This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
If you see only one movie at the theater this August, then you’re probably looking at Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw. An epic prospect like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham teaming up to stop a madman from wiping out half the world’s population seems like a suitable end to the summer blockbuster season that began with Avengers: Endgame.
But honestly, by this point in a fairly average moviegoing summer, some of us are looking to cool off a bit. From indie films to low-budget genre fare, there are usually a few solid alternatives to the bigger movies also arriving in cinemas at this time of year.
Don’t get us wrong: you know we’re always up for a bit of the old smashy-crashy blockbuster nonsense. But seeing as how planned August releases Artemis Fowl and The New Mutants have been delayed until 2020, it looks like Hobbs & Shaw is doing most of the heavy-lifting for the multiplexes at the moment anyway.
That’s not to say the summer season is over and done with. Later this month, we’ll see further franchise entries in the form of Angry Birds 2, the follow-up to Blue Sky’s 2016 video game movie, and Angel Has Fallen, the action threequel which sees Gerard Butler reprise his role as US Secret Service agent Mike Banning. Frankly, it will be difficult not to notice these films, especially as August is a little quieter than usual.
So, as we do every year, we’re taking this opportunity to shine a spotlight on some non-franchise films that are either still playing or coming soon to UK cinemas this month, to see if we can stop our ears ringing before autumn comes along. They’re listed in order of release, and as always, all dates are correct at the time of writing.
To start with, check your nearest arthouse cinema’s listings for any upcoming screenings of this debut feature by writer-director William McGregor. If Midsommar left you hankering for more slow-burn folk horror, Gwen will give you another, more understated fix, with a tense and transfixing atmosphere and a stunning performance from Eleanor Worthington-Cox in the title role.
On the cusp of the industrial revolution, Gwen lives with her mother (Maxine Peake) and younger sister (Jodi Innes) on their farm in the hills of Snowdonia, where things start going awry. McGregor plays not only with horror but with Western tropes to create an enormous sense of foreboding and a chill that outstrips any cinema’s air conditioning. Seek this one out.
When can I see it? It opens Aug. 16.
One of the most provactive films you can see in 2019, this is a movie that asks uneasy questions about racial biases and the expectations we put on people when Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) enters a battle of wills with his teacher Ms. Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer). Luce is a golden boy at his school, adopted at the age of seven from a wartorn African nation and raised to be a gifted scholar and student athlete. But when he writes a paper seemingly condoning violence, he becomes a student of suspicion for his teacher… and maybe his parents after Ms. Wilson reveals the paper, as well as illegal fireworks she found in Luce’s locker, to his mother Amy (Naomi Watts).
A challenging movie, it is also one that cannot be missed. You can read our full review for it right here.
When can I see it? It is in select theaters on Aug. 2 and opens wide on Aug. 9.
Blinded by the Light
In some quarters, it’s been noted that the cyclical nature of popular cinema could be turning back toward blockbusters that are more rooted in reality, led by studios spending big on music-centric tentpoles like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. If so, then it’s not bad timing for the more independent comedy-drama Blinded by the Light, which is based on the true story of a Bruce Springsteen fan growing up in Luton in 1987.
Our hero is Javed (newcomer Viveik Kalra), a British teen who discovers the Boss’ songs and feels compelled to shake off the racial and economic turmoil of his hometown. Set to a rousing selection of Springsteen tracks, the film is directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, among others), whose penchant for telling socially relevant stories in feel-good commercial crowdpleasers makes this another winner.
When can I see it? In theaters nationwide on Aug. 14.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Forgive us for including a more obvious draw, but Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film is a ringer for this list for precisely one reason. You can always guarantee that a new QT film is going to be different from whatever else is playing in any given month. Fresh off its premiere at this year’s Cannes film festival, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood takes place in 1960s LA and charts the end of Tinseltown’s golden age.
Amid several of the director’s trademark intertwining storylines, we find Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a fading star-and-stuntman duo (loosely based on Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham) who find themselves phased out of the industry. Currently in wide release, Tarantino’s penultimate film is unmissable, especially the more knowledgeable you are about the life and times of Sharon Tate…
When can I see it? It is in theaters now.
In a canny bit of marketing, the trailer for Good Boys opens with producer Seth Rogen telling young stars Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, and Keith L. Williams that while they’re apparently alright to act out all of the mature content in the film, the MPAA decrees that they’re not old enough to even watch the trailer.
Indeed, the R-rating for crude sexual humor and drug references is the first in history to include the qualifier “all involving tweens.” Charting the three 12-year-olds’ day off school in the run-up to a classmate’s party, this could easily just turn out to be Superbad but with tweens, but on the other hand, it might also be as funny as “Superbad but with tweens” sounds.
When can I see it? It hits theaters on Aug. 16.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
Transcendentalism is in America’s DNA, which makes The Peanut Butter Falcon both a timeless and timely story about how we perceive each other’s potential. Focused on Zak, a young man of special needs played by Zack Gottsagen, it shows how he was cast off by society and forced to live in a retirement home by the state of North Carolina. His doctor, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), is well-meaning, but does not believe it is possible for him to live his dream of becoming a professional wrestler.
So he runs away, ultimately hitching a ride with a Southern good ol’ boy played by a nigh unrecognizable Shia LaBeouf. The two, and eventually Eleanor, embark on a quixotic rafting journey along the Outer Banks in search of a mythical wrestler who can teach Zak the ropes. It’s charming, good-natured, and all-American in the best ways.
When can I see it? It makes landfall at select cinemas on Aug. 9.
Sam Raimi produces Crawl, an enjoyable late-summer thriller from director Alexandre Aja. As a Category 5 hurricane lashes Florida, an aspiring champion swimmer (Kaya Scodelario) winds up defending her injured dad (Barry Pepper) from alligators in the flooded crawl space beneath their family home.
Effectively a two-hander, Aja’s film occasionally plays as Florida Man: The Movie, but in between its characters’ enjoyably daft decision-making and the down-and-dirty creature-feature mechanics, it plays especially well with a crowd. Like the similarly Raimi-produced Don’t Breathe, this is a perfectly timed shot of B-movie exploitation into a tentpole-strewn landscape.
When can I see it? It is in theaters now.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Arriving ahead of It Chapter Two in September, Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark is another period-set horror film. Producer Guillermo del Toro and Troll Hunter director André Øvredal bring Alvin Schwartz’s short horror stories for children to the big screen with a deliberately PG-13 chiller that’s already been lumped with a 15 certificate in the UK.
Set in 1968, the film follows a group of teenagers who discover the horrifying inspiration behind a series of scary stories written by a local girl. If it sounds like a harder-edged Goosebumps, that might be exactly what we’re in for. Still, the market for films perched in between R.L. Stine and Stephen King has been underserved for a while now and there can be no doubting the genre cred of either del Toro or Øvredal.
When can I see it? It starts scaring moviegoers on Aug. 9.
This is not a movie for everyone, including our reviewer who struggled with its extreme vision at Sundance, but there is no denying Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale is one of the most beautifully crafted films of 2019, as well as one of the most harrowing. The story of Clare (Aisling Franciosi), an Irish woman unfairly shipped off to the penal colony on Tasmania by the British empire, she is a struggling young mother abused every night by the English officer (Sam Claflin) whose handsomeness belies demonic appetites.
After one night too many at the Gates of Hell, and finally crossing them, Claflin’s Hawkins is shocked to see his “nightingale” return from the seeming dead and seek vengeance for herself and all those brutalized by his patriarchy, including the local aboriginal population who were wiped out by a genocidal, imperial force. Alongside the native Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), Clare will hunt down their white devil in a movie that you may love or may not, but you’ll never forget.
When can I see it? It opens in limited release on Aug. 2.
Coming back to theaters this month…
Apocalypse Now – The Final Cut
Of course, if it’s only new blockbusters you’re fed up with, there’s a selection of older attractions returning to cinemas in August too. The big one among this month’s 4K-restored releases is Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now – The Final Cut, which comes to IMAX and selected theaters nationwide on Tuesday Aug. 15, including a recorded Q&A between Coppola and Steven Soderbergh.
Read and download the Den of Geek SDCC 2019 Special Edition Magazine right here!