Ah, August, that glorious month when summer officially overstays its welcome and everyone begins praying for a respite from the blistering temperatures. With kids staying home on summer break and working stiffs having already blown through their vacation days by mid-June, there’s no better time for an extended hunker-down in the living room. Netflix teams with Baz Luhrmann for a frenetic new birth-of-hip-hop drama, David Cross gives his acerbic State of the Union address in a new special, and a recent Coen brothers masterpiece comes online. Top off that iced tea and take a look at what you’ll be watching in August:
David Cross: Making America Great Again (Netflix, 8/5)
With the election fast approaching and the country more divided than ever, America needs a hero — and if that hero has to be comedian/human manifestation of righteous fury David Cross, then we could do a lot worse. In his latest stand-up special, the Mr. Show alum goes all in on Trump and the rest of the clusterfuck that is our current political landscape, with enough time left over for ruminations on masturbating to the Statue of Liberty. He promises in the trailer for the upcoming Netflix release that there will most definitely be nudity, “some tasteful, some outrageously offensive” — so really, something for everybody. Come for the tasteful nudity, stay for the outrageously offensive nudity!
Elvis and Nixon (Amazon, 8/25)
In one of history’s weirdest footnotes, Elvis Presley showed up on the White House front steps on the morning of December 21st, 1970, to request a meeting with then-sitting President Richard Nixon. The King of Rock and Roll wanted a badge authorizing him as an undercover agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs; the sweaty-lipped POTUS wanted to show young voters that he was hep and knew what the kids were into. This momentous meeting of the minds made for one weird afternoon, and director Liza Johnson has fun imaging the sort of the discomfort that might have occurred when the demands of two highly particular (and powerful) men collided. It’s a surprisingly funny what-if period comedy — and Michael Shannon is a joy as the declining Presley.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Netflix, 8/1)
The argument over which installment in the carsploitation franchise is the best can, and should, rage on for eternity. But there’s a mighty compelling case to be made for the third in the series, with franchise-regular director Justin Lin coming on board and bringing the action across the Pacific to the mind-boggling Japanese auto underground. Decked out in neon and defying gravity, the addition of drift racing went beyond a cheap gimmick to put cheeks in seats and elevated the car chase set piece to a captivating spectacle. Admittedly, the film suffers from a distinct lack of Diesel (Lucas Black takes the lead on this ride), but this is where the franchise starts to come into its own.
The Foot Fist Way (Hulu, 8/1)
Before Danny McBride won America’s hearts as enraged, profanity-spewing Kenny Powers on Eastbound and Down, he warmed up with this micro-budget, off-beat comedy about a Powers-ish Taekwondo instructor who takes his job approximately 10 times too seriously. When he’s not smacking kids in the face under the guise of “instruction,” he’s dealing with marital troubles distancing him from his philandering wife. This beautifully idiotic gem’s reputation has slowly grown with every passing year, and for fans of McBride and director Jody Hill’s new HBO series Vice Principals: The primo idiocy all begins here.
The Get Down (Netflix, 8/12)
After gilding The Great Gatsby in 2013, Baz Luhrmann turns to TV for this sprawling miniseries about the dawn of hip-hop in Seventies New York. Following a multicultural cross-section of aspiring dreamers in the broken-down Bronx, the show covers everything from the nasty business of housing development to the intersection of music and religion in the Latino community, all with a funky-fresh soundtrack curated by the likes of Nas, DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. Viewers can look forward to more Luhrmann’s signature frenetic style, and his operatic musical ambitions have never been grander. Pick up your Afro, lace up those Pumas, and let the needle drop on Netflix’s newest blockbuster.
Inside Llewyn Davis (Amazon 8/1)
The Coen brothers turn out a genuine masterpiece or two every 10 years; as of right now, this decade belongs to a foul-tempered guitarist named Llewyn. Oscar Isaac’s star was born as he disappeared into the role of a fading folk musician struggling to find a couch to sleep on in Greenwich Village during the hootenanny heyday of the Sixties. T Bone Burnett’s alternate-universe Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack goes down oh so easy, and Llewyn’s hopeless journey to obscurity leaves the viewer bruised. Pass the hat around, folks.
The Limey (Hulu, 8/1)
Steven Soderbergh’s dialed-down crime drama doesn’t usually find its way onto shortlists of the great gangster pictures, which is a shame. The lurid tale of aging muscle Wilson’s (Terence Stamp) quest for revenge after completing a prison sentence jumps all over the place chronologically and pairs dialogue from some scenes with footage of entirely different movie (Ken Loach’s Poor Cow) for a disorienting, alienating effect. There’s a career-high performance from Stamp, a bone-dry wit, a self-referential turn from Peter Fonda (“The Sixties…it was just ’66 and early ’67. That’s all there was”) and a pitch-perfect pulpy genre script waiting to be savored. It’s that rarest of birds: the restrained modernist bloodbath.
Proxy (Hulu, 8/12)
An expectant mother (Alexia Rasmussen) loses her fetus after she’s violently attacked, and then develops an unusual relationship with a woman (Alexa Havens) in the support group she starts attending afterward. Director Zack Parker works a nonexistent budget for all it’s worth and gets bravura performances out of his leading ladies. The less said about it, the better, but trust us — this cinematic sucker punch is worth looking into.
Shaun the Sheep (Amazon and Hulu, 8/10)
Nick Park’s greatest creation not named Wallace or Gromit was an inquisitive, mischievous sheep named Shaun, and in this UK-produced feature-length caper, our woolly hero and his flockmates inadvertently send their farmer into the rough-and-tumble city. (He promptly comes down with amnesia and assumes a new life as a celebrity hairdresser.) Pursued by a sadistic animal-control official, they try to rescue their keeper and return him to his rightful home. Shot through with bone-dry British humor and packing a surprising emotional wallop, Shaun the Sheep quickly earns its place in the Aardman animation pantheon.
XOXO (Netflix, 8/26)
Hollywood has had a tough time capitalizing on the EDM craze that’s turned music festival main stages into money factories for celebrity DJs. But unless you’re one of the 11 people who saw the Zac Efron vehicle We Are Your Friends last summer, then Netflix’s upcoming ensemble comedy might just be the thing that sells you on le cinema du booming bass drops. Six strangers (including Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland, Jem and the Holograms’ Haley Kiyoko, and Undateable‘s Chris D’Elia) cross paths during one magical night at a Day-Glo-colored music festival, and presumably, their lives will be changed forever. Someone will most likely be dosed with molly.