September Cinema Preview
Summer is finally over and those moody youngsters start packing up their spandex and special effects and pounding soundtracks to make way for “adult” films.
September through December is when the Hollywood studios start unloading their “Oscar Bait”… the Spiderman franchise may bring in the bucks, but the fall films are what pull in the Academy Award noms.
This month there’s films from Terry Gilliam and Kevin Smith; Tina Fey and Michael Fassbender show up in seriously humorous (or humorously serious) films while Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington and Idris Elba wreak all kinds of havoc on our screens.
September 5 (national release dates)
Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta star in this movie about two identical twins separated at birth – one goes on to look and sing a lot like Elvis … the other tries hard to make his preacher father love him.
Idris Elba is definitely not playing Nelson Mandela (for which he was Golden Globe nominated in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) when he barges into the life of a suburban Atlanta woman (Taraji P. Henson), terrorizing her and her family.
Liam Neeson, having recently recovered his kidnapped daughter in another action franchise, now finds himself as an ex-NYPD cop hired by a drug dealer (played by Dan Stevens … late of Downton Abbey) to search and destroy the men who murdered the dealer’s family.
A Who’s Who of British acting royalty – Bill (Love, Actually) Nighy, Dominic (The Wire) West, Andrew (Sherlock) Scott and Oscar-winner Imelda Staunton star in this film based on a true story about a group of LGBT activists trying to raise money to support the striking coal miners in Mrs. Thatcher’s England.
For all those young men feeling left out by The Hunger Games comes this sci-fi adventure movie, based on a novel by James Dashner. A group of boys live inside a massive maze and have to find a way out … or get shot! It’s like a video game … but even less reality-based.
Quirky comedy/drama about twins (and SNL-alums Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader) who meet up again after years of estrangement to examine their past and contemplate their future … make sure you pack some Kleenex. Also starring Ty Burrell and Luke Wilson.
When the father of a highly fractured and dysfunctional family dies, an all-star cast playing parents, children and spouses are forced to confront each other and themselves in this comedy/drama featuring Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Rose Byrne.
You never know what you’ll get next from Terry Gilliam, the man who brought you Brazil, The Brothers Grimm, Twelve Monkeys and a bunch of Monty Python. Here he’s directing Christoph Waltz as computer genius trying to figure out the meaning of life. With Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, David Thewlis and Ben Whishaw.
From the always unusual mind of Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) comes this singular “dramedy” about a man (Justin Long) who is kidnapped and tortured into becoming a walrus. Also starring Haley Joel Osment and Johnny Depp.
Yes, a walrus.
Homeowners Kate Hudson and James Franco can’t find the cash they need to finish their home renovations … then their downstairs tenant dies, leaving behind a fortune in stolen money. Problem solved! Until the gangster who first stole the money shows up looking for it. Also starring Anna Friel and Tom Wilkinson.
From the creators of Coraline and ParaNorman, comes this animated film about a young man raised by fantastical creatures who have been targeted for extinction. Can our hero save them? Featuring the vocal talents of Ben Kingsley, Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan and Elle Fanning.
Third installment of writer/director Ned Benson’s three part series chronicling a boy/girl relationship (James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain) and its emotional ups and downs. With Viola Davis, William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert and Ciaran Hinds.
Denzel Washington, an ex-Black Ops commando, comes out of retirement to help a young girl – and finds himself going head-to-head with the Russian Mafia. Good thing he had that military training!
A thriller from a novel by Patricia (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Strangers on a Train) Highsmith. Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst are tourists in Athens who make friends with a local Greek boy … and get into all kinds of trouble.
Other notable releases this month are Hector and the Search for Happiness, Dolphin Tale 2, Kelly & Cal, and the IMAX re-release of the classic American fable, Forrest Gump. Check Fandango for local theaters and times.
Local Independent Screens
And a few of our local repertory houses bring back some classic films while spotlighting the latest in cinematic trends. Enjoy! (And don’t forget to ask for extra buttery topping on your popcorn.)
In this futuristic sci-fi film shot in live action and animation, Robin Wright plays an actress who gets a role that changes her life. Co-starring are a bevy of indie-film favorites including Harvey Keitel, John Hamm, Danny Huston and Paul Giamatti.
Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in a film inspired by the true story of singer/songwriter Chris Sievey, who adopted the identity of “Frank Sidebottom” and wore a huge, round papier-mâché head.
1999 animated version of a story by Ted (Mr. Sylvia Plath) Hughes. A young boy befriends a giant robot from outer space … which the government is determined to destroy. Featuring the voices of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., Vin Diesel and John Mahoney.
A “dockumentary” about 1970’s Pirate pitcher Dock Ellis who, among other things, threw a no-hitter while he was doing acid. The film follows him from his sports heyday to his latter years helping others recover from addiction.
Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and Ted Danson feature in this movie which seems to be about a married couples ups and down … and then it takes a Hitchcock-ian turn.
Let the Right One In
Tomas Alfredson’s brilliant 2008 Swedish film about a vampire and the lonely outcast boy she befriends. Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
This 1950 classic of world cinema, directed by Akira Kurosawa, tells the story of the same brutal crime told from several viewpoints; including the deceased victim. You might think you know what happened, but 64 years later the debate still rages.
A 1951 potboiler based on a true story about a Pittsburgh FBI agent, Matt Cvetic, who went undercover as a Communist … but everyone around him (even his family) thought he was a dirty Commie for real!
Ted Hoover is a Pittsburgh-based writer and critic.