The PopMatters Summer Film Preview

August 2014

by Bill Gibron

31 July 2014

There's a lot to look forward to in August, including another amazing Marvel movie, a return of everyone's favorite "heroes on the half-shell", and a welcome return of a certain Sin City.
 

1 August


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Guardians of the Galaxy

Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou
1 August
Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel has been dominating the superhero movie genre since it decided to take back control of its content and put Robert Downey Jr. in a metal suit. That was six years ago, and since then, competitor DC has been struggling while seeing its rival dominate the box office and critical consensus. It’s only going to get worse after this latest installment in the comic book company’s canon. Taking a group of ancillary characters and turning them into terrific entertainment is one thing. Here, director James Gunn has given Summer 2014 audiences reasons to rejoice. This is one fun, fantastic space epic.

 

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  Get On Up

Director: Tate Taylor
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Keith Robinson, Octavia Spencer
1 August
Get On Up

A biopic is only as good as the actor playing the protagonist (or antagonist), and when you consider the character having to be essayed here—the late great hardest working man in show business, soul brother number one James Brown—the odds of failure are even greater. Luckily, 42 star Chadwick Boseman delivers. He captures the essence of this soul funk pioneer without ever falling into cartoon or caricature. The filmmaking, by The Help‘s Tate Taylor, still leaves a lot to be desired, and our lead lip syncs throughout the non-linear recounting of James’ life, but the results are a rousing, foot-stomping good time.

 

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Calvary

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran
1 August
Calvary

Church, confession, and penance for past/present crimes are the cornerstone for this film from the writer/director of The Guard. Brendan Gleeson is a formerly married priest who abandoned his daughter, after his wife’s death, to dedicate himself to God. A member of his parish plans on killing our lead, arguing that he will murder a good man of the cloth to make up for the sexual abuse he experienced decades ago from a different cleric. Before the fateful confrontation and its implications, Gleeson travels around his small Irish village to try and make sense of both his spiritual and pragmatic callings. 

 

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Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero

Director: Kaare Andrews
Cast: Sean Astin, Jillian Murray, Currie Graham, Lydia Hearst
1 August
Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero

While original Cabin Fever director Eli Roth has nothing to do with this third film in the fright franchise, his newfound obsession with South America makes an appearance here, as we watch a group of tourists run afoul of a virus outbreak in a jungle lab. Naturally, someone survives to bring the disease to America and start the whole blood-splattered backwoods brouhaha of the original 2002 film. Yep, this is a prequel, and early reviews say it’s a gruesome, gory delight. Of course, if you don’t like ample arterial spray, you probably won’t enjoy this gross-out cinematic gala.

 

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Child of God

Director: James Franco
Cast: Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Nina Ljeti, Brian Lally, James Franc
1 August
Child of God

James Franco won’t stop until death makes him. He always seems to be doing something; writing poetry, teaching acting and directing classes, appearing on Broadway as well as mainstream movies, and posting provocative selfies all over social media. One of the most intriguing aspects of his drive to be a modern day Renaissance man is his low budget DIY filmmaking. Last year, he delivered an excellent adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. This time out, he’s bringing a Cormac McCarthy effort to the big screen and he shows a continuing growth as a budding auteur. It’s not perfect, but it shows significant talent and tenacity.

 

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4 Minute Mile

Director: Charles-Olivier Michaud
Cast: Analeigh Tipton ,Cam Gigandet, Kim Basinger, Kelly Blatz, Richard Jenkins
1 August
4 Minute Mile

No, this is not a biopic about famed British runner Roger Bannister and his record-breaking efforts of the title. Rather, this seems like one of those minor indie films using a couple of name actors—Oscar winner Kim Basinger and nominee Richard Jenkins—to sell a simplistic coming-of-age tale. It’s your typical sport-oriented narrative, where the athletic endeavor takes a backseat to life lessons, personal reflection, and the sage wisdom of a grizzled but well-meaning coach. Words like “inspirational” and “life-affirming” are part of the festival buzz, though director Charles-Olivier Michaud’s limited oeuvre argues for something more forgettable than fascinating.

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