We have arrived at perhaps the biggest release weekend of the summer and that’s due to Disney’s latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s been hyped up for quite some time. As the trend continues, not too many studios want to try and go toe-to-toe at the box office so it’s a light schedule this weekend, but there are some intriguing alternatives.
*Fire of Love (Theaters July 6th) – Editor’s Pick*
Writers: Shane Boris, Erin Casper, Jocelyne Chaput | Director: Sara Dosa
Starring: Miranda July (voice), Katia Krafft (archival), and Maurice Krafft (archival)
French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft were explorers and their love of volcanoes took them and their love to the brink. The couple recorded a seemingly endless amount of footage of their exploits and director Sara Dosa went through it in an attempt to tell, not just, their love story but also to examine their shared passion and how it shaped their lives. This looks like a very interesting documentary not just because of the ever-present danger of active volcanoes, but the kind of people it took to study them up close. I usually don’t lead with my Editor’s Pick, but this one has been out a few days already and offers a real high-stakes love story compared to its blockbuster counterpart.
Thor: Love and Thunder (Theaters)
Writers: Taika Waititi & Jennifer Kaytin Robinson | Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Christian Bale
It took a long time for the studio to release a trailer for this film, ultimately dropping the first look about a month ago. Since then, I don’t think a day has gone by without me seeing it. Usually, that kind of relentless advertising makes me think something is up because this is the type of movie that should sell itself. Of course, I am still going to see it but the most compelling part of the equation is Christian Bale stepping into the role of Gorr the God Butcher. Bringing Natalie Portman back and going with the Jane Foster Thor storyline is cool, but that reveal would have been better kept a secret. The movie might struggle with the tonal balance between its comedy and the intensity of a character like Gorr, but there’s one way to find out.
Both Sides of the Blade (aka Fire) (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick
Writers: Christine Angot, and Claire Denis | Director: Claire Denis
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon, and Grégoire Colin
Claire Denis’ last movie, High Life, was an intense and graphic sci-fi film and this time out she turns that intensity towards relationship drama as she teams up with Juliette Binoche once again. After seeing Vincent Lindon in Titane last year, I am very excited to see the kind of intensity he’ll bring to this character who watches his long-time partner begin to unravel as she reconnects with her former lover and his best friend. I imagine things are going to get very heated in this heavy, adult-oriented film.
Writers: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic and Frank Graziano
Director: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Starring: Gracija Filipovic, Danica Curcic, Leon Lucev, and Cliff Curtis
This is the debut feature for Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic about a teenage girl who handles her frustrations with her controlling father by focusing her infatuation on her dad’s wealthy foreign business partner who is visiting. I don’t know many of the pieces involved in this production but the Martin Scorsese executive producer credit isn’t shy among the promotional materials. I am also happy to see Cliff Curtis get a role like this. He’s been a great actor for a long time.
The Sea Beast (Netflix)
Writers: Nell Benjamin, Chris Williams | Director: Chris Williams
Starring (voices): Karl Urban, Dan Stevens, and Jared Harris
With the ongoing streaming wars, getting a foothold on the animated market is going to be crucial and Netflix has focused more energy on that over the last couple of years. This one comes straight from Netflix Animation Studios and follows a monster hunter and the young girl who stowed away on his ship. Early word of mouth has been good and it’s got a bit of How to Train Your Dragon in it mixed with pirates, so I am curious to see it. It’s a great option for families if you are not trying to break the bank at Thor this weekend.
Take the Night (Theaters + VOD)
Written & Directed by: Seth McTigue
Starring: Seth McTigue, Roy Huang, and Brennan Keel Cook
If you couldn’t tell, Seth McTigue is very much all-in on his feature debut. The trailer reminds me very much of David Fincher’s The Game (1997) even down to the brother being the one to orchestrate things. This film appears to change the tone a bit and ups the stakes when the resentful brother’s actions wind up taking things too far. The premise is interesting and, with good execution, it may turn out to be pretty good. You can catch it on video-on-demand.
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