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New Movies: Release Calendar for September 17, Plus Where to Watch the Latest Films

As theaters begin showing signs of life and streaming and VOD options stay hefty, IndieWire is here to guide you through all of your new viewing options each week.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

Searchlight Pictures

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As theaters begin showing signs of life and streaming and VOD options stay hefty, there are more movies (and platforms to watch them on) than ever to sift through, and IndieWire is here to help you do just that each week.

This week’s selections are heavy on the festival entries, including very recent TIFF premieres “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “The Starling,” “The Mad Women’s Ball”; along with Sundance picks like “My Name Is Pauli Murray,” “Prisoners of the Ghostland,” and “The Nowhere Inn”; plus Cannes debut “Blue Bayou.” Each film is now available in a theater near you or in the comfort of your own home (or, in some cases, both, the convenience of it all). Browse your options below.

Week of September 13 – September 19

New Films in Theaters

As new movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available.

“Blue Bayou” (directed by Justin Chon)
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It: Theaters

Justin Chon’s overcranked but achingly heartfelt “Blue Bayou” is a case-study in how issue-driven melodramas are a double-edged sword. If done well, these tear-jerkers can emotionally galvanize audiences into grappling with the sort of social injustice that people tend to cry over in the dark of a theater and then leave behind when they re-emerge into the light of day. If done poorly, they risk glazing an urgent problem with a gloss of untruth, and making an all-too-real tragedy from our own backyard feel like the kind of thing that only happens in the movies. An eye-opening sob-fest that eventually loses sight of its everyday tragedy behind a thick veil of tears, “Blue Bayou” is such an uncommonly lucid example of this phenomenon because it manages to cut both ways at the same time. Read IndieWire’s full review. 

“Cry Macho”

“Cry Macho” (directed by Clint Eastwood)
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Find It: Theaters, streaming on HBO Max

“Cry Macho” may be the first of Clint Eastwood’s films to reflect the ineffable frailty that wafts off the late works of other masters like Manoel de Oliveira and Alain Resnais (neither of whom ever made a movie during the pre-vaccine stretch of a coronavirus pandemic), but it also finds that some of his oldest motifs have only gotten better with age. Striking as it is to see how far Eastwood has sunken into his bones since “The Mule” — or to feel how little muscle he’s flexing behind the camera even when compared to his work on 2019’s “Richard Jewell” —  this dusty little fable tells a story that mines a gentle power from its self-evident weakness, and it only works as well as it does because it makes you worry if Eastwood may have waited too long to tell it. Read IndieWire’s full review. 

“Copshop” (directed by Joe Carnahan)
Distributor: Open Road Films
Where to Find It: Theaters

Shifty fixer Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) devises a Hail Mary plan to escape from the clutches of sadistic hitman Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler). He gets himself arrested and locked up in an isolated Nevada police station. But hiding out in jail won’t be enough to protect him from Viddick, who scams his own way into the same detention center, biding his time in a directly opposite cell, until an unexpected arrival leads to unmitigated mayhem. At the center of it all is dogged rookie officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder), who becomes “a big fucking problem” for the movie’s motivationally ambiguous baddies (there are a few), in a command performance that could prove to be a breakout role for the young actress. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (directed by Michael Showalter)
Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Where to Find It: Theaters

Now, two decades on, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” gets the narrative treatment, care of a frazzled, unfocused biopic that, again, leans into stories so crazy that they must be true, as led by the indomitable charms of a woman without peer. Michael Showalter’s film — also, somewhat confusingly, titled “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” — initially opens with the facts, including archival footage from the early days of the so-called “Pearlygate” drama that effectively ended the Bakkers’ careers (and marriage), before moving squarely into Tammy Faye’s (Jessica Chastain) line of vision. This is the Tammy Faye Bakker story, after all, and while Showalter’s film rarely coalesces into a satisfying whole, Chastain holds the whole damn thing together, thanks to a will as strong as whatever Bakker used to keep her trademark false eyelashes in place. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Freeland” (directed by Mario Furloni and Kate McLean)
Distributor: Dark Star Pictures
Where to Find It: Theaters
The opening moments of Trey Shults’ 2015 debut “Krisha” established one of the most commanding faces in recent American cinema: The director’s aunt, Krisha Fairchild, embodied a world-weary alcoholic trainwreck through a map of withered features and sunken eyes and created a fiery portrait of rage and profound sadness. It’s hard to imagine another movie as suited to carry that commanding presence than Shults’ semi-biographical debut, but five years later, “Freeland” comes close.

Co-directors Mario Furloni and Kate McLean’s scrappy character study about an aging pot farmer coming to grips with legalization was shot on actual marijuana farms and adapted from real events, though unlike “Krisha,” the non-fiction framework matters less than its centerpiece. While the filmmakers’ jittery, quasi-documentary approach outshines the flimsy story, they give Fairchild just enough material to transcend those limitations. “Freeland” builds from its humble start to a wrenching conclusion, and eventually coalesces into a poignant, understated character study about the destructive collision of nostalgia and regret — a stoner midlife-crisis drama that fully belongs to the era of legal weed, and what happens when people get screwed by it. Read IndieWire’s full review. 

My Name is Pauli Murray

“My Name is Pauli Murray”

Sundance

“My Name Is Pauli Murray” (directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen)
Distributor: Amazon
Where to Find It: Theaters, streaming on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, October 1The greatest revelation in “My Name Is Pauli Murray,” a new documentary about the poet, writer, activist, labor organizer, legal theorist, and Episcopal priest whose ideas shaped legal arguments for both race and gender equality, is that what made Murray so keenly attuned to the burdens of inequality — being Black, queer, and assigned female at birth — are the very things that robbed Murray of the recognition they so deserve. That is, until now.

Recent years have seen Murray sainted by the Episcopal Church, a Yale residential college established in their name, and the publication of two biographies: “The Firebrand and the First Lady” (2016), about Murray’s decades-long friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, and “Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray” (2017). “My Name Is Pauli Murray” draws on this research — as well as a crucial re-contextualizing from transgender community leaders — to deliver an accessible and proper tribute to Murray’s astounding life and work. While the film doesn’t transcend cinematic heights beyond that of a workaday biopic, it handles the more complex aspects of Murray’s story with nuance and conveys the Black queer trailblazer’s story with requisite reverence. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Nowhere Inn” (directed by Bill Benz)
Distributor: IFC Films
Where to Find It: Theaters

Some 40 years after “This is Spinal Tap,” the prospect of another mockumentary on self-involved rock stars might not sound so appealing. Fortunately, “The Nowhere Inn” goes beyond the call of duty with a mesmerizing seriocomic descent into the madness of modern fame. This unclassifiable whatsit from singer-songwriter St. Vincent and BFF Carrie Brownstein works overtime to reinvent itself every step of the way, in a hilarious (if sometimes baffling) means of illustrating its outré point.

On its surface, “The Nowhere Inn” centers on St. Vincent’s road trip as she struggles to reconcile her onstage persona with her more grounded identity as Annie Clark. It’s a journey that’s absurd and eerie, ridiculous and deep. Pitched somewhere between traditional rockumentary tropes and a heap of zany Adult Swim shorts, it dips into the deadpan folksy satire of Brownstein’s “Portlandia” before veering into a shapeshifting psychological thriller worthy of vintage De Palma. Fans of St. Vincent’s vivid rock compositions won’t find much new information about her persona, but the movie provides a welcome extension of her artistry nonetheless. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Prisoners of the Ghostland” (directed by Sion Sono)
Distributor: RLJE Films
Where to Find It: Theaters, plus various digital and VOD options

Some movies don’t seem inevitable until they’re made. The most absurd thing about Sion Sono’s “Prisoners of the Ghostland” — a sukiyaki psych-Western that casts Nicolas Cage as a criminal on a mission to rescue a runaway girl from a post-apocalyptic wasteland before the bombs attached to his balls explode — is that it didn’t already exist. This is the first film that Sono shot (predominately) in English, and the first film that Cage shot with a (predominately) Japanese crew, but “Prisoners of the Ghostland” leaves no doubt that these two wildmen speak the same language. If this gonzo cross-cultural mash-up pulls taut across more ideas than it has skin on its bones, well, it’s easy to forgive Sono and Cage for getting a bit overexcited about meeting for the first time. (It may be worth noting that Sono suffered a heart attack during pre-production that scuttled plans to roll in Mexico and put the project in jeopardy until Cage suggested moving the whole thing to Japan.) Read IndieWire’s full review.

Prisoners of the Ghostland Nicolas Cage

“Prisoners of the Ghostland”

Toshio Watanabe

“The Starling” (directed by Theodore Melfi)
Distributor: Netflix
Where to Find It: Select heaters, streaming on Netflix on Friday, September 24

Let’s get this out of the way: The eponymous bird at the center of Theodore Melfi’s cloying, if still tender-hearted dramedy “The Starling” isn’t real, though the emotions (and often, the quite literal pain) he stirs in the people around him is. If that’s not the set-up for a quirky mid-budget feel-good feature, well, what is? The kind of throwback dramedy that streamers should be making these days — because the studios sure aren’t — the Melissa McCarthy-starring film will likely charm the feathers off its audience when it hits Netflix, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. It is, however, something few contemporary films dare to be: both satisfying and self-contained. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Wife of a Spy” (directed by Kurosawa Kiyoshi)
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Where to Find It: Select theaters

While this crisp and subdued Hitchcockian melodrama represents yet another unexpected pivot from a filmmaker who’s never liked putting one foot in front of the other (it’s Kurosawa Kioyshi’s first period piece), it’s also just a well-done slab of red meat from someone who hasn’t served up a satisfying meal in so long that it seemed as if he might’ve forgotten how. There’s never a bad time for a self-possessed marriage story about love, loyalty, and unspeakable war crimes, but Kurosawa shoots this one with the kind of cool-headed resolve that his characters find hard to come by. And while “Wife of a Spy” isn’t quite robust enough to auger a full-blown resurgence, the film’s best moments shimmer with the anxiety and nebulousness that Kurosawa harnessed so well in the years before it began to seem as if they were harnessing him. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“23 Walks” (directed by Paul Morrison)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Theaters, plus various digital and VOD options

“Best Sellers” (directed by Lina Roessler)
Distributor: Screen Media
Where to Find It: Theaters, plus various digital and VOD options

“Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monsters” (directed by Thomas Hamilton)
Distributor: Abramorama
Where to Find It: Theaters

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” (directed by Jonathan Butterell
Distributor: Amazon
Where to Find It: Theaters, streaming on Amazon Prime Video

“Lady of the Manor” (directed by Justin Long and Christian Long)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: Theaters, plus various digital and VOD options

“Little Girl” (directed by Sébastien Lifshitz) 
Distributor: Music Box Films
Where to Find It: Select theaters

“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain” (directed by David Midell) 
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Where to Find It: Select theaters, plus various digital and VOD options

New Films on VOD and Streaming, Including Premium Platforms

“The Mad Women’s Ball” (directed by Mélanie Laurent)
Distributor: Amazon
Where to Find It: Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

The enduring relevance of a drama about the misogyny at the heart of medicine and the arrogance of men to control women’s bodies remains tragically undeniable in a way that can make a film like “The Mad Women’s Ball” — set more than a century ago and snagged on the roots of modern psychiatry — risk seeming prosaic. The gendered injustice of Charcot’s sanatorium is so out in the open and the laughable neuroscience practiced there so outmoded that it might be tempting for today’s audiences to chalk the whole thing up to a time before the unilateral pressures of birth control or the insidiousness of “pro-life” rhetoric. The bracingly visceral nature of Mélanie Laurent’s approach may have been intended to bring the past back to life, but it only widens the gap between then and now. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Mad Women’s Ball”

1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All rights reserved

Also available this week:

“Giddy Stratospheres” (directed by Laura Jean Marsh)
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Where to Find It: Various digital and VOD options

“Nightbooks” (directed by David Yarovesky)
Distributor: Netflix
Where to Find It: Streaming on Netflix

Check out more new films and how to watch them on the next page.

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