Every four weeks, ORWAV explores the movie month ahead through the medium of song! Upcoming releases, notable births and anniversaries and a general celebration of the films, directors, technicians and performers that we love so much. This month is known for being rather quiet release-wise, gearing up for the big Awards Season pushes of the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals in early September – but we still have room for a number of exciting releases. Let’s get sunny and dive into August…
The two most widely-anticipated releases this August are, of course, reboots: another attempt at the Fantastic Four (complete with highly underwhelming final trailer, worrying press embargo and, ultimately, tepid reviews) and, more tantalisingly, Guy Ritchie’s stylish-looking 1960s-set revamp of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. If Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer – better actors than we sometimes think – can be directed to the same double-act glory as Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, we can count on a lot of fun indeed. Jared Harris (who will always be “Mad Men‘s Jared Harris” to us), Hugh Grant and ORWAV’s Big Pick of 2015, Alicia Vikander, provide further support – and, finally, there’s the music. We’re kicking off this month’s Playlist in style with Hugo Montenegro’s original ’60s theme; the remake’s composer, Daniel Pemberton, will be one to watch assuming he can pull off the same sense of total no-holds-barred awesomeness. Shortly after U.N.C.L.E. hits, Pemberton (The Counselor, Cuban Fury) will be cementing his big-leagues status with a score for Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Fantastic Four may be the bigger August release, but we’re vastly more excited for this.
Nostalgia reigns in N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, for which we include the ever-incredible title theme. Will the film satisfy as much as the iconic eponymous album? Will it be more 8 Mile, or Get Rich or Die Tryin’? Either way, August 2015 is all about the 1980s in movie-land. The same week as Compton drops, it’s the thirtieth anniversary of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Why celebrate? Because that’s also 30 years of Tim Burton, who in those intervening years has proved himself among the most notable Hollywood directors of his generation. How can we not celebrate the man behind Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks! and Sweeney Todd? Not to mention his reinvention of the modern superhero flick. So here we are, looking back at the ’80s: the birth of modern hip-hop, and the birth of modern, er, Tim Burton-ness. Here’s Danny Elfman’s ‘The Breakfast Machine’.
Then there’s Mistress America, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s latest. We’re staying resolutely with the ’80s here: their previous collaboration, Frances Ha, featured a celebrated sequence showing Gerwig’s Frances dancing down the street to David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ – itself a reference to a similar scene in Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang. We’ve put ‘Modern Love’ in the Playlist not just because both scenes are amazing but because the song seems a perfect representation of all the weirdness and romance of Baumwig’s work (yes, we’re using “Baumwig” now).
Premiering alongside Mistress America at this year’s Sundance, The Wolfpack also has a strange and timeless feel to it. A documentary following a family who’ve lived inside, watching films, their whole lives, the soundtrack prominently features Baltimora’s forgotten (and appropriately-titled) ‘Tarzan Boy’, from the same 1980s that produced the siblings’ favourite films. Already hailed as a masterwork while simultaneously lambasted for exploitation, this is at the very least one of the most provocative and divisive of 2015’s releases.
Amy Schumer has a similar strain of provocation in her TV work, though her own film – Trainwreck – has a touch more heart than the arms-length stylings of The Wolfpack. Schumer recently found herself a multiple Emmy nominee, and her show – including its incredible 12 Angry Men parody – has never been better. She’s what some in the business call a “hot ticket” at the moment, and with solid reviews, plus the steady hand of Judd Apatow directing and producing, we’re pleased to welcome Trainwreck to UK shores (freakin’ finally). Here’s soundtrack pick ‘Please Be Patient with Me’, by Wilco. Enjoy.
While the Judd Apatow Train keeps a-rollin’, take a moment to note the tenth anniversary of his directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It’s not so much Apatow’s work as a director we’re marking (this is, after all, a world in which This Is 40 happened) as the major effect Virgin‘s release had on the next decade of American cinema comedy – both big studio productions and the slightly more Indiewood work Apatow and his large revolving troupe have been involved in. Truly, it is the Age of ‘Aquarius’ (can you possibly guess what our Playlist pick is?… ). The 40-Year-Old-Virgin‘s anniversary, like it or lump it, marks a burst floodgate that’s birthed us some great hits and great talents, and continues to do so. Just… let’s forget about Year One and Get Him to the Greek. Focus on Bridesmaids instead, there’s a good reader.
Less of a nostalgia deposit is the vastly more forward-thinking 52 Tuesdays, out in a week. An acclaimed Australian film following a teenage girl whose mother decides to transition, we’re so hyped for this it’s unreal. Reviews are good, the trailer’s excellent, and its production context looks set to fascinate: director Sarah Hyde chose to film it one Tuesday a week for a year (though it’s hit theatres a year later, it actually premiered at Sundance 2014 alongside Boyhood. Which is unfortunate). Benjamin Speed‘s utterly beautiful ‘Hello Goodbye’ is our Playlist pick for this ambitious prospect. Listen to the song; go see the film.
David Gordon Green continues to be a frustrating director. From the excellent (Joe) to the fine (Prince Avalanche, Pineapple Express) to the KILL IT WITH FIRE! (Your Highness), this one-time indie wünderkind can’t quite pin himself down, let alone give would-be fans something to go with. Anyway, in advance of his tepid-looking yet potentially Oscar-baity Our Brand is Crisis later in the year, this month sees the UK release of his Al Pacino-starring Manglehorn. File under the middle section of Green’s quality-meter. Worth seeing for Pacino, an always-great Holly Hunter, and – here it is – a fine score from Explosions in the Sky, whose post-rock instrumental work has also soundtracked Lone Survivor, Friday Night Lights and Prince Avalanche. Our sample for your delectation is ‘Lightning and a Bottle’. Excellent stuff.
Finally, Steve Martin is turning 70 on August 14th. If his only film was The Jerk, this would still be worth celebrating (come on, it’s one of the greatest comedies ever!). But add to that Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains, Roxanne, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Shop of Horrors, Parenthood… sorry, I’ll stop. Sadly, the actual version of the first song to spring to mind wasn’t available on Spotify, so we’ve added Eddie Vedder and Cat Power (instead of Martin and Bernadette Peters) performing ‘Tonight You Belong to Me’ – a lovely performance if ever there was one. Bonus non-Playlist links: relive Martin’s two best musical moments here and here. As always: you’re welcome.
And that’s August! Enjoy the Playlist, share with your friends, dance down the street bopping your head and saying “This playlist’s amazing! Go read One Room With A View!” – whatever floats your boat. Next month: two Tom Hardys, 99 Homes, and Me and Earl and Ricki and The Flash.