Introducing: Esquire's September Issue

Esquire editor-in-chief Alex Bilmes introduces the September issue

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Seen anything good at the cinema lately? Me neither. Summer at the movies – and, increasingly, spring and autumn at the movies, too – has long been surrendered to the thunderous and the empty-headed: that ugly, many tentacled beast, the blockbuster. Now, I'm all for a gratuitous car chase and an overextended sex scene, or vice versa. I'm just as obvious in my tastes as the next putz in the queue for a jumbo Diet Coke. But even I'm defeated by Hollywood's turgid "tentpole" movies – enervating extravaganzas designed to appeal to pimply teens from São Paulo to Guangzhou but not to anyone interested in anything beyond CGI explosions and leaden wisecracks, preferably those that translate most readily into Mandarin.

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So far, summer 2014 at the cinema has been as witless as any in memory: Transformers 4; a new Godzilla; another Planet of the Apes; more X-Men; a Hercules remake starring The Rock and Cristiano Ronaldo's girlfriend. (Look out, Meryl Streep.) All these in a year in which we have already been marketed a Captain America and yet another in the endless spin-cycle of Spider-Man films.

We have reached a feast or famine situation: the awards films all arrive simultaneously, an indigestible set menu of epic worthiness either side of Christmas. Then months pass with hardly anything nourishing to chew on, unless you attend the Cannes Film Festival in person, as I don't, because it's dreadful.

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That's not entirely fair. (About the films, not the Cannes Film Festival; that really is l'horreur.) I loved Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin. Anchorman 2 was funnier than it needed to be. So was 22 Jump Street. As you can tell I'm pretty much a philistine; I don't doubt true cinephiles will point me towards numerous interesting international indies that didn't make it to the screens at my local shopping mall. But as far as I'm concerned, the above list represents the best of what's been on offer since the Oscars.

So it's a pleasure to be able to recommend a film that comes out in the dog days of summer that, while not perfect by any means, will shake you out of your torpor. It's called The Rover, it's written and directed by David Michôd, who made the vicious 2010 Australian family crime drama, Animal Kingdom, and it stars Guy Pearce and the man on the cover of this issue of Esquire: Robert Pattinson.

Pattinson, as any pimply teen could tell you, found mega-fame as the brooding lead vampire in the Twilight movies. His constituency, until now, has been almost exclusively young girls and their oddball mothers. They call him R-Patz, but we needn't join in the attempted emasculation. And anyway, as Sanjiv Bhattacharya reports in his profile of Pattinson, all that's about to change. At 28, Pattinson is no longer the pale heartthrob of the Young Adult years. With The Rover, he announces himself as a major talent, with a performance that blows all those blockbuster pyrotechnics away.

The film is set in a dystopian Australian outback (is there another kind?) a decade after an apparently cataclysmic event known as the Collapse. Pattinson plays Rey, a young man abandoned to die by the side of a road in a desolate, lawless, one-SUV town. Bleeding from a gunshot wound to the stomach, Rey is scared stupid: desperate, twitchy and corruptible. He's picked up by Pearce's intense, taciturn sharpshooter (is there another kind?) and driven at speed towards his fate.

The Rover is an existential Western in the tradition of Sergio Leone and a post-apocalyptic road movie in the tracks of Mad Max. Some of it's a bit much to take, frankly: at times it is sombre and unremitting to the point of, well, pointlessness. But many scenes are terrific. One, in particular, struck me: Pattinson sits alone in the cab of a truck at night, illuminated by the dashboard, singing along, in a gentle falsetto, to a saccharine pop song: "Don't hate me 'cos I'm beautiful." A smart, self-reflexive pause in the midst of the mayhem. I wonder what the Twi-hards will make of it?

The Rover is not the only intriguing Pattinson film coming our way. In the autumn, he's in David Cronenberg's Hollywood satire, Maps to the Stars. Among other things he has completed work on new films from Werner Herzog and Anton Corbijn. Better yet, he was sporting enough to conduct his Esquire interview over beers and a barbecue at Sanjiv's place in LA. Which makes us think even more highly of him. Read the feature, see the films, and prepare to have your preconceptions overturned.

Playing host to Hollywood stars isn't our man on the West Coast's only contribution to this issue. We already knew Sanjiv could drink. (I have discovered this to my cost, on more than one occasion.) We now know Sanjiv can also smoke weed. (OK, I knew this already, too. But it's been a while.) He proved it during his trip to Denver for a story on the legalisation of cannabis. It's a high-spirited piece, as you might expect, but it also asks important questions about what, if anything, liberal Colorado might be able to teach the rest of the world about the disastrous war on drugs.

Meanwhile, Johnny Davis investigates the science behind the blades you shave with in the morning. Kevin Braddock interrogates the typeface that has become the sine qua non of men's style media. Richard Benson reveals the torment of supporting Leeds United. Edwin Smith considers the career of the right-wing blogger, Paul Staines. AA Gill writes the rule book on summer style. And Jeremy Langmead wonders what to wear to a gay wedding (his own, in fact).

Finally, it's the dawn of a new menswear season. The Esquire team went to Wales – where else? – to shoot the best of the collections from the international fashion brands. I'm told it was a sizeable production: stunning location, a cast of tens, an unruly horse, endless costume changes. You might almost call it a summer blockbuster shoot. But we don't much care for those.

Buy the September issue in shops today or take out a subscription to the print edition. You can also download our new enhanced digital edition designed especially for iPad.