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15 Films to See in July

Written by on July 1, 2015 

rogue_nation

After highlighting our 30 favorite films of the year thus far, it’s time to transition to the back half of 2015. July kicks things off with a fairly major month. While we easily could’ve doubled our standard ten recommendations, we’ve elected to bump it up to fifteen. This means promising and acclaimed independent dramas such as Catch Me Daddy, The Kindergarten Teacher, 10,000KM, Stray Dog, Court, A Hard Day, Samba, Stations of the Cross, Creep, Mr. Holmes, and Jimmy’s Hall just missed the cut, as well as some of the year’s finest documentaries, including Cartel Land, A Poem is a Naked Person and Best of Enemies. On a bigger scale, we’re also slightly interested in the R-rated hijinks of Vacation and to see if any of Edgar Wright‘s stamp is left on Ant-Man. Suffice to say, it’s an excellent month at the movies and one can check out top 15 films recommendations below.

15. Southpaw (Antoine Fuqua; July 24th)

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Synopsis: A boxer fights his way to the top, only to find his life falling apart around him.

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Why You Should See It: While Antoine Fuqua‘s track record doesn’t hint that Southpaw will be a (ahem) knock-out, Jake Gyllenhaal‘s latest string of performances certainly has us looking forward to the boxing drama. Early reviews suggest as much, praising a fierce leading turn but lamenting the stale story surrounding it. Regardless, it’ll hopefully be a nice warm-up to Creed later this year, and perhaps Hands of Stone on the festival circuit.

14. Irrational Man (Woody Allen; July 24th)

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Synopsis: A tormented philosophy professor finds a will to live when he commits an existential act.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: Considering his output, it’s quite impressive that Woody Allen has yet to make a flat-out misfire. While our review is mixed, the sheer curiosity of Joaquin Phoenix embodying a Woody Allen-type has me intrigued. We said back at Cannes, “Reteaming with Darius Khondji, the cinematography is occasionally stunning, especially in some of the film’s more naturalistic settings, and the penultimate scene is an absolute riot. Nonetheless, when the credits began to roll there’s a sense the entire affair was underwhelming, especially considering the substantial ensemble.”

13. Boulevard (Dito Montiel; July 17th)

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Synopsis: A devoted husband in a marriage of convenience is forced to confront his secret life.

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Why You Should See It: This month will bring the last leading performance from Robin Williams, and it’s also one of his most complex. We said in our review, “An unexpected turn for director Dito Montiel, known for his portraits of rugged masculinity in the inner city, including his debut future A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and FightingBoulevard is a tender portrait of a man about to shatter an illusion he’s created for himself. Opening with an out-of-focus shot of Nolan Mack coming to terms with the eventual death of his father, Nolan, like his father and the audience, are not ‘present’ in the moment.”

12. Phoenix (Christian Petzold; July 24th)

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Synopsis: A disfigured concentration-camp survivor (Nina Hoss), unrecognizable after facial reconstruction surgery, searches ravaged postwar Berlin for the husband (Ronald Zehrfeld) who might have betrayed her to the Nazis.

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Why You Should See It: After being seen alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in Anton Corbijn‘s A Most Wanted Man, last year Nina Hoss has reteamed with Barbara director Christian Petzold for a new drama. We said in our review, “Following the Second World War, European auteurs probed its lingering national psychological fallout resulting in films such as Night and FogHiroshima Mon Amour, and Germany Year Zero. Phoenix sits well within that style, its historical perspective strangely 60 years out of date but not unwelcome for it. Themes of identity, guilt, and misrecognition play out when a Holocaust survivor returns to Berlin.”

11. Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz; July 17th)

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Synopsis: Michel, a murderous womanizer, meets introverted Gloria online and treats her to a whirlwind one-night-stand. Offering herself as an accomplice in his seductive crimes, the unhinged lovers embark on a deadly odyssey amplified by wild sex, unbridled jealousy, and passionate forays into the dark arts.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: One of the sleeper thrillers of the summer looks to be Fabrice Du Welz‘s Alleluia. We had the chance to see it back at Fantastic Fest, saying in our review, “This is just a bleak, dark, and yet humorous experience that is full of twists and turns that are at times truly heartbreaking. It’s not even necessarily the reality of what takes place on screen, but the way that you know their relationship has real-life counterparts, even if they are less dramatic and cruel. If Fantastic Fest is about discovery and seeing the kind of film not built for every taste, the blood-soaked, sex-fueled thriller that is Alleluia is the perfect fit.”

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