Movie Preview: 10 Films to See in August

  • Publish Date: July 29, 2014
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This month's notable theatrical releases

Below, our editors have selected 10 interesting films debuting this month, listed in alphabetical order.

Abuse of Weakness Watch trailer
NR Foreign/Drama | August 15 | Directed by Catherine Breillat

Also by this director:

69 The Sleeping Beauty (2011)
73 Blue Beard (2010)
78 The Last Mistress (2008)
63 Sex Is Comedy (2004)
29 Anatomy of Hell (2004)
77 Fat Girl (2001)
55 A Real Young Girl (2001)
49 Romance (1999)

The often controversial but rarely boring Catherine Breillat showed this very personal project at TIFF last year, resulting in some very strong early reviews. Weakness is based on the director's own 2004 stroke and her subsequent involvement with a notorious con man, Christophe Rocancourt, who swindled her out of most of her savings. Isabelle Huppert stars as Maud, a filmmaker (serving as Breillat’s alter-ego), who falls under the spell of the charismatic scam artist Villko, played by French rapper Kool Shen. A filmmaker who never shies away from difficult subjects (and often courts them), Breillat may have delivered her most revealing film yet.

Calvary Watch trailer
R Comedy/Drama | August 1 | Directed by John Michael McDonagh

Also by this director:

78 The Guard (2011)

Early reviews for writer-director John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to 2011‘s The Guard have been very good. It is another showcase for actor Brendan Gleeson, here playing Father James, a good priest in a small Irish town. During confession one day, an unknown man tells Father James that he plans to kill him in a week’s time. As he prepares for death and seeks to discover the identity of the man threatening him, his daughter (Kelly Reilly) pays him a visit. Chris O'Dowd, Aidan Gillen, and Dylan Moran play townsfolk (and thus potential suspects) in this dark comedy.

Frank Watch trailer
R Comedy/Drama | August 15 | Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Also by this director:

80 What Richard Did (2013)

Inspired by the the true story of musician/comedian Chris Sievey and his character Frank Sidebottom, Frank stars Michael Fassbender as the titular character, who spends the film covered by a large papier-mâché head. He’s the leader of a band (with an unpronounceable name) working on a new album. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did), Frank follows Domhnall Gleeson’s Jon, a wanna-be musician who joins the group at the insistence of their manager (Scoot McNairy) despite lacking any requisite skills. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the band’s acerbic synth/theremin player. The film earned mostly good reviews when it debuted at Sundance earlier this year.

Get On Up Watch trailer
PG-13 Drama | August 1 | Directed by Tate Taylor

Also by this director:

62 The Help (2011)

Tate Taylor will try to capitalize on the success of his directorial debut, The Help, with this look at the life of the hardest working man in show business, James Brown. A year after playing another 20th century legend—Jackie Robinson—in 42, Chadwick Boseman stars as the Godfather of Soul, and early reviews of his performance have been glowing. Scripted by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow, Fair Game) from a story conceived with Steven Baigelman (Feeling Minnesota), the film chronicles Brown’s life from his impoverished childhood to superstardom. Supporting players include Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, Octavia Spencer, Dan Aykroyd, Jill Scott, Lennie James, Tika Sumpter, and True Blood’s Nelsan Ellis. This could be the summer's hit musical biopic that Jersey Boys failed to be.

Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer #1 Trailer #2 Extended look
PG-13 Action/Sci-fi | August 1 | Directed by James Gunn

Also by this director:

50 Super (2011)
69 Slither (2006)

So far, so good. Early reviews are encouragingly positive for this latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a space opera directed by James Gunn (Slither, Super) and starring a rag-tag band of outer-space misfits. The film follows Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) as he teams up with Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), the tree-like Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to battle the evil Ronan (Lee Pace), who covets a mysterious orb. The eclectic cast also includes Glenn Close as Commander Rael, John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Michael Rooker as Yondu, Karen Gillan as Nebula, and, as revealed at the end of Thor: The Dark World, Benicio del Toro as The Collector. If Marvel’s “risk” (focusing on a lesser known group of superheroes, hiring an edgier, less-experienced director) pays off, could it be a shot of adrenaline into the heart of comic book movie franchises? Marvel seems to think so; they've already greenlit a sequel for 2017.

Life After Beth Watch trailer Watch clip
R Comedy/Horror | August 15 | Directed by Jeff Baena

The zombie rom-com genre gets a second entry (following last year’s Warm Bodies) with this film that earned good-to-mixed reviews when it premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Aubrey Plaza plays the titular Beth, whose death motivates a grieving Zach (Dane DeHaan) to spend time with her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon). When he begins to feel they are shutting him out, he discovers that Beth is actually alive. Zach initially sees it as a fortunate second chance, but maybe he’s ignoring the difficulties of loving someone who wants to eat human flesh. Anna Kendrick, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, and Alia Shawkat also star in writer-director Jeff Baena’s debut feature.

Love Is Strange Watch trailer
R Drama | August 22 | Directed by Ira Sachs

Also by this director:

79 Keep the Lights On (2012)
65 Married Life (2008)
74 Forty Shades of Blue (2005)

After the success of 2012’s Keep the Lights On, writer-director Ira Sachs returned to this year’s Sundance Film Festival with another film co-written by Mauricio Zacharias and focusing on a gay relationship. Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) have been together 39 years, but when word of their recent marriage reaches the Catholic school where George teaches music, he loses his job. No longer able to afford their apartment, they are forced to live apart. The film (and Lithgow and Molina in particular) has earned glowing reviews so far, and with a strong supporting cast that includes Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson, this is one to seek out at your local art house.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Trailer #1 Trailer #2 Trailer #3
R Action/Thriller | August 22 | Directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

Also directed by Frank Miller:

30 The Spirit (2008)
74 Sin City (2005)

This belated sequel to 2005’s Sin City takes a pair of Frank Miller’s existing stories (“A Dame to Kill For” and “Just Another Saturday Night”) and combines them with two new stories—one featuring Jessica Alba’s Nancy, and another focusing on a gambler played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Miller and Robert Rodriguez are back as co-directors, and while the film has the same look as the original (with the addition of 3D) and some of the same cast members (Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Jaime King), there are also new faces playing old characters (Josh Brolin steps in for Clive Owen, Dennis Haysbert for Michael Clarke Duncan, Jamie Chung for Devon Aoki), as well as completely new characters played by Eva Green, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, and Juno Temple. But more than nine years later, can the this Sin City break any new ground?

The Trip to Italy Watch trailer
NR Comedy | August 15 | Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Also by this director (10 most recent):

57 The Look of Love (2013)
55 Everyday (2013)
57 Trishna (2012)
82 The Trip (2011)
53 The Killer Inside Me (2010)
74 A Mighty Heart (2007)
64 The Road to Guantanamo (2006)
80 Tristram Shandy... (2006)
43 9 Songs (2005)
57 Code 46 (2004)

Returning for this sequel to The Trip are director Michael Winterbottom and stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. This time, they set off for Italy where they find more wonderful food, scenery, and opportunities to test each other’s impersonation skills. Yes, Michael Caine was in The Italian Job, so expect a reprise of that popular bit from the original film, as well as Brydon’s Al Pacino (inspired here by The Godfather and their proximity to Sicily), plus visits to Pompeii and the homes of the Romantic poets. While the structure follows the original Trip, the interpersonal dynamics have shifted between the leads as Brydon gets a bit of wanderlust, and Coogan struggles with being a distant father to his teenage son.

What If Watch trailer
PG-13 Comedy/Drama | August 1 | Directed by Michael Dowse

Also by this director:

64 Goon (2012)
42 Take Me Home Tonight (2011)
56 It's All Gone Pete Tong (2005)

Originally titled The “F” Word, What If is the latest attempt to breathe new life into the struggling romantic-comedy genre. And that burden falls here on the chemistry between stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. He plays Wallace, a medical school dropout recovering from a break-up and living with Adam Driver’s Allan (an enthusiast of sex and nachos), and she plays Chantry, an animator with an odd name and a longtime boyfriend (Rafe Spall). Early reviews indicate that, for the most part, director Michael Dowse directs the couple's complicated friendship through the typical rom-com beats with commendable wit and feeling.

All major August film releases by date

August 1 August 8 August 15 August 22 August 29
Behaving Badly *
Calvary *
Child of God *
Finding Fela! *
Get on Up
Guardians of the Galaxy
Louder Than Words *
Rich Hill *
What If *
About Alex *
The Green Prince *
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Into the Storm
James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D *
Step Up: All In
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Abuse of Weakness *
Dinosaur 13 *
The Expendables 3
Frank *
The Giver
Jealousy *
Let's Be Cops WED
Life After Beth *
Moebius *
The Trip to Italy *
Are You Here *
If I Stay
Love Is Strange *
The One I Love *
The Possession of Michael King *
The Prince
Salvo *
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
When the Game Stands Tall
As Above, So Below
The Congress *
The Last of Robin Hood *
Last Weekend *
Life of Crime *
The Notebook *
The November Man WED
One Chance *
Starred Up *
Underdogs WED

* Limited release

What do you think?

Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2014, visit our Movie Calendar.

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