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15 Films to See in May

Written by on May 1, 2019 

10. Pasolini (Abel Ferrara; May 10)

As one of his new films premieres at Tribecaa career retrospective gets underway in NY, and he’s set to premiere another new film at Cannes, that’s not all the Abel Ferrara we’ll get this month. Kino Lorber picked up the director’s Pier Paolo Pasolini biopic, which premiered way back at the 2014 Venice Film Festival, for a release starting at NYC’s Metrograph on May 10 before expanding. Following the final days in the Italian director’s life, Tommaso Tocci said in our Venice review back in 2014, “Before being beaten and run over with his own car on the beach of Ostia’s Idroscalo, Pasolini was busy with the release of his last film, Salò, giving prophetic interviews (even suggesting the now-famous title “We are all in danger”), working on Petrolio (an experimental novel) and Porno-Teo-Kolossal (the film he was writing at the time). While the intellectual is only hinted at, Ferrara recreates these moments by looking for the man himself, especially in the key relationships with his mother (Adriana Asti) and actor-friend Ninetto Davoli (Riccardo Scamarcio). It’s an absorbing portrait, particularly compelling when relying on Pasolini’s own words, which we hear verbatim through original letters and interviews.”

9. Shadow (Zhang Yimou; May 3)

Zhang Yimou will deliver the early-summer action goods this month with his wuxia epic. Leonardo Goi said in his review, “With its gorgeously choreographed sword duels, sabers slicing through paddles of blood and rain, watercolor bi-chromatic palettes and sumptuous costumes, Zhang Yimou’s Shadow (Ying) is a film of visual charms. To enter into the Fifth Generation maestro’s latest period piece is to be invited to marvel at a 116-minute long dance – a stunning return to form from a director who’d previously ventured into semi-autobiographical terrain with the 2014 moving Coming Home, and later veered into the bombastic Chinese-cum-Matt Damon blockbuster epic letdown The Great Wall (2016). Shadow brings heart and spectacle together, and the result is a bombastic martial arts wuxia replete with duels of breath-taking beauty that will please longtime Zhang acolytes and newbies alike.”

8. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Chad Stahelski; May 17)

John Wick is back, and for the first time he’ll be doing his business during the summer movie slate. Once again directed by Chad Stahelski, the story follows Keanu Reeves’ character on the run after the cliffhanger that ended the last chapter, which featured a global call-out that put a price on his head. Also starring Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, Jason Mantzoukas (!), Anjelica Huston, and Ian McShane, we’re only a few weeks away from what’s shaping up to be the action spectacle of the summer.

7. Booksmart (Olivia Wilde; May 24)

While Olivia Wilde’s SXSW hit and directorial debut Booksmart was praised mostly for its laughs from its festival premiere, it certainly has its moments in that category, but it’s most endearing as a story of friendship. Starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, the coming-of-age, R-rated comedy follows a pair of studious high school friends trying to let loose on the day before graduation. The film certainly owes a debt to Superbad and the others that came before it, but after a rocky, over-the-top first half, it blooms into a something entirely and beautifully its own.

6. Domino (Brian De Palma; May 31)

Only Brian De Palma would make a terrorism thriller in which he’s most interested in their filmmaking methods. His latest and long-awaited, Domino, is hugely entertaining in spurts (mostly setpieces and high melodrama), if noticeably compromised elsewhere (transitional scenes perhaps hacked up in editing and standard crime drama machinations). Another bombastic Pino Donaggio score layers nearly every moment and José Luis Alcaine’s cinematography is a peculiar mix of buoyantly colorful and DTV-esque flatness. Capping things off with an I-can’t-believe-he-did-this banger of an ending, De Palma may not have had full control over the production, but what’s left has enough of his mark to make for what’s sure to be one of the summer’s most entertaining films.

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