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The specter of September 11th looms over August--there are numerous indications that it’s set in 2001, and the title alone is an ominous indication of the imminence of that awful day--but watching this 2008 offering, one gets the feeling that even if Tom Sterling knew 9/11 was coming, he wouldn’t change a thing. As written by Howard A. Rodman, directed by Austin Chick, and portrayed by John Hartnett, Tom is almost completely unlikable. A dot-com entrepreneur in those heady days before the techno bubble burst and internet companies like his Land Shark went directly south, Tom’s hipper than his neck tattoo, disdainful of his competition, borderline abusive to his younger, meeker brother (the technical brains behind the company they founded together), hostile to his parents, and a jerk to his former girlfriend, the one person he actually seems to care about. He’s also a master at talking loud and saying absolutely nothing. One of the filmmakers’ conceits is that we’re never told exactly what it is that Land Shark does; Tom mouths some nonsense about providing "bleeding-edge, mission-critical, cross-platform, robust, scale-able architectures," but the company’s principal function, as his dad (Rip Torn) puts it, seems to be to provide office space for his young employees to eat Oreos and play computer solitaire, and when Land Shark meets the fate of others of its ilk, it’s mighty hard to care. No flies on Hartnett--the guy is a star, and rarely less than watchable. But August is a cold film, in both look and feel, and even a brief but memorable scene near the end with David Bowie as the one character who seems able to talk straight won’t keep you from wanting to take a shower when it’s all over. --Sam Graham