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15 Films to See in July

Written by on July 5, 2017 

5. City of Ghosts (Matthew Heineman; July 7)

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Synopsis: Syrian rebels who call themselves Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently risk their lives to document the atrocities committed by ISIS in their homeland.

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Why You Should Watch It: After embedding himself on the U.S.-Mexico border to capture the harrowing drug war, Cartel Land director Matthew Heineman went to the other side of the world for his next documentary. “Cut together with gut-wrenching intensity and packed with footage that feels equal parts remarkable and horrifying, Cartel Land director Matthew Heineman returns to Sundance with City of Ghosts, a 90-minute documentary chronicling the lives of the head members of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS),” we said in our review.

4. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Luc Besson; July 21)

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Synopsis: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

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Why You Should Watch It: One of the bigger gambles of the summer movie slate is The Fifth Element director Luc Besson’s return to the futuristic space epic. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, clocking in at an eye-popping $180 million budget, is full of inventive imagery and an eye-popping color palette that seems all too rare in Hollywood today, judging from its trailers. Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, and John Goodman, the adaptation of Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières’ comic series hopefully contains a portion of the gleeful madness Besson exuded in Lucy.

3. The Untamed (Amat Escalante; July 21)

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Synopsis: A couple in a troubled marriage locate a meteorite, initiating an encounter with a mysterious creature. Their lives are turned upside down by the discovery of the creature, which is a source of both pleasure and destruction.

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Why You Should Watch It: Since our #1 pick doesn’t quite count, the best sci-fi film of the summer goes to Amat Escalante’s The Untamed. “It does that very rare thing in cinema in that it blends mystery, horror and pseudo-reality with a kind of dark subconscious arousal,” we said in our review. “In this way it recalls the auteur directors previously mentioned here, but also the eerie ethereal science fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. All this might lead you to believe that The Untamed is built on homage, and yet it refuses to be anything but its own thing.”

2. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan; July 21)

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Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

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Why You Should Watch It: After taking on caped crusaders, galaxy-spanning journeys, and dream-altering tentpoles, I’ve been waiting for Christopher Nolan to make a more grounded blockbuster, and he looks to have delivered that with Dunkirk. Clocking in a comparatively slim 107 minutes, this World War II thriller is shaping up to be a lean, intense offering from the director as he depicts this specific against-all-odds event.

1. A Ghost Story (David Lowery; July 7)

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Synopsis: In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.

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Why You Should Watch It: It’s been nearly half-a-year since I saw the premiere of David Lowery’s latest feature at Sundance, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about the fascinating, singular experience. I said in my review, “Beginning with the beauty, patience, and humor of an Apichatpong Weerasethakul movie before segueing into the existential musings reminiscent of Richard Linklater dialogue, and then infinitely expanding its scope to become a stunning meditation on the passage of time, A Ghost Story is one of the most original, narratively audacious films I’ve ever seen.”

What are you watching this month?

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