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What to watch: July 2019 edition

hold on to your seats, there’s a lot to cover from my curated list of 2019 movie recommendations to must-see movies to carry you into the holiday weekend…

There have been plenty of unique movie-watching experiences to carry us into the second half of 2019. As I’ve watched new releases in theaters, I’ve shared my thoughts on Twitter. Here are my “tweviews” and personal list of favorites for the year so far.

Late Night is smart, hilarious, and has a ton of heart…Mindy Kaling helps us feel like we can do anything and be anything”

It’s not really fair to the other 2019 movies that Late Night hit on all of my favorite things. It’s a hilarious, inspiring story about a woman making it in showbiz and it’s written, directed by, and stars well-developed women characters. I tried to manage my expectations for this film because Kaling has a tendency to lean too heavily into comedy without providing well-developed stories or rich characters. I’m happy to report she’s becoming a thoughtful storyteller without losing her sense of humor.

This film follows an aspiring comedy writer who gets her lucky break and becomes a “diversity hire” on the only late night television show with a woman host. The show’s ratings are plummeting and Kaling’s character, Molly, comes in to save the day with her fresh take on how to stay relevant. Emma Thompson plays the aging talk show hows, Katherine Newbury, who is struggling to save her show. As you’d expect, Thompson is brilliant.

It’s possible another film might bump this one down the list, but at this point, it’s my favorite of the year.

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“GUYSSSS Avengers: Endgame

It’s hard to capture the legacy this film franchise is leaving behind in a few short words. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made varying impressions on different viewers. Some are life-long fans who rarely see anything problematic with the movies. Others have cited “superhero fatigue” as a major flaw: accusing the franchise as using the same boring formula as a cash grab.

Wherever you land on the spectrum, it’s hard to deny that this franchise has left an indelible impression on the film industry. Endgame has grossed over $2.7 billion dollars worldwide with no signs of slowing down. Obviously something is resonating with audiences. For me personally, I’m not a super fan, but I was undoubtedly impressed by the ways the Russo brothers wrapped up such an iconic narrative and hit on all of the things we love about each character - giving each one a beautiful conclusion.

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Woman at War is a beautiful blend of social commentary and humor with a strong female lead and stunning visuals”

This film came out earlier in the year and it’s an indie darling you probably missed. The Icelandic foreign film subverts expectations in all of the best ways. The main character, Halla, is an activist and quite frankly, a badass woman warrior who fights for what she believes in without reservations.

The visuals are gorgeous and the story is tight-easy to follow and love. It’s the right amount of quirky that echoes some of my favorite films like Little Miss Sunshine and The Brother’s Bloom. You might not hear much else about this film, but I’d encourage you to go out on a limb and seek it out.

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Us is proof that Jordan Peele can delight through the craft of cinema while making viewers stop and think. Another great entry into his impressive body of work.

Jordan Peele is the only director whose films I always see in the theater, even though I’m choosy about what horror/thrillers I watch. While there are a few jump scares in this movie, Peele is more concerned with shaking viewers up by talking about something important and relevant about the world we live in rather than frightening them.

Us will have you walking away thinking about and dissecting what you just saw. That’s why Peele is such a genius. He entertains but subtly challenges you to consider a different way of viewing the world in the process. This movie follows a family on vacation who is stalked by their doppelgängers. It’s freaky and funny and definitely one of the best movies of the year.

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco is like a beautifully arranged symphony… when it hits the right notes, it really sings.”

This film is timely in more ways than one. It’s so beautifully executed it’s hard to believe it’s Joe Talbot’s feature debut. The story follows Jimmie, a black man struggling to survive on the edge of San Francisco. He has one true love and motivation: to live in the home his grandfather built that now sits right in the center of gentrified downtown San Francisco.

Jimmie can’t give up the idea of living in the house some day and even spends his free moments painting the trim and pulling weeds when its current residents are out. The score is amazing and its complimented by some of the most amazing visual storytelling. It’s a film with substance and is a true accomplishment from Talbot.

other great watches to carry you into the holiday weekend…

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Toy Story 4

You might be wondering why the creators of Toy Story thought it was necessary to make one more movie when the third installment was such a beautiful conclusion. I thought the same. While I didn’t connect to the story as deeply as the previous movies, it’s still (quite miraculously) a great entry into the series. The movie follows Woody and it turns out there was more to his character arc than we thought.

The movie is part existential crisis on the part of Woody who it turns out isn’t Bonnie’s favorite toy. It sounds deep and heavy and in some ways it is, but in Pixar fashion it tows the line between fun and meaningful. It’s a great way to have some fun at the theater for the long weekend.

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Booksmart

When it comes to raunchy comedies, we haven’t seen female characters at the center, but that all changes with Olivia Wilde’s feature debut. It’s a smart and funny story that follow two best friends who didn’t have any fun in high school so that they could focus on their studies. Their dedication might not have paid off like they thought when they realize their party-going classmates were accepted into the same ivy league schools.

While all of the comedy didn’t land for me, I still had a great time watching this film and Wilde brings a unique directing style to the genre that makes for an enjoyable experience.

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When They See Us

Far from being a lighthearted watch, Ava Duvernay’s latest project follows the true story of the Central Park Five: a group of young black men who were wrongly accused and convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park.

Duvernay dodges overly brutalized prison drama tropes while still telling the men’s stories honestly. It will make your blood boil, but it’s important to watch this version of the story because it needed to be re-framed to portray what actually happened from the perspective of these men. Duvernay does that and so much more.

What are you going to be watching this week? Tell me about it in the comments or on social: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Hannah Lorence