Today: February 25, 2024

September Movies

In Germany, they’re celebrating Oktoberfest. In China, preparations are underway for the feast of the August Moon. But worry not. Here at FilmJuice, we’re under no such delusions! It’s September, and time to settle down to revisit some films from Septembers past.

In
Germany, they’re celebrating Oktoberfest. In China, preparations are underway
for the feast of the August Moon. But worry not. Here at FilmJuice, we’re under
no such delusions! It’s September, and time to settle down to revisit some
films from Septembers past.

The UFO
Incident

It’s a scary thought that nearly four million Americans —
citizens of the world’s only super power — claim to have been abducted by
aliens. In fact, it was on 19th September 1961 that the first wildly reported
abduction occurred. The Hill Abduction, as it became known, was a media
sensation and catapulted ‘abductees’ Betty and Barney Hill to fame. What made
their story so noteworthy was that much of their account, including star maps
showing the aliens’ home system, was recalled under hypnosis. Why bog-eyed
beasties would be interested in probing the orifices of a respectable New
Hampshire couple was never revealed. But then, it’s hard to fathom the motives
of beings who travel across entire galaxies to set fire to cattle and finger
paint with cereal crops. The UFO
Incident, starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons, is the film that
re-tells the Hill’s story. Although this may be the one film that James ‘Darth
Vadar’ Jones doesn’t put on his CV the story continues to influence film and TV
scriptwriters. The Hills also crop up in Dark Skies, The X
Files
and the miniseries Taken.

Scandal
Scapegoat, seductress or socialite? 45 years later, the jury
is still out on Christine Keeler, the woman at the centre of the infamous
Profumo Affair. Whatever the truth, the fact that she was having an affair with
the then Secretary of State for War, while also sleeping with a Soviet naval
attaché, was embarrassing enough to result in several Government resignations
and some high-profile mud-slinging. The report on the affair, released on 25 September 1963, was said to be one of
the reasons for PM Harold
Macmillan’s resignation. Back then,
the scandal ruined Profumo’s career and branded Keeler a liar and a tart.
Ironically, today, the publicity would probably have made her a millionaire and
got her own chat show. If you’re interested in trying to unravel the spin for
yourself, then the 1989 film, Scandal — while not widely accurate — is well
worth re-visiting. Starring Ian McKellen
as Profumu and Joanne Whalley as Christine, this is a film which still has the power to conjure up the
bizarre hypocrisy of an era when a teenage girl could be dammed for
‘corrupting’ a wealthy, middle-aged politician.

M*A*S*H
Busty blonds, comedy queens, big guns and military
‘choppers. No, not Torchwood, although perhaps that’s what we would have ended
up if someone had pitched the idea for MASH to Russell T Davis. Fortunately,
what we got was a show which managed to consistently surprise and amuse, while
never once allowing you to forget the grim reality of war. From its debut on
17th September 1972 to the final 2 1/2 hour episode on 28th February 1983, MASH
remained a quality product. 106 million Americans watched the final episode.
That’s about 78 per cent of the viewing public. And this is a show whose theme
tune was Suicide Is Painless. The original film, on which the show was based,
may not have been that big a hit, but is well worth revisiting if only to explore
the roots of what turned out to be an iconic TV show.

Mishima: A
Life In Four Chapters

Some decades seem to produce more than their fair share of
quality films, and this was certainly true of the 1980s. There was, of course,
plenty of eye-candy for us to enjoy –
ET, Back To The Future, Return Of
The Jedi
and Batman. But the
real winners of the era were the indie/art house directors who managed to
produce some truly classy classics. There was the lush, Harold Pinter
adaptation of John Fowel’s period drama, The
French Lieutenant’s Woman
(18th Sept. 1981), Peter Shaffer’s Mozart
masterpiece Amadeus (19th Sept.
1984), Lynch’s Blue Velvet (Sept.
19th 1986) and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s
medieval murder mystery, The Name Of The
Rose
(Sept. 24th, 1986). If you’re a movie buff and haven’t seen at least
two of these gems, then try a quick trawl through the bargain bucket of your
local DVD store, where — as we all know— you usually find the quality
stuff. The exception to this rule
is Paul Schrader’s homage to the
Japanese author, Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters (13th Sept. 1985). Sadly it’s
harder to get hold of than a Vaselined eel. Which is a shame, as this is a
genuine masterpiece, combining Philip
Glass’
sumptuous music with episodes from Mishima’s life and fiction, to
make one magnificent, dreamscape of a movie.

The
Shawshank Redepmtion
(Main Picture)
It might have been a failure at the box office, but The
Shawshank Redemption has since become one of the most popular films of all
time. Since its US release, on 23rd September 1994, its been consistently voted
‘one of the greatest movies ever made’ by IMBD subscribers and regularly tops
the polls in TV and magazine surveys. The story is well written and well
executed — and we’d expect nothing less from an author such as Stephen King. But its appeal goes much
deeper and is mainly due to Tim Robbins
masterful portrayal of ‘Andy’. Andy is a man with little to say, but when he
speaks he does so with a quiet integrity and authority. In fact, in many ways,
it’s during the film’s silent moments, that we ‘hear’ Andy the clearest. This
is a character who is able to break the system, rather than being broken by it
— something which delivers a message of quiet hope for the quiet man (and
woman) everywhere.

The Cube
Sometimes the best films are the ones which surprise you and
during the ‘90s, September seemed to be a month of surprises. September 1991,
for example, saw Keanu Reeves,
playing a drug-addled rent boy in Gus van Sant’s pseuo-Shakespearean surrealist
drama, My Own Private Idaho. Daniel Day Lewis gave everyone a double
take by ‘doing a Rambo’ in The Last Of
The Mohicans
(25th Sept. 1992). Johnny
Depp
proved that there was much more to him than a pretty face, with a
finely tuned comic turn in Ed Wood
(30th Sept. 1994). James Spader
best known as geeky Egyptologist Daniel Jackson — turned up as an eerily
convincing, ice-cold killer in Two Days
In The Valley
. While Pricilla Queen
Of The Deser
t star, Guy Pearce,
blew everyone away with yet another virtuoso performance in LA Confidential. But perhaps the
biggest surprise of the decade was a Canadian indie movie called Cube. Made on
a shoestring budget, this tense and finely tuned flick was an instant hit with
both sci-fi and horror fans and has since spawned numerous sequels. However,
there are many who would argue that the first film, with its wonderfully
Kafka-esque atmosphere, remains the best of the lot.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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