Post Labor Day offerings are generally slim, with C-level genre pics and the odd late summer release for the specialty markets, but this September brings a biological thriller from an Academy Award-winning director, a wheelman thriller from the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival a possible breakout family film, a sports underdog film that’s not about winning the big game and a cancer comedy.
Apollo 18 (Sept. 2) After having its release date changed 5 times, Apollo 18 finally appears. Basically a horror movie on the moon, low budget flick tells in mockumentary fashion much like Paranormal Activity of the story of an 18th moon mission that goes horribly awry, leading to the cancellation of the Apollo program. After decades, footage of the Apollo mission is recovered showing the point of view of two Apollo astronauts who land of the moon. In the course of their mission they find a dead Russian cosmonaut and his lander. Then they encounter an alien parasitic life form that infects one of the astronauts, driving him mad and leading to a deadly game of cat and mouse between the two astronauts.
Contagion (Sept. 9) Steven Soderbergh directs this global thriller about a deadly virus that threatens the world’s population. In clinical fashion we’re introduced to characters in Chicago, Macau and London – all bearing flu-like symptoms of an unnamed disease. The virus is highly contagious and when people all over the world start falling sick and dying, alarm bells go off. Health officials are faced with the threat of a global pandemic. To find a cure before millions are infected and thousands die, officials must trace the spread of the virus back to its to its source – the original three infected. All star cast includes Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.
Drive (Sept. 16) A hit at Cannes in May, this taut, stylish thriller directed by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn tells the story of Driver (Ryan Gosling), a movie stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman, driving a getaway car. His mechanic Shannon (Bryan Cranston) dreams of the two of them leaving the movie business and forming a racing team and approaches criminal boss Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) for a stake. Driver lives a solitary existence, but he strikes up a friendship with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. But when her husband Standard gets out of prison he wants to pull one last job to get himself out of debt to a vicious gang. Driver is recruited as wheelman but it all goes bad when they are double-crossed, leaving Driver in the middle between the double crossers and the double crossed.
Dolphin Tale (Sept. 23) Inspirational story from the producers of The Blind Side tells the true story of Winter, a young dolphin crippled after being caught in a crab trap. After being rescued by marine biologist Clay Haskett (Harry Connick, Jr.), Winter is nursed back to health in an aquarium but loses her tail due to injuries. Unable to swim, Winter’s chances of survival look grim. But Sawyer, an introverted 11-year-old from a fatherless household bonds with Winter and rallies everyone around her to try to save Winter. His quest takes Sawyer to the crusty Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) a brilliant prosthetic scientist who will attempt to create a new tail for Winter in a last-ditch attempt to save her life. Ashley Judd plays Sawyer’s mother. Winter the dolphin plays herself.
Moneyball (Sept. 23) Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the iconoclastic general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team who in 2002 changed the face of baseball by employing a controversial numbers-based approach to evaluating players instead of the subjective methods of traditional scouting. Sort of an inspirational sports movie for thinking people, Moneyball focuses on the way the young, enthusiastic Beane fights ridicule and opposition in his own franchise to acquire players undervalued by traditional scouting and allow low revenue teams like Oakland to compete head to head with megarich teams like the New York Yankees. based on specific statistics. Johan Hill co-stars in a rare non-comedy role. Based on the book by Michael Lewis who also wrote the book on which the Sandra Bullock hit The Blind Side, was based on.
50/50 (Sept. 30) Joseph Gordon-Leavitt stars as Adam, a 27 year-old who suddenly must face his own mortality when he’s diagnosed with a rare cancer. This is not a disease of the week movie, this is actually a comedy based on the writer Will Reiser’s own struggle with cancer when he was 25. In hilarious fashion, Adam’s condition reveals cracks in his relationship with his seemingly perfect g.f. Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) and offers his already overbearing Jewish mother Diane (Angelica Huston) the opportunity to be even more smothering. Adam’s inexperienced psychologist Katie (Anna Kendrick) tries to help with coping strategies while Adam’s crude b.f.f. Kyle’s (Seth Rogen) solution is for both of them to live it up with sex and drugs for as long as they can. In a genre that often turns stultifying and maudlin 50/50 accomplishes the unheard-of trick of being consistently funny yet acknowledging the seriousness of Adam’s situation.