MOVIE BUFF-ET: Summer movie slate remains hot in July

Sicario: Day of the Soldado / Columbia Pictures

While two months of the summer movie season are in the books and most of the expected major summer blockbusters have already been released, the Hollywood pipeline summertime fare has hardly run dry.

While none of the remaining films are likely to challenge “Avengers: Infinity War” for summer box office supremacy, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to see in July.

Here’s a rundown of some of the films that will be opening in local theaters over the next month.

June 29 – Sicario: Day of the Soldado / Uncle Drew / American Animals

Three new movies open this weekend with the sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” seeming to be the best bet for adult viewers. Benicio del Toro and James Brolin are back for more tase and gritty action on the border.

I enjoyed the “Uncle Drew” Pepsi commercials featuring NBA star Kyrie Irving made up as an old man with Hollywood-caliber prosthetics so he could surprise various playground ballers with his vim and vigor, but milking the idea to make a movie, even one that co-stars the hilarious Tiffany Haddish, is a bit too much for me. But, if I had to bet, which new release will sell the most tickets this weekend, “Uncle Drew” would be it.

The dressing-up-as-old-men theme also carries into “American Animals” but this film is based on the true story of a heist from university library by some cagey young crooks who take on the look of old-timers to aid in their getaway. The film was one of the hits of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and might be worth the price of admission.

July 4 – The First Purge

If you want to spend our nation’s birthday at the movie theater, “The First Purge” debuts on July 4. I’ve not seen any of the three previous films which depicts a dystopian scenario in which one night a year all crimes — including rape and murder — are legal. That’s a little too much freedom for me, but the fourth movie in the series tells the origin of how the morally repugnant tradition started.

July 6 – Ant-Man and the Wasp

I think I’ll go for family, fireworks, and watermelon on the Fourth of July and wait a couple of days to go see the latest Marvel movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” Like “The First Purge.” It’s a sequel, too, but this time Evangeline Lilly suits up as the dynamic Wasp to show up Paul Rudd’s Ant-man/Giant Man combination. The two stars chemistry was great in the first film, and while this movie basically is using the same schtick as the original, I’m a sucker for super-hero adventures, Rudd and Lilly. Add in a supporting cast of Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Judy Greer, and what is not to like. There are also rumors that the film contains some sort of connective tissue to next year’s fourth Avengers movie.

July 13 – Skyscraper / Hotel Transylvania 3

If you need your summer fix of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson’s action/thriller “Skyscraper” looks to be an ode to the first two “Die Hard” movies. Johnson plays an ex-FBI agent who now works as security chief for the world’s largest skyscraper. Johnson, who is an amputee with a prosthetic lower leg, suspects the building is the target of a terrorist attack, but he’s torn between saving his family who are trapped in the burning building and getting to the bottom of the attack.

Adam Sandler’s Count Dracula and his gaggle of animated ghouls take a cruise in “Hotel Transylvania 3,” the third entry of the animated franchise. While Sandler’s live-action movie career continues to sink to depths unknown like a weighted anchor, these animated movies which also features the voice talents of Selena Gomez, Kevin James, CeeLo Green, Steve Buscemi, and Andy Samberg among others have been a good bit of fun.

July 20 – Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again / Equalizer 2

In a great piece of counter programming, “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” and Denzel Washington’s action/thriller “Equalizer 2” open on the same day. I actually missed the original movie in both of these franchises, but if I have to make a choice between Meryl Streep in a musical and Washington in an action flick, I’ll take Denzel every time.

July 27 – Mission: Impossible — Fallout

Tom Cruise and his Mission: Impossible team have in a sense achieved the impossible with their reboot of the old TV series by continuing to make sequels that surpass the original. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” is the sixth entry in the franchise, but it’s the first time Cruise invited the same director — Christopher McQuarrie — back to play. McQuarrie’s “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” is arguably the best of the series, and I’m looking forward to the follow-up. This time out Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and Angela Bassett are at odds with Cruise and his trusted team of Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, and Michelle Monaghan. This is probably my most anticipated film of the month.

Classic Corner


New In Local Theaters

  • Uncle Drew (PG-13) 1 hr. 43 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Fiesta Square, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado (R) 2 hr. 2 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Fiesta Square, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • American Animals (R) 1 hr. 54 min.
    (Malco Razorback)
    » Watch trailer

Paul Newman is unquestionably one of the top movie stars of his era. He made great films from the 1950s into the 21st century. From his early work in films like “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “Cat on Hot Tin Roof,” “The Long Hot Summer,” and “The Hustler,” Newman has a charisma that men admired and a sex appeal that women could not deny.

Newman was equally adept playing an angsty loner with a chip on his shoulder, or the perfect comedic partner in crime.

He had a twinkle in his eye, and rye smile that made films like “The Sting” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance” even more appealing. It has to be difficult to standout when playing a scene with Robert Redford, but that’s exactly what Newman did in those two films and practically ever other movie he made.

Another of those films is “Harper” from 1966. The movie’s opening scene where Newman dunks his head into a cold sink of ice water perfectly encapsulates the film’s numbness and remains iconic to this day.

“Harper” is a convoluted tale featuring Newman as Los Angeles private investigator Lew Harper, who is hired by Susan (Lauren Bacall) to find her missing millionaire husband, whom she believes is out philandering but could be just as easily kidnapped or murdered.

The film directed by Jack Smight is loosely based on the 1949 Ross Macdonald mystery novel “The Moving Target” and pays homage to the Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe P.I. films that served Humphrey Bogart so well in the 1940s, but “Harper’s” tone and style is all 1960s.

There are so many twists and turns in the plot that you might need a scorecard, but as upside down as the film turns, Newman holds it together with tough-guy panache that’s just fun to watch.

Newman is aided and abetted in fine fashion by co-stars Janet Leigh, Julie Harris, Shelly Winters, Arthur Hill, Robert Wagner, and Pamela Tiffin in a movie that no doubt influenced Curtis Hanson’s “L.A. Confidential.”

“Harper” is an excellent Newman film that’s not quite as well known as “Cool Hand Luke” or “The Verdict,” but it’s one sure to please mystery and crime film fans.

Turner Classic Movies airs “Harper” at 4:45 p.m. C.T. Saturday.