By Kristen Lopez | The Playlist August 1, 2013 at 2:00PM
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Synopsis: An all-star cast tells the story of an African-American butler who saw the rise and fall of eight American presidents over three decades. Through it all, he takes note of various social changes going on within his own family.
What You Need to Know: Almost everyone knows of the debacle involving the newly retitled, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” In a very public lawsuit, Warner Bros. sued The Weinstein Company for copyright infringement. Apparently “The Butler” was also the title of a WB short from the early 1900s, and shockingly, the Weinsteins lost and were forced to make a last-minute title change. Really, the title is unimportant and the lawsuit only ended up making the players involved look silly. What’s selling the film is the all-star cast of people dressing up and acting like some of the most important political icons of the day: John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, and James Marsden as JFK. Director Lee Daniels certainly needs a hit after the travesty of “The Paperboy,” and while he’s sort of bashed the film, calling it a “work for hire” project, it could restore his credibility. If anything, it’s an early awards possibility.
Release Date: August 16th
Synopsis: The heroes from the first “Kick-Ass” film return, only this time they have friends. Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) meet up with a group of similarly masked vigilantes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), all with the intent of taking out their old adversary, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), now known as The Mother Fucker.
What You Need to Know: The first “Kick-Ass” was a surprise success when it came out in 2010 and despite an overabundance of clips, several of the red-band variety, there’s just something that’s off about the marketing, as if a lot of audiences still aren’t aware this is coming out soon. Could it have anything to do with Carrey’s diatribe a while back about his distaste for the violence in the movie, and his commitment to avoid promoting the film? Bad PR like that could sink the film, but that’s if people remember all the way back to June when Carrey’s comments were made. Regardless, the film has all the original cast members, and 20th Century Fox seems to have faith in director Jeff Wadlow since they’ve given him the power to helm another superhero movie with the “X-Men” spin-off, “X-Force.”
Release Date: August 16th
“The World’s End
Synopsis: A group of friends are determined to finish a legendary pub crawl they started in their youth. Problems arise when they discover that reaching the final pub, appropriately called The World’s End, could be the final hurdle between life and the destruction of humanity.
What You Need to Know: Back in 2004 a little film called “Shaun of the Dead” took the world by storm and brought the trio of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost to the forefront of popular culture. Since then, they turned their debut film into part one of a trilogy that continued with 2007’s “Hot Fuzz,” and concludes with “The World’s End.” To say the group has high audience expectations to live up to is an understatement, and early reviews have agreed that “The World’s End” provides a satisfying wrap-up to the trilogy.
Release Date: August 23rd
Synopsis: Two couples, with varying levels of love for each other, have their relationships tested over a weekend.
What You Need to Know: The mumblecore movement hasn’t caught on, but the various originators of it are hoping to move away from shiftless narratives and instead place their focus on spontaneous acting and other elements that could bring in audiences. Director Joe Swanberg’s "Drinking Buddies” is said to be a move in the right direction. The movie made our 15 Most Anticipated Indies of the summer list and when it played at SXSW it got a “B” review from Cory Everett. In his appraisal, Everett praised Swanberg for turning a corner, “even winning over critics who had previously written him off.” The chemistry between Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson is said to be intense, so if you want to get an early start, “Drinking Buddies” is now available to watch on VOD.
Release Date: August 23rd in limited release and available to watch now on VOD
“Short Term 12”
Synopsis: This chronicle of the residents and workers at a short term foster care facility stars Brie Larson as Grace, a supervisor who struggles to balance her work with her own personal issues at home. When a new resident, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), moves in, Grace is forced to confront her troubled past.
What You Need to Know: Writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton's second feature—his first, "I Am Not A Hipster" debuted at Sundance in 2012—"Short Term 12" took the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature at this year's SXSW Film Festival, where Katie Walsh described it as "a roller coaster of every emotion, managing to be both heartwarming and heartrending at once." Heading up an outstanding cast, including John Gallagher Jr., Rami Malek, Kaitlyn Dever, and newcomer Keith Stanfield, Brie Larson gives a riveting performance as Grace, who takes the weight of this world on her shoulders. The film balances its pitch and tone perfectly, imbuing serious issues with heart and humor, and the storytelling is deliberately structured in a way that the film slowly reveals itself to you. "Short Term 12" has been universally praised during its festival circuit and is not one to be missed.
Release Date: August 23rd
Synopsis: Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is a dissatisfied housewife hoping to reinvigorate her sex life. Her therapist suggests Rachel visit a strip club, and during the trip she meets a stripper, McKenna (Juno Temple). McKenna fascinates Rachel, and when the young stripper is kicked out of her home, Rachel takes her in, complicating things for her and her family.
What You Need to Know: At Sundance, director Jill Soloway walked away with a directing award in the drama category for her tale of a bored wife and the stripper she meets. The trailer plays up the sexiness of Temple and the unintentional comedy embodied in her relationship with Rachel. When Playlist writer Cory Everett saw it at Sundance he took note of the “strong supporting players” and Hahn’s downright “incredible” performance before giving the film a “B+” It continues to be rare to find a movie with a female cast directed by a female, so if you’re looking for something smart and sexy, seek out “Afternoon Delight.”
Release Date: August 30th in limited release
The month was filled with so much awesome, we were unable to mention the Adam Wingard-directed horror film, “You’re Next,” which opens on August 23rd that you also should check out.