Barbie vs. Oppenheimer aka Barbenheimer aka The film event of the summer. That’s all anyone can really talk about when it comes to the July release schedule, and for good reason. Between Barbie, OppenheimerAND Mission: Impossible Showdown, Part One, this month features three of this year’s biggest and most promising hits. They’re the kind of movies that, so far at least, feel powerful enough to actually bring audiences back to theaters.
But July isn’t just notable for its blockbusters or even its high-profile genre films (see: Insidious: The Red Door, Speak with me). The month features a handful of smaller titles premiering in theaters and on digital platforms that should be looked out for. So, in case July doesn’t already seem like an impressive enough month for movies, here are five alternatives to blockbusters like Barbie AND Oppenheimer which you should check in the coming weeks.
The lesson now in theaters
THE LESSON | Official trailer | Blecker Street
The lesson is playing in theaters right now and is well worth checking out. A British neo-noir thriller, the film pits an aspiring novelist against his literary idol in a wildly entertaining and unpredictable battle of wills. Directed by longtime British television director Alice Troughton, The lesson is a devilishly entertaining noir effort, a film that allows actors like Julie Delpy and Richard E. Grant to perform some of the most edgy and entertaining work of their careers.
Frankly, it’s only worth seeing for a scene near the end where Grant packs so many contradictory emotions into a handful of jokes until they physically overwhelm him. In case there is any doubt about it, The lesson it proves that he is still one of the best actors working today.
Theater camp July 14th
THEATER FIELD | Official trailer | Spotlight images
This charming low-budget comedy was an audience favorite at January’s Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not hard to see why. Directed by The bear season two star Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman,Theatrical campfollows the counselors and the kids at a summer camp as they band together to try and save it from closure. A film for and about theater kids, which promises to be one of the summer’s most popular comedies.
Like many of the films released this year, the film feels like a bit of a relic from a bygone era. Of course, if enough people went to see it in the theater, it could also become a film that helps bring back the kind of mid-budget festival favorites that were widely available just a few years ago.
Fire July 14th
The barrier to entry for this isolated, minimalist German drama may seem too high for some viewers, but those who watch it may very well end up seeing one of the best films of the year so far. At least, that certainly seems like a viable possibility, given writer-director Christian Petzolds’ track record. Petzold has produced some of the best international films of the last decade, namely 2015 Phoenix and 2019 Transit and became one of the most revered filmmakers alive.
A fire, which focuses on four people who end up trapped together in a holiday home due to an outbreak of nearby bushfires, reunites Petzold with regular collaborator Paula Beer, and has so far been very warmly received overseas. There is no reason, in other words, to assume it A fire it won’t live up to the standards set by its director, making it a must-see summer title for any curious cinephile out there.
Deepest Breath (July 19)
The Deepest Breath | Official trailer | Netflix
Another of this year’s Sundance hits, The deepest breath is an engaging and comprehensive documentary on the world of competitive freediving. Directed by Laura McGann, the film follows Italian freediver Alessia Zecchini in her quest to break a freediving world record with the help of her right hand diver, Stephan Keenan. The subject matter, style and underwater shooting of the film will likely earn it over 2018 Free solo and 2022 The Soloistbut whether or not it manages to reach the same heights of tension as that documentary, The deepest breath it looks just as intriguing and impactful.
In terms of July’s counter-programming, it seems like a perfect homey alternative or companion to similar films Mission: Impossible Showdown, Part OneAND Oppenheimerthe latter of which debuts nationwide the same week.
They Cloned Tyrone (July 21)
They cloned Tyrone | Official trailer | Netflix
A Netflix original film that pays homage to the Blaxploitation films of the 70s, They cloned Tyrone promises to be a delicious dose of sci-fi entertainment genre. Starring Jamie Foxx, John Boyega, Wanda VisionStarring Teyonah Parris, Kiefer Sutherland, and J. Alphonse Nicholson, it ranks as one of this month’s most unique genre offerings. With that in mind, if you check it out the same weekend as Barbie AND Oppenheimer or wait a week, They cloned Tyrone it is a film that you should try to make some time for.
If you do, you can rest easy knowing that, at the very least, you’ll be strapping in for a truly original ride, which is something that seems increasingly difficult to achieve these days.
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