MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘It,’ ‘American Made’ poised to stand out at September box office

If you are planning to head to the theaters over the Labor Day weekend, you’ll find that there is nothing new in local theaters.

Doing something outdoorsy might be the better option on the unofficial last weekend of summer, anyway.

However if you do venture into your favorite theater this weekend my two favorite recent releases would be writer/director Taylor Sheridan’s hard-nosed “Wind River,” (see our review) about a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife tracker (Jeremy Renner) working to solve a brutal homicide on an Indian reservation, or “Logan Lucky,” (see our review) Steven Soderbergh’s rural, heist comedy, starring Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, and Adam Driver.

Without a new film to review, let’s take a look at some of the more anticipated films that will be opening this month in theaters.


Release date: Sept. 8
This big-screen adaptation of the Stephen King’s 1986 horror classic “It,” which opens next Friday, looks to be mighty scary. Rumored to be the first part of a two-film series, the movie focuses on a group of preteen friends who battle an evil shape-shifting entity that often takes the form of an evil clown. The trailers have been great and this looks like a winner that will get filmgoers in the Halloween spirit a month early this year.

Battle of the Sexes

Release date: – Sept. 22
Emma Stone stars as women’s tennis champion Billie Jean King and Steve Carell plays men’s tennis celebrity and huckster Bobby Riggs, who squared off against each other in an exhibition tennis match in 1973 at the Houston Astrodome. The event dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes” had more hype than the recent Mayweather-McGregor boxing match and was for more entertaining and engaging, too. The film could garner a number of Oscar nominations.


Release date: Sept. 22
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in a story based on the memoir of Costco employee Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The film delves into the pain and resentment Bauman faces and the resolve it takes for him to continue with some sense of normalcy since the terrorist attack.

American Made

Release date: Sept. 29
This movie, loosely based on the Iran-Contra Affair and its connections to Mena, looks like a real hoot. Tom Cruise stars as Barry Seal, a pilot who is not only running drugs for a South American drug cartel but also working as a CIA informant.

Classic Corner

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
(PG) 2 hrs. 17 min.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is that OTHER movie released in 1977 that featured space aliens.

While George Lucas’ “Star Wars” was more of a fantasy set against an alien backdrop, his good buddy Steven Spielberg’s follow-up to his 1975 blockbuster “Jaws” was a riveting sci-fi drama that tells the story of mankind making contact with “little green men,” for the first time.

While Lucas’ “Star Wars” has proven to be the more influential film on Hollywood and pop culture in general, more than a few would argue that Spielberg’s film is the better movie.

Richard Dreyfuss (“Jaws” and “The Goodbye Girl”) and Teri Garr (“Tootsie” and “Young Frankenstein”) star in the film that is being re-released and is playing locally at the Malco Razorback and Rogers Towne theaters.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is a terrific film that should hold up for a modern audience. It explores Spielberg’s ideas of what it would be like if aliens actually did make contact with humans, told primarily from the point of view of Dreyfuss’ blue-collar character, Roy Neary.

Neary becomes obsessed with UFO’s after he encounters one and puts his life and family on hold in pursuit of another encounter.

Dreyfuss’ character draws upon the biblical heroes Moses and Elijah, and the actual meeting between the aliens and Neary parallels Moses trip up Mount Sinai to parlay with God.

Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, and Jack Nicholson all passed on the leading role for various reasons before it fell to Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss finally won Spielberg over by petitioning him daily while on the long shoot for “Jaws.”

No doubt the other actors would have done fine work had they taken the part, but Dreyfuss infused an everyman quality in his performance that the other showier actors might not have been able to achieve.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Director, Supporting Actress (Melinda Dillon), Visual Effects, Art Direction, Original Music Score, Film Editing and Sound, but only won one Oscar for Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography.

The great John Williams crafted the original score like he has done for so many Spielberg films, but the score did not win the Oscar. Williams’ topped himself with his score from “Star Wars” to secure the 1978 Oscar.