AJFF Recommends: What to Watch in August

08/2/2017

We've got our film picks ready for this month. Among our recommendations is a new comedy, two former AJFF picks, and a TV series that picks up where a film favorite left off. 

In Theatres

Landline
This new dramedy, set in the nostalgia of ‘90s New York, revolves around two sisters in a Jewish-Italian family, who suspect their father may be having an affair. It sends them into a tailspin that reveals cracks in the family façade. For the first time, older sister Dana, played by Jewish actress Jenny Slate, finds herself bonding with her wild teenage sister, Ali. The two try to uncover the truth without tipping off their mother and discover the messy reality of love and sex in the process. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Netflix

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later
The third iteration of the original Jewish cult classic, helmed once again by Michael Showalter, returns to the small screen this month. The Netflix series is a sequel to both to the 2001 film Wet Hot American Summer, and the 2015 prequel television series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. The full cast returns once again with the very notable exception of Bradley Cooper, whose character ironically came up with the premise for this latest version of the series. The franchise has found a hilarious workaround to the obstactle of replacing Cooper, which you can read all about here before binge watching the series.

Bad Santa
At first glance, a film about Santa set at Christmas wouldn't strike a Jewish chord, even if it's not really about Santa. But of course, Bad Santa is "brought to life by a Jew from Wisconsin and four Jewish brothers," as Tablet wrote on the film's tenth anniversary. The Jew from Wisconsin was director Terry Zwigoff, but it's two of the four Jewish brothers – Joel and Ethan Coen – whose script rewrite lifts the material to classic status.

There's also Lauren Graham's turn as a bartender who picked up a Santa fetish in rebellion against her Jewish father's dismissal of ol' St. Nick. Scenes featuring Sarah Silverman were sadly cut from the theatrical release, though you can see them on YouTube. Maybe this dark comedy is the most Jewish Christmas movie after all?

DVD & Blu-Ray

Eva Hesse
In the first feature-length appreciation of her life and work, Eva narrates her own story through personal diaries and letters read aloud by actress Selma Blair. Interviews with fellow artists, friends, family, curators and critics are interwoven with deftly captured images of Hesse’s multidimensional artwork, as well as extensive black-and-white photos. A New York Times Critics’ Pick, this poetic and evocative biography celebrates an influential artist who overcame gender barriers to redefine her medium.

The Exception
Christopher Plummer, Jai Courtney, and Lily James star in this suspenseful WWII drama and previous AJFF Selects, which follows a German soldier sent to track down a British spy, who falls for a young chambermaid with a secret identity. The film is adapted from Alan Judd’s best-selling novel The Kaiser’s Last Kiss.