As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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Jurassic Park (July 1)
My dinosaur-loving son will lose his mind on July 1, when Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel arrives on Netflix (along with its two sequels). Scientists figure out a way to clone extinct dinosaurs, and the first thing they do? Why, create an amusement park on a remote island, of course. What can go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out, and it’s up to some paleontologists and Jeff Goldblum’s chaos mathematician to find a way to survive when the dinosaurs run amok. Jurassic Park is a summer blockbuster in the best way possible.
Gone Baby Gone (July 12)
In this harrowing neo-noir, the city of Boston is galvanized when a young girl is abducted. At the center of it is small-time private investigator Patrick Kenzie, and his quest to find the girl takes him from the city’s seediest neighborhoods to its loftiest halls of power. With its taut pacing, ominous atmosphere, and solid performances from Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, and Amy Ryan (who received an Oscar nomination for her performance as the young girl’s unstable mom), you’d never tell that Gone Baby Gone was Ben Affleck’s directorial debut.
Disney’s Bolt (July 22)
Bolt is a super-powered pup who helps a young girl named Penny defeat the nefarious schemes of Dr. Calico. Or so he thinks. Turns out, it’s all for a TV show, and he’s blissfully unaware that he’s just a normal dog. Which makes for all kinds of hilarious hijinks when he’s forced to travel cross-country to reunite with Penny. Though it’s been overshadowed by Disney’s many other animated films (e.g, Tangled, Zootopia, Frozen), Bolt is not without its own charms and definitely worth checking out for your next family movie night.
Her (July 29)
Spike Jonze’s most recent feature film follows a sad sack of a man named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who buys a new artificially intelligent personal assistant (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and slowly begins to fall in love with it/her. However, that sci-fi premise only scratches the surface of Jonze’s Her, which received multiple Oscar nominations in 2013, including “Best Picture,” and ultimately won a “Best Original Screenplay” Oscar.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in July 2018.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (July 1)
There are some, including myself, that believe that this film should’ve ended sooner than it does, that the epilogue is unnecessary and spoils the movie’s emotional climax. That being said, A.I. is still an excellent and thought-provoking sci-fi film, a modern day tale of a robotic Pinocchio who wants nothing more than to become a real boy with a real mother. Originally a planned Stanley Kubrick movie, Steven Spielberg completed it after Kubrick’s death, which leaves some to wonder how the film might’ve turned out under Kubrick’s hand.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (July 1)
Dr. Buckaroo Banzai is many things: physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, rock star. He’ll need all of those talents, as well as his brave comrades in the Hong Kong Cavaliers, to save the Earth from the evil Red Lectroids, who’ve been trapped in the 8th dimension by the Black Lectroids of Planet 10. If any part of that description sounds like the best movie ever, then you’ve probably already watched this movie multiple times. If you haven’t, then you’re in for a treat: Buckaroo Banzai is cult cinema of the best sort.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (July 1)
Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan have only one dream: to make it big with their rock band, Wyld Stallyns. But two things stand in their way. First, they aren’t very good musicians, and second, they need to pass their history class or else Ted will be sent off to military school. Thankfully, a time traveler from the 27th century is there to help them, enabling them to bring together a motley assortment of historical figures — and crazy time travel hijinks ensue. Excellent!
Bloodsport (July 1)
Bloodsport is the film that put Jean-Claude Van Damme’s name on the map. Supposedly inspired by a true story (which is total baloney), Van Damme plays Frank Dux, an army captain who also happens to be a ninja, as he battles his way through the Kumite, an illegal martial arts competition. Make no mistake: Bloodsport is not a great movie, but it is an entertaining one, especially if you’re looking for some mindless martial arts mayhem.
The Brothers Bloom (July 1)
Before Rian Johnson directed The Last Jedi — which, according to some fans, has ruined Star Wars forever — he directed a couple of quirky, low budget indie films, including The Brothers Bloom. Johnson’s sophomore feature follows a pair of con men brothers. But when their latest con involves a wealthy heiress, things get complicated when one of the brothers falls in love with their mark.
Go (July 1)
In 1996, Doug Liman burst onto the scene with Swingers, arguably the ultimate hipster movie of the ’90s. For his followup, he directed this dizzying movie about Generation Xers, raves, gangsters, drug deals gone wrong, and food poisoning. As the name implies, Go never stops as it jumps from character to character, storyline to storyline. If you like non-linear films with a dose of black humor like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, then you’ll probably dig this one.
Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (July 10)
Big budget, special effects-filled films aren’t just a Hollywood thing. South Korea has released a number of them, such as Along With the Gods (the second most successful film in the country’s history). After a firefighter dies in the line of duty, he travels through a fantastical afterlife, during which his life is weighed and evaluated. The storyline gets a bit muddled with fantasy battles, family melodrama, and Korean mythology, which diminishes the film’s emotional impact. But if you want to see how other countries make fantasy blockbusters, this is a prime example.
Castle Rock (July 25)
Hulu’s had a lot of success with their original titles, with the most prominent example being their acclaimed adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Their latest original is a collaboration with the one and only Stephen King, and takes place in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, which King has used as a setting for several of his stories (e.g., The Dead Zone, Cujo, Needful Things). Hulu describes it as “an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland.”
Before We Vanish (July 30)
Kiyoshi Kurosawa is one of Japan’s most acclaimed directors thanks to films like Cure, Pulse, Bright Future, and Tokyo Sonata. While he made his mark in the horror and suspense genres, Before We Vanish is his attempt at an alien invasion movie — but as is Kurosawa’s wont, it has some unusual twists. In Before We Vanish, the alien invasion begins with some scouts who inhabit human bodies and steal human traits and emotions to learn more about our species.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in July 2018.
Burn Notice, Seasons 1 – 7 (July 1)
When it originally aired on the USA channel, Burn Notice was one of our favorite TV series. After a spy is abandoned by his agency in Miami, he uses his skills to figure out why he was burned while helping people in need (and working through his own dysfunctional life). The best description I have for Burn Notice is “James Bond meets MacGyver,” and I mean that in the best way possible. Oh, and it also stars Bruce Campbell as a former Navy SEAL, and not surprisingly, he steals almost every scene that he’s in.
Blazing Saddles (July 1)
Mel Brook’s satire of the Western film is a comedy classic — though its treatment of racism (and flatulence) may be jarring for modern audiences. When a new sheriff rides into the small town of Rock Ridge, its citizens are shocked to learn that he’s black. However, he may just be their best hope when a greedy lawyer wants to destroy their town to make way for a new railroad.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in July 2018. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.