Paramount+ is still coming into its own as a streaming platform, and as such is not releasing too much original content. Though the service has some flagship TV series (like The Good Fight and the excellent Evil) and new masterpieces (such as Players), it’s still slim pickings, and their selection of original movies leaves much to be desired. However, the streamer has the benefit of a massive back-catalog of films from Paramount Pictures, and that’s where it really excels, bringing basically all the older movies that don’t belong to Warner Bros. or Disney. (Paramount+ also has some great international sports).
This September, Paramount+ only has one original movie, but it should be an interesting one, though it is bringing a slew of older films of every genre, from older classics like The Quiet Man and Black Sunday to more recent films like The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Up In The Air, Zodiac, and Collateral. These are some of the best movies coming to Paramount+ in September 2022.
The Ghost and the Darkness
The ‘Idris Elba vs. a lion’ movie Beast recently debuted to mixed reviews, but there was already a brilliant ‘man vs. lion’ movie nearly three decades ago with The Ghost and the Darkness. The film is a fictionalized account of the true story behind the Tsavo man-eaters, or male lions that attacked and killed dozens of construction workers and engineers building a railway in 1898 (and later dramatized in a 1907 book by John Henry Patterson).
The suspenseful, haunting movie stars Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer as two men hired by the railroad company to come in and hunt down the lions. The Oscar-winning sound design and excellent performances combine to create a masterfully tense film that doubles as a fine allegory for colonialism and the ‘manifest destiny’ ideas of western expansionism.
Run & Gun
Run & Gun follows retired criminal Ray, retired and yearning to start a family but blackmailed into new criminal dealings by a ruthless gang. Yes, it’s extremely unoriginal and hardly masters the form, but this little action comedy is strengthened by very energetic and jovial direction and writing from Christopher Borrelli, who ensures a really breezy good time. Ray is played by Ben Milliken with an immense amount of charm, his Sydney accent and handsome bedhead an irresistible hook for this sometimes silly but almost always fun film. Plus, Richard Kind gets to play a menacing villain, which is a treat in itself.
One of the greatest horror films of the century so far, Neil Marshall’s The Descent is a grim, serious movie about survival and grief with some deeply allegorical touches and terrifying monsters. The film follows a newly widowed woman who has been mourning the loss of her husband and child in a car accident; her friends decide to take her cave diving, in a set-up which has since been replicated numerous times. The cave is a kind of subterranean psyche, a subconscious where these women do battle with repressed monsters in the most brutal of ways. It’s a bloody, intense, feminist horror masterpiece, and Paramount+ will be adding its sequel as well.
A woefully underrated action/mystery from 1986, F/X is an extremely unique and fun film that deserves much more attention. The movie follows a special effects expert who specializes in gory schlock; he gets hired by the Department of Justice to stage the death of a mafia member who is about to enter the Witness Protection Program. However, the production doesn’t go according to plan, and the special effects master believes he has been framed for an actual murder, one being investigated by a very persistent detective played by a fantastic Brian Dennehy. It’s a very cool movie that has aged surprisingly well and should be better appreciated as a classic.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Nobody was really expecting what Dan Trachtenberg actually delivered when he brought this quasi-sequel to the massive J.J. Abrams hit Cloverfield. 10 Cloverfield Lane exists within the universe and timeframe of the first film, but is completely different, a Hitchcockian thriller more akin to Rope than the found-footage Godzilla of the first film. An incredible Mary Elizabeth Winstead attempts to escape the city during the alien invasion and is brought into a survival bunker by John Goodman’s character after a car accident. The two of them, along with John Gallagher Jr., wait out the apocalyptic scenario and speculate about the future, but mental illness, paranoia, and claustrophobia begin to affect them in this wonderfully tense thriller that showed why Trachtenberg was the perfect choice for the Predator prequel.
On the Come Up
Angie Thomas’ novel The Hate U Give resulted in one of the best (but least profitable) films about the Black experience in recent years, and now Thomas’ book On the Come Up is being adapted into an original movie for Paramount+. Starring and directed by the underrated Sanaa Lathan (in her feature directorial debut) of Harley Quinn, Succession, The Affair, and Nip/Tuck, the new film will follow a young woman who is driven by fierce ambition to be a great rapper no matter her family problems and financial difficulties. While the recent HBO show Rap Sh!t may have covered something very similar, On the Come Up is set to be a more serious and dramatic take on this Black American Dream.
One of the first great movies about the immigrant experience in the west, El Norte is the visually stunning but emotionally tear-jerking and melancholic film about a young brother and sister who travel from Guatemala through Mexico and into California to achieve the American Dream in Los Angeles and escape the financial and violent tragedies at home. Despite being an early ’80s film, it remains extremely prescient and topical, focusing on the human toll of border protection, coyotes, and globalization, and has the potential of increasing the viewer’s empathy.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
One of the best sci-fi comedies of all time, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is a radically silly, philosophical, postmodern classic about a space cowboy traveling the space-time continuum. The plot is hardly important here — this is the kind of film where a watermelon randomly appears in the frame of a high-tech laboratory; a character asks, “Why is there a watermelon there?” One responds, “I’ll tell you later.” The film never brings it up again. It’s a weirdly Zen film, driven by the mantra, “Wherever you go, there you are,” and features hilarious performances from Jeff Goldblum, Peter Weller, and John Lithgow. It’s a weird, mildly satirical, extremely ’80s film and a postmodern classic.