This month's notable theatrical releases
Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting in North American theaters this month, listed in alphabetical order.
BROS Watch trailer(s)
Rom-com | September 30 | Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Billy Eichner will not be on the street this September; instead, you can find him in theaters as the leading man of the first major studio gay rom-com featuring a main cast of all out LGBTQ+ actors. Eichner, who co-wrote the script with director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement, Neighbors), plays a cynical podcaster who begins to question his commitment to singledom when he meets Luke Macfarlane’s Aaron. Look for early reviews when BROS premieres at TIFF on September 9.
Don't Worry Darling Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Thriller/Horror | September 23 | Directed by Olivia Wilde
Olivia Wilde’s directorial follow-up to Booksmart take place at a utopian, experimental community where a 1950s housewife (Florence Pugh) begins to suspect something disturbing is going on behind the perfect façade. Chris Pine plays the mastermind of the company town, and Harry Styles plays Pugh’s husband, while Wilde, Gemma Chan, Kate Berlant, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, and Timothy Simons round out the cast. As its debut in Venice approaches, the question remains whether the film can cut through all the noise surrounding it, including Wilde’s breakup and relationship with Styles, Styles taking over for Shia LaBeouf after he was fired (or not, according to him), and Pugh’s talk about not wanting to discuss her sex scenes with Styles. It’s a lot, but maybe complications should be expected with casting one of the world’s most famous pop stars.
God's Country Watch trailer(s)
Thriller | September 16 | Directed by Julian Higgins
Director Julian Higgins makes his feature debut with this adaptation of James Lee Burke’s short story "Winter Light." Co-written with Shaye Ogbonna, the narrative follows Sandra (Thandiwe Newton), a college professor grieving her mother’s death, as she confronts two hunters who trespass on her property. It’s a battle of wills augmented by the sexism, racism, and toxic masculinity surrounding Sandra, and a showcase for Newton, whose work earned praise from critics when the film premiered at Sundance earlier this year.
God's Creatures Watch trailer(s)
Drama | September 30 | Directed by Anna Rose Holmer and Saela Davis
The Fits director Anna Rose Holmer and editor Saela Davis share co-directing credit on this tale about the lengths a mother (Emily Watson) will go to protect her not-so-perfect son (Paul Mescal). Written by first-time feature writer Shane Crowley and producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly and set on Ireland’s northwest Atlantic coast, it’s a drastically different milieu to play in from Holmer and Davis’ first film, which earned Metacritic Must-See status. While critics in Cannes (where it premiered in the Director’s Fortnight) weren’t quite as enthusiastic about this film, they agreed that the performances of Watson and Mescal make it worth a watch.
Hold Me Tight Watch trailer(s)
Drama | September 9 | Directed by Mathieu Amalric
French actor Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Quantum of Solace) steps behind the camera as he did for The Blue Room and Barbara to direct Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, Bergman Island) in this adaptation of Claudine Galea’s play about a woman who collects her things and leaves her family in a rush to embark on a road trip. As she flees, Amalric and editor Francois Gedigier cut back to the family she left behind, including her husband (Arieh Worthalter), daughter (Anne-Sophie Bowen-Chatet), and son (Sacha Ardilly), leading to an emotional reveal made all the more powerful by Krieps’ performance.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. Watch trailer(s)
Comedy | September 2 (theaters + Peacock) | Directed by Adamma Ebo
Writer-director Adamma Ebo and her twin sister, producer Adanne Ebo, make their feature debut with this comedy about Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall), the first lady of Southern Baptist megachurch Wander To Greater Paths, and her pastor-husband, Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown), who struggle to rebuild their congregation after a very public scandal. Shot in a faux-documentary style, it’s a sly satire, driven by the comedic skills of Hall and Brown, with support from Austin Crute in a crucial scene and Nicole Beharie and Conphidance as rival married pastors.
Loving Highsmith Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | September 2 | Directed by Eva Vitija-Scheidegger
Patricia Highsmith’s novels have been adapted into films by Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train), Anthony Minghella (The Talented Mr. Ripley ), and Todd Haynes (Carol). It’s that last one, an adaptation of Highsmith’s The Price of Salt (written at the time under the pseudonym Claire Morgan), that carries the most weight in filmmaker Eva Vitija’s personal look at Highsmith’s life through her own words (Gwendoline Christie voices her her diaries and published works) and those of her former lovers.
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon Watch trailer(s)
Thriller/Fantasy | September 30 (theaters + VOD) | Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour’s third feature, following A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and The Bad Batch, stars Jeon Jong-seo (Burning) as Mona Lisa Lee, an escapee from a mental asylum who crashes in New Orelans with Bonnie Belle, a stripper and single-mother played by Kate Hudson, while a cop played by Craig Robinson pursues her. Ed Skrein (hilariously channeling Vanilla Ice) pops up as Fuzz, a drug dealer/DJ with a heart who lends a hand and more to Mona in what is another thickly atmospheric (thanks to Hereditary cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski), off-beat, and subversive slice of B-movie fun from a director unafraid to follow her muse.
Moonage Daydream Watch trailer(s)
Documentary/Music | September 16 | Directed by Brett Morgen
Jane and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck director Brett Morgen attempts to reveal the ever-elusive David Bowie with this unconventional documentary produced with the support of Bowie’s estate and the massive archive that comes with it. As Morgan’s dance down the red carpet at Cannes indicates, he wants to celebrate the artist. Don’t go in expecting a career-spanning summation of accomplishments. Instead, this is an ambitions, impressionistic montage that runs 140 minutes and features a must-see treasure trove of unseen footage and a must-hear surround sound remix of more than forty tracks by Bowie’s long-time collaborator Tony Visconti.
Pearl Watch trailer(s)
Horror | September 16 | Directed by Ti West
Writer-director Ti West and writer-actress Mia Goth return to the world of X with this prequel about Pearl, whom Goth played (along with porn actress Maxine) under heavy prosthetics in the original film. Set in 1918 at the same farm, the new film follows Pearl as she waits for her husband to return from war. Isolated on the farm with her catatonic father and strict mother (Tandi Wright), Pearl dreams of the day when she can become a star. Conceived during the prep for X and shot immediately afterward in the Technicolor style of musicals and melodramas, Pearl will premiere in Venice on September 3 ahead of its theatrical debut.
Petrov's Flu Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | September 23 | Directed by Kirill Serebrennikov
Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov earned international acclaim for his 2016 film The Student, but by the time he was working on his second film, 2018’s Leto, he was under house arrest. He found a way to complete the film by building sets near his home, so on his allowed daily walks he could give notes on the fly, while receiving flash drives of completed material on the sly. The director was forced to take a similar approach to his newest film, a 2021 adaptation of Alexey Salnikov’s novel The Petrovs In and Around the Flu, which Serebrennikov shot in the evenings while standing trial in the mornings for the charge of misappropriating funds. Set in post-Soviet Russia during a flu pandemic, it’s a genre-busting tale of a family trying to survive, filled with dark comedy, mystery and hallucinatory long takes. The result is a film that may not be for everyone, as Variety's Guy Lodge predicts: “Some will thrill to its fevered brilliance, while others may feel they’re being waterboarded with Smirnoff.”
Riotsville U.S.A. Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | September 16 (theaters + VOD) | Directed by Sierra Pettengill
With her latest documentary, filmmaker Sierra Pettengill (The Reagan Show) investigates how the military and police developed their response to civil disobedience in America. Created using archival footage documenting the training of military personnel in Army-built model towns called Riotsvilles, Pettengill looks at the obsession with maintaining institutional control despite the findings of the Kerner Commission in 1967, which attributed the riots of that summer to police brutality, racism, lack of economic opportunity for African Americans and Latinos, and the bias of the white media. Once again, the past reveals the present.
Saloum Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Thriller | September 2 (theaters) / September 8 (Shudder) | Directed by Jean Luc Herbulot
Jean Luc Herbulot won Best Director in the Next Wave section of Fantastic Fest 2021 for this thriller set during Guinea-Bissau’s 2003 coup d’état. The Bangui’s Hyenas, an elite trio of mercenaries, extract a drug dealer and his loot amid the chaos and set out for Dakar, Senegal, only to get stranded in the Sine-Saloum Delta. Attempting to blend in with the tourists, the mercenaries find the net closing in on them due to a local police captain and a mysterious deaf woman. Prepare yourself for a stylish genre exercise filled with curses, sprites, and sorcery.
See How They Run Watch trailer(s)
Thriller/Comedy | September 16 | Directed by Tom George
Director Tom George has gathered quite the troupe of actors for his debut feature, a whodunit that follows a world-weary inspector (Sam Rockwell) and a rookie constable (Saoirse Ronan) as they wade into the theater underground of 1950s London to deduce who murdered Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody). Among the suspects are David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, Shirley Henderson, and Reece Shearsmith. We hope the film finds the same comedic rhythms as the well-edited trailer.
Speak No Evil Watch trailer(s)
Horror/Thriller | September 9 (theaters) / September 15 (Shudder) | Directed by Christian Tafdrup
Danish actor and director Christian Tafdrup’s satirical work of horror catches a Danish family in their own web of politeness as they struggle to leave their Dutch hosts’ countryside home despite mounting signs of trouble. Written by Tafdrup with his brother Mads, the film begins on a beautiful Tuscan vacation where the couples meet but ends with “a twist so casually depraved it's one of the few genuinely shocking endings on screen this year,” according to EW's Leah Greenblatt.
The Story of Film: A New Generation Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | September 9 | Directed by Mark Cousins
Irish film critic and documentarian Mark Cousins continues his survey of world cinema that began with the 15-hour The Story of Film: An Odyssey with this look at films released between 2010 and 2021. Along the way, he pulls from films ranging from Cemetery of Splendor, Parasite, and Moonlight to Joker, Black Panther, and Frozen. Finding repeated themes and motifs and exploring the evolution of film language and technology, Cousins reflects on our cinematic present while pondering our future.
The Woman King Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Action | September 16 | Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
In The Old Guard, director Gina Prince-Bythewood showed an impressive ability to combine the heartfelt character moments of her previous films (Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights) with superhero action. Now she taking on the historical epic with Academy Award-winner Viola Davis leading the way as General Nanisca, the leader of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s. The screenplay by Dana Stevens (Fatherhood), from a fact-based story by actress Maria Bello and Stevens, follows Nanisca as she trains the next generation to fight for their way of life. The strong supporting cast includes John Boyega, Lashana Lynch, and Thuso Mbedu. Look for reviews of The Woman King following its premiere at TIFF on September 9.
Bonus picks: Theatrical re-releases
Avatar Watch trailer(s)
Sci-fi/Action-adventure | September 23 | Directed by James Cameron
If you are going to spend $1 billion to make four (!) sequels to a film, you may want people to be at least somewhat familiar with the original. And so we have the return of the now Disney-owned Avatar to theaters ahead of the release of Avatar: The Way of Water in December. James Cameron's immersive sci-fi adventure was a sensation when it first appeared in theaters in late 2009 and began breaking nearly every box office record on the books en route to becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. But that was 13 years ago—enough time for a new generation of filmgoers to emerge and have no familiarity with unobtanium, Pandora, and the Na'vi. Even longtime fans may have a reason to revisit the film in large-format 3D thanks to a new 4K remastering and upgraded sound (and Disney's strategic removal of Avatar from its streaming service). Will a wave of teenagers dress up in cute animal costumes and head to theaters to see Avatar, calling themselves "Pandorables"? We can only hope.
Spider-Man: No Way Home Watch trailer(s)
Sci-fi/Action-adventure | September 1 | Directed by Jon Watts
Familiarity is not an issue for this month's other major theatrical reissue: Spider-Man No Way Home was originally released less than a year ago and is easily the highest-grossing film of the pandemic era. The draw here is an extended cut of the film that adds 11 minutes of footage to the original release.
Bonus pick: Special screening event
Clerks 3 Watch trailer(s)
Comedy | September 13-18 | Directed by Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith goes meta with this second sequel to his 1994 debut feature Clerks. When Randal (Jeff Anderson) suffers a massive heart attack (something Smith himself experienced in 2018), he recruits Dante (Brian O’Halloran), Jay, and Silent Bob to make a movie about his experiences at the convenience store. (Sound familiar?) Rosario Dawson returns from Clerks II as Becky, as does Trevor Fehrman as Elias. Also appearing from Smith’s repertory are Ben Affleck, Justin Long, and Fred Armisen.
Bonus picks: Streaming exclusives
Blonde Watch trailer(s)
Drama | September 28 (Netflix) | Directed by Andrew Dominik
After a couple of well-regarded documentaries on Nick Cave (One More Time with Feeling, This Much I Know to Be True), filmmaker Andrew Dominik returns to narrative filmmaking for the first time since 2012’s Killing Them Softly with this adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel about the inner life of Norma Jean Baker, better known, of course, as Marilyn Monroe. Dominik has taken unique angles on historical figures before, most notably in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a film that has grown in reputation since it premiered in 2006. The controversy surrounding his new film—from the casting of Ana de Armas as Monroe to its 166 minute runtime and NC-17 rating—has resulted in a fever of hype and anticipation that could result in a similar reception if it doesn’t live up to expectations when it premieres in Venice next week.
Pinocchio Watch trailer(s)
Family/Adventure/Fantasy/Musical | September 8 (Disney+) | Directed by Robert Zemeckis
If Robert Zemeckis hadn’t always worked at the forefront of blending film with digital effects (Forrest Gump) and animation (the motion-capture triumvirate of The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol), he wouldn’t have a building named The Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. The interactions between live-action and animated characters he advanced in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and continued in recent, less successful films—Welcome to Marwen and no-longer-available-on HBO-Max The Witches—makes another appearance in his adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. In his fourth collaboration with Zemeckis as director, Tom Hanks stars as Geppetto, the wood carver who creates Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and treats him as his son. The supporting cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket, Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy, Keegan-Michael Key as "Honest" John, and Lorraine Bracco as Sofia the Seagull. If this Pinocchio doesn’t work for you, don’t worry: Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is right around the corner.
More upcoming films
For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming movie releases by date, including films arriving later in 2022 and beyond, visit our Movie Calendar.
Additional content by Jason Dietz