One film journalist’s stream-of-consciousness cinematic journey through the pandemic, Part 89
By Laurence Lerman / New York City
As the summer moves forward , Reel Streaming is excited to present a preview of the most alluring films set for release in July. Just as it’s been for the past couple of months, July’s schedule is an extremely robust one, unlike that of July 2021, when Covid’s Delta variant was rearing its none-too-attractive head.
Are the days of major films skipping theaters and going straight to digital and streaming release behind us? It’s beginning to look that way at this point, but we’ll have to see what our health officials have to say about the possibility of variants or other Covid complications.
May and June saw the rollout of a trio of worldwide blockbusters in the form of Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Top Gun: Maverick and, most recently, Jurassic Park Dominion. Meanwhile, the just-released Elvis is making some noise at the domestic box office, just as it has with a number of excited critics. Baz Luhrmann's rockin' bio-pic attained its studio projection on its opening weekend, ringing up $32 million at the domestic box office.
There’s a healthy cross section of choices coming to theaters and streaming platforms in July—biggies, not-so-biggies, documentaries and a handful of international entries.
Let’s take a look at 10 of them!
Sniper: The White Raven (July 1)
Made prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, this Ukranian war drama is based on the true story of a Russian attack in the Dunbas region in 2014. Directed by first-time filmmaker Marian Bushan , the film centers on Mykola, an eccentric Ukranian pacifist whose world collapses when his wife is killed during the military incursion. Mykola snaps into action, enlists in the army and earns a coveted spot as a sniper, vowing revenge against his Russian attackers.
Due to the war, the film couldn’t be released in its home territory in February as originally planned.
The Forgiven (July 1)
Enjoying a lavish weekend party in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, a wealthy London couple (Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain) are involved in a tragic accident resulting in the death of a local teenage boy, setting off a tension-filled culture clash between the local Muslims and Western visitors. The unsettling drama is written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, older brother of playwright and director Martin.
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (July 1)
Approved for production by the noted singer-songwriter before his death in 2016, this feature-length doc examines Cohen’s life and career via testimonials, performance footage and recordings, archival materials and a particularly close examination of his best-known song, 1984’s “Hallelujah.”
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8)
Chris Hemsworth returns in the fourth cinematic outing of the Marvel Comics Universe’s beloved golden-haired, hammer-swinging Norse God of Thunder. This time around, Thor takes on an intergalactic killer known as Gorr the Butcher (Christian Bale) with the help of his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who has somehow inherited his powers along with the ability to wield his magical mallet. Trippy. Taika Waititi, who helmed the previous Thor entry, directs.
Both Sides of the Blade (July 8)
In this contemporary romantic drama directed by France’s wonderful Claire Denis, Juliette Binoche and Vincent Linon are a couple whose decade-long relationship becomes strained when Binoche’s character finds herself overwhelmed by feelings for a past partner (Grégoire Colin) after encountering him on the street one day.
Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel (July 8)
On the eve of the Chelsea Hotel’s reopening to the public as a fashionable luxury hotel, the documentary Dreaming Walls explores the bohemian origins and legacy of the famed hotel, a symbol of culture and counterculture and a haven for artists, writers and intellectuals like Dylan Thomas, Patti Smith, Thomas Wolfe, the superstars of Andy Warhol’s Factory and many more. The film also looks at the Chelsea’s longtime residents who continue to call the hotel their home.
Where The Crawdads Sing (July 15)
Daisy Edgar-Jones stars in the big-screen adaptation of Delia Owens’ 2018 hit debut novel. The story concerns a young woman who raised herself in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. Just as she begins to reconnect with the surrounding community, she becomes the main suspect in a brutal murder. As the case unfolds, the many secrets that lay hidden in the marshlands begin to surface.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (July 15)
The always-game Leslie Manville stars as a widowed cleaning woman in 1950s London who falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress and heads off to Paris to secure one for herself. Based on the 1958 Paul Gallico novel by the same name, the comedy-drama co-stars Isabelle Huppert and Jason Isaacs and features costumes by awarding-winning Jenny Beavan, who recently picked up a third Oscar for her work on last year’s Cruella.
Nope (July 22)
Distributor Universal Pictures has been very tight-lipped about the plot of this latest chiller by writer/director Jordan Peele, who rode a wave of critical acclaim and solid box office returns with his previous two horror-fueled mysteries, 2017’s Get Out and 2019’s Us. What we do know is that Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun star as residents of a California gulch who make a terrifying discovery. It could be something extraterrestrial-ish, by the looks of the trailer.
Vengeance (July 29)
B.J. Novak wrote, directs and stars in this darkly comic thriller about a fish-out-of-water New York City journalist and podcaster who travels to West Texas to investigate the death of a woman he knew. Issa Rae, J. Smith-Cameron and Ashton Kutcher co-star.
Laurence Lerman is a film journalist, former editor of Video Business--Variety's DVD trade publication--and husband to The Insider's own Gwen Cooper. Over the course of his career he has conducted one-on-one interviews with just about every major director working today, including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Kathryn Bigelow, Ridley Scott, Walter Hill, Spike Lee, and Werner Herzog, among numerous others. Once James Cameron specifically requested an interview with Laurence by name, which his wife still likes to brag about. Most recently, he is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the online review site DiscDish.com.