"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world." - Jean-Luc Godard
Best New Movies to Stream in September 2020
A new month brings a whole slew of new films to streaming services, and while Netflix can do a sometimes all too efficient job of showing off its new releases by starting a trailer and blaring audio through your speakers everytime you open the app, some smaller films can slip through the cracks and become buried by the loads of Netflix originals. I took it upon myself to put together a list of the best films as well as some of my favorites coming to the major streaming services this month. I’m covering Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime as well as The Criterion Channel for classic film fans.
New to Netflix:
Back to the Future Trilogy - What’s more 80’s than the time-traveling duo of Doc Brown and Marty McFly? Well other than the fact that the third film was released in 1990, this is about as 80’s as it gets. All three films are fun for the whole family and despite some almost incestual subplots they’re a great throwback that can be enjoyed whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth.
Grease (1978) - Grease is infectious. The charisma of a young John Travolta, the adorable innocence of Olivia Newton-John, and the terrific supporting cast helped make this film a mega hit in 1978. I’ve loved Grease since I first saw it as a teenager and it remains one of my favorite films. Even if you’re not into musicals this one is a must watch.
Pineapple Express (2008) - It might not be the best of the James Franco and Seth Rogen team-up films, and it’s at least 15-20 minutes too long, but if stoner action-comedies are your thing this is the movie for you. It’s silly and over the top but it gives you exactly what it advertises and you can’t complain about that.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) - Charlie Kaufman’s third directed feature film and his first since 2015’s Oscar nominated Anomalisa, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is releasing on Netflix on September 4th. It’s got a great cast including Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, Jesse Plemmons, and David Thewlis, and it’s one I’ve been eagerly looking forward to. Expect a review up this weekend unless I hate it.
Cuties (2020) - This Netflix original film has been in the news lately for all of the wrong reasons, with people accusing Netflix of supporting pedophelia. It’s a film about a young girl who joins a group of dancers at her school and must deal with her family’s traditional feminine values. Netflix’s poster for the film showed young girls in revealing clothing and in suggestive poses and sparked an outrage on Twitter. Netflix changed the photo and stated that the poster was “not an accurate representation of the film” which led many to question why Netflix created the poster in the first place considering it was so different from the film’s original promotional material when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The film debuts on the 9th and should hopefully set the story straight on just what the message of the film is.
New to Hulu:
Demolition Man (1993) - In a future with no crime, Wesley Snipes plays a villain who is wreaking havoc on the earth and the only person who can stop him is John Spartan, a police officer played by Sylvester Stallone who has been cryogenically frozen for a crime he did not commit. It’s a film so wacky and so 90’s that you have to see it to believe it.
Evil Dead II (1987) - The sequel to Sam Raimi’s low budget 1981 horror classic The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II is funnier, gorier, and more appealing to large audiences. I still prefer the first film but the sequel is great in its own right. If you haven’t seen the first film you should still be able to enjoy this film but I’d recommend you seek out the original then come back to this one.
The Terminator (1984) - Featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most iconic role, Linda Hammilton’s badassery, and that instantly recognizable score by Brad Fiedel, The Terminator launched one of the best action franchises of all time. Though the second film in the franchise outclasses it on nearly every level, James Cameron’s sci-fi action film remains a classic of the genre to this day, as evidenced by the fact that they refuse to stop making sequels.
Top Gun (1986) - So I have a confession to make: I love Tom Cruise and I love Top Gun. It’s 80’s cheese to the max but it’s a damn good time. The amount of sexual energy in this film is through the roof, whether it’s Tom Cruise playing off of Kelly McGillis or his supposedly platonic relationship with Val Kilmer. Tom Cruise plays a hot-headed fighter pilot who must compete with his fellow pilots and the ghosts of his past to prove himself to be worthy of the Top Gun school’s highest honors. Top Gun has been one of my favorite movies since the first time I saw it, and if you like Tom Cruise and 80’s movies as much as I do I can guarantee you’ll enjoy this one.
Prisoners (2013) - Once you’ve seen Denis Villenueve’s crime thriller you will never be the same. The film follows Hugh Jackman as he teams up with Jake Gyllenhaal to track down his daughter and her friend that have been kidnapped. It’s dark, disturbing, and hardly an easy watch, but it’s a magnificent film and features Jackman and Gyllenaal in two excellent performances. Also starring Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano, it’s unforgettable and one of the best films of the past decade. The film is available to watch on Hulu on the 10th.
New to Amazon Prime:
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) - I was fortunate enough to see this film in a theater the first time I watched it and it was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. The film creates an awestruck wonder for the audience and presents one of the most realistic versions of extraterrestrial life I’ve seen (if you can call aliens realistic). I think it’s one of Spielberg’s best, which is saying a lot, and anyone who has yet to witness this film should get on it.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) - The film won 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, and Best Writing. If that isn’t enough to convince you I don’t know what else can, but it’s a film that is at the same time both heartwarming and heartbreaking as we follow a divorced couple as they go through a custody battle over their son. It’s Dustin Hoffman and Merryl Streep at the top of their craft, and it’s a big recommendation by me.
The Graduate (1967) - It’s another Dustin Hoffman performance in one of his most iconic roles, the young college grad who has an affair with the older Mrs. Robinson. It’s a landmark film from director Mike Nichols that feels far ahead of its time. If you’re a young adult who is unsure of what to do with your life this movie might just be for you. Featuring a soundtrack composed of classic Simon and Garfunkel songs, The Graduate is one of the most beloved films of all time and maybe the best out of all the films on this list.
New to the Criterion Channel:
Boyhood (2013) - Boyhood is Richard Linklater’s 12 year passion project of a young boy growing into a man, and frankly it’s a wonder this film worked out at all let alone it being great. The film was shot over 12 years with the cast and crew reuniting for a short period of time each year to film another entry in the boy’s life. It’s a moving film with stellar performances from Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and Ellar Coltrane, and does an excellent job of showing just how powerful filmmaking can be.
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) and Footlight Parade (1933) - These are two of my favorites of the early, pre-code Warner Brothers musicals. The films share a majority of the same cast, with the exception of James Cagney in Footlight Parade and Warren William in Gold Diggers. Both films revolve around the behind the scenes of stage shows in the early 1900’s, and with familiar pre-code faces like Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and others, they’re a treat for any lover of old films or musicals.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - The first in Sergio Leone’s The Man With No Name trilogy, the spaghetti western stars Clint Eastwood as a wandering gunfighter who arrives at a Mexican border town that has a long lasting feud between two families. Eastwood then schemes to play the rival families against each other for his financial benefit. It’s a western remake of the Akira Kurosawa samurai classic Yojimbo, just like so many of the popular westerns from that time period were, and a necessity for fans of the spaghetti western genre. Yojimbo is also currently available to view on The Criterion Channel.
Sátántangó (1994) - With a runtime of nearly 7 ½ hours, Sátántangó is a daunting watch for nearly all but the most dedicated of cinephiles. Regarded as one of the best films of all time, the Hungarian film from director Béla Tarr is not for the faint of heart, but is a rewarding experience for any willing to undertake the task of watching it.