Films to see in August 2011

After a July which brought you this year’s Palme D’or winner, another Transformers film, and the climax of the Harry Potter series, we’d forgive you for quaffing at the idea that lowly August would dare to challenge such a powerful offering. Well believe it or not, August isn’t the bargain basement buffet you might have thought, instead offering up some tasty canapés to whet your whistles. We’ve scoffed through the smorgasbord on display and picked you out only the most delectable treats. Aren’t we good to you…

5th August…

Super 8

Only one place to start really, and that’s with the more-anticipated-than-the-second-coming-of-Christ-himself sci-fi thriller Super 8. Helmed by Lost supremo J.J. Abrams (Jeffrey Jacob, if you were interested…), the team behind the film have kept a close guard on any information regarding it, leaking out pictures, teasers and promotional material like Chinese water torture. We are literally chomping at the bit to see if this movie will live up to the massive hype it has created, as well as seeing how it will compare to his last two efforts, Star Trek and the brilliant Cloverfield.

Mr Popper’s Penguins

Question: What’s better than a film starring Jim Carrey and a penguin? A film starring Jim Carrey and SIX penguins! That’s what! Mr Popper’s Penguins is your average “cold-hearted-businessman-learns-a-lesson” type film, except that apparently the lesson is taught exclusively through the means of penguins. Also, the trailer intimates that there might be some environmental global warming thread running through it, but is careful not to stress this too much lest people forget what the real point of the film is: Jim Carrey teaches penguins to dance in unison. What’s not to like?

Sarah’s Key

Ah, is there anything lovelier than listening to Kristin Scott-Thomas speak French? We don’t think so. Jeremy Clarkson named her donkey after Kristin Scott-Thomas, but don’t hold that against her, she’s a wonderfully understated and reliable actresses who seems to always make good choices. Sarah’s Key sees Thomas play a journalist in modern-day Paris whose life becomes entwined with a girl whose family was broken up by the Vel D’Hiv Roundup, a mass arrest of Jews by the Nazis, in 1942. The film is getting great reviews abroad, and we can’t wait until it hits our shores.

10th August…

The Smurfs

Look, we know, ok? We know what you’re thinking, and we hear you, we really do. However, just lighten up for a second will you? You used to put Bob Dylan on your Dad’s vinyl player and double the speed so it sounded like The Times They Are A-Smurfin’ too (No, just me?). And anyway, all your favourite Smurfs are here! Lazy, Dopey, Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy and Doc…wait…my bad, those are dwarves, nobody has a favourite Smurf, they’re all as annoying as the last. Sigh.

12th August…

Project Nim

From James Marsh, the director of the fantastic, Oscar-winning Man On Wire, comes another remarkable looking documentary, examining the controversial Project Nim. The Nim in question is a rather adorable little chimp, and in the 1970s a group of scientists thought it’d be cool if they raised it as a human and tried to teach it sign language so they could find out how a chimp looks at the world. The subject matter is ethically dubious to say the least, but with everyone involved in the project contributing to the film, expect an even-handed look at this truly remarkable event, rather than 90 minutes of moral outrage.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes

If chimps aren’t your thing, how about apes? In this prequel (ish) to the Charlton Heston classic (and Tim Burton shithorn), James Franco plays a scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer’s, whose tests on apes result in them becoming super intelligent and getting right pissed off about being locked in cages and stuff. In one bit there’s an ape doing maths like he’s in Good Will Hunting or something, in another bit one wrestles the shit out of a helicopter. It looks ridiculous, but ridiculous fun, which we think you’ll agree is the best kind.

The Taqwacores

Now, there’s a chance this film may not have appeared on your radar yet, and an even greater chance that you don’t know how to pronounce it, but do seek it out when it gets released. Yusef is a young Pakistani living in Buffalo, New York who moves in with a group of Muslim punks who introduce him to The Taqwacores, a new Muslim punk scene. He begins to feel the influence of the music and starts to question his own ideologies and beliefs, as his house gets transformed into a Mosque by day and a club by night.

The Devil’s Double

And the prize for weirdest casting choice in August goes to…Dominic Cooper as Uday Hussein, son of Saddam Hussein, and simultaneously Latif Yahia, the man hired to be his body double. Based on Yahia’s autobiography, this film could be the acid test for Cooper who until now has been typecast as “sexy-English-man”, seeing him delve into darker territory by playing the sadistic, brutal, sex crazed son of one of the world’s most evil dictators, as well as the man unwillingly drawn into that life. This marks a return to edgier material for director Lee Tamahori too who burst onto the scene in 1994 with the incredible Once Were Warriors, but since then has carved out a career making fairly boring action films (Next, xXx 2: The Next Level, Die Another Day).

19th August…

The Guard

Definitely top of our list for this week, The Guard sees Brendan Gleeson play a slovenly, alcoholic policeman whose quiet slice of Galway plays host to a dastardly murder! It’s good to see Gleeson getting the lead billing in a film, as so often he has to play second fiddle. An actor who can tow the line between comedy and tragedy as deftly as a tightrope walker, his performance has attracted nothing but praise. This is also the feature length directorial debut from John Michael McDonagh, brother of In Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh. Seems like a penchant for dark comedy runs in the family.

Read our review of The Guard.

The Inbetweeners Movie

Prefer your comedy broad, coarse and more often than not unfunny? Never fear, as those cheeky chappy lads from The Inbetweeners will appear on the big screen for the first time in August. The teaser trailer shows the thick one, the cocky one, the socially inept one and the one-who-thinks-he’s-smart-but-actually-is-a-prick walking through the most caricatured Ibiza you’ve ever seen in your life. Expect one of them to accidentally take some class a drugs, one of them to sick up their guts, one of them to get naked and one of them to sleep with a prostitute, and you’ve pretty much got the film right there. General rule of thumb for future reference: steer clear of any film that makes reference to itself as a film in the title…apart from Bee Movie.

Cowboys & Aliens

Urgh, it’s finally here. The day we’ve all been dreading has arrived. Ladies and gentlemen: Cowboys & Aliens. Cowboys. And. Aliens. There’s not much more we can say about this, it’s about a cowboys defending the earth from aliens for God’s sake. It’ll probably be a very serviceable action film, what with Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Monica’s wrestler boyfriend Pete in Friends…wait, what?) behind the camera, but it’s still a bit of a shame that it even exists. Coincidentally, it’s coming out in the same month as Cowboys & Zombies, but there’s no chance we’re featuring both, lest we give up on the future of cinema altogether…You’ll go and see that too won’t you?

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Ah! Back to sanity! A glorious re-release of this classic example of Ealing comedy, in which Alec Guiness plays no less than eight characters. This year will mark 52 years since it’s original release, and it still ranks as one of the all time great British films. If you’ve not seen any Ealing comedies, please, please seek this one out. It will be showing three times daily at the BFI Southbank from the 19th until the 30th August. You’ve no excuse.

26th August…

The Skin I Live In

If you didn’t manage to get tickets to the premier of Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In at Somerset House next week, you only have a month to wait until it comes on general release. This film marks the first time Banderas and Almodovar have worked together since the controversial Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, and it looks to be just as chilling. Banderas plays a dark, twisted plastic surgeon who is keeping a woman locked up in his house, for reasons unbeknown. It’s a shame in a way that Almodovar is known as such a big personality, and it does detract somewhat from his impeccable film-making ability. 2009’s Broken Embraces was almost Hitchcockian, and The Skin I Live In is said to have yet more twists and turns. Sure to get a big release, you’ve got no excuse not to see this.

Final Destination 5

Bunch of fuckwits nearly die in a massive cocking bridge collapse. Death, the scythe-wielding doom-bringer rather than the concept itself, is more than a little miffed and so kills all of the people who should have died in the aforementioned disaster in the order in which they would have gone. It’s a shame that the producers of this bad-wank of a franchise haven’t succumbed to any of the horrific accidents they so gleefully will upon their protagonists. If you go and see this film you’re an idiot. There’s nothing fun here, no escapism, nothing clever, nothing new, nothing revolutionary, nothing exciting, nothing vaguely cinematic. Just don’t bother.

One Day

Adapted from the David Nicholls best-seller, One Day is a love story that begins with a couple, Dexter and Em, sleeping together on the night of their graduation, then returns to see them on that same day for twenty years or so. The extremely episodic nature of the book has got us a little worried as to how it could translate successfully into a film, though the fact that Nicholls has written the script himself has gone some way to assuage our fears. Add that to the strong cast of Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Romola Garai and Patricia Clarkson, and the fact that An Education‘s Lone Scherfig is directing, and we could have the makings of a sleeper hit here.

Conan The Barbarian

What’s that? Not interested in a soppy love story? That’s for girls? You sound like a highly dubious individual, probably with very bad breath, and so you’ll probably love Conan The Barbarian. It’ll be all big and loud and in 3D, heavy on fight sequences and gore and stuff. But will it be as good as Arnie’s version? Highly unlikely. Though Ron “my-face-is-mental” Perlman is in it, so maybe worth it just for that.

About The Author