Looking ahead to September, the long summer days may be over and the nights are drawing in but that’s all the more reason to visit the cinema. Thankfully there’s plenty to watch too and this month it was particularly hard narrowing it down to just four films. I could talk about The Farewell, one of the best reviewed films of the year so far, or Ready Or Not, one of the breakout horror hits of 2019, but there were tough choices to be made and I went with four films for different audiences that could very well be amongst the best or biggest of the year.
On September 6 is It Chapter Two. The sequel to a genuine horror phenomenon, It Chapter One was the biggest horror film of all-time both in the UK and worldwide. This sequel is set twenty-seven years after the Losers Club’s first encounter with Pennywise the clown, and almost all of the group have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back. In the first film, director Andy Muschietti nailed the dynamic between the young actors and with quality performers such as Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader playing the characters as adults, don’t be surprised to see Muschietti nail the dynamic between the older actors. If early reports are to be believed too, this sequel ramps up the scares significantly too. Make sure you go to the toilet beforehand though, it’s a bum-numbing 169 minutes long.
A week later is a much more genteel and reserved cinema experience with the big screen debut of Downton Abbey. One of the most popular television shows of the 21st century, Downton Abbey’s move to the cinema covers the continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century and things are turned upside down as they find out they are to be visited by the King and Queen. Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern all return and Imelda Staunton has been added to the cast. I have to confess that I’ve never seen an episode of Downton Abbey but my mum would probably look at me sternly if I failed to include it here.
I’m on much safer ground with Ad Astra, which hits cinemas on Wednesday, 18 September. Brad Pitt plays astronaut Roy McBride who undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe. Long delayed this appears to be a genuine epic from director, James Gray (The Lost City Of Z, We Own The Night) and Brad Pitt not only stars, but acts as producer with his production company Plan B. They are usually a stamp of quality, with their recent output including Moonlight, The Big Short and 12 Years a Slave.
Finally, the month concludes with an adaptation of one of the most revered books of recent years, Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Goldfinch. Befitting of a book of this stature, a film-making team of the highest quality has assembled to bring this to the big screen, including director John Crowley (Brooklyn) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049, Skyfall). Ansel Elgort plays the adult version of a boy in New York who is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A remarkable, expansive story and a terrific cast, including Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson and Jeffrey Wright, marks this out as one of the classiest dramas for the rest of 2019.
Once again it’s a month of high quality cinema, with blockbuster spectacle and potentially awards worthy drama. September has become a month when some of the best films of the year launch, and this year that’s particularly clear.