The twenty-first installment of our column in which a few of our critics discuss the films they’re most looking forward to being released in theaters or for the first time on Blu-ray during the coming month.
Alex Sitaras: The first release of September I wanted to mention is Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers. The film will be Audiard’s English language debut and he’s got quite the cast for the film- Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed all star. It seems to be somewhat of a comedy western, Phoenix and Reilly starring as ‘the Sisters Brothers’, a duo of assassins who aim to track down a gold prospector (Ahmed).
Matt Schlee: It looks like an interesting film and certainly one with an impressive cast. Watching the trailer makes me wonder if a film like this comes about due to the popularity of something like Django Unchained. It seems like there’s been a small boom in recent years in this sort of comedy-westerns with decent sized budgets and impressive cast lists. Audiard at the helm is an interesting choice here.
Alex: It is. But at the same time, it kind of makes sense given how different Audiard’s previous films- A Prophet, Rust and Bone, Dheepan– have been. He doesn’t look to tread the same ground often as a director. My only hesitation about the film is that the trailer is terrible, one awful joke after another about the irony of the brothers’ name. But, nonetheless, a number of us at Cineccentric are curious about the film and I doubt that one poor trailer will defer too many cinephiles away from the film assuming it’s received well at Venice. Plus, the novel the film is adapted from has received a good amount of praise.
Matt: The trailer almost feels like it’s going for a more wide appeal to me. With something of an art house director but a big budget cast with both mainstream and art house appeal, I’m wondering if the film is struggling to find its identity.
The next film I’d like to bring up is David Lowery‘s The Old Man & The Gun. The film tells the true story of an elderly man who escaped from prison and committed a string of heists. I enjoyed Lowery’s Ain’t Them Body Saints and was a massive fan of A Ghost Story. This film pairs him yet again with Casey Affleck who starred in both of the two films I just mentioned. It also stars John David Washington who has a short filmography but has made a recent splash with his lead role in BlacKkKlansman. Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, and Keith Carradine round out an impressive cast list of veteran actors.
Alex: What’s interesting right off the bat about The Old Man & The Gun is that the film centers on an elderly protagonist. In the heist genre, the protagonist is usually an adolescent hothead whereas here Redford plays a charming gentleman who seemingly just happens to also be a robber. He doesn’t seem too dissimilar in demeanor to Gus Fring in Breaking Bad. However, similar to many films in the heist genre (Bonnie and Clyde, The Town, etc), Redford has a love interest played by Sissy Spacek who is bound to influence the direction of the film’s plot. The Old Man & The Gun is said to be Robert Redford’s final film role as he just recently announced he is retiring from acting, and Redford’s confidence in the film is shown by his production credit.
Matt: Lowery’s films have a tendency not to be terribly fast paced or flashy, so I’d definitely look for a more patient film than your typical heist movie. He may be the perfect director to tell this story of excitement with a much older protagonist.
Alex: At the other end of the spectrum, we can likely expect Jeremy Saulnier‘s Hold the Dark to be high-energy and graphic. Saulnier is known for his violent and bloody thrillers Blue Ruin and Green Room, and Hold the Dark looks to continue this trend. The film stars Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, and Riley Keough. We see Wright and Skarsgård at a period after recent success in HBO shows and Keough after her starring in a number of high-profile indie releases. As far as the plot of the film, Hold the Dark revolves around a man, Russell Core (Wright), who is hired to find a missing child lost in the forests of Alaska. Not too long prior, three other children died in the forest- allegedly by wolves. I think there’s probably something more sinister at play.
Matt: Yes the trailer definitely offers the impression that there will be some larger conspiracy serving as the backdrop to the plot. It looks like another in a line of films that use a freezing cold and dangerous natural environment as the animus for a thriller. The Revenant comes to mind as the potential spark for this trend. I think the film has potential though the trailer feels very busy even as just two minutes of clips.
Alex: That niche wilderness survival theme might even go as far back as The Grey. That film has a cult following on reddit and I imagine that following translates more or less to non-reddit users.
Matt: One Blu-ray release that I’m really looking forward to next month is Indicator’s release of Born of Fire. The fantasy film from director Jamil Dehlavi has not been widely available to this point. It’s not a movie that I’ve seen before but it seems to be another interesting genre departure for Indicator who continues to widen its umbrella and rescue marginalized films.
Alex: Right you are that Born of Fire would likely be a marginalized film without the help of Indicator. It’s not the easiest to even track down a trailer for the film. Born of Fire is a fantasy/horror film about a musician who searches for the “Master Flautist”, a supernatural creature that threatens to blow up the world. The film stars Peter Firth and Suzan Crowley and looks to take on a low-budget, B-movie aesthetic with a sickly (yet vibrant) warm color scheme.
Matt: The Indicator special features should shed a lot of light on the murky and lesser known history of the film.
It seems that the biggest Blu Ray release of the month is going to be Criterion’s new release of Andrei Tarkovsky‘s Andrei Rublev. The new Criterion Blu Ray is absolutely loaded with content including two cuts of the film, Tarkovsky’s wonderful short film The Steamroller & The Violin, documentaries, interviews, and more. It seems to already be locked in as one of the most impressive physical media releases of the year.
I’m personally thrilled for this as I’ve been awaiting a high definition transfer to see this film as it’s one of the last Tarkovsky films I’ve yet to experience. I’m glad I’ll soon be able to enjoy it in such high quality.
Alex: It never ceases to impress me what Criterion is able to come up with month after month and year after year. This will indeed be one of the largest Blu-ray releases of the month (and perhaps year) and it’s high time that the film receives a US Blu-ray release. The film itself is an immense film, clocking over three hours for either version, and chronicles the life of the eponymous icon painter. I am due for a rewatch of the film as there is a lot to take in. However, the climactic scene at the end is one that I’ll never forget and is an excellent example of a filmmaker developing characters and tension throughout the course of an entire film to resolve in one key moment.
Matt: How do you rate this one among Tarkovsky’s filmography?
Alex: I watched his films in order and he was the second director I really dove into (first was Bergman as you know). Just from the one watch alone, I think I regard Andrei Rublev somewhere in middle of the bunch (3rd to 5th?) as far as Tarkovsky’s go. Nostalghia and The Sacrifice are my favorites from him, though they are on the gloomy and existential side.
Andrei Rublev is an incredible film, but arguably every Tarkovsky film is a masterpiece so it’s difficult to rank them or gain insight from someone’s ranking. I will say that Andrei Rublev is definitely where Tarkovsky found his stride and really delved into slow, meditative cinema in a way that no other director had done prior to him. Nostalghia probably bears the most in common with Andrei Rublev given their exploration of art, religiosity, and Russian history.
Matt: Fair enough. After watching a Tarkovsky film for the first time I never really feel like I’ve truly seen it. His style is so complex, it’s hard to latch onto a fraction of the themes he addresses the first time through. And I agree, it’s nearly impossible to really rank them against each other. I certainly look forward to getting my hands on this one.
[Editor’s Note: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life 4K restoration was listed as one of our Most Anticipated releases of August before the release was pushed back to September. For that reason, the film was not included in this month’s list of Most Anticipated titles.]