After a slow summer, September saw thirteen trips to the cinema, one of the reasons I am a day late posting my movie of the month. the other is because I couldn’t decide on the winner, here are the contenders:
Brotherhood: Noel Clarke’s third and possibly final part of his “Hood” trilogy. Clarke writes, directs and stars and does a great job of all three. The best made of the trilogy and his performance is immense. Great to see it doing well at the UK boxoffice.
Hell or High Water: British director David Mackenzie takes on the modern western with a top script by Taylor Sheridan. Set in small town West Texas it is very modern post fanatical crisis story. Comparisons to No Country for Old Men (2007) are inevitable, while it isn’t as good as the Coen’s movie, it is a worthy entry into the genre.
Morgan: An exploration into humanity rolled up into a slick Sci-Fi thriller. It is a surprising choice for director Luke (son of Ridley) Scott’s feature debut as it has many echoes of Blade Runner. Surprisingly not that well received, I really enjoyed it. Directed with confidence that belies a debut director; the film is lean 92 minutes, it looks fantastic and is well cast with standout performances from Kate Mara and Anya Taylor-Joy.
Cafe Society: Woody Allen’s 47th feature is set against a backdrop of golden age Hollywood. It their third film together Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart have great chemistry. The story ambles along without any great conclusion or revelation. Not as good as Allen’s recent best Midnight In Paris and Blue Jasmine but still worth seeing especially for a fantastic Kristen Stewart.
One More Time With Feeling: Documentary exploring the recording and creative process of the album Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Made at a time of great personal tragedy for Cave it is a more sombre than 20,000 Days on Earth but still has funny moments and is totally engrossing. Shown in 3D that is occasionally effective but largely pointless, like 3D in most movies. And the album is fantastic too by the way!
Don’t Breathe: Director Fede Alvarez follows up his pointless Evil Dead remake with home invasion movie with a twist. Quite nasty at times, it is a great little film for fans of horror/thrillers. Unlike Hell or High Water, it only plays lip service to the economy subtext.
Anthropoid: True story of Operation Anthropoid, the plan to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich in Czechoslovakia. The first half of the film is a dark and tense thriller, the second a bolt and brash war movie, both work supremely well in an enthralling movie.
The Girl with All the Gifts: British zombie is probably the best and most original of the genre since 28 Days Later. It works on a surface level as an exciting and enthralling film but also explores themes of humanity, ecology and morality.
Blair Witch: Part remake/reboot and part sequel to 1999’s phenomenally successful and influential The Blair Witch Project. Taken on its own merits it isn’t a bad film, it just lacks the impact and originality of the original.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople: Taika Waititi follows up the brilliant What We Do in the Shadows with a more conventional movie. A dysfunctional relationship between an outsider kid and a cantankerous adult, we have seen it all before but rarely done this well and with a minimum of sentiment and cliché.
The Infiltrator: The true story of Robert Mazur who goes undercover in America’s war on drugs in the 1980’s. A gripping if a little old fashioned story. Bryan Cranston is fantastic in the lead as are Diane Kruger, John Leguizamo and Joseph Gilgun in supporting roles.
Kubo and the Two Strings: Stunning Stop-motion animation from Laika. Moments of comedy, horror and action keep the viewer enthralled as do the great voice cast, the real star is the stop motion animation.
The Magnificent Seven: Unnecessary but largely enjoyable retelling of the story. The villain is updated to give a vague hint at a modern subtext. Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt do a good job playing Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt leaving Ethan Hawke to be the most interesting and only nuanced character.
There have been some fantastic films in September and half a dozen of them could have been movie of the month in other months, but three stand out from the rest: Hell or High Water, The Girl with All the Gifts and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The three are interchangeable, If you ask me again tomorrow I may change my mind, but for now the movie of the month is: