Photo: Paramount pictures

From found footage in Syria to erotic horror, the best films to see this month

One of these films offers a provocative new angle on media tactics in war; another is a return to first principles. All three are out in July—and offer something special
June 21, 2017
City of Ghosts

Released on 21st July

For more than three years, the Syrian city Raqqa has been under Islamic State (IS) control. The group has allowed very little footage of the suffering it has caused to emerge. Matthew Heineman’s documentary about the anonymous activist-journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, who distribute footage from colleagues in the city from their base abroad, is both intimate and devastating. Through indistinct conversations and snippets of video, these refugees must construct both the political narrative of their city and discover if relatives have been killed. As with his Oscar nominated Cartel Land, Heineman gets extraordinary access. This is a moving and provocative study of media tactics—from all sides—and the cost to humanity.

The Beguiled

Released on 14th July

For sceptics, Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, Somewhere) has not delivered on the early promise of The Virgin Suicides (1999). The Southern Gothic setting of her latest film, though, may have delivered an effective framework. Virginia during the Civil War: a houseful of women (among them, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, below, and Elle Fanning) is disturbed by a wounded Union soldier, played by Colin Farrell. The household is seized with an erotic fever and psychological struggles (and horrors) ensue.


Released on 21st July

The 1970s produced the finest surveillance thrillers. This French film returns to first principles—a lonely man in an empty apartment, charged with transcribing phone conversations for a mysterious client, who becomes increasingly anxious about the content. The performances are first-rate—in particular François Cluzet, an embodiment of silent disquiet.

Watch the trailer for Scribe now.