Anyone want to go see a movie? As the U.S. slowly starts to reopen, a new possibility has arrived: “Maybe?” Two major motion pictures scheduled for release in July have now moved to August — though who knows whether or not the public will feel comfortable going to a multiplex even during the dog days of summer. Fortunately, those of us staying at home will have plenty of other options to keep us occupied, including: an ambitious adaptation of a classic science fiction novel; a filmed version of a revolutionary Broadway musical; Charlize Theron once again kicking ass ands taking names, in that order; and the latest comeback attempt from the Muppets. There’s even a new streaming service vying for your attention (it rhymes with seaclock). Here’s a baker’s dozen worth of titles to check out next month.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (VOD, July 10)
The latest from the filmmaking brother team of Bill and Turner Ross chronicles the final night of The Roaring 20’s, a soon-to-shutter Las Vegas dive bar filled with colorful, hard-drinking characters who’ve formed a kind of boozy makeshift family. Sort of. Presented as a documentary, this sleeper Sundance hit was actually shot in a rented New Orleans bar filled with a cast that had never met each other, playing out the imagined scenario of their favorite spot’s final night. The drunkenness is real … even if the narrative is invented.
Brave New World (Peacock, July 15)
Much like George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel remains doggedly relevant as the years go by. A vision of a society with deep class divisions and a populace kept in place by a worry-erasing drug, it’s a dystopia with hard-to-ignore contemporary resonance. NBC’s new-to-the-game streaming service Peacock has made this new adaptation starring Alden Ehrenreich (Solo), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), and Demi Moore one of its most highest profile new offerings. But will viewers tune in for a grim vision of humanity’s possible future? That Huxley’s world is set in a debauched world in which monogamy has been outlawed might sweeten the deal.
The Capture (Peacock, July 15)
Here’s another of Peacock’s inaugural offerings — and this one arrives previously tested by British audiences. Written and directed by Ben Chanan (The Missing), the first season has already aired to great acclaim in the UK this past fall, powered by a twisty conspiracy plot that finds former Special Forces officer Shaun Emery (Callum Turner) fighting to clear himself after he’s accused of horrific crimes. (That said crimes have been captured by CCTV doesn’t help his case.) The cast features familiar faces like Famke Janssen and Ron Perlman, but it’s proven to be a breakout role for Turner, who’s competing for Best Actor nomination at the upcoming British Academy Television Awards.
Hamilton (Disney+, July 3)
It became clear early in the run of Lin-Manual Miranda’s hit historical hip-hop musical that the show’s creator and star had assembled one of those one-in-a-lifetime Broadway casts. Fans of the show who always wished they had a chance to see it during its early, sold-out months (or, for those lucky enough to catch the first Broadway run, see again), don’t worry: The composer-star has your back. He’d recorded the play for posterity with the original cast before he and several other passed the baton in the summer of 2016; now you, too, can feel like you were in the theater were it happened. For the half dozen of you who don’t know what it’s about: an immigrant joins up with some other likeminded folks, falls in love, helps found a nation. Also, he has an incredible facility for rapping. This filmed version of the play featuring Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, Daveed Diggs and others all playing the parts they made famous was originally slated to hit theaters in 2021. Instead, it’s arriving on Disney+ just in time for Fourth of July viewing.
Hanna, Season 2 (Amazon Prime, July 3rd)
The first season of Amazon’s adaptation of Joe Wright’s 2011 thriller — about a young woman raised since birth to become a super assassin — initially felt like a slow, slavish imitation of the source material. It improved mightily, however, once the series burned through the original film’s plot, allowing showrunner David Farr to expand on the movie’s ethical and philosophical implications and introduce some wild ideas of his own. So a second season without a road map seems especially enticing, particularly since it promises a bigger role for Mireille Enos and the return of Esme Creed-Miles, who delivers an eerie but touching performance as a girl born to kill yet who wants only to learn how to live.
Intelligence (Peacock, July 15)
David Schwimmer stars as a way-too-confident NSA agent sent to London to assist in fighting cyber crimes; cue a blustery blowhard who immediately tests the patience of his stiff-upper-lip superiors and coworkers. British comic Nick Mohammed co-stars and, like its fellow Peacock brethren from U.K. The Capture (see above), it’s already been picked up for a second season. This spy-vs-spy tale looks to be a lot goofier than that one, however, so congratulations, Peacock viewers: You’ll have their pick up light or dark espionage stories for some time to come.
John Lewis: Good Trouble (VOD, July 3)
Another option for patriotic viewing over your July 4th weekend: Dawn Porter’s documentary on the life and times of John Lewis, the civil rights leader and long-serving congressman. One of the 13 original Freedom Riders, Lewis marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and has represented Georgia’s Fifth District since 1987. He’s also emerged as a kind of national moral conscience, fighting tirelessly against racism, leading sit-ins for gun legislation, and, of late, serving as a thorn in the side to the Trump administration. Porter’s doc draws on interviews with Lewis and those who know him best. along with a wealth of archival footage. Meet a real American hero.
Little Voice (Apple TV+, July 10)
It’s been a good year for TV series that put music first. A few months ago Netflix debuted The Eddy, a series that began as a suite of songs written by Glen Ballard. Now this new Apple TV drama makes songs written by Sara Bareilles the centerpiece of a coming-of-age story set in New York. Brittany O’Grady (Star) plays Bess, a singer/songwriter trying to make it in the big city while grappling with heartache and personal issues. That it comes from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions only seems odd until you remember the producer-director’s big breakthrough came via another New York coming-of-age story, Felicity. (Though to be fair, Bareilles could also probably write a stirring song about the Cloverfield monster if she set her mind to it.)
Maxxx (Hulu, July 28)
No, it’s not an adaptation of Sam Kieth’s comic about a hulking purple brute. Written by and starring The Handmaid’s Tale’s O-T Fagbenle, this British comedy focuses on an ex boy-band star — you remember Boy Town and their monster hit, “Can I See Your I.D.?,” right? — trying to make an unlikely comeback. Fagbenle’s send-up of celebrity culture earned strong reviews back in the U.K. (before the series was pulled from Channel 4 due to the pandemic and scheduled for a later date), so it looks like we might be in for a treat.
Muppets Now (Disney+, July 31)
Jim Henson’s Muppets haven’t headlined a series — or done much of anything — since ABC’s simply titled, short-lived The Muppets, which tried to squeeze the classic characters into a (slightly) edgy mockumentary sitcom a laThe Office. That didn’t go so well, but Disney is hoping they’ll find a more hospitable audience with a new Muppets-centric show on Disney +. That doesn’t mean the company has shared many details about the reportedly improvisation-heavy six-episode series; even the normally forthcoming Kermit the Frog has issued a heavily redacted announcement offering only vague promises of “celebrity guest stars.” (Did J.J. Abrams have a hand in this one, too?) The trailer suggests that Seth Rogen, Aubrey Plaza, Taye Diggs and RuPaul are among those stopping by to hang out with Fozzy, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang, though what exactly they’ll be up to remains to be seen.
The Old Guard (Netflix, July 10)
Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights) adapts a comic series written by Greg Rucka (Stumptown) about a group of old soldiers. How old? Let’s just say Charlize Theron plays a character who went by the name of Andromache when she was fighting on the battlefields of ancient Greece. She and her fellow band of unkillable warriors have been shooting, slicing and slaying for centuries if the price is right … only now someone is hunting these immortal mercenaries down. KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) co-stars as the newest member of the group, a woman who gets a crash course in the pros and cons of fast-healing ass-kicking under Theron’s tutelage.
Palm Springs (Hulu, July 10)
This romantic comedy became the talk of Park City after it premiered at this year’s Sundance … but it’s tough to explain why without spoiling the plot. (You may want to avoid watching the trailer above, as it gives away a few too many spoilers.) Suffice it to say that it offers a goofy, gonzo yet sweet variation on a classic ’90s comedy, with Andy Samberg playing a wedding guest who seems weirdly familiar with the details of this day of holy matrimony. Cristin Milioti co-stars as the maid of honor who forms a bond with this loutish fellow after being unwittingly drawn into his orbit. Making his first feature, Max Barbakow directs from a script by Andy Siara, a staff writer for the late, lamented Lodge 49.
Stateless (Netflix, July 8)
A six-part series focused on an Australian immigration detention center that mixes elements of mystery into a story inspired by real-world immigration woes, Stateless earned rave reviews when it aired on Australian television earlier this year. (It’s timeliness probably didn’t hurt: Australian’s immigration facilities are currently experiencing troubles and drawing criticism akin to their equivalents in the U.S.) Co-created by Cate Blanchett, the show follows four detainees — including an Afghan refugee (Fayssal Bazzi) and an airline hostess (Yvonne Strahovski) fleeing a cult led by a character played by Blanchett — who’ve been taken to the center for wildly different reasons.
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