Top Film Releases in September: Many (Un)Happy Returns!

Daniel Pateman

Pack your lunches, set your alarms and kiss your lie-ins goodbye. The holiday season is over and – unless you’re Boris Johnson – no amount of pleading to the Queen is going to change that. It’s not all doom and gloom though. This month’s cinema offers all the fun of the fair – providing enough thrill-rides and emotional rollercoasters to make you forget your weekday woes.

27 years after the events of the first film, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is back to terrorise Derry on the 6 September, in the slicker, sicker IT: Chapter Two. Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) alerts his fellow ‘Losers’ when the murders begin again, and the traumatised gang reunite as adults to confront their worst fears. This concluding chapter to 2017’s IT– which was the highest grossing horror movie ever – provides a starry cast (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain), a fantastic performance from Bill Hader, and a much darker tone. See it, and maybe you’ll float too!

Ready or Not, here it comes on the 27 September. When Grace (Samara Weaving) happily marries Alex (Mark O’Brien), she doesn’t contend on her in-laws peculiar wedding-night ritual: engaging the bride in a fatal game of Hide and Seek. In a similar vein to Get Out (2017), which mixed comedy, social commentary and horror, Ready or Not delivers a critique of class while serving up a balanced dose of gore and guffaws. It’s already received largely rapturous reviews, with Peter Travers hailing it “a decadent blast […] a comic takedown of the rich done with the rude energy of a horror-thriller.”

Reaching for the stars – and being showered in them by critics – sci-fi adventure Ad Astra makes cinematic orbit on the 18 September. Directed by James Gray (The Lost City of Z, 2016) and starring Brad Pitt, the film tells the story of Roy McBride: an astronaut tasked with finding his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones), whose experiments could destroy all life in the solar system. Combining the realism of Gravity (2013) with the existential musings of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Ad Astra is Gray’s attempt to create “the most realistic depiction of space travel”. It’s also a visually astounding experience punctuated by white-knuckle action.

Two worlds collide in The Farewell, a bittersweet comedy-drama that charts the divergent cultures of East and West. Awkwafina plays Billi, a Chinese-American student who maintains a close relationship with her “Nai Nai” (paternal grandmother), despite living thousands of miles apart. When her family discover grandma has only months to live, they refrain from telling her: instead planning a reunion while attempting to mask their true feelings. Director Lulu Wang succeeds at bringing a light touch to a sombre topic, with plenty of humour – “Chinese people have saying. When people get cancer, they die” – and nuanced performances. Winning the Audience Award at 2019’s Sundance London and with a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is definitely one to watch. In cinemas 20 September.

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