We’re back! What, did you only think we covered summer movies? Au contraire. When it comes to enjoying movies there is no offseason. Studios may take breaks, using months like January and September to release films that they don’t have much confidence in succeeding, sure, but we keep on putting up a good fight watching the good, the bad and the ugly of cinema.
The good news is that September signals the start of fall and with fall releases comes the eventual “prestige” pictures that contend for end-of-the-year honors and of course, Oscar. This month has a few viable candidates; it also sees the long-awaited(?) return of one franchise, Robert De Niro going back to his gangster ways Luc Besson-style, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt making his directorial debut with a film that opens up a can of worms (and that can of worms is your girlfriend catching you viewing porn). Whoops.
So sit back, relax, as Scott Sawitz, Brendan Campbell and myself pick six September movies we think you shouldn’t wait to see on DVD.
Riddick (opens September 6th)
Vin Diesel is best known for his role is Dominic Toretto in the Fast and Furious franchise But before Diesel rode to fame a quarter mile at a time he played the part of Riddick, an unpredictable convict with the ability to see in the dark – in the film Pitch Black. Now, 13 years and one misfire of a sequel later, Diesel returns to the series in the aptly titled Riddick.
This time they’re bringing the franchise back to its roots, with Riddick finding himself stranded and left for dead on a sun-scorched planet filled with a predatory alien race. Though this race is not all Riddick will be up against, as a ship full of bounty hunters looking to capture Riddick for a major payday has also found him – as well as one carrying someone from Riddick’s past.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It: Riddick is one interesting, and overall badass, character that’s brought to life with the cool, calm demeanor of Vin Diesel. Pitch Black kept things simple and with a modest budget it became a box-office success and garnered even more of a following on home video. The sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, chose to go the opposite route and proved that bigger isn’t always better. The film cost more than quadruple that of Pitch Black and barely broke even during its entire release.
This time around, writer/director David Twohy and Diesel are returning to the basics that made the original film a success. One main location and a straightforward plot that sees Riddick doing what he does best – as well as the major success Diesel has had as of late with the F&F series – all points to Riddick being a respectable hit at the box-office to kick off September. (Brendan Campbell)
The Family (opens September 13th)
Writer/director Luc Besson has created some incredibly memorable characters and action films over the course of his career, and here he’s looking to do so again with a comedic ensemble piece that still keeps the action near the forefront. The Family stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron and John D’Leo as the Blakes, a mafia family that’s constantly being relocated by Witness Protection in order to keep them safe. The reason they’re always on the move? They can’t seem to let their old habits go.
After being relocated to Normandy, France by CIA Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), the “Blakes” quickly fall into their usual pattern of solving all their problems the same way they used to back when they were a force to be reckoned with. The problem is all the commotion they’ve stirred up causes their former mafia associates to find out their location and aim to silence them for good.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It: Besson has been on quite a roll lately when it comes to writing incredibly strong scripts filled with great characters, and The Family looks as though it will extend that streak. De Niro has taken flak for seemingly taking any role that’s handed to him these days; however, much like the praise he garnered in 1999’s Analyze This for poking fun at his infamous ganger roles, The Family should do the same. It’s also been a long time since Pfeiffer has had a hit, but this seems like just the film to freshen up her image once again. With the right advertising and word of mouth, The Family could be a pretty big hit thanks to its ability to offer something to all the major age demographics. (BC)
Prisoners (opens September 20th)
Now here’s a film that’s been on my radar ever since I first learned it appeared on 2009’s “Black List.” The Black List isn’t a “Best Of” unproduced screenplay list, it’s more of a “favorites” list culled from hundreds of film executives. (It should be noted that the 2009 list also included Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network and Toy’s House, a film that would later be re-titled and released this summer as The Kings of Summer.). Definitely a hot property, Prisoners attracted the attention of such Hollywood heavyweights as Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, and Christian Bale before Hugh Jackman signed on to star.
The story revolves around a husband (Jackman) taking the law into his own hands after his six-year-old girl and her friend are kidnapped. Going from grieving father to kidnapper himself, holding the man captive he believes responsible for their disappearance, his vengeance turns to desperation, and in the process he may just come close to losing his soul in the end.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It: If the above paragraphs don’t pique your interest, how about a loaded ensemble? Prisoners boasts one of the best casts of the year. In addition to Hugh Jackman, we have Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo and the underrated Paul Dano (watch There Will Be Blood again if you don’t believe me). I’m interested because of the story’s relevancy with news headlines involving children gone missing and I want to see a major Hollywood release that tackles such an issue as an effective thriller with plenty of intrigue and moral dilemmas. (Travis Leamons)
Rush (opens September 20th)
Ron Howard has two Oscars (both for directing and producing A Beautiful Mind), but he’s somehow managed to craft a bunch of “meh” films to go along with great fare like Cinderella Man and Frost/Nixon. (Seriously, the quicker you forget about the comedy The Dilemma with Kevin James and Vince Vaughn the better off you’ll be.) But now he looks to be back into serious territory again with Rush, even though it doesn’t look like it at first glance.
Rush focuses on the 1976 Formula One racing season and the rivalry between drivers James Hunt (as portrayed by Liam Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Inglorious Basterds‘ Daniel Brühl).
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It: Sure it may look Tom Cruise’s Days of Thunder only with Formula One cars, but Rush looks to be a return to form for Howard in a lot of ways. First, we have a character piece meshed with a period piece about car racing. Also, Howard re-teams with screenwriter Peter Morgan, who he worked with on Frost/Nixon. Plus, Rush has been getting some buzz so far and it does have Chris Hemsworth adding some range in his ‘Thor’ era of fame, as well. (Scott Sawitz)
Don Jon (opens September 27th)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at that point in his career where he’s Teflon in my eyes. No matter if the movie is bad he manages to make the best of a bad situation. To the average viewer films like Stop-Loss and Killshot are easily forgettable, but I can still recall JGL’s performances in both.
As an actor who didn’t succumb to the problems associated with most child actors, able to distance himself from stuff like 3rd Rock from the Sun and Angels in the Outfield, JGL now looks to express himself as a writer and director. In his debut feature, Don Jon, JGL is Jon Martello, a modern day Don Juan of sorts who objectifies everything in his life, including women. But he has one major obstacle when it comes to the opposite sex: his addiction to porn.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It: I’m always interested to see how an actor (or actress) does in making the transition to director. From the ads it looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt is channeling Woody Allen with a little bit of Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild thrown into the mix. Coming from a guy who likes to see which direction a relationship takes on screen, I’m intrigued to see what happens to JGL’s Don Juan status when Scarlett Johansson as Don Jon’s current girlfriend, Barbara Sugarman, catches him watching porn. Could be more than just a sticky situation. (TL)
Metallica Through the Never (opens September 27th)
Metallica is an awesome band to see in concert. I saw them up at the Target Center in Minneapolis and my ears rang for two days after a LOUD, blistering performance. They played a handful of songs from their new, crappy album while mixing in all the greatest hits. I have wished for a while that they just play their hits and go all out in that regard, like the Stones do, because everything since the Black album has been trash. It’s looks like we are in luck with Metallica Through the Never.
Unlike your garden variety musical docs involving teenybopper sensations like One Direction and Justin Bieber, here we have a concert film from Nimrod Antal, the director who previously gave us films like Kontroll, Vacancy, Armored and Predators, crafting a story involving Trip (Chronicle‘s Dane DeHann), a Metallica roadie, and his surreal adventure during an urgent errand. Basically, it’s like After Hours with Metallica scoring the soundtrack.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It: Metallica plays some of their best hits – plain and simple. But if you want to get the most out of the musical experience, IMAX 3D is the way to go. Hopefully, it’ll be loud enough to make Michael Bay cringe. If it’s too loud … you’re too old. (SS)
That’s it for September. We’ll be back next month with more movies you shouldn’t wait to see.
Tags: Prisoners, Riddick, Rush