Ten films to watch this September
From Downton Abbey’s silver-screen debut to Hustlers, and the sequel to hit horror It, Nicholas Barber picks the films not to miss this month.
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It Chapter 2
This may be a first: a horror sequel which is released just two years after its predecessor, but which is set 27 years later. The first film, It, told the scary story of seven children who called themselves the Losers Club and who battled a demonic clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). But the original Stephen King novel also included the story of Pennywise’s return, nearly three decades on. Officially, then, It Chapter 2 is “the second half, it’s not a sequel”, claimed Andy Muschietti, who directed both films. The members of the reunited Losers Club are played by James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader, among others, which makes It Chapter 2 another first: a horror sequel which has a starrier cast than its predecessor.
Released 5 September in Australia, Brazil, Germany and the Netherlands, and 6 September in the US, the UK and Ireland
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Brooklyn director John Crowley and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy screenwriter Peter Straughan have both previously brought huge silver-screen book adaptations into being; but now they’ve taken on an even bigger literary challenge: condensing a nearly-800-page novel into a two-and-a-half-hour coming-of-age drama. The Goldfinch is adapted from Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller. Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) stars as a man who survives a bombing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and takes a valuable Dutch painting from the wreckage. Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright and Luke Wilson co-star as the people who see him descend into a world of hedonism and forgery.
Released 13 September in the US, Canada and Sweden and 27 September in the UK, Ireland and Mexico
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Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers is a glitzy crime-caper about a group of strippers who conspire to steal from their wealthy Wall Street clients in the early 2000s. Jennifer Lopez plays the veteran who teaches single mother Constance Wu the art of pole-dancing, and then persuades her, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo and Cardi B that there is an easier way to make a buck. Julia Stiles plays a fictionalised version of Jessica Pressler, the writer of the 2015 New York Magazine article that ‘inspired’ the film (‘inspired’ meaning that it may not be 100% accurate). The all-star, all-female central cast prompted Cosmopolitan to declare: “Waiting for Hustlers is like waiting for The Avengers if you’re not a nerd.” But nerds may well enjoy it, too.
Released 13 September in the US, the UK and Canada
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Stand back Sex and The City! Step aside Entourage! The latest TV series to have a cinematic spin-off is Downton Abbey. Just in case 52 episodes with the Crawley family and their faithful servants left you wanting more, the series’ creator, Julian Fellowes, has written a two-hour follow-up, and most of the original cast have been lured back to their very big house in the country. Among them are Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, and Jim Carter (as Carson the butler), whose wife, Imelda Staunton, joins the roster as the magnificently named Lady Maud Bagshaw. The story, set in 1927, revolves around a visit by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James).
Released on 13 September in the UK and Ireland and 20 September in the US and Spain
View image of (Credit: Francois Duhamel/ Twentieth Century Fox)
Blasting off from the Venice Film Festival, Ad Astra is a science-fiction adventure written and directed by James Gray, the critics’ favourite who made The Lost City of Z. Like The Lost City, it is a Heart of Darkness-inspired drama about an explorer travelling to dangerous uncharted territory. Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who is bound for Neptune, where his father (Tommy Lee Jones) may be involved in a humanity-threatening experiment. “What I’m trying to do is the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie,” promises Gray, “and to basically say, ‘Space is awfully hostile to us.’”
Released on 18 September in the UK and France, 19 September in Australia, Hong Kong and Germany and 20 September in the US and Canada
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It’s 1968, and Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) needs to raise enough money to stop her ex-husband Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell) gaining full custody of their children. She signs up to a series of nightclub appearances in London, but her addictions to alcohol, pills and unsuitable younger men ensure that audiences never know whether the show will go on. In a way, Judy is a companion piece to Stan & Ollie, another affectionate non-fiction film about past-it Hollywood greats hoping to make a comeback in London. In both cases, Bernard Delfont (played here by Michael Gambon) is the impresario who produces the British shows. But Judy also feels like Zellweger’s own shot at a comeback. Not only does she have the kind of substantial lead role that wins Oscars, but she does all the singing herself – no small task considering that Garland was one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated vocalists.
Released 27 September in the US and Canada
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In the last year, there have already been two animated films about a human being befriending a legendary shaggy man-monster: Smallfoot in 2018, and then April’s Missing Link. But the Yeti craze is not over yet. In Abominable, Yi, a Chinese girl (Chloe Bennet), finds an abominable snowman living on the roof of her Shanghai block of flats, and helps him return to his Himalayan home on Mount Everest. One of the rare cartoons to be written and directed by a woman (Jill Culton), and the American voice actors all have Chinese or Nepalese heritage. Indeed, one actor is Tenzing Norgay Trainor, the grandson of Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who reached the summit of Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953.
Released 19 September in Australia and 27 September in the US and India
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After Hassan Fazili made a documentary about a Taliban commander in Afghanistan, the Taliban put a bounty on his head, forcing him to flee. Fazili, his wife and their two young daughters trudged from country to country, sleeping rough, dodging racists and trying to find somewhere they could call home. He chronicled their harrowing journey using three mobile phones, and the unique result is both a heart-stopping thriller and an intimate portrait of life as an asylum seeker. Film Inquiry argues that Midnight Traveler “marries the beautiful and the terrible, presenting a raw, poignant and eye-opening depiction of the refugee experience and succeeding as an incredibly canny achievement of filmmaking”.
Released on 18 September in the US
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The Day Shall Come
Chris Morris (Four Lions) has long been one of our most outrageous and uncompromising satirists, and he has gone further than ever in his new comedy, The Day Shall Come. “Based on a hundred true stories,” according to an opening caption, the film features Anna Kendrick as an FBI agent who can’t find any terrorists to arrest, and so decides to create a terrorist of her own, pushing a Miami preacher (Marchánt Davis) towards armed revolt. The Playlist notes that “there are plenty of absurd and bleak turns in this crazy, satirical story about the misfortunate, their hopeless circumstances, and the way callous law enforcement abuses and manipulates the people in these communities to fit their own narratives, quotas, and agendas”.
Released on 27 September in the US
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The Monos are a gang of gun-toting teenage guerrillas who live on a Colombian mountain, where they tend to a hostage (Julianne Nicholson) and a cow. As majestic as the child soldiers’ surroundings may be, their lives are perilous and bizarre, and they get even more bizarre when the gang disappears into the jungle. The Guardian says that “this overpoweringly tense and deeply mad thriller is … something between Apocalypse Now, Lord of the Flies and Embrace of the Serpent”. If that weren’t recommendation enough, Guillermo del Toro is quoted in the trailer deeming Monos “mesmerising”, and co-writer-director, Alejandro Landes, “a powerful new voice in cinema”.
Released on 5 September in the Netherlands and 13 September in the US
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