After a summer light on film, the fall cinema dump begins this month, with even more to come in October. The more commercial offerings feature romance and revenge, while the artier options include a Fassbinder remake, a David Bowie experiential documentary, a fictionalized Marilyn Monroe biopic and more.
It’s also the beginning of the spooky season, which kicks off with the long-awaited return of the bilingual comedy-horror “Los Espookys,” a critics favorite when it first premiered three years ago, and "Queer for Fear," a fun docuseries about the history of LGBTQ influences on horror.
Keep reading to find out what else is on this month’s must-watch list. And don’t forget to tune in to the 74th annual Emmy Awards on Sept. 12 on NBC, to see which queer nominees take home TV’s biggest awards.
When Swiss-born filmmaker Eva Vitija first read the source material for last year’s revelatory collection “Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks,” she was fascinated by how different the misanthropic writer’s public image was from the private life detailed in the diaries. Inspired by the writer’s accounts — of debaucherous evenings, whirlwind romances and a series of defining relationships — Vitija’s new documentary, “Loving Highsmith,” includes conversations with family and former lovers, a selection of illustrative diary entries read by actor Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”) and archival footage of the author discussing “Strangers on a Train,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “The Price of Salt” and her other well-known works. With the help of a jazz guitar soundtrack, Vitija crafts an atmospheric tribute to the lesbian writer’s romantic streak and a generation of women who had to love in secret.
“Loving Highsmith” opens in U.S. theaters Sept. 2.
'Peter von Kant'
Director François Ozon’s gender-swapped remake of German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant” is simultaneously true to the original, a mashup of references to Fassbinder’s life and work and very much an Ozon production. As in Fassbinder’s original, “Peter Von Kant” takes place in the rooms of the title character, and the action centers on the figures who come and go from them — or, in the case of Peter’s assistant, Karl, don’t seem to be able to leave at all. Ozon’s protagonist is a hard-partying film director who has more in common with the actual Fassbinder than the slinky fashion designer at the center of the original. However, Karl very much evokes the slavish devotion and masochistic streak of Petra’s devotee, Marlene.
“Peter Von Kant” opens in U.S. theaters Sept. 2.
In the new series “Monarch,” Susan Sarandon stars as the matriarch of the Romans, the fictional first family of country music. As any fan of “Succession” would expect, the members of the Roman clan — Dottie (Sarandon), Albie (Trace Adkins) and their children Nicky (Anna Friel), Luke (Joshua Sasse) and Gigi (Beth Ditto) — will stop at nothing to protect their place at the top, even if it means destroying one another. Among the siblings, Gigi, a talented singer who nevertheless feels like the black sheep of the family, is probably the least willing to take a mercenary approach, having interests outside dynastic ambitions. One of those interests is her wife, Kayla (Meagan Holder), a music manager whose weariness of the family belies something deeper than disapproval of their toxic dynamic.
“Monarch” season one premieres on Fox Sept. 11.
'The Handmaid’s Tale'
Although later seasons of “The Handmaid’s Tale” have flown under the radar, Elizabeth Moss and the largely female cast of the dystopian series continues to offer up stellar performances and soul-crushing story lines. In season five, June (Moss) has finally clawed her way out from behind the iron curtain of Gilead and made it to her family and friends in Canada. Despite being met with open arms by her husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), and best friend, Moira (Samira Wiley), June can’t stop thinking about going back to end the extremist Christian regime ruling the former U.S. once and for all. Sadly, fellow survivor and recent escapee Emily (Alexis Bledel) isn’t around to talk sense into her, having returned to Gilead herself after being unable to make a new life with her wife and child. While Bledel’s absence makes the season feel straighter than usual, the series still gets a queer seal of approval for past seasons of showcasing freedom-fighting lesbians.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” season five debuts on Hulu Sept. 14.
Loosely inspired by the Hitchcock-adapted Patricia Highsmith classic “Strangers on a Train,” the new Netflix film “Do Revenge” stars Camila Mendes (“Riverdale”) and Maya Hawke (“Stranger Things”) in a revenge-swap scenario that takes place in a wealthy high school populated by good-looking Gen Zers. Eleanor (Hawke) is preparing to transfer to a new school and carrying the scars of a traumatic coming-out experience when she has a clandestine meeting with disgraced “it” girl Drea (Mendes). Together, they hatch a plan to get back at their respective foes, which involves hours of plotting and an “Emily in Paris” inspired makeover for Eleanor. Although initially the film’s premise seems fairly straightforward — I’ll do your revenge if you do mine — director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson has built in some twists and turns befitting its thriller roots.
“Do Revenge” premieres on Netflix Sept. 16.
The (very) long-awaited second season of HBO’s surreal, Spanish-English comedy “Los Espookys” has finally arrived. And the six new episodes — from co-creaters and stars Fred Armisen, Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega, who also directs — have even more of the queerness, satire and camp that made the series so beloved the first time around. In the new season, business is booming for the friends-turned-business-partners — Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco), Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti), Tati (Fabrega) and Andrés (Torres) — who are inundated with requests to stage spooky experiences for their scheming clients. But, in their off time, the four friends are contending with some very real horrors, from inner demons to sexist politicians and gig-economy work. Naturally, that means the return of Spike Einbinder as Sombra Del Agua and Greta Titelman as Ambassador Melanie Gibbons, who are joined by guest stars like Kim Petras and Isabella Rossellini.
“Los Espookys” season two debuts on HBO Max Sept. 16.
While not the first film to be made about David Bowie since his death in 2016, Brett Morgan’s “Moonage Daydream” is the first to have the support of the artist’s estate. The film, which is being marketed as an “experiential documentary,” features personal archival footage, unseen performances, psychedelic imagery and, of course, plenty of music. The title of the film refers to a song that Bowie wrote for 19-year-old Freddie Burretti, a fashion designer Bowie met at a London gay bar and later credited as the “ultimate co-shaper of the Ziggy look,” referring to his androgynous, bisexual rock star alter ego. Bowie, who performed onstage as Ziggy Stardust in the early 1970s, was perhaps the most influential figure in the glam rock era’s exploration of gender and sexual fluidity. And he continued to experiment with gender expression throughout his career, inspiring generations of musicians to defy industry norms.
“Moonage Daydream” opens in U.S. theaters Sept. 16.
“Blonde,” an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel about the life of Marilyn Monroe, is already one of the most talked about films of the year. In addition to director Andrew Dominik’s effusive praise of his own work, the film has grabbed headlines for the casting of Cuban and Spanish actor Ana de Armas in the starring role, as well as rumors about NC-17 sex scenes and feelings about the source material itself, which fictionalizes Monroe’s real-life abusive relationships. However, it’s not just controversy that’s fueling interest in the film, especially among LGBTQ audiences. During her short life, Monroe was a staunch advocate for the gay community and counted a number of queer people among her closest allies, which Dominik’s film explores. There has also been speculation over the years that Monroe was involved in multiple same-sex relationships, which, along with her outsider status and tragic life, has made her one of the great gay Hollywood icons.
“Blonde” premieres on Netflix Sept. 23.
'Queer for Fear'
Queerness is as essential to horror as any monster or twisted killer, and a new four-part docuseries sets out to explain exactly why. “Queer for Fear” traces the history of the LGBTQ community’s influence on and relationship with the horror and thriller genres, beginning with early literary works like Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and moving through the Golden Age of Hollywood to the present day. Along with plenty of film clips and animation, a collection of queer horror experts, creators and actors add color to the series created by Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies”). Several “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni weigh in on topics like why “Dracula” is drag, alongside the director and stars of “Yellow Jackets,” the creators of series like “Sherlock” and “Russian Doll,” and cultural icons like Michael Feinstein and Cassandra Peterson (also known as Elvira).
“Queer for Fear” debuts on Shudder Sept. 29.
Billy Eichner, the comedic mind behind “Billy on the Street” and “Difficult People,” makes history this month with “Bros,” the first gay rom-com to premiere by a major studio, which he stars in and wrote. Eichner plays his typical self-deprecating, cynical protagonist, a podcast host named Bobby who has pretty much given up on finding anyone tolerable to date. That’s when he meets the gorgeous and seemingly perfect Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) — because, of course, that’s how it works. The Judd Apatow-produced film, which is described as “smart, swoony and heartfelt” in the press notes, is also the first major studio film to have an entirely LGBTQ principal cast, featuring names like Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz and others.
“Bros” opens in U.S. theaters Sept. 30.
In case you missed it…
The fantasy genre hasn’t always been a queer-friendly place, but Netflix’s new series “The Sandman,” about a dethroned lord of Dreams (Tom Sturridge), is about as queer as a show can get. Based on Neil Gaiman’s comic book of the same name, the over-the-top fantasy series stars nonbinary actor Mason Alexander Park as Dreams’ nonbinary sibling, Desire; Jenna Coleman as fierce bisexual detective Johanna Constantine; and Boyd Holbrook as the queer and very alluring villain, The Corinthian. Each episode brings an abundance of new story lines and romances, and a good portion of them are either overtly LGBTQ or queer canon, like Gwendoline Christie’s genderless Lucifer.
“The Sandman” season one is available on Netflix.