Summer winding down, but new movies always with us
Familiar mixed with new tales

By TOM JOZWIK - TimeOut Film Critic

September 1, 2016


Ewan McGregor stars as Swede Levov in “American Pastoral.”
Photo Credit: Richard Foreman

One hates to hear what people are starting to say as August settles in and vacations prepare to give way to school and a relatively uninterrupted workaday world: Summer’s winding down.  

While the favorite season of most Northerners will cease, the march of new movies is an ongoing parade. Summaries of a dozen September through November film releases follow, along with debut dates studios have set. (It should be noted that some of these calendar notations have been cited as limited release dates, meaning that Milwaukee-area openings could occur a bit later.)  

Andrew Garfield stars as Desmond Doss in “Hacksaw Ridge.”  

Photo Credit: Mark Rogers

- Friday: “The  9th Life of Louis Drax.” Liz Jensen penned the novel on which “The 9th Life” is based, about a lad (Aiden Longworth) who’s experienced eight brushes with death - prior to falling off a cliff on his ninth birthday. Director Alexandre Aja’s film reportedly includes “a shocking revelation.” Hmm. Might it have anything to do with the youngster’s volatile dad (Aaron Paul)?  

- Sept. 9: “The Wild Life.” Helmed by Vincent Kesteloot, this animated endeavor tells castaway Robinson Crusoe’s story - from the perspective of his animal neighbors.  

- Sept. 16: “Blair Witch.” 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project,” which spawned “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” and several video games the following year, has finally yielded another big-screen sequel. In the film with the shortest title in the franchise, college kids seek to solve a disappearance in the woods. “Blair Witch” stars James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott and Valorie Curry, under Adam Wingard’s direction.  

Matt Johnson stars in “Operation Avalanche.”  

Photo credit: Lionsgate Premeire 

- Sept. 16: “The Hollars.” In a tale that sounds rather reminiscent of the 2014 Robert Duvall/Robert Downey Jr. flick “The Judge,” a man returns to his hometown when his mother takes ill, there to confront his dysfunctional family and former girlfriend. John Krasinski (“The Office”) makes his directorial debut, and stars (as John Hollar) along with Anna Kendrick and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  

- Sept. 16: “Operation Avalanche.” Writer-director Matt Johnson also stars (with Owen Williams), portraying an undercover CIA agent who happens upon government subterfuge while searching at NASA for a Soviet mole.  

- Sept. 16: “Snowden.” Controversial Oliver Stone directed and co-wrote the script about the titular National Security Agency whistlebower. Besides Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, the cast includes Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage, Melissa Leo and Tom Wilkinson.   

- Oct. 7: “The Girl on the Train.” The titular girl is Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) in this mystery based on Paula Hawkins’ 2015 novel. The adaptation is directed by Tate Taylor and features Danny Elfman’s music. From a commuter train, Blunt’s alter ego sees something startling - and, as Arthur Conan Doyle (and Will Shakespeare before him) wrote, “The game’s afoot.”  

Peter Drax (Aaron Paul, left) and Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth, right) in “The 9th Life of Louis Drax.”  

Photo credit: Summit Premiere

- Oct. 14: “American Honey.” Directed by Andrea Arnold, “American Honey” stars Sasha Lane as a runaway adolescent who (perhaps unwisely) casts her lot with Shia LaBeouf and other members of an itinerant magazine sales crew.  

- Oct. 21: “Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween.” Written by, directed by, and starring Perry (as his familiar female alter ego), this vehicle promises the horrors of Beggars’ Night, plus humor and recalcitrant teenagers.  

- Oct. 28: “American Pastoral.” Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Philip Roth (“Portnoy’s Complaint”; “Goodbye, Columbus”), “American Pastoral” marks Ewan McGregor’s debut as a director and stars McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning and David Straithairn. It’s about a couple, a former jock and beauty queen, who cope over time with substantial external and personal problems, like their daughter’s disappearance.  

- Nov. 4: “Hacksaw Ridge.” This is the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), army medic and conscientious objector credited with saving 75 lives in the Pacific during World War II, without benefit of weaponry. Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer and Sam Worthington co-star, under Mel Gibson’s direction.  

- Nov. 18: “Elle.” Isabelle Huppert plays the CEO of a video game company, assaulted during a home intrusion. The victim decides to avenge her attack in this Paul Verhoeven-helmed picture which, like the aforementioned “American Honey,” competed for the 2016 Palme d’Or at Cannes.