With the end of the summer comes the slowest month of the year for film-goers. At least with “F*ck You, It’s January” you can catch up on classier movies; smaller films making their way across the country after their LA/NY-only Oscar push. With September, what do you have? Have you seen The End of the Tour? Then you’re pretty much caught up. Now that that’s out of the way, why not binge watch great television shows that are in the midst of/recently completed their current season? Rick and Morty? Rectify? Review with Forrest MacNeil? Shows not beginning with R?
So let’s take a look at what we have to look “forward” to – both big and small – until we finally get our next must-see, The Martian on October 2.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2015
The Big: THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED
The Transporter Refueled – With last week proving that it’s hard out there for a bald, black suited destructo-machine (and not all too profitable), it’s difficult to imagine this reboot making much headway, especially with genuinely good action movies out there such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation. However, it is the first big movie for the traditional demographic in nearly a month, plus one cannot deny the appeal of automobiles doing crazy stunts after the success of Furious 7, so it might get some eyes.
However, this is a franchise that was never overly popular, even with its biggest success – Transporter 2 made less than $100 worldwide. Nevertheless, it obtained renown, mostly due to the charisma of lead Jason Statham, one of the last true action stars (we’re pretty much down to him, Dwayne Johnson, and Tom Cruise). With Statham out, it’s relying on Ed Skrien someone whose biggest role thus far is as Quinn on the pensive Showtime drama Homeland. And on a personal note, the trailer even uses the praise “This Time It’s Personal.” It’s 2015, we should be beyond that even as parody.
The Little: A WALK IN THE WOODS
A Walk in the Woods – The biggest little film this week is the based-on-a-true-story A Walk in the Woods. Sounding a bit like Wild meets All is Lost, Woods stars Robert Redford as real life travel writer Bill Bryson (the author of the book upon which this movie was based) who travels the Appalachian Trail and runs across zany characters. With a decent cast also including Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, and Nick Offerman, the film has not been getting good reviews thus far. It will possibly connect with a mostly underserved older audience, but probably is unlikely to find a larger crowd.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2015
The Big: THE PERFECT GUY
The Perfect Guy – The semi-annual “urban audience” thriller. Nearly every year, there is a thriller such as this one with an attractive cast and a plot that seems better suited for a Lifetime Original Movie. Previous examples include 2014’s No Good Deed and 2009’s Obsessed. Despite getting bad reviews, these films tend to do well financially on a relatively small budget. It also helps that The Perfect Guy is competing against The Visit, a new M. Night Shyamalan movie that the marketing people are seemingly trying to bury.
The Little: SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE
Sleeping with Other People – Despite the good (or should I say “likeable” to be more accurate) cast, Sleeping with Other People joins the long line of indie comedies about late 20/early 30 somethings in the midst of arrested development learning to grow up. While it has a decent crop of comedy television stars – SNL‘s Jason Sudeikis, Community‘s Alison Brie, and Parks and Recreation‘s Adam Scott, to name a few – the early reviews make this movie sound borderline good at best. Odds are, this is something you accidentally stumble upon on Netflix Instant at two in the morning after noticing it in a “Because You Watched…” queue.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2015
The Big(s): BLACK MASS and MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS
Finally, things are beginning to pick up on September 18. This is the first big movie push in weeks.
Black Mass – Hey everyone, it’s time for a new Johnny Depp movie. Unfortunately, this one might actually be good – isn’t it so much easier just to hate and condemn him? After tiring us out with horrible larger-than-life personas in big budget productions (e.g. The Lone Ranger) and wasting his mostly forgotten dramatic talents on directionless films (e.g. Transcendence, Public Enemies), maybe this time he finally found the right mix. Directed by Scott Cooper (the decent Crazy Heart, the meandering Out of the Furnace), this based-on-a-true-story-affairs tells the story of Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger and his relationship with the FBI. For those interested in the real world background, I recommend the documentary Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, which focuses on his 2013 trial; it is available on Netflix Instant. I’d say this might mark a return to form for Depp, but with his next movies being a sequel to the horrendous Alice in Wonderland and the fifth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, don’t rekindle your fandom just yet.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trial – The first in the Maze Runner saga (reviewed and assessed previously) gave us a world where every YA trope could be re-purposed without an ounce of creativity, character, or closure. I mean, the film gladly made it a plot point that everyone in The Glade was bereft of personality. Although not nearly as popular as its brethren, it does have a chance to appeal to those too anxious to wait for the fifth annual Hunger Games in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 in November.
The Little: SICARIO
Sicario – Despite my tentative enthusiasm for Black Mass, Sicario is actually the movie I’m most looking forward to this week, which means it’s the movie I’m most looking forward to this month. While television shows and movies about drugs and the border wars can vary drastically in quality, director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) has established himself as one of the better in the latest crop of filmmakers. His films have shown him as a director who is able to find the humanity in what could be generic (or strange) plots and also create suitably unsettling atmospheres. Throw in a fantastic cast including Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro who can elevate any movie he’s in (e.g. the otherwise dreadful Savages) plus some good early reviews, and it’s worth getting a jump on Villeneuve before the studio ruins him during the making of Blade Runner 2. (Please don’t go Trank on us.)
SEPTEMBER 25, 2015
The Big(s): HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 and THE INTERN
Hotel Transylvania 2 – Adam Sandler hasn’t been having the best couple of years. Some of the e-mails in the Sony hack showed the concern the studio had regarding his (lack of) profitability. Tom McCarthy’s The Cobbler was so terrible, you ended up feeling bad for Adam Sandler for being in it. Pixels, a movie which should have been a surefire success, ended up being his worst reviewed movie yet and a flop. And he thinks that a Western Comedy is a good idea, even after seeing what happened with A Million Ways to Die in the West? So when all else fails (and all else has failed), back to the drawing board, literally. So we get Hotel Transylvania 2, the sequel to the 2012 animated comedy that made over $350 million worldwide; maybe not seeing Sandler has some advantages. It might also help that he has better-than-average behind the scenes people assisting him on this film, like writer Robert Smigel (whose TV Funhouse work was among SNL’s most brilliant material for a decade and whose short-lived Comedy Central TV Funhouse shows is one of the all-time funniest one season wonders) and director Genndy Tartovsky of Dexter’s Laboratory fame.
The Intern – Although not nearly as old-skewing as A Walk in the Woods, Nancy Meyer’s The Intern exists slightly outside the 18-34 age range that Hollywood favors. Starring Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, The Intern seems bland and flavorless in an inoffensive way. Likeable without being memorable, able to lightly pluck on the heartstrings without strangling the organ with a maudlin grip of despair, The Intern plays towards an area that Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give; It’s Complicated) knows well and is one of the few films with an eye towards an actual all-ages audience. And at least it’s not a Garry Marshall holiday production. (Though shockingly, he’s apparently completing his horrible holiday-based ensemble trilogy with Mother’s Day coming out next year.)
The Littler(s): STONEWALL and THE GREEN INFERNO
Stonewall– The Stonewall Riots of 1969 are considered a crucial moment in the LGBTQ rights struggle; a moment that united the community against decades-long oppression. And to direct this thoughtful (or Oscar bait-y, depending on your level of cynicism) story is Roland Emmerich, known for the thoughtful, socially conscious studies White House Down (the bad White House under attack movie from 2013), 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and Independence Day. While early reviews aren’t available just yet, it will be interesting to see if Emmerich can reform his image before taking on the heartfelt Independent Day: Resurgence.
The Green Inferno– Also today is the latest release date for Eli Roth’s latest movie, the cannibal horror tale, The Green Inferno. Remember when Eli Roth was a thing? Well, this his first film as a director since he made Nation’s Pride for Inglourious Basterds. Postponed for nearly two years, it seems to finally be making it to the big screen, now that they can produce a poster that makes us think about how great Mad Max: Fury Road was.
So that’s September. A dour, dour month if there ever was one. With the exception of Black Mass and Sicario (and the slow release of Queen of Earth), all we can do is catch up on what we want to see and wait until the Oscar season kicks off in October.