Monday, August 4, 2014

Top Ten Movies to Look Out For In August

10 – Frank (August 15)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Writer: Jon Ronson, Peter Staughan
Actors: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Carla Aza, Francois Civil
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R

This movie looks kooky, crazy and completely unique.

When I decided it was a movie worth looking out for in August, I didn’t realize it was based loosely on a manuscript about a real person. It doesn’t change my viewpoint at all, though. In fact, the idea that someone like the Frank character depicted in the trailer actually existed makes the movie even more interesting to me.

Maggie Gyllenhaal trying out BDSM in Secretary
Seeing Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, White House Down, Stranger Than Fiction) in the trailer was pretty cool. I’ve loved her since I first saw her in Secretary (I saw that before I saw Donnie Darko). She’s quirky and I like that in my actors. It’s more realistic. Not everyone is the smoothest thing since creamy peanut butter and that’s a sorely underrepresented fact in Hollywood.

Aside from her, when I found out that it was Michael Fassbender inside that big Frank head? Mind. Blown.

9 – Are You Here (August 22)

Director: Matthew Weiner
Writer: Matthew Weiner
Actors: Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R

I have an awesome best friend. We met as teenagers and grew up together. During our friendship we dealt with so many issues and so much violence from others that the only way to describe it briefly is to say our friendship was forged in blood. So, when a movie comes out that’s about true friendship that lasts through the insanity and other crap, it appeals to me.

The trailer showed a kind of insane guy run to his friend after losing his dad. Throughout the trailer, you see the two men dealing with all kinds of family and legal issues, always together.

Friends are there for the insane times too
I’ll admit that Owen Wilson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Internship, Cars 2) isn’t one of my favorite actors. Most of the time, I try to steer clear of him. In fact, the only movie I’ve ever actually liked him in was Anaconda and that movie’s more of a guilty pleasure than one I admit to liking in polite company.

Zach Galifianakis, however, is a different story. I’ve only ever seen him in The Hangover series, but I thought he was awesome in it. I’m looking forward to how he does in a movie like this. Although it’s a comedy, it seems a little more on the serious side.

8 – The November Man (August 27)

Director: Roger Donaldson
Writer: Michael Finch, Karl Gajdusek, Bill Granger
Actors: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Eliza Taylor, Caterina Scorsone, Bill Smitrovich, Will Patton
Genre: Action
Rated: R

I’d love to give some great speech about why I am looking forward to this movie, but I can’t. It doesn’t look incredibly original; in fact, it looks like every other action-spy movie ever released.

It made the list for one very simple reason. Sometimes I just like to turn my brain off and watch fictional things go boom. Sorry. That’s my only reason.

7 – When the Game Stands Tall (August 22)

Director: Thomas Carter
Writer: Scott Marshall Smith, David Zelon, Neil Hayes
Actors: Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG

To be honest, I couldn’t care less about this movie and the trailer only minimally interested me. The only reason it made the list is sheer curiosity.

I’ve been working for a news source for the past couple of months and during the month of July, the title of this movie was so popular that it was constantly being given as a tip to other journalists. I understand that the movie is based on a true story and that it has a certain ‘underdog’ quality to it, but I don’t understand why that’s made it so insanely popular.

Why does 15 minutes in football mean 65?
I’m not a fan of football; soccer’s my game of choice. Maybe if I was then I would understand the depth of interest people have for When the Game Stands Tall. I’ll just have to watch it to find out.

6 – Life After Beth (August 15)

Director: Jeff Baena
Writer: Jeff Baena
Actors: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Matthew Gray Gubler, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Anna Kendrick
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R

How could I resist?

When I first saw the title, I expected to watch the trailer for some recipe romantic comedy. Life After Beth? Of course it was going to be bullshit. Just proves the old saying that you can never judge a movie by its title.

Life After Beth is a romantic comedy… about zombies. The last movie I saw that fell into that category was Warm Bodies and I LOVED that movie. To be fair, it looks like Life After Beth is going to concentrate more on the comedy than the romance. That’s fine, too. I also loved Shaun of the Dead.

Also, Anna Kendrick’s (Rapture-Palooza, Pitch Perfect, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) in it. I love that sassy actress.

5 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 7)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writer: Josh Appelbaum, Andrew Nemec, Evan Daugherty, Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman
Actors: Megan Fox, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Will Arnet, Danny Woodburn, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Whoopi Goldberg
Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13

First thing to remember is that, despite the hype, Michael Bay did not direct this. Yes, he had a hand in it as a producer, but he was not credited as a director in any way, shape, or form. Now that the confusion is cleared up, I’ll move on.

I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was growing up. I watched the cartoons, I played the video games (unsuccessfully), I had all the action figures and I had all their movies on VHS. Even writing this piece has got their old jingle stuck in my head. Seriously, I’m singing it right now. My dog is looking at me weird. (Heroes in a half-shell, TURTLE-POWER!)

Parts of the trailer look awesome, other parts… not so much. I’m not thrilled with the casting choice for April O’Neil. The more films I see Megan Fox in, the less I like her. Of course, I can’t judge her in this movie until I’ve seen it.

The turtles of my childhood
Yeah, I think the turtles themselves look a little weird, but that could be my stubborn nostalgia kicking in. It wants to see those same cartoon-y, soft-lined, clay-like turtles from the old movies. I just have to keep telling myself, change can be good.

It can, can’t it?

4 – The Congress (August 29)

Director: Ari Folman
Writer: Ari Folman, Stanislaw Lem
Actors: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Danny Huston, Sami Gayle, Michael Stahl-David, Paul Giamatti, Jon Hamm, Sarah Shahi
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Rated: Unrated

The fangirl in me squee-d when I saw Robin Wright (House of Cards, Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride) playing herself. I can quote the majority of The Princess Bride from memory.

Robin Wright as Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride
The Congress seems to follow reality just enough that it makes the sci-fi aspects of the plot more believable and more frightening. At least from what I can tell of the trailer.

I enjoy a drama aspect in my sci-fi/fantasy and I also enjoy a touch of realism. In my own writing, I tend to delve in the post-apocalyptic areas, so there’s a little of both. For me to truly get lost in the fantasy I need to feel as though it could happen should that magic/science in the story, actually exist.

I can’t wait to see The Congress. I really believe I’m going to enjoy it.

3 – Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Writer: Frank Miller
Actors: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Powers Boothe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Martin Csokas, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Chung, Jamie King, Alexa Vega, Julia Garner, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Christopher Lloyd, Stacy Keach, Jude Ciccolella, Lady Gaga
Genre: Action
Rated: Unrated

Are you kidding me? I’ve been looking forward to this since the first one came out in 2005. Even before I knew the second one was going to be made, I was hoping for a sequel.

The first Sin City blew my mind. I do usually go for movies based off comic books. I enjoy the superhero feel. Even without all that, though, Sin City was the kind of movie that left one hell of an impression on me. I think I watched the entire thing with my jaw hanging just slightly open.

The unique mix of color and black & white, along with the ridiculously entertaining stories of Frank Miller make for the kind of movie that just makes the world a more exciting place. That’s even before you glance through the list of actors taking part in the project.

There are so many kick-ass actors involved, that I can’t pick just a couple to talk about.

I’m thinking I might have to go to a midnight showing of this one.

2 – The Giver (August 15)

Director: Phillip Noyce
Writer: Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide, Lois Lowry
Actors: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Rated: PG-13

Post-apocalypse corrupt Utopias are my bread and butter. I write them. I read them. I watch them. Quite frankly, the trailer for this one was one of the best I’ve seen.

The idea of a world without free-will, without creativity, without access to history and family is terrifying to me. The story itself looks insane, in the best kind of way. I’m going to be looking into getting and reading the book by the time the movie comes out.

Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep
The actors involved are fantastic too. Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D., Iron Man, TRON) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Julie & Julia, Mamma Mia!) are two veterans of Hollywood. They’ve both been acting longer than I’ve been alive and they’ve more than earned the respect they’re given in their profession.

Alongside them are younger, but still respect-worthy, actors such as Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, Battleship, Zoolander) and Katie Holmes (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Batman Begins, Dawson’s Creek).

When you take a great story and add and equally great cast, you get something that’s worth looking forward to.

1 – If I Stay (August 22)

Director: R. J. Cutler
Writer: Shauna Cross, Gayle Forman
Actors: Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Aisha Hinds, Stacy Keach
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13

I didn’t actually know this movie existed until I did the research for films coming out in August. I got chills watching the trailer.

About a year ago I did some consulting work with a doctor doing a study involving patients in a coma. I can’t discuss too much about it, but I will say that it has been fascinating stuff. Along comes this movie and it shows a point of view that doctors don’t really have on the subject.

Where there is a soul there is spirituality
I’m not religious. I used to be spiritual but it kind of went away gradually and then all at once. The truth of the matter is that I envy religious and spiritual people. It must be a wonderfully comforting feeling to believe that the universe or a supreme being is watching over you; that after death there is a continuation of the soul.

If I Stay doesn’t seem to be about religion, overtly. However, it does revolve around the self-aware soul of a comatose patient. It’s a subject I’m very interested in. 

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