Top Film Releases in August: Salad Days

Daniel Pateman

As the cobwebs accumulate on school halls this summer, a number of film-makers reflect on their formative youths. Tarantino invokes his love of cinema in the ‘60s Los Angeles of Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood; Pedro Almodóvar presents the semi-autobiographical Pain and Glory, while directors Gurinder Chadha and Joanna Hogg provide two very different coming-of-age tales, both set in 1980s Britain. For those seeking something more cold-blooded, you’ll be well served by Alexandre Aja’s Crawl: an eco-conscious horror film about a flooded Florida town besieged by alligators.

Film buffs rejoice. Tarantino’s ninth film after 2015’s The Hateful Eight takes us behind the scenes of the Hollywood of 1969, with a gleeful tale about “has been” Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt-double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt): a couple of men whose glory days are behind them. Featuring two of America’s biggest stars, Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, and a plethora of famous faces, Tarantino delivers a dizzying ode to sixties cinema and the era of free love…before the dream turned sour with the Mason family murders. "Outrageous, disorientating, irresponsible, and also brilliant" (Peter Bradshaw), Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood (released 14 August) is sure to be deliciously entertaining.

With a comparable reputation for cinematic outrageousness, Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) hits screens 23 August. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a film director in mental and physical decline, whose encounters lead him to reflect on key moments in his life: a childhood in 1960s Valencia, the ecstatic discovery of cinema, falling in love in Madrid. Reuniting Banderas with Penélope Cruz – the former winning the Best Actor prize at Cannes – the film’s been equally praised by critics and audiences. TIME Magazine’s Stephanie Zackarech exclaimed that “everything about Pain and Glory is awake and alive,” while David Sexton declared it “Almodóvar’s best for years […] hugely enjoyable.”

If you thought contemplating your own obsolescence was tough, then you’ve never wrestled with a congregation of alligators during a category five hurricane. Crawl is a teeth-gnashing suspense film, auspiciously helmed by Evil Dead (1981) creator Sam Raimi and The Hills Have Eyes (2006) director Alexandre Aja. In cinemas 23 August, the film begins with a young woman’s untimely search for her missing father, only for them both to become trapped by rising flood-waters and pursued by voracious reptiles. Merging disaster movie and creature feature, Crawl is breathless fun: described by Rotten Tomatoes as “fast, terrifying” and “action-packed.”

From humid Florida to 1980's Luton, director Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham, 2002) delivers another crowd-pleaser with Blinded by the Light, in cinemas 9 August. Recreating the era of “Wham boys and Bananarama girls,” Margaret Thatcher and racial tension, Viveik Kalra stars as Javed: a British-Pakistani teenager struggling to find his own identity. This changes when he’s introduced to the music of Bruce Springsteen – “a direct line to all that’s true in this shitty world” – whose songs inspire Javed to chase his dreams. Based on British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir “Greetings from Bury Park,” Blinded by the Light looks to be equal-parts heart-warming and hilarious. Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, out 30 August and starring Honor Swinton Byrne, provides a middle-class evocation of the same decade: described by Adam Graham as “rich and quiet and sneakily affecting” and adored by critics.

Your inbox deserves a little culture! Get our monthly newsletter