In the summer of 2001 two fictional brothers, Josh and Tom Sterling (Scott and Hartnett) have a red hot internet company called (knock…knock…knock. Who is it? Uhh… Candygram.) “Landshark.” Considered the rock star of the burgeoning internet Tom Sterling smokes a lot and has some bitchin tattoos including one on his neck. Ooooh, edgy. Tom also has no discernable talent aside from being uncannily able to act like a raging douchbag for the films 90 minute run time in the tedious and ultimately pointless film “August.”
When we first meet the brothers Sterling Tom is acting like the king of the hill, doling out ideas and ways to keep looking cool to the outside world. Yet all is not well in the touchy internet boon and when we flash forward 5 months, Landshark is on the verge of bankruptcy. Tom, ever the strong silent type continues fiddling as his world burns around him but through it all it just becomes more and more difficult to give a s**t. This film goes nowhere and I actually found myself LOLing at a scene that typifies how pointless “August” is.
It’s late at night and after his nightly smoke and glass of milk, Tom still can’t sleep. So he gets up and emails his brother. With all the crash and burn in the brothers life and the fact the we the audience are privy to the email exchange, this should be an insightful moment, right? Tom emails Josh, “hey bro. Howzit?” Josh, cleaning his house and helping his wife with their child (you know, being a mature adult) answers back, “fine. How’s bayou?” I should note here, I have no clue who or what “bayou” is. Tom, still unable to rest writes back, “fine.” And we end scene. What the hell?!
There’s also more than a few ironies in this posturing film the most obvious of which is how much the character of Tom’s life and popularity resembles the career path of Hartnett. Really not good at much else than looking good and having cool facial hair, we wonder what purpose Tom’s character plays in this fictionalized life. While on the other hand and in another ironic instance, Tom’s brother Josh is intriguing yet mostly ignored. Mainly he’s interesting because he puts up with Tom and moreso because he has a wife and a new kid. Making Landshark succeed isn’t a matter of pride or status, it’s a necessity. Yet rather than see how Tom’s douchebaggery makes Josh feel or even how Josh copes with the impending doom, we stick with Tom as he drives fast in his cool car and sullenly smokes as his company falls apart around him.
Another issue I had with the film is the fact that neither we the audience nor the people in the film seem to have the slightest idea what Landshark actually does. There’s talk of page views and content aggregation but why is Landshark so popular? Tom’s dad in the film (Torn) actually calls him on this and mentions the fact that when he stopped by Landshark, all he saw were a bunch of hipsters sitting at cool desks and snacking. Is “August” supposed to be making fun of the internet boom and Tom’s character type? If it is, I missed the joke until just now. At another point a disheveled Tom is reminded he has to deliver a keynote address at a big convention and he delivers a rousing speech, utilizing the old “I’m not gonna read this speech I prepared” routine, complete with tearing up the speech and throwing it on the ground. Again, ooooh, edgy.
Ugh, I could go on but why bother. I don’t think Austin Chick is a bad director and for as much as I don’t “get” Hartnett, I don’t hate the guy or his work. I’m ambivalent about him at best. It’s just that “August” doesn’t make a lot of sense nor does it seem to have a message or point.