BBC Culture

Eight films to watch in September

  • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

    The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby reworks two films telling both sides of a break-up story – called Him and Her – into a single feature, with the alternative title of Them. Premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the marital drama features Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as a couple struggling to cope after a tragedy. Writer/director Ned Benson has been praised for his “skilful microsurgery”, cutting together two very different takes on the same event; the three edits will all be released on different platforms. According to Variety, “at its core is a most affecting portrait of two people who love each other, but may no longer be able to live as one”. The two central performances are complemented by compelling turns from William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert and Ciarán Hinds. Released 12 September in the US and Austria and Germany in November. (Rigby)

  • The Skeleton Twins

    Saturday Night Live regulars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) prove they can extend themselves beyond comedy with moving performances as twins who reunite after a 10-year estrangement. Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival – where it won a screenwriting award – the comedy drama has been praised as “warm, funny, heartfelt and even uplifting”, with a special mention for the pair’s “revelatory performances”. Directed by Craig Johnson (True Adolescents), who co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Heyman (Black Swan), it’s a character-driven look at family dynamics in which the chemistry between the leads contributes to a tender portrayal of the sibling bond. Released 11 September in New Zealand, 12 September in the US and 25 September in Australia. (Roadside Attractions)

  • Pride

    There is something about the UK miners’ strike of 1984-5 that sparks a rousing movie: after Billy Elliot comes a film based on the true story of an unlikely union. A London-based group of gay and lesbian activists organised a ‘Pits and Perverts’ benefit concert to support the strikers, before making their donation in person at a Welsh mining village. The cast – including Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West – offer “a series of sympathetic and entertaining performances” that avoids schmaltz in a film with heart. It manages to be both politically earnest and joyful: according to Vanity Fair, “you are a dirty liar if you aren't a tiny bit moved at the end”. Released 6 September in Canada, 12 September in Ireland and 17 September in France. (Nicola Dove)

  • Days and Nights

    Christian Camargo, who appeared in Oscar winner The Hurt Locker, directs a reworking of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull with a strong ensemble cast. William Hurt, Katie Holmes, Ben Whishaw and Allison Janney play characters transplanted from 19th Century Russia to a Connecticut estate in the 1980s, as a family comes together and falls apart over a Memorial Day weekend. When an ageing actress (Janney) returns home with her younger lover (Camargo), she sets off a series of events that end in tragedy; striking cinematography and a haunting score add to the pathos. Released 26 September in the US. (IFC Films)

  • Hermitage Revealed

    To mark its 250th anniversary, the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg opened its doors for a tour filmed by BAFTA-winning director Margy Kinmouth. As well as offering a glimpse at the range of works held by the Hermitage, the feature reveals how the institution has been threatened by wars and revolution. Museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky – whose father Boris also held the role – describes the siege of Leningrad during WWII, when 100 members of staff died and curators lived with their families in the basement of the Hermitage, and recalls how artworks were loaded onto trains in an effort to save them from looting. Other interviewees discuss the acquisitions by Catherine the Great, which included paintings by Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt and Van Dyck – and how 21 Old Masters were sold off by the Bolsheviks to an American banker in 1930. Released 6 September in Australia, 13 September in Germany and 16 September in France. (Foxtrot Films)

  • Jimi: All is by my Side

    Jimi Hendrix is played by Outkast’s André Benjamin in a film showing the guitarist on the cusp of fame, during the year he went from an unknown playing in a New York club to appearing at the Monterey Pop Festival. Critics have claimed this is no straightforward retelling of Hendrix’s life: BBC Culture's Owen Gleiberman, writing in Entertainment Weekly, argued that it is “a movie made not with obligatory biopic beats but with verve and freedom”, and that “the whole vibe and tone is less a matter of crystalized dramatic events than of sitting around in clubs and apartments”. Written and directed by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley, it offers a stylised approach to biography – lacking the music rights to Hendrix’s songs, Ridley instead weaves together period hits and covers to construct an oblique portrait of the rock legend. Released 18 September in Italy and 26 September in the US. (Darko Entertainment)

  • Bird People

    Writer-director Pascale Ferran won the Camera d’Or prize at Cannes with her debut feature in 1993, and returned to the festival this year to premiere her latest film. With a plot twist that might ruffle a few feathers, it focuses on two lonely souls in an airport hotel. American businessman Gary (The Good Wife’s Josh Charles) and French chambermaid Audrey (Anais Demoustier) each deal with their own solitude in different ways, before being brought together in a manner that denies conventional romantic narrative. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the performances of Demoustier and Charles “go a long way in making the story palpable, with the former offering up a glowing presence undercut with moments of doe-eyed distress, and the latter playing a character who seems to be watching his own existential crisis with a distant smirk”. Released 4 September in Canada and 12 September in the US. (Diaphana Films)

  • The Drop

    James Gandolfini gave his final onscreen performance in the first English language feature from Belgian director Michaël Roskam, whose debut film Bullhead was nominated for an Oscar. Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts star alongside the Sopranos actor in a drama written by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), based on his own short story. The film tells the story of a former criminal (Hardy) attempting to go straight as a bartender, working with his cousin Marv (Gandolfini). Roskan told USA Today: “I think we were ready for a new Gandolfini chapter. He was a little older. And he had the grey hair and the beard. A new Gandolfini was emerging. Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to see more of it. But I am happy that we had this beautiful glimpse.” Released 12 September in Croatia, 24 September in Belgium and 26 September in Spain. (Fox Searchlight)