-day, all-night firefight rife with double-crosses and dripping with blood.

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Why You Should See It: The summer will close out with some stylish genre fun. Ethan Vestby said in his review, “With their third feature, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani tackle the poliziotteschi genre instead of the giallo (here’s hoping for the peplum next). The picture is focused on the fallout of a gold bar robbery in the Mediterranean; a gang of thieves, artists and motorcycle cops colliding to a naturally bloody end. Adapted from a novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jean-Pierre Bastid, yet still not providing too much in the way of narrative, this writer could at least discern plot points involving a Rabid Dogs-like kidnapping, a Treasure of Sierra Madre-inspired descent into greedy violence and, of course, some psychosexual hijinks that likely invokes every genre picture of the past fifty years. If there’s a driving force one can find, perhaps it’s just the greed in a man’s eyes at the sight of gold.”

13. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan; Aug. 3)

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Synopsis: In 1993, a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians.

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Why You Should See It: The top winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival arrives this week. I said in my review, “On her prom night, Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) gets caught making out with her high school girlfriend in the parking lot, resulting in her parents sending her off to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy camp. Featuring weeks of religious gaslighting in which those in charge not only you tell you the desires of your heart are immoral, but homosexuality itself doesn’t even exist, The Miseducation of Cameron Post provides a tender, well-rounded, if not entirely successful look at the emotionally abusive experience.”

12. The Wild Boys (Bertrand Mandico; Aug. 24)

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Synopsis: In the beginning of the 20th century, five children on the island of La Réunion commit a savage crime. As punishment, a Dutch captain takes them to a supernatural island with luxuriant vegetation and bewitching powers.

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Why You Should See It:  One of the most striking features I’ve seen this year is Bertrand Mandico’s debut feature The Wild Boys, which premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival and I caught at Film Comment Selects. Following a group of boys (all played by actresses), they are trapped on a boat with a commanding captain, only to discover more about themselves as they arrive on an island, and things get trippier from there. It’s a gender-fluid, erotic trip that’s both phantasmagoric and orgasmic, and certainly worth seeing on the big screen.

11. Searching (Aneesh Chaganty; Aug. 24)

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Synopsis: After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

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Why You Should See It: Following the Unfriended sequel, another trapped-in-a-computer thriller will arrive after being acclaimed at Sundance. Dan Mecca said in his review, ” John Cho should be our next leading man. Above all else does the thriller Searching, directed by Aneesh Chaganty, make this abundantly clear. Cho stars as David Kim, recently-widowed father of teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La) and doing his best to keep his composure. Opening on a heartfelt and heartbreaking montage of messages and moments as displayed on a computer screen, Chaganty establishes what will be the aesthetic of the picture.”

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