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Nine July Movies To Look Forward To

July 5, 2012  |  12:30pm

If you’re seeking solace from the July heat, might we recommend your local air-conditioned theater, where you’ll find everything from fascinating foreign documentaries to worthwhile superhero blockbusters this month. Here are nine movies to look forward to this month.

9. Union Square
Opening: July 13
Director: Nancy Savoca
Stars: Tammy Blanchard, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rispoli, Christopher Backus
Nancy Savoca took home the Grand Jury prize from Sundance in 1989 for her debut True Love and has since had a string of acclaimed indie films to her credit. Her latest stars Tammy Blanchard as a New Yorker estranged from her family including her sister, played by Mira Sorvino, who shows up at her door.

8. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Opening: July 27
Director: Alison Klayman
Stars: Ai Weiwei, Danqing Chen, Ying Gao, Changwei Gu
Alison Klayman’s loving portrait of China’s dissident artist Ai Weiwei may strike some as hagiographic, but how can it not be? This is a man who would be a major artist no matter what his national origin. Yet both his art and his story are made infinitely more fascinating by the incredible courage and steadfastness he shows in openly defying and mocking one of the most evil regimes on Earth. He’s smarter than them, he’s more talented than them, and he’s more charismatic and popular than them. Of course, they have the guns. That the fight seems evenly matched may be the greatest tribute of all.—Michael Dunaway

7. The Amazing Spider-Man
Opening: July 3
Director: Marc Webb
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Irrfan Khan
It all goes back to the bite. Spidey’s reboot is helmed by the director of (500) Days of Summer, so it’s no surprise the romance between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is right there on the poster.

6. Searching for Sugar Man
Opening: July 27
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Stars: Rodriguez, Malik Bendjelloul
“The Story of the Forgotten Genius” is such a well-worn formula for music docs that it was parodied more than three decades ago in This is Spinal Tap. As Malik Bendjelloul begins to tell the story of Rodriguez, the Dylanesque folk rocker who released two apparently brilliant albums in the early Seventies, then disappeared, it appears he’s on a familiar road. But he’s got a major ace up his sleeve – the road takes a sharp left turn when we learn that bootleg recordings catapulted Rodriguez to stratospheric heights of fame in apartheid-era South Africa (when a record store owner is asked if Rodriguez was as big as the Rolling Stones, he replies “Oh, much bigger than that.”). In fact, his uncensored depictions of sex and drugs were so thrilling to South African musicians that he became the patron saint of the Afrikaner punk movement, which in turn laid the groundwork for the organized anti-apartheid movement that eventually brought the regime down. It’s just a shame that Rodriguez never lived to see it – he burned himself to death onstage in the middle of a show. Or overdosed in prision. Or shot himself alone in his apartment. Or… could he still be alive?—Michael Dunaway

5. Red Lights
Opening: July 13
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen
Robert De Niro plays a renowned psychic being investigated by a psychologist (Sigourney Weaver) and a physicist (Cillian Murphy). “This is a psychological thriller, not to be confused with a horror movie,” producer Cindy Cowan told us back in January. “We’re much more along the lines of The Sixth Sense. We consider ourselves just a very smart thriller. We hope that we’ve delivered a Hollywood film that people of all different ages can go to.”

4. The Imposter
Opening: July 13
Director: Bart Layton
Stars: Adam O’Brian, Anna Ruben, Cathy Dresbach, Alan Teichman
It’s obvious The Imposter is going to be a thriller, and a thriller it is, and then some. Three years after the disappearance of their thirteen year old son, a Texas family receive word he’s been found in Spain. When they go to pick him up, they’re so desperate to believe he’s alive that they don’t even notice that the “boy” is actually a French man in his mid-twenties. Is it a monumental case of grief and hope blinding sense, or is there a darker explanation? Director Bart Layton mixes elements of documentary and narrative filmmaking seamlessly in ways I’ve never seen done before. And every character he uncovers in the drama is more of a treasure trove than the last. It’s one of the most compelling films you’ll see all year, in any genre. Truly thrilling.—Michael Dunaway

3. Ruby Sparks
Opening: July 27
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Stars: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas
We’ve been looking forward to Dayton and Faris finally following up their breakout hit Little Miss Sunshine for six years, and it finally arrives in the form of a romantic comedy with Paul Dano as a struggling writer and Zoe Kazan as the perfect woman he writes into existence.

2. Shut Up and Play the Hits
Opening: July 20
Directors: Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern
Stars: James Murphy, Chuck Klosterman, Gunnar Bjerk, Al Doyle
A year ago, hundreds of friends and thousands of fans converged on Madison Square Garden for LCD Soundsystem’s farewell performance. All the while, the cameras were rolling, resulting in Shut Up And Play the Hits, a documentary that follows James Murphy and the band in the days leading up to, during and after the tumultuous four-hour farewell. Directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern use a staggering number of cameras and crosscut liberally to provide an experience that’s arguably even better than seeing the band live (okay, maybe not quite that good but…). And the scenes outside the concert footage are equally compelling. —Michael Dunaway/Bo Moore

1. The Dark Knight Rises
Opening: July 20
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy
We’ve already called The Dark Knight the the greatest comic-book film of all time, saying “Nolan uses everything at his disposal, from an insanely great cast to a simple, haunting score and incredible directing and editing to create the ultimate comic-book film which, at this point, we can only imagine being topped by Nolan himself.” Here’s hoping he does with the final chapter of his Batman trilogy.

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