I can admit when I’m a little bit wrong: June’s offerings weren’t quite as inspid as I feared they would be (both Toy Story 4 and Child’s Play outperformed my hopes – the latter wildly so). This maybe suggests that a bit of humility is in order: perhaps the films of July won’t be the complete fucking desert it looks like right now. But if there are to be nice surprises, we’ll have to stumble upon them in the weeks to come; right now, this looks like the single worst month in any summer that I can recall for years. Not to mention, one of the most underpopulated, with a kingly total of six films scheduled for wide release. Oh well, at least it’s a good time to start playing catch-up.
The early reviews, which have been far more positive than not, suggest that Spider-Man: Far from Home is in large part about mopping up all of the narrative mess left behind by Avengers: Endgame which, I’m sorry, sounds excruciatingly unpleasant. Add in how not-into Spider-Man: Homecoming I was, and this just sounds like the absolute worst kind of chore. For a wildly different take, we can turn to Rob, who called this one of his five most-anticipated films of the summer, but, well, Rob’s not writing this list, I am. And to me this film looks like a trip to the dentist.
On the other hand, my own most-anticipated list did include one July release: Midsommar, Ari Aster’s follow-up to last year’s Hereditary. Once again, he’s combining domestic drama (in this case, the story of the final days of a toxic romantic relationship) with extreme horror, and the buzz is that it’s very extreme indeed, though always in service to the characters. But really, the trailer had me at “ultra-violent rip-off of The Wicker Man“, and anything else is gravy.
Now here’s some…stuff. One the one hand, pure B-movie cheese, in the form of Crawl. Herein, a young woman fights an alligator in a flooding basement during a hurricane. That sounds like a lot of movie; it sounds, I daresay, like all of the movies, and it has a reported running time of just 87 minutes. I have a brain and of course do not expect it to be good. But based on the unrelentingly tackiness of the trailer, and the knowledge that it was directed by Alexandre Aja, whose Piranha 3D is one of the few utterly great creature features of the 21st Century, I am nevertheless expecting it to be splendid.
Also, there’s this thing called Stuber, in which Kumail Nanjiani plays an Uber driver and Dave Bautista plays the homicidal cop who hires him, while director Michael Dowse gets to make his first movie since the beastly What If. I don’t want any of this, but looks like I get to cope with having it. I mean, not seeing it clearly being off the table, in this godforsaken wasteland.
This curiously overstocked weekend is also home to the only limited releases of the month with any festival buzz that I heard about: toxic masculinity satire The Art of Self Defense, and Chinese-American family dramedy The Farewell. Neither one sounds at all like my thing, and I have extremely grave doubts that I’ll even have the opportunity to see the latter, but I include them here for your benefit.
Disney’s parade of culture-destroying shamelessness continues to the photorealistic CGI version of The Lion King, because all it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.
I really do not know what to do with Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. Including where, officially, to put the ellipsis. Obviously, every new Quentin Tarantino movie is a major event, but for me, at least, they’ve become somewhat less major major events since the untimely death of his longtime editor Sally Menke. And something feels off about this one. The period-specific accoutrements & music cues seem to be great, the banter between Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio looks snappy, and these things feel like they’re swirling around an empty void. I am hopeful to be proven wrong here, but nothing in the ad campaign, and certainly nothing in the grotesquely coy reviews out of Cannes, is giving me anything to latch onto.