Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson go lip-to-lip in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (left); Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black go head-to-head in Tropic Thunder.
Once a dumping ground for lacklustre films, August has become a month for strong pre-Film Fest fare
Pineapple Express (August 6)
Seth Rogen and James Franco, check. Judd Apatow producer credit, check. Comedy-thriller plot about two stoners fleeing from killers, check. Art-house director David Gordon Green, bouncing back from the pretentious murk of Undertow and Snow Angels with his first commercial vehicle... well, it's gotta be better than Drillbit Taylor.
Tropic Thunder (August 13)
Director-star Ben Stiller returns to his media-satire roots with this action-comedy about a bunch of self-involved actors who think the guerrilla war into which they've been accidentally dropped is some kind of Dogme 95 meta-production. But the actor everyone's buzzing about is Robert Downey Jr., playing a white guy playing a black guy in the summer's ballsiest piece of casting.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (August 15)
Tout le monde at the Cannes Film Festival was buzzing over the three-way love scene between Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz in Woody Allen's sun-drenched tale of American college students summering in Spain. Is it erotic? Is it... graphic? The entire marketing campaign is built on making you very, very keen to find out.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (August 15)
George Lucas fills in a little more of the blank space between Episodes II and III with this computer-generated feature, following the exploits of the younger, happier Anakin Skywalker and his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi as they battle that army of clone troopers. Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and Anthony Daniels return to voice their characters; Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor do not.
Death Race (August 22)
Paul W.S. Anderson - the guy behind the Resident Evil movies and the first Alien Vs. Predator - reinvents Roger Corman and Paul Bartel's grindhouse classic Death Race 2000 for the 21st century. Expect considerably less political commentary and way more explosions as Jason Statham steps into the driver's seat. Oh, Joan Allen plays the heavy.
The House Bunny (August 22)
Anna Faris, the breakout star of the Scary Movie movies, finally gets her own vehicle, playing a Playboy bunny who moves into a college sorority and goes all Legally Blonde on her housemates. Faris's demented comic sensibility should clash nicely with the dry delivery of Superbad's Emma Stone, who also stars in this month's The Rocker.