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Nine films to watch in August

  • Two Days, One Night

    Marion Cotillard stars as a woman struggling to keep her job in the latest from the Dardenne brothers, which lost out to Winter Sleep for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. After her boss decides to sack her and give her co-workers a bonus, she forces a vote and spends a weekend begging for her job back. It’s both an intimate portrayal of a desperate woman and a tense countdown to the final vote. The Guardian called it “a Twelve Angry Men of the 21st-Century workplace”. Released 2 Aug in Australia, 21 Aug in Slovenia and 22 Aug in Ireland.

  • The Trip to Italy

    Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rob Brydon swap the Lake District for the Med in their latest gastronomic road trip. A sequel to The Trip, also directed by Michael Winterbottom, it’s heavy on banter and impersonations: choice moments include Coogan’s turn as an incomprehensible Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises. Coogan has described the approach as “we drive through the most spellbinding scenery that I've ever seen in my life, and then we diminish it by talking crap”. Released 15 Aug in Sweden and the US.

  • Love is Strange

    Variety has called Ira Sachs “one of the most perceptive and personal directors working in American cinema”. Now he follows up his 2012 feature Keep the Lights On with a drama focusing on an older couple. Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally marry after 39 years together, but are forced to live apart after George loses his job teaching at a Catholic school. What follows is a well-observed ensemble piece with a narrative that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is “constructed almost entirely of in-between moments rather than the big turning points and tragedies”. Released 3 Aug in the US, 21 Aug in Macedonia and 28 Aug in Serbia.

  • Frank

    One of the oddest pop stars in history is the subject of this comedy drama from director Lenny Abrahamson. Cult British musician and comedian Frank Sidebottom is played by Michael Fassbender – complete with giant plaster head – while Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson co-star. Loosely based on the experiences of journalist Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats), who co-wrote the script and was a member of Sidebottom’s band, Frank has been praised by critic Mark Kermode for getting "beneath the mask and the skin of its eponymous antihero in a manner that bridges the gap between absurdist laughter and all-too-tender tears". Released 1 Aug in Sweden, 22 Aug in the US and 28 Aug in the Netherlands.

  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

    Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller team up again for the sequel to their 2005 surprise hit Sin City, bringing more stories from Miller’s neo-noir graphic novels to the screen. Jessica Alba stars in the crime thriller, transformed from a stripper with a heart of gold to a woman seeking revenge for the death of her mentor (Bruce Willis). It might not be as long to wait for the next instalment: depending on box office turnout, Rodriguez has said that Sin City 3 “could go as soon as we want to”. Released 21 Aug in Greece and Russia and 22 Aug in Canada.

  • Calvary

    Writer-director John Michael McDonagh and actor Brendan Gleeson reunite following 2011’s action comedy The Guard: although Calvary is a comedy of an altogether darker shade. During a confessional, an unseen man threatens to murder an Irish Catholic priest (played by Gleeson) the following Sunday, setting off a drama that is part morality play and part “existential detective story”. With plenty of gallows humour and a good dose of fatalism, it has won praise for Gleeson’s performance and McDonagh’s writing, described by the Sydney Morning Herald as “lyrical and thoughtful and challenging”. Released 1 Aug in the US.

  • Night Moves

    Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard star as three radical environmentalists plotting to blow up a controversial dam in this eco thriller from Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy). Combining suspense with musings on the moral ambiguity of political extremism, it was praised by The Boston Herald for being “an impressive piece of neo-noir filmmaking”. Released 14 Aug in Germany and 29 Aug in the UK.

  • The Two Faces of January

    Screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive, The Wings of a Dove) makes his directorial debut with a thriller adapted from a novel by Patricia Highsmith. Set in Greece and Turkey in 1962, it follows an American couple (played by Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) forced to go on the run with a scam artist (Oscar Isaac) after a murder at their hotel. Time Out described it as “an unhurried, louche thriller that gives way to claustrophobia as it starts to get its clammy hands around your neck.” Released 1 Aug in Lithuania, 14 Aug in Slovenia and 28 Aug in the US.

  • Finding Fela

    Documentary film-maker Alex Gibney – who won an Academy Award for Taxi to the Dark Side – turns his hand to Afrobeat music pioneer Fela Kuti in a feature that mixes period interviews with highlights from the Fela! Broadway musical. The Nigerian band leader fused jazz, funk and Yoruban rhythms to create a new sound; he also recorded songs protesting government corruption, and was repeatedly beaten before he died from an Aids-related illness in 1997 – the film tackles the complex life of a counterculture hero. Released 1 Aug in the US.