August’s 5 Must-See Movies

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August's movie choices run the gamut from Meryl rocking out and Charlize, above, going to her dark place to a sex-hungry teen making it with her mom's boyfriend.  (Photo courtesy 'Dark Places')
August’s movie choices run the gamut from Meryl rocking out and Charlize, above, going to her dark place to a sex-hungry teen making it with her mom’s boyfriend. (Photo courtesy ‘Dark Places’)

It’s a new month and a new slate of movies. Nothing like a dark air-conditioned theater with a big bucket of popcorn in the hottest month of the year. I’m also excited about the number of strong women onscreen and behind the scenes in this list of August 2015 movies. Lots of big names on the big screens. Enjoy!

Aug. 7: “Ricki and the Flash

A lot of talent got together for this movie. Three-time Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “Kramer vs. Kramer”) stars as Ricki Rendazzo, the leader of a band called The Flash. Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer (“The Good Wife”) plays Ricki’s estranged daughter Julie. It’s a family drama about Ricki, who chose to leave her husband and three kids for the life of a musician and makes it clear that male musicians do that all the time without being judged for it.

Streep learned to play rhythm guitar for the film. Kevin Kline plays Julie’s father and Ricki’s ex-husband. Starring opposite Streep is Grammy-winner Rick Springfield (“Jessie’s Girl”), who you’ve seen this season on “True Detective” as the creepy, overly tanned plastic surgeon who took a beating from Det. Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell). “Ricki and the Flash” is directed by Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme (“The Silence of the Lambs”) and was written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”). Music comedy drama. Rated PG-13. 101 min.

Watch the trailer:

Aug. 7: “Dark Places

Thrillers are always my favorite genre. This one is based on a bestseller by author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”). It stars Charlize Theron as Libby Day, a now deeply troubled woman who, at only age 7, survived the brutal murder of her mother and two sisters in a Kansas farmhouse. Little Libby had to testify against the killer, her brother Ben (Corey Stoll). Now 25 years after the crime, Libby has become flooded with memories. She goes to see her brother in jail, who swears he is innocent. Doubts begin to nag at Libby, and everything she thought she knew begins changing shape.

In flashbacks we see her brother at age 16 played by Tye Sheridan, who I adore. He was in “Joe” opposite Nicolas Cage, and “Mud” opposite Matthew McConaughey. “Dark Places” also stars Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”) and Chloë Grace Moretz (“Carrie”). Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner wrote the screenplay adaptation. Thriller, crime mystery, drama. Rated R. 103 min.

Watch the trailer:

Aug. 7: “The Diary of a Teenage Girl

British actress Bel Powley‘s talent blew me away in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.” She plays 15-year-old Minnie Goetze, who is growing up in San Francisco in the druggy 1970s. She lives with her partying mom (Kristen Wiig) and is having sex with her mom’s 30-year-old boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). It’s not as creepy as that sounds — you’ll see what I mean. This is a refreshingly non-judgmental movie that isn’t saying girls who love sex are bad. Instead, it is only interested in showing what it’s like to be this particular sex-loving teenage girl during that time and in that environment. Much of the movie bursts into animated musings from Minnie’s perspective.

The creativity alone makes this flick worth seeing. Now add to that the powerhouse acting from young Powley, et al., and you’ve got a fun time in a summer movie. Minnie is a girl who enjoys sex, and there is nothing negative about it. There is no lesson to be learned here. It is an adventure, a journey of a passionate, inquisitive girl. The screenplay was based on an autobiographical novel by writer/artist Phoebe Gloeckner. Christopher Meloni (Elliott Stabler on “Law & Order: SVU”) has a cameo role as Minnie’s comically controlling ex-stepfather. Drama. Rated R. 102 min.

Watch the trailer:

Aug. 21: “American Ultra

Jesse Eisenberg plays Mike Howell, a stoner too stoned to know he is a government agent — and one who has been targeted for extermination. Everybody’s favorite tough chick, Kristen Stewart, plays Mike’s live-in girlfriend, Phoebe Larson. Mike’s secret past, which was a secret from him, comes back to haunt him, and he is forced to turn into an action-hero out of self-defense. Eisenberg plays neurotic well. Most people still mix him up with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who he portrayed in “The Social Network,” but maybe this is one more step toward separating him from that character.

“American Ultra” is a fast and quirky slapsticky action comedy with a a strong cast including Topher Grace, John Leguizamo, Connie Britton and Bill Pullman. “American Ultra” is directed by Nima Nourizadeh and written by Max Landis. It would attract a much bigger audience if it were rated PG, or even PG-13, but there is too much drug use for that. Action comedy. Rated R. 96 min.

Watch the trailer:

Aug. 21: “Sinister 2

Irish film director Ciarán Foy made his horror debut with 2012’s “Citadel.” Now he’s back with “Sinister 2,” starring James Ransone and Shannyn Sossamon. In this spooky chiller, Deputy So & So (Ransone) is investigating a horrid murder of a family which leads him to a secluded church where a single mother Courtney Collins (Sossamon) and her twin boys, Zach and Dylan, are living after having escaped Mr. Collins, their abusive husband/father.

What Courtney is unaware of is that the church was the scene of a massacre. You’ll be seeing the undead and bogeyman Bughuul trying to scare the shit out of the kids and succeeding. Yeah, “Sinister 2” is predictable, with lots of cheap scares, but so what — it’s a heckuva lot of fun. Boo! Oh, and the trailer begins with the boys watching the original “Night of the Living Dead” and the garden-spade-toting zombie on her way to chow down on Mom. Horror. Rated R. 97 min.

Watch the trailer:

Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.

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