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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Silver Screen Surprises Coming in August

Porn Stars, Pot, Strippers, Space Stations, and Pub Crawls

By Chris Sabga

Here's the latest round of films that might fly under-the-radar or are otherwise surprising in some way. For example, while you've surely heard of "We’re the Millers," Jennifer Aniston playing a sleazy stripper is definitely something new. And if you haven't heard of the 2009 South African alien movie "District 9," make sure to see it ASAP! This month's "Elysium" is by the same director. There's so much to look forward to in August – and that's not even counting the major summer blockbusters, which are listed at the very end for reference. Read below for Blood and Ice Cream, and more...

The Spectacular Now (August 2nd): From the writers of "(500) Days of Summer," this film stars Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants") and Miles Teller ("21 and Over"). Teller plays a party boy high school senior who doesn't think about his future – until he wakes up drunk on Woodley's lawn. She's an interesting "nice girl" and he falls for her hard. Unlike the typical film about 17-18 year olds, this one seems both realistic and touching. Sutter isn't the typical Hollywood poster boy, and Woodley is no queen bee. In other words, they seem like real kids. Kyle Chandler ("Super 8") also stars. 

We're the Millers (August 7th): Jennifer Aniston is a stripper who helps Jason Sudekis ("Hall Pass") create a fake family. Emma Roberts ("It's Kind of a Funny Story") and Will Poulter ("Son of Rambow") play their children. Sudekis's goal: to smuggle pot for Ed Helms ("The Hangover") without being detected, and what better way to do that than by posing as one big, happy family? After all, the border patrol would never suspect Mom, Dad, and two innocent kids – or would they?

Elysium (August 9th): "District 9" creator Neill Blompkamp is back! In 2154, the human race is divided into two distinct classes: the wealthy elite live on the space station Elysium while everyone else is stuck in the crowded nightmare Earth has become. This sounds like another parallel to Apartheid in South Africa – much like Blompkamp's previous movie, "District 9," which used aliens to represent South Africa's oppressed black citizens. With a cast that includes Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, and "District 9's" Sharlto Copley, this is easily one of my most anticipated releases of the summer.

Lovelace (August 9th): Amanda Seyfried portrays the porn icon, James Franco cameos as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and Sharon Stone is almost unrecognizable as Lovelace's dowdy mother. What else is there to be said? You are either dying to see this or repulsed by the very thought of it.

Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (August 16th): If you admired the artistry of a movie poster any time between 1975 and 2008, chances are you were looking at Drew Struzan's handiwork. His portfolio is legendary and its quality is breathtaking. This documentary chronicles his incredible career. Unfortunately limited to the New York market, most of us will have to catch this one on video. In the meantime, his amazing work more than speaks for itself.

Jobs (August 16th): Ashton Kutcher plays Apple founder Steve Jobs. I can already picture everyone rolling their eyes at the casting, but I can see it working. It will either be a spectacular failure or an out-of-the-box surprise. Kutcher is underrated as a dramatic actor and more charismatic than people give him credit for. I am curious to see if he will be able to make the most of this golden opportunity. It could be a career-changer for him if he pulls it off and has a good script to work with. As the rise of Apple itself shows, even the most improbable underdog can have a fighting chance. I am rooting for the likeable Kutcher to break out.

Lee Daniels' The Butler (August 16th): The 20th century is depicted through the eyes of an African-American butler working at the White House. With Forest Whitaker and director Lee Daniels ("Precious"), the performances should be rich and the story should be both moving and hard-hitting.

Paranoia (August 16th): I spent five days in Las Vegas a few years ago, and for much of that trip, I was anxious to get back to my room because I was embroiled in Joseph Finder's thriller novel, "Paranoia." If the movie is even half as successful as the book, it will be a must-see. With Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, and Harrison Ford, the casting is certainly top-notch.

The Grandmaster (August 23rd): With multiple movies already made about Ip Man, the legendary trainer of Bruce Lee, what else is left to explore? But there's still buzz surrounding this release because it comes from acclaimed Chinese writer and director Kar Wai Wong ("Chungking Express").

The World's End (August 23rd): Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – the duo from "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" – return for the third installment of their "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy" of unrelated movies. This time, their characters are friends who reunite for the first time in twenty years to complete a pub-crawl that eluded them in their youth. As the official website puts it: "one night, six friends, twelve pubs." Their final destination: a bar known as The World's End. Of course, the title is meant to be taken literally as well. The strange people with blue lights shining out of their eyes seem not of this world.

Getaway (August 30th): Ethan Hawke's wife has been kidnapped, and he has to jump in a car and follow orders to get her back. In a way, it sounds like the cousin of "Vehicle 19." Selena Gomez is also involved.

I Declare War (August 30th): A bunch of little kids play "Capture the Flag" in the words, but it eventually becomes more serious than anyone could have bargained for. With a cast of child actors, a movie like this depends on the credibility of their performances and a rock-solid script. The premise seems influenced somewhat by "Lord of the Flies," but that's a tricky field to mine. One reviewer on IMDB referred to it as a mixture of "Lord of the Flies," "Stand by Me," "War of the Buttons," and "Battle Royale."

Blockbusters: 2 Guns (August 2nd), Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (August 7th), Planes (9th), Kick-Ass 2 (August 16th), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (August 23rd), One Direction: This is Us (August 30th)

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg getting together for "2 Guns" has the potential to be tons of fun.

"Planes" is a "Cars" spinoff, and while I did like both of those movies, is this taking the idea too far? If nothing else, the aerial visuals should be spectacular.

I have yet to see the original "Percy Jackson," but it did look good.

I found the first "Kick-Ass" movie to be a tonal mess that could never quite figure out what it wanted to be, but the potential was always there – and Jim Carrey's role in the sequel looks spectacular.

"The Mortal Instruments" could be okay in that generic "Twilight" sort of way, but "Silver Screen Niece" read the book and didn't seem enthused by the movie's trailer. "It looks like they ruined it," she said.

As for "One Direction," I'm the wrong person to ask, but the teenage girls that make up that band's fanbase are going to flock to the theater no matter what anyone says.

Which ones are you looking forward to? Comment below or discuss it on Facebook or Twitter.

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