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The Best Stuff Coming To Hulu In May

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Get ready to be surprised in May by Hulu.  Pride Month starts early with a whole bunch of LGBT-themed films, including the Wachowskis’ lesbian crime drama “Bound.” Actress Natalie Morales’ directorial debut shows how the search for an abortion drug in America’s heartland can be the stuff of comedy.  See just how much the FBI was NOT a friend to Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was alive. Learn the origin of the Indonesian superhero who fights the corrupt rich.  And in the month’s most anticipated series, watch a notorious Marvel supervillain turn into a comic doofus.

May 1

Dating: #NoFilter–What might happen if you mixed a real life dating show with a touch of MST3K?  The answer might be this reality show.  Real singles are followed on their blind dates.  Meanwhile, several pairs of comedians secretly watching these first encounters offer commentary on every dating moment from hearts and flowers bliss to OMG, NO goofs.

Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings–Legendary Hong Kong action director Tsui Hark truly pulls out the SFX stops with this third installment of his historical fantasy action series.  Di Renjie, aka Detective Dee, works for the Tang Dynasty’s Bureau of Investigations.  As a reward for foiling a conspiracy to depose the ruling dynasty, Emperor Gaozong bestows on Dee the Dragon-taming Mace.  The weapon allows its holder to subdue anyone threatening national security…even if they’re royalty.  Ambitious Empress Wu doesn’t like Dee possessing such power and she hires the Mystic Clan to try stealing the Mace.  But waiting in the wings is the far more dangerous threat of the Indian sect known as the Wind Warriors.  Get ready to see (among other things) giant scimitars slicing the air, a carved dragon coming to life before flying into the sky, and a final battle involving a giant gorilla-like creature.

Goodnight Mommy–This Austrian horror film is unfortunately getting an American remake with Naomi Watts in the lead role.  Catch the original instead.  It’s summer in the Austrian countryside.  At a house by the lake, twin brothers Lukas and Elias have been playing unattended.  Soon joining the boys is their famous TV presenter Mom.  However, she’s  bandaged up like a mummy thanks to having undergone cosmetic surgery.  Her cold greeting to the boys goes uncommented on.  However, when “Mom” starts laying down some strict and brutal rules, the boys start growing suspicious.  They feel that the bandaged woman who’s come home is not their “real” mother.  And they’re determined to Do Something about it.    

Gundala

Gundala–Ready for an Indonesian take on the superhero genre?  Director Joko Anwar adapts Harya Suraminata’s famed Indonesian comic book.  As a boy growing up in the poor crime-ridden section of Jakarta, Sancaka was frightened of lightning.  Fate would cause him to lose his parents, one to homicidal strike-breakers the other to sex work.  Sancaka’s life changes when several lightning bolt strikes grants him superhuman strength and incredible healing abilities.  He soon finds himself fighting disfigured criminal kingpin Pengkor, who has most Indonesian politicians in his pocket and an exotic army of killers at his command.  Can Pengkor be stopped before he contaminates the nation’s rice supply with a serum that will ultimately create a morality-free society?  

The Wailing–If you’ve never seen this nutzoid Korean tale of demonic possession, now’s the time to fix things.  In a sleepy and damp rural Korean village, bumbling cop Jong-gu gets confronted with an open and shut case of multiple homicide.  The killer is found standing on the porch of his house, with clouded eyes and strange boils covering his skin.  But when several more similar multiple homicides occur over the next few days, new answers are required.  Is the cause of these killings toxic mushrooms or even the village’s new Japanese neighbor?  Jong-gu also has to deal with a mysterious woman warning of imminent disaster and his daughter’s persistent seizures, which could be signs of demonic possession.  The only certainty is that life in the village is sliding towards chaos… 

May 5

Warrior–Gavin O’Connor directs this pulse-pounding tale of sibling rivalry set in the world of MMA.  Ex-Marine Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) has returned to Pittsburgh after a 14-year absence to enlist recovering alcoholic father Paddy (Nick Nolte) to train him for Mixed Martial Arts fighting.  Older brother Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) has supposedly left the MMA world behind to become a physics teacher.struggling to make ends meet.  However, both brothers are fated to face each other in the MMA ring and their two very different fighting techniques won’t make clear who the winner will be.  

May 7

Little Fish–Thanks to a disease known as NIA (neuro-inflammatory affliction), its victims lose their memory at varying rates.  Aspiring writer Emma (Olivia Cooke) and photographer Jude (Jack O’Connell) have recently married.  Jude comes down with NIA, and is slowly losing pieces of his married life.  As Emma and Jude’s relationship crumbles, their friends and family also start displaying NIA symptoms to sometimes destructive results.  And what happens when NIA turns out to be a global problem?

Shrill

Shrill: Season 3–It’s the final season for this comedy series based on the Lindy West memoir “Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman.”  For those tuning in, young Portland news writer Annie (Aidy Bryant) decides to no longer let others define her voice.  That decision sends her on a journey of self-empowerment which changes both her work and personal life.  As the last season begins, Annie’s journey has already resulted in some major life changes and new opportunities.  But does she know how to stick the proverbial landing to achieve her life goal?  

May 9

Robot & Frank–It’s the near future, and personal robots have become as ubiquitous as household appliances.  Frank (Frank Langella), an elderly man who lives alone in upstate New York, certainly needs the robot his son gives him as he’s sliding towards dementia.  At first the old man regards Robot as an annoying caregiver and handyman.  But the discovery of the machine’s ability to learn lock-picking and safecracking intrigues Frank, who was a burglar in his younger days.  When Frank discovers neighbor and sleazebag software tycoon Jake plans to rid the local library of its books, he figures it’s time to enlist Robot’s help in a little burglary.

May 13

Saint Maud–Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) is a lesbian dancer and choreographer now reduced by illness and disability to needing dependent care.  Enter Maud (Morfydd Clark in her first lead role), a meek but dedicated palliative care nurse.  A recent convert to an extremely rigorous form of Christianity, Amanda’s new nurse is convinced she can lead her employer to the light of God.  Yet what happens when Maud starts feeling her objective must be achieved by any means necessary?

Some Kind Of Heaven–Welcome to the Central Florida enclave known as The Villages, America’s largest retirement community.  For those who can afford to live here, residents will find a supposedly problem-free place promoting fun and companionship through over 3,000 group activities.  This documentary follows a few of the individuals who choose to live here and witnesses their sometimes unsuccessful searches for a new worry-free life. 

May 14

MLK/FBI

MLK/FBI–Except for out and out racists (read: a significant chunk of the Rethuglican Party), the average person generally admires Martin Luther King.  Yet director Sam Pollard (co-director “Eyes On The Prize”) shows in this documentary how the FBI waged an intense campaign in the period from the March On Washington to King’s 1968 assassination to discredit the civil rights leader and his work.  These efforts would include wiretaps of King’s hotel rooms and anonymous notes urging him to commit suicide.  Your must-see film of the month, if only because it shows why #ACAB should not be considered a recent thing.

May 15 

Cowboys–Hulu is rolling out several LGBT-themed films throughout the month.  In this drama, Troy (Steve Zahn) has taken his son Jo (Sasha Knight) on a bonding camping trip in the Montana mountains.  However, Jo’s mother Sally (Jillian Bell) is freaking out about Jo’s whereabouts.  While Troy’s quite happy treating Jo as a boy, Sally very much wants to prevent Jo from abandoning her birth gender.  A low-key but surprising film.

A Good Kisser–In Wendy Jo Carlton’s relationship drama, shy Jenna is ok with her relationship with the older Kate.  But part of that contentment comes from not having to deal with her anxiety at being in new situations.  When Kate decides to spice up their relationship by bringing in the very confident Mia, Jenna initially doesn’t know how to handle things.  What nobody expects, though, is seeing how the power dynamics among the three women gradually shifts.

Mosquita y Mari–Teenagers Yolanda and Mari happen to be neighbors in the Huntington Park, Los Angeles area.  Yolanda has both her parents while Mari just has a struggling single mother and a sister.  But both high school sophomores are constantly pressured by their parents to make a better life for themselves.  The two teens go from study partners to friends finding mutual refuge from their parents’ expectations.  However, neither Yolanda nor Mari realizes their friendship has turned into mutual attraction.

ru Love–30-something Tru owes her commitment phobia to having run away as a teen from homophobic parents.  The far older and recently widowed Alice finds in Tru the partner who may allow her to finally acknowledge her long-buried romantic desires.  However, Alice’s daughter Suzanne had her heart previously broken by Tru.  That bit of history makes her determined to sabotage Tru and Alice’s romance.

May 18

Supernova–Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) have been partners for over two decades.  They’re on a road trip across England to visit Sam’s friends and family.  But the road trip also turns out to be a bittersweet final goodbye.  Tusker is nearing the moment when he finally succumbs to dementia, which means he’ll no longer be able to recognize his husband.  Sam, for his part, has to deal with the reality that the man he loved will soon disappear.

May 21

M.O.D.O.K.

M.O.D.O.K.–Hulu’s hotly anticipated adult stop-motion animated series offers a comic take on the Marvel Universe.  For the non-Marvel Comics nerds out there, M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) leads A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), an evil organization of super-scientists dedicated to world conquest.  This series answers the question “What does somebody who looks like a giant floating head with tiny arms and legs do at night when they’re not out trying to conquer the world?”  And the answer includes taking out the trash and otherwise dealing with his demanding family.  Unfortunately for M.O.D.O.K., his enhanced intelligence is not stopping him from failing at both being a father and a criminal leader.   

May 22

Neat: The Story Of Bourbon–Bourbon has the distinction of being America’s only native alcoholic spirit.  This documentary offers a deep dive into the world of bourbon.  Viewers will learn about such things as proof criteria and the spirit’s plant-based nature (sorry Larry Kudlow, bourbon like beer is NOT derived from red meat).  And see why distillers literally have only one or two chances to do the distilling process right.

May 26 

Mr. InBetween Season 3–It’s the final season of this Australian crime series inspired by Scott Ryan’s film “The Magician.”  Ray Shoesmith (Ryan) lives like many of us juggling multiple roles in life.  But in addition to being a father, best friend, and ex-husband, Shoesmith’s also a criminal-for-hire.  This season, the contracting of both of Ray’s lives hasn’t made them less messy.  He worries about caring for aging father Bill.  Daughter Brittany’s growing up means distancing herself from Ray…and slowly understanding her father’s secret life.  Ray’s freelance criminal work may be booming, but it’s come with a growing sense of isolation.  Add to the mix the sparks flying with new colleague Zoe and things will soon get Complicated.

May 29

Plan B–Films about teen girls trying to get an abortion is nothing new.  But this might be the first time the girls in question are POCs.  Actress Natalie Morales makes her directorial debut with a comic quest springing from a first sexual encounter gone wrong .  A straight-laced Indian high-school student enlists her slacker best friend’s help to find a Plan B pill in 24 hours.  However: the two teens live in South Dakota, they’re not rich, and the nearest open Planned Parenthood having the Plan B pill is across the state.

Plan B

May 31

The Donut King–Ted Ngoy first came to America as a Cambodian refugee in 1975.  Amazingly, he turned the baking of donuts into a multi-million dollar empire.  To Ngoy’s credit, he would use his prosperity to help hundreds of refugees get a fresh start in America via the donut business.  While Ngoy would eventually become a victim of his own success, the refugees he helped would eventually thrive in America thanks to him.

The One I Love–Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss)’s marriage is in trouble.  He cheated on her, and nowadays they neither communicate well nor even have sex.  Their efforts to become once again the two people who did ecstasy at Lollapalooza have fallen badly flat.  The marriage counselor (Ted Danson) they consult suggests going to a weekend “retreat” which has refreshed and renewed the previous clients he’s sent there.  That “retreat” turns out to be a big old house occupied by only Ethan and Sophie.  What’s really going on here will cross into “Twilight Zone” or “Black Mirror” territory.

The World To Come–In 19th century northeastern America, married Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) is having trouble being a good wife to Finney.  Despite moving into a new house, their passionless marriage hasn’t produced a child.  Marital difficulties also plague their neighbors Abigail (Katherine Waterston) and Dyer (Casey Affleck).  They’ve lost a child but haven’t yet addressed their grief.  The wives’ only refuge from their restrictive married lives happens to be their blooming friendship with each other, which soon becomes something much more.

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.

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