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All The Cool Stuff Coming To Netflix In May

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William Shakespeare famously observed in his play “Twelfth Night” that “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Which of these categories Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky will fall into, history will make the final judgment. American Netflix viewers can limit their judgment of Zelensky to making a decision about watching his show “Servant Of The People.” This month will see the debut of the concluding seasons of the show Zelensky made before he became Ukraine’s president.

Also hotly anticipated this month will be the first half of the final season of “Stranger Things” (with a hint that Eleven may return to Hawkins National Laboratory), Adam Conover of “Adam Ruins Everything” returning with a new series made with the Obamas’ production company, and more animated science fiction and fantasy adaptations with the new season of “Love, Death, and Robots.”

So check out these and other wild stuff coming out this month.

TBD

Like A Rolling Stone: The Life And Times Of Ben Fong-Torres–How does a guy who grew up in San Francisco’s Chinatown become someone who hung out with such rock and roll legends as Marvin Gaye, Jim Morrison, and Tina Turner?  This documentary tells the story of “Rolling Stone”’s Ben Fong-Torres, one of the people who helped the magazine become a mainstream cultural force.  Yet Fong-Torres never forgot that journalism was also activism, and he became a mentor to generations of future reporters.

May 1

42–The late Chadwick Boseman plays real-life American hero Jackie Robinson in this biopic.  Before Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946, racial segregation was so socially accepted in America that it was considered natural to have all-white and all-black sports teams playing in separate leagues.  When Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) signs Robinson onto the team (and thereby breaks the Major Leagues’ color line), he warns his new player that he will need to control his temper in the face of open racist hostility from other teams, fans, and even his fellow teammates.  This is the story of how Robinson persevered that first year in the face of everything from fans’ racist taunts to “accidental” physical injuries inflicted by opposing players.    

Dirty Harry–Clint Eastwood created one of his most iconic characters in this San Francisco-set thriller.  Police officer Harry Callahan (Eastwood) cares nothing at all for the Bill of Rights.  He’s all about taking down bad guys by any means necessary up to and including shooting them in cold blood.  To him, violating the civil rights of psychopathic killer Scorpio is less serious than letting the killer run around the city threatening the lives of innocents.  In other words, Callahan’s the sort of cop who regards the phrase “ACAB” with boredom and takes it as a lame compliment.

The Gentlemen–Guy Ritchie directs this crime comedy about a turf war among England’s marijuana gangs.  Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) built his criminal fortune via marijuana.  Currently, his grow sites are located on the country estates of impoverished aristocrats.  Now he wants to sell off his business and retire with his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery).  But when Chinese gangster Lord George’s offer to buy Pearson’s business gets turned down, Pearson’s rejection sets off an increasingly ludicrous wave of doublecrosses and violence.

Hello My Name Is Doris—Michael Showalter (“The Big Sick”) directs this offbeat comedy about a shy hoarder who unexpectedly finds love.  60-ish Doris (Sally Field) works as a design firm bookkeeper.  She’s smitten by new head of design John, but figures he’s out of her league since he’s half her age and she’s a shy hoarder.  But when a motivational guru’s speech convinces Doris to go for it, she amazingly develops a new social life with John and other young people.

May 3

Hold Your Breath:  The Ice Dive–-How far could you swim underwater with dozens of feet of ice hanging over your head?  Now how far could you swim in such a situation without fins or wetsuit…after taking just one breath?  Finnish freediver Johanna Nordblad managed to swim 164 feet under the ice on one breath back in 2015.  Now, as she attempts to set a world record, can she travel farther now on just one breath?

Showtime 1958–The title refers to an iconic song sung by Selamat Hari Raya.  This historical drama tells the story of the circumstances behind the creation of that song.  At the Shaw Brothers-owned Jalan Ampas Studio in Malaysia, songwriters P. Ramlee and Jamil Suong are not sitting back after a whole bunch of their friends and performers were fired from the studio before Eid.  They’re putting on a variety show to raise funds for the now unemployed workers.  But making sure the show goes off without (a lot of) problems is just one of the dramas that take place in this film.

May 4

Meltdown: Three Mile Island–On March 28, 1979, the Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suffered a series of mishaps that would result in a partial meltdown of its nuclear core.  This docuseries tracks the events as they happened in real time, including the efforts of Three Mile Island’s parent company Metropolitan Edison to downplay or even hide the magnitude of this near disaster.  Never-before-seen home video and the personal account of chief engineer and whistleblower Richard Parks will also be featured in this series.

May 5

Clark–Meet Clark Olofsson (Bill Skarsgard, “It”).  His criminal rap sheet includes drug trafficking, assault, attempted murder, theft, and dozens of bank robberies.  You’d think with such a record, the Swedes would give him the “lock him up and throw away the key” treatment.  You’d be badly wrong.  As Jonas Akerlund’s adaptation of Olofsson’s autobiography shows, Clark managed to fool all of Sweden into falling in love with him and his exploits.  After all, this is the man whose crimes helped inspire the term “the Stockholm syndrome.”

May 6

The Sound Of Magic–-High school student Yoon Ah-yi wanted to become a magician when she was younger.  But parental abandonment meant she had to work part-time jobs to support herself and her sister.  Fortunately, Ah-yi’s a top student.  Yet she wants to become an adult fast so she can get a more stable job.  Meanwhile, the mysterious Lee Eul performs magic tricks in an abandoned amusement park. However, the magic shows where these tricks are performed are only for those who believe in magic.  When Ah-yi encounters the magician, will her old dreams get re-kindled?

May 11

42 Days Of Darkness–In a Chilean town, Cecilia struggles to discover what happened to her missing sister Veronica.  But the pressures of her search are worsened by the negligence of the cops, society’s prejudices, and media harassment.  

The Getaway King–This Polish romantic crime-comedy is set during the last days of communism in Poland and is very loosely based on a true story.  Meet Zdzislaw Najmrodzkr.  He may be a thief and a bandit, but he’s also a folk hero.  Having escaped the quietly hated Polish cops a whopping 29 times will do that for you.  When a new woman enters Najmrodzkr’s life, he considers a life change.  His aim: to be more clean-cut and much more of a rule follower.  Who’s taking bets on the likelihood of Najmrodzkr’s suddenly becoming a model citizen?

Operation Mincemeat–In 1943, at the height of the Second World War, British Intelligence was concerned that any British invasion of the European continent might get slaughtered by entrenched German forces.  So a plan was created to ultimately fool Hitler into diverting his forces by getting him to think the invasion beachhead would be Greece rather than Sicily.  To pull off this deception, naval intelligence officers Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen) would have to create an elaborate fiction.  Operation Mincemeat would be the code name for this incredible plan.  Based on a true story.         

Our Father–This true-crime documentary might very well be one of the month’s wilder Netflix offerings.  Jacoba Ballard had always believed she was an only child.  So why did her home DNA test say she had seven half-siblings?  As Ballard and her sudden half-siblings got together and started investigating, they soon learned the sickening truth.  Their common ancestor was one Donald Cline, a reputed Indiana fertility doctor.  When Cline artificially inseminated their mothers, he had swapped in his own sperm.  That swapping resulted in Cline’s essentially fathering 50 children…and counting.

May 13

The Lincoln Lawyer Season 1–For the uninitiated:  “The Lincoln Lawyer” began as a series of crime novels written by Michael Connelly.  The title refers to Mickey Haller, an unconventional idealistic criminal law attorney who practices his trade by driving around the streets of Los Angeles in his Lincoln town car.  The 2011 film of the same title adapted the first book in the series.  David E. Kelley produced this new series, which begins by adapting the second book “The Brass Verdict.”  In it, Haller must now take over the firm following the death of his former law partner.  This means a dive into the professional deep end thanks to a high-profile murder trial and the incredibly big conspiracy behind it.

May 16

Servant Of The People Seasons 2 & 3–Now available for the first time in the U.S., the concluding seasons of the satirical TV series that launched comedian Volodymyr Zelensky to the presidency of Ukraine.  In season 2, Holoborodko (Zelensky), the school teacher turned politician, wakes up from a terrible dream where all his best friends betrayed him and he faces a coup d’etat,  Or is it a dream?  In season 3, can Holoborodko deliver on his campaign promise to make Ukraine free of oligarchic and criminal control?

Tully–Writer Diablo Cody and director Ivan Reitman skillfully capture the surrealistic horror of raising three kids, one of whom is a newborn baby.  Marlo (Charlize Theron) is about to have her third child, one she didn’t plan for.  Husband Drew is supportive, but he frequently travels for work and isn’t available to help with the day-to-day running of the household.  Prolonged sleep deprivation forces Marlo to accept an offer by Drew’s wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) to hire night-nurse Tully (Mackenzie Davis) to help her out.  As Tully does indeed provide the help Marlo needs, the mother of three begins to take stock of what her life has become.

Vampire In The Garden–Once upon a time, humans and vampires lived together in harmony in a place called Paradise.  Now, in a future world where the two races have become divided, the unexpected happens.  Human girl Momo and vampire queen Fine work together to fulfill each other’s dreams.  Momo wants to play the violin.  Fine wants to see the wider world.  But they both want to find Paradise.     

May 18

Cyber Hell–Exposing An Internet Horror–This Korean true-crime documentary recounts the notorious “Nth Room” sex crime case.  Teen girls and older were lured over the Internet by fake promises of huge payments.  When the victims’ personal information was stolen, they were blackmailed into uploading sexually explicit and degrading videos of themselves to Telegram chat rooms.   There, the criminal ringleaders let the room’s 260,000 users access the videos in exchange for cybercurrency payments.  Two female college students would work with a group of journalists and cybercrime police officers to shut down the operation.

Who Killed Sara? Season 3–To recap: When Alex’s sister Sara dies in a paragliding accident, Alex agrees to take the blame to protect his friends in the wealthy Lazcano family.  Instead, the deal turns out to be a double cross, with Alex rotting nearly two decades in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.  Now freed, Alex has two goals in life: bringing down the Lazcanos and finding out who really killed his sister.  But as the past two seasons have shown, answering that central question is difficult when nobody can be fully trusted and the truth constantly shifts shape.  Season 2 ended with a cliffhanger and a major confession regarding Sara’s death.  But as Season 3 resolves the Season 2 cliffhanger, that aforementioned major confession opens up new questions.

May 19

The G Word With Adam Conover–Loosely inspired by Michael Lewis’ “The Fifth Risk,” this mini-series blends sketch comedy and documentary as it takes viewers inside the machinery of the U.S. federal government and introduces them to the civil servants who make it all work. The comedy sketches will razz the shortcomings of the federal government machine.  Adam Conover (“Adam Ruins Everything”) hosts this much-delayed show, which is produced by him and the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions.     

The Photographer: Murder In Pinamar–In 1997, Argentine photojournalist Jose Luis Cabezas had published a photograph of notoriously camera shy businessman Alfredo Yabran.  The businessman’s hostility to such publication might be connected to his alleged ties to corrupt government officials.  Shortly after the photo’s publication, Cabezas disappeared after being last seen at an exclusive beach resort frequented by Argentina’s most powerful people.  The photographer would later be found murdered, with his corpse showing signs of torture.  Cabezas’ murder would lead to the discovery of a political and financial conspiracy. 

May 20

Ben Is Back–Peter Hedges wrote and directed this drama about a Christmas Eve appearance that triggers old emotional tensions.  Holly (Julia Roberts) is both delighted and terrified by the unexpected return of her eldest son Ben (Lucas Hedges, “Manchester By The Sea”) on Christmas Eve.  The delight comes from Ben’s long absence from the family home and the holiday season timing.  The terror comes from the reason for Ben’s absence: he’s an opioid addict still in rehab, and there’s a constant danger he may relapse into his old addict ways.  Ben is uncomfortably aware of Holly’s fears.  Will this Christmas bring Holly and Ben closer together or widen the gulf between them?

F*ck Love Too–In this Dutch romantic comedy, several friends find their love lives going to hell in a handbasket in very different ways.  An Ibiza bachelorette party turns into a mix of unexpected romantic triangles and deceptive bed partners.  A guy’s attempts to win back his angry girlfriend get harder when she starts falling for a charming artist.  A love triangle gets truly  messy when the man gets two different women pregnant…and the visibly expecting women later accidentally encounter each other.

Love, Death And Robots Season 3–-Netflix’s popular Emmy Award-winning science fiction and fantasy animation anthology is back for a new season.  A variety of animation styles illustrate stories utilizing the titular elements.  Details are mostly vague on what to expect this season (i.e. references to “uncovering an ancient evil” and a “comedic apocalypse”).  However, definitely appearing this time around will be a sequel to the popular Season 1 story “Three Robots.”

May 25

Somebody Feed Phil Season 5–The Emmy nominated food and travel series hasn’t run out of places to visit and eat at.  “Everybody Loves Raymond” writer Phil Rosenthal, who admittedly doesn’t get out of the house much, travels the globe to see and taste new things as well as joke about what he encounters.  As Rosenthal puts it, think Anthony Bourdain if he was afraid of everything.  This season, Rosenthal’s travels will take him to Oaxaca, Helsinki, and Portland (both the East Coast one and the West Coast one).

May 27

Stranger Things Season 4 Part 1–If you’re already a fan of the series, then you’re ready for the start of the final season.  It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt.  The series’ central group of friends are split up for the first time…and dealing with the headaches of navigating high school.  A new supernatural threat arises, but will solving this mystery end the horrors of the Upside Down?

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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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