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15 Films to See in July

Written by on July 1, 2019 

10. For Sama (Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts; July 26)

The top documentary winner at SXSW this year, Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts brought For Sama to Cannes and it’ll now arrive in theaters this month. John Fink said in his review, “Co-directed with Edward Watts, For Sama’s structure mirrors the chaos of the moments it captures, simultaneously connecting both her personal and the political past, present and future as she feels an affinity for her home while also lamenting the conditions they are living under. When she gives birth to her second child, away from her Syria she comments that she smells the city. For Sama is no doubt powerful in its immediacy and its unafraid to shy away from the gory details as families–including al-Kateab’s own–become casualties of war, her dreams differed… For Sama is a harrowing experience and certainly one of the most essential films of the year.”

9. “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” (Radu Jude; July 19)

Earning the badge of perhaps the year’s longest title, Radu Jude’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” will thankfully get a release this month. Rory O’Connor said in his review, “At 140 minutes, Barbarians is indeed rather long, especially when considering that one could easily describe it as a drawn-out dialectic on the responsibility of nations to confront whatever atrocities their government and populous committed in the past. So how on earth is Barbarians so funny and compelling? Well, one reason might be that it’s a movie by Radu Jude, a Romanian New Wave filmmaker who has managed to operate just outside the main spotlight of his gilded colleagues, occasionally departing from their stark contemporary realism while always sharing in their brand of gallows humor.”

8. Ray & Liz (Richard Billingham; July 10)


Winner of a Special Jury Prize at Locarno Film Festival, Ray & Liz announces a distinct new voice to filmmaking. Rory O. Connor said his review, “If there is an image to best introduce audiences to the grimy cinematic world of Ray & Liz–the remarkable debut feature of Turner prize-nominated visual artist Richard Billingham–it might be, fittingly, the very first one to hit the screen: that of a cracked, burnt-out light bulb filmed dangling beneath a nicotine-stained ceiling. Billingham has spent much of his career as an artist documenting and, in his short films, dramatizing the lives of his father Raymond (a chronic alcoholic played here by Patrick Romer and, as a younger man, by Justin Salinger ) and mother Elizabeth (Deirdre Kelly and–best of all–Ella Smith) and Ray & Liz could be viewed as a culmination of that work. It’s an immersive poetic-realist dive into the artist’s fractured memories of his parents during the time he spent growing up in Birmingham in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”

7. Share (Pippa Bianco; July 26)

Featuring the breakthrough of both director Pippa Bianco and actor with Rhianne Barreto, Share was one of the more striking films I saw at this year’s New Directors/New Films. World premiering a few months earlier at Sundance, where Barreto picked up an acting award and Bianco earned a Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, the drama examines sexual assault in the modern age with a distinct eye. Jake Howell said in our Sundance review, “The aftermath of a sexual assault—the cell phone footage of which goes viral—is the subject of Share, writer-director Pippa Bianco’s debut feature film that deftly mines morose, intelligent drama from its entirely real scenario.”

6. Crawl (Alexandre Aja; July 12)

Even if one of the films is far more accomplished than the other, The Shallows and The Meg recently reignited the grand tradition of the summer water-based creature thriller. This season, it’s Alexandre Aja’s turn with Crawl, which mercifully clocks in at the breezy runtime of 87 minutes. The hurricane-meets-alligator film looks to take itself a little more seriously than his Piranha 3D film, but let’s hope a gallon or two of shlocky fun is still in store to break up the monotony of tired sequels this summer.

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