Pick of the Litter – January 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Glass

(Blumhouse/Universal) Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy. Security guard David Dunn is locked up in an institution for his belief that he has superpowers. But when a disturbed patient with 24 separate personalities including a homicidal maniac escapes, Dunn must put his powers to the test – knowing all of this is masterminded by evil genius Mr. Glass. This is a sequel to M. Night Shyamalan’s previous films Unbreakable and Split.. January 18

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Genesis 2.0

(Kimstim) Christian Frei. Jeff Goldblum as the fictional chaos theory mathematician once said “They were so busy trying to see if they could they never stopped to think if they should.” That was from the original Jurassic Park. Life is imitating art at a much more rapid pace than you might be aware; the discovery of a nearly intact mammoth carcass in the Siberian permafrost with muscle, liquid blood and fur intact has set off a frenzy of scientific interest as geneticists and virologists look to research the find and possibly bring an ancient mammoth back to life from the DNA recently discovered.  January 2

The Vanishing

(Saban) Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Gary Lewis. In 1900 three lighthouse keepers in the Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland disappeared without a trace and were never seen again. Although much conjecture about their fates was considered by the newspapers of the time, no explanation for their disappearance has ever been fully accepted. This film looks at one possibility. January 4

Ashes in the Snow

(Vertical) Bel Powley, Peter Franzén, Sophie Cookson, James Cosmo. In his quest for power, Stalin and the Soviet Union occupied many countries already reeling from the ravages of the war. A 16-year-old aspiring artist and her family are deported from the Baltic to Siberia due to her father’s anti-Stalinist stance. Young Nina draws what she sees in hopes that history will give a voice to those who have none. January 11

Girl

(Netflix) Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Oliver Bodart, Tijmen Govaerts. A 15-year-old girl, born in a boy’s body, dreams of becoming a ballerina even as she begins her body transition but achieving all her dreams may not be enough. This is up for the Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Golden Globe Awards. January 18

The Image Book

(Kino-Lorber) Jean-Luc Godard, Buster Keaton, Dmitri Basil. Without a doubt Jean-Luc Godard is one of the great visual artists of our lifetime. His latest film can only be described as a cinematic collage which may seem random at first but I’m told tells a story in five parts that illustrates his take on the state of humanity as the 2010s circle the drain. January 25

The Wild Pear Tree

(The Cinema Guild) Domu Demirkol, Murat Cemcir, Bennu Yildirimlar, Hazar Erguçlu. A young man returns home to his village from college with the intention of becoming a writer. However, his father’s debts put a crimp in his plans and thrust his family into peril. January 30

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Pick of the Litter – December 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Aquaman

(Warner Brothers) Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe. The first post-Justice League DC film will be under a microscope as we explore the origin tale of Arthur Curry, the son of a lighthouse keeper and the Queen of Atlantis who will be enlisted to unite the peoples below the sea and above it. Forces exist however who want to send the two peoples into a cataclysmic war that will determine who rules the world once and for all. December 21

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Ben is Back

(Roadside Attractions) Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance, Kathryn Newton. A mother’s most devout Christmas wish comes true when her estranged son appears unexpectedly on her doorstep Christmas Eve morning. However, the sins of his past including drug abuse and criminal activity are not far behind him and she will fight tooth and nail to keep it from dragging the rest of her family down with it.  December 7

Vox Lux

(NEON) Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Jennifer Ehle. The events that shaped the world from 1999-2017 are viewed through the eyes of a self-centered pop diva. One of the most anticipated films to come out of Toronto this year, there is already talk that this might be Portman’s next Oscar win. December 7

ROMA

(Netflix) Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta. Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron returns to his Mexican home turf to examine the life of a middle class family in a suburb of Mexico City during a single year in the tumultuous ‘70s. A big hit at various film festivals (it received the award for Best Film at Venice), Netflix is giving it the widest theatrical release in the history of the company in November in preparation for a major Oscar push. December 14

Ghostbox Cowboy

(Dark Star) David Zellner, Specialist, Robert Longstreet, Vincent Xie. A Texas entrepreneur who isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier relocates to China where he reinvents himself as something of a maverick in China’s booming tech market. However, unscrupulous and corrupt American businessmen are prepared to take him a lot further than he wants to go in this parable about the trade war mentality. December 14

 They Shall Not Grow Old

(Warner Brothers) Peter Jackson. Legendary producer/director/writer Peter Jackson is a World War I buff. Using modern technology, he has taken archival film from the Great War, restored it and added sound and color to make the scratchy, jumpy and sped up footage look more natural and realistic, allowing viewers to really become immersed in the experience. Theatrically, this is playing only at special screenings on December 17th and 27th via Fathom Events. December 17

Cold War

(Amazon) Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza. Set in the background of the height of the Cold War, two young Poles, completely mismatched but stuck with each other, try to navigate the dangerous currents of Stalinist Poland and perhaps the even more dangerous currents of the human heart. This is Poland’s official submission for the 2019 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and comes to us from the director of a previous winner, Ida. December 21

 Destroyer

(Annapurna) Nicole Kidman, Tatiana Maslany, Toby Kebbell, Sebastian Stan. The leader of a notorious gang emerges from he shadows, prompting an aging L.A. detective who was once undercover in the gang with tragic results to seek out surviving members of the gang to exorcize her own demons and to get to the bottom of what happened so long ago. And yes, that is Kidman in the photo above. December 30

Stan and Ollie

(Sony Classics) John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston. The legendary comic duo of Laurel and Hardy are well past their prime and in desperate need of a hit. Undertaking a grueling theater tour of Britain, the two must deal with the ghosts of their past, Oliver Hardy’s failing health and their own feelings for each other. December 28

Pick of the Litter – November 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald

(Warner Brothers) Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Johnny Depp. The J.K. Rowling Wizarding World series continues as the notorious criminal Geller Grindlewald escapes American custody and sets about gathering followers to his cause – to rule over those who are not magical. Albus Dumbledore steps forward to stand up to his tyranny and enlists the help of Newt Scamander as the world of wizards and witches becomes increasingly divided.  November 16

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Bodied

(Neon) Callum Worthy, Jackie Long, Rory Uphold, Jonathan Park. A white graduate student doing his thesis on battle rap inadvertently sparks a battle of his own, as opposing sides yelling “cultural appropriation” and “freedom of speech” make their voices heard. This has a massive buzz about it already.  November 2

 A Private War

(Aviron) Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci, Faye Marsay. This movie is based on the exploits of Marie Colvin, one of the most decorated and respected war correspondents of our time. With her distinctive eye patch, she went into war zones that many journalists wouldn’t go into, citing them as too dangerous. She thought of herself as a voice for the voiceless, speaking out for those whose lives were ruined by war. November 2

 

The Other Side of the Wind

(Netflix) John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg, Lilli Palmer. Some movies make this list as much for what they represent as for their concept. This is the final film of Orson Welles, quite possibly the greatest film director of all time – certainly the director of arguably the best film of all time, Citizen Kane. Unfinished due to financial issues, the movie has been on the shelf for 40 years while the legal issues revolving around who owned the rights was resolved. Now, with post-production finally completed, Netflix is presenting this in limited release as well as on their streaming service as Huston plays an iconic director exiled from Hollywood who returns to make a movie that promises to be innovative. November 2

Postcards from London

(Strand) Harris Dickinson, Jonah Hauer-King, Alessandro Cimadamore, Leonardo Salerni. An extraordinarily handsome boy from a small town in England is lured to the bright lights and beauty of the fabled Soho district. Suffering from Stendahl’s Syndrome, he takes a highly unusual route into an escort service in this highly stylized film. November 9

 Jinn

(Orion) Simone Missick, Zoe Renee, Hisham Tawfiq, Kelvin Harrison Jr. A carefree young African-American girl is studying dancing and hopes to take it up as a vocation as her grandmother did before her. However, her life is turned upside down when her mother decides to convert to Islam and insists that her daughter convert with her. November 15

Jonathan

(Well Go USA) Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse, Patricia Clarkson, Matt Bomer. Two brothers inhabit the same body, each living separate lives. They seem to be getting along, keeping their strange secret safe – until both of them develop an emotional attachment to the same girl. This film is equal parts science fiction and psychological thriller. November 16

Shoplifters

(Magnolia) Kirin Kiki, Lily Franky, Sôsuke Ikematsu, Mayu Matsuoka. A family of crooks and con men take in a little girl from the streets. Soon they find themselves in trouble way above their heads. This festival favorite is Japan’s official submission for the 2019 Foreign Language Oscar and a favorite to make the short list. November 23

 If Beale Street Could Talk

(Annapurna) Kiki Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Aunjanue Ellis. In Harlem in the 1970s, a young woman is deeply in love and looking forward to having her fiancé’s baby, despite some conflict with her devout mother. When her intended is jailed for a crime he didn’t commit, she sets out to prove his innocence regardless of her delicate condition. Based on a novel by the great James Baldwin, this is Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to the movie that won him the statue Moonlight.. November 30

Pick of the Litter


This film is truly about man’s best friend.

(2018) Documentary (Sundance Selects) Phil, Poppet, Primrose, Patriot, Potomac. Directed by Don Hardy, Jr. and Dana Nachman

 

All right, in the interest of full disclosure I will make my confession now: I am a dog nut. Not a dog lover – that implies some sort of sanity. I’m absolutely crazy about dogs. There was a meme going around Facebook not long ago about the seven signs your spouse is a dog nut – I fit all seven of them. It drives my poor wife to distraction sometimes. Naturally, when I found out about this documentary about puppies going through the rigorous training of becoming a guide dog I was all in.

Guide Dogs for the Blind is a Northern California-based organization that as their name implies provides guide dogs for those who are sight-impaired. The standards are high and the training rigorous. Many of the puppies that are enrolled in their training program are born right there at GDB and in this particular case we follow the five Labrador puppies from a single litter. Their names are Patriot, Potomac, Primrose, Poppet and, incongruously, Phil.

Each of these puppies will be weaned from their mother in the San Rafael kennel, then placed at five months with “puppy raiser” families which include “empty nest” couples, a high school student and his mom, a PTSD-suffering man who uses the dogs as a distraction from his own issues, and families who simply want to help out. Each of the pups will have one of three outcomes. If they are unable to handle the standards of training, they will be “career changed” i.e. washed out of the program and placed with other charities or, occasionally, placed with families permanently. The second outcome is that females may be kept at the San Rafael facility to be bred. Finally the outcome everyone wants, to pass all the rigorous tests and be placed with a blind person to be their best friend and protector.

The puppy raisers go into this with the understanding that they will get the dogs for no more than a year and in some cases, much less. They are fully aware that they are training their charges for someone else’s benefit, not their own. Throughout the process, the dogs will be tested every three months for certain sorts of behaviors that might disqualify them; an inability to follow commands, a tendency to be easily distracted – that sort of thing. Some dogs may be taken out of the program before their time with the puppy trainers is done.

When their time with the raisers is done, the puppies are brought back to the GDP facility for more intensive work with trainers who will give them particular skills, such as dealing with traffic, with train platforms, walking on streets without sidewalks, the kinds of things that the sighted take for granted but can be deadly if not navigated correctly. The dogs go through a series of exams that test them on particular skills. If they don’t pass, they are given one more chance. If they pass, they advance. If not, they are career changed.

While this is like a lot of child competition documentaries that have proliferated like Starbucks franchises lately, there is a distinct difference in that while there is rooting interest in all the pups, there are no real losers here. None of these dogs have any awareness of the stakes involved; they are all going to wind up somewhere in caring environments.

We don’t see a whole lot of the training the pups go through with their puppy raisers, although the primary responsibility of the raisers is to bring the candidates into the world, learning to interact with their surroundings so that they are better able to do their jobs. The puppy raiser parents are trying to give their charges the best possible chance at acquiring the skills they will learn in the more intensive training phase in San Rafael.

The dogs have plenty of personality; Potomac is “mouthy” and loves to nip his handlers. Phil is endearing and has a bit of a hound dog appeal. Patriot has a ton of energy which sometimes makes it difficult for him to focus. Primrose is affectionate almost to a fault and Poppet is cool, calm and collected (for the most part).

This is as much about the trainers and the raisers as it is about the dogs themselves and I’m sorry that I didn’t get their names written down but I’d forgotten my notebook when I attended my screening. However, I was completely enchanted (dog nut) and was grinning ear to ear throughout the film (dog nut). I was rooting for all the dogs to succeed (dog nut) but I did have one particular favorite (dog nut). In these times of divisiveness and stress, dogs are a natural tonic (dog nut) and this movie may even convince a few non-dog nuts. However if you’re anything like me (and more power to you if you are) you’ll want to see this one every time you’re feeling blue. Expect that this one will be a permanent part of my video collection once it’s available for sale.

REASONS TO GO: Dog lovers, this is your jam. The stories of the trainers and foster families are pretty compelling. Gives you a sense of what the training the dogs go through. I was grinning ear to ear from beginning to end and never lost interest.
REASONS TO STAY: Cat people may take umbrage.
FAMILY VALUES: The film is perfectly suitable for all audiences.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded in San Rafael, California in 1942 to aid blinded soldiers returning home from the Second World War.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, Fandango Now, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/9/18: Rotten Tomatoes: 100% positive reviews. Metacritic: 67/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Heart of a Dog
FINAL RATING: 10/10
NEXT:
All About Nina

New Releases for the Week of October 5, 2018


VENOM

(Columbia/Marvel) Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate, Riz Ahmed, Michelle Lee, Sope Aluko, Reid Scott, Mac Brandt, Melora Walters. Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Investigative reporter Eddie Brock tries to redeem himself following a scandal following a government experiment involving an alien symbiotic lifeform but accidentally becomes infected by the symbiote. He becomes Venom, a violent and often malevolent entity who has his own agenda but with a shadowy organization with nefarious ambitions of the own trying to develop their own version, the alien and the reporter realize their interests intersect.

See the trailer, clips and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard, 3D, DBOX, DBOX 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D, RPX, RPX 3D, XD, XD 3D
Genre: Superhero
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language)

A Star is Born

(Warner Brothers) Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle. The latest version of a timeless classic finds a grizzled musician with a rosier past than future falling for a young woman who has given up on her dream of stardom. He coaxes her into the spotlight and her career immediately takes off but the higher she soars, the more strain on their relationship is placed particularly since he has a substance abuse problem that is putting everything in jeopardy. Cooper also makes his directorial debut.

See the trailer, a video featurette and a music video here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard, Dolby
Genre: Musical
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse)

The Church

(Hard Floor) Clint Howard, Bill Moseley, Ashley C. Williams, Meghan Strange. The minister of a once vibrant and iconic Baptist church in a decaying Philadelphia neighborhood resists gentrification despite pleas from his status-seeking wife and bribes from unscrupulous developers. He is determined to preserve the legacy of his family’s ministry in the neighborhood even if he has to break a few commandments to do it!

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs

Rating: PG-13 (for some violent content and thematic materials)

Mandy

(RLJE) Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke. A peaceful couple living in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest has their lives shattered by a twisted cult leader who develops an obsession with Mandy, the distaff half of the couple. Red, the male half, is forced to go on a journey of vengeance, blood, fire and rage.

See the trailer and video featurettes here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: NR

Monsters and Men

(Neon) Anthony Ramos, John David Washington, Nicole Beharie, Cara Buono. A young man with a promising athletic future witnesses a police shooting, recording it on his cellphone. He has the valuable proof that will validate the assertion that it was unjustified but releasing the footage could jeopardize his future.

See the trailer and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: R (for language)

Pick of the Litter

(Sundance Selects) Dana Nachman, Don Hardy Jr. This documentary follows a litter of puppies from the moment of their birth through the two years of training to be service dogs for the blind. The bar is set high and not every dog makes the cut. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, the film provides insight as to how dogs go from unruly pups to disciplined service animals.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: NR

Shine

(GVN) Jorge Burgos, Gilbert Saldivar, Jadi Collado, Alysia Reiner. Two salsa dancing Puerto Rican brothers in Spanish Harlem are estranged by a family tragedy. Years later they have chosen different paths; one looking for success as a real estate developer, the other devoted to preserving their old neighborhood at all costs. What’s a dancer to do…except dance?

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Urban Dance
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, AMC West Oaks, Cobb Plaza Café Cinema, Old Mill Playhouse, Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal The Loop, Regal Waterford Lakes

Rating: NR

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

Andhadhun
Bayou Caviar
Exes Baggage
Nota
Ride

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE:

96
A Crooked Somebody
Exes Baggage
Fats Buddies
The Hate U Give
Hello, Mrs. Money
Nota
Prathamika Shale, Kasargud, Koduge Ramanna Rai
The Sisters Brothers

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG:

96
A Crooked Somebody
Loveyatri
Loving Pablo
Nota
Pariyerum Perumal
Raatchasan
Ride
Tea With the Dames
Varathan
Viking Destiny

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

96
Andhadhun
Exes Baggage
Nota

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

A Star is Born
The Church
Mandy
Pick of the Litter
Tea With the Dames
Venom

FILM FESTIVALS TAKING PLACE IN FLORIDA:

Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Tampa, FL)

Pick of the Litter – October 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Venom

(Columbia) Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate. A photojournalist is infected with a malevolent alien symbiote whose moral compass doesn’t exactly point in the same direction as the host. However, the two will not only have to co-exist but the human half must allow the symbiote to take over so as to utilize the incredible powers it gives him if he is to stay alive.  October 5

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The Happy Prince

(Sony Classics) Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson. Everett (who also co-wrote and directed this film) stars as Oscar Wilde, one of the greatest English writers of all time and at one time, the toast of London. Known for his biting wit, Wilde ran afoul of the law due to his sexual predilections which in Victorian England were forbidden. This story is about the last days of his life as he views his failures and his troubles with humor and ironic detachment.  October 5

22 July

(Netflix) Thorbjørn Harr, Anders Danielsen Lie, Jon Ølgarden, Jonas Strand Gravli. Oscar-nominated director Paul Greengrass returns with another true story-based film for the streaming giant. The narrative feature documents the terrorist attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 when a deranged right wing terrorist detonated a bomb in the central government district in Oslo and followed up two hours later by attacking a summer camp run by the ruling party with rifles and handguns. All in all, 69 people (mainly teens and young people) were killed at the camp and an additional eight in the bombing. It was Norway’s deadliest day since World War II.. October 10

Beautiful Boy

(Amazon) Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan. Based on the memoirs of David and Nic Sheff, a loving father and son try to cope with addiction over the course of many years. Carell gives a performance that some are already touting for Oscar recognition. October 12

I Still See You

(Lionsgate) Bella Thorne, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Price-Francis, Richard Harmon. A massive event has caused the deaths of a vast percentage of the population; the dead however continue to be seen as ghosts who while visible cannot communicate or interact with the living. One young woman, struggling to study the phenomenon, becomes the target of a malevolent entity which may be able to reach out and touch the living and not in a good way. Chalk this one up to “an interesting premise.”. October 12

Liyana

(Abramorama) Gcina Mhlophe, Shofela Coker. A teacher in Swaziland assigns five children to write a story about a young girl their age on a quest that reflects their culture. Their story is captured in dazzling animation while the children’s lives are caught in live action documentary. This is a magical union between reality and imagination. October 12

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

(Fox Searchlight) Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone. Lee Israel is an author without an audience. Once a bestselling biographer of celebrities along the lines of Katherine Hepburn and Estee Lauder in the 70s and 80s, she has fallen out of step with public tastes. Desperate for income, she resorts to deception abetted by her loyal friend Jack. File this under “You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up.” October 19

Mid90s

(A24) Sonny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston, Na-Kel Smith. A 13-year old in L.A. during the 90s has to deal with a group of skater friends and a troubled home life. Directed by Jonah Hill, the movie has been getting quite a lot of buzz even before its debut at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival. October 19

 What We Had

(Bleecker Street) Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster, Blythe Danner. With four leads as good as any you’ll see in a single film this year, this Oscar contender stars Swank as a woman who gets an urgent phone all from her brother in the middle of the night. Her mother who has a degenerative Alzheimer’s-like disease is becoming too difficult to manage at home but her father stubbornly refuses to let go of the life they have together.. October 19

Border

(Neon) Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Viktor Åkerblom, Rakel Warmlander. A Swedish customs officer becomes fascinated with the subject she is investigating but the more she finds out about him, the more she realizes that the two of them are linked in a way she couldn’t prepare herself for. The winner of Un Certain Regard at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, it is also Sweden’s official submission for the 2019 Foreign Film Oscar. October 26

The Dark

(Dark Sky) Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, Karl Marcovics, Margerete Tiesel. Look, it’s Halloween, right? You gotta have a horror film on this list and this film might just be the best  of the bunch. In a stretch of cursed woods, an undead teen girl meets a blind living boy. Both have been the victims of terrifying abuse. They find solace in each other but even in cursed woods the world won’t let them alone. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, but it might take a body count to get there. October 26

Pick of the Litter – August 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

The Meg

(Warner Brothers) Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis. A decorated diver is recruited to rescue a submersible that has been attacked by a sea creature previously thought extinct and lies disabled on the deepest part of the ocean floor. With time running out for the crew, a rescue operation is to be mounted but there’s one hitch; the diver encountered the creature once before and is terrified of it. If the crew is going to be saved he is going to have to get past his fear of the 75-foot prehistoric shark known as Megalodon. August 10

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Nico, 1988

(Magnolia) Trine Dyrholm, John Gordon Sinclair, Anamaria Marinca, Sandor Funtek. Nico was a rock and roll legend and a rock and roll casualty. In 1988 she was living in Manchester, struggling with addiction and the demons brought on by fame. Dyrholm gives a searing performance as the former singer for the Velvet Underground who shunned her fame and yearned to live life on her own terms.. August 1

La Familia

(Film Movement) Giovanni Garcia, Reggie Reyes, Kirvin Barrios, Indira Jimenez. A father and son are barely squeaking by in the gang-infested barrios of Caracas. When the son gets into a scrape with ta boy he shouldn’t have, the father realizes they cannot stay and survive. The willful boy detests his father, whom he sees as a coward. A day laborer, he brings his son to work with him as he desperately tries to earn enough to get them out before they can be caught and killed, slowly showing his son what a straight life looks like. This played the Miami Film Festival earlier this year and Cinema365 reviewed it which you can read here. August 3

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

(FilmRise) Chloe Grace Moretz, Jennifer Ehle, Marin Ireland, Sasha Lane. The conservative guardians of a teenage girl send her to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy treatment center. Set in 1993, the movie is about the discovery of who you are and learning to be okay with it. This was one of the more talked-about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. August 3

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

(Netflix) Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode, Michiel Huisman. Following the end of World War II a writer comes to Guernsey Island to do a reading for their literary society. She unexpectedly bonds with the residents and determines to write a book about their experiences during the war which opens old wounds but could also bring much-needed closure. August 10

Juliet, Naked

(Roadside Attractions) Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Lily Newmark. A young English woman’s boyfriend is obsessed with an obscure American rock idol who has been out of the spotlight for twenty years. A chain of unlikely events puts her in touch with the musician online and when he comes to London, the two get together and sparks fly. Who will she wind up with, the rocker or the schlubby boyfriend? August 17

The Night is Short, Walk On Girl

(GKIDS) Starring the voices of Gen Hoshino, Kana Hanazawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, Kazuya Nakai. A group of teens, following a time-honored ritual of college sophomores, go out on the town to drink as much as they possibly can. Senpai, a classmate who has a crush on one of the girls, contrives to find ways to “accidentally” run into her during the night in question. This is definitely not just for kids. August 21

 

An L.A. Minute

(Strand) Kiersey Clemons, Gabriel Byrne, Bob Balaban, Ed Marinaro. One of the most successful writers in the world who’s known for producing potboilers that get made into big budget movies, is eager to try his hand at something that has more meaning. When he encounters a vibrant and innovative young actress in a small theater, he is inspired. He then watches as her star begins to eclipse his own. August 24

Active Measures

(Super LTD) Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin, John McCain, Hillary Clinton. This is a look at Russian meddling into the 2016 Presidential election and how it happened. The collusion between Trump and Putin didn’t start with the election, according to this documentary – and it won’t end there. A chilling entry into the most recent Hot Docs Film Festival.. August 31

Pick of the Litter

(Sundance Selects) Don Hardy Jr., Dana Nachman. This heartwarming documentary follows a litter of puppies selected to participate in the Guide Dog training program. The standards are high and not every puppy will make the cut, but the journey will be one that you’ll never forget. August 31