by Alexander Huls Tuesday October 4, 2011

Drive with Ryan Gosling

A year in the life of a moviegoer can be somewhat like being a prospector during the gold rush. You have to sift through a whole lot of rocks in order to eventually be able to feast your eyes on hunks of gold.

Usually those gold pieces will be far and between, but sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll suddenly find yourself on a roll, coming across gold nugget after gold nugget, and you’ll be reminded me why you’re out there squatting in the cold river early in the morning to begin with.
 
In other words – and to switch analogies, because I’m in that kind of mood – every now and then there are times where the Cinematic Deities of Mount Hollywood come together and bestow upon us week after week of the kind of movies that remind us why we are cinema worshipers in the first place.
 
September was most definitely one of those times.
 
It seemed like every week another movie was not only winning critical praise, but popular praise as well, slipping onto the tips of many people’s tongues as must-sees. I mean, just have a look at the movies that hit theatres last month and their respective Rotten Tomatoes (critics’) and IMDB (people’s) scores.
 
50/50 (RT: 93%, IMDB: 8.3)
CONTAGION (RT: 84%, IMDB: 7.3)
DRIVE (RT: 93%, IMDB: 8.4)
THE LION KING (RT: 88%, IMDB: 8.3)
MONEYBALL (RT: 95%, IMDB: 8.2)
TAKE SHELTER (RT: 94%, IMDB: 8.0)
TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL (RT: 87%, IMDB: 7.6)
WARRIOR (RT: 84%, IMDB: 8.3)
 
It’s not just the amount of quality movies released in September that is impressive either. In many ways it’s what they cumulatively represent that makes a far more important impact.
 
First, the movies are an en-masse, overwhelming reminder that Hollywood can make movies that are entertaining and great. That’s hard to remember sometimes – especially coming out of the summer blockbuster season. And in fact these movies aren’t just great, they’re at the point where several of them are already making their way on Best of the Year lists and garnering Oscar buzz for themselves.
 
Second, what is remarkable about this list of movies is that you couldn’t have culled together a more diverse set of films if you tried. The fact that each entry is its own unique genre made September such a joy because we weren’t just getting great movies, we were getting a wide variety of film types to enjoy. It made September a veritable party platter feast.
 
Finally, what I appreciated most is that not only did these movies come from different genres, they were almost all unique takes on established genres; slight – sometimes very clever – twists on the already known, giving us something both new and familiar at the same time. Naturally that’s a large part of what made them so good, but it’s borderline uncanny that so many movies trying to do something different with genre would not only be released around the same time, but would actually, you know, be really good.
 
Frankly, I think Hollywood should just take a note from George Costanza and go out on a high note.
 
So what do you think fair reader? Was September a great movie month for filmgoers? Were there films I left out and should have included? Did you actually hate some of the movies listed?
Film    Society & Culture