Ok, let’s be real. This has been a majorly underwhelming, borderline disastrous Summer Movie Season so far. Seems like every week we’re being inundated with alleged tentpoles which fail to justify their own existences, when they’re not being straight-up garbage, and subsequently flop silently at the Box Office as various industry prognosticators spew out their prewritten alarmist thinkpieces about how IT’S THE END TIMES and DISNEY ARE RUINING CINEMA! July… is probably not going to provide much traction to reverse those sentiments, frankly. Still, in between the pointless Disney remakes and late-to-the-already-finished-party TV adaptations, there are a few gems scattered about which might be worth your time. …ok, one gem and it’s out in less than a week. Look, Hobbs & Shaw is only a month out, just hang on a tad longer.
Here’s your Summer Movie Guide for July 2019!
All release dates are UK specific, taken from the Film Distributors Association website and, whilst correct at press time, are subject to change.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Date: 2nd July
Dir: Jon Watts
Star: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal
The Marvel Cinematic Universe rolls on far sooner than anyone probably wanted but Sony has Q2 profits to reach so here we are again. New Spider-Man, this one attempting to pull the Ant-Man job of sending off the current phase of the MCU on a fun and more light-hearted post-script than the emotionally draining firm punctuation mark of Endgame. It’ll likely be fine, I’m one of apparently 14 people who wasn’t particularly engaged by much of Homecoming (its teen movie gestures felt non-committal and there was a gaping hole at its centre where the emotional stakes should’ve been until the Vulture reveal) but I still thought it was fine, because even the worst MCU entries are still at least fine. But I’m not really feeling it. Part of it may be Sony’s appalling habit of spoilery trailers – they really do have the worst marketing departments; their good stuff either looks bad or has trailers which summarise the whole thing in two minutes, and their bad stuff looks abominable – but I think it’s mainly that this feels ridiculously bland in a post-Spider-Verse world. Admittedly, that’s unfair to Far From Home since Spider-Verse makes 99% of movies feel ridiculously bland, but it’s where I’m currently at.
READ MORE: The road to… Spider-Man: Far From Home
Date: 5th July
Dir: Luc Besson
Star: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren
Luc Besson’s tour of his past career highs continues with a film which, based on that very exciting trailer, looks like the most Luc Besson movie he’s ever made. A violent actioner about a foreign model-turned-assassin on a jet-setting journey across Europe to murder a shitload of men in fancy and often-revealing outfits whilst wrestling with a handler of questionable parental surrogacy and evading fatherly lawmen most likely with personal stakes in the matter. Yeah, this is definitely by the man responsible for Nikita, Lucy and Léon. Looking forward to this hopefully being a fun trashy time of the kind I dig the hell out of, in spite of damning US reviews. Not looking forward to having to reconcile that with Besson’s history of creep-osity in his films and alleged predatory behaviour which means I have to affix a giant “guilty pleasure” asterisk to Anna whenever I talk about it in any capacity.
Date: 5th July
Dir: Ari Aster
Star: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Almost every other horror movie gets dumped into the “Other Films of Note” segment because horror and me don’t always get on and especially not jump-heavy horror movie trailers so I have no useful information or impressions to pass on to you, the reader. But this I will gladly make an exception for. My most-anticipated film of 2019 heading into the year, second only to Us, Midsommar is the second feature from writer-director Ari Aster, he of Hereditary infamy, a film I honestly still haven’t quite recovered from watching just the once. Have I watched that trailer? Of course not, but this time it’s because I want to go in knowing as little as possible. I want Ari to fuck me up in the worst way sans preparation, I may have scanned a cheat-sheet for Hereditary, and the initial crop of reviews are calling it a messier yet more wildly ambitious turn behind the camera which is music to my ears since the films from this year that have stuck with me are the beautiful messes. Bring it on!
READ MORE: Brightburn – Review
Date: 12th July
Dir: Michael Dowse
Star: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista
One very telling way to figure out in advance if a comedy is going to be terrible comes from whether its trailer has one genuinely hilarious gag and the rest of it barely raises a smirk. Chances are, in those cases, you’ve just seen the only good joke in the entire movie and it’s there because the studio and marketers have panicked over making a giant turkey. It’s a real shame in relation to Stuber because I love Nanjiani and Bautista, am always up for odd-couple action-comedies, director Michael Dowse made Goon which is one of the best films of the decade – conversely, he also made What If…/The F Word, one its very worst – and the cast is rounded out by Betty Gilpin, Natalie Morales, Karen Gillan, and Iko Uwais who, goddammit, deserves better from Hollywood studio movies! Can someone give him a Stahelski/Leitch vehicle already, rather than forcing him to slum it in a glorified mega-corporation commercial like The Internship? …I have just realised that nobody actually remembers The Internship, but trust me when I tell you it was terrible.
The Dead Don’t Die
Date: 12th July
Dir: Jim Jarmusch
Star: Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, SO MANY OTHERS
Two months ago, my hype was elevated as heck for this thing. Jarmusch has just come off of minor masterpiece Paterson, his last genre-ish piece arriving long after the zeitgeist for that particular subgenre had pretty much died off (Only Lovers Left Alive) was refreshingly offbeat, and the cast list for Dead Don’t Die is so stacked that it’s like the Indie equivalent of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune – Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, RZA, Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez, Rosie Perez, Carol Kane, Tom Waits. Then it premiered to uncharacteristic dismissal at Cannes, slammed for being little more than a dead-simple and rotting allegory of life in Trump America which overstays its welcome, and my hype has come right back down. Goddammit, 2019! Don’t tell me you’ve made Jim forking Jarmsuch turn in a boring movie too!
READ MORE: Child’s Play – Review
Date: 15th July
Dir: Ron Howard
I highlighted Diego Maradona last month because it was the new documentary by Asif Kapadia, so for consistencies’ sake here’s me highlighting Pavarotti because it’s the new documentary by Ron Howard. I give Howard a lot of guff for not having directed a truly great film in… *checks notes* THE MISSING WAS 16 YEARS AGO?! But whilst his fictional filmmaking skills have declined severely, his two documentaries this decade, Made in America and The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, have been enjoyable and effused a passion which doesn’t seem to be in his fiction work anymore. So, whilst I may have little interest in opera or Luciano Pavarotti, much like with football or Diego Maradona, I’m willing to give this one a fair shake. Admittedly, I do give every movie a fair shake in spite of what some of my comments in pieces like these may betray, but hopefully you get the sentiment.
The Lion King
Date: 19th July
Dir: Jon Favreau
Star: Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones (voices)
I did a massive ranty spiel about this in my full-purpose SMG from the start of May back on my blog, but I’m conscious of word limits and your general patience away from my self-indulgent corner of the Net so here’s the summary. This is going to be good because only a complete mug could possibly screw up the fundamentals of a Lion King remake and whilst Jon Favreau has made a few duds in his weird-as-hell career he is certainly no mug – his Jungle Book from 2016 was really solid outside of the kid. The photorealistic CGI is objectively excellent. There’s something quietly powerful about 80% of the main cast being voiced by Black actors and actresses, building upon the foundations of the original by not having the main protagonist and villain be voiced by White people – cannot stress this enough: no disrespect to Matthew Broderick or Jason Isaacs, who were fantastic, and I’m not giving or taking points away from either film over this; I just find it kind of powerful and an interesting development to point out.
But on the flip… why? The million-dollar question pursuing all of Disney’s live-action remakes, particularly as they’ve started minimising the often-bonkers reimaginings like Maleficent (Baby’s First Rape-Revenge Movie) in favour of faithful recreations with minor expansions, and I feel it’s only gotten harder to avoid now they’ve reached the 90s Renaissance. Unlike Dumbo or that now-Disney+’d Lady and the Tramp, these movies largely don’t have offensive elements (typically pertaining to race) which make them arguably unsuitable to family viewing nowadays and therefore somewhat justify what is meant to be a replacing by the faux-progressive Disney Corporation so they can keep profiting from their history. So what is the point of remaking a 25 year-old film which has never been out of print on home media, still frequently circulates in cinemas as weekend kids’ programming even now, and which Disney themselves won’t even consider 10 years from now when dreaming up new Lion King themed rides for Shanghai DisneyLand, particularly since the original (by laws of computer vs. traditional animation) will likely still have aged better and with more vibrancy?
I don’t know, this all just feels rather gross to me and I know I’m not alone since I’ve seen this sentiment bandied about clearer elsewhere. Like I said, Crystal Lion King will most likely be good. But its mere existence bums me the fuck out. Maybe I’m getting old.
READ MORE: Toy Story 4 – Review
Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans
Date: 26th July
Dir: Dominic Brigstocke
Star: Sebastian Croft, Emilia Jones, Nick Frost, Kim Cattrall
Speaking of which, the Horrible Histories TV series arrived just a little too late (2009) for me to get on board the train – to this day, I am still yet to see a single episode, which is not a point of pride but rather a sad admission because I would probably have adored it had things started two years earlier when I voraciously consumed Horrible Histories books. Still, I can at least take solace in the show’s creators having missed their own train as six years after the show ended, and four years after the justly-forgotten Shakespeare faux-biopic Bill, we are only now getting the big screen movie version… with exactly none of the original cast (who have all moved onto better things) and only two of the original writers (Caroline Norris and Giles Pilbrow). It looks awful, you guys. It looks real awful.
The Current War
Date: 26th July
Dir: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Star: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult
A biopic about the battle between Thomas Edison (Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Shannon) over whose electrical system would end up becoming the standard for the modern world, The Current War was supposed to come out in 2017 but then the one-two punch of a ghastly Toronto International Film Festival reception and the Harvey Weinstein scandals (this was a Weinstein Company joint and Harvey was heavily involved in its production) coated it in a stank from which it has yet to recover. So now it’s coming out two years later, supposedly heavily re-edited, dumped into late Summer with a hysterical 2000s direct-to-video quality poster to be swiftly forgotten. I toyed with putting this in the end roundup due to those facts, but had it been released on-time I get the feeling we for better or worse wouldn’t have stopped hearing about the thing so yeah. I’d feel bad, but the director also made Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a movie I am still not ready to forgive, so I’m going to laugh over karma kicking in instead.
READ MORE: A Vigilante – Review
Other Films of Note
Last month, I came to you with news of Annabelle Comes Home (10th July) and how it was due out in the middle of a massive old horror glut alongside more buzzed-about fare like Brightburn and the Child’s Play remake and how that seemed like an act of self-sabotage all things considered. Well, some point after I filed my Guide it turned out that the Annabelle threequel and Conjuring sevenquel had been delayed in the UK another couple of weeks. Now it’s coming out a few days after Midsommar, presumably to be all “hey, babe, is this guy not doing it for you?” for more funhouse-style horror fans. But Midsommar also has arthouse competition in the form of Yann Gonzalez’s Knife+Heart (5th July), a lurid drama-thriller about gay porn and adjacent murders which my friend Kyle Turner absolutely adores. That’s a bigger recommendation for something than even I can give, folks, so this should be on your radars. Oh, and there’s also crazy neighbour/friend/prior-home-owner thriller The Intruder (26th July) bringing crazy Quaid overseas after a surprisingly solid box office run in the States.
On the subject of happy stories which will definitely end well, Vita & Virginia (5th July) is a biopic about the affair between poet and socialite Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and author Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) which has received tepid reviews on the festival circuit but may be worth a watch given the subject NOT LIKE THAT YOU PERVS. Sticking with romance stories, Only You (12th July) follows the ups and downs in the relationship between an older woman (Laia Costa) and a younger man (Josh O’Conner of God’s Own Country) as they struggle to start a family. It played in competition at the London Film Festival last year and I’m still bummed about having missed it at the time. Actor-turned-director Max Minghella, meanwhile, has his debut, singing-competition drama Teen Spirit (26th July), brought over to these shores by Lionsgate. Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell, however, still has no release planned. I guess at least Teen Spirit will be better than Vox Lux? Hopefully. Dental surgery is better than Vox Lux.
Tell it to the Bees (26th July) is an adaptation of Fiona Shaw’s period novel about a closeted lesbian romance in small-town 1950s Scotland and the solo feature directorial debut of Annabel Jankel (Skellig, Max Headroom, Super Mario Bros.). Somehow, I bet that it’s way less of a spectacular mess than her resume otherwise suggests. Varda by Agnès (19th July) is the final work by legendary French New Wave institution Agnès Varda and it is, naturally, an unconventional documentary about herself. Expect plenty of sniffling noses at your local arthouse screenings.
Lastly, there’s The Queen’s Corgi (5th July), the latest from Belgian animation studio nWave Pictures, makers of guff such as Robinson Crusoe, utterly bizarre guff such as The Son of Bigfoot (whose big bad villains were hair product company executives), and perfectly meh guff such as The House of Magic, all of it the definition of contemptuous towards their target audience. I could snark this thing to a thousand pieces in a hundred different ways – why is the art-style so ugly, why is Donald Trump featured in this, why does it sound like Jack Whitehall literally phoned in his lines, who is this even for, is Jess Glynne a real musician or a Hatsune Miku-style computer programme designed exclusively for adverts on Channel 5-type programming – and yet nothing I say can possibly do a better job than watching the trailer for yourself. Go ahead, watch that hyperlink, then despair that people are given $30 million to realise shit like this. At least you won’t have to watch it. Hopefully.
That’s the Month in Movies for July 2019! What are you excited for? Missing anything in particular? Hit the comments and let us know!