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Eight films to watch in May

29 April 2015 [12:41] - TODAY.AZ
Spy

Writer-director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) brings his golden touch to the world of espionage, teaming up again with Melissa McCarthy – she plays a deskbound CIA analyst who volunteers to go deep undercover and infiltrate the world of an arms dealer (played by Rose Byrne). Jude Law and Jason Statham co-star in a spoof that also works as an action thriller; The Hollywood Reporter claims that McCarthy shows the pair “how the action-hero game is played”. The actress finally takes centre stage, proving worthy to the task: according to Variety, she has “the funniest, most versatile and sustained comic showcase of her movie career in this deliriously entertaining action-comedy”. Released 21 May in Australia, 22 May in India and 28 May in Argentina. 

Good Kill

A Top Gun for 21st Century warfare, Good Kill follows a former Air Force pilot (played by Ethan Hawke) who now fights the Taliban from a steel container in the desert near Las Vegas. Writer-director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) offers a glimpse at the psychological toll endured by drone pilots, the effects of combat conducted at a distance, in this political drama. Hawke has been praised for “capturing his character's pent-up frustration, self-disgust and mounting aggression”, one of “a ‘bunch of gamers’ sitting in front of screens” replacing the square-jawed heroes of traditional Hollywood war films. While macho bravado exists in the dialogue, the action all happens hundreds of miles away, and according to The Telegraph, Good Kill is “a sophisticated, provocative and thoroughly modern war film that makes Clint Eastwood's recent American Sniper look slow to find its target”. Released 6 May in Belgium, 15 May in the US and 28 May in the Netherlands. 

I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

Caroll Spinney – now 81 – started performing as the Sesame Street puppet Big Bird in 1969. This feature documentary offers an affectionate portrait of the puppeteer, from his early years as a bullied teen to his career as one of US TV’s best-loved characters. Featuring hours of home-movie footage, it “charts Spinney’s run-ins with a disapproving father, the early days with Muppet master Jim Henson, the cult of Big Bird, and Spinney’s insatiable desire to continue performing well into his eighties”, according to Empire. The influence of the man on his most famous role is clear: the Herald Sun says, “The lasting lessons, the ones that continue to shape generations of children, radiate from beneath the feathers. There are the lessons of tolerance, born from the ruthless bullying Caroll faced as a teen. There are the lessons of forgiveness, born from Caroll’s reconciliation with his father whose temper and savage beatings scarred him. And there are the lessons of love, born from Caroll’s deep bond with his wife.” Released 1 May in the UK and 6 May in the US.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan stars as the headstrong Bathsheba Everdene in this adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel from the Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt). David Nicholls (One Day) penned the screenplay for a new take that is inevitably being held up against John Schlesinger’s 1967 version starring Julie Christie. Critics have argued it stands up to comparison, with The Evening Standard admiring Mulligan for “an outstanding performance” that is “far more intense, compelling and modern than Christie, much more intimately filmed”. Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts co-star as Bathsheba’s three suitors; Sheen’s turn has drawn praise from The Guardian, its reviewer Peter Bradshaw saying: “His face is etched with agony and an awful kind of abject adoration, forever trying to find ways to forgive the loved one in advance for rejection.” Released 1 May in the UK and US, 20 May in Belgium and 2 July in Singapore.

Tomorrowland

Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) is at the helm of what has been called “Disney’s Brave New World”, starring George Clooney as an inventor aiming to bring down evil Tomorrowland ruler David Nix (Hugh Laurie). While most of the sci-fi adventure has been kept under wraps, Bird revealed a clip at the Tribeca Film Festival, showing Clooney’s character as a child with Laurie at the 1964 World’s Fair. The director said the theme emerged during discussions with the film’s co-writer Damon Lindelof (Lost): “We started saying, you know, ‘What happened to the future?’ When we were kids the future seemed to always be this bright, bigger thing, and the world was still a dark place back then; there were a lot of bad things happening everywhere. But there was a lot of optimism about the future, and we started going, ‘Why did that disappear?’” Released 20 May in France, 22 May in the UK and US and 28 May in Brazil.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Director George Miller returns to the post-apocalyptic world he created in his trilogy starring Mel Gibson – with Tom Hardy taking the lead role opposite Charlize Theron. Hardy sought Gibson’s permission before agreeing to the role, saying: “I was a little bit intimidated. Who wouldn’t be?” Released 30 years after the third film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, it offers a new take on the central character. Miller has said, “Yes, of course it’s based on the same character that Mel played, the lone warrior in the wasteland, basically disengaged from the rest of the world. But naturally, Tom brings his Tom Hardy-ness to it. He brings another quality and the character is different.” Yet, according to Miller, the epic mythology remains the same. “It felt like going into familiar territory. It’s like returning to where you grew up.” Released 14 May in Australia and the UK, 15 May in the US and 20 June in Japan.

When Marnie Was There

Released in Japan in 2014, but only just receiving a wider release, this hand-drawn animated film is potentially the last feature to be released by the legendary Studio Ghibli. Written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and based on the novel of the same name by Joan G Robinson, it tells the story of a teenage tomboy who becomes friends with a mysterious girl called Marnie. Despite lacking the Ghibli trademarks of “walking houses, magical forest creatures or one-way trains to the spirit world”, the film still brims over with “its own unique sense of enchantment”. According to Variety, “Instead of marking what could be the end of an era, it arrives almost like a classic heirloom, uncovered and restored for contemporary eyes, a reminder of the craftsmanship and care that Ghibli always put into cel animation.” Released 14 May in Australia and 22 May in the US. 

Slow West

Set in the 19th Century and billed as “an American Western filtered through the eyes of European filmmaking”, Slow West follows a 17-year-old boy played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as he travels from the Scottish highlands to the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. Michael Fassbender co-stars as the frontiersman who accompanies him, offering protection in exchange for money. Directed and written by British film-maker John Maclean, the feature was shot in Scotland and New Zealand (standing in for Colorado); according to Village Voice, it “moves through picturesque desert plains and forests with an ominous patience that often tips the material into absurdist comedy”. Yet despite its title, the film offers up explosive action alongside the lingering panoramas. Indiewire says, “Slow-burning and simmering, Slow West knows how to kick the voltage into high gear.” Released 15 May in the US, 21 May in New Zealand and 5 June in Canada.

/By BBC/

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