July Movie Previews

This month sees what must be one of the biggest releases of the year, if not the decade, the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy: The Dark Knight Rises. Along with the latest Pixar animation and a couple of smaller, though no less interesting films, this summer is going to be as hot in the cinema as it is on the streets of Tokyo.

Batman trilogy: The Dark Knight Rises

Nestled between the release of Marvel comics’ The Amazing Spider-man last month and The Avengers in August comes The Dark Knight Rises (out July 28).

It’s been an agonizing four-year wait since The Dark Knight came to our screens and, with its intricate plot, vivid characters and a stunning performance by the late Heath Ledger, as The Joker, raised the bar on what we expect from a ‘comic book’ movie.

The internet has been awash with news leaks and every nugget of information that could be found on the film and fans have watched and re-watched the trailers in search of more clues to the plot.

All we know for certain is that its going to be huge. Christian Bale is returning to play the role of Bruce Wayne, the playboy socialite with the secret identity, Michael Caine is his faithful butler, Alfred, Gary Oldman plays Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman brings Lucius Fox to life. Added to that impressive list are newcomers Tom Hardy, as the monstrous Bane, who broke Batman’s back in the comics, and Anne Hathaway as the seductive Catwoman.

When the previous film ended, Batman had saved the city but, by taking the blame for a murder he didn’t commit, he became an outlaw in doing so. Now, eight years on from those events, Batman must return once again to save Gotham from a new menace.

Christopher Nolan has stated this will be his last film in the series and has promised a satisfying conclusion to the story arc; these are big words but, from a man who has never put a foot wrong during a career that includes the excellent Memento and oscar-winning Inception, as well as his two earlier Bat films, this final chapter looks set to be a triumphant ending.


Brave (out July 21) is the latest computer animation from Pixar Animation Studios. Everything made by Pixar is special – from its first film in 1995, Toy Story, up to the more recent successes of WALL-E and Up.

Brave looks set to continue the trend of delightful, imaginative storytelling coupled with an enthusiasm to push current animation technology as far as it will go. This, the 13th film from the studio, is its first fairy tale and the first film with a female protagonist.

Set in a medieval-style Scotland, the story follows Merida, a feisty and headstrong young princess, skilled with a bow, who fights against her duty to marry the son of a Scottish lord and causes chaos in the kingdom. Seeking the help of an old witch, she is granted a wish, which inadvertently puts a curse on her family.

The voice work is provided by a range of stars, Kelly MacDonald, of the TV series Boardwalk Empire (she also played schoolgirl, Diane, in Trainspotting), voices Merida, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson star as the king and queen respectively and Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters also have roles.

The Lady

Also on release this month is The Lady (out July 21), a biopic covering the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner and political activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Somewhat timely given the pro-democracy leader’s current tour of Europe, the film stars Michelle Yeoh in the title role.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San, a legendary leader who fought for Burmese independence but who was assassinated when his daughter was just two years old.

After moving to England, she falls in love with Oxford academic, Michael Aris, and the couple have two sons. It is on this relationship that the film focuses, with Aung San Suu Kyi’s return to Burma to take up her father’s position as leader and her subsequent imprisonment by the country’s military regime providing a dramatic backdrop to the central love story. The film is directed by Luc Besson and is a fascinating portrait of an incredible woman.


One final film of interest, again timely with the sporting world focussing recently on football, with Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, is United (out July 7).

Set in the late 50s, this is the tale of Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’, the youngest team ever to win the Football League and the Munich air disaster, a horrifying event in which the plane carrying the team crashed, claiming twenty-three lives.

Eight of those killed were United players, the rest airline and tour company staff, crew and journalists.

Starring Dougray Scott, as manager Matt Busby and the excellent David Tennant, as assistant manager Jimmy Murphy, this is a moving account of one of the worst disasters in English football history.

By Christopher O’Keeffe

  1. Once again, is it really that hard to include domestic releases too. I repeat my statement from last month, life is not subtitled.

    So because Tokyo Weekender failed to provide any ideas here are some good Japanese films coming out this month:

    “Ai to Makoto” – Based on a manga (as most movies in any country are nowadays) the story revolves around a very sheltered young lady and a rebel boy falling in love, or as the tagline calls it “An angel falls in love with a devil.”

    “Gaiji Keisatsu” – A police drama. Along the lines of most police dramas most likely but seems to be getting a lot of PR with well-known actors.

    “Blood C- The Last Dark” – This is the latest anime based on Clamp’s Blood: The Last Vampire and looks pretty good in the previous.

    “Love, Masao Kun ga Iku” – A story based on the actual journey of a run-down comedian and an untrainable dog making their way across Japan. Looks very cute and I remember seeing some of the original clips a while back and how adorable and heartwarming of a journey it was.

    “Helter Skelter” – (I want to see this one so bad!) Another manga based story that goes into the troubled-life of a top star and her hidden past.

    … and quite a few others. Many of which are action hero, anime, or JSDF/some rescue force based. Those are just the ones I had heard of before looking at my local movie site and are definitely ones to check out.

    So get out of your bubble and see a movie you might not understand 100 percent of. Who knows, you might like it? And if you don’t understand that much of it maybe you’ll like it enough to want to learn more of the language of the country you are living in at the moment. ^^

  2. Hi,

    I see your point but I think it’s really rude the way you bring it up. It’s not about being in a bubble. Our job as writers is to report what might be interesting to a particular readership, and I believe that anyone who seeks out Japanese movies can easily find out information. I don’t think it’s fair to have a go at the author of this piece (who is fluent in Japanese by the way), as it is completely irrelevant with the point you’re trying to make. I feel sorry living in Japan has made you so bitter.

  3. I’m not bitter, and regardless of what the author does or does not know, he\she obviously wants to perpetuate the stereotype that foreigners only want foreign things.

    These foreign movies, they are also listed on every Japanese website for the relevant theaters. So bringing them up to an English readership would also be a moot point if not for having the expectation that said readership couldn’t be bothered to learn to navigate Japanese websites.

    I’m not bitter about living in Japan, just bitter about those foreigners I meet here who’ve been here for years and have never taken a step out of the gaijin bubble ^^

    Other Japanese films I recommend btw are “Pink eiga”. They are not just soft porn, they are super cheesy with over the top plots and hilarious scenarios fun.

    So Mr. Fluent writer, next time think that maybe people living in Tokyo might want to find out more of the obscure Japanese films too. I only looked on Toei and Toho so the ones I know of are major, but I always find interesting advertisements walking around the back alleys of Shibuya for non-mainstream film. I am sure the author has done so as well.

    Basically if that was tldr and still sounded bitchy, which really wasn’t the intent, I am asking the writer to introduce people living in Tokyo to things they might not know about. Everyone knows that Batman and Pixar films will be released here around the same time. Now the last couple of films, those sound genuinely interesting (well maybe not the last one, love Tennant but not a fan of sports) because they aren’t in your face you have been seeing previews of these movies everywhere for months films. I would love to see more foreign films, as long as they aren’t the type that anyone and their mother has known the release date for for months.

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