On screens in July: his bow before he arrived over Henry Hill

Harold Pinter wasn’t the only literary great to get into acting. In François Truffaut’s 1973 film La Nuit Américaine, British novelist Graham Greene plays an extra role as an insurance executive. Mutual fans of each other, Truffaut didn’t say it was Greene until the next day when the unassuming Briton left the set.

It’s a nice Wikipedia footnote, but really, most cameos are unnecessary; they are nothing more than gimmicks. A remake or film adaptation of a badly aged TV series brings out the old stars to play a couple of jacks…or something like that. If they’ve switched sides – Charlton Heston’s appearance as an aging misanthropic ape in Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes remake comes to mind – that raises the bar slightly, but adds little to the story. global tapestry.

Arguably, we would have warmed Heston more – if you could put aside his National Rifle Association presidency – playing the same character from the 1968 original? Cabined on the same beach as a tolerated stay, perhaps, in the absence of a decent barber indistinguishable from his ‘masters’, a few words of wisdom for Marky Mark etc.

In such a cameo, the older and cancer-ridden the star — think Leonard Nimoy in the Star Trek reboot — the better. It is a strong inspiration when we realize who it is: the risk is worth it even if it can tarnish the legacy of a masterpiece. It speaks to our collective desire that stories never end: if not in our imaginations, on screen. This is why the movie industry gives us so many sequels.

Call Saul for cameo lessons
For a masterclass in cameos, look no further than You better call Saul (S6B; July 11 on Netflix; 93 on Metacritic), which resumes its final season this month. He will be greatly missed. Of course, as a prequel, we already know how this story ends, so it’s more about how we got here: an authentic example of the pointless being priceless.

From its very first episode, characters from the Breaking Bad universe have been cleverly woven into the narrative: from menacing Mexican villains whose rear we thankfully thought we’d seen, to Ken Wins, the annoying yuppy whose car Walter White puts fire to episode four of season one. The list is long and you’d be hard-pressed to recognize half of it, even if you’ve seen Breaking Bad two or three times. Creator Vince Gilligan shamelessly rewards series enthusiasts with dopamine, and he’s well earned the right.

For the latest episodes, they’re pulling out the big guns, with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, who couldn’t resist the opportunity to extend Jesse Pinkman’s arc in 2019 spinoff film El Camino (let’s face it: slightly tarnishing the legacy of his exultation as he broke down the locked door of his white supremasist captors), who was to appear. Carol Burnett, 89 (it’s unclear if she has cancer), was also recruited to make an appearance.

Elton John is in jail
Right up there with cameos, of course, are the final roles. It’s poignant to watch an actor give what ended up being his final screen appearance, especially when he reaches the public many months, if not years, after his death – often the volume of his posthumous releases sadly makes referring to the cause of their death.

In the case of Ray Liotta, whom the world will forever love as Henry Hill – it’s sadly too late to adapt the sequel to Nicholas Pileggi’s ‘Wiseguys’ (renamed ‘Goodfellas’ for the screen) that the gangster turned informant wrote about his life as a fugitive – no less than six titles would come to life in the aftermath of his death.

One of them, his last television role, is Black bird (July 9 on Apple; 83), a gripping true-prison story miniseries starring Taron Egerton (Rocketman) as a convicted drug dealer who is offered leniency on his sentence if he can befriend a suspected serial killer (the always superb Paul Walter Hauser), an inmate at a maximum security prison for the criminally insane, and extract a confession from him.

With a TV movie from Dennis Lehane – the author of Mystic River and Shutter Island, whose screenplay credits include episodes of The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and The Outsider – you’re in the hands of one of the true masters of fiction. policewoman. And Riotta’s involvement is the icing on the cake.

Trailers to make you gray
In what is a lean month at the cinema, an unwelcome sequel Thor 4: Love and Thunder (July 6; not shown worldwide) – director Taika Waititi makes a guest appearance – and Gerard Butler’s ghastly action vehicle Last seen alive (July 21; only 14 on Rotten Tomatoes!) are the only offerings.

The only reasonably promising movie option is The gray man (July 22 on Netflix), which is billed as the streaming station’s most expensive film. Directed by the Russo Brothers (every Marvel movie that matters) and starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Regé-Jean Page, it promises to be thrilling, even if it looks like the hunt thriller genre. to the man who’s been done 50 times before.

And we apparently can’t get enough of teen rom-coms. Netflix pairing Hello Goodbye and all the rest (July 6) and purple hearts (July 19) are…well, let’s just say you won’t be able to make it to the end of either trailer without throwing up. The latter has a military scene as a backdrop that outshines the soft, mellow center of Saving Private Ryan.

Back in TV land, returning series include stranger things (S4B; July 1) and Virgin River (S4; July 20) on Netflix; and What we do in the shadows (S4; July 14), Breeders (S3; July 15) and Industry (S2; ​​August 1) on HBO Max.

Beyond our selection of the month, Surface (July 30 on Apple), a psychological thriller miniseries about a woman with memory loss, looks like a safe bet, just like Darren Star’s latest New York comedy series Decoupled (July 30 on Netflix) with Neil Patrick Harris in his forties facing the departure of his 17-year-old husband. Like, Grindr, hello! And pay attention to Rap shit! (July 22 on HBO Max), a comedy by Issa Rae (Insecure) about two old classmates who form a hip-hop group.

Of course, it’s based on a true story, and it goes without saying that its muses, Yung Miami and JT, have cameos. But let’s never do the same with actual serial killers. It’s not like we have to give them extra motivation on top of having an overbearing mother.

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