Xavier Dolan in Tom at the Farm
Although the summer may be halfway over, there are still so many amazing movies set to premiere this cinematic season. And with the oppressive heat rising every day, what better time to hide away in the cool, dark sanctuary of a movie theater. This August, we’ll see brilliant debut features from directors like John Magary, left field genre films from filmmakers Alex Ross Perry and Xavier Dolan, as well as rereleases of some of our favorite independent features like Whit Stillman’s 90s classic Metropolitan. Whatever you’re film fancy, there’s sure to be something to satisfy everyone this month. Check out what we’re most anticipating and what films you should be racing to see this August.
RICKI AND THE FLASH, dir. Jonathan Demme — Meryl at Her Rockstar Finest
Release Date: August 7 // Cast: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Kevin Kline
As previously noted:
Starring Meryl Streep, the film centers on Ricki Rendazzo, hard rocking but young-at-heart guitarist and singer who “made a world of mistakes as she followed her dreams of rock and roll stardom.” The film picks up as she returns home to her daughter and “gets a shot at redemption and a chance to make things right as she faces the music with her family.” Taking on the role of her daughter is talented actor Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real life daughter—theTelegraph pointing that the two first appeared together on screen almost 30 years ago for Nora Ephron and Mike Nichols’Heartburn. “I told Mamie, ‘I don’t want you to think that you’re Mamie and that’s mommy Meryl over there,’” Demme told theTelegraph. “‘I hope there’ll be a minimum of hanging out and being your usual selves while we’re shooting, because we’re going for something very exceptional here that has nothing to do with loving your mom.’” Rounding out the cast, Kevin Kline plays Streep’s ex-husband and Rick Springfield as her love interest and bandmate.
METROPOLITAN, dir. Whit Stillman — A 25th Anniversary Rerelease Celebration
Re(release) Date: August 7 // Cast: Chris Eigeman, Edward Clements, Carolyn Farina, Taylor Nichols
Whit Stillman’s seminal comedy of manners introduced audiences to the “UHBs” (urban haute bourgeoisie), those mordantly ironic socialites too highbrow for their own good, and in the process brought a class-conscious verbal flair to 1990s independent cinema. Home on winter break during the debutante season, middle-class Princeton student Tom (Edward Clements) falls in with the “Sally Fowler Rat Pack,” a group of Upper East Side friends named for the girl (Dylan Hundley) whose apartment they use for after-hours parties. As naif Tom is accepted into the group, he becomes smitten with Audrey (Carolyn Farina) while struggling with his feelings for his ex Serena (Elizabeth Thompson), and batting declarations of grandeur from conservative Charlie (Taylor Nichols) and dandy Nick (Stillman axiom Chris Eigeman). Stillman’s worldview is wryly detailed and intimate, with clear affection for his characters. The Film Society is proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Stillman’s unabashedly literary (and recently restored!) debut, a film that spawned a host of imitators yet whose patent originality arrived fully formed. A New Directors/New Films 1990 selection. A Rialto Pictures release. — Film Linc
PHOENIX, dir. Christian Petzold — One of the Year’s Most Haunting Films
Release Date: Playing through August 6 at IFC Center // Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld
In Christian Petzold’s new film, Phoenix is the name of a Berlin nightclub where Nelly Lenz goes searching for her husband, a piano player she calls Johnny. World War II has just ended, which suggests that “Phoenix,” the title of this compact, haunting thriller, might have other, larger, metaphorical meanings as well. In a few years, Germany will ascend from the ruin of military defeat into an era of political stability and economic growth. Nelly, a Jewish singer who survived the Nazi death camps, is undergoing her own tentative rebirth — her face has been reconstructed after it was damaged by a gunshot wound — and her friend Lene (Nina Kunzendorf) encourages her to prepare for a new life in Tel Aviv…But Mr. Petzold, a fixture of the Berlin School of historically informed, emotionally challenging realist filmmakers, is more interested in the ashes of the past than the bright plumage of the future. He gravitates toward ethical shadows and ambiguous states of feeling, using film noir techniques as a tool kit for probing dark regions of German history. — A.O. Scott
HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, dir. Alain Resnais — One of the Most Ravishing Films Ever Made
Screening Date: August 6 at Film Forum // Cast: Emmanuelle Riva & Eiji Okada
Amalgamating the painfully brilliant mind of Marguerite Duras with the revolutionary directorial sensibility of Alain Resnais, this 1960 debut feature remains one of the most hauntingly beautiful films ever made and spurred the French New Wave into being with an intimate and fractured tale of love, memory, and suffering explored through a brief but potent affair between a Japanese architect and a French actress in post-war Hiroshima. — Decider
“You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing.” “I saw everything. Everything.” Entangled, unmoving limbs covered in ash, the bodies of two lovers: French actress Emmanuelle Riva (2012 Oscar nominee for Amour), in Japan to make a “peace” film about Hiroshima, finds in the course of her brief affair with Japanese architect Eiji Okada (Woman in the Dunes, The Ugly American) compulsively returning to her traumatic post-war experiences, her love for a German soldier and her own shaming.
Asked to do an anti-nuclear documentary in the wake of his powerful Holocaust doc Night and Fog, Resnais opted instead for a feature exploring mutual guilts and the power of memory via multitudes of sometimes tiny timeshifts intercut with the present day lovers’ marathon conversation – all by first-time scripter but already-distinguished novelist Marguerite Duras, whose screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. This year marks Duras’ centennial. — Film Forum
TOM AT THE FARM, dir. Xavier Dolan — An Psychoerotic Thriller with the Year’s Best Score
Release Date: August 14 // Cast: Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Lise Roy
As previously noted:
Xavier Dolan is not only prolific, but with each film he keeping getting better and better. Not only has he begun to hone his directorial style—and all his beautiful flourishes—but he’s always taken risks and experimented with the genre of his work. Tom at the Farm, which only found a U.S. distributor as of late, is one of Dolan’s most interesting features yet and is certainly a departure from his other work. As a haunting and psychologically stimulating thriller, the film dials down Dolan’s affinity for grandiose aesthetics and love stories—but as we’ve noted, “‘minimal’ in Dolan language still being a slightly heightened view of the world.”
Based on a stage play by Michel-Marc Bouchard, Tom at the Farm gives us, “another taste of his talents with a bizarre, kinky, and violent tale .” It’s a, “nightmarish journey about a mourning young man who goes to the country to the family home of his deceased lover. Upon arriving he realizes that his man’s mother knows nothing of their relationship, while his thuggish brother won’t stop at anything to keep it that way. Set in the deep, damp farmlands of Quebec, the story of psychological manipulation plays out with cunning anxiety and bizarre tangents, finding a odd and sickly sense of humor even in its brutality.”
MISTRESS AMERICA, dir. Noah Baumbach — A Modern Screwball Charmer
Release Date: August 14 // Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke
As previously noted:
Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig are at it again. Following up the success of their 2013 black-and-white wonder Frances Ha, the cinematic duo has re-teamed for their take on the screwball comedy, once again featuring the multi-talented Gerwig in the starring role. Whereas in Frances Ha Gerwig played this hapless New York post-grad amidst an existential crisis of the heart, now we see her as Brooke, a scheming “gal about town.” The film follows as Brooke becomes acquainted with her soon-to-be stepsister Tracy (played by Lola Kirke), a college freshman, and takes her under her strange and alluring wing. As evidenced byFrances Ha in comparison to While We’re Young, it seems Baumbach is at his best these days when working with Gerwig, melding their affinity for witty and intelligent dialogue and character details that draw you into their world and bring you along for the ride.
THE MEND, dir. John Megary — One of the Most Exciting Films of the Year
Release Date: August 21 // Cast: Josh Lucas, Mickey Sumner, Stephen Plunkett
As previously noted:
As refreshingly playful as it is emotionally ferocious, John Magary’s frenetic and biting comic drama, The Mend, delivers absolute pleasure in a sardonic grin. As the writer/director’s debut feature, the Josh Lucas and Stephen Plunkett-led film examines the wrought psychology of brotherhood, love, and madness. Set in Harlem and shot in the apartment where Magary and co-writersMyna Joseph and Russell Harbaugh all reside, The Mend explores what happens when short-fused and bizarrely engaging Mat (Lucas) reunites with his seemingly stable younger brother Alan (Plunkett) at a house party on the eve of a romantic vacation Mat had been planning with his girlfriend Farrah (Mickey Sumner). But when Alan comes home much sooner than expected, he finds Mat has made himself at home in the apartment, accompanied by his on-and-off-again girlfriend Andrea (Lucy Owen) and her son Ronnie. Returning without Farrah, a now vulnerable and temperamental Alan succumbs to the strange state of his apartment, and when the power goes out, is forced to come face to face with the delicate familial threads on the verge of destruction.
QUEEN OF EARTH, dir. Alex Ross Perry — A Stunning and Vicious Psychological Breakdown
Release Date: Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston, Patrick Fugit // Cast: August 26
As previously noted:
As a haunting psychological drama set at a lakeside cabin, Queen of Earth feels like a departure or an experiment for Perry into new territory—and to our delight, it’s one of his finest features to Starring Elisabeth Moss, in a role that showcases her tremendous range and talent, alongside newcomer Katherine Waterston in an excellently-controlled performance, Queen of Earth centers around what happens when two friends reunite for a summer holiday. Indebted to anxious psychological thrillers and dramas of the 1970s, the sun-dappled and anxious film plays out as Virginia (Moss) begins unraveling her memories of the last year. Melding the past and the present, we watch as she spirals into a spine-chilling state as the two women’s life strangely begin to intersect. Queen of Earth highlights Perry’s versatile and unwavering talent, giving us characters as well-rounded and rich as the stunning 16mm cinematography they’re lensed through.