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15 Films to See in May

Written by on May 1, 2019 

For those that have gone through our massive summer preview, our monthly breakdowns may not bring a great deal of new surprises, but as we take a more granular look at the offerings, there’s certainly more to spotlight. Of course, much of the month will be dedicated to our Cannes coverage, but there’s also a wealth of excellent films coming to theaters and streaming, so check out our picks below.

Matinees to SeeExtremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (May 3), Long Shot (May 3), The Wandering Earth (May 5), The Silence of Others (May 8), Detective Pikachu (May 10), Charlie Says (May 10), Perfect (May 17), Photograph (May 17), Echo in the Canyon (May 24), Joy (May 24), The Perfection (May 24), The Fall of the American Empire (May 31), The Image You Missed (May 31), and Leto (May 31)

15. Knock Down the House (Rachel Lears; May 1)

Winner of the top festival favorite prize at Sundance Film Festival, Rachel Lears’ Knock Down the House “is a fun, emotionally powerful, inspiring look at the incredible wave of would-be politicians that sought, in 2018, to challenge status quo Democrats and enact meaningful change—all while refusing money from Wall Street fat cats and big business super PACs,” said Jake Howell in his review. Netflix paid a pretty penny for the documentary–to the tune of $10 million–but with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doing a substantial push herself for the release, it’s looking like it’ll pay off.

14. The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester; May 10)

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One of our favorite documentaries out of last year’s TIFF, The Biggest Little Farm has enjoyed a healthy festival run and will now arrive via NEON, who have done well in the nonfiction arena this year with Apollo 11 and Amazing Grace. John Fink said in his review, “After getting evicted from their apartment in Los Angeles due to taking in a stray dog, filmmaker John Chester and food writer Molly Chester decide to try and cultivate a storybook farm in The Biggest Little Farm. The latest entry into the canon of films exploring food and ecosystems, like Aube Giroux’s Modified and Andrew Grace’s Eating Alabama, the documentary works as well as it does because of a reliance on its relatable subject and the director as its narrator.”

13. Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt; May 24)

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There will be no film precisely like Diamantino this year, a dazzlingly imaginative experience involving shaggy puppy-filled soccer game dreams, nefarious twins, the refugee crisis, and gender fluidity. Rory O’Connor said in his review, “If the protagonist of Diamantino reminds you of a certain celebrity it is, as we can only presume, not accidental. The character in question–for whom this hallucinatory tale is named after–is a professional footballer who plays up front for the Portuguese national team. He sports diamond stud earrings (one in each ear), has a glow best described as maintained bronze, and apparently has yet to find a greater joy in life than pulling off his jersey after scoring a winning goal in order to better share with the world his rippling abs. Are we there yet?”

12. The Wandering Soap Opera (Raúl Ruiz; May 17)

With a vast, bountiful filmography virtually unparalleled in cinema, Chilean director Raúl Ruiz helmed over one-hundred features before passing away in 2011 at the age 70. Considering he was so prolific, there were a few projects that never saw the light of day, one of them being The Wandering Soap Opera. Filmed back in 1990, the loving spoof of the telenovela was eventually completed by his wife and collaborator Valeria Sarmiento in 2017, where it premiered at Locarno Film Festival. It’ll now get a U.S. release starting this month at Anthology Film Archives via Cinema Guild. Rory O’Connor said in his review from the Locarno premiere, “It is a work that is packed to the brim with surrealist nods to the radical upheavals that were happening in the country at the time and also to that incomparably idiosyncratic medium, the telenovela itself. Ruiz’s film appears to suggest that as Pinochet stepped down from power, the politicians and Chilean people were acting as if they were in such a soap opera. The ability to truly understand this chaotic piece of work might rely on the viewer having knowledge of both the key figures involved and perhaps even the serialized TV shows themselves.”

11. The Third Wife (Ash Mayfair; May 15)

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With the hundreds of films premiering at the Toronto International Film Film Festival, one that stood out as among the finest was Ash Mayfair’s The Third Wife. Picked up by Film Movement, the period drama is set in 19th century Vietnam, where follows a teenager who is forced into an arranged marriage and discovers a path of forbidden love that will test her freedom. Jared Mobarak said in our review, “First-time feature writer/director Ash Mayfair introduces us to this world with a series of luxurious set-ups of varying length, sans dialogue to truly allow the environment to overtake our senses. The Third Wife‘s visual poetry shifts through its minimalistic progressions with pertinent information positioned at the frame’s center: an egg yolk running down May’s chest to her belly button, Hung lowering his mouth to eat it, and the aforementioned bloody sheet hanging in the courtyard. A delicate score can be heard before the voice of a singer cuts in briefly, the first words spoken aloud with any impact occurring only when necessary to set the stage surrounding this young bride. It’s to be an auspicious year, one full of celebration soon to make way towards tragedy.”

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