Summer is a time for swimming pools, staying cool, and the occasional blockbuster movie. July is right around the corner and I’m sure the good majority of you are excited for the releases of highly anticipated films: Spider-man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, and Dunkirk. however, these aren’t the only films coming out soon. With the sheer over-whelming number of movies released every year it’s certainly understandable how some might fly past your radar. So, whether you consider yourself a movie hipster with a disdain for the mainstream or someone looking for a different movie experience here are some July releases that you might not be aware of.
Visited by Two Ghosts?
I find a great deal of irony in the fact that July 7th will bring releases of two movies with ghost in the title. While you might come to the assumption that these might be your standard run of the mill horror films you would be mistaken. The first is A Ghost Story which is the next film under A24. A24 is the independent film company that has an increasing impressive repertoire of films under it receiving the ultimate acknowledgement, as Moonlight was crowned Best Picture at the Oscars. A24 allows creative minds more freedom and without the pressure of studio executives breathing down their necks have released some rather peculiar films. Recently, the A24 Company turned heads with The Lobster and Swiss Army Man in which A Ghost Story seems to be a similar oddity. A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck who goes from the life-less, dead inside Lee Chandler of Manchester by the Sea to a life-less, literally dead ghost. In possibly the most unique portrayal of a restless spirit the movie instead of lowering the opacity of the character or have him ghostly pale, the film rather has him walk around as a bed-sheet ghost. This film seems to use this as an attention grabber to draw audiences towards the deep-hearted emotional drama that covers topics encompassing both life and death. David Lowery, the film’s director often personally struggles watching his own work, however finds some solace in viewing A Ghost Story.
“I know I have trouble watching my own films but this one lingers with me. And every time I watch it, I’m left with a sense of peace and acceptance…. But an acceptance of time, and the inevitable end of all things”
A Ghost Story seems to be an unconventional quite drama which should suffice for a rainy-day rental or calming movie experience. Released the same day is City of Ghosts an incredible documentary. The film centers around the movement of the RBSS (Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently) in Syria. The RBSS are described as:
“courageous citizen journalists who risk their lives every day to combat ISIS’ insidious propaganda and misinformation campaigns”
Matthew Heineman is the outsider perspective hoping to shed light on this group and all they’ve done to combat the establishment that is ISIS. As the outside perspective, it seems that Heineman doesn’t exactly produce his own unique voice or narrative through his documentary but allow the RBSS’ voice to be heard.
“It’s not that Heineman adds to the conversation so much as that he lends a powerful megaphone to RBSS’ cause, assembling and re-editing some of their greatest hits (most of which can be found on their Facebook page, though Heineman reportedly also incorporates never-before-shared RBSS footage as well)” -Peter Debruge Variety
I think this opens the door for someone interested in the topic to check out the subject matter on their own by looking on the RBSS Facebook themselves as well as conducting other additional research. However, if your one to like information packaged in a visual medium then this seems to suffice. I would warn anyone interested in this that there should be acts of violent and some disturbing imagery in the documentary that reasonable should turn off some viewers. I’m not going to get political, I just talk movies but this film is a good chance to educate ourselves as far too often do we heavily invest ourselves in our personal lives or our own countries that we forget about the rest of the world out there. City of Ghosts gives a good example of the power of the lens into viewing the world and should provide a knowledgeable and an engagingly fresh insight in the world we live in.
Never would I have imagined that a movie with a dollar sign in the title would be worth talking about. Admittedly, I saw the title and the movie poster and thought this looked like s- something I wouldn’t enjoy. I had originally assumed that this movie would feature some Rebel Wilson, Fat Amy type character stumbling around being obnoxious and trying to be some absurd rapper. If there’s anything to learn from Patti Cake$ it’s to not judge a book by its cover. Patti Cake$ appears to have something I assumed it wouldn’t have, heart. Patti Cake$ is this blend of the coming-of-age story of Precious with the claim to fame story of 8 Mile. Danielle MacDonald stars as an improvised, head in the clouds teen girl who has a surprising talent for rap lyricism. This underdog story has a charm to it as a likable character is trying to go against the odds and pursue her dream with a serious intent of making it big. The film still has comedy but deals with it in a way that doesn’t turn their characters into props to tell jokes but finds humor in the human element that exists in this film. I do appreciate the nuance of this film in that not too often do we see someone like Danielle MacDonald in a leading role. Patti Cake$ left Sundance with high praise and it might just become the feel-good film of the summer. It’s a tale that we’ve heard before, yet still appears to be exotic at the same time. If you get the chance don’t miss the raise of Patti Cake$.
Possible the most mysterious of all featured on this list, Santoalla is truly something else. I watched the trailer (featured above) and was baffled by the bareness of it all. The trailer is comprised of just complete raw footage: no music, no editing, and there’s barely even a title screen. My first reaction was to deem this the found footage sub-genre done right a great deal of atmosphere, an obvious poor framing, and just something mysterious, vague, and off-putting about the footage. It feels like a hoax video of some sort of paranormal investigation but then you realize that this is no work of Fiction. Santoalla is a documentary by two non-film-makers Andrew Becker and Daniel Mehrer that was a self-produced turned Kick-starter project. The film-makers were so invested in making this a reality they dug into their own pockets for the production of it and then set it’s crowd funded goal in order to support proper editing, scoring, translations and other post-production tasks. Santoalla was promoted on the Kick-starter page as:
“A mysterious disappearance looms over a crumbling Spanish village, notorious for years of hostility between its residents”
To give a brief rundown of the subject matter, this one family became the last remaining residents of a deserted mountainside in Spain, remaining in the rubble they refuse to call anything but home. Then enter Martin and Margo, a couple who desired a secluded getaway to live on the land and end up neighboring these loyal locals. One day Martin mysteriously vanishes and is presumable dead. The documentary attempts to discover the history of the land and possibly unravel the mystery of the strange disappearance. From the trailer either it doesn’t give the film a flattering look or the cinematography and production is not that good. The story is interesting in a sort of NBC Dateline special way. I think the place has a rich history that was almost buried from the rest of the world and should be a quick little narrative of this forgotten world. The appeal of this movie grows when the directors in an interview admit that they weren’t expecting to find answers when in fact they did.
“The only thing that was really surprising was the way the story of Santoalla evolved during the course of our filming… and it’s resolution” – Andrew
“Yes, we began making this film assuming that the cause of Martin’s disappearance would remain a mystery” – Daniel
Santoalla is astonishing in its presentation but intriguing in its story. You’ll certainly have to be someone caught up in the mystery but I don’t think that’s a difficult demand as there is something strange about the whole thing. If you quest for answers and an overview of culture this film might be the perfect answer.
- Wish Upon: A girl finds a magic box which grants her any wish with a fatal price. Typical horror film that due to TV spots and online advertisements is somewhat more well-known then the rest of the batch.
- Lady Macbeth: For those with a more archaic taste, this feature displays an independent woman in 19th century England. This story of an affair and a missing husband builds suspense in a dark lit drama. Crafty film-making that may result in a star performance in Florence Pugh.
- Girls Trip: Rough Night made with a different cast.
- Menashe: Entire movie in Yiddish, a peer into Jewish culture and a touching story of a widower trying to earn custody of his son. Lacks technical film-making but a story that could grow on the right audience.
- From the Land of the Moon: A Loveless marriage, the Alps and kidney stones, this film has it all. An international romance/drama film that doesn’t have anything leap out at you with the trailer, but if you’re willing to bust out the subtitles or just so happen to speak fluent French this film might be a nice love-story.
As July releases draw near, hopefully you have a better outlook on what’s coming near. I hope that you found one worth driving out to that one theater on the outskirts of town that plays special movies such as these. So whether your going to stick with anticipating Spider-Man Homecoming or will give a chance to one of the movies mention there is plenty of films that should entice you in the coming weeks.
Which of these films are you most interested to see?