By Jack Rico
September marks the end of summer movies in Hollywood and begins its transition towards the release of award winning films. Note my use of the word transition. Utilizing that word means that September only possesses 2 movies that have any real aspirations at being nominated or winning anything come Oscar time – Salinger for Best Documentary and Prisoners for a few nominations. This month also brings a plethora of documentaries. Almost half of the films on this list are documentaries. The rise in the genre is getting stronger by the year and I feel is becoming our new literature for facts. Ironically, Michael Moore, the best representative of the genre is nowhere to be found. You will find on this list everything from one of James Gandolfini’s final performances on film, The Beatles back on the screen and the mysterious universe of bodybuilding. Without further delay, here are the 12 Must See Movies of September!
12. Good Ol’ Freda (Documentary)
Plot: A documentary in which Freda Kelly looks back at her career as lifelong secretary for The Beatles.
Why you have to see it: People can’t get enough of The Beatles. They will forever be a part of music history and an influence in pop culture for centuries to come. So the idea of another documentary having to do with their lives is of no surprise to me. This time their old secretary reveals juicy details, from her POV, and fills in the gaps of what fans must’ve missed out on. Any new recordings, video footage or stories are all welcome in what will no doubt be an enjoyable watch for fans and music lovers alike.
11. Inequality for All (Documentary)
Plot: A documentary that follows former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he looks to raise awareness of the country’s widening economic gap.
Why you have to see it: What I really like about documentaries is that it allows for scientific and statistical information to be digested so much better than a book. With visuals and laymen terms uniting to bring easy comprehension to difficult topics, Inequality for All breaks down the reasons why there is a middle class fighting to stay afloat from poverty. Robert Reich is one of the champions for this cause and his awareness will be felt after you see this documentary. You never know this film might just change your life.
10. Enough Said (Comedy – James Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Toni Collette, Catherine Keener)
Plot: A divorced woman who decides to pursue the man she’s interested in learns he’s her new friend’s ex-husband.
Why you have to see it: One of the last performances of James Gandolfini’s film career is presented in this quaint, simple adult romantic comedies with another TV icon in Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Together, they will certainly attract audiences to see if their individual talents can make for one big memorable film or just disappoint like Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts did in The Mexican. However, with these two it’s always a good risk when they’re involved. Was Gandolfini’s career cut too short? We think so and this month, we’ll definitely find out.
9. Populaire (Comedy – Romain Duris, Féodor Atkine, Déborah François, Bérénice Bejo)
Plot: 1958. Rose is a terrible secretary but a demon typist. Her handsome boss resolves to turn her into the fastest girl in the world.
Why you have to see it: Think of Mad Men in 1950’s Paris. Not a bad visual, huh? That’s what this French comedy promises, but with much more colorful wit and sly romance. Just listening to the spirited light jazz and lounge classical music of the 50’s and 60’s from Les Baxter, Jack Ary and Martin Denny and present day composers Rob and Emmanuel d’Orlando just lifts the soul. The story is also of historic significance because it was the turning point in the working lives of women around the world. This film will be one of the memorable surprises of the month!
8. Generation Iron (Documentary – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mickey Rourke, Michael Jai)
Plot: A documentary that follows top bodybuilders as they train to compete in the Mr. Olympia competition.
Why you have to see it: I grew up on bodybuilding magazines when I lived in Colombia as a teenager. Seeing Lee Labrada, Rich Gaspari, Bob Paris and Lee Haney grace the covers of Muscle and Fitness was all the inspiration I needed to work out. I even went to a Night of the Champions competition to see Gary Strydom work his magic, but ever since Pumping Iron, there has really never been another documentary that cemented the trials and tribulations of the bodybuilding sport… until now. Unlike Schwarzenegger’s and Ferrigno’s (which I was next to at the airport the other day) doc, this is really about the emotional, psychological warfare of the expectations one has to go through for maximum success at the Super Bowl of the sport – The Mr. Olympia
7. Muscle Shoals (Documentary)
Plot: Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America’s most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the ‘Singing River’ as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals changed the world and sold millions upon millions of copies. At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, he brought black and white together in Alabama’s cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations while giving birth to the ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’ and ‘The Swampers’. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, Clarence Carter, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Bono, and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals’ magnetism, mystery, and why it remains influential today.
Why you hate to see it: You’ve seen a plethora of music docs and movies with footage of musicians in the studio, but have you seen one with the studio as the star? That doc is called Muscle Shoals. When you have Mick Jagger and Bono waxing lyrical about the magic of a recording studio, it really doesn’t get better than that. What is it about that place? Why did so much great music come out from there? This journey into the searching for that answer is as exciting as last year’s “Searching For Sugar Man”. This one looks like a true must see for music lovers.
6. Insidious: Chapter 2 (Horror – Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey)
Plot: The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.
Why you have to see it: See it because it’s James Wan, but many fans and critics might not think it’ll live up to the expectations of the original. Many actually think “The Conjuring” is a better movie and should’ve been the sequel.
5. We Are What We Are (Horror – Ambyr Childers, Odeya Rush, Kelly McGillis)
Plot: A seemingly wholesome and benevolent family, the Parkers, have always kept to themselves, and for good reason. Behind closed doors, patriarch Frank (Bill Sage) rules his family with a rigorous ferver, determined to keep his ancestral customs intact at any cost. As a torrential rainstorm moves into the area, tragedy strikes and his daughters Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner) are forced to assume responsibilities that extend beyond those of a typical family. As the unrelenting downpour continues to flood their small town, the local authorities begin to uncover clues that bring them closer to the secret that the Parkers have held closely for so many years.
Why you have to see it: Looks like Insidious has met its match this month. Hollywood continues to take from Latin American horror cinema and adapt it their version for American audiences and this movie is no exception. A re-imagining of the 2010 Mexican film “Somos Lo Que Hay”, director Jim Mickle paints a gripping portrait of an introverted family struggling to keep their macabre traditions alive. The protagonists in this new version are almost to relatively unknown. So how good can this film be? Well… with horror films, the more unknown the actors are, the better. Big names distract from the scares. Also, this horror fest has been praised tremendously as being one of the most unique genre films this year. It’s deeply unsettling, grotesque and a suffocating experience to say the least.
4. Rush (Drama – Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Dormer)
Plot: Two-time Academy Award® winner Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) directs Rush, a spectacular big-screen re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The epic action-drama stars Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) as the charismatic Englishman James Hunt and Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds) as the disciplined Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda, whose clashes on the Grand Prix racetrack epitomized the contrast between these two extraordinary characters, a distinction reflected in their private lives.
Why you have to see it: Race car movies usually don’t do well. When you look at Pixar’s Cars, Tom Cruise’s Days of Thunder, or the comedy Talladega Nights, the results are usually modest. But with Ron Howard in the driver’s seat, Oscar can only been knocking on the door. Howard’s movies are for the most part a memorable experience. This historical rivalry amongst race car drivers are no exception and their story is considered to transcend the sports pages. With Peter Morgan writing the script, having earned the reputation of being a master of modern-history movie scripts, this could very well be the best race car movie in film history.
3. Don Jon (Drama – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore)
Plot: A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.
Why you have to see it: Men… meet your male psyche in the movie Don Jon. You’ll laugh heartily at scenes that peel your secrets away one by one until your naked, all thanks to one man – Joseph Gordon-Levitt. You have to love him. He went from TV actor to a respected thespian to now director and boy does he know how to create a story that connects with dudes. First casting the seductive and alluring Scarlett Johansson was a brilliant decision, then making the character from Jersey was apropos and finally, getting buff was definitely smart. Dude was way too skinny. When you see it, prepare yourself to laugh, nod in constant agreement and enjoy a wonderful story about men and women and the science behind relationships.
2. Prisoners (Drama/Thriller – Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo)
Plot: When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?
Why you have to see it: Can anyone say Best Picture nominee? Hugh Jackman keeps bringing it ever since his performance in Les Misérables which made him into an A-list actor. His dramatic skills have definitely improved and his performance here has got to be one of the year’s best. The display of emotions, heartfelt sincerity is a sight to behold. The story might be depressing in the way The Lovely Bones from Peter Jackson was, but for anyone desiring to see great acting, this is the movie to watch.
1. Salinger (Documentary – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, Judd Apatow, John Cusack)
Plot: The film is the first work to get beyond the Catcher in the Rye author’s meticulously built up wall: his childhood, painstaking work methods, marriages, private world and the secrets he left behind after his death in 2010. SALINGER features interviews with 150 subjects including Salinger’s friends and colleagues who have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen. Additionally, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Gore Vidal and Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg and Elizabeth Frank talk about Salinger’s influence on their lives, their work and the broader culture.
Why you have to see it: The best documentaries are those that are very informative while being entertaining, but discover something that has never been revealed. Salinger is such a documentary. J.D Salinger is a Howard Hughes type recluse whose life has been shrouded with such mystery that his life and death has become even more intriguing due to the successes he achieved in the literary world. The power of influence that the human race has had with Catcher In The Rye was and still is a literary force to be reckoned with. What will you discover in this documentary? Better not miss it!