“The Forgiven” (July 1, theaters and VOD)
If the vision of Jessica Chastain in a sleek LBD sniffing coke and then vigorously bedding Christopher Abbott during a bacchanal in Morocco stokes your flames, then John Michael McDonagh’s “The Forgiven” is the movie for you. “I wish I wasn’t so worried,” she says before jubilantly downing another line of white powder. She wishes she were more worried about her husband, played by Ralph Fiennes, a selfish doctor who, during their now-derailed vacation stay at an old-time friend’s deliciously depraved party in the desert, has run over a Muslim child and failed to cover it up.
Working from a novel by Lawrence Osborne, “Calvary” and “The Guard” director McDonagh treats his ensemble — and it’s an impressively cast one, including Matt Smith and Caleb Landry Jones as the oddly well-matched dandy hosts — like insects under a magnifying glass. With wide lenses and a detached, chilly reserve courtesy of DP Larry Smith, the English-Irish director and screenwriter seems wholly amused by tearing asunder a Dionysian display of the rich and bored, gathered for a debaucherous jamboree in the neo-colonized North of Africa.
Amid the film’s hedonistic party sequences and jittery coked-out banter, a far meaner moral streak cuts through McDonagh’s lengthy, sprawling movie. “The Forgiven” is a fun summer party movie on the outside that makes you love feeling bad on the inside. —RL
“Both Sides of the Blade” (July 8, theaters)
Nothing says summer movie season like a brutal and unsparing romantic drama by Claire Denis! With her forthcoming adaptation of “The Stars at Noon” delayed by COVID (and now finally set for a Cannes premiere), the beloved French auteur kept herself busy during the pandemic by sequestering Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon in an airy Paris apartment and arranging them into just the right angles for an implosive love triangle about an unsettled woman, her ex-con husband, and the last man she dated before getting married (Grégoire Colin plays the ex who simply refuses to let sleeping dogs lie).
Absent the effervescence of Denis’ “Let the Sunshine in” but full of slow-burn tension that simmers like butter, “Both Sides of the Blade” (once known as “Fire,” appropriately enough) is an incendiary portrait of what happens when people delude themselves into thinking the past is possible to quarantine away from the present. Then again, you could probably say the same about “Lightyear.” —DE
“Murina” (July 8, theaters)
Croatian filmmaker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović won the Caméra d’Or for her first feature film, “Murina,” which was executive produced by Martin Scorsese. While “Murina” may seem like a simple story on the surface — a teenage girl (Gracija Filipovic) becomes restless working for her harsh fisherman father (Leon Lucev) along the Croatian coast — the slippery plot of family drama dives into the fragility of adolescence. The tense film culminates in the unspoken competition between mother (Danica Curcic) and daughter when a handsome family friend (Cliff Curtis) comes to visit, carrying with him the promise of freedom from the working class.
“Murina” is as a delicate delicacy just like its title which, translated from Croatian, nods to an Adriatic Sea eel which will chew off its own skin for survival. The resiliency of the women in and behind “Murina” lives up to its haunting namesake in this must-see feature. —SB
Walt Disney Pictures/screenshot
“Thor: Love and Thunder” (July 8, theaters)
Taika Waititi returns with the hotly anticipated fourth chapter in Marvel’s beloved “Thor” movies, the second from Waititi after 2017’s financially and critically successful “Thor: Ragnarok.” Chris Hemsworth returns as the axe-wielding Norse god, and he will be reunited with Natalie Portman, who plays love interest Jane Foster, after she sat out “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Perhaps even more exciting than Portman’s return is the arrival of Christian Bale as a scarred villain known as “The God Butcher,” marking Bale’s first appearance in the MCU. Tessa Thompson’s fan favorite Valkyrie will of course feature heavily, and both Thompson and Marvel head Kevin Feige have promised is its time for the canonically queer character to “find her queen.” The actual substance of her romance will be under hot scrutiny, especially with Marvel parent company Disney under fire for its recent gay censorship for the Chinese release of “Fantastic Beasts.” —JD
Courtesy of Prime Video
“Don’t Make Me Go” (July 15, streaming on Amazon Prime Video)
John Cho stars as single father Max with a terminal illness who tries to make up for soon-to-be lost time with his teenage daughter Wally (Mia Isaac) by embarking on a cross-country drive from California to New Orleans for his twentieth college reunion. To complicate the road trip father-daughter dramedy even further, Max also hopes to reunite with Wally’s mother at the reunion after she left the family years ago.
Jemaine Clement and Kaya Scodelario also star in the R-rated feature which comes from rising filmmaker Hannah Marks, who follows up her 2021 Tribeca favorite “Mark, Mary & Some Other People” with a different kind of complicated (but surely still funny) dramedy. Marks will also appear in the Amazon Studios film, following recent roles in “I Used to Go Here” and “Dinner in America.” The “Banana Split” alum is also currently in pre-production on teen mystery “Turtles All the Way Down,” which she will direct from a script adapted from the popular John Green novel. —SB
Michele K. Short
“Where the Crawdads Sing” (July 15, theaters)
Delia Owens’ bestselling novel gets the big screen treatment, care of rising director Olivia Newman and It Girl Daisy Edgar-Jones, which seems poised to bring the book clubs back to the multiplex. Owens’ novel follows “marsh girl” Kya (Edgar-Jones), who has essentially raised herself in a North Carolina swamp after the rest of her family has left her (including her mother, whose absence seems to be felt most acutely).
While Kya is maligned by her peers, she finds solace in some of her neighbors, including both the human and the various kinds of flora and fauna that surround her unique home. But when Kya becomes entangled with two very different men (Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickinson), the story takes a turn, one that ends in (dun dun!) alleged murder. An atmospheric drama that chronicles the kind of people and places most of us never get to know, Owens’ book was a major hit, and one that should translate well to the big screen. —KE
“The Gray Man” (July 15, theaters; July 22, streaming on Netflix)
Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, and Regé-Jean Page?! We’re already fanning ourselves thanks to the hottest cast behind the Russo brothers’ Netflix tentpole “The Gray Man,” steaming up screens this July. Based on the 2009 spy novel, “The Gray Man” centers on a deadly duel between freelance assassin Gentry (Gosling) and his former CIA cohort Llyod Hansen (Evans) in a globe-spanning game of cat and mouse.
The film is already being billed as Netflix’s own answer to James Bond, with a franchise in the works continuing Gosling’s Gentry spy pursuits. De Armas and Page play CIA agents in the film that has already broken records for being the most expensive Netflix original film to date, thanks to a $200 million budget. And writer-director-produer Joe Russo has already teased the “electric” chemistry between Evans and Gosling…like we needed a reminder. —SB
“Nope” (July 22, theaters)
As “Get Out” suggested and “Us” proved beyond a doubt, every new Jordan Peele movie is a reason for celebration. No filmmaker working today does a better job of fusing complex ideas involving race and society into thrilling, funny, and often quite scary meditations on the world today. The emerging horror maestro’s latest undertaking is shrouded in mystery, but appears to involve a small town in California overtaken by a very strange event in the sky that forces objects to drift into the sky. What means exactly will likely lead to a savvy allegory and a terrifying set of unpredictable events.
Peele’s formidable cast includes “Get Out” breakout Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun, and the project also finds him teaming with cinematography vet Hoye van Hoytema, which suggests a slick and memorable plunge into whatever nightmarish concept Peele has dreamed up. Whatever’s going on in that small town, it’s bound to keep people talking long after the credits roll. —EK
“Not Okay” (July 29, streaming on Hulu)
Few of this year’s filmmaker and star pairings are as utterly thrilling as the one on offer in Quinn Shephard’s sophomore outing “Not Okay,” which sees the festival breakout (remember when she wrote, directed, and starred in her Tribeca hit, “Blame”?) directing the always-delightful Zoey Deutch as a would-be influencer. The film follows Deutch’s Danni Sanders who, in her desperation for fame, notoriety, and social media clout, fakes a trip to Paris and suddenly has to face the real world when a “terrifying incident” infringes on her fun.
Shephard’s “Blame” was an insightful look at the inner world of American teenagers, something Deutch excels at portraying (see: “Everybody Wants Some,” “Flower,” and “Before I Fall”), and the on-the-pulse concept of the film sounds both hilarious and unnerving. We can’t wait to see what these two have cooked up together, and what they will get up to next. —KE
IFC Films, exclusive to IndieWire
“Resurrection” (July 29, theaters; August 5, VOD)
Andrew Semans channels Andrew Zulawki’s “Possession” and the shlock of a basic cable thriller with his Sundance freakout “Resurrection.” Rebecca Hall plays control-obsessed career woman Margaret, whose carefully composed orbit as a single mother is thrown out of whack by the appearance of a shadowy man from her past (Tim Roth) at a work conference. His re-emergence into her life forces her to confront a two-decades-old trauma, which ace actor Hall lays out in a brutal eight-minute monologue confession shot in close-up that only gets more fucked up as the camera inches closer.
Part gaslighting thriller, part Grand Guignol “is this real or imaginary?” nightmare, “Resurrection” often trades in creepiness for silliness and back again. But the two leads are totally strapped in for Semans’ mad vision, his first film since 2012’s “Nancy Please.” —RL
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” (August 5, theaters)
Actress-writer-producer-director Halina Reijin’s sophomore feature “Bodies Bodies Bodies” follows a group of wealthy 20-somethings who plan an isolated party during a hurricane. The only hitch? It soon turns into a bloody slasher fest. Written by Kristen Roupenian, Sarah DeLappe, and Chloe Okuno, the film centers on a couple (played by “Borat 2” breakout star Maria Bakalova and Amandla Stenberg) who are trying to label their relationship. A party with their pals — played by Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace, Pete Davidson, and Myha’la Herrold — proves to be the perfect way to break the ice, thanks to titular game Bodies Bodies Bodies, a type of Mafia-esque crowd-pleaser. Yet finding the game’s killer turns into an IRL cat-and-mouse slasher as the friends’ bodies really do pile up.
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” debuted at 2022 SXSW, with IndieWire critic Robert Daniels writing that the film is “worth a second, third, even fourth watch,” given its natty read on current Internet culture. With TikTok lingo and a Gen Z-centric soundtrack, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is already drawing comparisons to redefining the horror genre, much like Wes Craven’s original “Scream.” —SB
“Bullet Train” (August 5, theaters)
Imagine a train with two professional assassins on board, both of whom are on a mission involving one of the passengers. Sounds like a cool movie, right? Then add another assassin, then another, then another — on the same train, mind you! — and you’ll have an idea of the hijinks you can expect from Sony’s latest action comedy.
Yes, “Bullet Train” follows five assassins with intertwining missions who happen to be riding the same train from Tokyo to Morioka. Brad Pitt (who did his own stunts) leads an all-star ensemble cast that also features Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Bad Bunny, and Sandra Bullock. The wild premise is in competent hands with director David Leitch, who has been behind some of the biggest recent action hits, including “John Wick,” “Atomic Blonde,” and “Deadpool 2.” The film is based on the Japanese novel “Maria Beetle” by Kōtarō Isaka, and went through a lengthy development process that saw it transform from a dark and violent action thriller into a lighter comedy. In the process, Lady Gaga dropped out of the cast and was replaced by Bullock, satisfying anyone itching to see a “Lost City” reunion.
Fans and supporters of original cinema should look forward to this one — while technically adapted from a novel, it is one of the least IP-driven blockbusters coming out this summer. A strong box office performance would be a win for everyone who wants to see more new stories at the multiplex. —CZ