Summer is officially upon us, and with that, the season’s most anticipated films are here! Greta Gerwig’s Barbie hits theaters on July 21st, and Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One is out now. If you’re looking for a laugh, Netflix also released the second season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. The sketch comedy series is inventive, unexpected, and at times, downright bizarre, but it remains undeniably hilarious. For the latest movies to stream this July, read on!
Matilda the Musical
2022, Dir. Matthew Warchus – Musical/Fantasy – Netflix – PG
The musical iteration of Matilda shares the book and original movie’s sense of wonder and amusement, as well as its darkness. The story follows Matilda (Alisha Weir), a wildly smart young girl with parents who don’t appreciate her unique intelligence and kindness. When she gets sent to school, she’s met with even more mistreatment from the villainous principal Miss Trunchbull (played with an evil flair by Emma Thompson). The story includes a wonderful array of songs (particularly the raucously catchy “Revolting Children”) and a talented cast (including a sweet and endearing performance from Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey).
Avatar: The Way of Water
2022, Dir. James Cameron – Action/Fantasy – Disney+ and Max (formerly HBO Max) – PG-13
James Cameron is no stranger to a dramatic three-hour long epic. Those who grew up with Titanic would recognize the two VHS-tape boxset instantly, one of the only of its kind in the family movie collection. Does Avatar: The Way of Water hold its weight against the rest of Cameron’s canon? Yes and no. The film follows where the first left off, with Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) now raising their kids in Pandora. Soon into the film, the family must leave their home and seek shelter in an unfamiliar land. What follows is a (very long) battle of survival, with Cameron taking plenty of time to show off the improved CGI and the immersive world of Pandora. Indeed, the film’s special effects and attention to detail give fans plenty to marvel at. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that the biggest fan of this movie was James Cameron himself.
2023, Dir. Ben Affleck – Drama/Sports – Amazon Prime – R
Ben Affleck’s latest is a feel-good flick that tells one of the most iconic sports origin stories of all time: Michael Jordan’s decision to sign with Nike. In 1984, Nike’s basketball division was barely getting by. Sonny Vaccaro (played with enthusiasm by Matt Damon) was the risk-taker in charge, and he was determined to sign with Jordan, the third pick in the 1984 NBA draft. The film goes on to explore the creation of the first Air Jordan sneakers, the negotiations leading up to the fateful partnership, and the Jordan family’s savvy business strategy that forever changed athletes’ brand deals. The film’s writing is sharp and to the point, and the story moves at a quick, entertaining pace that seems to define Affleck’s filmmaking sensibilities.
The Worst Person in the World
2021, Dir. Joachim Trier – Drama/Romantic Comedy – Hulu – R
Who says a romantic drama can’t get a little existential? In 2021, Norwegian film director Joachim Trier asked that very question, delivering a particularly thought-provoking and fresh film. The story follows Julie (Renate Reinsve), a late twenty-something young woman who struggles with sticking to her decisions. Throwing herself into becoming a doctor, a photographer, and a writer (and fretting over her relationships), Julie finds herself lost right when everyone expects her to pick a certain path. The film’s questions feel unusually philosophical for a romantic comedy, and its sense of humor adds a dose of fun to what might otherwise be a difficult watch.