COMING SOON: September 2015 – voting poll!
Although it’s hard to believe summer is over, I’m kinda glad since that means we’re getting closer to award season and the Chicago International Film Festival in October ( it also means Winter is Coming, but let’s stay positive). Just like any month of the year, there are sequels (“Transylvannia 2” and “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”) and reboots (“The Transporter: Refueled”), but let’s move beyond those and find the movies that could possibly be standouts in September. I’m more interested in thrilling dramas, such as “Sicario” and “Everest” as well as horror films by the likes of M. Night Shyamalan and Eli Roth. There’s also a handful of indies I have my eye on and this is also the month we’ll find out whether or not Johnny Depp can redeem himself.
So, let’s look at which films seem to stand out each week in September (NOTE: these are Chicago release dates and they are subject to change)….
A WALK IN THE WOODS – This adaptation of travel humorist Bill Bryson’s memoir of the same title has been working the festival circuit since it’s appearance in January at the Sundance Film Festival. It stars Robert Redford as Bryson, so it’s no surprise it was at Sundance, but it remains to be seen whether or not the multitude of fans the book has will be pleased with the inevitable changes made from page to screen. It also stars Nick Nolte as Redford’s Appalachian trial companion and Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman and Kristen Schaal. (limited release)
DRAGON BLADE – Apparently this was action/adventure period piece was a huge hit in China already this year. Well, I find that hard believe considering the three leads listed here: Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody (the latter two gents have been well far from selective in building their recent filmography). The story follows corrupt Roman leader Tiberius (Brody) who arrives with his legions of swords and shields to claim the Silk Road. It’s up to Chan and his trained elite warriors to protect his country alongside a legion of defected Romans (there’s Cusack). It’s directed by Daniel Lee (“Black Mask”) and will likely hit two or three theaters and make most of its money domestically on iTunes or VOD.
QUEEN OF EARTH – Writer/director Alex Ross Perry follows up last year’s “Listen Up, Phillip” and has given Elizabeth Moss an upgrade – from a solid supporting role in that film to a lead role in this psychological thriller. Moss and Katherine Waterston (“Inherent Vice”) play two lifelong friends who retreat to a lake house together and realize they’ve drifted apart. There’s obviously a lot more going on than just that, of course. (limited release) NOTE: director Alex Ross Perry will be attending the Music Box Theatre on September 5th for a post-screening discussion of his film.
Elisabeth Moss in “Queen of Earth”
COMING HOME – From Yimou Zhang, the director of “The Curse of the Golden Flower” comes a tale starring Gong Li and Daomin Chen as a devoted couple who are forced to separate when her is arrested and sent to a prison camp during the Cultural Revolution. When he finally returns home he finds that his wife no longer remembers him. (limited release)
Chicago’s own Deanna Dugan “The Visit”
BLACK MASS – Is it possible we’ll finally see some quality acting by Johnny Depp? Well, if the trailer for the true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf, is any indication – then yes, it’s possible. This crime drama is directed by Scott Cooper (“Two Hearts”) and is packed with talent: Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott, Juno Temple, Corey Stoll and Kevin Bacon.
Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in “99 Homes”
99 HOMES – Ramin Bahrani directs Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern in a story about a father struggling to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who’s the source of his frustration.
THE GREEN INFERNO – A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished. Directed by Eli Roth and starring Lorena Izzo (his wife), Ariel Levy and Aaron Burns, the much-delayed horror flick should won’t be for the queasy viewer.
STONEWALL – From Roland Emmerich, the guy who brought you “Stargate” and “Independence Day” comes a historical account of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the violent clash that kicked off the gay rights movement in New York City. The drama centers on Danny Winters, who flees to New York, leaving behind his sister. He finds his way to the Stonewall Inn, where he meets Trevor before catching the eye of Ed Murphy, manager of the Stonewall. He collides with corrupt police and exploits homeless youth. It stars Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ron Perlman and Joey King.
Kirby Bliss Blanton in “The Green Inferno”
THE WALK – Guaranteed to make you dizzy or shake your head at Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s accent. The story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s attempt to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 is directed by Robert Zemekis and also stars Sir Ben Kingsley and Charlotte Le Bon. Although I was lukewarm on Zemekis’ last film “Flight”, I’ll still check this one out in IMAX!