The Hottest August Review

Life during late stage capitalism is fraught with anxiety and hypocrisy. No one quite knows what the future holds for us, but if the present is any indication, it doesn’t seem promising – unless things start to change very quickly. Global warming, gentrification and a vanishing middle class, among other woes, all lead up to a sense that we’re headed toward a kind of post-apocalyptic Dickensian society.

This is the worldview that powers documentarian Brett Story’s The Hottest August, her follow-up to 2016’s excellent The Prison in Twelve Landscapes. Like her previous film, The Hottest August sets out to create a sociological portrait. In The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, it was the lives of people impacted by mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. Here, it’s life at the end of capitalism. Story spent August 2017 interviewing everyday people from across New York’s five boroughs, asking them about their current fears and their thoughts about the future. The result is a collage of personalities, backgrounds and anxieties, ranging from natural disasters to economic collapse to fear about just making it through the day.

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