My, my, how time doth fly. While many of you are probably still hung-up on this year’s Oscar favourites (and who could blame you), the rest of us are already looking ahead to the next awards season. Even as this is being written, hundreds of the world’s finest film journalists are scouring the screening rooms of the Venice Film Festival, lapping up first looks of the films we shall all be talking about come January.
However, if you’re feeling left out then worry not. For September also heralds the start of the Oscar race in your local cinema. Already there’s word of a possible posthumous award for Philip Seymour Hoffman, who you can see take his final starring role in our top pick for the month A Most Wanted Man. While David Cronenberg’s Map To The Stars looks set to ruffle some feathers as he transports us to the core of Hollywood’s bitter heart. Forget about the gondolas, and get yourself to the cinema!
September’s Top Pick
A Most Wanted Man (Dir. Anton Corbijn) – Released September 12th
Sitting down and trying to review A Most Wanted Man is going to be a tough task for even the most seasoned of critics. For few words do justice to the power embodied within every single one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performances. He was an actor of great range, traversing genres far removed from each other with agile ease. Though it’ll be in the next instalment of The Hunger Games that he makes his final bow, A Most Wanted Man is without doubt the curtain call, a last lead performance for us to offer our heartiest applause.
Based on the novel by John le Carre, this tightly woven tale of espionage is set against the backdrop of the war on terror. The eponymous fugitive is a Chechen Muslim named Issa, picked up for having illegally entered Hamburg. As civil rights lawyer Annabel determines to save Issa from deportation, US & German authorities begin to suspect him of being a terrorist; so beginning a race against time to discover Issa’s true identity.
Like many of le Carre’s tales, this is one imbued with an eerie atmosphere that’s epitomised by the secrets and lies that flow through the murky waters of international intelligence. But, from the trailer alone, what’s truly striking is the inescapable sense of poignancy that comes from the knowledge of knowing this is one of the last times we will be able to experience Hoffman’s hypnotic presence. The echoes of our applause will, like his work, live on indefinitely.
Having tilted his gaze towards the dark heart of Wall Street, David Cronenberg has now turned his attentions to the rotting core of the Hollywood Hills with Map To The Stars (Sep. 26th). Exploring ideas of envy and addiction from the view of a powerful Hollywood dynasty, the film has already been widely lauded by many who saw it at Cannes earlier this year, with Julianne Moore’s portrayal of a manic-depressive actress noted as being particularly commendable. Much like Agata Trzebuchowska’s performance has in the historical Polish drama Ida (Sep. 26th), which follows a nun as she tries to find her parents final resting place having discovered that they were Jews who were killed during the Second World War.
No doubt likely to give some of those within our government flashbacks, the power of privilege is thrust under the spot light in The Riot Club (Sep. 19th), a thinly veiled dramatization of life in The Bullingdon Club where adolescent members believe that any problem can be sold if they throw money at it. Sadly no one wanted to throw money at Zach Braff after he made Garden State, which is why he turned to Kickstarter in order to make his second film Wish I Was Here (Sep. 19th). Once again Braff takes the central role as a man forced to stop and examine his life following a personal tragedy.
Reteaming with director Antoine Fuqua, Denzel Washington is slipping into the shoes of Edward Woodward for the big screen adaptation of 80s TV thriller The Equalizer (Sep. 26th), which finds his skilled self-retired black ops commando called to duty once again after a young girl’s life is threatened by Russian gangsters.
Equally as skilled in combat is Liam Neeson, who this month stars in the broodingly titled A Walk Among The Tombstones (Sep. 19th). Here Neeson plays a private detective who’s hired to find out who kidnapped and murdered a drug kingpin’s wife. Naturally, nothing is what it seems and chaos soon ensues. For those of you who like your thriller with less meat and more smarts, then be sure to check out Before I Go To Sleep (Sep. 5th). Directed by Rowan Joffe, this follows Nicole Kidman’s Christine as she tries to discover the truth about her past. There’s just one problem, every morning Christine wakes up with no memory of what happened the previous day.
Having wowed both audiences and critics with Blue Jasmine last year, surely Woody Allen has earned the right to make another of his dreamy dalliances. The result is Magic In The Moonlight (Sep. 19th), a frothy period rom-com that trails the exploits of Colin Firth’s Stanley as he tries to unmask Emma Stone’s celebrity spiritualist as a fraud, while slowly beginning to fall in love with her. Meanwhile, in Pride (Sep. 12th) we head to the summer of ’84, where gay and lesbian activists work to help those protesting during the Miner’s strike; a wonderfully eclectic bunch of British talent, including Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine, star.
Best Of The Rest
If you’re looking for something to cheer the kids up, as the prospect of returning to school looms large, then make sure you take them to see The Boxtrolls (Sep. 12th), a gorgeously inventive new animation that follows a young boy who has been brought up by a loveable bunch of cave-dwelling monsters.
Finally, it’s a fantastic month over at the BFI, with more re-releases than I’m able to count, but it is the release of holocaust documentary Night Will Fall (Sep. 19th) that undoubtedly deserves your attention. Here we watch as researchers discover film footage that transpires to be a lost documentary made by Alfred Hitchcock and Sidney Bernstein in 1945 about German Concentration Camps.