Return To Normalcy: July 2016 in Films

I finally watched the equivalent of more than one film a day this month! Most of these were watched on weekends actually, plus quite a few in theaters. It was such a great month filled with cinema for me. A return to form! As always, you can find all the films I watched this month, plus a few highlighted faves, after the cut.


  1. Raffles
  2. Our Kind of Traitor
  3. White Comanche
  4. The L-Shaped Room
  5. The Paper Chase
  6. Zorba the Greek
  7. They Died With Their Boots On
  8. The Picasso Summer
  9. Two Friends
  10. Mishaps of Seduction and Conquest
  11. The Girl He Left Behind
  12. Tab Hunter Confidential
  13. Lafayette Escadrille
  14. It Always Rains on Sunday
  15. Where the Boys Are
  16. Ghostbusters (2016)
  17. The Naked Spur
  18. Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
  19. Under the Skin (1997)
  20. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  21. What We Do in the Shadows
  22. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
  23. Red Sun
  24. Les Innocentes (The Innocents)
  25. Birthright (1939)
  26. Ten Nights in a Barroom (1926)
  27. Touki Bouki
  28. Tallulah
  29. The Shooting
  30. Within Our Gates
  31. Veiled Aristocrats
  32. The Blood of Jesus
  33. Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A.
  34. Heaven-bound Traveler
  35. Verdict Not Guilty
  36. Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940
  37. Two Knights of Vaudeville
  38. Mercy, the Mummy Mumbled

1880s: 0
1890s: 0
1900s: 0
1910s: 2
1920s: 2
1930s: 5
1940s: 5
1950s: 3
1960s: 6
1970s: 3
1980s: 3
1990s: 1
2000s: 0
2010s: 8

A good deal of the films I watched in July were aired on TCM (nb: my place of work) in celebration of Kino Lorber’s new DVD set PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA, which looks like the most amazing set. Based on the films I watched this month on TCM, I really cannot wait to get this set. I also rented some great things from Videodrome (the last video store in Atlanta!). Choosing only a few films was more difficult this month than it has practically all year, but these were the films that really shook me this month.

The L-Shaped Room, 1962 (dir. Bryan Forbes)



I hadn’t heard of this movie before it was on TCM early in July, but I looked it up and was instantly intrigued. After watching it I was simply left breathless. It’s so smart and so modern; it makes most of the love stories we see even released now seems old-fashioned. It’s about a French woman named Jane (Leslie Caron), who is living alone in a boarding house in London. She also happens to be pregnant and unmarried. Things get complicated when she starts to fall in love with one of her neighbors. Caron was nominated for an Oscar for her nuanced, heartbreaking performance. I was always fond of Caron, but after this movie (and reading some really cool things about her this month), I am a certified fan.

Two Friends, 1986 (dir. Jane Campion)



This was the last of Jane Campion’s feature films I hadn’t seen. Bless Milestone Films for releasing this (along with one of Jane’s film school shorts)! Told backwards, the film shows how a friendship between two girls disintegrates as the two become teenagers and are forced to go to separate schools. It’s a heartbreaking film to watch and so true to the up-and-downs of the close friendships of teenage girls. I swear I was watching a documentary of my own teen years during some scenes. A must.

Tab Hunter Confidential, 2015 (dir. Jeffrey Schwarz)



I didn’t know much about Tab Hunter going into this film, but the actor celebrated his 85th birthday in July and I watched a few of his films on TCM, so I felt like it was time I watched this documentary (I probably would have watched it last year, but obviously I wasn’t watching films directed by men at the time). Although I knew Tab was gay and had come out officially with his autobiography of the same name (co-written by the Film Noir Foundation’s Eddie Muller), I really wasn’t prepared for how inspiring I found this film and his story to be. Any time someone says how great the 50s were I want to show them films like this and remind them that our past was not kind to many, many people. Hopefully we’ll never go back.

Ghostbusters, 2016 (dir. Paul Feig)



I went to this movie mostly to support the ladies against the backlash the film has been receiving since its announcement two years ago and I left cheering and crying. It’s so, so wonderful. It’s so female. It’s so queer. It’s so everything I could ever want in a movie. I’ll be really surprised if it doesn’t make me end of the year favorites list.

Under the Skin, 1997 (dir. Carine Adler)



Not to be confused with the ScarJo film with the same title from a few years ago, this film is the one and only feature film from writer-director Carine Adler. It’s stars a teenage Samantha Morton as a girl dealing with the grief of losing her mother to cancer and coming to terms with life. It’s frank and sexual and pushes a lot of boundaries, while also exploring grief in a very personal and profound way. A beautiful, touching, thought-provoking film. Samantha Morton gives a fearless, ferocious performance as the lead; a debut for the ages.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, 2016 (dir. Taika Waititi)



I’d seen the trailer for this a few times but wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but then I noticed it had a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (it’s now at 99% because one person who saw it doesn’t like joy), so I decided to give it a whirl. You can’t really go wrong with Sam Neill, you know? Holy crap it was so funny. I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I don’t think I ever really stopped laughing through the whole film. The next day I rented What We Do In The Shadows (another one I couldn’t watch last year), and while I enjoyed that one too, I didn’t laugh quite as much as with this. So if you saw that one and liked it last year, do get your butt to a theater showing this gem.

The Blood of Jesus, 1941 (dir. Spencer Williams)


Like I said, everything TCM showed during their tribute to Pioneers of African-American Cinema was amazing, and it as really great to get to see so much more of Oscar Micheaux’s filmography, but this film from Spencer Williams (Andy from the TV version of Amos N’ Andy) was on a whole other level. It’s a race film starring Cathryn Caviness as a devout Baptist who accidentally gets shot by her non-religious husband right after returning home from being baptized. She then goes to the crossroads and must decide between Heaven and Hell. It sounds wonky and it really is, with imagery akin to Buñuel and other experimental filmmakers coupled with Southern Gospel music. The result is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Absolutely stunning.

So that was July (and I didn’t even talk about all the great westerns I watched for Sunday Morning Western!). Summer Under The Stars has started on TCM, so you can expect another month of great watching in next month’s wrap-up I’m sure. See you at the movies!

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on August 1, 2016, in 2016 in Films and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow quite a vast mix of movies. You are putting my 260 new movies a year to shame with your scheduled 350+. I’ll check out some of your recommendations especially Hunt for the Wilderpeople since I loved What We Do in the Shadows. Keep up the good work.

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