By Jack Rico
With nearly 30 films in the July calendar, I was thinking of making your life easier by sifting through the garbage and choosing the very best July movies for you to see this very American month. In my professional opinion, there are only 7 movies that have the substance and entertainment value for you to invest your money free of concern. I’m sure these selections will evoke sentiments of emotion, reflection and wonder.
7. Fruitvale Station (Drama, R, Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer) July 12th 2013
Plot: The true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008 when cops made a mortal decision that rocked the San Francisco area and made national news.
Why you need to see it: Debuting to rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the gritty indie Fruitvale Station is already being talked about in Oscar conversations. Talk is The Weinstein Company fought hard to acquire it. I don’t blame them – its visceral last 30 minutes is powerful cinema. The rest of the movie has some true genuine, convincing and affecting acting from the whole cast. Get ready to see and hear more about this film come award season!
6. Blue Jasmine (Drama, PG-13, Cate Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins) July 26th 2013
Plot: After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.
Why you need to see it: Cate Blanchett is one of the best living actresses, right on par with Meryl Streep. Add her the multi Oscar winner Woody Allen and the result can be special. Also add a first rate cast and it becomes a must see. Blanchett who has been nominated for five Oscars and won one, has shown that drama is her strength. Allen, in the meantime, has gotten a second wind and is hitting his creative stride once again. His writing seems rejuvenated and on a mission to unravel the definition of true love, evident by his Oscar two years ago for Best Original Screenplay with “Midnight in Paris”. It’s great to see him return to drama where his occasional bumps into the genre have proven visceral and profound. Blue Jasmine is Allen’s first film shot in San Francisco and we imagine that a love letter to the city of the Golden Gate Bridge will be in order.
5. Pacific Rim (Action / Sci-fi, PG-13, Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi) July 12th 2013
Plot: When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Why you need to see it: Any film that Guillermo del Toro directs is a global event. Tied to thousands of films, del Toro chose Pacific Rim to bring to life large-scale Japanese monsters in the essence of Godzilla and Voltron. The film also represents the largest production of del Toro’s career. The size of the monsters, the immensity of the special effects and the mesmerizing action sequences are some the stamps that the Mexican director will astound us with this summer and you have to be there to see it!
4. Turbo (Animation, PG, Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Peña, Michelle Rodriguez) July 17th 2013
Plot: Turbo is a 3D comedy about an underdog snail whose dreams kick into overdrive when he miraculously attains the power of super-speed. But after making fast friends with a crew of streetwise, tricked-out es-car-goes, Turbo learns that no one succeeds on their own. So he puts his heart and shell on the line to help his pals achieve their dreams, before Turbo-charging his own impossible dream: winning the Indy 500.
Why you need to see it: One of the most charming premises of the year. This is what Pixar’s Cars should have been. I want to see it just for the story, but with some eye-popping animation that rivals anything in Hollywood and a charismatic cast of voices, Turbo can easily become the animated surprise of the year and impose itself over the modest “Monsters University”.
3. Only God Forgives (Dramatic Thriller, R, Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas) July 19th 2013
Plot: Julian, an American fugitive from justice, runs a boxing club in Bangkok as a front for his drug business. His mother, the head of a vast criminal organization, arrives from the US to collect the body of her favorite son, Billy. Julian’s brother has just been killed after having savagely murdered a young prostitute. Crazy with rage and thirsty for vengeance she demands the heads of the murderers from Julian. But first, Julian must confront Chang, a mysterious retired policeman – and figurehead of a divine justice – who has resolved to scourge the corrupt underworld of brothels and fight clubs.
Why you need to see it: With shades of “Drive,” Ryan Gosling and Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn reunite once again to immerse us in a story about revenge and violence. Gosling excels in inhabiting intimidating mysterious and violent characters, (those that punch you in the face and ask questions later). Refn, in his young career, has shown a unique style that is hypnotizing. With the film’s modern and artistic direction along with Gosling’s strong-jaw-brood-coolness, we are witnessing the new Scorsese and DeNiro of the 21st Century. Expect an “uber-cool-operatic” vibe in Only God Forgives with sleek visuals and captivating performances. The premise might be traditional, but Refn and Gosling will make it magic.
2. The Wolverine (Action / Fantasy, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Tao Okamoto) July 26th 2013
Plot: Wolverine makes a voyage to modern-day Japan, where he encounters an enemy from his past that will impact on his future.
Why you need to see it: After an Oscar nomination in Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman is officially the real deal. His performance, in my opinion, was the most intense and visceral of 2012. He now gets to return to his Wolverine and give him a new depth we have never seen before. The new film – The Wolverine – looks to be Jackman’s best work as the character. Filmmaker James Mangold (Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line) also has his eyes set at bringing different shades to Logan other directors have failed to deliver with the afflicted hero. From teeth-grinding-action to an emotionally charged performance, you’re going to get your money’s worth on this one.
1. The Way, Way Back (Comedy/Drama, PG-13, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, AnnaSophia Robb, Toni Collette) July 5th 2013
Plot: 14-year-old Duncan’s summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and his daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.
Why you need to see it: A Hollywood producer once said to me, “a great film is one that you can make people laugh and cry in two hours.” “The Way, Way Back” is such a movie. This coming of age story is not only the best film of the month, it is arguably one of the best of the year so far. The clever script and charismatic performances provide abundant laughter and emotional comfort which I’ve seen very little of in today’s American cinema. Similar too “Little Miss Sunshine,” this movie should receive some serious consideration for Best Original Script at the Oscars for providing memorable characters, a story that touches the heart without going overboard or too kitschy. If you have to watch one movie this month, The Way, Way Back should be the one.