Summer’s over, awards season hasn’t yet started… welcome to the ninth month.
September is a special month for movies. The summer season is over leaving little room for blockbusters – or at least films the studios thought could be blockbusters – and awards season proper is still weeks away and with it the promise of high-quality films designed to challenge and nourish our minds and souls.
That’s not to say it’s a dead zone akin to January or February, but there’s a reason I‘m including a documentary and a limited release title among the five must-see titles to see in theaters this month.
Keep reading to see the five films I think are worth a trip to the theater for this month.
Release Date: September 9th
Director: Kirsten Johnson
Why is it a must-see? I don’t often put documentaries on these lists because – and please don’t tell Christopher Campbell this – it’s rare that they demand viewing in a theater as opposed to on VOD at home. While I haven’t seen it yet, Johnson’s highly acclaimed film feels to me like an exception. As a cinematographer on multiple docs including Citizenfour, A Place at the Table, and The Invisible War she’s been behind the camera through numerous and varied stories around the world, and now she’s telling her own through images captured on those journeys. The result promises to be a story told through pictures more so than words, and that’s a reason to watch on the biggest screen available.
Release Date: September 16th
Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Cast: No one you know… yet… maybe
Why is it a must-see? I’m at something of a crossroads on this one for various reasons. Cons? Found footage conceits need to die in a fire, we’ve seen this story dozens of times (officially and unofficially), and did I mention found footage films are garbage nine times out of ten. Pros? Wingard and Barrett (You’re Next, The Guest) are reliably entertaining filmmakers, and advance word has been strong (hyperbolic, but strong). Ultimately my love of horror and a desire to see great, scary horror has me hopeful that these guys have pulled it off and delivered something memorable. If they have, the theater is a great place to experience it alongside hundreds of equally terrified strangers.
The Age of Shadows
Release Date: September 23rd
Director/writer: Kim Jee-woon
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-min
Why is it a must-see? This will probably be a NYC/LA theatrical opening, but if you live close enough it might be worth the visit. Kim’s resume includes films like The Good the Bad the Weird and I Saw the Devil, and his eye for style and action seems a smart fit for a historical thriller focused on Korea’s struggle to escape Japan’s cruel and deadly occupation in the early 20th century.
The Magnificent Seven
Release Date: September 23rd
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Akira Kurosawa… okay fine, Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolato
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Peter Sarsgaard, Matt Bomer
Why is it a must-see? There’s no denying that Fuqua has made his share of less-than worthwhile fare *cough Southpaw cough*, but the man’s also delivered some damn entertaining action movies over the years including Training Day, Tears of the Sun, Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen (yeah I said it!) This remake has an undeniably familiar and simple story, and I’m not too keen on the glimpses of CG in the trailer, but with this cast along for the ride it seems likely it’ll be a fun (and possibly forgettable) time at the movies.
Release Date: September 30th
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich
Why is it a must-see? Look, you should never give up the opportunity to see Kurt Russell on the big screen, so that right there is reason enough to check out this disaster picture based on the real oil spill tragedy off the Gulf Coast. Barring that, the trailer suggests it’s a solid tale of survival with human moments as well as suspenseful scenes of escape and near-escape. Berg is a bit underrated in my opinion – or maybe it’s just my love for the under-appreciated The Kingdom talking – but the man knows how to craft solidly exciting sequences.
Other releases of note this month: The Light Between Oceans, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Snowden, Sully