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15 Films to See in July

Written by on July 1, 2019 

5. Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov; July 26)

Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, a Special Jury Award for cinematography, and another Special Jury Award for Originality at Sundance this year, Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s documentary follows a beekeeper in Macedonia whose way of life gets disrupted in initially humorous, ultimately tragic ways. Ryan Swen said in his New Directors/New Films review, “It is entirely to Stefanov and Kotevska’s credit that Honeyland rarely comes across as a simple “individual tradition vs. societal modernism” narrative, even if the outlines show themselves on occasion. Throughout, the emphasis is on base commonalities and the differences that arise organically, continually situating all of the people among the dirt and rocks of their shared environment.”

4. The Art of Self-Defense (Riley Stearns; July 12)

Returning after his sturdy dark comedy Faults, Riley Stearns doubles down on his mean, but insightful streak with The Art of Self-Defense. John Fink said in his review, “If Fight Club taught us one thing and one thing only it is to never underestimate the power of a bored single man with nothing to lose. And that is, in some ways, also the central thesis of Riley Stearns’ delightfully twisted The Art of Self-Defense, a pitch-black comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg as sad sack Casey, a lonely auditor who, in the film’s opening scene, is mocked at a distance in French by a couple. He, unfortunately, has become proficient in French, working his way through cassette tapes on his commute to work. He’s an easy and perhaps asexual target, turning to a meticulously photocopied men’s lifestyle magazine for advice and masterbatorial materials.”

3. The Farewell (Lulu Wang; July 12)

One of the most touching, humorous films I’ve seen this year is Lulu Wang’s tale of family and potential loss. Dan Mecca said in his review, “There’s something special about The Farewell. Written and directed by Lulu Wang and starring Awkwafina, this is the kind of film that feels specific and universal all at once. The film opens with the title card: “Based on an actual lie.” Wang builds this narrative from personal experience: her family chose to hide a cancer diagnosis from her grandmother (Zhao Shuzhen) and spend the final days celebrating instead of mourning. Or at least that was the idea. A fairly elaborate plan is hatched, involving a sham wedding that forces an abrupt reunion back in China.”

2. Midsommar (Ari Aster; July 3)

It’s mid-summer, which means A24 is unleashing Ari Aster’s Hereditary follow-up, starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, and Will Poulter, to theaters natiionwide. Conor O’Donnell said in his review, ”Via divine intervention, or more likely Aster’s sharp grasp on the genre, Midsommar basks you in sunlight and dread to present something far more fun to unpack than its predecessor. The comparison holds weight not just because Midsommar deals with the same playful takes on Pagan-infused scare tactics that Hereditary does, but because notes of loss and helplessness run amok here. Aster’s tendencies toward despair create a sense of sobering inevitability while still managing to surprise with a bit of impish charm.”

1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino; July 26)

It remains to be seen if Quentin Tarantino indeed re-edits some of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as he hinted while at Cannes, but in whatever form it arrives (including select 35mm screenings), it is sure to be the event of the summer. Rory O’Connor said in his review, “Quentin Tarantino returns in a haze of cigarettes, cocktails, razzle-dazzle, and psychedelic rock with Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, a jarring concoction of ravishing 1960s fetishization and sliding doors “what if” moments that might just be his strangest film yet. It is certainly the director’s most patient, an uncharacteristic slow-burn that asks you to wait for it, jussst wait for it as it leads towards a fateful night in Hollywood folklore.”

Matinees to See: Sicilian Ghost Story (7/6), Point Blank (7/12), Sea of Shadows (7/12), David Crosby: Remember My Name (7/19), At War (7/19), Angels are Made of Light (7/24), The Great Hack (7/24), Skin (7/26), and Mike Wallace is Here (7/26)

What are you watching this month?

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