10 movies to watch in July 2016

Ghostbusters (Credit: Credit: Hopper Stone/Columbia Pictures, Sony)


This female-led reboot attracted criticism well before the film was even made – with its co-writer Kate Dippold telling The Telegraph that “They said it was the worst movie ever before I’d written a word.” When the original film came out 32 years ago, it too was poorly received and only became a cult hit over time. As BBC Culture’s critic Nicholas Barber argues, “the fans who insist that the Ghostbusters should be male have misunderstood the classic comedy they claim to revere”. The characters “were a different breed of hero… out-of-shape academics in crumpled, slime-smeared jumpsuits”. This time around, the academics in jumpsuits are played by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones; there are cameos from original cast members including Sigourney Weaver, Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray. Director Paul Feig once again teams up with McCarthy and Wiig after his 2011 hit Bridesmaids, and addressing the backlash, he has said: “I think the cast is so good, and they can stand in the footsteps of who came before.” Or, as one writer put it, “It’s not as if Feig has remade Citizen Kane with Kim Kardashian in the title role.” On general release from 12 July. (Credit: Hopper Stone/Columbia Pictures, Sony)

Café Society (Credit: Credit: Lionsgate)

Café Society

Woody Allen’s latest feature opened the 2016 Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews – but drew praise for its performances. Set in the 1930s, it stars Jesse Eisenberg as a New Yorker who moves to LA and falls for his uncle’s secretary (Kristen Stewart). According to BBC Culture’s critic Nicholas Barber, “Stewart has the glow of a bona fide 1930s bombshell while retaining her characteristically sheepish, down-to-earth persona”, while “Eisenberg is one of the most natural of Woody proxies”. The Times calls him “an Allen mini-me, an Allen avatar. From his hunched, put-upon shoulders to his nervous, rapid-fire delivery, Eisenberg gives us vintage Woody”. Despite being criticised for not matching the director’s best works, the film was described as “gentle, whimsical and sumptuously shot” by The Independent, which claims that “even if Allen’s energy levels may be dipping, he still knows just how to mix the comedy and the pathos.” Released 14 July in Thailand, 15 July in the US and 21 July in Russia. (Credit: Lionsgate)

Tale of Tales (Credit: Credit: Le Pacte)

Tale of Tales

“Once upon a time there were three neighbouring kingdoms each with a magnificent castle, from which ruled kings and queens, princes and princesses. One king was a fornicating libertine, another captivated by a strange animal, while one of the queens was obsessed by her wish for a child.” The billing for Tale of Tales gives a clue as to the timbre of a film populated by “sorcerers and fairies, fearsome monsters, ogres and old washerwomen, acrobats and courtesans” – played by a strong ensemble cast that includes Salma Hayek, John C Reilly, Toby Jones and Vincent Cassel. A loose interpretation of the tales of the Italian poet Giambattista Basile, it’s a worthy addition to the recent glut of fairy tale films: BBC Culture’s Rebecca Laurence believes it presents a fresh angle. According to The Times, “The adult fairytale is a freakish, hybrid, disturbing creature, mostly forgotten in these days of Disney sanitisation, but Tale of Tales resurrects the genre with surreal humour and gothic horror.” The Financial Times praises writer-director Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) for recognising “the anarchy and delirium in the fairy-tale tradition, and that anarchy and delirium, properly orchestrated, can do us good”. Released 3 July in Germany, 6 July in Switzerland and 28 July in New Zealand. (Credit: Le Pacte)

Toni Erdmann (Credit: Credit: Komplizen Film)

Toni Erdmann

“Based on a really brilliant script, you have a comedy of manners and of family life at the same time – and then it is brilliantly acted,” Verena Leuken of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung told BBC Culture’s editor Matthew Anderson at the Cannes Film Festival, where Toni Erdmann was one of the favourites to win the Palme d’Or. At its first press screening in Cannes, the film was greeted by critics with laughter and spontaneous applause, and it’s since been showered with five-star reviews. Telling the story of a father (Peter Simonischek) who disguises himself as a ‘life coach’ to get closer to his daughter (Sandra Hüller), a busy corporate strategist, it’s the third feature in 13 years from German writer-director Maren Ade. Time Out praised it for a “sly evocation of the absurdities and banalities of modern life”, while The Telegraph said that “The film’s sweetness and bitterness are held so perfectly in balance, and realised with such sinew-stiffening intensity, that watching it feels like a three-hour sports massage for your heart and soul.” There is plenty to provoke thoughts among the laughs, too. “It has some serious things to say about family dynamics, about the pressures that professional women face, and how working too much can hollow us out,” says Anderson. Released 14 July in Germany, 15 July in Austria and 21 July in Switzerland. (Credit: Komplizen Film)

Absolutely Fabulous (Credit: Credit: David Appleby)

Absolutely Fabulous

One of the first comedies to skewer our current celebrity culture, Absolutely Fabulous emerged as a sketch on the show French & Saunders before becoming one of the most successful sitcoms of the 1990s. Some have argued it was best left in that decade – and writer and actor Jennifer Saunders, who stars as Edina alongside Joanna Lumley as Patsy, admits the media landscape has changed. “It is a different beast”, Saunders told The Independent. “The idea of PR now is that anyone can do it. Anyone can review a film, anyone can get their stuff online, so it is a very different world.” Yet despite that, she believes they have created a story that is relevant today. “I think the film reflects the fact that Patsy and Eddy don’t survive so well in that world because they’re not in control of it anymore.” Judging by the cast they managed to assemble, Ab Fab still clearly appeals. The film has more than 60 cameos, including Rebel Wilson, Jon Hamm, Joan Collins, Barry Humphries, and Kate Moss – the only person to turn down a role seems to have been Barack Obama. On general release from 1 July. (Credit: David Appleby)

The Commune (Credit: Credit: Zentropa Entertainments)

The Commune

Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt, Far From the Madding Crowd) co-founded the Dogme 95 film collective with Nymphomaniac director Lars von Trier, a movement he has compared to a commune. Vinterberg spent part of his childhood in a co-operative household, memories of which form the basis for his latest film. Set in 1970s Copenhagen, the Commune follows married couple Anna (Trine Dyrholm) and Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) as they experiment with collective living in the house Erik inherited from his father. The Guardian praised Dyrholm for her “emotional and intensely focused lead performance”, while Sight and Sound called it “his finest since Festen… more authentic than many of its predecessors”, and argued: “Vinterberg resists the temptation to dismiss the 70s commune experiment as naive, misguided or doomed to failure: while it may not have worked out perfectly for all who tried it, many, he suggests, found it rewardingly supportive and worthwhile.”
Released 15 July in Sweden, 29 July in the UK and 19 August in Poland. (Credit: Zentropa Entertainments)

Star Trek Beyond (Credit: Credit: Paramount Pictures)

Star Trek Beyond

The third instalment of another rebooted franchise stars Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, described by The Telegraph as “an emotional shape-shifter, the charmer who might also be dangerous – or the implacably stoic half-Vulcan who’s somehow an amazing friend”. Zoe Saldana (Uhura) co-stars alongside Anton Yelchin (Chekov), in what was to be his one of his final roles – tributes have been paid to the 27-year-old actor, who died after he was pinned against a wall by his car. In May, the film’s cast mourned the loss of Leonard Nimoy, as Quinto said “In a way I feel like he’s almost more a part of this film than he was of the other two. We were all so cognizant of his absence.” Abrams is replaced as director by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious), who revealed in an interview with Deadline that he focused on “creating whole new worlds and species”. He claimed the new film takes a different direction. “As great as JJ’s films were, there’s still a lot to be mined from these characters. They haven’t really gone on their five-year mission, so what we experienced in the TV show hasn’t been touched on yet. That sets up an opportunity for exploration and the deeper you go, the more you are examining humanity.” On general release from 19 July. (Credit: Paramount Pictures)

Swiss Army Man (Credit: Credit: PR)

Swiss Army Man

Described as “the strangest Sundance film ever”, Swiss Army Man divided critics when it premiered at the film festival in January. Paul Dano (Love & Mercy) plays a man stranded on a desert island; Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, Harry Potter) is a farting corpse who washes up on shore. The two become friends in what is billed as “a gonzo buddy comedy”, an improbable story that is “proudly scatological”, according to Slate. “The tale of a marooned castaway and the friendly cadaver who nurses him back to health, Swiss Army Man opens as a desert-island fantasy and morphs into a disturbingly intimate buddy movie – hilarious, deranged, and always alive with possibility.” It’s the feature film debut of music video directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (collectively known as ‘the Daniels’ and responsible for the music video for DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s Turn Down for What), who manage to “create something improbably beautiful out of what could have been a feature-length fart joke”. Released 1 July in the US, 14 July in Australia and 22 July in Estonia. (Credit: PR)

Our Kind of Traitor (Credit: Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/StudioCanal)

Our Kind of Traitor

Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris star in the latest John le Carré adaptation, produced by Simon and Stephen Cornwell, le Carré’s sons, who also made The Night Manager. The screenplay was written by Hossein Amini (Wings of a Dove, Drive), who is praised by The Evening Standard for making “highly incisive and effective revisions” to le Carré’s 2010 novel: “This is a new, wholly contemporary le Carré film, sumptuously paced and produced, taking in many striking settings, miles away from the drabness so stylishly cultivated in Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy of 2011”. Stellan Skarsgård and Damian Lewis co-star as a Russian criminal and MI6 man; according to Entertainment Weekly, “Skarsgård saves it; wild and funny and ferociously alive, he’s a crucial bolt of color in all that tasteful gray.” Released 1 July in the US, 7 July in Germany and 21 July in Brazil. (Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/StudioCanal)

Under the Sun (Credit: Credit: Vertov Studio)

Under the Sun

Russian director Vitaly Mansky hijacks what could have been a propaganda project in his portrait of North Korean life, a documentary that according to Variety is “an awkwardly revealing act of subversion that is arresting however you take it: as propaganda deconstructed, failed or turned into a tragicomedy whose most stinging indictments lie mostly in what remains unseen”. Following a Pyongyang family over the course of a year, Mansky reveals the interference of the North Korean authorities in the making of his film, with an opening title card that reads: “The script of this film was assigned to us by the North Korean side. They also kindly provided us with a round-the-clock escort service, chose our filming locations and looked over all the footage we shot to make sure we did not make any mistakes in showing the life of a perfectly ordinary family in the best country in the world.” While The Hollywood Reporter describes it as “a rare glimpse behind the heavy curtain of secrecy and paranoia that shields North Korea from prying foreign cameras”, Under The Sun doesn’t show much that is not choreographed. Yet because of that, the film “is a fascinating study in state propaganda and the darker truth that hovers just outside the frame”. Released 1 July in Poland, 6 July in the US and 19 July in New Zealand. (Credit: Vertov Studio)

Courtesy: BBC

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