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Nine Films To Watch In May 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (Credit: Credit: PR)

X-Men: Apocalypse

In 2014, director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) returned to the franchise he helped create with the critically acclaimed X-Men: Days of Future Past. Set a decade later in 1983, X-Men: Apocalypse sees immortal mutant Apocalypse (played by Oscar Isaac) reawakened. James McAvoy reprises his role as a young Charles Xavier, albeit minus his flowing locks – the professor has finally gone bald. Michael Fassbender is the vengeful Magneto once again, enlisting as a minion to Apocalypse (who was, apparently, the first mutant in existence). Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner and Jennifer Lawrence co-star, and Hugh Jackman will make an appearance as Wolverine. With such a strong line-up, could Singer match the success of his last film? On general release from 18 May (Credit: PR)

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Credit: Credit: PR)

Alice Through the Looking Glass

The high-calibre cast of Tim Burton’s 2010 film Alice in Wonderland return for this live-action sequel (with Burton as producer and James Bobin directing). Mia Wasikowska stars as Alice, returning through the looking glass to rescue the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter co-star alongside voice actors including Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry – and Alan Rickman, in what was to be his last role. The film has feminist overtones: “Alice has become a boss,” Hathaway told Entertainment Tonight. “She’s following her dreams, she’s doing impossible things. She’s pretty fearless, and she’s what we would call a modern woman.” Bobin explains: “Lewis Carroll was really the first person to put a girl as the hero of a book. He was very keen to kind of convey the girls that he knew, and their strengths. I think Mia helps that character to be the character Lewis Carroll wanted her to be.” On general release from 25 May (Credit: PR)

A Bigger Splash (Credit: Credit: PR)

A Bigger Splash

Two former lovers are reunited at a Mediterranean villa in this “chamber piece of sexual tension” inspired by Jacques Deray’s La Piscine (1969). Rock star Marianne (Tilda Swinton) is on holiday with her partner (Matthias Schoenaerts) when her ex-boyfriend (Ralph Fiennes) shows up with his daughter (Dakota Johnson). The result, according to The Guardian, “has something of the drifting ennui of Antonioni” – meaning director Luca Guadagnino “is surely coming to rival Paolo Sorrentino as an Italian auteur on the world stage”. Fiennes’s performance was praised by The Telegraph as “stand-up-and-wolf-whistle brilliant”: BBC Culture critic Nicholas Barber claims that “A Bigger Splash is an erotic drama which becomes an edgy thriller, but it’s always scenic, sun-baked, and hilarious: Fiennes’s wild dance moves are worth the ticket price.” Released 4 May in the US, 5 May in Germany and 6 May in Turkey (Credit: PR)

Love & Friendship (Credit: Credit: PR)

Love & Friendship

Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco) has moved from Studio 54 to Jane Austen with his latest feature, which is based on the Sense & Sensibility author’s novel Lady Susan. An early work that was posthumously published, it focuses on a beautiful young widow (played by Kate Beckinsale) who seeks a husband for herself and her daughter (Morfydd Clark, an Austen veteran after her role in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), and subverts many of the conventions of the romantic novel. Chloë Sevigny plays Lady Susan’s American friend Alicia Johnson, with a “sloe-eyed ennui and flat delivery”, who is held in check by her husband (Stephen Fry). It’s not typical costume drama: “Finally, a Jane Austen movie that’s fresh and deliciously rotten at the same time,” says Time Out, claiming that Stillman has “found a way to make his own unmistakably droll voice speak in a vernacular hundreds of years old”, and that his “caustic way with the hermetically sealed worlds of the wealthy make him a perfect match for Austen”. It’s even been praised as “the most refreshing take on Austen’s work ever put on screen”. Released 13 May in the US, 26 May in the Netherlands and 27 May in Ireland (Credit: PR)

Money Monster (Credit: Credit: PR)

Money Monster

George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell star in this high-stakes thriller directed by Jodie Foster. Clooney plays TV host Lee Gates, whose show offers financial advice, and Julia Roberts is his producer; O’Connell (last seen in Angelina Jolie’s second directorial effort Unbroken) is a blue-collar worker who loses everything after a bad tip from Lee and takes him hostage while the show is on air. According to The New York Times, it’s both “a parable of income inequality and a rigged economy” and “a meditation on failure: how keenly people fear it, what they do when confronted with it”. The film’s director identifies with that theme: “Failure is a big one for me – people in spiritual crisis, in a moment in life of total self-hatred,” she told the newspaper. The Clooney character raised issues that were personal for Foster: “He’s just a guy on TV, but he’s imbued with this sense of power,” she said, claiming that he’s forced to ask questions that she has asked herself: “Am I real? Am I a sellout? Is all of this real?” On general release from 12 May (Credit: PR)

The Nice Guys (Credit: Credit: PR)

The Nice Guys

Set in 1970s LA, The Nice Guys features the unlikely pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a hired leg-breaker and a private eye forced to work together on a case. Investigating the apparent suicide of a female porn star, they stumble onto a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of power. Kim Basinger plays a Supreme Court judge, making it the second period noir thriller that she has appeared in with Crowe (after LA Confidential). Shane Black (writer of Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight) co-wrote the screenplay, one of the reasons Gosling signed up for the role. Black also directs, with The Nice Guys his third feature following Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. He told Collider that there are similarities between them: “The comedy caper in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, obviously it had some drama in it, it had some romance in it, hopefully we have the same sort of levels but also the same sort of cracked feeling, that sort of off-beat feeling.”
On general release from 19 May (Credit: PR)

Florence Foster Jenkins (Credit: Credit: PR)

Florence Foster Jenkins

Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) brings his gentle humour to this tale of a New York heiress (Meryl Streep) who wants to be an opera singer – despite being tone deaf. Hugh Grant plays her second husband, a failed Shakespearean actor, and the film has been praised as “a fizzy, funny, period dramedy with top-notch performances”. It doesn’t succumb to 21st-Century cynicism. “We laugh, certainly, but feel guilty about it,” says The Wrap, arguing: “There’s a deceptively masterful simplicity to Frears’ direction. In this age of blockbusters and superhero face-off mayhem, it reminds us that unfussiness is a virtue.” The Telegraph goes so far as to say that “Florence Foster Jenkins feels less like a biopic than a classic postwar studio comedy – a pillowy paean to silliness, and the perfect antidote for sobering times… a delicious, finger-tingling comedy about the creative instinct that makes your heart want to squawk with joy.”
Released 5 May in Australia, 6 May in Ireland and 27 May in Taiwan (Credit: PR)

Sing Street (Credit: Credit: PR)

Sing Street

Dubliner John Carney wrote and directed the 2007 film Once, a musical romance made on a tiny budget that went on to win an Oscar for Best Song and spawned a hit Broadway musical. His 2013 follow-up, Begin Again, repeated the formula with a bigger budget and bigger names, to mixed reception. Carney’s latest returns to what made Once a hit. As The Atlantic puts it, “I could scarcely be more delighted to report that Carney has rediscovered that magic with Sing Street, another tiny, winsome charmer set in Dublin.” Following a 15-year-old boy (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who creates a band purely so that he can feature the girl he likes in their music videos, it is inspired by a year in Carney’s own early life. According to Flavorwire, “You get the sense that he’s atoning for the perceived sins of Begin Again by making something smaller in scope, set back in Ireland, with only a few recognisable faces.” It’s worked: “Carney understands how music not only provides a soundtrack for a life, but can change a life, too.” Released 20 May in the UK, 25 May in South Korea and 26 May in Germany (Credit: PR)

Weiner (Credit: Credit: PR)

Weiner

The release of this behind-the-scenes documentary – which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival – is said to be particularly bad timing for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Following Democrat Anthony Weiner’s disastrous race in the 2013 mayoral election for the city of New York, it features Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife – and close Clinton aide – struggling to cope with news of the second sexting scandal to engulf her husband’s career. The couple had hoped to start again with the mayoral campaign, after Weiner was forced to resign from Congress in 2011 when details emerged of a sexually explicit photo he had sent to a woman on social media. The film was directed by Josh Kriegman, chief of staff for Weiner’s district office from 2005 to 2006, and Elyse Steinberg, who directed the documentary America at a Crossroads. Weiner says at one point: “I don’t regret letting you follow me around. I wanted to be viewed as the full person I was.” Released 20 May in the US (Credit: PR)

via~BBC-cultute

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