July is here, which means we are already halfway through the year. While we won’t see any strong Oscar contender until the fall, there have certainly been enough great films this year that deserves some recognition at the halfway point of the year. From a summer blockbuster sequel to a trippy independent film involving pigs, these films are certainly worth a look whether you are catching it in theaters or watching at the comfort of your own home.
1) “Before Midnight”
In what feels like a feature-length version of Michael Apted’s “Up” series, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy has managed to create a cinematic evolution of a relationship between two people from different part of the world with the “Before” trilogy. “Before Midnight” is the culmination of a near-perfect trilogy about love and relationships. Just like the previous films, this film also features a fantastic screenplay and great performances from Hawke and Delpy as they deliver the performances of their careers. “Before Midnight” is now playing in South Florida theaters.
2) “Star Trek Into Darkness”
“Star Trek Into Darkness” is an intelligent and fast-paced action movie that never lets up until the end credits. J.J. Abrams’ sequel to the 2009 film is a visually dazzling experience especially if you were able to catch the movie in IMAX 3D. The movie’s production values is top-notch especially the visual effects and cinematography. While it is certainly an action-packed film, the movie also soars as a character-driven film thanks to the chemistry of the movie’s ensemble. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is now playing in South Florida theaters.
3) “Frances Ha”
Writer-director Noah Baumbach collaborated with his real-life girlfriend Greta Gerwig to make “Frances Ha,” a lighthearted comedy that also pays tribute to films made during the French New Wave, American-style. The movies not only showcases Gerwig’s talent as an actress, but also as a writer by helping Baumbach craft a film about post graduate men and women who aren’t quite ready to be responsible adults. “Frances Ha” is now playing in South Florida theaters.
4) “Much Ado About Nothing”
Leave it up to writer-director Joss Whedon to shoot a movie at his Santa Monica home in 12 days with his close friends while in the middle of editing a blockbuster movie like “The Avengers.” “Much Ado About Nothing” is the most original and charming take of one of William Shakespeare’s plays since Baz Luhrman took on the Bard with “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.” Shot in black and white, Whedon’s interpretation of this play moves the story from 1600 Italy and setting in contemporary California while keeping the original text intact. Whedon’s take on the play is a refreshing breath of air in the romantic comedy genre that also allows him to give each cast member to have their own moment to shine in this film. “Much Ado About Nothing” is now playing in South Florida theaters.
5) “Evil Dead”
When it was announced that Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror classic “The Evil Dead” was going to be remade, fans of the movie and its sequels feared for the worse. With the original creators of the “Evil Dead” trilogy including Raimi and Bruce Campbell as producers and a relatively new filmmaker in the form of Fede Alvaraz, they have crafted a blood-soaked and relentless movie in the form of “Evil Dead.” While it certainly does not totally live up to the original films, , the movie is an effective and visceral gore-fest that manages to capture the spirit of the 1980 original film. “Evil Dead” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on July 16th.
6) “Spring Breakers”
Harmony Korine’s fourth film is a trippy and hypnotizing movie that follows four young women who decide to travel to St. Petersburg, Florida for the time of their life. James Franco delivers a memorable and mesmerizing performance as a corn-rowed, gangster-wannabe rapper who helps the girls in their hour of need. While this movie is far from being a narrative-driven film, “Spring Breakers” is a neon-lit trip fueled by sex and violence that assaults each and every one of your senses. “Spring Breakers” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on July 9th.
Nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language category, “No” features a magnetic performance by Gael Garcia Bernal as a young ad executive recruited to a voting campaign that could overthrow Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1988. The film has a unique look to it as director Pablo Larrain chose to shoot his film using a vintage Sony U-Matic video camera in order to splice in real-life video footage, along with the real YES and NO commercials to give the movie a docudrama vibe. Larrain also managed to fine a perfect balance of entertainment and seriousness, allowing him to make “No” an entertaining film that doesn’t try to be preachy. “No” is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
8) “Upstream Color”
“Upstream Color” is writer/director Shane Curuth’s first film since he made making his feature debut, “Primer” nine years ago. While it might take more than one viewing to comprehend what the narrative of this film and the plot is a bit convoluted at times, there is no doubt that the movie is visually poetic and a beautiful-looking film that explores and evokes ambitious themes that involves human connection, hypnosis and the use of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.” Amy Seimetz delivers a tremendous performance as a woman who lost everything only to find her someone who also lost everything. “Upstream Color” is now available on Blu-ray and DVD and streaming on Netflix.
9) “Simon Killer”
Set in a dark, seedy and desolated Paris, “Simon Killer” is a neo-noir character study on an overemotional and cowardly young man who has a habit of making eerie sounds whenever he becomes frustrated. The film is a dark noir that will leave moviegoers hypnotized with Antonio Campos’ unique directorial style and a compelling performance from Brady Corbet as a lonely young man who gets lost in the seedy underworld of the City of Lights.
10) “This is the End”
Directors/writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg has crafted the most outrageous and craziest comedies to come out in while with “This is the End.” They have also gathered their closest friends and co-workers including Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson to play a highly-stylized version of themselves, along with a ton of cameos including Kevin Hart, Jason Segal, Paul Rudd, Emma Watson and a drug-addles and sex-crazed Michael Cera. The cast have a funny and great chemistry with one another as they riff of each other on certain topics (Franco and Danny McBride’s profane conversation is a highlight) and attempt to survive the apocalypse by avoiding body-swallowing sinkholes and dodging some evil creatures. “This is the End” is now playing in South Florida theaters.