Monthly Preview: September 2013

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So…. yeah. Kind of a slow month as far as I’m concerned. It’s not a huge surprise though, as September is a notorious dumping ground, either for genre films that aren’t expected to break the bank or prestige films that aren’t expected to be major awards players. Despite the fact that the last two Septembers featured the likes of Looper, Drive, Moneyball, The Master, Dredd, Warrior, 50/50, Contagion, and Take Shelter, the industry still tends to turn up its nose at this stretch of the calendar. It’s something I’ve never fully understood, especially given a list like the one in the previous sentence (but it’s Hollywood, since when did they need to make sense?). At any rate, there’s still a couple of potential diamonds in the rough, even if I’m not as excited for these as I was for some of those aforementioned September releases of years past. More after the pseudo-jump…

Riddick: Generally I’m not a huge fan of Vin Diesel, but I am a fan of Riddick as a character. It’s a mixture of the stark, simple look he has (the goggles, the shinejob eyes, etc) and how he’s essentially becoming a space-set version of Conan the Cimmerian. Pitch Black was a solid riff on Alien, made distinctive mostly by the presence of Diesel (and Radha Mitchell being a great, selfish anti-Ripley). Chronicles of Riddick did a good job of expanding the now-titular killer’s character, but also dropped him into a universe and story that didn’t jive with those of Pitch Black at all. Riddick seems like it could be a great balance between the two, which could make it the definitive movie of the series. Not that that’s saying much, but I’m totally onboard with this big ol’ Furyan for another go-around (especially seeing as he gave Katee Sackhoff another much-deserved chance to be a space badass. So say we all!).

Blue Caprice: I wasn’t aware of this movie at all until it hit the festival circuit, but after seeing the trailer I was sold. It looks like an incredibly restrained film, seething with menace, an intense, slow-burn exploration of an evil man and how he swayed a young kid desperate for guidance. I’m glad it seems to be focusing more on the dynamic of their relationship than the true-crime circumstances surrounding them. I don’t really know Isaiah Washington’s work as an actor but he looks scary as hell here, and up-and-comer Tequan Richmond seems to be a good fit for the babe in the woods-turned-brainwashed killer. Good chance this’ll be one of those should’ve-been-but-obviously-never-would-be-nominated movies come Oscar time, and I love a lot of movies that fit into that group.

Prisoners: Wow, this one has been a long time coming. Aaron Guzikowski’s Black List-approved script has been floating around for years, with numerous directors and actors attached (Christian Bale was the most consistent, I think), and now we’ll finally see if it’s as good as all that. If the reviews coming out of the Venice Film Festival are any indication then it might end up not just living up to the script’s hype but also being one of the best movies of the year. Certainly looks like nice, tension-packed adult fare, with a terrific ensemble that seems game to embrace the darkness of the concept. I’m not familiar with director Denis Villeneuve’s work yet, but with a resume like his he seems like a good fit for the concept. Having said all that… Detective Loki? Really? Even before Avengers was a hit that’s a ridiculous name choice.

A Single Shot: I’ve been noticing that one picture of a bearded Sam Rockwell aiming a rifle for months, but I’ve never fully paid attention until just recently when I finally watched the trailer, and it’s looking pretty good to me. Falls right into similar territory as Blue Caprice and Prisoners, tonally-speaking, with a plot reminiscent of A Simple Plan and a nice indie-friendly cast (William H Macy looks grandfatherly while also coming off as somewhat menacing, and I didn’t even recognize Jason Isaacs at first). Seems like a promising little potboiler, though it probably won’t be anything revolutionary. Kind of representative of the dearth of options this month that such a slight-looking movie is at the top of my list like this, which is a bitchy way to put it but there it is.

Don Jon: While I’ve never fully gotten on the Ryan Gosling bandwagon, I am a full supporter of that OTHER It-Guy of the moment, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (despite his occasionally too-hipster aesthetics). He killed it last year with Dark Knight Rises and Looper, and I’m really curious to see how Don Jon turns out for him, both as a directorial effort and as a more-comedic role than he’s had for awhile. The trailer was engaging for me, though I can easily see how it could play too broad or too cartoonish for others; I’m willing to give JGL the benefit of the doubt and assume there’s some actual character work at play beyond Goofy Jersey Shore Accents HEY-O! And the trailer also demonstrates enough style and confidence with the camera to already make me excited for more directorial efforts from Batman Jr.

One final note: I was going to include Insidious Chapter 2 on this list, but I haven’t seen the original and Netflix just pulled it from Instant Watch (fuckers…) so I’m not gonna half-ass it. I am excited to see both installments though, just off the strength of The Conjuring. Other than that, September’s got nothing else for me. Onward to October! And feel free to comment on whatever you’re excited for that I may have missed!

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