It’s May again, folks. With Age of Ultron signing off last month, the starter pistol for box office season has officially been fired straight into robot-James-Spader’s face. Whilst we do have some entries this month where things just explode or cause general distress for our chosen handsome white male lead, we’ve also got some more cerebral and emotional offerings too. Does this show that the box office regime that studios have been clutching onto for years has finally begun to slip into the hands of lesser-known-yet-equally-capable talents? I don’t know, man, I just thought these were the best things drifting our way in May.
Big Game – 7th May
Surely you’ve seen the ad campaign for this already. It’s kind of hard to ignore a bus-sized Samuel L. Jackson claiming to be the president, although I’m certain the more politically-and-socially-right-wing of us would do our best. Regardless, Big Game sees Jackson’s POTUS stranded in the Finnish wilderness being hunted by power-hungry terrorists, his only ally comes in the form of a 13-year-old amateur hunter, Oskari. It seems balls-out silly, but it’s also written and directed by Jalmari Helander, he of Rare Exports fame. You know, that film about the Finnish trappers who hunt wild Santas. Just go watch both, okay?
Rosewater – 8th May
Jon Stewart left The Daily Show for this? Jon Stewart left The Daily Show for this. For those of you asking who Jon Stewart is (and assuming the previous two sentences weren’t enough), the former presenter and bespoke face of the popular, topical and occasionally-funny American current events has made his directorial debut this year with this here Rosewater. The film follows the true events of Iranian-Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari (played here by Gael García Bernal) who following an interview on Stewart’s The Daily Show was detained and interrogated for 118 days in Iran on suspicion of communicating with American spies. Some people are such critics.
Spooks: The Greater Good – 8th May
I don’t know how many UK readers will be offended when I say that I’ve never seen Spooks, but the truth is… well… I haven’t seen Spooks. This fact does dampen my enthusiasm for the upcoming film Spooks: The Greater Good a smidge, but I think I can get the gist of the show down to two words: “Spy Shenanigans”. In some more words, Spooks: The Greater Good has Kit Harington (a.k.a the moody fella from Game of Thrones that ladies used to swoon over before Michiel Huisman turned up) team up with Spooks veteran Peter Firth to track down an escaped terrorist before he does his terrorist thing, namely disaster and woe.
Mad Max: Fury Road – 14th May
Has it really been 30 years since Thunderdome? 30 years since last we saw “Mad” Max Rockatansky on screens facing down the madness of post-apocalyptic Australia? 30 years since George Miller’s iconic series of films last darkened our cinematic door? Personally I can’t believe that in the meantime Miller’s been in charge of the Babe and Happy Feet franchises since then, but that’s just me. In Fury Road expect to see more Tom Hardy taking on the role that made Mel Gibson originally famous, psychopathic raiders, car chases, explosions and apocalyptic visuals rather than amused, talking animals. At least I hope.
Pitch Perfect 2 – 15th May
When you first heard about the premise behind the original Pitch Perfect, and be honest, did you honestly expect it to be half as good as it was? I sit squarely in the “No I didn’t, but oh how glad I am to be proven wrong on this occasion” camp. Now the problem is can the team behind the Anna-Kendrick-and-Rebel-Wilson-starring-sisters-before-misters-sing-a-long do the generally un-doable and bottle that lightning once more? More to the point can they define the film, wherein our plucky all-girl acapella group head to the world championships, without the use of hyphens? I believe not.
Tomorrowland – 22nd May
Ah, Brad Bird. You’ve directed the superlative animations of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille in partnership with Warner Bros. Animations and Pixar and Pixar respectively. You’ve also been responsible for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol but let’s just skirt around that, shall we? Now the concept of Tomorrowland, where Britt Robertson’s young offender finds a mysterious badge that takes her, with the help of a cantankerous George Clooney, to a world straight out of ’50’s science fiction sounds like a family-friendly cinematic blast. Just, y’know, can we not have another Ghost Protocol? Is that okay to ask?
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – 22nd May
Have you ever seen an independent Iranian vampire film? I know I haven’t, but it just so happens that along comes A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night to remedy such a cinematic malady. In a similar vein to recent outings such as The Babadook and It Follows, A Girl… balances it’s pulpy origins with a strong sense of imagery and multitextuality in its story of an Iranian ghost-town, named Bad plagued by a particular young woman with an affinity for dark places and the contents of your jugular vein. Just what you want to see in summer, no?
Timbuktu – 22nd May
After making waves at last year’s Cannes, Timbuktu finally makes its way to a UK release around the time of this year’s Cannes. Spooky. Spookiness aside, Timbuktu is a visually arresting piece of cinema focussing on a cattle-herder’s family in the titular nation and how their generally worry-free lives are shaken by modern turns in Islamic extremism, or to give it a name, the presence of ISIS. I doubt you’ll find a more topically-relevant film out there this month or any other month. Also the trailer’s soundtrack is lush stuff on a stick.
San Andreas – 29th May
The disaster movie: Once a frequent passer-by of cinemas in the 1990s, now seeming solely the property of Roland Emmerich, it has more recently fled from public eye back to its fortress of solitude to ruminate on how to stay relevant in this land of modernity. In San Andreas, with Dwayne Johnson’s helicopter pilot traversing the earthquake-ravaged state of California in search of daughter, will we finally see a triumphant return for the genre? Additionally, will we ever get tired of saying that Johnson’s co-stars in this film are caught between a Rock and a hard place? I say never.
Danny Collins – 29th May
I liked last month’s word association so much I’m going to try it again. This time, however I want you to tell me the first thing you think of when I say ‘haunted strip of hairy jerked beef’. Did you say Al Pacino too? The Man Who Was Michael Corleone probably won’t return to his heyday of Heat, Glengarry Glen Ross, Scarface or even Insomnia (especially after starring in that Adam Sandler film), but Danny Collins is, by early reports a fine show from Pacino. Danny Collins follows its Al-Pacino-shaped namesake as an aging rock star takes a journey of rediscovery after receiving a 40-year-old letter from John Lennon.