10 of the best films to watch this August – BBC

The Collection
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1. My Old School
When 16-year-old Brandon Lee transferred to a new school near Glasgow in 1993, everyone there noticed something unusual about him. Some even thought he might be living a double life. But no one imagined the scale of the deception that would eventually come to light. In Jono McLeod’s documentary, Lee’s former classmates and teachers tell his bizarre story – and if you don’t want to know the ending, don’t Google his name. Lee himself didn’t want to appear on screen, so his testimony is lip-synced by Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), and flashbacks to the 1990s are rendered as animated cartoons. Alissa Wilkinson at Vox says the results are “flat-out fun… like listening to a bunch of friends tell you about the wildest memory they share”.
Released on 19 August in UK & Ireland
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2.  Luck
In the first full-length film from Skydance Animation, Tony Award-nominee Eva Noblezada provides the voice of Sam, “the unluckiest person in the world”. Having grown up in the care system, she hopes to nab some extra good luck for a fellow foster child, and finds her way to a realm where magical creatures – including a black cat voiced by Simon Pegg and a dragon voiced by Jane Fonda – manipulate the human race’s fortunes. It may sound faintly sinister, but the director, Peggy Holmes, promises that Luck is full of “positivity and inspiration”. Talking to Jackson Murphy at Animation Now, she says, “We’ve all been through a really hard time together in the world. People really want to sit back, relax, and really be inspired to just keep going. When those bad luck days come, just keep going because there are some good luck ones coming, too.”
Released on 5 August on Apple TV+ worldwide
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3. Mack & Rita
From Freaky Friday to Big, 13 Going on 30 to 17 Again, lots of comedies have imagined young minds zapping into older bodies, and vice versa. But the new film from Katie Aselton (The Freebie, Black Rock) puts a fresh spin on the formula, by ageing up, rather than using teens and adults. Written by Paul Welsh and Madeline Walter, Mack & Rita features a 30-year-old author (Elizabeth Lail) who has always felt that she was a 70-year-old woman on the inside. After going to a new-age workshop in Palm Springs, she is magically transformed into a 70-year-old woman on the outside, too. In her new identity (Diane Keaton in an all-too-rare lead role), she is a happy, relaxed “glammy granny” social-media influencer, but can that make up for losing 40 years of her life?
Released on 12 August in the US, Canada and Spain
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4. Bullet Train
David Leitch was Brad Pitt’s stunt double on Troy, Fight Club and Mr and Mrs Smith, and has since become the director of such ridiculously-fun action movies as Hobbs & Shaw, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. And now the two old buddies have teamed up for Leitch’s latest shooting-and-punching-fest: Bullet Train. Pitt plays an assassin who is sent by his handler (Sandra Bullock) to grab a briefcase from one of the passengers on a Japanese train, but little does he know that the train is full of other shady characters (Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Michael Shannon). Adapted from a novel by Kōtarō Isaka, Bullet Train “is the kind of summer popcorn movie that knows it’s a summer popcorn movie,” says Nick Romano at EW. “But because it’s Leitch at the helm, the action is sharp, slick, dynamic, and always advancing the story.”
Released on 3 August in the UK and 5 August in the US
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5. Blind Ambition
This intoxicating Australian documentary, directed by Robert Coe and Warwick Ross, has such a perfect underdog story that it would seem far-fetched in a Hollywood comedy. Its four heroes are all refugees who fled from Zimbabwe to South Africa, and found work as waiters, then as sommeliers, before eventually forming Zimbabwe’s first-ever competitive wine-tasting team. Their next stop is Burgundy in France, for “the Olympics of wine tasting”. Open a bottle of your favourite rosé and enjoy. “While there is a focus on the road to the championship and the outcome of the competition,” says Jojo Ajisafe in Little White Lies, “the real joy of Blind Ambition is watching the strength and ambition in the team. How they not only changed the lives of themselves and their families, but also exposed the world to the untapped talent present in Zimbabwe.”
Released on 12 August in the UK and Ireland, and 2 September in the US
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6. Emily The Criminal
Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is indeed a criminal. In John Patton Ford’s darkly-satirical urban thriller, she gets involved in a low-level credit card scam organised by Youcef (Theo Rossi), and builds up to bigger, more violent crimes from there. But maybe, just maybe, her wrongdoings are understandable. Ford makes the case for Emily that with $70,000 in student loans to pay off, and patronising bosses offering her nothing but unpaid internships, she is short of other options. The film is “an entertaining and sharp-edged look at the world in which so many millennials find themselves,” says Alissa Wilkinson at Vox, “saddled with enormous debt, a lousy job market, an exploitative gig economy, and the sinking feeling that nothing’s going to get better if you don’t escape the system”.
Released on 12 August in the US and Canada
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7. The Feast
There aren’t many folk-horror movies in which the characters all speak Welsh, but The Feast, directed by Lee Haven Jones, would be worth tucking into whichever language it was in. The setting is a swanky dinner party in the Welsh countryside. A politician (Julian Lewis Jones) hopes to charm some local farmers into letting a mining company onto their land. But their waitress for the evening, the mysterious Cadi (Annes Elwy), has another outcome in mind. “With delicate sleight of hand,” says Sara Michelle Fetters at MovieFreak, “the filmmaker examines issues relating to classism, climate change, wealth inequality, sexism and so much more with deliciously malevolent precision. Jones also does not skimp on the blood and gore, the resulting mixture of social commentary and ghoulish mystical terror beautifully upsetting on a primal level.”
Released on 19 August in the UK
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8. Three Thousand Years of Longing
Seven years on from the turbo-charged Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller is back at last with another film – and the contrast could hardly be greater. In place of bloodthirsty survivalists racing around post-apocalyptic Australia, we have a demure English academic (Tilda Swinton) at a literature conference in Istanbul. A djinn (Idris Elba) materialises in her hotel room and offers her three wishes, but the academic has read enough myths to know that wishes tend to backfire, so the djinn tries to charm her with fabulous tales from his past. Miller’s romantic fantasy, which premiered at Cannes, is a long way from Mad Max territory, but there is a thread connecting the two films. “Like Mad Max: Fury Road before it,” says Ben Croll at The Wrap, “Three Thousand Years of Longing is another kind of blockbuster that tries to lead by example, a big-budget fantasia that argues there are more imaginative and original ways for Hollywood to employ its tools.”
Released on 31 August in the US and Canada
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9. Bodies Bodies Bodies
This “Agatha Christie-style Gen-Z slasher farce” is “one of the horror highlights of the year”, says Matthew Turner at Nerdly. Amandla Stenberg and Maria Bakalova (from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) play a young couple who go to a hipster house party at a rich friend’s mansion. Late at night, the twenty-somethings play a game of “bodies bodies bodies”, in which the murderer “kills” his victims by touching them. But then, of course, someone actually gets killed. Halina Reijn, the film’s director, satirises our resentments, insecurities and social-media obsessions – but also delivers a cunningly-plotted murder mystery. “In short, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a thoroughly entertaining, deliciously twisted horror farce that demands to be seen with as big an audience as possible,” says Turner. “Agatha Christie herself would be proud.”
Released on 5 August in the US, 12 August in Canada and 9 September in the UK
(Credit: Nick Wall/ Netflix)
10. I Came By
Playing a rather different character from the ones he’s known for in Downton Abbey and Paddington, Hugh Bonneville co-stars in I Came By as a snooty high-court judge named Sir Hector Blake. Starring alongside him is George MacKay, who plays a Banksy-like graffiti artist whose speciality is to sneak into the homes of Britain’s wealthiest aristocrats and do some unauthorised redecorating. But when he is in Sir Hector’s London town house, he uncovers a dark secret that puts his life in danger. Directed and co-written by the Bafta-winning Babak Anvari, this Netflix crime thriller promises “classic Hitchcockian suspense via contemporary themes of establishment privilege and corruption”.
Released on 19 August in cinemas in the UK and Ireland, and 31 August on Netflix internationally
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