BBC Culture

Nine films to watch in July

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    They’re speaking in full sentences, firing machine guns and – according to the latest trailer – doing forward rolls. The apes have evolved, as has the motion capture, since 2011’s relaunch of this primate-powered franchise. Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) takes over from Rupert Wyatt and Andy Serkis returns as the apes’ leader Caesar for a story played out in a virus-ravaged San Francisco where human survivors include a warmongering character played by Gary Oldman. Released 9 July in Indonesia, 11 July in the US and 17 July in Chile

  • Boyhood

    Richard Linklater’s epic coming-of-age tale has been likened to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer “for a new generation”, and called “an entrancing, one-of-a-kind act of dramatic storytelling: a beautiful stunt of a movie”. Shot over a period of 12 years with the same cast, it tells the story of a boy called Mason growing up in Texas. Starring Ellar Coltrane as Mason, with Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as his parents, the movie avoids nostalgia for a direct look at the moments that make up adolescence. Released 18 July in the US, 23 July in France and 31 July in the Netherlands

  • Mood Indigo

    This sci-fi romance from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), adapted from Boris Vian’s cult 1947 novel Froth on the Daydream, has been praised for “combining refined style and raw emotion into one devastating, beautiful package”. It stars Audrey Tatou (Amélie) as Chloé, who embarks on a whirlwind courtship with Colin (played by Romain Duris of The Beat My Heart Skipped) only to fall ill with an unusual illness when a flower begins growing in her lungs. Gondry weaves the bittersweet quirkiness of his feature films with the visual invention of his music videos to create a story applauded for its “sheer spectacle and audacious originality”. Released 5 July in Poland, 18 July in the US and 2 August in Lithuania

  • Magic in the Moonlight

    Woody Allen follows his Oscar-winning Blue Jasmine with a period romantic comedy set in the 1920s. Starring Colin Firth as a magician who travels to the South of France to debunk the work of a spiritualist played by Emma Stone (Zombieland), it marks a more upbeat mood: The Guardian says “this is Allen going back to the knockabout farce and blithe May-December couplings that populate his lighter films”. It’ll also be a Gatsby-esque visual treat according to Variety, with “jazz, beautiful mansions and fashionable nightspots” featured prominently. Released 25 July in the US and 26 July in Japan

  • Lucy

    After playing a self-aware OS (Her) and an alien predator (Under the Skin), Scarlett Johansson tries her hand at drugs mule-turned-pharmaceutically-enhanced superhero in the latest film from director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon). After accidentally ingesting a drug she is carrying, Johansson’s character becomes a hyperintelligent souped-up human in what could be classed as an ‘evolution thriller’. Besson has described the film as being “about pure intelligence.” “We’re basically using 10 per cent of our brain. What happens when we use more?” he told reporters in November 2013, after filming wrapped up in Taipei. Released 24 July in the Netherlands, and 25 July in Spain and the US

  • A Most Wanted Man

    In one of his final films, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman plays another of his “inimitable sad-sack characters”, a German intelligence operative tracking terrorist activity. Based on a 2008 novel by John le Carre, the film is directed by Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) and is a brooding, slow-paced take on the spy genre. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “this admirably textured thriller, rooted in Eastern immigrant-laden Hamburg, will prove absorbing to attentive audiences internationally who don’t need everything spelled out to them”. Released 24 July in Brazil, 25 July in the US and 7 August in Portugal

  • The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared

    Based on the 2009 bestselling novel of the same name, this indie action comedy follows the travails of a centenarian (played by the 59-year-old Robert Gustafsson) who escapes from his nursing home and embarks on a meandering adventure in his slippers. Along the way, there are flashbacks to a life to rival Forrest Gump, as he dines with US President Harry S Truman and drinks vodka with Joseph Stalin, unwittingly influencing the key historical events of the 20th Century. According to The List, “director Felix Herngren gets the balance of callously dark humour and playful, silly storytelling just right”. Released 3 July in Hong Kong, and 4 July in Spain and Ireland

  • Transformers: Age of Extinction

    Mark Wahlberg replaces Shia LeBeouf as the lead in this fourth instalment of the franchise, which for the first time features the ‘dinobots’, a class of Transformers that resemble prehistoric creatures. Filmed extensively in Hong Kong, with small parts filled by actors chosen from a Chinese TV reality show, the film has been tailored for the Chinese market, where the last Transformers movie, Dark of the Moon, is the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time. According to HitFix, director Michael Bay delivers what fans would expect: “Giant robots. Giant mayhem. Destruction on a global scale.” Released 27 June in the US, 10 July in Argentina, Chile and Denmark, and 17 July in Germany

  • Life Itself

    Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert died in 2013 at the age of 70, after a long battle with cancer. Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) followed the final few months of his life for a feature documentary based on Ebert’s autobiography. Life Itself chronicles his battle with alcohol addiction, his influence on film-makers like Martin Scorsese and his love for his wife Chaz – it also casts an unblinking gaze on the disease that left Ebert unable to speak. At the premiere in New York, Chaz said: “In our society we tend to turn away from things like illness and death and Roger was the one who said, ‘This is what illness looks like. Look at me. This is what someone who’s dying looks like.’ And he still found joy in that.” Released 4 July in the US