Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in 'The Master'
Summer is now over and with it, some pretty horrible films (The Apparition, Piranha 3DD, The Watch). We welcome the Autumn, with open arms and a slew of thought-provoking cinema worth spending your time indulging in. So to cleanse your palate a bit from the garbage of Summer, here are the best 9 movies you need to see for the month of September. Some we’ve already seen, some we’re betting our reputation on. There are no bad films on this list, just movies that you’d have a blast watching or debating with friends at dinner.
9. REC 3 (Horror, September 7th) Plot: A couple's wedding day turns into a horrific events as some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Why you should see it: Spanish language horror movies have become highly respected in Hollywood due to the inventiveness and ingenuity of the stories that Spanish directors and writers come up with. The REC series from Spain is perhaps the most famous and successful of them all. Part 1 was a game changer and Hollywood remade as ‘Quarantine’. Part 2 was relentless with its fast paced action and gore and now Part 3 blends humor with all the action and blood we’ve been accustomed to. You won’t find a better horror franchise in the 21st century than REC.
8. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (Documentary, September 21st) Plot: A look at the life and work of the influential fashion editor of Harpers Bazaar, Diana Vreeland. Why you should see it: Whether you are a fashionista or not, the story of Diana Vreeland is worth knowing. She changed a business, redefined it and left a legacy that we still celebrate. The story is told efficiently with visually pleasing pictures and eminent guests. At some point you’ve read or heard of magazines Harper Bazaar’s, Vogue and The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala. She left her imprint on each one of them making her a genius in her craft. Stories about geniuses should be told, especially if the person whose life-story is being narrated is an honest, enlightening and exuberant character.
7. Looper (Sci-Fi, Drama, September 28th) Plot: In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by transporting back Joe's future self. Why you should see it: Bruce Willis called this movie, “one of the best thing he’s ever been in” and he’s been in some classics. It is also a mentally stimulating movie. Just that alone is a principal reason. Of course, you also have a fantastic cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, and Paul Dano. ‘Looper’ is a high quality movie. It has a Christopher Nolan visual and essence to it, though Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) directed and wrote it. The story is really innovative, absorbing, well thought out and most importantly, not too hard to follow. It was fun unraveling the puzzle that Johnson puts us in. Only Nolan is making these types of movies and I for one welcome anyone who is creating cerebral movies such as this.
6. Liberal Arts (Comedy, Drama, September 14th) Plot: When 30-something Jesse (Josh Radnor) returns to his alma mater for a professor's retirement party (Richard Jenkins), he falls for Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a college student, and is faced with a powerful attraction that springs up between them. Why you should see it: Authentic, insightful, earnest, amusing and charming is what you get with Josh Radnor’s sophomore film ‘Liberal Arts’. As the central character of CBS’ hit sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," Radnor wrote, directed, produced and starred in it. I’m not necessarily an advocate of people who wear too may hats in a movie because something has to give. But Radnor seems to be versatile enough and talented enough to pull it off. The characters in the movie are ones that you can relate and empathize with. You’ve met them in one way or another at some point in your life: the nerd, the man who has one more in him, the ingenue who is ahead of her years, etc. But it’s the story that makes this small film worth the watch. While making a social commentary on nostalgia and its place in our lives, Radnor offers us a story with life substance and interesting debates on literature, music and life decisions. All in all, this indie film delivers the goods.
5. Toys in the Attic (Animation, Family, Fantasy, September 7th) Plot: A teddy bear, a mechanical mouse, and a marionette join forces to save their kidnapped friend, Buttercup the doll, from the denizens of the Land of Evil. Why you should see it: Stop-motion animation is perhaps the most arduous and onerous of all filmmaking methods. It can take 2-5 years depending on the challenges, but ultimately, the results are nothing less than extraordinary. Toys in the Attic is such a film, one that titillates the senses and leaves behind a long lasting imagery worthy of multiple views. It is imaginative, artistic and compelling. Kids and adults will benefit from seeing a true visual beauty.
4. End Of Watch (Crime, Drama, September 21st) Plot: Two young LAPD officers (Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña) are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious Mexican cartel, during a routine traffic stop. Why you should see it: Talk about GRITTY. If it’s urban violence you want with two really fantastic performances rolled up in a doc indie style, than this is what you’re looking for. What you might not be looking for and will be pleased to get is some remarkable acting from Michael Peña. You know what you’re going to get from Gyllenhaal, but it’s Peña that surprises and overdelivers here with his passionate and intense acting. Peña, in my mind is one of the top 20 actors in film right now. If you don’t believe me, watch ‘Crash’, ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’, even the comedy ‘Observe and Report’. He’s guaranteed to make your movie better by just being part of the cast. The film is intense, honest, entertaining and has you consistently at the edge of your seat. The ending... well that’s another story. You’ll either love it or hate it.
3. Dredd (Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller, September 21st) Plot: In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO. Why you should see it: While it is a complete rip-off of the Indonesian action flick ‘The Raid: Redemption’, ‘Dredd 3D’ could be, along with ‘The Raid,’ the best action films of 2012. It’s a non-stop action extravaganza, it’s relentless with its violence and pacing. There’s not much character development here and it doesn’t matter. Throw in the best 3D and sound of the year and you have yourself a damn good entertaining movie.
2. Arbitrage (Drama, Thriller, September 21st) Plot: A troubled hedge fund magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help. Why you should see it: This is hands down our favorite thriller of 2012. Richard Gere is in rare form and gives us one of the best performances of his career. The story is enthralling, the cast performances are full of conviction and the pacing is never dull. This is what Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street 2’ should have been.
1. The Master (Drama, September 14th, expanding from September 21st) Plot: Loosely based on Scientology, a Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader. Why you should see it: If there was ever a movie to see not only this month, but this year, it is ‘The Master’. After the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce, the timeliness of a Scientology inspired movie will attract a curious crowd to see the so called origins of the religion. We’re predicting Best Picture and Best Actor win for the film and Joaquin Phoenix. Why? One name... Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood) a three time Oscar nominee. He is considered a film master and under his directional style, the subject matter and the performances, there is no doubt the film will be an immediate frontrunner in all the major categories this award season.