“Two Step” (September 1)
After opening in limited release on July 31, Alex R. Johnson’s well-reviewed, SXSW-nominated thriller “Two Step” finally becomes available On Demand this month with its fair share of genre surprises. Skyy Moore stars as college dropout James, who learns that his deceased grandmother was the victim of the “Grandparent Scam,” in which someone posing as James has been gradually stealing thousands of dollars from her. When the culprit shows up at James’ door, a complex series of characters and events provide twists and turns you won’t see coming. Throw in Johnson’s assured direction and Andy Lilien’s deep-focus cinematography, and “Two Step” is a thriller not to miss.
“Dirty Weekend” (September 4)
Filmmaker and playwright Neil LaBute has always excelled at character duets (see “In The Company of Men”), and he’s luckily got Matthew Broderick and the lovely Alice Eve front and center in his latest exploration of love, life and connection. Despite their age difference, the two star in the comedy as coworkers who get close after a weekend of sharing secrets. After the pair get stuck in Albuquerque during a layover, they wander around the city prying to find out more about one another and indulging in something more intimate as well. Broderick has always triumphed in coming-of-age mode, and this middle-age-coming-age story plays directly to his charming strengths opposite Eve, who will forever be quite the magnetic screen presence.
“Dragon Blade” (September 4)
Writer-director Daniel Lee takes on his most ambitious project yet with “Dragon Blade,” starring an international ensemble that includes Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Adrian Brody and Lin Peng. Chan stars as Huo An, the commander of the Protection Squad of the Western Regions during the Han Dynasty. With lavish production design and large scale battle sequences galore, the film blends Hollywood and East Asian cinema styles to retell the story of Huo An’s resilience in protecting his fortress against a Roman legion. Considering the film’s epic nature, you’ll want to find the biggest television possible for streaming purposes.
“Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” (September 4)
Before Danny Boyle and Michael Fassbender put their narrative spin on the life of the Apple co-founder in October’s awards player “Steve Jobs,” documentarian Alex Gibney gets there first in his pensive documentary, “The Man in the Machine.” Taking a nod from “Citizen Kane,” Gibney grounds his investigation of Jobs in a profoundly simple question — why was Jobs so incredibly mourned after his death? — and he finds the answer in a handful of startling interviews from some of his closest confidants. The end results paint a definitive portrait of man of contradictions and speak directly to our consumer age of technological Apple worship. Fans of Jobs and readers of Walter Isaacson’s biography may know much of the story, but Gibney gives it a refreshing cinematic order that makes it as mysterious as it is thrilling.
“Cooties” (September 18)
Gore can only go so far in the service of humor, but fortunately the team behind “Cooties” — which includes “Saw” creator Leigh Whannell and “Glee” creator Ian Brennan — manages to pit comedy and horror together in a satisfying package. Whannell and Brennan’s unapologetically absurd script pairs nicely with Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s terse direction in this solid midnight movie, which focuses on a group of teachers (including Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson and Alison Pill) who must defend themselves after a cafeteria food virus turns elementary school children into little killer savages. “Cooties” may be surface deep, but it functions just fine as a ridiculous amusement that cleverly institutes its horror and romantic love triangle clichés. The result is both effectively terrifying and hilarious.
“Hellions” (September 18)
Halloween may still be over a month away, but that’s not stopping Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald from bringing the scares a bit early this year. Set on Halloween night in Waterford, the so-called Pumpkin Capital of the World, “Hellions” follows a group of demonic beings as they stalk among the trick-or-treaters and target Dora (Chloe Rose), who is home alone for the night. Cut off from the outside world and under siege in her own home, Dora fights to defend her body and soul against the hellions. The film also stars Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Peter DaCunha and Luke Bilyk and has a screenplay by Pascal Trottier, whose been quite the horror fanatic with scripts for “Colony” and “Blind Fear.”
“Some Kind of Hate” (September 18)
A favorite at the horror-obsessed Stanley Film Festival earlier this year, Adam Egypt Mortimer’s terrifying “Some Kind of Hate” packs a pretty strong anti-bullying message in the form of an aggressive spirit-heavy horror movie. The film stars Ronen Rubinstein as Lincoln, a severely bullied teenager who accidentally summons a vengeful spirit when he’s sent to a reform school. Sierra McCormick plays Moira, the spirit who sympathizes with the abused and takes her vengeance out on Lincoln’s antagonizers. Combing the supernatural with old-school slasher film gore, “Some Kind of Hate” is the perfect horror flick to get you ready for October.
“Time Out of Mind” (September 18)
A favorite on last year’s fall festival circuit, Oren Moverman’s revelatory “Time Out of Mind” stars Richard Gere in a show-stopper of a performance as a New York City homeless man spinning through the cycle of addiction while also tearing through every relationship that could possibly offer him even a smidge of salvation. Shot mostly guerrilla style in and around NYC, the majority of the film feels more like a particularly brutal documentary than a narrative feature, with Gere (in character) moving unnoticed throughout the city while Moverman tracks his every excruciating interaction. Bolstered by supporting performances by Jena Malone and Ben Vereen (who was so wild about the role that he flew to NYC just to meet with Moverman for a day), “Time Out of Mind” is hard to shake.
“Uncle John” (September 18)
Attention must be paid any time David Lynch and David Gordon Green shower an indie with insurmountable praise, and such is the case with Steven Piet’s small-town thriller, “Uncle John.” Nominated for the Audience Award at the 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival, the movie centers around the eponymous John (“Beverly Hills Cop”), a beloved community resident who commits murder and faces the consequences of covering it up after his nephew visits and the victim’s brother comes to town to investigate. Piet’s perfectly paced tension results in a new indie voice well worth checking out, or as Lynch said himself about the film, “‘Uncle John’ caught me up and held me for days after seeing it.'” Now that’s an endorsement for the ages.
“Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon” (September 25)
“Saturday Night Live” got its own behind-the-scenes historical documentary earlier this year in “Live From New York!,” and now it’s National Lampoon’s turn to get the cinematic treatment. The boundary-pushing, one-of-a-kind publication is the focus of Douglas Tirola’s “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead,” which covers the founding of the magazine by two Harvard graduates, its rise to fame, expansion to radio shows, albums and other mediums and its eventual demise. Through never-before seen interviews during the magazine’s prime and pictures from the magazine itself, Tirola paints a picture of the outrageous world of the magazine during its 28-year lifespan. Interviews include Judd Apatow, Kevin Bacon, Chevy Chase, John Goodman and Bill Murray.