10 Films To Watch In September
10. The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini; Sept. 26th)
Synopsis: A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who flee Athens after one of them is caught up in the death of a private detective.
Why You Should See It: Reteaming with Oscar Isaac after Drive, writer-turned-directorHossein Amini has crafted his helming debut with The Two Faces of January. Coming from aPatricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley), reviews for the drama have been strong since its Berlin premiere earlier this year and while it might not be arriving with a great deal of buzz, we’re still looking forward to it. Also starring Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst, it’s currentlyavailable on VOD ahead of a theatrical release later this month.
9. Tracks (John Curran; Sept. 19th)
Synopsis: A young woman goes on a 1,700 mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with her four camels and faithful dog.
Why You Should See It: Delayed at the last minute from a release earlier this summer, it seems like The Weinstein Company found it more fitting to release this Mia Wasikowska-led drama around a year after it premiered. Also starring Adam Driver, we believe it’s worth the wait, saying in our review, it’s “a stunningly beautiful film” that “traces the physical and psychological” journey of Robyn Davidson’s real-life trek.
8. The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam; Sept. 19th)
Synopsis: computer hacker whose goal is to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management; namely, they send a teenager and lusty love interest to distract him.
Why You Should See It: Yes, he may be recycling some of the same themes and ideas, but there is still nothing like a Terry Gilliam experience. His latest work, featuring one of Christoph Waltz‘s better performances, is an occasionally middling, but ultimately engaging trip into a dystopian future as we follow a cog in a machine. Crafting top-notch atmosphere and an amusing central romance, the film is now on VOD and arrives in theaters later this month.
7. The Boxtrolls (Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable; Sept. 26th)
Synopsis: A young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator.
Why You Should See It: Just two years after their last feature (a fairly quick turnaround in the world of stop-motion animation), Laika have returned with their third film and while it’s not a knock-out, it’s well worth a watch. “Laika may not break any new storytelling boundaries with their latest feature, but their virtuous, universal message of fitting in regardless of circumstances and lavish, ornate design makes for an enlightening ride, “I said in my review. “Just like their peculiar title characters co-exist perfectly together, Laika’s fantastical worlds are an imperative component to the craft of animation.”
6. The Guest (Adam Wingard; Sept. 17th)
Synopsis: A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
Why You Should See It: If one is looking for some fun thrills this month, Denzel Washington‘sThe Equalizer clearly has the bigger marketing budget, but we imagine you might be more pleased with the latest work from You’re Next‘s Adam Wingard. We praised the lead performance from Dan Stevens in in our Sundance review, saying, “He owns the screen as David, finding the happy medium between charm and menace. Wingard makes good use of the man’s physicality, building clean, well-choreographed fight sequences that move quickly but never lose focus.”
5. 20,000 Days on Earth (Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard; Sept. 19th)
Synopsis: Writer and musician Nick Cave marks his 20,000th day on the planet Earth.
Why You Should See It: His music has helped shape such films as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Proposition, and Wings of Desire, and now his life has received the big-screen treatment in the forthcoming 20,000 Days on Earth. Premiering at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it picked up awards for directing and editing — the project takes a unique approaching in capturing a day in the life of the artist. Combining interviews with fictionalized drama, we are major fans of it as our forthcoming review will attest to, so make sure to keep it on your radar.
4. A Walk Among the Tombstones (Scott Frank; Sept. 19th)
Synopsis: Private investigator Matthew Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.
Why You Should See It: The Liam Neeson-led thriller has virtually become its own sub-genre at this point, and after the gleefully orchestrated Non-Stop, he’s back with another promising project. Coming from director Scott Frank, who last gave us the overlooked thriller The Lookout, the film is based on the book from Lawrence Block, which has its fair share of acclaim. I’ve been greatly looking forward to Frank’s return behind the camera, which should be a nice shake-up from the fall’s prestige dramas.
3. Memphis (Tim Sutton; Sept. 5th)
Synopsis: A strange singer with God-given talent drifts through his adopted city of Memphis with its canopy of ancient oak trees, streets of shattered windows, and aura of burning spirituality.
Why You Should See It: One of our favorites of Sundance Film Festival, we compared the latest work from Tim Sutton to the likes of Gus Van Sant and Jim Jarmusch. “There’s a self-awareness to both Sutton’s direction and Willis’ performance that deflates some of the potential pretentiousness from the proceedings,” we said in our review. “Some of the time, while Willis is on a rant about glory and time and space, he’ll finish the diatribe with a loud laugh. Somewhere inside, this artist knows he is imploding and all he can do is smile.”
2. God Help the Girl (Stuart Murdoch; Sept. 5th)
Synopsis: As Eve begins writing songs as a way to sort through some emotional problems, she meets James and Cassie, two musicians each at crossroads of their own.
Why You Should See It: Although it has yet to hit theaters, I imagine the reaction to the directorial debut of Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch will be divisive (just look at ourSundance review for proof). I found the story following a youthful band to be brimming with sincere energy and one that would make a great pairing with this year’s We Are the Best! (or even Not Fade Away, which was severely overlooked a few years back). Backed by an infectious soundtrack, it’s a deeply personal work that will hopefully find an audience as it rolls out on VOD and in theaters this month.
1. Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang; Sept. 12th)
Synopsis: An alcoholic man and his two young children barely survive in Taipei. They cross path with a lonely grocery clerk who might help them make a better life
Why You Should See It: While we imagine it won’t be expanding to a theaters nationwide, if one gets a chance to seek out the latest drama from Tsai Ming-liang, it will be well worth your while. One of our favorites since we viewed it during last year’s festival run, we said in our review, “Even the most thorough textual illustration of Taiwanese helmer Tsai Ming-liang’s newest feature would fail to capture what makes it such a formally monumental, intellectually brutalizing achievement, and by any reasonable stretch among the finest works released this year.”