After averaging about seven movies a month through the summer I have been making up for lost time with sixteen trips to the cinema in September.
Million Dollar Arm: The true story of a down on his luck sports agent stage sets up a talent show to find Indian crickets that he can turn into Major League Baseball pitchers. A little lightweight but fun.
As Above, So Below: Found footage horror movie set in the Paris catacombs. Unoriginal but surprisingly enjoyable despite the ludicrous found footage. Perdita Weeks makes a likeable star I expect to see more of.
The Guest: Homage to 80’s thrillers and slasher movies. It really shouldn’t work but it strangely does. Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens makes a seamless transition from TV to movies.
The Guvnors: British crime/gangster drama. Turning football hooligans into sympathetic, even heroic characters leaves a bad taste, but the film is actually very good.
Before I Go to Sleep: Amnesia thriller. Nicole Kidman is good, Colin Firth has fun playing against type but Mark Strong steals the show as always. Comparisons to the far superior Memento are inevitable.
The Hundred-Foot Journey: An Indian family move to France and set up a restaurant opposite Michelin-starred restaurant. Om Puri steals the show as the patriarch of the family. The second film this year that you shouldn’t watch on an empty stomach.
A Most Wanted Man: A German intelligence officer is on the trail of Chechen illegally immigrates who may be in Hamburg to help fund terrorists. A well paced and believable thriller. Philip Seymour Hoffman reminds us just how good he is in this adaptation of a modern John le Carré novel.
20,000 Days on Earth: Fictionalised account of musician and writer Nick Cave’s 20,000th day on the planet Earth. Existing in a nether-region between documentary and narrative cinema, a real treat for Nick Cave fans and a great film for the uninitiated.
Pride: A group of lesbian and gay activists raise money to help miners during the 1984 strike. A true story appears to be one of the best kept secrets of the era. As funny and uplifting as it is poignant.
A Walk Amongst the Tombstones: Liam Neeson plays another man with a very particular set of skills, but this is a very different film to Taken. A more thoughtful movie than I was expecting, based on number ten of eighteen novels, it could be the start of a more interesting franchise for Neeson.
Magic in the Moonlight: A renowned stage magician is hired to debunk a spiritualist. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are as good as you would expect. Woody Allen’s direction is light and well paced but his script lacks and gravitas.
The Riot Club: Based on the acclaimed play Posh, that in turn is a thinly disguised take on real life institutions like the Bullingdon Club. Entertaining but lacks any pathos, it makes a couple of the characters a little too sympathetic and the rest are just caricatures.
The Giver: In a dull but supposedly perfect future there is no is no conflict but there is also no emotion. Things begin to change when a young man who can see beyond the veneer of society gets a new job. Effective and enjoyable low-fi, sci-fi.
Maps To The Stars: David Cronenberg’s satire on Hollywood is as enthralling as it is cutting. Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska are both excellent and would be early contenders for Oscar nominations if the films gaze wasn’t so close to home.
I Origins: Mike Cahill reteams with Brit Marling. A meditation on science, religion and the possibility of reincarnation told through the medium of a love story. The film holds together even in its most arty moments largely thanks to Marling and co stars Michael Pitt and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey.
What We Did on Our Holiday: A couple try to hide their separation from the family at a 75th birthday party but their children don’t find lying as easy. Improvised scenes with the kids provide some very funny moments.
There were five real contenders this month, but for its originality and the feeling I walked out with, the movie of the month has to be: 20,000 Days on Earth:
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