It’s September, the time when everything shifts gears to some degree: the seasons are changing, students are returning to school, we’re moving toward the end of baseball and the beginning of football, and it’s a time of movement for the movie industry, too. We will see a trailing off of the summer blockbusters and a gradual wade into the waters of the serious Oscar-hopeful films. Being the storytellers that we are at Steven James, we continue our monthly series of giving an overview of the nationwide releases coming out, as well as providing you the information to find many other offering besides the very broad releases.
The beginning of the month starts slowly as far as nationwide films go. In fact, the only release this weekend is actually a re-release of a little film called Close Encounters of The third Kind by a director trying to make it in show business named Steven Spielberg! Seriously, it’s – hard to believe – the 40th Anniversary of the groundbreaking film that stars Richard Dreyfuss and Terri Garr, among others. The original was a visually-stunning movie and now it has been digitally remastered in 4K. The movie is near the top of many critics’ lists in the sci-fi genre. The title refers to the progression of encounters with aliens, the first being UFO sightings, to physical evidence of their existence, to – finally – contact. The film will be out for just one week, so if you have a new generation of film fan who you’d like to introduce to Close Encounters, or if you want to go see it one more time on the big screen with your friends or sweetheart with whom you saw the original, here is your chance! (But if you’re not married to that sweetheart, you better tread carefully on that decision!)
Moving on to Friday, September 8th, there are two movies that will go up on screens from coast to coast, and one will also ring a bell from yesteryear. A new adaptation of Stephen King’s IT will be out to terrify a new audience and heighten the clown scare that has gripped the nation for years now. Based on King’s 1986 novel, this version of IT is only Part 1 of two movies. The original novel was 1100 pages, so it can definitely support a pair of movies. But others do wonder if it’s necessary as the novel gave life to a classic mini-series in the 1990s with Tim Curry playing the clown Pennywise in a character that has filled a generation’s nightmares. But America’s love affair with horror and Stephen King, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the genre, will surely roll on.
To balance out the scares, the 8th also brings a comedy, Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon. The premise sounds interesting. Witherspoon’s character is in the middle of a failing marriage and moves back to LA, where she was raised, with her two young daughters. On her 40th birthday, she meets three aspiring filmmakers who she temporarily allows to move into her home. If anyone knows anything about filmmakers – especially of the aspiring type – they are easy to get to move in but not so easy to move out! Based on this maxim, some good comedy should ensue!
Friday, September 15th steps up with three nationwide releases, all in the thriller category. Mother! is of the psychological suspense variety – and it brings the mega-star Jennifer Lawrence to the lead role as well as a stellar cast including Ed Harris, Javier Bardem, and Michelle Pfeiffer. If this isn’t enough to get you excited, the screenwriter and director is the modern master Darrin Aronofsky. Aronofsky has a wide range of subject matter – from the super surreal Pi and Requiem for A Dream, to the more recent biblical origin story in the movie Noah, to the hit film The Wrestler – and he always brings a distinctively sstylisticvision to each of his films.
The other two releases this week are American Assassin and All I See Is You. The former stars Dylan O’Brien and the always reliable Michael Keaton in an adaptation of the eleventh novel in the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn. A CIA black ops operative and his handler, a former Cold War warrior, must try to thwart a plot that shakes the entire international balance of power. All I See Is You is a thriller with Blake Lively starring as blind woman who depends on her husband (Jason Clarke) to guide her through their lives in Bangkok. But when her sight is restored through the miracle of modern medicine, the changes that ensue are so startling that they threaten the foundation that their lives have been structured upon.
The week of Friday, September 22nd brings the biggest batch of feature films to theaters nationwide with five releases. There is a nice blend of material here with action, comedy, an inspirational true story, a sports film, and however you categorize the LEGO films all being represented. The PG-rated LEGO NINJAGO is based on the toymaker’s popular Ninja mini-figurines and building sets, and brings the voice talents of Jackie Chan, Michael Pena, and Dave Franco. If it follows its predecessors, this Lego movie will be a combination of animated adventure and humor that has proven to be wildly entertaining for audiences.
The movie Brad’s Status revolves around a father, Ben Stiller, who brings his son back to the East Coast where the young man is going to music school. Brad gets together with four of his former college friends who are all monetarily much more successful than Brad, causing him a crisis in confidence in the bittersweet comedy. The film Kingsman: The Gold Circle is a sequel to the successful 2014 original. In this iteration, the Brits find an American counterpart secret organization called The Statesmen, and the pair must work together to keep the world safe from international conspiracy.
The Battle of The Sexes is the sports-themed film, one that plays out against the social issue of gender equality and women’s rights in the 1970s. It is based on the true story of the challenge posed by showman and former tennis champ Bobby Riggs and his bold predictions that he could defeat the current top-ranked women’s pro Billie Jean King on the court. Endlessly baiting King until she finally took the challenge, the match became the most televised sporting event in history. Both Riggs and King were dealing with serious personal issues in the glare of this spotlight, and the film, starring Steve Carell and Emma Stone in the lead roles, shows the pressures that were heightened on each by this spectacle. The last release on September 22nd is the moving film Stronger based on the life of Jeff Bauman, a victim of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Bauman, played by the great actor (and still somewhat underrated) Jake Gyllenhaal, lost his legs in the tragedy, but not his spirit. He became one of the inspirational figures involved with the case as he personified the meaning of strength in the face of tremendous adversity.
The final Friday of the month, Septmeber 29th, brings two more countrywide releases. As we started the month with the re-release of a sci-fi classic, we end it with the re-make of an interesting sci-fi flick from the year 1990. Flatliners tells the story of medical students experimenting with the after-life by putting each other under to the point of clinical death before pulling them back. The daredevils get progressively more bold…and, well, they seem to literally dare the devil and the results are not pretty! The original starred Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, and Kevin Bacon, and the new offering has Ellen Page, Diego Luna, and Nina Dobrev in the lead roles. The other film on the 29th is a potential blockbuster, as any film starring Tom Cruise is. American Made is another true story, this one based on the life of a TWA pilot, Barry Seal, played by Cruise. Seal is recruited by the CIA to provide recon in Central America. Before he knows it, Seal is heading up the largest covert operation in American history – one that gave birth to the Medellin Cartel and almost took down the Reagan Administration in the Iran Contra scandal.
There’s a lot there for you to choose from in September – and those are only the nationwide releases! Find your favorite art house film or one coming out in a more limited release! Whatever your taste, there’s a September film for you!