Southern Film Critic’s Brian Thompson reviews six new films to open July

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Many people, regardless of where they stand on the issue, are apt to roll their eyes a bit when they hear a new global warming documentary is set to be released. The public opinion has shifted significantly since 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth (which has a sequel due out at the end of the month). You no longer need to convince most rational thinkers that the polar ice caps are melting. While climate change docs may feel like they are preaching to the choir, in his latest film Chasing Coral, documentarian Jeff Orlowski has tweaked the standard gospel. In an hour and a half, this unexpectedly affecting film will make viewers do a complete 180 on a natural phenomenon that they never thought they’d empathize with: coral reefs.


Don’t let its name fool you: A Ghost Story isn’t the latest horror flick. Instead, it is a graceful take on loss and isolation, a quiet, imaginative film that offers a needed break in the tedium of blockbuster season. Once again, David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies SaintsPete’s Dragon) has probed deep into the human psyche to find the nugget of truth buried underneath, and once again, he has created something beautiful in the process.


No one, least of all diehard comic book enthusiasts, was jonesing for a new Spider-Man movie in 2017. Homecoming is the sixth stand-alone film for Marvel’s sarcastic web-slinger in the last fifteen years, and only about half of those are worthy of a second viewing. Fatigue for the character paired with a screenplay penned by six different credited writers (Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, and director Jon Watts) seemed to be a recipe for certain disaster. Against all odd, however, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a reminder of how exhilarating a summer blockbuster truly can be.


It’s difficult for me to remember feeling this level of fierce apathy for a movie. The House is not charming enough to be entertaining, nor is it memorable enough to be offensive. It is simply a palate cleanser. It’s not noteworthy enough to leave any sort of taste in your mouth whatsoever. Dull movies like this only serve as an argument for the people who drone on about how much better television is than cinema these days. Don’t see it. Or do. Either way, you won’t remember it at all in a couple of months.


The Beguiled is a prime exploration in Coppola’s bread and butter: women asserting their identity. But it would be a mistake to give the director all the credit. She has assembled an outstanding cast to charter the emotional minefield, and there are no weak links in this chain. Nicole Kidman gives one of her most compelling performances to date and Kirsten Dunst reminds us how much we miss her when she isn’t in the spotlight. The less seasoned performers pull their weight as well, including Elle Fanning (who continues to take on interesting projects), Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys), and Oona Laurence (SouthpawPete’s Dragon).


Some people have lives so inherently cinematic that they can’t help but put their stories up on the screen. Such is the case with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, a married couple who decided to walk audiences through their complex romance in the form of the screenplay for The Big Sick. The movie, helmed by Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American SummerHello, My Name Is Doris), is a charming stranger-than-fiction tale that manages to find the sweet spot of laughter through the tears.

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