Aug. 6: Tolkien (DVD and Blu-ray Release)
Technically, this isn't an adaptation, but you’d think that a biopic of J.R.R. Tolkien, the English author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, would focus on the man’s writing. But director Dome Karukoski had other ideas in this film, which mostly covers Tolkien’s teens and 20s in the early 20th century. Viewers only get to see the author write exactly one line of The Hobbit at the very end of the movie, and before that, they get little sense of the passions that drove him to write it. Still, the acting is often quite good—particularly Lily Collins as Tolkien’s future wife, Edith Bratt, and the great Derek Jacobi as an inspirational Oxford University professor. (For more on the film, check out Kirkus’ “Screener” column from last May.)
Aug. 9: The Art of Racing in the Rain (Film Premiere)
Back in January, Kirkus published a “Screener” column on A Dog’s Way Home—a film adaptation of W. Bruce Cameron’s 2017 novel of the same name. Both the book and movie are narrated by a dog, with mixed results. Garth Stein’s 2008 book takes the same tack with its story of a troubled race-car driver and his canine pal. Dog-voicing duties in its new film adaptation are handled, improbably, by Oscar winner Kevin Costner. (Hopefully, the dog will never have to say “Back…and to the left.”) Milo Ventimiglia, meanwhile, continues his streak of portraying hero-worshipped father figures.
Aug. 9: Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark (Film Premiere)
The late Alvin Schwartz’s famous children’s book trilogy features rather unsettling tales of monsters and murderers. They’re so unsettling, in fact, that the books were once among those most frequently challenged in libraries, according to the American Library Association. This new, PG-13–rated movie adaptation features a cast of young actors, but it looks like it could truly terrify kids—and many adults, for that matter. It’s produced and co-written by Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, and it’sdirected by Trollhunter’s André Øvredal, who’s also working on a long-awaited movie version of Stephen King’s The Long Walk.
Aug. 16: Mindhunter (Season 2 Premiere, Netflix)
This unnerving Netflix series—loosely based on the 1995 nonfiction book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker—follows two FBI agents and a psychology professor as they interview imprisoned serial killers in the late 1970s. They’re trying to figure out what makes such people tick so that they can stop similar perpetrators in the future. Several real-life killers made their way into the story last season, including Ed Kemper, chillingly portrayed by Cameron Britton. Looking’s Jonathan Groff, character actor Holt McCallany, and Fringe’s Anna Torv all did excellent work as the fictional investigators, and they’re all back for this new season. There was surprisingly little graphic violence last time around, but make no mistake: The interviews made for deeply disturbing viewing on their own—and this season, which involves the horrific Atlanta child murders, promises more of the same.
Aug. 16: Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Film Premiere)
Director Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Maria Semple’s quirky novel from 2012—about a Seattle woman who goes missing shortly before a scheduled Antarctica trip—has had a long gestation period. The Cate Blanchett–starring film was originally set for release in May 2018, but since then, its release date has been pushed back four times. It should finally hit screens on Aug. 16—if Bernadette can manage to stay put.
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.