Blu-ray Review: September (1987) - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Twilight Time's September Blu-ray offerings are dominated by Westerns (including Hour of the Gun, Lawman, and the 3D Gun Fury), but the month also sees the appropriately-timed Blu-ray debut of Woody Allen's 1987 drama September. A return to straightforward, desert-dry drama after a nearly ten-year break from the genre (Interiors from 1978, also available on Blu-ray via Twilight Time), September was marked by an unusually difficult production. After its initial shooting period, writer-director Allen was left unsatisfied. After recasting major roles and re-shooting from the ground up, the final product was met with moviegoer indifference (it grossed less than half a million theatrically).

Though September is never likely to become widely favored, TT's new Blu-ray provides a welcome opportunity to revisit this relatively little-seen Allen film. It's actually a fairly grim little thing (clocking in at a relatively short, but still slow-moving, 83 minutes) that explores unrequited love between several of its primary players. Lane (Mia Farrow), laying low while recovering from a suicide attempt, longs for a romance with her writer friend Peter (Sam Waterston). However, Peter has his eye on Lane's friend Stephanie (Dianne Wiest). To complete the convoluted triangle, Lane's much older neighbor Howard (Denholm Elliott) has designs on her—Lane doesn't feel the same way, however. 
 
rsz_september_bd.png But the crux of September is the dark family past that has haunted Lane and her mother, Diane (Elaine Stritch). In a film this small in scale, it wouldn't be terribly advisable to spell it all out. Suffice it to say that a devastating experience shared by Lane and her mother has marked their dispositions for life. It's largely the source of Lane's depression. As effective as everyone in the cast is (including Jack Warden, as Diane's husband; Lane's stepfather), Stritch delivers one of the many unforgettable performances that have graced Allen's filmography. It's a movie of moments rather than a traditional, fully-resolving "plot." Thankfully, many of those moments are great ones.

Fans of Woody Allen have much to thank Twilight Time for, as they've been responsible for bringing much of his catalog into the high definition era. Particular kudos to TT for rescuing decidedly uncommercial Allen fare like September. The late, great Italian cinematographer Carlo Di Palma is done proud here. The twelve-time Allen collaborator provided a very distinctive, muted look for September. All of the warm, earthy nuance of Di Palma's work is well represented by this excellent 1080p transfer. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. In keeping with standard Allen tradition, there aren't any bonus supplements aside from the original theatrical trailer—and TT's customary isolated music track.

September is definitely not "typical" Woody Allen material, by most viewers standards. But it does reward repeat viewings—for those with the patience to stick with its glacially slow pace. Limited to 3,000 units, September is available via Screen Archives or the official Twilight Time site.
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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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