By Reed Ripley
- Director: Kay Cannon
- Starring: Camila Cabello, Billy Porter, Idina Menzel, Pierce Brosnan
- Opening: September 3, 2021 (Amazon Prime)
The Premise: Cinderella (Camila Cabello) a young orphan, lives with her scornful stepfamily and longs for a life outside her dreadful confines. Eventually, thanks to a supportive circle of friends, magical and otherwise, and the misplacement of a certain glass slipper, Cinderella finds her inner strength (and a charming prince) and escapes to a better life.
Apologies to Beauty and the Beast, but Cinderella truly is a tale as old as time. This presents the same issue to this latest adaptations’ filmmakers as was presented to filmmakers of every Cinderella generation: to differentiate from the myriad versions that came before. The creative personnel choices behind this film suggest this was the goal, as they are decidedly ‘pop’ in nature: Kay Cannon (writer and producer of the Pitch Perfect series) and Cabello (pop music star and film debutant notwithstanding an appearance in The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show). The soundtrack screams pop, too; classic anthems “Rhythm Nation,” “Material Girl,” “Somebody to Love,” and “Seven Nation Army” all make appearances. The traditional Cinderella story told through a Pitch Perfect filter is unequivocally a choice, which is all an audience can ask for with a new spin on an old tale, and, coupled with performances from bona fide Broadway superstars Bill Porter and Idina Menzel, the choice has the chance to produce a worthwhile adaptation.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
- Starring: Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh
- Opening: September 3, 2021 (Exclusively in Theaters)
The Premise: Martial arts master Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) confronts his father and international crime lord, Wenwu (Tony Leung), after the actions of Wenwu and his Ten Rings organization forces Shang-Chi to face the past he thought he left behind.
Yes, this is a Marvel movie (the first one exclusively in theaters since Spider-Man: Far from Home, 794 days ago), but there’s plenty to suggest moviegoers outside the center circle of Marvel fandom will enjoy this film. First, Marvel Studios movies, whether you’re a comic book fan or not, have a decidedly high floor of quality given the 23-plus film track record and the studio’s guiding hand, and there’s no indication this film is any different. Second, to this point in his career, the director, Destin Daniel Cretton, has exclusively produced small, intimate, character-driven stories (Just Mercy, The Glass Castle, Short Term 12), and Marvel’s directorial selection, along with the clear emphasis on an estranged father-son dynamic and parental expectations, suggest this story is heavily grounded and engaging. Third, this is Marvel’s first cinematic foray into martial arts as a primary vehicle for action, and the small bites of footage released thus far certainly hint at expert execution. Taken together, all signs point at this being a great time at the movies and an experience few will regret seeking out.
The Card Counter
- Director: Paul Schrader
- Starring: Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe
- Opening: September 10, 2021 (Exclusively in Theaters)
The Premise: William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is an ex-military interrogator turned card gambler trying to outrun his haunted past by hitting every card table on the casino circuit. When a young man named Cirk (Tye Sheridan) offers him a chance at revenge against Major John Gordo (Willem Defoe), a mutual enemy from their past, Tell sees a chance at redemption.
This film is in the running for my most-anticipated film of the year, mainly due to the filmmaker behind it. It’s written and directed by Paul Schrader, writer of a couple small movies, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, of which moviegoers might have heard. Schrader’s coming off 2017’s First Reformed, a criminally under watched and beautiful film starring Ethan Hawke as a priest grappling with a crisis of faith and the fine line between hope and despair. Schrader’s films are amongst the greatest character studies ever put to screen, and they often use their characters’ internal struggles to highlight a profound question or two about the human condition and our interactions with one another. Although sometimes this can produce a quiet, ponderous film through and through, it can also lead to a wonderfully entertaining movie, and The Card Counter certainly appears to be in the latter camp.
The Telegraph is introducing a new movie review column written by attorney and movie film buff Reed Ripley. Look for full movie reviews in upcoming posts.