We’ve entered September, the point where the films aren’t bombastic enough for summer (but not outright crap reserved for August), and don’t have the longevity or clout to be remembered come Oscar time. Ten movies made the cut, along with a swath of honorable mentions, so September might be a good time to take a break from school or work and go hit the multiplex!
Synopsis: A documentary seeking to lift the veil on reclusive writer J.D. Salinger. Predominately known for writing “The Catcher in the Rye,” filmmaker Shane Salerno goes deep to explore Salinger’s childhood, his marriages, and the writing process that aided in the creation of his masterpieces of fiction.
What You Need to Know: Countless attempts have been made to secure the rights to “Catcher in the Rye” all the way back to the book’s publication. With that being a lost cause, Salerno’s documentary will delve deeper than just that work and explore the author as a person. The first trailer plays up the mysterious character that Salinger is, and with over 150 people interviewed, this should be an incredibly fascinating documentary for novice fans of Salinger, or fans who believe they know everything. The documentary coincides with a new published biography on the author, and there’s even a rumor—aided by preview audiences being told to sign non-disclosure agreements—that a few unpublished Salinger manuscripts will see publication. Literary aficionados and documentary lovers will want to seek this one out.
Release Date: September 6th in limited release
Synopsis: Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist who suddenly develops an aversion to human touch. As Abby struggles with this predicament and how it affects her own identity, her dentist brother Paul (Josh Pais) and his daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) discover that he might actually possess a “healing touch.”
What You Need to Know: Director Lynn Shelton has become an indie darling ever since her 2009 film, “Humpday” (it wasn’t her debut, but it put her name out there). Since then, Shelton has worked on two projects with Rosemarie Dewitt; “Touchy Feely” being Shelton’s second pairing with Dewitt after 2011’s “Your Sister’s Sister.” Our own Rodrigo Perez saw “Touchy Feely” at Sundance and commended Shelton for breaking out of “observational and dialogue-driven films” of her past and focusing on “sound, tenor, editing, and cinematography.” However, Perez was left unimpressed, giving the movie a “B-,” believing the film to be “muted” and “low-energy.” However, fans of Shelton and Dewitt’s past work should be interested enough to check it out.
Release Date: September 6th in limited release.
“And While We Were Here”
Synopsis: A woman (Kate Bosworth) finds love with a younger man (Jamie Blackley) during a romantic Italian vacation with her husband (Iddo Goldberg).
What You Need to Know: “And While We Were Here” has gone through some intriguing changes as it works its ways into theaters and VOD. Originally titled, “While We Were Here,” writer Gabe Toro found the film “sublime” at the Tribeca Film Festival; he also applauded the movie’s use of black and white photography which has been colorized in the latest trailer. While something may be lost having the film in color, the movie, plot, and acting is the same. Toro gave the film a B+ upon release, and whether it’s in black and white or color; it’s still one to seek out.
Release Date: Out now on VOD; opens September 6th in limited release.
Synopsis: The life of the Beltway sniper is detailed in this disturbing tale of a father figure (Isaiah Washington) and the young boy he adopts.
What You Need to Know: True-life crime stories are a dime a dozen in media, and “Blue Caprice” has been on our radar for awhile; it made our 25 Most Anticipated of the Sundance Film Festival list back in January. Since then, there’s been little movement outside of playing the festival circuit (and unfortunately we missed it during its Sundance run). The first trailer is filled with dread, apprehension, and atmosphere making it a crime drama to watch out for.
Release Date: September 13th in limited release.
Synopsis: Wadjda is a 10-year-old Middle Eastern girl who dreams of purchasing a bicycle. When her plans fall apart, she learns of a Koran recitation contest where the cash prize could be enough to secure her the bike.
What You Need to Know: Saudi Arabia has produced a minute output of films due to a cinematic ban on movie theaters for the last thirty years. In 2005, theaters started to pop up within the country and six years ago the first Saudi film came to theaters. “Wadjda” holds the distinction of being the first Saudi Arabian film shot within the country as well as directed by a woman (Haifaa Al-Mansour). The tender tale of a little girl and her bike dazzled Playlist writer Oliver Lyttelton when he saw it at the London Film Festival last October. His “A” review praised the production’s “warmth and comedy” as well as its desire to not sugarcoat the country’s problems. Saudi Arabia is slowly becoming a contender in the international market, and they may have hit one out of the park with “Wadjda.”
Release Date: September 13th in New York and Los Angeles
Synopsis: Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a single-mother who believes she’s found the perfect man upon meeting Albert (James Gandolfini). The problem is that Albert is the ex-husband of Eva’s best friend Marianne (Catherine Keener). The more Marianne unwittingly tells Eva about her ex, the more Eva starts to alienate Albert.
What You Need to Know: The recent death of Gandolfini cast a dark pall over the film, but his death could inspire audiences who might never have given this a shot to go to the theater and see it. Director Nicole Holofcener hasn’t gained quite the cache as her contemporaries like Lisa Chodolenko, but despite that, “Enough Said” still found a place on our 10 movies that could be surprise Oscar contenders list. The trailer presents a charming romantic comedy where Gandolofini is allowed to be a leading man; it’s a shame we’ll never see where that would take him, but at least there’s a movie out there to remind us of his exemplary acting talent.
Release Date: September 20th in limited release.
Synopsis: An interweaving story unfolds while recounting events and the people affected, during the chaotic hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
What You Need to Know: The Kennedy assassination and the ensemble drama has been done before; back in 2006, “Bobby” followed a group of citizens leading up to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. “Bobby” did okay, although it never broke out as an awards contender or became a box-office bonanza. Does the same fate befall “Parkland”? It is scheduled to play amongst an already fantastic line-up of films at the Toronto International Film Festival, but comments have already been made about some of the iffy casting decisions; Zac Efron playing a doctor who examines JFK produced snickers around the Twitterverse. It isn’t enough to damn the film outright, but questionable casting and the treatment of the story could turn off audiences if it’s too cloying.
Release Date: September 20th in limited release.
Synopsis: When Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) daughter is abducted, he decides to take the law into his own hands to find her. This puts him at odds with Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is stymied by the lack of evidence to solve the case.
What You Need to Know: This intense drama stars recent Golden Globe winner Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, and it has already sneaked at Telluride in advance of its official premiere at TIFF. And critics are already taken with it (including ours). You can’t deny that the two actors are compelling enough to watch on-screen, particularly Jackman who moves away from musicals to return to gritty drama. And he’s just one fierce ingredient in this gritty, dark drama, one that is both rewarding and draining and is already swinging for potential awards season fences.
Release Date: September 20th
Synopsis: “Rush” details the rivalry between Formula 1 racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Hunt, a cocky playboy, clashes with the Austrian perfectionist that is Lauda, culminating in a fiery disaster that almost ends with Lauda dead. Determined to beat Hunt, once and for all, Lauda becomes hell-bent on returning to racing.
What You Need to Know: Director Ron Howard moves into the glamorous, white-knuckle world of Formula 1 racing; a far cry from his last film, the much maligned 2011 rom-com, “The Dilemma.” Chris Hemsworth is certainly steaming up the fall between this (the trailers are finding plenty of time to emphasize his lack of shirt) and “Thor: The Dark World” in November. Oscar predictors say to look at Bruhl, who might be gearing up for a Best Actor campaign as the disfigured Lauda. Bruhl’s claim to fame for U.S. audiences was in 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds,” so this should be a perfect breakout role for him, as well as a return to form for Ron Howard.
Release Date: September 20th in New York and Los Angeles; September 27th in wide release
Synopsis: Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a good-looking, confident young man who may have a little trouble with pornography. When he meets the beautiful Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), Jon believes he’s found the girl he’ll be with forever; however, his issues with sex could complicate their burgeoning relationship.
What You Need to Know: Originally titled “Don Jon’s Addiction,” first-time director Joseph Gordon-Levitt crafts a “vulgar, hilarious, and charming” film according to our own Rodrigo Perez during the film’s bow at Sundance. He gave the film an in-between grade, “that sweet spot being a B and B+” although there are rumors that the sexiness and vulgarity has been trimmed down slightly so it can play at a theater near you. But by all accounts, “Don Jon” is a proving ground of Gordon-Levitt as he adds “director” to his CV.
Release Date: September 27th
Honorable Mentions: A few movies didn’t quite make the cut, but you should still check them out. “Thanks for Sharing” (out in limited release September 20th), “C.O.G.” (out in limited release September 20th), “Metallica Through the Never” (opening in IMAX 3D September 27th), “Riddick” (opens September 6th), and “Informant” (opens in limited release September 13th)