Only four months left in this historically disappointing cinematic year. Could September turn its fortunes around? Maybe. It’s actually probably the strongest month of the year, possibly because of the lack of major franchises.
September 1, 2017
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Close Encounters of the Third Kind – While the first weekend in September is generally slow (last year only gave us Morgan and The Light Between Ocean), this week essentially has nothing of note. The biggest movie this week is a 4K re-release of Steven Spielberg’s classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Honestly, it will probably be the best movie you see in theaters all year.
Smaller films this week include Dolores (a documentary on activist Dolores Huerta); Viceroy’s House (this month’s B-film waxing poetic on the relationship between English and Indian royalty); Unlocked (a Michael Apted movie about yet another CIA agent caught in yet another overarching conspiracy); and Jackals (another 1980s horror throwback).
September 8, 2017
IT v. HOME AGAIN v. 9/11
It – Although It might be considered be a long awaited adaptation of one of Stephen King’s most famous works, it only became famous because of an earlier adaptation, the 1990 ABC TV movie, which in turn is most famous because of Tim Curry’s masterful performance as Pennywise the Clown. This time, it’s Bill Skarsgård–son of Stellan and brother of Alexander–who dons the colorful pantaloons for director Andrés Muschietti. With throwbacks to 1980s horror movies all the rage now (Stranger Things easily being the most popular example, but it’s been common over the past several years), It is probably the best of King’s works to capitalize on the nostalgia by having both past and present components. The film updates the 1950’s/1980’s of the source material to the 1980’s/2010’s for today. It’s a pity that they didn’t already set the older cast for the eventual (though it should have been filmed concurrently) sequel. Given with how effective the marketing has been, it’s enough to overcome the stink of The Dark Tower.
9/11 – Charlie Sheen stars as one in a group of people who are stuck in elevator in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Whoopi Goldberg plays the dispatcher giving them help…and hope. The biggest question is where on the embarrassing/offensive spectrum this will fall.
September 15, 2017
mother! v. AMERICAN ASSASSIN v. BRAD’S STATUS v. REBEL IN THE RYE
mother! – Darren Aronofsky‘s first film since 2014’s Noah (probably the best of the Biblical epics of the early 2010’s) teams him with Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple dealing with uninvited house guests. Aronofsky is a director you can trust, and mother!‘s trailer and even its posters are atmospheric in a way few manage to be.
American Assassin – Regular Homeland director Michael Cuesta remains with the CIA for yet another movie about CIA black ops featuring a protege (accident-prone Maze Runner star Dylan O’Brien) growing distrustful of his probably villainous mentor (Michael Keaton). Isn’t this The Recruit?
Brad’s Status – Mike White, who wrote one of the year’s best-reviewed movies (Beatriz at Dinner) and one of its worst-reviewed movies (The Emoji Film), writes and directs Brad’s Status. Ben Stiller, a genuinely underrated dramatic comedy actor, stars as a man who grows insecure about his life choices when taking his kid to visit colleges. This is not the first time White has tackled this territory-the Jack Black/James Marsden film The D-Train, covered similar ground-but hopefully this won’t lose its focus like the earlier film did.
Rebel in the Rye – They can’t do a film version of Catcher in the Rye, so the next best thing is a biopic with Mad Max: Fury Road‘s Nicolas Hoult as the legendary recluse. Films like this are traditionally created for Oscar buzz. Unfortunately, the combination of a PG-13 rating plus a mid-September burial almost ensures that this will be just another toothless biopic.
September 22, 2017
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE v. THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE v. BATTLE OF THE SEXES v. FRIEND REQUEST v. VICTORIA AND ABDUL v. STRONGER v. WOODSHOCK
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Matthew Vaughn headlines this huge week with a sequel to his hyper-charged 007 parody-ish, Kingsman: The Secret Service. The first one was a pleasant surprise, updating all of the old James Bond tropes to frantic modern day filmmaking, and this one, which brings some of Britain’s best spies to America, seems to continue down that path.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie – The second LEGO movie this year is based on an animated property and toy franchise I am not at all familiar with, so I can’t begin to guess how popular it is. But it is this month’s only kid’s movie (and last month only gave us Leap!) so that gives it a huge advantage.
Battle of the Sexes – In this year’s first of two Based on a True Match tennis movies, Battle of the Sexes features Emma Stone and Steve Carrell as real life players Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. While this has most of the components of your traditional Rocky-style sports film (the underdog vs. the showboat), the trailers (at least) are doing a good job of highlighting what seems to be great performances from the leads.
Friend Request – Not to be confused with 2015’s Unfriended, Friend Request is another Facebook-inspired horror movie where we’re taught, be careful who you like…
Victoria and Abdul – The second, and probably bigger, movie this month that plays up the relationship between England and India. This period piece stars Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, who befriends a clerk from India, much to the dismay of her underlings. Based on the trailer, this movie is full of the monarchy, dottering, dueling dottering, and all of the other tropes relied on in elderly-skewing Anglophile films.
Stronger – Jake Gyllenhaal is a fantastic actor and Orphan Black showed what a talent Tatiana Maslany can be. Even director David Gordon Green, who is best known for his collaborations with Danny McBride, is an accomplished dramatic filmmaker with works like All The Real Girls and Joe. So it’s a bit unfortunate that they are uniting for what seems like clear awards bait with Stronger, an inspiring story about a man who loses his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing and learns to live again.
Woodshock – With Fargo Season 2, The Beguiled, and the upcoming On Becoming a God in Central Florida (a TV project from Yorgos Lanthimos, director of The Lobster), Kirsten Dunst is taking on increasingly interesting roles. This month’s Woodshock puts her with first time writer-directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy on a surrealistic journey involving drug use.
September 29, 2017
AMERICAN MADE v. FLATLINERS v. LUCKY
American Made – Third movie this month about secretive CIA operations, and the second with American as the first part of a two-word title. Except this one might be good? Even though Tom Cruise misstepped earlier this year with The Mummy, the based-on-a-true-story American Made seems like his first actual adult movie since… 2008’s Valkyrie? Set during the drug wars of the 1980s, Cruise plays a pilot running drugs on behalf of the CIA to South America. Made re-teams him with his Edge of Tomorrow/Live Die Repeat/Whatever They’re Calling It Now director Doug Liman.
Flatliners – Sequel? Remake? Soft reboot? Flatliners is a re-whatever of the 1990 Julia Roberts/Kevin Bacon thriller about medical students who temporarily kill themselves to see what life is like after they die, though this one seems a bit heavier on the bad horror effects. Kiefer Sutherland is returning to bridge the two movies, which sound exactly the same.
Lucky – Possibly this month’s most interesting smallest movie, Lucky is the directorial debut of John Carroll Lynch, one of the most popular Hey It’s That Guy guys (probably best known as the likeliest Zodiac Killer, Arthur Leigh Allen in David Fincher’s Zodiac and as Marge Gunderson’s bird painting husband in the film Fargo). This one stars HIT Grandfather Harry Dean Stanton as an atheist who goes on a spiritual journey and co-stars legendary director David Lynch.
So that’s September. mother! is probably the overall most interesting movie, but between Kingsman, It, and American Made there could be some good stuff finally coming our way. Then onto October, Oscar season kicks into high gear with future hits like Geostorm.