Summertime Blues: 15 August Movies That Didn’t Stink

best august movies iron giant 2

August is a precarious month for the film industry; nestled between the blockbuster summer schedule and the advantageous awards season of fall, it’s a quiet time for big budget fare. Though not quite the dumping ground of, say, February, it’s mostly a breather month – a calm before the prestige storm, and where studios can test their less-trusted properties.

It may evade easy categorization, but August can be a stellar month for film. It’s the season of R-rated comedies, violent road movies, and experiments. Some of the best mainstream films of the last 25 years came out in Leo season. We chose 15 of our favorite August releases, films that exceeded expectations – some economically, some critically, and some that linger on for less discernible reasons.

Super Bad

15. Superbad (2007)

August is the perfect month for this hard-R teen comedy about a pair of high school boys who try to lose their virginity at an end-of-the-school-year party. Stuck in the bittersweet-spot between high school and adulthood, that transitional quality is a great summer cap. Superbad was a critical and box office hit that brought a lot of attention to screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who started writing it when they were 13. The film also made stars out of actors Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and, in her feature-film debut, recent Oscar-winner Emma Stone.

best august movies the descent

14. The Descent (2006)

Shot on a micro-budget with a cast of no-namers, and released before fall, the odds were stacked against Neil Marshall’s The Descent. The story follows a group of female adventurers who explore a giant and unmapped cave system in the Appalachian Mountains, only to discover it’s inhabited by flesh-eating monsters. The film wound up grossing $ 57 million against a $ 4 million budget, and in time became a horror classic. Marshall’s star also rose after the film’s release. He transitioned to television, directing episodes of everything from Hannibal to Westworld, though he is perhaps best known for his work on two prominent battle episodes of Game of Thrones: “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall.”

best august movies the man from uncle

13. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

There’s no reason for this Guy Ritchie-directed reboot of a ‘60s TV spy drama to work as well as it does. But the end result is an honest-to-god blast from start to finish. It’s a great end-of-summer movie, with its brisk and breezy action, cool humor, and zest for fun. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer – who play rival spies that must come together for a joint mission – have a natural chemistry, and a then-unknown Alicia Vikander is excellent as their coconspirator. Though technically a box office bomb, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has seen a recent reappraisal from movie buffs, who’ve come to recognize the film for its stylish diversion from typical studio fare. A sequel is allegedly in the works.

best august movies scott pilgrim

12. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the beloved graphic novel series has a special place in the hearts of many. The fiercely original film transposes comic panel to film strip with a frenetic, crackling energy. Sounds and motion are animated, dialogue is fast, and the woes of young love fill the movie with a youthful chutzpah that can be hard to nail down. Though it tanked at the box office, it did well critically, and eventually found a cult audience. Scott Pilgrim is perhaps most notable for its impressive young cast, many on the eve of their big breaks, including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Brie Larson, Alison Pill, Ellen Wong, Mae Whitman, and a pre-Captain America Chris Evans.

best august movies 40 year old virgin

11. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

It may be hard to remember now, but The 40-Year-Old Virgin was a game-changer back in 2005. The raunchy film revitalized the R-rated comedy and sparked the phenomenon of Judd Apatow, whose directing and producing talents remain incredibly influential in Hollywood. Steve Carrell, the virgin of the title, exploded in popularity after release, in a year that also saw his breakthrough TV role as Michael Scott on The Office. The movie opened No. 1 at the box office and was a huge hit – eventually grossing over $ 177 million worldwide.

Continue Reading The 15 Best August Movies >>

The post Summertime Blues: 15 August Movies That Didn’t Stink appeared first on /Film.


Here’s Every Single One of the 2,400 Shots in ‘Gone Girl’ and Other Fincher Movies

Here’s a new way to study the modern masters.

We recently posted about how the simple exercise of counting a movie’s shots can help improve your own directing. Now, thanks to film editor Vashi Nedomansky, you can take the exercise a step further by taking a bird’s eye view of some popular David Fincher films and analyzing every single shot used.

Nedomansky, who helped Fincher’s team create the post-production workflow for Gone Girl as they made the transition to Adobe Premiere Pro from Final Cut 7, shares some general stats about Fincher’s work before presenting the shot breakdowns. The average of Fincher’s average shot length (ASL) is 3.87 seconds (as opposed to, say, Spielberg’s 6.5 seconds) and, thus, his films have a higher number of shots than most. Nedomansky notes that «the average feature film has approximately 1,200 individual shots,» whereas Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has 2,964.

Despite that fact, Nedomansky insists that «his films never feel rushed. In my opinion, they bloom and play out at a sublime pace that suits each individual film.»

Read More

No Film School

12 Movies to Watch Before You See The Dark Tower

12 Movies to Watch Before You See The Dark Tower

12 movies to watch before you see The Dark Tower

Author Stephen King has never been shy about wearing his influences on his sleeve, and his “Dark Tower” novels have always been an exotic blend of Herbert-esque sci-fi, Leone-style western, Tolkien fantasy and Lovecraftian horror. Hence, in the wake of Sony‘s new filmic adaptation of The Dark Tower we’re giving you twelve films to have seen or at least be aware of going into it.

RELATED: Stephen King Talks The Dark Tower, Plus a Tour of King’s Maine

Our list contains three different kinds of movies: 1) Films based on King’s own writing that have direct connections to the “Dark Tower” world, 2) Films that directly inspired King when writing the eight “The Dark Tower” novels and 3) Movies that are similar enough to The Dark Tower that they will get you in the right mindset. If you’ve already seen The Dark Tower movie this list will contain a lot of interesting connections as well.

It also so happens that two key movies on this list have just been released on fabulous new Blu-ray editions. On August 15, Kino Lorber is releasing a 50th anniversary edition of Sergio Leone’s western classic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly which contains a gorgeous 4K transfer of the original theatrical cut, available for the first time ever in HD. Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series has also just recently unleashed a Warlock three-movie Blu-ray collection, so if you want to get your B-movie sorcery on that’s the surefire way to go.

Click here to pre-order Kino’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray!

Click here to order the Warlock three-movie collection on Blu-ray!

Which of the movies on our list do you think connects most to Dark Tower? Any others you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

The post 12 Movies to Watch Before You See The Dark Tower appeared first on

Now Stream This: The Late and Great Sam Shepard, Some Stephen King, and One of the Creepiest Movies Ever

now stream this sam shepard

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)

Crank the air conditioner – August is upon us, bringing with it the dog days of summer and the realization that the winter is more terrifyingly close than ever. But there’s still plenty of time left to stream movies. In fact, you have your entire life to do that, so why not get started now? If you’re unsure of just what to watch, never fear – Now Stream This is here.

In this edition, we have a recent film with a stellar performance from the late, great Sam Shepard; one of the most genuinely creepy ghost movies ever made; an ambitious, often misunderstood sci-fi epic; a Stephen King adaptation; one of the strangest sequels in Hollywood history, and much more! So dab some sunscreen on your nose and pull the recliner up nice and close to the TV. Let’s get streaming.

1. Cold In July
Now Streaming on Netflix

Actor and playwright Sam Shepard died earlier this week. Shepard’s death is a great loss to film and theatre, but at least he leaves behind a wealth of work to cherish. There’s plenty to pick from to highlight Shepard’s talent, but one of the best recent examples is Jim Mickle’s 2014 thriller Cold In July. Adapted from a story by Joe R. Lansdale and throwing off some serious John Carpenter vibes, Cold In July features Michael C. Hall as a man who kills a home intruder, only to be drawn into a much bigger and far more sinister plot with the dead intruder’s father, played masterfully by Shepard. Don Johnson also shows up, and nearly steals the whole film, but this is a perfect showcase for Shepard’s talents.

For fans of: Hap and LeonardChristine, Blue Ruin, mullets.

2. The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

If you like your crime dramas bleak and grainy, don’t miss Peter Yates’ marvelous, depressing The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Robert Mitchum gives a career-best performance as weary, aging bakery truck driver Eddie Coyle. To make ends meet, Coyle runs guns on the side – a smooth operation that goes south very quickly. One of those ’70s flicks where the film grain is essentially a character itself, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is melancholy and memorable, just don’t sit down to watch it expecting a feel-good experience.

For fans of: The Taking of Pelham One Two ThreeThe Town, existential woe.

3. Lake Mungo
Now Streaming on Shudder

This criminally underseen 2010 Australian chiller from Joel Anderson is the rarest of the rare: a modern horror movie that’s actually scary. And I’m not talking about cheap jump scares here. No, Lake Mungo is a ghost story that creeps under your skin and chills your blood, having you nervously looking around once it’s over. A found-footage style story of a family coming to terms with the sudden death of a loved one who may or may not have entirely departed. This is the perfect horror film to watch in your living room with the lights turned down. Just don’t be surprised when you’re quickly turning them back on once the credits are rolling (oh, and by the way, keep watching all the way through the credits for even more creepiness).

For fans of: Session 9, Paranormal ActivityThe Others, getting the creeps.

4. Laura
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Otto Preminger’s brilliant film noir sets up a seemingly straightforward mystery: who killed successful advertising executive Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney)? But nothing is straightforward in Laura, and the film travels down dark alleys you wouldn’t have suspected as the cop investigating the case (Dana Andrews) finds himself smitten with the dead dame. Somehow simultaneously breezy and disturbing, Laura is one of the best movies Hollywood ever produced, so you should probably get around to watching it if it’s somehow escaped you all this time.

For fans of: Anatomy of a Murder, The Big SleepTouch of Evil, Vincent Price without a mustache.

5. Cloud Atlas
Now Streaming on Netflix

Even if you don’t entirely like Cloud Atlas, you have to appreciate it for the ambitious, wild film experience that it is. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer adapted David Mitchell’s novel into a sprawling 171 minute extravaganza. Multiple plots stretch out across six different time periods, from the past into the distant future, with a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant and many, many more, all playing multiple characters. It’s almost impossible to summarize this movie – you just need to see it to believe it.

For fans of: The FountainThe MatrixThe Hours, Tom Hanks using an incredibly unconvincing Irish accent.

Continue Reading The Best Movies Streaming Right Now >>

The post Now Stream This: The Late and Great Sam Shepard, Some Stephen King, and One of the Creepiest Movies Ever appeared first on /Film.


Why Sound Matters in Movies

I grew up watching cowboy movies on TV, and my enduring memories from those films are the sounds of creaking saddle leather, horses hooves on rocks and bullets ricocheting. Without those sounds the movies would not have been nearly as credible. Fast forward to the Star Wars era and, even though we all know there is no sound in space, soundtracks full of exploding Death Stars and burning space drives are etched into our psyches and without them our favourite films and characters would not be the same.

Many of the sounds that we hear and take for granted in films are created by sound designers from complex sources and melded to images on screen to form a complete entity. Who knew what a Wookie was supposed to sound like? Or the voice of Jabba the Hut or a phaser set on “stun”?

In these streamlined times of DIY media creation, an editor often serves double duty working these sounds into an edit, as well as their primary duty of getting the story across in the time allotted.

The main point here is emotion. Music has an impact that weaves itself into a storyline and wraps up the whole package, making our filmmaking fantasy into reality. Your film has a sonic signature that defines it and creates the finishing touch that makes it unique. Listen to the interwoven sound design and music in the original version of Blade Runner.

In the first 30 seconds, the ambient sounds of the city and the rising aero car melt into the underscore, distant voices and swooshing traffic noises become part of the music and Vangelis takes his time to create a mood for us of futuristic ambience.

This next clip is the crash scene from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The editor uses classic sounds of accelerating engines and screeching tires to build tension and when the music comes in at the 10 second mark we are prepared for the tension that builds with it. The music forms a bed for the alternating machine sounds that come and go as the edit cuts back and forth, and when the crash comes just over a minute in, the mechanical sounds stop and the underscore takes over and finalises the mood. The underscore takes on it’s own life under the sound of her footsteps and the explosion climaxes the scene.

These examples show how sound design, foley art, and underscore can blend to become the sound of a movie.

What does this all mean for you, as a film maker?

A sound designer/composer on your team can make your vision a sonic reality and draw your audience into that reality.

The post Why Sound Matters in Movies appeared first on Raindance.


12 Terrifying Classic TV Horror Movies

TV Horror Salem's Lot

A look at 12 incredible made-for-TV horror films from the ’70s and ’80s

We can credit Dan Curtis for a bulk of the wave of incredible horror movies made for the creepy cathode ray in the 1970s. Sure, terror produced for the small screen had its precedent with The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Thriller and other such stand alone anthology programs, but it was the smash success of Curtis’ Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows that truly birthed the phenomenon of the dark, romantic and usually female-centric made-for-TV horror movies that bled out of the idiot box with regularity. Because Dark Shadows was indeed targeted towards women, specifically housewives who at the time were home to appreciate it and who thrilled to the blend of Harlequin novel bodice-ripping, bloody intrigue and supernatural horror. Curtis managed to make the answer to post-code horror movies of the 1930s, which were also romantic in nature, while also offering more literary alternatives to the wave of more graphic R-rated horror films that were becoming the post-Night of the Living Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre norm.

Outside of Curtis’ amazing output of serious-minded, scary and compact, network-friendly fright fests, plenty of other producers followed suit and now, when we look back at that ripe Golden age, we can truly appreciate these films. Sure, horror has once more become a staple of television with every other new series seeming to have its roots in the macabre and arcane, but back in the 1970s and early 80s, these movies were a big deal and, because they were aired in prime-time and easily accessible to children, an entire generation of horror fan often got their first taste of the genre via these pictures.

And what a taste it was. And still is.

In this list, we have isolated 12 of our favorite classic made-for-TV horror movies. Let us know if your favorite made the cut in the comments below!

The post 12 Terrifying Classic TV Horror Movies appeared first on

Looking Back: ‘Spider-Man 2’ is Still One of the Best Comic Book Movies

Spider-Man 2

When it comes to sequels, there an expectation to raise the bar. If you think of some of the best sequels of all time, whether that’s The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or Aliens (to name a few), each film improved upon the foundation of the first in major ways. In the second part of our weekly Spider-Man retrospective series leading up to the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7th this summer, we take a look at how Sam Raimi raised the bar for not only Spider-Man movies, but the entire superhero genre itself with Spider-Man 2. The superhero sequel hit theaters on June 30th, 2004 (that’s 13 years ago!), just a week before 4th of July, and it once again went on to set records at the box office and beyond. ›››

Continue reading Looking Back: ‘Spider-Man 2’ is Still One of the Best Comic Book Movies

The Cult of Trash: How Do We Explain Our Taste for Really, Really Bad Movies?

You’re tearing us apart, Tommy!

The first time I ever saw the worst film ever made, I was with my brother and two of my cousins. We sat down in my living room in my old basement apartment, pulled up a pirated copy that was streaming on YouTube (because my efforts to buy it off of Amazon were unfruitful), and gazed in amazement while it played on a tiny sub-screen at 1.5x normal speed (typical format for pirated shit).

When the credits began to roll, we all just sat there, silent, awkward, and confused—confused by the absurdity of what we just consumed, but also confused by our genuine non-rejection of it, a non-rejection that quickly grew into full-blown love and then obsession. One of my cousins turned to me and asked, «What the f*** did we just watch?» I was like, «The Room

Read More

No Film School

The Business of Screenwriting: Going to the movies

One of the most important ways you can learn the craft of screenwriting is by watching movies. Studying them. Breaking them down sequence by sequence, scene by scene. Tracking the story’s pace and the flow of its narrative.

Beyond that movies serve as a reminder…

Of film as visual storytelling…
Of the power of this wonderful medium…
Of your ultimate goal: to see your movie up on that screen.

You may think once you break into Hollywood as a screenwriter, you can slack off on going to the movies.

You would be wrong.

In fact now you have to add some items to the movie-watching agenda:

  • Track movie trends
  • See how narrative is handled in various genres
  • Follow the transition of a project from script to screen
  • Appraise the work of actors and directors with whom you may one day work
  • Stay informed about the latest projects for meetings with producers and studio execs involved with those same projects

Even if you are a successful screenwriter, it is imperative you continue going to the movies.

Now this may seem like unnecessary advice. Of course, I’ll go to the movies. I love movies.

You say that now. But if your entire life is about movies — the news you track, days spent writing, nights spent brainstorming, every conversation you have inevitably winding its way toward The Biz, every coffee joint you go to inhabited by dozens of people hunkered over laptops open to Final Draft — you’d be amazed at how sick you can become of that thing you profess to love.

Think about it: If there are 4 major releases each weekend, plus another 2–3 indie films opening in theaters, you may have to average seeing a movie every day just to keep up with what’s out there.

That can get old.

What to do? Spice things up!

Let’s assume you’re living in Los Angeles.

First, there are premieres and industry screenings, as discussed here. If you can’t get pumped up to see a movie at an event like this, then you are really in need of a life-injection. Premieres and industry screenings are fun. And even if the movie stinks, you get to network, make connections, and drink free booze.

The next best thing: Go to a screening on a movie’s opening night. Personally my preference are the theaters in Westwood:

Standing in line with people who are motivated enough to show up on opening night, then sharing the movie experience with that same excited crowd can give you a nice emotional jolt.

Then there’s the WGA Film Society which screens movies at the Writers Guild Theater on Doheny in Beverly Hills:

It’s a great deal with the cost per movie about $ 1. Also since they don’t allow refreshments in the theater, you don’t have to put up with the slovenly dumbass directly behind you pawing endlessly at their jumbo tub of popcorn or Hooverizing an Icee. This venue is for serious movie people who are there to watch a film. Added benefit: All the kvetching you hear afterward from fellow writers. No one disses movies better than a gaggle of bitter screenwriters.

For a completely different experience, I’m a big advocate of going to a screening in the middle of the day. No crowds. Your mind is alert. You can spread out. And avoid that same damn dumbass with the jumbo tub of popcorn by moving five rows away.

Another thing to do: See multiple movies in one day. For my first two years in L.A., I did this a lot. It not only allows you to cover most of the week’s new releases in one fell swoop, I find I also make interesting connections and comparisons between the films I see: tone, pace, intensity levels, scene constructions, visual style, and so on. A sort of Gestalt cinematic experience.

Every so often, be sure to check out some of the revival theaters like the New Beverly Cinema [on Beverly Blvd one block west of La Brea] or the Nuart Theatre [just off the 405 on Santa Monica Blvd]. There is nothing like seeing a classic movie on the big screen. I still get chills thinking about the time I saw Patton when they opened the AMC theaters in Century City. Wow!

This one is critically important: At least once a month, go outside of L.A. and watch a movie. Why? Because real people live there. Ventura, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo. Those are my favorites. These moviegoers are much more representative of what the rest of America is about than folks in the 405–10–110–101 Bubble. And in a very real way, they are your audience, you are writing your stories for them. Trust me, this will be the single most difficult thing for you to do as the 405–10–110–101 Bubble has this strange, but powerful gravitational pull making it extraordinarily difficult for you to leave its gestational womb. But you must stay in touch with people who don’t work in the industry in order to have some sense of what plays and doesn’t play out there in Real America.

Finally, here is a temptation you have to resist. As a member of the WGA come award season (December-March), you will get screeners (or access to movies at restricted sites online). Over the course of the year, you will have this conversation with yourself multiple times:

“Do I really want to pry my tookus off the Barcolounger, schlep across town to the movie theater, pay all that money for tickets, popcorn, parking, when in a few months, I can watch the movie at home for free with a screener?”

Yes, you do. While you can use DVDs and screeners to re-watch and analyze a film, you should watch a movie for the first time in a theater with a crowd, this unique group of strangers which gathers together for a mere two hours of time. Something remarkable can happen there, sitting in the dark, communing with these other souls as we laugh, cry, or shriek.

A movie theater is like a cathedral. We are the congregants. And the movie is the liturgical experience. Where once again we behold the magic of images and words on screen, transporting us from this world to That World, and come to believe again… there is nothing like a movie.

As successful and inside the business you get to be as a screenwriter, it’s easy to lose sight of that magic.

The best way, perhaps the only way to stay in touch with it is… going to the movies.

UPDATE: In comments kellisays notes this:

American Cinematheque is also a great resource, they show classic films at the Egyptian and Aero theaters.

Which reminds me there’s also The Cinefamly at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax.

The Business of Screenwriting is a weekly series of GITS posts based upon my experiences as a complete Hollywood outsider who sold a spec script for a lot of money, parlayed that into a screenwriting career during which time I’ve made some good choices, some okay decisions, and some really stupid ones. Hopefully you’ll be the wiser for what you learn here.

Comment Archive

The Business of Screenwriting: Going to the movies was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

1 2 3 8