11 of the best films to watch in July

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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Including Deadpool & Wolverine, Despicable Me 4 and a comedy starring Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum – this month’s unmissable movies to watch and stream.

Mubi (Credit: Mubi)Mubi

1. Crossing

Levan Akin, the Swedish-Georgian writer-director of And Then We Danced, returns with another tough but tender queer drama, Crossing. Its 70-something heroine is Lia (Mzia Arabuli), a retired teacher who travels from Batumi in Georgia to Istanbul in Turkey in search of her estranged transgender niece. With the help of a lawyer (Deniz Dumanli) specialising in trans rights, she discovers a community she never knew existed, and which is represented here with the vivid authenticity of a documentary and the complexity of a novel. “Akin immerses the audience in the bustling Turkish capital,” says Hannah Strong in Little White Lies. “Sweet without being cloying, it’s a love letter to the commonalities between Georgian and Turkish culture; one that encourages empathy and reminds us it’s never too late to change for the better.”

Released on 19 July in the UK, the US and Ireland

A24 (Credit: A24)A24

2. MaXXXine

Ti West’s “X” series is a slasher-movie franchise like no other. In X, Mia Goth played Maxine Minx, an aspiring adult-film star who survives a massacre on a Texan farm in 1979. Then came Pearl, which was set in 1918, but which also starred Goth as a younger incarnation of the first film’s villain. And now, in MaXXXine, Goth plays Maxine again, but this time it’s 1985, and she has moved to Hollywood to pursue her big-screen dreams. Will her past catch up with her? And what’s her connection to a serial killer who is terrorising Los Angeles? Bobby Cannavale, Elizabeth Debicki, Lily Collins and Kevin Bacon also feature in a film which, like the previous two Xes, pays homage to cinema history. “A big part of the aesthetic of the movie is the shiny parts of Hollywood [versus] the seedy parts of Hollywood,” West told Empire. “The shiny type of movies, and then the sleazy or low-budget type of movies… made in the 1980s.”

Released on 5 July in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland

Universal (Credit: Universal)Universal

3. Twisters

Twister, a disaster movie directed by Jan de Bont, was one of the biggest hits of 1996, so perhaps it was inevitable that Hollywood would eventually make a follow-up. What’s more surprising is that Twisters is directed by Lee Isaac Chung, whose last film, Minari, was an Oscar-nominated semi-autobiographical drama. Anyway, Glen Powell and Daisy Edgar-Jones star as the mismatched storm-chasers who research tornadoes by driving dangerously close to them. But climate change has made these whirlwinds bigger and more destructive than the ones which blasted Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in 1996. “What used to be ‘tornado alley’ going through a certain stretch,” the film’s screenwriter, Mark L Smith, told Collider, “now extends further east, and the dates are wider, and the numbers are higher, and the storms themselves are more violent. So we did use elements of that just to shine a light on the causes and effects of climate change.”

Released internationally from 17 July

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

4. Deadpool & Wolverine

Deadpool & Wolverine boasts the long-awaited team-up of two beloved Marvel characters: Ryan Reynolds is back as the wisecracking Deadpool, and Hugh Jackman has bulked up again to play Wolverine, even though the character died at the end of Logan in 2017. Like the previous two Deadpool films, this one will be a postmodern comedy as well as a superhero blockbuster, so it helps that Reynolds and Jackman have a long history of joking about their friendship, while the director, Shawn Levy, has made such comedies as Date Night and Night at the Museum. “With Deadpool, there’s no rules,” Levy told Pete Hammond of Deadline. “To do it with my best friend Ryan and my other buddy Hugh was just a blast because the willingness to embarrass ourselves in front of each other led to some really unexpected jokes and moments and surprises.”

Released internationally from 26 July

Netflix (Credit: Netflix)Netflix

5. The Imaginary

This is the year of films about imaginary friends. First there was Imaginary, a Blumhouse horror movie with a demonic teddy bear. Then there was IF, John Krasinski’s fantasy adventure with Ryan Reynolds and a purple monster voiced by Steve Carell. And now there is The Imaginary, which is, well, the most imaginative of the three. Adapted from AF Harrold’s novel, this spectacular Japanese cartoon is directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, a Studio Ghibli veteran who worked on Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Its hero is Rudger, a supernatural boy who has to save his fellow “imaginaries” from being devoured by the evil Mr Bunting. “If you love Studio Ghibli, you won’t want to miss a film that feels like a cousin to its fantastical family,” says Kristy Puchko at Mashable. “If you love animation that makes you gasp, giggle, and weep, you won’t want to miss The Imaginary.”

Released internationally on 5 July on Netflix

Apple TV (Credit: Apple TV)Apple TV

6. Fly Me to The Moon

Combine the fact-based space-race tension of First Man with the glamorous 1960s fashions of Mad Men and the screwball banter of a Doris Day / Rock Hudson romantic comedy, and you’ve got Fly Me to The Moon, starring Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum. Tatum plays the stuffy Nasa engineer in charge of the Apollo program. Securing the money he needs is proving tricky, so a mysterious government agent (Woody Harrelson) hires one of Manhattan’s slickest advertising executives (Johansson) to persuade the US public that the project is worth their tax dollars – even if that means staging a fake Moon landing in case the real one goes wrong. “Fly Me to The Moon meshes love, laughs and the space race with serious panache,” says James King at BBC Radio 2. “The result? A sparkling romcom that’s both tender and dazzling, brimming with charm.”

Released internationally from 12 July

Sonic PR (Credit: Sonic PR)Sonic PR

7. Getting It Back: The Story of Cymande

Cymande are a band of British funk musicians with Caribbean backgrounds. In the early 1970s, they were the first ever British band to play the Apollo Theater in Harlem, but they couldn’t make any headway in the UK, where black pop acts were still a rarity. After releasing three albums, they broke up in 1975. But that wasn’t the end of their story. In the 1980s and beyond, Cymande’s music was sampled by hip-hop artists including De La Soul and Fugees, and they eventually grew so popular that they were able to reform and tour again. “The documentary talks to Cymande superfans like Mark Ronson, Deb Grant and Craig Charles and it allows us to reflect on how it was somehow up to America to cherish and nurture these great black British musicians,” says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. “It’s an education and a good-news story about [a band] who should be as big as Earth Wind & Fire, but aren’t. Or at least not yet.”

Released on 26 July in the US

Neon (Credit: Neon)Neon

8. Longlegs

Anthony Perkins became a horror icon when he starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and now his son, Osgood Perkins, looks set to become a horror icon, too. The writer-director’s “preternatural talent for crafting slow-burn chillers is lauded and widely documented among horror fans and writers,” says J Hurtado at Screen Anarchy, “but Longlegs announces him as a truly unique master of the genre.” Perkins’ fourth film stars Maika Monroe as Lee Harker, a young FBI agent whose inexperience is balanced by her uncanny intuition. Her quarry is a Satan-worshipping serial killer played by Nicolas Cage in what could be his strangest ever performance – and that’s saying something. The creepy part is that the killer doesn’t appear to murder anyone himself: he somehow persuades other people to do the murdering for him. “Rarely has there been a horror film so completely drenched in anxiety and terror in every single scene,” says Hurtado. “Longlegs is a masterpiece… the most harrowing 100 minutes you’re likely to endure in a cinema this year.”

Released on 12 July in the US, the UK, Canada and Ireland

Netflix (Credit: Netflix)Netflix

9. Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Eddie Murphy is in the “reviving dormant franchises from the 1980s” stage of his career. In 2021, there was a Coming to America sequel, and now he’s made a fourth Beverly Hills Cop film, three decades on from the third one, and four decades on from the first. As ever, he’ll be playing Axel Foley, a motormouthed Detroit detective who outsmarts colleagues and criminals alike in Los Angeles’s swankiest neighbourhood. Several members of the original cast are back with him, including Judge Reinhold and Paul Reiser, and they’re joined by Taylor Paige as Axel’s estranged daughter, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his new partner. But the director, Mark Molloy, told Entertainment Weekly that it’s Murphy’s own improvisation that is the key to a Beverly Hills Cop film. “You’ve got, in my eyes, the greatest comedian in the world. A huge part of my job is to create a space for improvisation to thrive. I always want to get what’s on the page, but when you have someone like Eddie Murphy, you want to let him be free.”

Released internationally on 3 July on Netflix

Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios (Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios)Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios

10. Despicable Me 4

Everyone’s favourite reformed supervillain, Gru (Steve Carell) is back for a fourth cartoon caper – or a sixth if you count the two Minions spin-offs. In this episode, he is living happily with his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig), their three adopted daughters, and a new baby son. Unfortunately, Gru Jr. thinks that his dad really is despicable, but Gru has bigger problems. An old enemy, Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell), has broken out of prison and is thirsty for revenge. Can the newly super-powered Minions save the day? Co-written by Mike White (School Of Rock, The White Lotus), Despicable Me 4 is “gloriously funny and playful”, says Wendy Ide in Screen Daily. “[It] may not reinvent the wheel (even if it does soup up a wheelchair with monster-truck-sized tyres at one point). What it does deliver is a brisk, fan-friendly romp which may be a little thin on actual plot but is stuffed to the gills with jokes.”

Released internationally from 3 July

AA Films (Credit: AA Films)AA Films

11. Kill

This Hindi-language Indian thriller from Nikhil Nagesh Bhat is about as subtle as its one-word title: Kill. The concept is that a hunky commando (Lakshya) is on a crowded overnight train bound for New Delhi when 40 bandits jump up from their seats, intent on robbing the other passengers. After the thieves make the mistake of messing with the commando’s fiancée, he unleashes an orgy of bone-crunching, gut-puncturing, blood-spurting violence, as devised by the fight choreographer of Bong Joon Ho’s own trainbound fight-fest, Snowpiercer. “As brutal a film as the country has ever produced, Kill is a shockingly graphic action showcase,” says Peter Debruge in Variety. “All told, Overkill probably would have been a better title, considering how far Bhat takes each and every altercation, milking it for maximum vengeance.”

Released on 4 July in the US, and on 5 July in the UK, Ireland and India

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