Distributors put focus back on movies

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By Ray Bennett

With the World Cup only a memory, distributors aim to play catch-up in August with a wide range of theatrical releases to attract fans back to cinemas.

There’s plenty of action, animation, comedy, drama, fantasy and suspense due in cinemas in August with some interesting documentaries, revivals and event Cinema, plus a little horror.

In the action stakes come Lionsgate’s “Expendables 3” (Aug. 15) and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (Aug. 29, see spotlight), Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug. 1), Entertainment One’s “The Rover” (Aug. 15) and Warner Bros.’ “Into the Storm”.

Sylvester Stallone returns in “Expendables 3” with the usual suspects including Jason Statham, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes and Dolph Lundgren plus Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a sci-fi adventure about a half-human and half-alien US pilot who forms a team to fight off the evil Ronan the Accuser. Chris Pratt (“Her”) stars with Zoe Saldana (“Avatar”) and Karen Gillan (“Doctor Who”) with the voices of Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Josh Brolin.

Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson and Scoot McNairy star in “The Rover” (pictured), which is set 10 years after a global economic collapse and follows a ruthless ex-soldier on the hunt for revenge in the Australian outback.

“Into the Storm” stars Richard Armitage (“Hobbit”, “Spooks”) and Sarah Wayne Callies (‘The Walking Dead’) as teachers who lead a group of students to see the effects of a devastating tornado.

Sony’s “Deliver Us From Evil” (Aug. 22) is a horror story about a cop and a priest fighting supernatural beasties in New York City with Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez and Olivia Munn, directed by Scott Derrickson (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”, 2008).

Warner kicks off the animation slate with “The Nut Job” (Aug. 1), a comedy about squirrels with the voices of Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, and many more. Directed by former animator Peter Lepeniotis (“Toy Story 2”), the film already has a sequel set for 2016.

Animation continues with Disney’s “Planes: Fire and Rescue” (Aug. 8), a comedy about air- sea rescue fliers with the voices of Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Ed Harris, Stacey Keach, and Jerry Stiller. It’s directed by Roberts Gannaway, a longtime producer of “Mickey Mouse” programmes on TV.

Vertigo’s “The Unbeatables” (Aug. 15) is the animated tale of a wizard at arcade-football named Amadeo who is challenged to a real game by a small-town bully named Grosso so the game players come to life. Directed by Argentinian filmmaker Juan José Campanella, who also is the voice of Eusebio, the film features the voice of Rupert Grint as Amadeo, Argentinian actor Diego Ramos as Grosso plus Anthony Head and Rob Brydon.

Fantasy films in the month include StudioCanal’s “Mood Indigo” (Aug. 1, see spotlight) and “The Congress” (Aug. 15) from Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman. His follow-up to “Waltz with Bashir” (2008) is a critically praised tale of a fictionalised Robin Wright who agrees to sell her identity to a studio that will scan her and make an ageless digital copy to use forever. Live action scenes lead to CGI with retro visual styles and hand-drawn animation. Harvey Keitel, Danny Huston and Kodi Smitt- McPhee (“Let Me In”) co-star.

Chloë Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass”), Liana Liberato (“Trust”) and Mireille Enos (“World War Z”) star in Warner’s “If I Stay” (Aug. 29), the story of a young woman in a coma following a car accident who has an out-of-body experience and must to decide if she wants to wake up and live a very different life.

Suspense thrillers in August include Peccadillo’s “The German Doctor” (Aug. 15) about a young woman who falls in love with war criminal Josef Mengele when he flees to Argentina.

Mikkel Nørgaard (TV’s “Borgen”) directs Picturehouse’s “Kvinden i Buret” (Aug. 29) with Nikolaj Lie Kaas (“Angels & Demons”) as a police inspector joined on cold cases by only one assistant, Assad, played by Fares Fares (“Zero Dark Thirty”), as they investigate a woman’s disappearance.

Aaron Pederson (“Jack Irish”) and Hugo Weaving star in Axiom’s “Mystery Road” (Aug. 29), about an indigenous Australian detective who returns to the Outback to investigate the murder of a young girl. Soda’s “Night Moves” (Aug. 29) follows three environmental protestors as they plan the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. Kelly Reichardt (“Wendy and Lucy”) directs Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg and Peter Sarsgaard.

Entertainment leads the comedy roster with “Inbetweeners Movie 2” (Aug. 8, see spotlight) followed by Koch Media’s “Hector and the Search for Happiness”, which stars Simon Pegg as a psychiatrist who roams the world to seek the secret of contentment. Directed and co-written by Peter Chelsom, whose credits include “Shall We Dance” (2004) and “Funny Bones” (1995), it co-stars Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno, and Christopher Plummer.

In eOne’s “What If?” (Aug. 22), Daniel Radcliffe plays a medical school drop out whose love life is a disaster until he realises suddenly that he’s in love with his best friend, played by Zoe Kazan. Also from eOne, “The Grand Seduction” (Aug. 29) stars Brendan Gleeson as a village elder who must persuade a young doctor, played by Taylor Kitsch, to move permanently to Tickle Cove to help a vital deal for a new factory.

Fox’s “Let’s Be Cops” (Aug. 29) is a goofball comedy about two guys who dress up as cops for a costume party and are mistaken for the real thing with Jake Johnson (‘New Girl’) and Damon Wayans Jr. Koch Media’s Gillian Robespierre-directed “Obvious Child” (Aug. 29) sees a 22 year-old comedienne’s career go awry when she finds she is pregnant.

Dramas on tap in August include Altitude’s “A Promise” (Aug. 1), which stars Alan Rickman, Rebecca Hall and Richard Madden (Robb Stark in “Game of Thrones”) in the story of a wife who falls for her husband’s protégé in Germany just before World War I, directed by Patrice Leconte (“Ridicule”).

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in Arrow’s “God’s Pocket” (Aug. 8) as a man whose son is killed in a construction “accident”, which leaves him with a serious dilemma. Christina Hendricks, Eddie Marsan and Jack O’Connell co-star for director John Slattery, who has directed several episodes of “Mad Men”, in which he plays Roger Sterling. The film is based on the novel by Pete Dexter.

Curzon’s “Lilting” (Aug. 8) from Cambodian filmmaker Hong Khaou tells of a Cambodian Chinese mother, played by Pei-pei Cheng, who mourns the untimely death of her son in contemporary London. Ben Whishaw plays a stranger who cannot speak her language but attempts to help.

Gerard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset star in Altitude’s “Welcome to New York” (Aug. 8), the story of a powerful billionaire driven to extremes, directed by Abel Ferarra (“Bad Lieutenant”). Curzon’s “Deux Jours, Une Nuit” (Aug. 22) is a drama with Marion Cotillard and Fabrizio Rongione (“The Kid With the Bike”) about a woman who must persuade her co- workers to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job, directed by Belgium’s multiple Festival de Cannes award-winning Dardenne Brothers (“Rosetta”). Jon Hamm stars in Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” (Aug. 29) as a sports agent down on his luck who decides to train Indian cricket players in the sport of baseball.

August documentaries include Koch Media’s “All This Mayhem” (Aug. 8), a look at the dark side of professional skateboarding; Dogwoof’s “Dinosaur 13” (Aug. 15), about the discovery of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever found; Kaleidoscope’s “The Notorious Mr. Bout” (Aug. 15), about the dual life of a businessman and arms smuggler; and Kaleidoscope’s “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz” (Aug. 29), about programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz.

Park Circus has two big re-releases in the month with Oscar-winner “The Deer Hunter” (Aug. 1), starring Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, and Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” (Aug. 8)starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Eureka will re-release Robert Weine’s classic 1920 horror tale “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” on Aug. 29.

Event Cinema screenings will include “La Traviata – Glyndebourne 2014” (Aug. 8) and “Two Gentlemen of Verona” (Aug. 29) from Picturehouse and “Medea” (Aug. 29) from NT Live.

This story appeared in Cue Entertainment.

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