In this ever-changing world in which we live in, there’s simply too much stuff to process in a “seasonal film preview.” With our monthly Film Preview and Power Rankings feature, we hope to aide you in organizing your film agenda around the top film events of the month ahead. Rankings are determined by science, definitely science. Your July 2016 Film Preview follows. Re-live the glory of previous months here.
Gena Rowlands (the greatest living American actress?) will be on hand at this all-35mm retrospective featuring her six towering collaborations with her husband, John Cassavetes. Appearances are confirmed for Opening Night, on Opening Night, and A Woman Under the Influence the following day, July 16, with more to follow. John Cassavetes’s other six features will also screen.
July 15-25 at the Metrograph.
- Japan Cuts
The annual festival of Japanese film—the largest in North America—returns for its 10th anniversary edition, in which the always-dynamic feature slate is augmented by an expanded focus on artist docs and experimental animations, and a selection of new classics of the 80s, 90s and 00s by important contemporary Japanese filmmakers. Among the special guests are the inimitable Sion Sono, whose new work The Whispering Star will screen for the first time in NYC.
July 14-24 at Japan Society.
- Men Go to Battle
Zachary Treitz and Kate Lyn Sheil’s Civil War movie, about two farmer brothers swept up by the passing coattails of history, is impressive and against the grain as a debut film and a historical fiction, tactile and interior. When I interviewed the filmmakers last year, Sheil (who also appears in a supporting role) stated: “I wanted to take a look at two flawed, bumbling idiots during a time when tidal shifts were happening in American history.”
July 8-14 at Anthology Film Archives.
- Four More Years: An Election Special
Not exactly escapism, BAM’s timely series at least allows us the chance to wallow in insanity from a safe historical distance. Mixing fiction and docs, the lineup includes behind-the-scenes Direct Cinema landmarks, and thrillers about reporters, operatives and assassins; the lineup features a particular emphasis on the Baby Boomers, particularly the Kennedy-Nixon era of ascendant mass media and civil unrest, and the easy cynicism of the (first) Clinton years.
July 15-August 3 at BAM.
- Warren Oates: Hired Hand
The man with “a face like prison bread” was born to be a bit player in classic Westerns, but was lucky to have his career peak during a New Hollywood era defined by homegrown open-road existentialism, conflicted countercultural reverence for classical masculine genres, and cultivation of quirk. A brilliant presence, Oates could do sun-weathered self-loathing and lowbrow rascally banter, and many of the era’s most rambunctious directors seemed to enjoy his company. This series features films by Hellman, Friedkin, Peckinpah, Malick, Milius and more, and is led by a revival the newly rediscovered 1960 noir Private Property.
July 1-7 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
- “Le Durs”
One of New York’s great unsung summer traditions is the Film Forum genre series, an annual reshuffling of some vintage global pulp—much of it familiar from previous FF revivals and restorations. Gallic Noir is on the docket for this air conditioning season, with a series highlighting “Three Tough Guys”—that is, Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura and Jean-Paul Belmondo, playing cops and robbers in films directed by cinéma de qualité stylists, New Wave innovators, and postwar journeymen. So many trenchcoats, so many fedoras.
July 15-August 2 at Film Forum.
- Stephen Chow and The Mermaid in 3D
Hong Kong’s populist action-slapstick master Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) wrote and directed this broad comic romance, between a slick businessman and an undine assassin. It was released in China in February of this year, and became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time within two weeks of its release. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it US release followed, championed more by a few critics than by distributor Sony; now, at the height of summer blockbuster season, local audiences are given fair warning: it’s at Metrograph for a week, following an appetite-whetting Chow series.
Chow series July 1-5; The Mermaid in 3D July 8-14 at the Metrograph.
- Mondo Mondo
The critic Nick Pinkerton programmed this series of “Mondo” movies, the (mostly Italian) compendiums of shocking! unbelievable! disturbing! appalling! documentary footage from all the far-flung corners of the world, brought together for the education and prurient interest of the modern viewer. Related ethnographic and exploitation films are also included in the program.
July 22-31 at Anthology Film Archives.
- Café Society
This decade, the relative quality of each year’s Woody Allen film has correlated pretty strongly with the relative intensity of the “Can We Separate the Art from the Artist” Thinkpiece Wars that greet its premiere. Based on response out of Cannes, where this Golden Age Hollywood romantic roundelay screened out of competition, expect the Woodman’s best since at least Blue Jasmine.
Opens July 15.
- Brooklyn Fire Proof Summer Screening Series
The Bushwick create space launches its first annual series of free outdoor film series, Friday nights after sunset in July and August in the BFP courtyard next to the restaurant Terra Firma, who’ll be offering food and drink. Each night’s screening is curated by a different partner from the local film scene: The Bushwick Film Festival; filmmaking workshop Mono No Aware; “The Movie Friends” (including cinematographer Sean Price Williams); and 80s/90s East Village scenester Nick Zedd.
July 8-August 26 at Brooklyn Fire Proof.
- Don’t Blink – Robert Frank and Cocksuker Blues
A documentary on the Swiss-born photographer, whose The Americans changed the face of American photography (and the nation’s self-image), and cinema as well. (“If you are going to film a chrome-trimmed diner, you really can’t even consider doing it in color,” Alex Ross Perry told me in 2011, about the silvery black-and-white look of his road movie The Color Wheel.) He also made movies like Beat landmark Pull My Daisy, and the mostly-suppressed Rolling Stones tour documentary Cocksucker Blues, which Film Forum will briefly unearth.
Don’t Blink opens July 13; Cocksucker Blues July 20-21; both at Film Forum.
- Eternity and History: The Cinema of Theo Angelopoulos
The late Greek filmmaker, a Palme d’Or winner in 1998 for Eternity and a Day, isn’t much screened in NYC, making this comprehensive retrospective a major opportunity to catch up with perhaps the most portentously titled filmography in the entire 20th century European arthouse cinema. From The Weeping Meadow to Landscape in the Mist, expect exquisitely anguished winding long takes, and existential meditations on Greece’s weighty history and troubled present.
July 8-24 at the Museum of the Moving Image.
- For the Plasma
Finally a theatrical release for local dudes Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan’s 2014 festival fave, an uncanny 16mm sci-fi speculation about the Maine woods, the surveillance state, and global finance capitalism.
July 21-28 at Anthology Film Archives.
- Filmshop Presents SHHHHH!
Filmshop is a local filmmaking collective dedicated to supporting new professional filmmakers, and forging connections in the Brooklyn filmmaking community. This screening and party is their end-of-season blowout, featuring 23 short films all inspired by the prompt SHHHH! Included in the screening are silent films with live scores, as well as silent-dancing and live indie rock.
July 9 at Rough Trade NYC.
- The BFG
Cutting-edge SFX dabbler Steven Spielberg puts Mark Rylance into a motion-capture suit for this Roald Dahl adaptation. Reviews from Cannes, where it opened the festival, suggest that the film has something for everyone: for adults, a Spielbergian sense of childlike wonder; for children, fart jokes.
Opens July 1.
- Seriously Funny: The Films of Leo McCarey
One of Hollywood’s great directors of comedy, from silent slapstick to screwball and beyond, McCarey cultivated an atmosphere of spontaneity that encouraged stars—from Laurel and Hardy to the Marx Brothers to Grant and Dunne to Newman and Woodward—to build up to zany crescendos in some of the most charismatic farces Hollywood ever produced.
July 15-31 at MoMA.
- Lucha Mexico
Lucha Libre! Brooklyn-based directors Ian Markiewicz and Alex Hammond embed in the world of Mexican wrestling.
Opens July 15.
- Our Little Sister
The latest from Hirokazu Kore-eda, the Japanese writer-director known for airy, sensitive observed family dramas light on the dramatics. American critics love Kore-eda because they get to use the term “Shomin–geki” in their reviews, and become petulant when editors demand an explanation.
Opens July 8.
- Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Everything ages badly, eventually, except for long-running comedies about creative-class professionals clinging vampiristic to an idea of youth through constant consumption of vodka and fads, sweetie. Never out of style.
Opens July 22.
- His Favorite Films Improved: The Found Footage Films of Ken Jacobs
Celebrate the 4th of July with all 400-plus minutes of Jacobs’s opus Star Spangled to Death, and stick around for more tactile experiments in the laboratory of film history, from one of New York’s most influential underground film artists.
July 2-10 at Anthology Film Archives.
- The Legend of Tarzan
“A modern update of Tarzan against a backdrop of postcolonial politics, starring a sexy vampire from the teevee” is a real movie and not a project Tim Robbins greenlit in The Player, though you would be forgiven for thinking so.
Opens July 1.
- The Childhood of a Leader
This is the directorial debut of omnipresent indie actor Brady Corbet. (“When Jamie’s documentary subject turned out to be played by the ubiquitous Brady Corbet,”Nicolas Rapold wrote in his review of While We’re Young, “some critic burst out uncontrollably with ‘Goddamn it!’”) Perhaps similarly to Haneke’s The White Ribbon, it concerns the coming-of-age of a sociopathic child in Europe in the years before WWII.
Opens July 22.
- Star Trek Beyond
Paramount’s franchise summer tentpole takes on some unexpected weight as the first Anton Yelchin performance to reach screens following the committed young actor’s shocking death. Doing a wonderfully broad Russian accent for someone born in St. Petersburg, his Chekhov, in the Star Trek films, suggests something of the active wit Yelchin brought to all his performances.
Opens July 22.
- Homo Sapiens
The Austrian documentarian Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s latest is a formalist work comprised of footage of abandoned man-made spaces. Writing about the film in her dispatch from the Berlinale, Emma Myers wrote: “Homo sapiens imagines what the world might look like in the wake of human apocalypse. […] Geyrhalter fixes a steady camera on a variety of abandoned settings—hospital rooms, office corridors, prisons, coliseums, churches, and amusement parks—until they begin to feel uncanny. The presence of humanity becomes all the more palpable in the absence of people, but the film’s main focus seems to be on the imagined boundaries between civilization and nature […] Man’s greatest contribution to earth, it seems, is decay.”
July 29-August 4 at Anthology Film Archives.
It is good that we live in a world where little girls can dream of one day busting ghosts, just like little boys do.
Opens July 15.