Look Out For… AUGUST

As the summer rages on, what better place to hide from the sun than at the cinema?

For all you Gilmore Girls fans staunchly on Team Jess, Milo Ventimiglia stars in the adaptation of the 2008 best seller The Art of Racing in the Rain, about a race car driver, told from the perspective of his dog (voiced by Kevin Costner, which is quite amusing in itself).

Another film based on a book – this time a young adult one from best-selling author Nicola Yoon – is The Sun is Also a Star, a poignant story of a girl (Yara Shahidi) who doesn’t believe in fate, and a boy (Charles Melton) who does, who happen to fall in love over one afternoon; the only problem is that her family is about to be deported.

If you would prefer a more artistic evening, then I would recommend Mrs Lowry & Son, in which Timothy Spall continues his bid to play a painter from each century. Following his much-lauded performance as J. M. W. Turner in 2014’s Mr. Turner, he now joins forces with Vanessa Redgrave as L. S. Lowry and his unsupportive mother, respectively.

Or, if you just want straight-up action, there’s always Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, the 9th instalment (and spin-off) of the Fast and the Furious franchise. But of course, if none of those take your fancy then there are plenty of other movies to look out for this month.

Animals – 2nd August

After a well-received screening at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, director Sophie Hyde follows up her award-winning 2014 drama 52 Tuesdays with another coming-of-age-type film, albeit a more updated version of the genre.

Struggling writer Laura (Holliday Grainger) and her best friend Tyler (Alia Shawkat) are closer than best friends – they’re almost like sisters, in particular for Tyler, who has long-since left her family in America. They drink their nights away together, and have fun doing so – that is, until Laura, rather abruptly, becomes engaged to a concert pianist who has recently given up alcohol. Although Laura is sure this recent change in circumstance won’t affect her relationship with her best friend, Tyler is not so sure.

There’s nothing better than a movie that casts a pair of actors who you would not think to put together, only to realise that their connection is just perfect for the movie. One such example – and one that Animals has most certainly been compared with – is of course 1991’s Thelma and Louise, a pinnacle of cinematic female friendship. While Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon’s chemistry pretty much cemented this as a classic, it is difficult to say with complete certainty whether Animals will follow in its footsteps. Then again, why shouldn’t it? With fantastic acting from a pair of up-and-comers – Shawkat in particular has been singled out for her performance – perhaps Animals can create its own path.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 14th August

Quentin Tarantino is not like marmite because everyone’s feelings towards him are far more complex than simply love or hate. Whether it’s how he handles race and racism in his films – in particular, his use of language – or his portrayal of women, or even his relationship with Harvey Weinstein, who helped the both of them make names for themselves, discussing how to handle Tarantino and his work is a topic for another day and another article. However, what is difficult to deny, is that Tarantino’s work is mostly fascinating, in both its composition and its consistency. Hoping to keep up that trend, is Tarantino’s ninth film (because the Kill Bills count as one, apparently).

It’s summer, 1969. Aging Classical Hollywood star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff (Brad Pitt) are starting to realise that Dalton’s type of leading man is on the out, and counterculture is on the rise. And, indeed, so are some shadier figures – including one Charles Manson (Damon Herriman) – residing on the outskirts of Hollywood, whose handiwork starts to hit closer to home.

Similarly to his previous historical movie, 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino does take some liberties with the real-life events upon which this film is somewhat based (namely the murders of, amongst others, Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, played by Margot Robbie and Emile Hirsch respectively). If you are looking for a deeper dive into Charles Manson, “Helter Skelter” and the meaning of his cult in the wider context of Western culture at that time, I would recommend the podcast You Must Remember This, which has a whole season dedicated to those topics. But, if you do like your history mixed with a little fiction, then look no further.

JT LeRoy – 16th August

Since her rather lacklustre performance in 2008’s Twilight, Kristen Stewart has given us plenty of reminders of the talent we glimpsed in her earlier work, such as in 2002’s Panic Room. She continues her bid of interesting projects with her latest: JT LeRoy.

After publishing a number of critically acclaimed novels under the pseudonym “JT LeRoy”, Laura (Laura Dern) convinces her sister-in-law Savannah (Stewart) to pose as the fictitious figure in interviews and public appearances. But soon things get out of hand, and it looks as though both of them may be in deeper trouble than they thought.

Like a lot of unbelievable stories, JT LeRoy is based on true events – ones that seem utterly remarkable. Why did Laura want Savannah to pretend to be JT LeRoy? What made Savannah go along with this idea, and for so long? And how did both of them feel after the fact? Given this is co-written by Savannah Knoop herself, based on her own book, perhaps this film will have some answers.

Sarah Quraishi

Featured image courtesy of Georgia Butcher. 

Image use license here.

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