This Week in Film

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First week of August, a month in most years where the blockbuster releases dry up, sees the arrival of a reboot of a superhero team, so that’s big. Meanwhile there is a new film starring Al Pacino from the director of last year’s Joe, the adventure,s or lack thereof, of a US Marine dog upon being adopted by his handler, the directorial debut of Joel Edgerton, and a coming of age drama set in the 70s starring Kristen Wiig.

This week sees the release of Fox’s reboot of Marvel’s First Family, Fantastic Four. After a scientific experiment in teleportation leads them to an alternate universe, Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm are physically altered in shocking and traumatising ways. They must come to terms with their new lives and unite as a team to stop their former friend Victor from wreaking havoc after his own experience in the other universe. Rumours of troubled production have been repeatedly denied by writer-director Josh Trank and co-writer Simon Kinberg, who wrote X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Whether or not this is as good as that remains to be seen, but given Trank’s previous work on Chronicle and the excellent cast he has assembled, we think it’s justifiable to be excited. The film flies into cinemas on Thursday.

Al Pacino stars as A.J. Manglehorn, the eponymous protagonist of another of this week’s film. A key-maker in Texas, heartbroken by his past love, he is reclusive and seen as eccentric. But Dawn (Holly Hunter), a bank teller, befriends the curious man, and may just help him to move on. There is very little buzz about Manglehorn, and it isn’t hard to see why with that story description. Pacino may well be giving an understated performance that suits the trend of his director’s recent work, but it may not be worth seeking out at your local cinema. David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn is released on Friday.

An even smaller independent film out this week is War Book, in which a simulation of nuclear threat plays out, and forces government officials to consider their actions in such a situation. Starring Sophie Okonedo and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett amongst others, the film is directed by Tom Harper (The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death), does not have a trailer, and is out on Friday.

Spanish film Marshland is the only nationwide foreign film out this week, and will more than likely be a little difficult to find. Set in the south of Spain in 1980, it follows two homicide detectives Juan and Pedro as they fight deep rooted misogyny in the hunt for a killer of teenage girls. With a tagline that reads “Nobody talks, everyone is hiding something” and an aesthetic that brings to mind the merican Deep South, this could be an interesting foreign fix of True Detective style noir for those finding the second season to be underwhelming. Alberto Rodríguez’ film is released on Friday.

The mystery The Gift stars Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman as a married couple in a new town, who are befriended by Joel Edgerton’s mysterious old acquaintance. He brings gifts, seems nice, and knows the husband from decades past. This is Edgerton’s directorial debut, from a script he also wrote, and early word on it is that it is a shocking and often cruel mystery, and that you should know as little as possible before going in. If you aren’t convinced, the trailer is below, but be wary. It may give away just a little more than it needs to. The Gift arrives on Friday

Max is the story of the titular war dog, suffering after his handler was killed in action. Unresponsive to anyone else, he is to be put down, until he meets the brother of his handler, Justin. Adopting Max and saving his life, they will go on to change each other’s lives more than a dog or  human could imagine. If you love dog’s, soldiers, and crying, this may be the perfect film for you. It is released on Friday.

Finally also released this week is The Diary Of  A Teenage Girl, starring Bel Powley as young artist Minnie going through a sexual awakening in the 1970s after losing her virginity. Her mother, played by Kristen Wiig, is very laid back, and dating Alexander Skarsgard, who by the way, is the man who Minnie lost it to. With posters for this all over the London underground praising its depiction of youth and sexuality, and some people actually calling it one of the best films of the year, it will certainly make an interesting counterpiece to the rest of the week’s male protagonist heavy cinema. If it sounds like your kind of party, you can catch it in cinemas on Friday.

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Third-year Spanish & History student. My opinions are my own problem, not yours. Seriously, read the book Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf. Change your world.

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