Top 10 – Films not to miss in September 2015

Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke scale great heights in Everest

Summer has well and truly gone from the cinema, leaving September as an interesting period between the summer blockbuster season and the renewed push of massive films around the Christmas period.

This year, the month packs the opening salvos of awards season, a couple of lo-fi indie releases and a couple of major blockbusters hoping to capitalise on the lack of multiplex competition.

Here are ten films you should head out and see this month in UK cinemas.


10. The Visit (Sep 11)

M Night Shyamalan returns to horror with The Visit

We last saw M Night Shyamalan in 2013 when he made the terrible Jaden Smith vehicle After Earth. It seems like it’s been a very long time since we saw the Shyamalan who made a genuinely iconic genre movie with The Sixth Sense and its wonderful plot twist. He’s back with The Visit.

The film follows a pair of siblings who are left to stay at their grandparents’ house. They are warned not to leave their beds after a certain time, but of course break the rules. It doesn’t take them long to realise that something is seriously wrong with their unusual relatives.

Shyamalan is one of Hollywood’s most unreliable directors, as liable to produce a massive flop as he is a work of genius. The premise of The Visit does seem intriguing, so there’s no reason it can’t be one of the surprises of the year.


9. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Sep 10)

The YA cinema phenomenon continues to roll on with Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Amongst last year’s autumn schedule at the cinema, it was surprising to see The Maze Runner sail to more than $300m at the global box office. Rather than getting lost in the YA shuffle, the film soared via good word of mouth to sell out screens across the country.

Of course, the film was always intended as a franchise starter. Sequel The Scorch Trials sees the escapees from the maze battling a new landscape in the shape of the titular desert wasteland, with Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen playing the mysterious antagonist.

Hopefully The Scorch Trials will be as much of a success as its predecessor and continue the franchise. There’s also the fact director Wes Ball has confirmed he won’t split the final book into two films, which is super refreshing.


8. Irrational Man (Sep 11)

Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone star in Woody Allen's Irrational Man

Woody Allen is back, collaborating with Oscar-nominated Emma Stone once again after last year’s fun, if middling, Magic in the Moonlight. This time, Joaquin Phoenix is also involved as a college professor in the midst of an existential crisis in Irrational Man.

Phoenix plays philosophy professor Abe, who forms a friendship with one of his students, played by Stone. Overhearing a conversation about a corrupt judge, Abe plans to commit murder in the name of justice.

It’s a bizarre premise that should enable Allen to spread his moral and thematic wings in a way that his last film noticeably lacked. Irrational Man promises a lot and Woody Allen has a habit of delivering.


7. Bill (Sep 18)

The Horrible Histories team take on Shakespeare in Bill

The Horrible Histories team have been at the forefront of British comedy for the last few years. Mining Terry Deary’s eclectic series of books for off-kilter humour, the troupe managed to create one of the best family comedy series of recent years. They bring their talents to the big screen with Bill.

Revisionist history is the centre of this story, too, with Bill tracing an alternative version of William Shakespeare’s famed “lost years”. In a fashion similar to the Monty Python troupe, all of the central cast members will be playing numerous characters in the story.

If the team can bring the same humour to Bill that made Horrible Histories such a success, then this could be a genuinely excellent comedy film.


6. American Ultra (Sep 4)

Jesse Eisenberg takes the lead as an unlikely killer in American Ultra

Max Landis is perhaps one of the most prolific young screenwriters working in Hollywood today. Since writing superhero smash Chronicle, Landis has been an in-demand name and has several scripts about to hit the big screen. First up is American Ultra – a stoner action-comedy.

Jesse Eisenberg plays fast-talking convenience store worker Mike, who is about to propose to girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). Through an odd series of events, it emerges that Mike is in fact a highly-trained sleeper agent and has now been activated.

I’m not a massive fan of the “stoner movie” genre, but I enjoy the work of Landis and indeed everyone involved in front of the camera. If the humour and action is pitched well, this will be a neat, off-the-wall success.


5. Dope (Sep 4)

Nerds find themselves embroiled in LA crime in Dope

Dope comes out of the festival circuit with a tonne of momentum behind it and dozens of rave reviews. Released only weeks after NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, this is a distinctly lighter, more comedic, account of life in the tougher neighbourhoods of America.

Shameik Moore leads the cast as a Harvard-bound geek living in a bad area of California. His academic hopes are thrown into question when a bizarre contrivance leaves him with a bag full of narcotics and in a whole lot of trouble.

As a combination of drug drama and coming of age comedy, Dope looks like an interesting film and the trailer teases plenty of identifiable characters. It might not get a particularly wide release, but it looks like one of September’s most interesting releases.


4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Sep 4)

Olivia Cooke plays a cancer-suffering teen in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Off the back of last year’s meta-slasher The Town That Dreaded Sundown, there’s buzz around director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. That buzz will only be enhanced by his second feature – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – which arrives on the scene after drawing rave festival reviews.

The film follows Thomas Mann’s Greg – an introvert who spends most of his time making spoofs of classic movies with his friend Earl (Ronald Cyler II). He is encouraged by his parents to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke) after her diagnosis with leukaemia. After initial reluctance, the pair become firm friends as Rachel’s condition deteriorates.

I was lucky enough to see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl as part of ODEON Screen Unseen and it’s a terrific film. It packs in plenty of humour alongside its darker premise and, despite not quite coming together at the end, has a real offbeat charm.


3. Everest (Sep 18)

Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal join the ensemble cast of Everest

With awards season just around the corner, it’s time for the big ensemble dramas about true stories to emerge. The first of these is Everest, from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, and based on a real 1996 tragedy.

The film follows two separate parties leading attempts at the summit of Mount Everest, with one led by Jason Clarke and another with Jake Gyllenhaal at its forefront. Disaster strikes at the summit, with a blizzard throwing all of the climbers into serious peril, with lives on the line.

Firing the starting pistol on awards season, Everest looks set to be one of the year’s most impressive visual spectacles. With such powerhouse performers as Clarke, Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin in the thick of the action, gongs could follow for the movie.


2. The Martian (Sep 30)

Matt Damon is stranded in space in The Martian

Ridley Scott is proving to be a prolific filmmaker well into his late 70s. His recent films, Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counsellor, have been rather disappointing, but it looks like he may be set for a return to form in space-set drama The Martian.

Based on a hugely popular novel, the film follows Matt Damon as an astronaut who becomes stranded, entirely alone, on the surface of Mars with very little hope of rescue as those on Earth presume he is dead.

The Martian will inevitably draw comparisons with Damon’s last screen credit – Interstellar – but the ambitious premise and isolation of the character should mark it out as a more character-driven tale than Christopher Nolan’s epic. It might not seem like obvious awards bait, but if Damon’s performance is strong enough, I wouldn’t rule out a trip to the Oscars.


1. Legend (Sep 9)

Tom Hardy stars as both of the Kray twins in Legend

It’s difficult to think of a title more appropriate for a film about the Kray twins than Legend. The crime lord brothers, who controlled London in the 1950s and 1960s, are two of the most notorious criminals in British history and their legacy has been mythologised and discussed for years.

In this film, from Mystic River writer Brian Helgeland, both Krays are played by Tom Hardy, with Emily Browning as Reggie Kray’s wife Frances. Legend tells the story of the Kray’s from Frances’ perspective and focuses largely on Reggie’s attempts to control the psychotic tendencies of his more unstable brother.

Hardy is one of the best actors working today and has form for playing violent criminals in intriguing fashion after his breakout role in Bronson. Trailers suggest that his dual performance here is genuinely impressive and, with a film to match, this could steal the September show.


Which films are you planning to see in September 2015? Are there any I missed or any you will definitely be avoiding? Let me know in the comments section.

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