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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Nick Howells

The Cine Files: everything you need to see at the cinema in September

Hot off a Barbenhyped summer, you might expect September to be something of a lull for cinema releases. Especially considering the current writers and actors strike. How wrong you’d be, as this month sees a torrent of great new films in London picture houses – 45 to be precise. Apologies to all the movies I haven’t mentioned, but these are the ones titillating my eyeballs this month:


Narcissists have that knack, don’t they. Of somehow drawing people in while the sensible emotional angels on their shoulders are all screaming in unison: “Don’t go there! It’s a world of pain!” The egotist in question here in director Ira Sachs’ Paris-set drama is film-maker Tomas (Franz Rogowski), who’s married to Ben Whishaw’s almost ego-free Martin. Uncontrollably, unthinkingly, Tomas wants to have his cake (specifically teacher Agathe, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos), go to bed with it, bring it into his husband’s life and carry on assuming the other two parties (aka victims) will think that’s a wonderful idea. Of course it’s not, and the fallout (and gasps from the audience at Tomas’s behaviour in the screening I saw this at) steadily gets worse. Sachs portrays this sombre affair with grace and precision (plus some, shall we say robust, convincingly natural sex), while Whishaw and Exarchopoulos are both superb. As for Rogowski? Let’s hope he gets a more bearable character to play next time. Out 1 September

Franz Rogowski and Ben Whishaw in Passages (Mubi)

The Equalizer 3

In the olden days, Edward Woodward’s* Equalizer would be happy simply to rough up some local bullies. However, since Denzel Washington stepped into Robert McCall’s vengeful boots, the ante and action have both been cranked up like a container ship full of steroids. In this ‘final chapter’, McCall finds himself in southern Italy taking on the Mafia to protect his friends. Of course he does. Knowing Denzel, I pity the poor old Cosa Nostra as he shoots, stabs and smashes their bones into submission. *It would be severely remiss not to remind you of the second best joke ever: Why does the letter “d” exist? Because if not, Edward Woodward would be called Ewar Woowar. Out 1 September

Denzel Washington in The Equalizer 3 (2023 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved)

Bobi Wine: The People’s President

We do have something of a small tradition in Britain of entertainment figures speaking out on issues (Stormzy for one) and even entering politics (the late Glenda Jackson), but we have nothing quite like Bobi Wine. This infectious National Geographic documentary follows the Ugandan superstar musician from the slums to his decision to run for Parliament and through to him challenging the ruthless 35-year regime of President Yoweri Museveni in the country’s 2021 presidential elections. It’s a graphic and dangerously up close, back-of-the-pick-up truck view of Wine on the campaign trail as he risks his life to face up to the intimidating violence of the police and military, intoxicatingly soundtracked by the political songs he began to write at the time. Heartfelt, brave and utterly captivating, Bobi Wine comes across as the real deal, and he and this doc both get my vote. Out 1 September

Bobi Wine and his wife Barbara ltungo Kyagulanyi in Bobi Wine: The People’s President (Lookman Kampala)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3

You must know by now if you like a Big Fat Greek Wedding or not; you know, the romance, the romps, the multi-generational cultural gags about everything Greek. After writing and starring in both the previous adventures, Nia Vardalos now picks up the director’s baton too for the third outing. And what a jolly jaunt it is: all the usual Portokalos family are back apart from Gus (Michael Constantine died in 2021 at the grand old age of 94) for a promised pilgrimage to dead dad’s childhood home in Greece. And I mean the whole family and then some are having a Huge Fat Reunion, with the older women getting a nice big bite of the comedy kleftiko, while in comes Stephanie Nur as new character Qamar. Summer might be fizzling out, but here’s a gentle blast of sunshine to keep your spirits going. Out 8 September

John Corbett, Maria Vacratsis, Melina Kotselou, Nia Vardalos, Elena Kampouris, Andrea Martin and Elias Kacavas in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features)

Once Upon a Time in Uganda

Typical, isn’t it. You wait ages for one cracking documentary to come out of Uganda and then two come along at once (see Bobi Wine: The People’s President, above). And this one is two barrels of explosive madcap joy full in your face. From the Wakaliga ghetto (his word) of Kampala, Isaac Nabwana had been making hilariously violent, straight-to-YouTube action movies on less than a shoestring budget for a number of years; eventually naming his film industry Wakaliwood. Think Chuck Norris movies but with comical explosions, toy cars used in stunts and a VJ (video ‘joker’) shouting out insane quips over the action. Enter superfan Alan Hofmanis, a hard-up film festival director from New York, who ends up partnering with Nabwana, moving to Wakaliga and even acting in the productions (mainly in a brilliant new movie genre they christen ‘beating up the white guy’). What follows is a hearteningly surreal tale of odd couple friendship that you simply couldn’t make up. Out 8 September

Alan Hofmanis and Isaac Nabwana in Once Upon a Time in Uganda (Blue Finch Film Releasing)

A Haunting in Venice

After his ‘serious stuff’ – 2021’s Belfast and his token turn as Niels Bohr in Oppenheimer Kenneth Branagh returns to another recent passion of his: giving the Agatha Christie back catalogue a cinematic shot in the arm for a third time following Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. K-Bran is behind the camera and Hercule Poirot’s waxen whiskers again, this time adapting Christie’s Hallowe’en Party and relocating it to Venice (always a good choice for noirish spookiness). Here HP finds his rhyme and reason jettisoned into the canal while attempting to discredit a psychic (Michelle Yeoh) leading a murderous séance. Cuddly old Miss Marple this ain’t as Branagh gives a sharp edge to the cosy Christie template. Is this a notable addition to the canon? I think it will be Kenough. Out 15 September

Kenneth Branagh in A Haunting in Venice (20th Century Studios)

Bolan’s Shoes

It’s 1976 and the kids from a Liverpool children’s home are screaming out an ecstatic singalong of ‘Children of the Revolution’ on the coach journey back from a treat to see T.Rex in concert. But, kids being naughty kids, things get out of hand and, like the Mini Mark Bolan died in, their bus tragically careers off the road. Fast forward almost half a century and middle-aged Penny (Leanne Best) is still affected by the accident and still obsessed with T.Rex; enough so to make a pilgrimage to the shrine for Bolan at the site where he met his maker. So far, so predictable… but then Jimmy (a brilliantly fragile performance from Timothy Spall) enters the scene and the story suddenly takes a darkly surprising turn or two. While Bolan’s Shoes happily bangs a gong for glam rock nostalgia, it’s the devastating emotional punches that make it a tragedy so bittersweet even a tyrannosaurus would cry. Out 15 September

Leanne Best and Timothy Spall in Bolan’s Shoes (Munro Film Services Ltd)


Here’s a charming, intimate oddity that strolls nonchalantly along. It’s notable as the acting debut of Afghan refugee Anaita Wali Zada, a former broadcast journalist who responded to an open casting call only eight months after fleeing Kabul. And in a lovely quirk of art imitating life, Zada plays Donya, an Afghan refugee who arrived in Fremont, California… eight months previously. Donya spends her days working in a fortune cookie factory, where the Chinese boss has his own peculiar idea of inter-immigrant friendship. Much of her time off is spent staring blanky at a psychiatrist who seems more obsessed with his own therapy. There are plenty of arthouse echoes of Jim Jarmusch here – wry deadpan delivery, joyful focus on the strange and banal, all shot in black and white – as Donya accidentally edges towards finding purpose in an alien country. However, unlike much Jarmusch, director Babak Jalali slowly builds up profound layers of meaning. Zada plays her part perfectly (no doubt rather well informed by her own experiences) and as a zeitgeisty extra, The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White pops up to help crystalise Donya’s inner journey. Out 15 September

Anaita Wali Zada in Fremont (Modern Films)

Dumb Money

Ah, the ol’ ‘short squeeze’, eh. No? Me neither, but here’s what happened (in an idiot’s nutshell): cast your mind back to January 2021 and a flailing company called GameStop. Wall Street hedge funds had made a ‘short’ bet that the share price would plummet. Then the Little Guy (aka a load of pandemic-bored Reddit users on their sofas) got pissed and starting buying GameStop shares like mad, sending the price rocketing and in the process f***ing over the Big Guys royally. To the tune of $6 billion in fact. They squeezed their short (I think). Was there a conspiracy and did it show the stock market for the casino it is? Anyway, now it’s a movie directed Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) and starring good guys like Paul Dano, America Ferrera and Shailene Woodley. The real-life story is insane and when it comes to money, pride and falls, you know Hollywood is going to make it even crazier. Out 22 September

Paul Dano in Dumb Money (© 2023 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved)

The Expend4bles

Old-timers Stallone, Lundgren and Statham are bringing in fresh blood for the fourth outing of the mercenary franchise. Such as Megan Fox, 50 Cent and, er, 67-year-old Andy Garcia. Who are they up against this time? An arms dealer with a massive private army (don’t look for any profound parallels to the Wagner Group here though) and maybe a nuke or two tucked away in his back pocket. It will go like this: Sly knocks on the Stath’s front door for help; Stath rolls his eyes and says no, but then says yes; explosions, ‘jokes’, loads of fighting, more ‘jokes’, maybe a snog, bigger explosions, even more ‘jokes’, then one gigantic mass battle with whoever is still alive… THE END. And it will be tremendous fun if you like that kind of thing. Out 22 September

50 Cent in The Expend4bles (Lionsgate)

It Lives Inside

We all want horror, so it seems. It’s the world’s favourite movie genre, apparently. So as a warm-up (or torture-free alternative) to Saw X, out later this month, here’s a fantastically creepy debut from Bishal Dutta. Teenager Samidha (Megan Suri) used to be best friends with fellow American-Indian Tamira (Mohana Krishnan), but Tamira has unnervingly retreated into herself and resorted to carrying around a mysterious glass jar (yes, there’s something wicked inside it). As crises of cultural identity, loss and belonging ebb and flow, Hindu gods and demons rise to the surface; one nasty creature in particular who feeds upon the girls’ fears and loneliness. Suri and Krishnan are both fantastic as the helpless and heroic sides of victimhood, while the mood of impending doom is ratcheted up at perfect pace. If you enjoyed Talk To Me earlier this summer, buy a ticket for this next. Out 22 September

Megan Suri in It Lives Inside (Vertigo Releasing)

The Creator

Threat of the year is back once again like a renegade master. Yes, that pesky AI is really putting the willies up our imagined futures right now. Here the terrifying artificial intelligence is already bored with dropping nukes on us, and has conceived a superweapon way more destructive to finish off humanity. It’s form? A child! (Parents will already know the havoc children can wreak.) Of course, this being a Disney film, the chances of said toddler (Madeleine Yuna Voyles) actual being killed are slim. I’m sure they’ll go for neutralisation instead. John David Washington plays the former special forces agent tasked with hunting down the juvenile ‘Creator’, while writer-director Gareth Edwards has spent seven years working on this since his last film, the excellent Star Wars outing, Rogue One, so it’s had plenty of attention. We know the explosions are gonna be brilliantly bombastic, so let’s hope too that the AI enemy will be at least as fiendishly clever as in the recent Mission: Impossible instalment. Out 28 September

John David Washington and Madeleine Yuna Voyles in The Creator (20th Century Studios)

Saw X

The Saw franchise isn’t exactly Sunday afternoon, nice cuppa tea in your hand viewing, so reports that this is the most disturbing iteration yet is ominously blood-curdling news for fans. We’re dialing the series way back to between the first and second films here, when torture stan John Kramer was still alive and searching for a cure for his cancer. So you gotta pity the fools at the Mexican clinic who think they can scam Kramer with a fake treatment. Expect Kim Jong-un levels of retribution when the old sadist rumbles their ruse. Kramer is still fond of chaining his victims to the plumbing, but there’s some darkly gut-churning additions to his repertoire of cruelty here. As a side hustle the man should really launch an Innovations catalogue for death devices… Out 29 September

Saw X (Alexandro Bolaños Escamilla/Lionsgate)
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