It's hard to believe that summer is nearly over! In this last month, I still watched and enjoyed plenty of big-budget flicks, but I also found myself watching more television and limited series than films than I usually do. Before we fast-forward to PSL and spooky season, I wanted to take a moment to slow down and reflect on my favorite media from August. My favorites included David Lowery's The Green Knight, James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi's Reservation Dogs, and Mike White's The White Lotus.
What were some of your favorite films, television shows, web series, books, or podcasts from August? Let me know what you're looking forward to or would recommend seeing in September!
The Green Knight
Director: David Lowery
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, Ralph Ineson & Erin Kellyman
Where to Watch: Prime Video
King Arthur's headstrong nephew Gawain (Patel) embarks on a daring quest to confront the Green Knight (Ineson), a mysterious giant who appears at Camelot. Risking his head, he sets off on an epic adventure to prove himself before his family and court.
I feel like I'm cheating a little bit since this film technically came out in July, but I hadn't seen it yet by the time I'd published last month's favorites blog, so I had to include it here. When I was in college, I had to take a British literature course as a major requirement, and one of my favorite texts we studied was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Salacious for its time and potential social commentary, I was always surprised that the Arthurian romance had so few adaptations (honestly, the 1973 film isn't great), so I was eager to see Lowery's adaptation.
If you're looking for a completely faithful adaptation, then this may not be the film for you. Still, I personally enjoyed Lowery's creative liberties, and Patel is fantastic as Gawain. The cinematography is gorgeous, the styling is unique to the period, and overall it makes for an engaging viewing experience. I prefer adaptations where filmmakers take their creative license and make the story their own, instead of adaptations like Beowulf (2007)—yikes. Overall, The Green Knight is definitely worth a watch, even if it may be polarizing to some audiences.
The Suicide Squad
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Sean Gunn, Flula Borg & Mayling Ng
Where to Watch: HBOMax
The government sends the most dangerous supervillains in the world—Bloodsport (Elba), Peacemaker (Cena), King Shark (Stallone), Harley Quinn (Robbie), and others—to the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Armed with high-tech weapons, they trek through the dangerous jungle on a search-and-destroy mission, with only Col. Rick Flag (Kinnaman) on the ground to make them behave.
Weasel. King Shark. Starfish. Polka dot virus. Pissmaker. What do these things have in common? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Yet, only a director like James Gunn could pull all of these crackpot ideas together and somehow make a cohesive and entertaining movie. This was what David Ayer's Suicide Squad (2016) should have been all along: Taking a group of characters that no one should give a flying flip about and making the audience care.
Building on Ayer's foundation (R.I.P. Ayer Cut), Gunn's The Suicide Squad introduces a whole host of new villains, from the bizarrely incompetent to the rage-inducing and realistically raises the stakes until doomsday hits, with the Suicide Squad saving the day in a strangely charming fashion in a way only these assholes could accomplish. This movie ticks all of the boxes for a great blockbuster: It's fun, raunchy, action-packed, and doesn't take itself too seriously. Would Martin Scorsese praise this film? Probably not. Does that matter? Not really.
And, while I hate to compare films, I think Gunn's The Suicide Squad is the better antihero movie. Suppose the rumors are true about Ayer's experience with Warner Brothers; if that's the case, I hope the studio has learned its lesson. Let directors make the movies you've hired them to helm. No more micromanaging. When you let people do their jobs, you get hits like The Suicide Squad.
Creators: Sterlin Harjo & Taika Waititi
Cast: D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis, Lane Factor, Elva Guerra, Zahn McClarnon & Sarah Podemski
Where to Watch: Hulu
Four Indigenous teenagers in rural eastern Oklahoma steal, rob, and save in order to get to the exotic, mysterious, and faraway land of California.
An honest, sincere, and refreshing view of a community that doesn't get much screentime, Reservation Dogs is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows of the year. Framed as a coming-of-age story, Harjo and Waititi's show offers a glimpse at Rez life: the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly.
However, the most impressive part of Reservation Dogs is its young cast. I am consistently blown away by the core four characters Bear, Elora, Cheese, and Willie Jack, but especially D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai and Devery Jacobs; their performances are beyond their years.
While Reservation Dogs fills a void desperately needed in terms of representation, especially Indigenous youth, it is a good show. Period. And, with a confirmed second season on the horizon, I'm excited to see how the rest of the first season plays out and where the Rez Dogs end up.
If you're interested in further reading about Indigenous representation and stereotypes in film, I would highly recommend either Jacquelyn Kilpatrick's book Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film (1999) or Peter C. Rollins and John E. O'Connor's anthology Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film (2011).
The White Lotus
Creator: Mike White
Cast: Murray Bartlett, Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Lacy, Natasha Rothwell, Steve Zahn, Fred Hechinger, Sydney Sweeney, Brittany O'Grady, and Molly Shannon
Set in a tropical resort, The White Lotus follows various guests and employees over one highly transformative week. Checking into the luxurious White Lotus Hawaiian resort is a group of vacationers who run roughshod over the manager and head of spa services. As darker dynamics emerge, the truths of the travelers, employees, and even the idyllic locale itself are revealed.
The White Lotus was a surprising reprieve to all of the heavy, blockbuster-type content I watched throughout August. I like huge, cinematic, action-packed flicks just as much as the next viewer (especially during the summer), but The White Lotus caught me in ways I wasn't expecting.
The White Lotus is a character study of the haves and have-nots set against a beautiful tropical paradise, furthering the divide between those in power and those who strive for more. Without giving too much away, while this limited series is billed as a satirical comedy, it's definitely a tragedy in a similar vein as Bong Joon Ho's Parasite (2019). And due to the limited series' popularity, HBO recently announced that The White Lotus will be retooled as an anthology series comparable to FX's American Horror Story. I'll be interested to see what more they can do with this concept in a future season.