It wasn't long after I became a critic that I realized how the month of August tended to collect bad movies, like dust. Every year, the studios roll the dice on stupid-sounding ideas and come up, surprisingly enough, with stupid movies. They know it and we know it, but they have to try to get their money back anyway, so these movies get released, and they generally get released in August. I could go back and list dozens of examples -- OK, here's one example: Gigli, in August of 2003 -- but suffice to say that the last of the eagerly anticipated blockbusters opens in July and then the junk opens in August, clearing the way for awards season in the last four months of the year.
Now, last summer in my humble opinion was one of the best movie summers of my life, starting with Iron Man and powering through things like The Dark Knight, WALL-E, Hellboy II, etc. Regardless, I expected things to slow down and get stinky in August, and indeed the month got off to a bad start with the godawful The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Then there was the latest from Ben Stiller, whom I generally can't stand, but I quickly signed up as a lifetime member of the Tropic Thunder fan club. Pineapple Express made me laugh just as helplessly, and Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona made #1 on my year's ten best list. We even got the exemplary horror film The Midnight Meat Train, even though I didn't get to see that until DVD.
This August is shaping up just as interestingly. The not-screened-for-the-press G.I. Joe seems to be pleasing everybody, and I enjoyed David Twohy's A Perfect Getaway. District 9 is even getting good notices, and then we've got two genuine cinematic events: Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, both of which are ten best-list contenders for me. The question is: what happened? Did studios finally realize that kids are still out of school and will continue to spend money throughout the month? (Whereas the early May summer season takes place during finals and graduation and other busy end-of-the-school-year activities.) Are the movies getting better? Or perhaps it's the equally awful January dumping season, which has been getting longer and longer and is now offsetting the August season?
What are your thoughts, readers?