We stand here at the brink of what is almost certainly going to be the biggest, most record-settingest September in history (it will be, among other things, very probably do bigger box office than August, something that has never happened before). And this is for the simple reason that the movies look abnormally appealing for what’s typically the second-dumpiest of all dump months, after January. Even in my cynicism, I can admit that.
For example… Tulip Fever? What sort of petty bullshit is it to push it back one week from when it was supposed to come out in August? Anyway, the Weinstein Company’s second-most notoriously delayed film is, as I write this, only five days from release, and surely, this time, it’s too late to pull it?
Also, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is getting a fairly substantial release for its 40th anniversary, and it’s, y’know, an all-time masterpiece, so that might be worth catching on the biggest available screen.
And here we are, with the film at the crux of all those record-setting predictions: the first half of a two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s It, a film that has been enjoying almost non-stop positive buzz ever since its trailers dropped way back when, and looks to be, at any rate, the big horror film of 2017. Which makes for quite a nice change of pace from the last King adaptation, August’s stillborn The Dark Tower. To be honest, I’m not sure that it looks like it will be all that much better than any above-par horror movie; seems like there are going to be quite a few jump scares, and it sounds very clear that former director Cary Fukunaga left specifically because the studio wanted to make it as boring and safe as possible.
Still, a horror film becoming a major cultural event? That tickles me, it does. I’ll be there opening night, no doubt about it.
In a fairly ingenious bit of counter-programming, Nancy Meyers’s daughter makes her writing and directing debut with Home Again, a trim-looking romcom in which Reese Witherspoon takes to fucking a hot college student. Michael Sheen and Lake Bell pop up in the supporting cast, and that’s good enough for me. There’s also a World Trade Center film titled 9/11, and I would have absolutely no independent evidence of it existing if not for all the websites that tell you what movies are coming out. I expect it to make about 10 cents and be forgotten within the week.
The first American film of the month, and it’s a pity they’re not releasing closer, since that would mean that we could all have even more fun getting them confused: American Assassin. This is the one with Michael Keaton as the boss daddy of the counter-terrorism assassin, and Maze Runner as the assassin who lets it get too personal, and the ad campaign that makes it sound like a blow-job for U.S. intel agencies.
Then there’s another film that I don’t think actually exists: All I See Is You, a romantic melodrama that looks much less trim than Home Again, and banks everything on the white-hot stardom and chemistry of Blake Lively and Jason Clarke. Because apparently they’re still doing Jason Clarke.
Lastly, and most importantly by far, is Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, starring Jennifer Lawrence as a woman whose life begins to unravel in the presence of Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Javier Bardem. And somebody needs to be shot out of a cannon into a fucking volcano, because there is literally one weekend in all of 2017 when you shouldn’t open an artsy horror film, and that is the weekend after It. Anyway, the vibe from the trailer seems pretty great, although it looks absolutely ugly as shit.
I feel like Kingsman: The Secret Service has almost completely faded from memory, but maybe that’s jut me. At any rate, 20th Century Fox is banking on people still loving it, because here comes the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. And I hate it, because it looks bad, and it sounds bad, and the first one has gotten more and more sour and unlikable with age in my mind, and they got Julianne fucking Moore and Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges to sign up, and like, I can’t say no to that. What the goddamn hell.
Elsewhere, The Lego Ninjago Movie is the point at which the short-lived reign of theatrically-released Lego movies is obviously going to exhaust itself. And for the third consecutive week of horror, here comes Friend Request, which feels like a movie that already came out, months ago, doesn’t it?
In limited release, Oscarbait season officially begins with Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and I’m already excited to have forgotten that I ever saw it. I don’t know if it’s fair to call Victoria and Abdul Oscarbait, because it looks like a profoundly humiliating accident that it got made, let alone released, but I’m genuinely excited to see it in theaters; I am fascinated to discover what audience goes to see Dame Judi Dench play Queen Victoria again, in a film about the queen’s token Indian friend, here in the year of our Lord 2017, and I think it will be worth the money to see it with them.
The other American film: American Made is the story of how the DEA got tangled up with a drug cartel during the time of the Iran-Contra scandal, starring Tom Cruise. And I could go off of the promise of the trailer, slick and comic and nasty-minded, or I could just say that after Edge of Tomorrow, I’d follow the Cruise/Doug Liman team off the edge of a cliff.
And here we come to the fourth straight horror movie, which feels like it has to be some kind of record itself: a new version of Flatliners that is possible a sequel? I don’t really care much: the original is firmly in “good idea, bad execution” territory, and seeing it done right would be a treat. This isn’t going to be that.
Lastly, Til Death Do Us Part, this year’s entry in the evergreen “generic Lifetime-style thriller, but with highly overqualified African-American actors, released in September” genre. Though this time, they’re not even all that overqualified, so there’s less reason than usual to be optimistic.