Holy hot, it’s hot! You know what that means, right? Unless you live on a beach or have a ginormous pool in your backyard, you stay inside and watch movies like a sensible person. And even if you’re not a sensible person, there’s always time for summer movies… after the cookouts and the birthday gatherings, when the kiddos (and pets) are finally all worn out. So turn down the lights and the air conditioning, cozy up with your creamsicle, and settle in with this month’s hottest offerings.
July 1, 2021 (Theaters, HBO Max)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh; written by Ed Solomon (Now You See Me, Men in Black, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure); starring Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig Grant, Julia Fox, Frankie Shaw, Ray Liotta, and Bill Duke. If the fantastic cast and a Soderbergh pedigree don’t bring you in (how?), that snappy trailer and a Matt Damon cameo ought to do the trick. This period thriller about a heist gone wrong looks a real treat.
Fear Street Part 1: 1994, Fear Street Part 2: 1978, Fear Street Part 3: 1666
July 2, July 9, & July 16, 2021 (Netflix)
Directed by Leigh Janiak (Panic, Outcast, Honeymoon); written by Janiak, Zak Olkewicz, and Phil Graziadei (Honeymoon), starring Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Maya Hawke, and Julia Rehwald (Part 1); Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Gillian Jacobs, and Jordana Spiro (Part 2); Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Gillian Jacobs, and Jordana Spiro (Part 3). Based on R.L. Stine’s YA horror series, Netflix throws us this cool movie trilogy to savor over three hot summer weeks. After their town experiences some strange goings-on, a group of teens start digging into its history, and wouldn’t you know, it’s not the first time Shadyside has had a date with death. Speaking of, these sound like just the right way to spend date night when it’s too warm to be outside. Netflix and chill, accordingly.
July 2, 2021 (Hulu)
Submerse yourself in Questlove’s Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award-winning documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which took place over six weeks and featured performances by Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The 5th Dimension, and Sly and the Family Stone. In other words, get down, get funky, and be in awe of time capsule footage that, up until now, sat in a basement for fifty years.
July 2, 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie); written by Zach Dean (Deadfall); starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Keith Powers, and Sam Richardson. Looking for a bananas-crazy summer blockbuster that you can watch from home? This looks absolutely ludicrous and explosive, and it’s full of aliens! And if you really need a plot, basically, a group of time travelers recruits help from one timeline to fight a losing war in another timeline… oh, and the fate of humanity obviously hangs in the balance. Make a bucket of popcorn and help out by pelting the critters on your big screen, because this is bound to play out IRL someday.
July 9, 2021 (Theaters, Disney+)
Directed by Cate Shortland (Lore, Somersault); written by Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok, Godzilla vs. Kong, Agent Carter); starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz. Too little, too late? No freaking way. After Avengers: Endgame killed Natasha on Vormir, Marvel is trying to make up for it with this backwards flash to post-Captain America: Civil War, where Romanoff is in the middle of a mess that ties to her past as a Russian spy with way too many burned bridges. I suppose we’re meant to consider this a proper send-off, though I can’t help wondering if we might see her (and others *coughLokicough*) in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Here’s hoping!
July 14, 2021 (Netflix)
Directed by Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves, ABCs of Death 2); written by Papushado and Ehud Lavski; starring Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, Ralph Ineson, Ivan Kaye, Adam Nagaitis, and Paul Giamatti. Speaking of Marvel, it looks like Nebula (Gillan) got herself another gig, this time as a “stone-cold” hitwoman and daughter of a notorious assassin aka Game of Thrones’s Lena Headey. As if that weren’t exciting enough, Mum is also part of a brilliantly cast group of badass killers played by Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and Carla Gugino. Don’t even pretend you’re not going to sit waiting by your TV from now until July 14th.
July 16, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Feature directorial debut and written by Michael Sarnoski (Fight Night Legacy, Olympia) and Vanessa Block; starring Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin, and Gretchen Corbett. I can’t believe I’m going to say this but, I don’t think I’ve been more excited for a movie in years. COME ON! Nicolas Cage going ballistic after someone steals his precious truffle hunter — WHAT WAS LIFE BEFORE THIS MOVIE? The plot has been described as John Wick, but with a pig, and that only makes me want it more.
July 16, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed by Morgan Neville (Ugly Delicious, Song Exploder); featuring David Chang, Éric Ripert, and members of the Parts Unknown team delving into the beloved writer and chef’s life and death. Bring all the tissues you can find; that’s all I’ve got to say.
July 23, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan; starring Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Eliza Scanlen, Thomasin McKenzie, Alex Wolff, Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Abbey Lee, Aaron Pierre, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott, and Kathleen Chalfant. Inspired by the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frédérik Peeters. “Oh no, we’re here for a reason.” That about sums it up, don’t we think? Shyamalan is here to terrify us yet again, this time with the scariest words ever uttered onscreen: “You have wrinkles.” Yup, an idyllic vacation turns ultraterrible when visitors’ children start rapid-aging and mommy can’t handle her baby girl carrying on the circle of life (it’s the [*groan*] age-old story…). Seriously though, I truly hope immaculate conception is a thing. Please?
July 30, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed by Academy Award winner Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, Spotlight, The Visitor); written by McCarthy, Thomas Bidegain (A Prophet, Rust and Bone), Marcus Hinchey, and Noé Debré; starring Matt Damon, Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin, and Deanna Dunagan. In what looks like an Oscar grab for Damon, the actor is all accented and in as Bill Baker, father to a college student (Breslin) accused of murder while studying abroad (shades of Amanda Knox). Baker moves to France to help clear his daughter’s name, though it’s an uphill battle through a foreign legal system. Stillwater is premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which means it’s extra serious, so buckle in.
July 30, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed and written by David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints); starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, and Ralph Ineson. Based on the Arthurian poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Dev Patel takes on the role of the King’s (Harris) nephew, who must fight the Green Knight (aka Groot’s eloquent forefather?). With a stellar cast and Lowery at the helm, this modern take on the medieval tale has great potential. Bonus: from A24, the studio known for knocking everything out of the park.
July 30, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Feature directorial debut and written by Edson Oda; starring Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, and Bill Skarsgård. This Spike Jonze-produced film is already a Sundance award winner (for screenplay) and speculates on how souls are chosen to come to earth. In this imagining, Winston Duke observes and interviews candidates over the course of… you guessed it, nine days. If you’re in the mood to philosophize, this might be the perfect discussion kickoff, and Duke has already proven himself infinitely watchable.
July 30, 2021 (Netflix)
Directed by David Charhon (On the Other Side of the Tracks) written by Charhon and Ismaël Sy Savané (Lascars); starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Eric Judor, and Miou-Miou. The legendary martial artist/actor jumps back into what he does best: action movies showing off his fight moves, this time with a side of comedy — and in French! When his son faces trumped-up drug trafficking charges, Van Damme’s former secret service agent turned hired killer (of course!) rides in for a rescue. Well, that sounds just ridiculous enough to be entirely entertaining.