By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
It appears this August, the only thing that is hot is the temperature. I’ve read through what will be released in the theatres and it appears, with the exception of Suicide Squad, we may be in for a dismal blockbuster month. Going by what could be viewed in the available movie trailers, Mechanic: Resurrection appears to be your average action flick, Nine Lives as a family film is nothing we haven’t seen before from companies like Disney, Pete’s Dragon appears to be lacking the magic that made the original a box office hit, and Sausage Party shouldn’t be a summer movie at all.
Film goers need to look for the lower budgeted, international, and independent films for their entertainment this month. Of the list of 18 films I started with, I whittled it down to a top ten. Of those that didn’t make the list was Mel Gibson in Blood Father. The movie looked good and I Love Mel Gibson’s acting, I thought he stole all the scenes in Expendables 3, but his new movie was just outside the ten. Another film that missed the cut comes from Quebec province in Canada. Embrasses-moi comme tu m’aimes was co-written and directed by André Forcier and deals with the subject of incest between twin siblings. Normally something this hard-hitting would make the list. Canadians have never shied away from taboo subjects in film (like 1996’s Kissed starring Molly Parker and Peter Outerbridge) before, but with Embrasses-moi a comedy-drama instead of a straight drama, I felt the power the film could deliver was lost. A Genie Award nomination maybe, but to win the Genie, I don’t believe it will.
(August 5 / China, USA)
Director(s): Daniel Lee / Writer(s): Nanpai Sanshu (screenplay)
Cast: Lu Han, Boran Jing, Sichun Ma, Boyu Zhang, and Jingchun Wang
Apparently 175,000,000 Chinese Yuan (26.4 million US) doesn’t buy a lot when it comes to feature films. Perhaps a good portion of the film’s budget was spent on the contract of former EXO boy band member Lu Huan, because frankly the CGI special effects are not up to snuff in the film’s trailers. Poor FX aside, if one could suspend a little disbelief Time Raiders still looks like a fun mix of Stephen Sommer’s The Mummy, 1930’s pulp adventure novels and B. Sokal’s Syberia PC game. And in this movie, if the spiders don’t get you, the automatons most certainly will.
(August 5 / USA)
Director(s): David Ayers / Writer(s): David Ayers
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Jared Leto, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Adam Beach, Karen Fukuhara, Ben Affleck, and Ezra Miller
I wasn’t very impressed with the last DC outing. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) had a great cast who portrayed their characters beautifully. Ben Affleck exorcised past demons of Daredevil and proved he could carry the torch as Gotham’s dark knight. But the film overall was still boring. Normally I am used to (and enjoy) slower paced films but BvS, like Transformers: Age of Extinction, tested my paitence. The dark look of the film didn’t work for BvS but it appears to work here in Suicide Squad. The story this time out revolves around a group of wanton criminals let out of their jail cells on short leashes to handle problems for the American government that are considered too dangerous for any law-abiding citizen. Based on the DC comic series of the same name, Ayers’ film has had me jumping up and down in my seat since the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.
I like Will Smith as an actor and I was originally scarred it would be a Smith movie but it appears from the trailers that Smith has let his star power take a back seat. Personally I’m rooting for fellow Canadian Adam beach who is always treat to watch (Dance Me Outside) and even shines in bad movies (Ice Soldiers). Margot Robbie may appear as a Harley Quinn comic readers are not used to but her character’s personality is still linked to the Hollywood actress Harley is based on of. And Jared Leto presents a unique Joker which is getting more difficult with every protrayal. His predecessors of Caeser Romero, Jack Nicholson, Andrew Koeing, and Heath Ledger have all presented a Joker that has been their own.
(August 12 / USA)
Director(s): Sean Ellis / Writer(s): Sean Ellis, Anthony Frewin
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Charlotte Le Bon, Anna Geislerová, Toby Jones, and Karel Hermánek Jr.
Based on the true story of the mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the man who was Hitler’s third in command and the main architect behind the Final Solution that killed millions of people who were physically challenged, mentally challenged and those of Jewish faith. Peaky Blinders‘ Cillian Murphy and The Fall‘s Jamie Dornan are part of a stunning international ensemble cast that includes Czechoslovakia’s Anna Geislerová, Canada’s Charlotte Le Bon, and Great Britain’s Toby Jones.
Anthropoid looks to be a tense drama that will focus on the unsung heroes of the resistance groups who helped turn the tide of the war.
Florence Foster Jenkins
(August 12 / USA, Canada, Lithuania)
Director(s): Stephen Frears / Writer(s): Nicholas Martin
Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Allan Corduner, Christian McKay, David Haig, and John Sessions
Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant star in a movie which is “based on a true story” of Florence Foster Jenkins. When they say based on they perhaps mean that Florence was a real person (which she was) and that almost everything else will be complete fantasy. The truth is Florence Foster Jenkins was a rich socialite whose music recordings and stage recitals were laughed at. She showed no awareness of her lack of vocal tuning nor of her bad taste in costumes she wore at her yearly concerts. Jenkins recordings are at best perfect for collectors of “outsider music” and at worst she is the worst ambassador for music of the early 20th century.
But what one can not take away from her is her dogged determination to be heard. No matter how many may have scoffed, her love of music saw her through. She is the pioneer of bad music and would eventually pave the way for artists like Elva Miller, the William Hung, and Rebecca Black. Long after her death (she died of a heart attack at the age of 76) playwright Stephen Temperley wrote a fantastical Broadway stage show of her life titled Souvenir. It starred Judy Kaye in the lead role.
The perfect reason to see this movie if not for the oddity of Jenkins herself is for the solid performances both Hugh Grant and Meryl Streep will surely deliver. Neither will disappoint and in a way, knowing how bad Jenkins performances were, she never failed to disappoint either.
Call of Heroes
(August 18, China, Singapore)
Director(s): Benny Chan / Writer(s):
Cast: Louis Koo, Ching Wan, and Eddie Peng
What do you call a trailer where it shows nothing but knock down, high kicking, knuckle dusting action? Awesome! From action film director Benny Chan comes a good old-fashioned martial arts action flick. Chan’s directed some of the best in the business, Jackie Chan, Simon Yam, Jing Wu, and Ching Wan Lau to name a few. Martial art film lovers should find this film worth the popcorn.