If any film is going to tempt crowds back to cinemas, it’s Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, a brain-frying science-fiction blockbuster with a high concept and a higher budget. John David Washington stars as a secret agent who learns about mysterious weapons that move backward through time, and then dashes off on a mission to find the man responsible, a sadistic Ukrainian arms dealer played by Kenneth Branagh. Tenet is a Bond movie that squeezes Back to the Future 2 and Edge of Tomorrow into its last act. After six months with almost no new films in cinemas, it’s good to see a film so crammed with exotic locations, snazzy costumes, shoot-outs, and explosions that you get six months’ worth of entertainment in two and a half hours.
On general release now, and in the US and Russia on 3 September.
Has there ever been a longer gap between a film’s premiere and its general release? Mulan had its red-carpet gala in Los Angeles on 9 March, but then... well, we all know what happened next. Its release was postponed and postponed again, and now at last Niki Caro’s live-action remake of the 1998 cartoon is being shown on Disney Plus for a premium fee. It will go down in history as the first major film to go straight to the company’s new streaming channel, but it’s a shame that it won’t be on the big screen. Judging by the trailers, Mulan will have some huge battle scenes and spectacular mountain scenery, as a Chinese girl (Yifei Liu) disguised as a man proves herself in the emperor’s army.
On Disney+ from 4 September.
The King’s Man
Matthew Vaughn follows his two Bond-spoofing Kingsman comedy-thrillers with a prequel set during World War One. A cabal of the world’s most heinous criminals and tyrants (including Rhys Ifans’ magnificently bearded Rasputin) is planning to profit from the global havoc, so an aristocrat (Ralph Fiennes) and his protegé (Harris Dickinson) set up their own smartly-suited intelligence agency. Considering that Fiennes played a pin-striped super-spy himself in The Avengers (the British one with Uma Thurman, not the Marvel one) as well as the head of the Secret Service in the recent Bond movies, he should know what he’s doing. Gemma Arterton, Stanley Tucci, Matthew Goode and Djimon Hounsou join him for a cavalcade of swordfights, explosions, and one-liners – though not as much silliness as there is in the previous Kingsman romps. “It’s quite different tonally,” Arterton told Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 5. “There’s a real weight to it. It’s a little bit more serious in tone.”
Released on 16 September in the UK, Ireland and France; 17 September in Germany, Denmark and Italy; and 18 September in the US and Taiwan.
The Devil All the Time
Antonio Campos has packed his feverish backwoods gothic thriller with one of the year’s coolest casts. Adapted from Donald Ray Pollock’s award-winning novel, The Devil All the Time charts the crime and corruption in a small religious community in Knockemstiff, Ohio (yes, that’s a real place) between World War Two and the Vietnam War. Tom Holland is a dirt-poor youth who is pushed towards violence, Jason Clarke is a predatory photographer, Riley Keough is the beauty queen who becomes his sidekick, Sebastian Stan is a crooked sheriff, and Mia Wasikowska and Bill Skarsgård are also in the mix. But the performance that could get people talking is Robert ‘The Batman’ Pattinson’s wild-eyed turn as a villainous preacher. “There are certain performances where it almost feels like a possession,” says Campos, “and I think this is one of those performances”.
On Netflix from 16 September.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Like a dark remake of Meet The Parents, I’m Thinking of Ending Things stars Jessie Buckley as a young woman who drives with her new boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to the farm owned by his disturbingly chipper mother (Toni Collette) and father (David Thewlis), only to find herself slipping back and forth through time and in and out of reality. Adapted from Iain Reid’s psychological horror novel, the film is scripted and directed by Charlie Kaufman, the writer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich, so you can expect low-key surrealism and painful existential angst. What else you can expect is a mystery, although IndieWire promises that “Kaufman’s off-kilter and more comedic vision is a study in loneliness, a break-up story, and the writer/director’s own searching journey through his career”.
On Netflix from 4 September.