Synopsis: A troubled, hard-drinking former sailor (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in with a charismatic man in the process of setting up his own religion (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Our Verdict: Undoubtedly the biggest news of the month movie-wise is the return of Paul Thomas Anderson, with his much-anticipated look at addiction, Scientology-like religions and the love between two men, reuniting with him longtime muse Hoffman, and giving him the great Phoenix and Amy Adams to play with as well. At this point in time, we’ve had two separate looks, and while both reviews had issues, it’s clear that it’ll cause more debate than anything else this month. Charlie Schmidlin, who caught a secret 70mm screening in Chicago last month, said that it’s “altogether an experience at which to marvel,” although he found the film a little "listless." Meanwhile, I saw the film in Venice at the weekend, and though I found it “a film to admire (enormously) rather than cherish,” it’s also a stunning film in many respects, from the glorious 70mm photography to top-notch performances from Phoenix, Hoffman and Adams. Other reactions have ranged from raves to disappointment, but whichever way you land on it, this is clearly the one film this month you have to see.
When? New York and LA from September 14th, expanding from September 21st.
Synopsis: In a future where time travel exists, but is outlawed, hitmen are enlisted to eliminate mob targets sent back from even further in the future, so as to leave no bodies. However, the system falls apart when Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) fails to pull the trigger on his older self (played by Bruce Willis).
What You Need to Know: Of course, “The Master” isn’t the only hotly anticipated film landing this month. Writer-director Rian Johnson has already put an inspired spin on both film noir with the high school-set “Brick” and the con-man caper with “The Brothers Bloom” (disliked by some, but in this writer’s opinion, it’s something of an undersung gem). To see him tackle heady sci-fi action with a cast that includes “Brick” lead Gordon-Levitt (coming right off “The Dark Knight Rises”), Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Paul Dano and Garret Dillahunt is an exciting prospect indeed. No official reviews have yet dropped, but as far back as the end of last year, the buzz has been very, very strong, while the trailers look great, and an opening slot at TIFF bodes well. Bruce Willis himself has called it the best thing he’s ever been in, and given that he starred in “Pulp Fiction,” “Die Hard” and “12 Monkeys,” that’s probably worth paying attention to.
When? Opens wide September 28th. Look for our review in a day or two, when it opens TIFF.
Synopsis: A documentary filmmaker (Thure Lindhart) and a literary agent (Zachary Booth) make an unexpected connection after a one-night stand.
Our Verdict: Ira Sachs' follow-up to his acclaimed "Forty Shades of Blue" sounds like a U.S.-set version of last year's acclaimed "Weekend," and if Simon Abrams was correct when he reviewed the film for us at Sundance, it's every bit as good as its predecessor. "Sachs pulls no punches" he wrote, with "every moment poignant and significant in some way." Aside from one heavy-handed scene, the film was "stunning... there's no melodrama here, just a moving and totally engrossing story of two men in love." The central performances from Zachary Booth ("Damages") and Danish actor Thure Lindhart ("Into the Wild," "Flame & Citron") seem like they could be star-makers as well. And if you weren't convinced already, the score is made up of cuts from the great Arthur Russell. Hopefully it'll manage to break out a little more than the woefully underseen "Weekend" did.
When? Opens September 7th.
Synopsis: An uninspired, drifting thirtysomething goes back to his college to bid farewell to a famous professor, only to meet, and fall for, a precocious young sophomore.
What You Need To Know: As the star of hit sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," Josh Radnor was always going to have the shadow of Zach Braff and "Garden State" hanging over his directorial debut "happythankyoumoreplease." While that film had its share of issues, he's already beaten Braff by getting his second film under his belt only two years after the first. And Radnor's been smart enough to cast last year's breakout starlet Elizabeth Olsen opposite himself (well, wouldn't you?) with a cast also including "Young Adult"'s Elizabeth Reaser, sudden indie convert Zac Efron, and, as professors, Allison Janney and Richard Jenkins, two actors scientifically proven to make any film they're in 20% better. Each. And for the most part, Cory Everett liked the film when he saw it for us in Park City, calling the cast “an ensemble of terrific performers,” particularly the “effortlessly endearing” Olsen. There are problems – “The music is overbearing at times and there are a few too many endings that circle back to wrap up a story thread you may have already forgotten about,” according to Cory. But for the most part, it seems to be fairly slight, but firmly enjoyable little indie comedy.
When? September 14th