13 Films I Saw This July (Film List 2021)

Hello All,

This month I have been making more progress where I can in regards to the post-production aspect of the films I just finished shooting. The last couple of months were a little light, but I think when I have watched them they have become a little bit more of an occasion in the chaos.

The rules are I can only write about films I haven’t seen before, I want to engage with films which have been on my watchlist for a while now. I have really enjoyed the films I’ve seen in this series so far. Hopefully during this busy period I can keep watching films.

Phantom Thread – Date Viewed: 01/07/2021

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Studio: Annapurna Pictures, Ghoulardi Film Company, Perfect World Pictures

Release Date: 2017

Daniel Day-Lewis’ last performance is perhaps one of his finest. Playing genius dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, his life is changed forever after he meets his muse, Alma. From there, his rituals and routines are thrown into disarray as we see who breaks first. A truly breathtaking film to watch in so many respects. From the performance and visuals to the incredible soundtrack by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Paul Thomas Anderson is a master of his craft and it’s a pleasure to watch him when he’s on such razor-sharp form – a mesmeric watch that deserves your undivided attention.

Currently on BBC iPlayer (At the time of writing)

There Will Be Blood – Date Viewed: 02/07/2021

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Studio: Ghoulardi Film Company, Scott Rudin Productions

Release Date: 2007

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnum Opus sees Daniel Day-Lewis’ career defining performance as Daniel Plainview. A ruthless oil tycoon, who after striking it rich with silver invests in oil and goes on to become one of the most influential men in the oil business. A film that demands your undivided attention and repays in spades – it’s one of the true masterpieces of 21st century cinema. The exploration of religion and capitalism in the emerging United States is something to behold as the visual and audio arrest you and bring you in to the magnificent performances of Day-Lewis and Paul Dano, but also the peerless direction of Paul Thomas Anderson. A must watch for anyone.

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

Bo Burnham: Inside – Date Viewed: 05/07/2021

Director: Bo Burnham

Studio: Netflix

Release Date: 2021

Bo Burnham’s latest special sees him explore the relationship between creator and created in this stunning piece. Burnham repeatedly plays with the language of film, YouTube and social media as the film goes on – somewhat reflective of the nature of being locked in with nothing else to do except being swallowed by the internet and social media during the pandemic. The songs are brilliantly written and performed as well – as walls are broken between Bo and the audience. An interesting piece that plays with format over and over again, while giving a glimpse into Bo’s life and mental state as he relentlessly creates over and over again. It’s a really rewarding watch as constantly one ups itself with the experimentation.

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

A Single Man – Date Viewed: 08/07/2021

Director: Tom Ford

Studio: Artina Films, Depth of Field, Fade to Black

Release Date: 2009

Tom Ford’s debut feature is a tender and heartfelt portrayal of love and grief. When Colin Firth’s George Falconer hears the news that his partner of 16 years has died suddenly in a car crash, his will to live vanishes as he explores life without the love of his life. The film explores grief in such a careful and measured way, which shows when Firth goes through his day without his love. Tom Ford directed his sophomore effort Nocturnal Animals, which along with A Single Man is well worth your time.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

Rocketman- Date Viewed: 10/07/2021

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Studio: New Republic Pictures, Marv Studios, Rocket Pictures

Release Date: 2019

Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman is a boisterous, colourful and vivid biopic of one of the most renowned artists of the few decades. It doesn’t shy away from the afflictions that plagued Elton at the height of his fame and the abusive relationships with his mother and his manager. The musical numbers are great – they choreography and cinematography are incredible as it flows from tragedy to musical number on a way which contextualises the pain he felt through the joy he created for so many lovers of his music. A very well crafted musical/drama, which will draw you in on the legend of Elton John – let alone the amazing music he created.

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

Contagion – Date Viewed: 18/07/2021

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Studio: Participant Media, Imagenation Abu Dhabi, Double Feature Films

Release Date: 2011

Arguably the most culturally relevant film of the last year and a half, considering this film came out over a decade ago. Steven Soderbergh has an innate ability to craft stories grounded in realism while blending social issues and humour. Every character is so well-crafted, to the point where it seems almost documentary-like by comparison to the real-life experience. A gripping and unnerving film, which has gained new meaning in recent times.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

Hustlers – Date Viewed: 19/07/2021

Director: Lorene Scafaria

Studio: Gloria Sanchez Productions, Nuyorican Productions, Annapurna Pictures

Release Date: 2019

Based on New York magazine’s 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler. Lorene Scafaria’s crime comedy-drama centres around a group of strippers who steal money from Wall Street stock traders by drugging them as they visit their club. A film that never focuses on the bodies of the characters – but on the people themselves as they go from one ludicrous situation to the next. Jennifer Lopez steals every scene as Ramona – the matriarch who leads the group from one score to another. An engaging watch that will knock you out in terms of its presentation and direction. 

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – Date Viewed: 20/07/2021

Director: Tobe Hooper

Studio: Vortex

Release Date: 1974

Tobe Hooper’s iconic horror classic rides the line between taste and sense for what feels like an eternity. For an 18 rated film, there’s barely any onscreen gore, which the filmmakers use to great effect – creating a sense of dread, which builds and builds until its crescendo. Subsequent sequels have lost what has made this film so incredible – but it is not to be understated the level of terror this film conjures through its faux-biographical presentation and slightly obscured violence. A classic of the genre, which has created one of its most iconic horror characters, ‘Leatherface’.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Crash – Date Viewed: 23/07/2021

Director: David Cronenberg

Studio: The Movie Network, Telefilm Canada

Release Date: 1996

David Cronenberg’s adaptation of J.G Ballard’s novel of the same name explores a group of symphorophiliacs (people who are sexually aroused by car crashes). This is an extremely daring film – which explores the relationship between sex, violence and fetish in a way in which I have never seen before. Perhaps one of the most lauded films of the 90s for its originality and how it pushed further than the novel, according to J.G Ballard himself, Crash is a very challenging film to watch with how it looks into its subject matter, but it’s truly an extraordinary film to behold and David Cronenberg at the peak of his powers. Just like this film, his back-catalogue is also exceptional, The Fly and The Brood being just a couple – a classic and a must-watch for any cinephile.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Mystery Road – Date Viewed: 24/07/21

Director: Ivan Sen

Studio: N/A

Release Date: 2013

Ivan Sen’s neo-noir/western sees Indigenous Australian detective Jay Swan investigate the death of a local Aborigine girl after she is found inside a drainage culvert on Mystery Road. The film wrestles with identity and race, as well as the murky politics that blanket day to day existence. The blend of the genre with the setting collide to elevate the themes, creating isolation between characters and community. Aaron Pederson delivers a pitch-perfect performance – anchoring the film – making every interaction and gunshot carry significant weight. An arresting watch that is worth your time.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Aguirre, The Wrath of God – Date Viewed: 25/07/21

Director: Werner Herzog

Studio: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Hessischer Rundfunk

Release Date: 1972

Werner Herzog’s story of Lope De Aguirre is a slope into madness and abyss. Utilising a unique semi documentary-style indicative of Herzog’s storytelling abilities. The film blurs lines to tell a story of a group of conquistadores looking to find the lost city of gold, El Dorado, inspired by the real-life expedition and a separate memoir by Gasper De Carvajal. The film depicts the savagery of the environment, which was mirrored by the real-life production as they struggled massively to achieve the film. This lead to a series of famous disagreements between regular collaborators Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog. The film has a lot of stories just in regards to the production. The finished product is an absolute masterpiece, which has inspired such films as Apocalypse now through its uncompromising attention to detail in terms of theme, presentation and the depiction of real-life figures. An unflinching film that is worth your time.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Fitzcarraldo – Date Viewed: 26/07/21

Director: Werner Herzog

Studio: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Pro-ject Filmproduktion, Filmverlag der Autoren

Release Date: 1982

Werner Herzog’s epic follows a prospective rubber baron, Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, known as Fitzcarraldo in Peru. The stories centres around his almost biblical mission to construct an opera house by dragging a 320-tonne steamship up a hill to access a rubber rich area in the Amazon. The production of this film is the stuff of legend as both Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog fell out, with Herzog even being told by some of the extras that they would gladly kill Kinski, but Herzog declined as he needed to finish the film. The insanity of the undertaking is on a biblical level as one man’s will seems to carry the ship over the hill, but it’s an overwhelming experience, which borders on the surreal as well. It must be experienced first hand – and it is also one of Herzog’s finest films, which is saying something. A must watch which is worth your time.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Raya and the Last Dragon – Date Viewed: 31/07/21

Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Release Date: 2021

Disney continues their streak of creating beautifully crafted digital animation. Steeped in traditional South-Asian cultures – the film centres on Raya, a young woman who seeks the shards of a dragon gem hoping to restore the kingdoms of Kumandra from the Druun plague. A quintessential Disney film – in the fact that it carries a message, grounds in the cultural rich settings, which makes the message resonate even more. A great film, which can be enjoyed by all ages.

Currently on Disney+ (At the time of writing)

I have been watching these using a mix of Netflix, Amazon Prime, BFI Player and Disney+ and even rental. Typically all of these would cost a lot, but I have been fortunate to have access to these platforms for free – at least for now. Once that is over, I’ll be prioritising which platforms to still stick with moving forward. I hope you check these films out.

Watching these films again helps get money back into the film industry, so it feels good to feel like I’m helping while enjoying these films.

Stay safe, be present, enjoy things that you like.


Stills courtesy of FILMGRAB / Kiss Them Goodbye / Bluscreens.net / anothermag.com / Elevation Pictures / Movieclips Classic Trailers / movienco.co.uk / screenmusings.com / Screen Goblin /commonsensemedia.org / NME / Joe’s Movie Blog / cultandexploitation.blogspot.com / fancaps.net / ingloriousbaguettes.com / starwarsscreencaps.com / boardchairman / animationscreencaps / forum.pixarpost.com / shattereddteacup / MyCenterMovie / disney.fandom.com

Published by Adam Shafi

Here's my work, ranging from films to essays. Hope you enjoy it!

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