Released in a single theater, August was the furthest thing from what one would consider a “big” film. With a cast made up of little star power aside from star Josh Hartnett, the film didn’t make too many waves during its original run and despite a few critics enjoying their time in the theater, the general reception of the film was that of one of disgust and boredom. With the film recently finding its way to the DVD format courtesy of First Look Pictures, there’s still a chance for the film to reach a wider audience.
In August of 2001, the bottom of the stock market fell out, causing serious issues for companies across the board. One young dot-com company, Landshark, headed up by Tom (Josh Hartnett) finds itself in a world of trouble as they attempt to fight through a month to stay above water. Despite trying their best, Landshark is too deep in the hole and without any clients on board, they’re forced to look elsewhere for funding—including entertaining an idea of allowing another company to take a controlling interest. The film stars Josh Hartnett, Naomi Harris, Adam Scott, Rip Torn, and David Bowie.
I had hopes for August, though I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve always like Hartnett as an actor and I haven’t truly dislike anything he’s been in, so I was curious to see how this film fared with him in the lead. The first thing you’ll notice from the start that aside from setting the time period with archival news footage, the film does nothing to actually tell you, up front, what is going on. It was only because of the description on the back of the box did anything actually have any relevance. It felt like the first part of the film was missing, as we’re thrown almost immediately into a world of failure for the company.
Perhaps I just don’t know too much about the dot-com business or how it fell (I was only fourteen at the time and quite honestly didn’t care too much about that), but this film sure did a lousy job at explaining at what was going on. The characters were all rather boring o watch, and even the focus of the film, Hartnett, had me wondering what exactly I was watching. His character was a smart talking tech guy, but…that was it. He was having a fight with his brother for the majority of the film, but that was the extent we actually saw of his character, aside from a girlfriend that popped in during the middle of the film then ended up disappearing once again by the end of it. It was such a haphazard film that I had no idea what I was watching for the majority of the time it was on the screen.
But, that’s not a big deal usually. Even if it’s confusing to understand, there are just simply some films that are like that. Not everything is fully explained and laid out, I get that, but the movie didn’t even tell us what the company, Landshark, even did. Perhaps that’s why the whole dot-com business went to pot, because no one actually did anything. Whatever the reason, just when you thought you’d find out what they did…nothing. Also incredibly strange was a conversation that Tom and his brother Josh (Adam Scott) have with each other over the computer. I know I was using instant messenger back in 2001, but these guys just kept sending emails back and forth. It was such a strange occurrence—I mean You’ve Got Mail was made before the time this film even takes place, so what’s going on here exactly? Maybe it’s an Apple thing, I don’t know.
The film just came off as excessively egotistical to me. An abundance of exterior shots of Tom driving his car around the city just ate up time and aside from some nice family moments between Tom and his mother and father, there was no characterization in the film at all. You literally could’ve have switched the characters around with one another here as none of them did anything of any importance that truly made the actors stand out in any way. It was just a terribly dull and boring film that, despite its eighty eight minute run time, dragged on far too long. Also the big debut of David Bowie in the film lasted all of two minutes, so don’t expect anything big contributions on his part.
August is just a very, very dull film. I find it hard that anyone could glean anything of interest off of it, although the cinematography and directing wasn’t half bad so you could get into that, I suppose. Those looking for a decent storyline or characters should look elsewhere though; it’s a lot of wasted talent in this film and had more time been spent on developing the characters and actually giving the film a decent beginning and ending would have done wonders for it. Instead what we end up with is what essentially feels like an overly long short film that never once changes speed and has no real first, second or third act. Skip It.
As with most First Look Studios titles, there isn’t a whole lot of here to check out in terms of bonus features, unless you consider a 5.1 Dolby Surround, English and Spanish subtitles and previews for other films bonus features. If you do, then you must still be living in 1999 when those things mattered.
Yeah, there isn’t anything here to check out. The film itself comes in a standard amaray DVD case without any booklets or anything inside accompanying the disc that has art that mimics the rear cover. It’s great that a studio like First Look exists simply because they’ve been putting out some films with high-quality stars in them, but the stories are almost all crap. I’ve enjoyed very few of the movies that First Look puts out, even though the trailers for the films look absolutely great, I’m almost always disappointed with them. But, I guess it is a positive thing for them to be putting so many films out on the market regardless. Someone’s bound to enjoy these even if I don’t.
Another strange thing on the First Look DVDs is that the transfers are always interlaced. I’ve yet to really understand why, but I’ve never seen a title of theirs without an interlaced transfer. The same thing happens here; it’s a strong and solid picture on it, but it’s interlaced. There’s no abundance of compression or anything and it looks pretty good during the really artistic looking shots (especially an early one where Hartnett’s character is driving over a bridge). The audio is a fair 5.1 mix, but since the film is mostly dialogue driven it stays to the front channels. Rears get used only in the bar sequences or around the office.
Overall a very poor DVD release for a rather dull and uninteresting film. Like the film, this one can be Skipped.
August is now available on DVD.