Available Sept. 4:
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Surrealist extraordinaire Charlie Kaufman’s first film in five years (he used part of this hiatus to write his first novel) is an idiosyncratic dip into the psychological horror genre. But judging by the trailer, it plays with many of the same disquieting comedic elements that powered his contributions to “Being John Malkovich” and “Anomalisa.” Based on the acclaimed 2016 novel by Iain Reid, it follows Cindy (Jessie Buckley), a young woman ostensibly in a happy relationship with Jake (Jesse Plemons) but who can’t stop considering the titular declaration—a feeling that reaches its boiling point during a trip to meet Jake’s peculiar parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) at his remote family farm. Of all the movies that are breathlessly referred to as the “next ‘Get Out’”, this one may be the most in line with Jordan Peele’s landmark genre-bender.
Available Sept. 9:
The Social Dilemma
This 2020 Sundance selection takes a dystopian view of the social media-run world in which we live, and it will doubtlessly make you question whether to keep your Facebook and Twitter profiles—or even to type the movie’s name into Google. Anyone who even remotely followed the Cambridge Analytica scandal knows social media companies mine our data without our consent, and we know about the perniciousness of targeted ads. “The Social Dilemma” is revelatory in part because it isn’t just an assemblage of talking-head academics bemoaning the lack of privacy and the destructive spread of fake news on social media; it’s propelled by new interviews with the Silicon Valley geniuses who developed the infrastructure for these problems, and who now regret the world they helped create. As these experts assert, there’s never a time to be more vigilant about what we consume.
Available Sept. 16:
The Devil All the Time
Writer-director Antonio Campos’ sweeping literary crime thriller is set in a backwoods Ohio town in the wake of World War II, where a confluence of shady characters converges and threatens the life and family of the budding protagonist, Willard (Bill Skarsgard). He is forced to confront a snake-handling preacher (Robert Pattinson), a perverted couple (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough) and a corrupt sheriff (Sebastian Stan)—characters that, in a Coen Brothers movie, would be treated with ironic humor, but in Campos’ grim vision, present an unrelenting danger that should keep audiences’ pulses racing for its two hour and 20 minute running time.
ON AMAZON PRIME
Available Sept. 18:
All In: The Fight for Democracy
“All In” is generally known as the “Stacey Abrams movie,” because the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate takes a central role. Since losing the race, arguably through voter suppression techniques, Abrams has become the face of Fair Fight, a national organization ensuring every American has the right, and access, to the ballot box. This documentary chronicles her ongoing efforts, along with those of other voting-rights advocates, through the historical context of antidemocratic voter purges going back to the founding of the nation.
ON HBO MAX
Available Sept. 10:
Apparently, this year’s masterful “Never Sometimes Rarely Always” isn’t the only 2020 film about—at the risk of phrasing things too indelicately—an abortion road trip. While the earlier drama adopted a realistic cinema-verite aesthetic, “Unpregnant” trades in the over-the-top vernacular of the American buddy comedy, as Haley Lu Richardson’s pregnant protagonist steals away with her former best friend, a misfit played by Barbie Ferreira, to terminate her accidental pregnancy in a state where parental consent is not required. Road-movie antics ensue, involving stolen cars, hopping trains and riding roller coasters, as the young women at the center rekindle their bond. Whether such flippant genre developments work in the context of such a serious hot-button issue remains to be seen.
Available Sept. 12:
If you’re wondering what a post-COVID film looks like, this is it: a cast of five, all webcasting their roles from their screens, in a socially distanced satire about the zeitgeist. Said cast is an unimpeachable group—Bette Midler, Sarah Paulson, Kaitlyn Dever, Dan Levy and Issa Rae—portraying, one imagines, versions of themselves: Educated New Yorkers and Los Angelinos venting about the present administration and life in the time of corona. Comedy maestro Jay Roach directs from a screenplay by New Yorker humorist and playwright Paul Rudnick, a master of the monologue, a skill that comes in handy during isolated times.