This month’s hot titles are heavy on fantasy and sci-fi, from an animated adventure from Lin-Manuel Miranda to a “Bourne”-style conspiracy travelogue to a dystopian thriller set in a climate-ravaged Miami.
Ryan Murphy bankrolled this powerful doc, which has been called a “definitive documentary on conversion therapy,” the dangerously pseudo-scientific practice of converting gay men and women to “heterosexual” Christians. Focusing on Exodus International, the nonprofit responsible for much of the messaging and brainwashing on this issue, “Pray Away” includes interviews with former Exodus leaders and participants who were forced to choose between God and their biology. You could say it’s a one-sided documentary, but that’s because there really is only one side to this demonstrably destructive practice, and “Pray Away” is further evidence of its cruelty and homophobia.
There are two reasons this animated musical feature has us at hello: Its protagonist is a kinkajou, and its songs are by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I probably needn’t say more, but in case you need further convincing, Vivo is the titular long-tailed mammal from Havana (voiced by Miranda) who embarks on a journey to deliver a decades-old love song from his elderly owner, Cuban musician Andres, to Andres’ former partner in life and music: Superstar singer Marta Sandoval (aptly voiced by Gloria Estefan). It’s a trip that takes the kinkajou to Miami, and the attentions of Marta’s offbeat grand-niece (Zoe Saldana). Expect to be moved and energized, as the rap patter with which Miranda is most associated is in full force here.
Available Aug. 13
John David Washington is the man who knows too much in this stylish international thriller in the mold of Hitchcock and Ludlum. He plays the title character, an innocent American tourist vacationing in Greece with his girlfriend (Alicia Vikander), who, after a car accident leaves his arm in a sling, realizes he has stumbled into a conspiracy, and is the target of an extra-governmental manhunt. Boyd Holbrook and Vicky Krieps join the excellent cast.
ON AMAZON PRIME
A year after the publication of his memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry, actor’s actor Val Kilmer is once again in the spotlight, as the subject of this critically acclaimed documentary portrait. Known for immersing himself with Method-like precision into roles as diverse as Batman, Jim Morrison and Mark Twain, Kilmer ascended Hollywood with a mythology all his own, from his fastidious creativity behind various lenses—he describes himself as the first kid in his town to own a video camera—to his second life as a nearly off-the-grid rancher in New Mexico, to his present status, as a living legend ravaged by throat cancer. As Kilmer himself diagnoses in the movie, he is a “sensitive, intelligent human being with the soul of a clown.”
Available Aug. 20
Proof that there is still room in theaters and streaming services for an idiosyncratic big-budget vision, this English-language debut from France’s Leos Carax appears to be as experimental and daring as his back catalog (“Mauvais Sang,” “Holy Motors”). Adam Driver is a provocative standup comedian; Marion Cotillard is his wife, an international opera diva. Their life of cultural celebrity is upended when their first child, Nanette, is born with special powers. And it’s a musical! Two eccentric visions power the film: Carax’s and also that of Sparks, the English avant-pop duo in the midst of a late-career renaissance, who wrote the music and conceived the original story. Expect a wild ride.
ON HBO MAX
Available Aug. 20
This promising sci-fi feature-film debut from “Westworld” co-creator Lisa Joy hits close to home: It’s set in a disquietingly dystopian Miami ravaged by sea level rise. In a cityscape of partially submerged skyscrapers, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) toils at his unorthodox job, assisting clients to access lost memories from the past by hooking them up to a machine a la the Precogs in “Minority Report.” But it’s his own shattered past he’s trying to uncover, and a mysterious client named Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) will assist him in his elusive inner journey.