Pick of the Litter – September 2016

BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

(Columbia/MGM) Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio. First, it was Akira Kurosawa. Next, it was John Sturges. Now, it’s Antoine Fuqua. All of them have directed a movie based on a story of seven lone warriors, fighting a hopeless battle to defend the defenseless against overwhelming odds. Seven Samurai (1954) was transplanted from feudal Japan to the American West and remade in 1960 as The Magnificent Seven. It now gets the remake treatment itself with an all-star cast (although not quite as all-star as the 1960 version) led by one of the most respected actors in Hollywood and one of the biggest up-and-coming franchise makers. It will be interesting to see if the new version can retain the timeless qualities of both of its predecessors. September 23

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Antibirth

Antibirth

(IFC Midnight) Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Meg Tilly, Mark Webber. As we wheel into the fall and the province of scary cinema, here is a horror movie in the tradition of Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. A young party girl goes to a rave where she blacks out after some pretty intense celebrating. She doesn’t remember anything about what happened but shortly thereafter she discovers she’s pregnant. Electing to have the baby, soon it becomes obvious that this is no ordinary pregnancy – and she is carrying no ordinary baby. September 2

Max Rose

Max Rose

(Paladin) Jerry Lewis, Kerry Bishé, Dean Stockwell, Illeana Douglas. The legendary Lewis makes his first live action appearance on the silver screen in 21 years as a jazz pianist who discovers that his marriage of 65 years was a sham. Lost and alone, he decides to investigate and find out what went wrong and enters into a world of old friends, young children and a past that wasn’t what he thought it was.. September 2

Cameraperson

Cameraperson

(Janus) Kirsten Johnson, Catherine Johnson, Michael Moore. This isn’t so much a documentary as a diary, a look at the long and distinguished career of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson who has been behind the camera for some of the most compelling documentaries of the past 30 years, including Darfur Now, Citizenfour and A Place at the Table. It is not presented in a linear style but takes you to the places she’s been with a minimum of voice over or graphics. It is merely the images that have affected her over the years and through her, us. September 9

Other People

Other People

(Vertical) Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, June Squibb. After leaving his home to become a comedy writer in New York, things don’t turn out as well as David had hoped; his career is going nowhere and to make matters worse, he’d just gone though a traumatic break-up with his girlfriend. Now his mother is terminally ill and with his New York life being at a standstill, he returns home to Sacramento to find that the worst year of his life might just possibly turn out to be his best after all. September 9

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?

(Area23a) Andrea Anders, Matt Passmore, Cloris Leachman, Katherine McNamara. In Texas, guns come right about even with religion to the point where the two are virtually indistinguishable. In small Texas towns, open carry laws are loose and it’s not uncommon for nearly the entire population of the town to be packing. In one small Texas town, a near-tragedy causes some of the ladies to take stock of the situation. In a modern twist on Lysistrata, the women of the town decide to withhold sex from their men until they agree to give up their guns. The question becomes, what will the virile men of the town choose – their firearms or the fairer sex? September 16

Mr. Church

Mr. Church

(Cinelou) Eddie Murphy, Britt Robertson, Natascha McElhone, Lucy Fry. Into the lives of a dying mother and her precocious daughter comes Mr. Church, who is hired to cook for the two of them by the woman’s ex-husband. What was supposed to be a six month gig turns into a lifetime as the cook becomes a lot more than just someone who prepares meals for the little girl who grows up into a beautiful, talented young woman; he becomes family. September 16

 

Audrie and Daisy

Audrie and Daisy

(Netflix) Daisy Coleman, Jim Fall, Delaney Henderson, Darren White. Two girls, two different towns, the same story, different endings. Two girls are sexually assaulted by boys they thought were their friends. When they stand up and demand justice, the small towns they live in close ranks. The girls undergo an immense amount of bullying in the social media, their lives and reputations dragged through the mud. This chilling documentary shows an all-too-common theme of how the sexes are perceived and how rape victims are often victimized a second time when they are shamed, called liars and sluts and otherwise ostracized by their communities. This will be playing a brief theatrical run in New York City and debuting on Netflix simultaneously. September 23

Goat

Goat

(Paramount) Nick Jonas, Ben Schnetzer, Gus Halper, James Franco. It is autumn and at colleges and universities across the land, a familiar ritual is underway: fraternity pledging. In recent years, the hazing rituals that mark the rite of passage between boys and men have become more brutal, more terrifying and fraternities themselves have become breeding grounds for alcoholism and rape. Some of the reasons that fraternities are turning out these kinds of guys have to do with what it takes to get in. Goat, although distributed by a major studio, is going more of an indie distribution route, opening in Los Angeles and New York theatrically and going on VOD simultaneously.. September 23

Milton's Secret

Milton’s Secret

(Momentum) Donald Sutherland, Michelle Rodriguez, Mia Kirshner, William Ainscough. A young boy is mercilessly bullied in school, and lives with parents who are stressed that they might lose their home despite the fact they are both working good jobs. Into the mix comes the boy’s grandfather and a caring teacher, both of whom find ways to unlock the potential within him. September 30

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