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The 7 Films You Must See This August

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire August 2, 2013 at 1:50PM

August is here and about to offer quite the selection to movie-goers, and not just if you're into superheroes and sequels. As the final monthly extension of our summer movie preview, Indiewire is offering another summer indie "must-see" lists to make cinematic decision-making as easy as possible this summer.
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ain't them bodies saints

August is here and about to offer quite the selection to movie-goers, and not just if you're into superheroes and sequels. As the final monthly extension of our summer movie preview, Indiewire is offering another summer indie "must-see" lists to make cinematic decision-making as easy as possible this summer.

From Wong Kar-Wai to Jane Austen (by way of Keri Russell) to some of the best films Sundance and SXSW had to offer earlier this year, check out Indiewire's picks for your 7 best options, and then check out August's full calendar, as there are many worthy films that didn't end up making this list (including some studio efforts).

1. Ain't Them Bodies Saints (August 16th)

Director: David Lowery
Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine
Distributor: IFC Films

Criticwire Average: 27 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a "Must See"? Indie multi-hyphenate (and editor of "Upstream Color") David Lowery's outlaw romance was one of the most highly regarded and eagerly anticipated films to come out of Sundance this year. The success landed Lowery the gig of scripting a possible remake of "Pete's Dragon" at Disney, but the elegiac Texas-set "Saints," his second feature, is about as far from a Disney film as you can get. Casey Affleck stars as a prison escapee attempting to reunite with his wife (Rooney Mara), with a detective played by Ben Foster trying to get in their path. The haunting southern atmosphere is bolstered further by cinematography from "Pariah" and "Middle of Nowhere" DP Bradford Young, who is also a rising talent to watch. [Mark E. Lukenbill]

Check out the trailer:


2. The Spectacular Now (August 2)

Director: James Ponsoldt
Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler
Distributor: A24

Criticwire Average: 30 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a "Must See"? This Sundance alum -- one of the definite highlights of the fest -- features an intriguing collaboration between James Ponsoldt, whose “Off the Black” and “Smashed” were keenly observed dramas, and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, whose “(500) Days of Summer” brought true independent spirit to the romantic comedy genre. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley -- who won acting prizes at Sundance -- help tell the story, adapted from the Tim Tharp novel, of a freewheeling high school senior and the nice-girl female introvert he attempts to "save” — with mixed results. A24 is releasing the film in August, continuing the distributor's quest to be the go-to folks for quality youth based films. [Peter Knegt]

Check out the trailer:


3. Short Term 12 (August 23)

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Cast: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Melora Walters, Rami Malek, Keith Stanfield, Kevin Hernandez, Melora Walters, Stephanie Beatriz, Lydia Du Veaux, Alex Calloway
Distributor: Cinedigm

Criticwire Average: 15 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a "Must See"?  The big winner at this year's SXSW (taking the Grand Jury and Audience Prizes), "Short Term 12" is Destin Daniel Crettin's follow up to his Sundance film "I Am Not a Hipster." Broadway star John Gallagher Jr. and up-and-coming actress Brie Larson star in this film about a supervisor at a foster care facility who is navigating her stressful work and managing her relationship.  Read Indiewire's rave of a review here.  [Bryce J. Renninger]

Check out the trailer:


4. Cutie and the Boxer (August 16)

Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Distributor: RADiUS-TWC

Criticwire Average: 13 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a "Must See"?  "Art is a demon that drags you along," says 80-year-old visionary painter Ushio Shinohara in first-time director Zachary Heinzerling's delicate portrait "Cutie and the Boxer," but neither Shinohara nor his supportive wife and fellow artist Noriko are looking for a cure. Heinzerling's beautifully shot, painfully intimate look at the aging couple's struggle to survive amid personal and financial strain is both heartbreaking and intricately profound. This is a story about creative desire so strong it hurts, and after an acclaimed Sundance debut, you can see it in theaters this August. [Eric Kohn]  

Check out the film's trailer:


5. The Grandmaster (August 23)

Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Cast: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Criticwire Average: 11 critics gave it a C+ average

Why is it a "Must See"? Match the stunning, bold visuals of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai (“In the Mood for Love,” “Chunking Express”) with martial arts and you’ve got both a beautiful and thrilling summer film. “The Grandmaster,” starring none other than Wong’s usual frontman Tony Leung (“In the Mood for Love,” “2046”), tells the story of the famous Wing Chun martial artist Ip Man who went on to train Bruce Lee. The film, which Indiewire’s Eric Kohn called a “visual marvel” in his Berlin review, opened in Hong Kong and China earlier this year and became the director’s highest-grossing film yet. For kung-fu lovers, Wong fans, and those who just want to be dazzled in the cinema, “The Grandmaster” is definitely a film to look forward to. [Erin Whitney]

Check out the film's trailer:


6. Prince Avalanche (August 16)

Director: David Gordon Green
Cast:  Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault, Joyce Payne, Gina Grande
Distributor: Magnolia

Criticwire Average: 25 critics gave it a B+ average.

Why is it a "Must See"? A big winner at this year's Berlinale, taking home the Silver Bear for Best Director, David Gordon Green's new film "Prince Avalanche" follows two highway workers (played by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) in 1988 as they head away from their city lives and deal with what they left behind.  The film is an American adaptation of the Icelandic film "Either Way," and is set in Austin suburb Bastrop.  [Bryce J. Renninger]

Check out the trailer below:


7. Austenland (August 16)

Director: Jerusha Hess
Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Criticwire Average: 8 critics gave it a C+ average.

Why is it a "Must See"? Jerusha Hess -- who co-wrote "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Nacho Libre" with her husband Jared Hess, who directed both -- makes her directorial debut in this adaptation of Shannon Hale's 2007 novel of the same name. It stars Keri Russell as Jane Hayes, a single thirtysomething obsessed with Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" who heads off to a British resort (the titular Austenland) where the Austen era is re-created. Picked up out of Sundance by Sony Pictures Classics, the well-received rom-com is exactly the kind of film that has turned into a summer sleeper hit in the past (see "Becoming Jane," for example). And it should offer a nice alternative to August's characteristically male-centric studio slate. [Peter Knegt]

Check out the film's trailer:


This article is related to: Lists, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Cutie And The Boxer, Austenland, The Grandmaster, The Spectacular Now , Short Term 12