April showers bring May flowers – and end-of-April blockbusters apparently bring larger, more expensive May blockbusters. Movies, mainstream and otherwise, will be swimming in Avengers: Infinity War‘s wake for a good long while, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood Inc. is taking a month off. In the next 30 days, we’re going to get a pair of franchise pictures, one from the most gonzo-profane corner of the superhero universe and the other an origin-story from a long time ago, in a galaxy far away. Also on deck: documentaries analyzing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand man; romances between waifish young lovers (Ronan or Fanning, take your pick!); and harrowing indies dealing in the currency of brutal justice. Here’s what will be playing near you in the merriest of summer months.
Deadpool 2 (May 18th)
The Merc With A Mouth is back, and he’s armed to the teeth with more pop-cultured potty humor and fourth-wall breakages than you can shake a katana at. Marvel’s insolent self-aware stepson returns in this sequel to form a hit squad of unlicensed creative properties (sorry, “young mutants”) to combat the time-traveling soldier Cable (Josh Brolin, up one glowing eyeball). While the trailer has confirmed that this franchise will hold sole dominion over the descriptor of “irreverent” for the near future, the addition of John Wick co-director David Leitch should kick the action sequences up several notches. Start heating up those chimichangas.
Filmworker (May 11th)
In the Seventies, as Stanley Kubrick receded from the public eye, he allowed a little-known actor by the name of Leon Vitali into his inner circle. After casting the young man in his epic period piece Barry Lyndon, the director took a shine to the fellow and adopted him as an all-purpose minion. Vitali was entrusted with tasks great (he found the creepy set of twins that tied The Shining together) and small (Kubrick liked his coffee Just. Exactly. So). Filmmaker Tony Zierra worked closely with his subject on this new documentary chronicling his extraordinary time spent with the late great filmmaker, featuring a treasure trove of private photographs, footage and never-before-seen documents. Kubrick prided himself on being unknowable; this film takes us all a step closer to figuring him out.
First Reformed (May 18th)
The world is ending, and only one man can stop it. No, it’s not the latest capes-and-tights blockbuster – more like a slow, quiet, intense character study of a country priest concerned about Mother Earth. A haunted man of the cloth (Ethan Hawke) counsels a parishoner (Amanda Seyfried) who fears that her eco-radical husband may turn to terrorism. Cue existential ennui, crises of faith and some of the best acting you’re likely to see this year. Even in a career as storied as director Paul Schrader’s, the final half-hour ranks as the most powerful work he’s ever produced.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (May 25th)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch director John Cameron Mitchell adapts Neil Gaiman’s short story a junior punk (Alex Sharp) slam-dancing his way through the anarchic Seventies in London. He makes the acquaintance of an enchanting girl named Stella (Elle Fanning); they get along famously; and, of course, she’s actually an alien organism attempting to lay low in the weirdest scene on Earth. Did we mention that a punk-as-fuck Nicole Kidman plays a chaarcter called Queen Bodicea? Come for the young love, stay for Her Kidmajesty’s awesome eye makeup.
On Chesil Beach (May 18th)
How’s this for a mishmash of mediums: For his first foray from the stage to the screen, theatre veteran Dominic Cooke tackled a novella with a distinctly literary structure. Ian McEwan’s original text jumps between eras in its depiction of the ill-fated relationship between Edward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saoirse Ronan, great as usual), from their failed honeymoon in 1962 to their lives apart over the following years. Prim and proper and British all over, the drama begins with a single incident that ripples out to color the rest of their lives, sexual anxiety and social propriety in direct competition with one another.
Overboard (May 4th)
From the “extremely unlikely remakes” file: A redo of the 1987 vehicle for then-couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, starring Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez. To director Rob Greenberg’s credit, he mixes up the formula here by flipping the genders and adding a racial wrinkle: Derbez is a playboy from one of Mexico’s wealthiest families, and Faris is the overtaxed single mom that convinces him they’re married after a tumble off a cruise ship wipes his memory. All’s fair in love and brain injuries.
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RBG (May 4th)
This documentary’s unmistakable shorthand title is itself a testament to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s celebrity beyond her station as a Supreme Court Justice. Her surprisingly vast fandom has also likened them to the Notorious B.I.G., a comparison speaking to her reputation as a take-no-shit boss-ass bitch. This film celebrates Ginsburg as a feminist icon, tracking her fight for women’s rights from her appointment during the Clinton administration to the present day, but it makes room for inquiry into Ginsburg the woman, too.
Revenge (May 11th)
With a title like that, an exploitation movie makes a tacit promise that something seriously sick is just around the corner. Fortunately for B-movie aficionados, French first-timer Coralie Fargeat makes good on the title, and then some … and then some more. It’s pretty simple: An American socialite (Matilda Lutz) on holiday with her piggish boyfriend gets raped by one of his friends, pushed off a cliff and left for dead. Then she comes back and murders the living daylights out of them. Every generation gets the I Spit on Your Grave it deserves and now we have ours.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25th)
Hail, hail, the gang’s all here. Alden Ehrenreich leads this Star Wars prequel as the most ruggedly charming smuggler in all of space during the pre-Harrison Ford days. Plus we’ve got Donald Glover maxing out his smooth-operator vibe as a young Lando Calrissian; Emilia Clarke as the new-to-this-particular-dragonless-universe character Qi’ra; Woody Harrelson as Han’s sensei in crookery; and Chewbacca as … Chewbacca. This motley crew gallivants through the cosmos in what early promotional material has characterized as a Western, to the same extent that Rogue One was a war film. A mid-production directorial shakeup that replaced Chris Miller and Phil Lord with Ron Howard had some fans worried about discord, but with this long-awaited release comes [ahem] a new hope. Hello, is this thing on?
Tully (May 4th)
Those women in minivan commercials make it look so glamorous, but maternal/domestic bliss ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Marlo (Charlize Theron) is straining under the pressure of raising two children while pregnant with a third; her workaholic husband (Ron Livingston) has essentially checked out. Enter the effervescent Tully (Mackenzie Davis), a free spirit that instantly perks up Marlo’s life all over in her capacity as the new help. To say more about this prickly dramedy from Juno duo Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman would run the risk of ruining it; we’ll just say that Theron makes the most of her role. Happy, er, Mother’s Day?