August is traditionally a slow month for movies, with some of each year’s worst being released just before Labor Day. But this year, the last month of summer vacation leads off with a bang, Guardians of the Galaxy, plus the James Brown movie Get on Up, also worth seeing. This is a very special month. It’s very rare (though not as rare as reported) to have an August with five full weekends — five Fridays, five Saturdays, five Sundays. You’re going to need those days because there will be a lot to see, including:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 8
Calvary: Brendan Gleeson stars as a priest facing a terrible choice in a community of sad and damaged people.
The Hundred Foot Journey: Helen Mirren plays an imperious chef challenged by a talented young man from India.
Into The Storm: Professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople are caught up in a series of tornadoes. I saw the camera-covered vehicle from the film at Comic-Con.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Megan Fox plays April and Johnny Knoxville provides the voice for Leonardo in this live-action/CGI reboot.
What If: Daniel Radcliffe’s first romantic comedy is the story about a guy who very much wants to get out of the friend zone with pretty Zoe Kazan. Also about Elvis’s favorite sandwich.
Step Up: All In: On the one hand, it isn’t screening for critics, which is usually not a good sign. On the other hand, I love the “Step Up” movies, no one goes to them for the plot or acting, and the trailer looks sizzling.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13
Let’s Be Cops: This seems more like the typical August fare: two guys pretend to be policemen. At first it works. Then it doesn’t. Maybe it will be funny.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15
The Expendables 3: 80′s action stars to the rescue, this time with Harrison Ford.
The Giver: The classic dystopic book by Lois Lowry comes to the screen with a high-powered cast that includes Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, and Taylor Swift.
Land Ho!: This low-key film about two retired former brothers-in-law who take a trip to Iceland has a, improvised, documentary feel, gorgeous scenery, and surprising charm.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 22
Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For: A sequel to the ultra-stylized, ultra-violent 2005 film based on the graphic novel, this is again a multi-layered series of stories about tough, often brutal, characters.
When The Game Stands Tall: Jim Caviezel plays real-life high school football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took his team to a still-unbroken record of consecutive wins.
If I Stay: The YA novel about a girl in a coma stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a young cellist and Jamie Blackley as the rocker she loves.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27
The November Man: Pierce Brosnan is back in the world of guns, chases, and secrets in this spy story that pits him against the young agent he trained.
Underdogs: Did the World Cup get you excited about soccer? Then take a look at this animated film about a rather unusual soccer challenge.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 29
Love Is Strange: A bittersweet love story of a long-time couple who are finally able to marry but then fall on hard times, with Alfred Molina and John Lithgow.
As Above So Below: Ben Feldman stars in a horror movie set in an archeological dig.
The Trip to Italy: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have made a sequel to their fabulous film about two frenemies on a tour of exquisite dining experiences and conversations ranging from existential meaning to silly impersonations of celebrities. This time, it’s in Italy.