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September starts out with nearly 30 titles, including some Summer season leftovers (Shark Night 3D, Killer Elite), a few poorly timed temptations (Drive, 50/50)  and at least two date hopping aesthetic question marks (The Debt, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy).
 

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The Debt

Director: John Madden
Cast: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds, Jessica Chastain
31 August
The Debt


It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for this film. It debuted last year at the Toronto Film Festival and was scheduled to make an end of the year awards run. Then the Weinsteins shelved those plans and posted distribution to February, then Summer, then 31 August specifically. Luckily, the end result was worth the wait—delays and all. As a smart, sensible thriller with an intriguing main premise—the capturing of an aging Nazi war criminal—the company may think it has another Oscar contender on its hands. While not quite up to that caliber, it is a solid cinematic experience.


 

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Shark Night 3D

Director: David R. Ellis
Cast: Sara Paxton, Alyssa Diaz, Dustin Milligan, Katharine McPhee, Joel David Moore
2 September
Shark Night 3D


It figures that a mere two days after a thoughtful look at the lasting impact of the Holocaust, a exploitative bit of schlock would arrive in theaters. It just makes some manner of mad Tinseltown marketing sense. Anyway, the trailers have been touting this as a bloody good time at the movies, even with the wholly unnecessary PG-13 rating (are the under 12 crowd really lining up to see a film about killer sharks???) and we are a bit suspect of the whole thing. An R would indicated gore and gratuity. A less mature MPAA mark probably means basic B-movie BS.


 

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Apollo 18

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Cast: Lloyd Owen, Warren Christie
2 September
Apollo 18


Like The Debt, this was another heavily promoted release that suddenly up and flew its pre-Summer season coop. Now, after moving it to a post-popcorn slot, the studio is canceling proposed press screenings. Always a sign of assured quality. In any case, this “found footage” effort (are we almost done with this genre subcategory, please?) argues that the last Apollo astronauts landed on the moon and then found something not too friendly. Lots of shaky cam chaos ensues. Frankly, since [REC] and its amazing sequel, we haven’t seen a good first person POV thriller. This doesn’t look to change that.


 

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A Good Old Fashioned Orgy

Director: Alex Gregory, Peter Huyck
Cast:   Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Michelle Borth, Nick Kroll, Tyler Labine, Lindsay Sloane
2 September
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy


While the title it titilating, the resulting film is far from it. Meld Animal House and any Judd Apatow film with The Breakfast Club and The Big Chill and you have this earnest ensemble piece. The premise—a group of best friends decide to throw a sex party as their last ‘gasp’ at a favored Hamptons home—should be the stuff of prime R-rated ribaldry. Unfortunately, the MPAA label is for language, not lewdness. Indeed, this is another work of wit which sees the F-bombs as an exclamation point, not a straight ahead subversive strike. Indeed, the entire movie plays passive instead of perverted.


 

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Saving Private Perez

Director: Beto Gómez
Cast: Miguel Rodarte, Jesús Ochoa, Joaquín Cosio, Gerardo Taracena
2 September
Saving Private Perez


The plotline sounds like a spoof. A Mexican gangster and his fellow hoods are forced by his mother to save his brother from one of the most unlikely places on Earth, Iraq. Now. During the American occupation of same. In essence, it’s the War on Drugs vs. the War on Terror. Based on a comic book by co-writer Francisco Payó González, one could easily see Robert Rodriguez turning this into an exercise in style over satire. As it stands, there is little known about this film, aside from the cast and the unusual approach.


 

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Seven Days in Utopia

Director: Matt Russell
Cast: Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, Melissa Leo, Kelly Tilghman
2 September
Seven Days in Utopia


When something is called an “inspiration”, it usual means it’s quite mediocre. Few films that use faith or religious values resonate at the box offices. Generally audiences want to escape or be told a compelling story, not be evangelized. Some, however, have come to call this Cars for the pro-golf circuit, since the story centers on a former champion who finds himself stuck in the title small town. There, he meets a wise old pro (Robert Duvall) who shows him a more spiritual path to success. Considering the competition and its inherent lack of universality, this should be a big hit on the Hallmark Channel… six months from now.


Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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