So we come to the end of one of the more satisfying summer movie seasons of the 2010s. Augusts are always special to me; they get all the weird little misfits that feel almost like popcorn movies, but with something horribly wrong about them. This particular August also includes the film that has, very weirdly, become the biggest “yes I want to see that” title among my real-world friends, which perhaps speak to the kind of people I gravitate towards. It’s the shark one. Obviously.
Alright, so absolutely everybody I’ve talked to agrees that Christopher Robin looks adorable, because it has realistic CG embodiments of Disney’s versions of the Winnie the Pooh characters. And I don’t fucking understand. To me, this looks more purely terrifying than any horror movie could dream of being. There’s always the thing that happens when characters designed to be animated in 2-D are thrust into 3-D, and they just look wrong; add to that the fact that these don’t look like living animals, but like living plush toys – which is of course correct, but the cartoon characters always made that line blurrier – and they look like they should be wielding bloody knives. I do think the idea of a boring middle-aged man revisited by his childhood imaginary friends is a solid one, though I think it’s shabby to the memory of Christopher Robin Milne, who would have despised this movie with the intensity of a thousand typhoons. But good idea or not, the style is just horrifying to me. More than anything else, it’s Tigger.
That Tigger has a hungry look – a clever look. He has seen blood, and liked it. He is the thing that pounces in the night. The most wonderful thing about this Tigger is he’s the only one.
Heee’ssssss the only one…
Other releases: Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon end up involved in international espionage in The Spy Who Dumped Me, which looks like one of those “dumb as hell & not very funny. but the cast is having a swell time” comedies that are good for a summer afternoon. And there’s also The Darkest Minds, which looks like some bizarre hybrid of X-Men and The Giver, and feels all in all like it was supposed to come out ten years ago. Last and least is Death of a Nation, the newest essay film in Dinesh D’Souza’s series of fever dreams about politics.
Jason Statham fights a giant prehistoric shark in The Meg, and I sure as hell don’t need to hear more than that.
Elsewhere, there’s a movie called Dog Days, in which a cast of people you vaguely recognise are seemingly placed into Crash, but about dogs instead of racism. And also the perpetually moved-around Slender Man, in which a meme starts killing people, looks like it’s finally coming out for real.
The limited releases look much better, a sign that summer is winding up and fall is starting to gear up. Spike Lee’s biopic BlacKkKlansman hits American screens after its well-regarded Cannes premiere, and looks very likely to be his first good narrative film in more than a decade. I also am, for some reason, looking forward to Madeline’s Madeline, despite knowing nothing about it; I have seen none of director Josephine Decker’s work, but it sounds weird in the way I would admire.
Crazy Rich Asians has a world-historically bad title, but we need more romcoms in the world these days, and this one stars Michelle Yeoh as the angry mother of the hot boyfriend. I’m at least curious to see if this ends up being cute or just forgettable.
Speaking of movies that couldn’t settle on a release date, we’re also coming up to, allegedly, the release of Alpha, a caveman adventure about the first dog. It looks like nothing at all, but I do love the trailer that’s trying to pretend that’s a silly kids’ comedy about animals. The bigger release is apt to be Mile 22, which pisses me off a lot: it’s a Peter Berg/Mark Walhberg collaboration about the value of extrajudicial quasi-military operations in foreign countries, but it’s also Iko Uwais’s first big part in a major English-language film, so I’m obliged to want to see at least that part of it.
In limited release, the fall movie season officially starts with The Wife, the film for which Glenn Close hopes to finally win that damn Oscar.
Three weeks in a row of dog-oriented movies! This time around, it’s A.X.L., about a top-secret robot dog that befriends a kid, and it feels awfully like Monster Trucks remade as a Transformers movie.
That feels a whole hell of a lot like an August movie, and this indeed feels like the most Augusty weekend of the month. For we also have a high-concept but also obviously derivative thriller in the form of Searching, which is doing the Unfriended “the movie is the computer monitor” routine, but with highly recognisable actors. And then we get to the really high concept, The Happytime Murders: it’s not just that it’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit with Muppets instead of cartoons, and Melissa McCarthy as Bob Hoskins, it’s all that plus hard-R jokes about puppet sex, and it’s directed by no less a member of puppet movie royalty than Brian Henson. Back in April, this was one of the films I was most excited about for the whole summer, and then I saw the trailer, which is just the most absolutely unappealing looking shit in the world.
Another perfect August movie: a film that can’t decide if it’s historical Oscarbait or a gritty true-crime thriller. In this case, Operation Finale, about the team that tracked down Adolf Eichmann in 1960. “Hunting Nazi war criminals” is one of those genres that always sounds like it should make great cinema, and more or less never does – it even resulted in one of Orson Welles’s least-interesting movies, The Stranger – so best not to get one’s hopes up, I think.
And last, another heartwarming sci-fi thriller, Kin, that I absolutely cannot keep straight with A.X.L. This one doesn’t have a dog. Right now, the rumor is that Ya Veremos will be getting a wide release, but I don’t know if I buy it – the distributor, Pantelion (a speciality label for Lionsgate, which is also releasing Kin) has made all of its money through broad comedies, which this isn’t – it’s a divorce melodrama. Still, if it’s going to get a wide release, might as well be on what is historically the slowest weekend at the box office every year.