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15 Films to See in May

Written by on May 1, 2019 

5. Too Late to Die Young (Dominga Sotomayor; May 31)

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One of the best discoveries of the year is Dominga Sotomayor’s Chilean drama Too Late to Die Young, which earned the filmmaker a Best Director award at Locarno Film Festival– the first female director to receive the prize. Leonardo Goi said in his review, “More an episodic tale than a rigidly structured three-act plot, it is an act of recollection, and it unfolds the way memory does: as a series of hazy vignettes, more often than not unconnected to one another. There are moments when we follow Sofía’s driving lessons, others when she captures the kids hanging by the commune’s artificial pool, and others still when she trails behind the adults as they struggle to keep the village alive amid fires and droughts.”

4. Aniara (Pella Kågerman & Hugo Lilja; May 17)

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An evocative, existential, and ambitious sci-fi drama, Aniara is a must-see to prioritize before some of the VFX-heavy studio spectacles this season. Jared Mobarak said in his review from TIFF, “The title shares its name with a city-size spacecraft ferrying humans from Earth to Mars in barely three weeks. It’s a routine trip that’s never run into problems with many passengers already having family on the red planet to greet them upon arrival. But there’s a first time for everything as a small field of debris forces Captain Chefone (Arvin Kananian) off course. Unfortunately a screw breaches their hull anyway, pushing their nuclear fuel supply to critical mass. Expelling it may save them for the moment, but without it they cannot steer. So despite having enough self-sustaining electricity and algae (for air and food), there’s no way to return onto their necessary trajectory. Either a celestial body interrupts their path to slingshot back or they simply drift forever.”

3. Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas; May 3)

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Following Summer Hours and Clouds of Sils Maria, Juliette Binoche has reteamed with Olivier Assayas’s Non-Fiction (aka Double Vies), which jumps from conversation to conversation about technology’s influence on the world of book publishing (a clear-eyed metaphor for the director’s view of shifting landscape of cinema). Leonardo Goi said in his review,”Who needs a middle man’s subjectivity when you have algorithms predicting what people will like? Critics don’t matter much in Olivier Assayas’ talkative Non-Fiction, but they are not the only supposedly anachronistic relic to be thrown out of the window in this gentle and profoundly compassionate human comedy that draws from the ever-widening rift between old and new trends in the publishing industry to conjure up a tale of societal changes and those caught in between them.”

2. Asako I & II (Ryusuke Hamaguchi; May 17)

Following his riveting five-hour-plus drama Happy Hour, Ryusuke Hamaguchi is back with Asako I & II, in which he employs more stylistic flourishes in an absorbing riff on Vertigo. Based on Tomoka Shibasaki’s novel Netemo Sametemo, it follows a woman who falls in love, but her significant other disappears. Two years later, another man appears with a striking resemblance to her former lover. Less melodramatic than that plot synopsis sounds, Asako is fascinating in its use of surreal touches and enveloping playfulness, making for one of 2019’s most delightful cinematic experiences.

1. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg; May 17)

The Souvenir melds two well-trodden subgenres and through Joanna Hogg’s refreshingly unique vision makes each feel entirely original. Her much-anticipated return after 2013’s Exhibition tells both a painful addiction story and a behind-the-scenes look at film school struggles as we follow Julie (a beautiful debut performance by Honor Swinton Byrne). The daughter of Tilda Swinton (who also briefly turns up), Swinton Byrne is in every scene, and steals them all. Akin to the revelatory introduction to Tom Hiddleston in Hogg’s first two films, Unrelated and Archipelago, she is the lifeblood of The Souvenir, which follows doomed lovers in a story that is conveyed with feels mined from achingly personal memories. Continue reading my full review from Sundance.

What are you watching this month?

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