Film and TV

5 Movies to See in Metro Phoenix This August

August is an interesting month for the film industry. Most of the summer blockbusters have come and gone (although Fantastic Four is hoping to make some late noise on August 7), but it's too early for studios to release anything they want remembered for awards season. It's also a time for the movies that got picked up on the festival circuit to get their chance with a wider release. So keep an eye out for a few great indie flicks this time of year. And, as a special treat for local film aficionados, there's even a chance to see what local filmmakers can do with 48 hours and three minutes. 

Ricki and the Flash
Opens Friday, August 7
A movie about an estranged mom coming back into her daughter's life after the daughter has been jilted certainly has the potential to be a schmaltzy cheeze-fest. But wait. With Meryl Streep in the title role and her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer as the jilted daughter, there's certainly potential. Add Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) and Academy Award winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) and this just might be something truly special. It's also guaranteed to be a bit lighter than Streep's later hard-hitting drama Suffragette that comes out later this year. Two Streep films in one year is never a bad thing. 

Dinerwood Round 3
Thursday, August 13, at Welcome Diner
Twenty local fillmmakers will be given a challenge on Friday, August 7: given a line of dialogue, a prop, a three-minute time limit and 48 hours to put it all together, make the best movie you can and turn it back in on Sunday, August 9. Whether you want to participate (if there are spaces still available), or just view them all at the event on Thursday, August 13, it's a fun event for participants and fans alike. 

Citizen Kane
Plays Tuesday, August 18, at FilmBar
The American Film Institute named Citizen Kane the greatest movie of all time, and film buffs have been debating that distinction ever since. Starting with a brief discussion about the background and making of the film, and then a screening, Filmbar's Film School series is something of a “living room book club” for film fans. There will also be live commentary during the film, and it is advised that you watch the film at least once beforehand (if you haven't seen it already) so you'll be ready to dig a little deeper. Find out if event host ASU film professor Joe Fortunato agrees that Kane deserves its place in film history, and decide for yourself where it belongs in your own rankings. 

Digging for Fire
Plays Wednesday, August 19, at Harkins Camelview
This New York Film Critics screening brings this Sundance darling to the Valley for just one night. Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt star as a married couple who may or may not have discovered evidence of a crime while house-sitting. It's the kind of movie where not much happens, and that's ok if you like movies with a strong cast and intriguing dialogue (which we do). Keep an eye out for scene-stealing Sam Rockwell to shake things up a bit, as well as supporting actors Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson and Anna Kendrick to add some variety. 

American Ultra
Opens Friday, August 21
If the government had created a secret mind-altering program where they turned everyday people into killing machines, who is the last person on the planet that you'd think might be one of them? If you said Jesse Eisenberg, the makers of this movie agree with you. When a convenience store clerk/stoner realizes there is something a bit off in his head, he turns to his girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) for help and advice. It's not long before the agency behind his transformation decides he needs to be taken out, and this pseudo-Bourne Identity kicks into high gear. A nice combination of humor, action and even a bit of romance, it could be the perfect end of summer adventure. 

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Shana Schwarz
Contact: Shana Schwarz