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Everything Will Be All Right, I Promise: Break the Heat With These Cool August Movies

Here’s the final film ramp up before the fall movies and awards season come around. We’ve got a good selection this month from blockbusters to action-thrillers, pre-Halloween spookiness and outright terror, a couple of science fiction outings, an animated selection, and a love story or two. Next month we’re sure to be drowning in For Your Consideration-ers and things that go oh-so-serious in the night but for now, kick back and take your pick of genre, and more importantly, stay (be) cool!

Pray Away

August 2, 2021 (Netflix)

Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum (Blumhouse Productions) produced this documentary that exposes Exodus International’s controversial conversion therapy program begun by five gay members of an evangelical church who claimed they were leaving their “lifestyle” behind. The sham is on full display through candid interviews with members, survivors, and former leaders who have come out as LGBTQ.

The Suicide Squad

August 5, 2021 (Theaters) August 6, 2021 (HBO Max)

Directed and written by James Gunn; starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, and Peter Capaldi. This highly anticipated sequel to David Ayer’s 2016 film (Suicide Squad) brings back DC favorites Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller, and a few familiar faces alongside several new ones (including Stallone’s King Shark and Capaldi’s Gaius Grieves). With Gunn on board, expect high comedy and stellar tunes — I mean, just get a load of that trailer!

John and the Hole

August 6, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Feature directorial debut by Pascual Sisto; written by Nicolás Giacobone (Birdman, Biutiful); starring Charlie Shotwell, Taissa Farmiga, Michael C. Hall, and Jennifer Ehle. Based on Giacobone’s own short story about a young boy who keeps his family captive… in a hole. If you love disturbing thrillers and movies like We Need to Talk About Kevin or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, this one’s for you (me).

Annette

August 6, 2021 (Theaters) August 20, 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)

Directed by Leos Carax (Holy Motors)–this is his first film in English; written by Ron Mael (composer Fright Night [1985], Black Rain); with music by Mael and his brother Russell, aka the Sparks; starring Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, and Simon Helberg. Fantastical rock opera about Driver’s Henry, a stand-up comedian married to Cotillard’s opera-singing Ann, and the story of what happens when their first child is born with a magical gift. Carax’s unique style is on full display in the trailer and with a catchy tune right out the gate, I’m calling this a must-see.

Val

August 6, 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)

Directorial debut by Ting Poo and Leo Scott; written by and starring Val Kilmer and his son Jack (who often speaks for his father), and featuring many famous faces. Kilmer has had two tracheotomies to treat his throat cancer, but even though it’s difficult to talk, the actor wanted to share his life story. Having shot hundreds of hours of personal video over the years, he’s doing just that, albeit in an unusual way. With footage that goes back to Kilmer’s childhood and carries through filming everything from The Doors to Tombstone and Batman Forever, creating this “documentary” seems a logical move, though his controversial history may put some viewers off.

Free Guy

August 13, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed by Shawn Levy (Stranger Things, Night at the Museum); written by Matt Lieberman (The Addams Family) and Zak Penn (The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, Ready Player One); starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re living in a simulation, this movie won’t clear the confusion. Reynolds plays Guy, a — wait for it — guy who figures out he’s playing a role in an open world video game and decides he wants to change things up. Comer and Keery play the game developers and everyone’s favorite Korg (Waititi) joins in the fun. If you’ve been waiting for an explosive summer blockbuster to draw you back into a theater, look no further. Bonus: Tina Fey, Hugh Jackman, and John Krasinski make cameos.

Respect

August 13, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Continue your hot soul summer with this feature directorial debut by Liesl Tommy (The Walking Dead, Jessica Jones, Insecure, Queen Sugar); written by Tracey Scott Wilson (Fosse/Verdon, The Americans); starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Heather Headley, Skye Dakota Turner, Tate Donovan, and Mary J. Blige. Speaking of good reasons to get back in the theater, this biopic follows the Queen of Soul, beginning with performances in her church choir and the start of her career through marriage and the civil rights movement. With Tommy at the helm and Hudson’s powerhouse voice, this looks a proper tribute (Franklin herself had a hand in the movie) to the legendary singer.

Beckett

August 13, 2021 (Netflix)

Directed and written by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino (Antonia); starring John David Washington, Alicia Vikander, Boyd Holbrook, and Vicky Krieps. Washington (yep, Denzel’s son is just as devastatingly handsome and talented as his dad) takes on another inexplicably crazy plot in this thriller about an American on vacation in Greece who’s suddenly the target of every assassin in the country. Previously titled Born to Be Murdered, I’m guessing Beckett is also the son of somebody important *cue that Inception sound here*.

Reminiscence

August 20, 2021 (Theaters, HBO Max)

Speaking of Inception, Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law Lisa Joy makes her feature directorial debut with this sci-fi thriller that she also wrote. Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Hugh Jackman, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan, and Nico Parker (Newton’s daughter). Ferguson’s Mae solicits Nick Bannister (Jackman), a scientist who helps clients reclaim their lost memories. But who is she really — and what’s her connection to Bannister’s own past? If the themes and actors here feel familiar, you won’t be surprised that Joy is also co-showrunner of Westworld with her husband Jonathan.

The Protégé

August 20, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness, The Legend of Zorro, GoldenEye); written by Richard Wenk (The Equalizer/2, The Magnificent Seven, The Mechanic); starring Samuel L. Jackson, Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Patrick Malahide, David Rintoul, Ori Pfeffer, Ray Fearon, and Caroline Loncq. Add another action-packed thriller to your month with Maggie Q as the titular assassin trained from childhood by Jackson, and now on the hunt for her mentor’s killer. Keaton’s in as a frenemy looking for benefits he’ll never get. All I care is that we get to watch Maggie kick ass across the globe (is this her Bond audition?).

The Night House

August 20, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed by David Bruckner (The Ritual, V/H/S); written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski (Super Dark Times); starring Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Evan Jonigkeit, Stacy Martin, and Vondie Curtis-Hall. Get your summer horror on with this creepfest about a widow experiencing some very strange shit in the house her husband built. And by very strange shit, I mean, WHO CARES?!! GET OUT!!! Have we learned nothing from every creepy house movie ever?

Cryptozoo

August 20, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed and written by Dash Shaw (Rabbit Hole); starring Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Angeliki Papoulia, Zoe Kazan, Peter Stormare, and Grace Zabriskie. This year’s Innovation Award winner at the Sundance Film Festival is a fantastical, gorgeously animated adventure featuring rare mythical creatures and the zookeepers who discover and watch over them. In other words, a feast for your sun-weary eyes!

Demonic

August 20, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed and written by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie); starring Carly Pope, Chris William Martin, Michael J. Rogers, Nathalie Boltt, and Terry Chen. From aliens, robots, and space to the underworld — so this is where Blomkamp’s been hiding out (still bummed we won’t get to see his Alien entry)? Deep in the VR world of a woman’s brain using patent-pending technology that scans an actor (volumetric capture) and recreates them digitally? Pope plays an estranged daughter trying to connect with her mother’s mind to find out why she went on a killing rampage. Clearly, other forces are at play. Sounds like The Exorcist set in someone’s head. Whatever the truth is behind Mummy’s murders, I know my fellow Blomkamp fans will join me in watching anything the imaginative director does.

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

August 23, 2021 (Netflix)

This animated spinoff/companion movie to The Witcher live-action series is directed by Kwang II Han (The Boondocks); written by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher); and stars Theo James as Geralt’s mentor Vesemir. Co-starring Graham McTavish (who’s also joining Season 2 of the show as Sigismund Dijkstra), Mary McDonnell, and Lara Pulver, Nightmare of the Wolf digs into Vesemir’s history as a poor Witcher killing monsters for money and how his relationship with Geralt began. Obviously, this is a must-see for Witcher fans.

Together

August 27, 2021

Directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Crown, The Reader, The Hours) and Justin Martin (The Crown); written by Dennis Kelly (Utopia [British and American versions], The Third Day); starring Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy. Get close up and uncomfortable with this couple with a child, trying to decide if they should be/stay together. The simple premise was born out of Kelly’s pandemic relationship experience, though the writer intimates his own coupledom is fine despite the lockdown’s stresses. Regardless, McAvoy and Horgan are sure to be brilliant together and I expect we’ll have both laughed and cried by the end.

Candyman

August 30, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed by Nia DaCosta (Little Woods); written by Jordan Peele, DaCosta, and Win Rosenfeld (The Twilight Zone); starring Tony Todd, Vanessa Estelle Williams, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo. He’s baaack (they shouldn’t have said his name). This sequel to the 1992 original film introduces adult Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the infant saved by Helen Lyle, who is a visual artist living in a new building in Cabrini. After hearing about the Candyman’s history, Anthony begins expressing the ideas in his art, which of course affords a certain someone the opportunity for a terrifying return.

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Writer and Editor-in-Chief at @oohlo_com, also seen @pajiba, @bust_magazine. Currently working on her first novel, Cindy seeks solace in science fiction and tales of darkness not her own.

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