August is obviously the worst. As if the rampant humidity and the complete lack of hockey weren't enough to convince you, there's also... (please hold as I Google "Worst things to have ever happened in August...") the perennially tragic anniversary of August 8th, the day on which Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were divorced in 2001. But August's most damning flaw is obviously its horrific dearth of worthy new films to see. Multiplexes become ghost towns -- Jennifer Aniston films play to tumbleweeds as we huddle around our computers, basking in the warm glow of trailers for the Oscar bait and festival sensations that await us in the fall.
But there is hope in the darkness. There are bastions of potential quality out there in the dreck, films imploring you to grab a 293-gallon Coke and venture forth to the cinema. Here are 5 movies to get excited about before The American comes out and shit gets real.
5.) Step Up 3D (8/6)
I haven't seen either of this hallowed trilogy's first two films, but methinks If I clench real hard I might be able to keep up with the latest installment. My dismissive snark notwithstanding, I must admit that this film is something of an event for me, as it's the first film this year I'll be seeing because it's in 3-D, rather than in spite of that fact. If the uncomfortably awesome trailer is any indication, director / choreographer Jon Chu has made tremendously visceral use of the technology, fiddling with depth of field to bring dance battles more evocative of the Shaw Brothers than Strictly Ballroom into the third dimension. A fair price to pay for 90 minutes of Flo Rida.
4.) Vengeance (coming to IFC Festival Direct on 8/4)
A new Johnnie To film? Count me in. A new Johnnie To film called Vengeance? Count me even in-ner. Following his hugely enjoyable and deceptively effervescent Sparrow, cinema's most prolific purveyor of the Hong Kong underworld returns to his roots with a ... vengeance (sorry, everyone). French greats Johnny Hallyday and Sylvie Testud join To's regular crew to tell this story of a foreign father who recklessly hires three mafia hit-men to avenge the grisly attack on his daughter's family. Essential viewing for To fans. For everyone else, go ahead and import those Region A blu-rays of Sparrow and Mad Detective.
3.) The Other Guys (8/6)
The last time Adam McKay worked with Will Ferrell they made Stepbrothers, which approximately 87,000 viewings on HBO have me convinced is some kind of modern Bunuel-ian masterpiece (I actually believe this). So I'm kind of powerless to resist any new flick of theirs, especially one in which they trash my old college bar (1020) and Marky Mark rocks a New York Rangers shirt. But for those of you who aren't me, take heart that advance buzz is strong with this one. The footage they brought to SDCC still has me chortling, and a gag featuring former Human Giant Rob Huebel instantly managed to forever redefine my understanding of a "Soup Kitchen."
2.) Tales From Earthsea (8/13)
This directorial debut of Goro Miyazaki -- made despite his legendary father's (Hayao Miyazaki) adamant belief that young Goro was unprepared for such a task -- was originally released in Japan in July of 2006. Reviews were erratic (to say the least), and Tales From Earthsea's reputation as a tainted and bastardized work only grew over the years in which a SyFy Channel rights dispute kept the film off of American screens. Now that the legal waters have calmed, Walt Disney is finally able to dump this into a few theaters and wash their hands of the whole mess, which is a shame because while Goro's comparatively inconsequential work may not match the peerless genius of his father, it's still a lush and gorgeous slice of 2-D animation that hints at its maker's untapped potential. If that's not enough, the dub finally gives you a chance to enjoy the talents of Timothy Dalton and Cheech Marin in the same film, so ... there's that.
1.) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (8/13)
The only movie this month to feature an aside about that killer bassline from Final Fantasy II, the amazing thing about Edgar Wright's latest and greatest is that it's almost as wonderful as you've heard.
Other Films of Note:
- Cairo Time (8/6)
- Mao's Last Dancer (8/6)
- The Expendables (note: it should be implicitly and universally understood that any film with Dolph Lundgren is a film worth seeing). (8/13)
- Piranha 3D (8/20)
- Centurion (8/27)