Whether you’re in desperate need of a belly laugh or a big cathartic scream, the films hitting cinemas in August will give you the emotional release you’ve been after this winter.
David Michael Brown kindly walks us through the most essential new stuff on the big screen, including the latest high-concept horrors from Jordan Peele and David Cronenberg, and the wonderful Emma Thompson as an escort’s latest, lonely client. Scroll on!
A high-speed action comedy with a stellar cast and brilliant central conceit, Bullet Train looks like it will be the most fun you can have watching people kill each other, as duelling assassins find themselves on the Shinkansen traveling from Tokyo to Morioka. Brad Pitt plays Ladybug, a retired killer called in for One Last Gig to pick up a briefcase.
The problem is, it seems every other assassin presently working wants the McGuffin as well—the killer ensemble includes Zazie Beetz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Logan Lerman and Sandra Bullock. And they’re all on the same train. Directed by David Leitch, no stranger to handling action after helming Atomic Blonde and co-directing John Wick, Bullet Train promises to be a gory, gag-filled thrill ride. Ticket please!
Nope (August 11)
After the sustained horrors of Get Out and Us tackled racism and class, comedian-turned-director Jordan Peele is proving himself to be the genre’s new renaissance man. Now, one half of Key & Peele is skewing towards sci-fi, channeling Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Signs by way of Jaws.
Reuniting the filmmaker with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya and also starring Keke Palmer (Hustlers), Steven Yeun (Minari), Barbie Ferreira (Euphoria) and John Carpenter regular Keith David (The Thing, They Live), the desert-set story follows two siblings whose father is seemingly killed by unidentified falling objects. They set out to capture the mysterious plummeting phenomenon on film, but instead encounter a mysterious force that affects human and animal behaviour.
At first glance, the central premise of Aussie director Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck To You, Leo Grande may appear simple, but with the magnificent Emma Thompson involved, this dramedy promises much more. She plays a retired teacher and widower who desires more from her moribund sex life de ella. Hiring a sex worker Leo Grande (her relative newcomer Daryl McCormack) to sate her desires, over several sessions the pair form a relationship of mutual respect.
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Thompson has proven herself, again and again, to be a formidable presence on screen, especially her recent performances in Years and Years and Cruella, so it will be fascinating for the audience to see the actress show her raw and sensitive side as the film tackles the sexual desires of older women, sex work, and body positivity.
Sex slugs, rabid armpits, exploding heads and pulsating video cassettes! Welcome to the cinematic world of David Cronenberg. In the 70s and 80s, the “King of Venereal Horror” shook up the genre with a series of intelligent, impenetrable, ultra-violent sexual shockers including Scanners and Videodrome. In recent years the Canadian director’s stock has been low, making mostly cold low-budget dramas after A History of Violence and the bathhouse roundhouse-kicking naked Russians of Eastern Promises, both starring Viggo Mortensen.
Now he is back, causing plenty of walkouts with Cannes sensation Crimes of the Future starring Cronenberg regular Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart. Expect mutations, body transformations, and surgery as sex/performance art. Long live the new flesh!
From champion of Ozploitation to director in his own right, Girl at the Window is Mark Hartley’s sophomore dramatic feature following his remake of Patrick. The filmmaker first came to prominence with a trio of hugely entertaining documentaries, Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed!, and Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, but now it looks like he has set his sights on a taught psychological thriller.
The girl of the title is a sulky teenager (Ella Newton) who is haunted by the accidental death of her father. Meanwhile, a mysterious killer with a penchant for Glad Wrap is stalking her hometown of her and she suspects her neighbor of her: the problem is, he has started a relationship with her mother of her (Radha Mitchell).
Beast (August 25)
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns) and written by Rampage scribe Ryan Engle, Idris Elba stars as Dr. Nate Daniels, a recently-widowed man on a South African safari with his teenage daughters, played by Iyana Halley and Leah Jeffries. The holiday of a lifetime doesn’t go according to plan when a bloodthirsty rogue lion, attempt on providing himself as the apex predator, begins to stalk them.
Despite a CGI heavy beast, the trailer looks like this will be a tense and effective thriller, recalling the Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer vehicle The Ghost and the Darkness in 1996. Sharlto Copley also stars as Martin Battles, an old Daniels family friend and wildlife biologist who manages the reserve.
Very loosely inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula and directed by Jessica M. Thompson (The Light of the Moon) from a screenplay co-written with Blair Butler (Hell Fest), this seductive chiller stars Nathalie Emmanuel, best known as Missandei in Game of Thrones, as a young American woman who is invited to a lavish family wedding in the English countryside.
Seduced by an attractive aristocrat, a series of nightmarish events see her uncover a conspiracy that runs deep down her family’s ancestral line. Expect Gothic creepiness abundance as the twisted story unravels.
Blaze (August 25)
Archibald-winning artist Del Kathryn Barton has made a name for herself for her iconic psychedelic fantasy artwork. Now she has set her sights of her on the silver screen and Blaze is the result. Using a blend of live action, puppetry and animation, the coming-of-age drama follows a young teenager (Julia Savage) who is left traumatized after witnessing a harrowing event.
With a shimmering magical dragon as an imaginary emotional support animal, she retreats into a fantasy world to escape the horrific reality of the abhorrent act she has witnessed. Also starring Simon Baker and Orange is the New Black star Yael Stone, Blaze celebrates female courage and the power of the imagination.