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Here’s The Cool Stuff Coming To Hulu In May

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This May on Hulu is admittedly a bit sparse on good premieres.  Fortunately, it’s not a “Bob Wilkins whipping out the really big cigar” month of wretched offerings.  But you definitely can’t go wrong with some of the older films premiering this month.  Whether you want to hate on Enron greedheads or catch Tony Jaa showing off “I can’t believe he did that” martial arts moves, take a step beyond watching “A Beautiful Mind” or “White Men Can’t Jump” for the umpteenth time.  How else will you get to see Lily Tomlin (in “Grandma” FYI) utter the great quip “You’re too late. She’s already pregnant?”

Otherwise, Hulu in May offers: new seasons of comedy series headlined by Amy Poehler and Martin Freeman, a body horror tale from Finland, and even a documentary about the very ordinary people who took a personally huge gamble on GameStop stock. 

Take This Waltz

May 1

Cyrus–Mumblecore filmmaking brothers Mark and Jay Duplass made their transitions to mainstream cinema with this offbeat improvisational comedy featuring some familiar Hollywood names.  Seven years after getting divorced from Jamie (Catherine Keener), John (John C. Reilly) is still in a deep emotional funk.  To help John out, Jamie and her new fiance invite him to a party where he can go out and meet available women.  After several strike outs, John hits it off with the attractive Molly (Marisa Tomei) and they eventually spend several nights together.  However, Molly always leaves John’s place before morning.  John eventually discovers Molly does so because she lives with her 20-something son Cyrus (Jonah Hill)…whom she pampers.  Unfortunately for John, Cyrus has an Oedipal relationship with Molly and he’s really not into having competition for his mom’s affections.  

Drag Me To Hell–If you need a reminder of how nifty director Sam Raimi can be with a horror tale, try this one.  Christine (Alison Lohman) is a bank loan officer who wants to show her boss she can make tough decisions.  So when Mrs. Ganush asks for a third extension on her mortgage, Christine figures it’s a no-brainer to nix the old woman’s request.  But any illusions the young woman has about not losing sleep over her action soon goes out the window.  Mrs. Ganush curses Christine to be tormented for three days by the demon Lamia before being dragged off to Hell.  Vomiting blood and grotesque hallucinations show this curse is quite real.   

Hot Fuzz–Would you believe this mashup parody of Michael Bay films and “The Wicker Man” is now 15 years old?  Only director Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg could turn such a demented idea into an actual film.  For having an arrest record four times better than anyone else on the force, London supercop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) has been reassigned by his superiors to the sleepy crime-free village of Sandford.  There, he’s frustrated by both the village’s quiet pace and his partner, puppy-like action movie fan Danny Butterman (Nick Frost).  But a series of grisly accidents rocking Sandford soon suggests that the village may not be as crime-free as claimed.

Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior–The martial arts film that introduced Tony Jaa to the wider world has a Jackie Chan-like mix of comedy and bone-crunching action.  The plot is simple: devout country bumpkin Ting (Jaa) has come to the big city to recover the stolen sacred Buddha statue known as Ong-Bak.  To stop Komtuan and his thugs from selling Ong-Bak and other Buddhist artifacts, Ting will have to fight the bad guys to the end.  Why stay to the finish?  It’s so you can see such next-level crazy stunts as the barbed wire leap, the tuk-tuk chase, and a flying leg kick that will have you screaming “OMG!  OMG!”

Still Alice–Julianne Moore gives a bravura performance as Columbia University linguistics professor Dr. Alice Howland.  When Dr. Howland is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, she struggles to hold on to both her identity and her ability to communicate with her family and others.  But what happens when her coping mechanisms can’t overcome the problems caused by the disease’s progression?  And how will Dr. Howland’s adult children react to their slowly vanishing mother?

Take This Waltz–Sarah Polley directs this touching drama about a married woman torn between two very nice men.  Margot (Michelle Williams) is a married freelance travel writer.  Her husband Lou (Seth Rogen) is a nice cookbook writer more obsessed with his next writing project than noticing he’s married to Margot.  On a trip to Nova Scotia, the travel writer meets the handsome artist Daniel (Luke Kirby), and passion starts to spark between them.  Romantic tension increases when it turns out Daniel lives across the street from Margot and Lou…and the married woman isn’t that eager to fend off her would-be paramour’s intentions.

May 2

Duncanville Season 3–In this animated sitcom co-created by Amy Poehler, Duncan Harris (voice of Poehler) is an ordinary 15-year-old boy who yearns for the joys of adulthood.  But his reality is more akin to being constantly broke and having to babysit his sister.  Having a wild imagination makes Duncan’s life bearable, but his parking cop mom Annie is constantly determined to keep her son from making a bad decision that she thinks will screw up his future.  Among the crazy events to come this season: a smart refrigerator makes Annie feel she’s been replaced; Duncan gets kicked out of his friend’s video game group the Game Squad; and Duncan gets forced by his younger adoptive sister to marry her in secret.   

May 5

Dragons: The Nine Realms Season 2–It’s the return of the animated sequel to “How To Train Your Dragon.”  In the modern day, when a group of kids explore a fissure created from a comet crashing into the Earth, they discover a long-hidden colony of dragons.  The kids become a team known as the Dragon Riders, and they struggle to keep the dragons’ existence a secret from the scientists at Project Icaris, who are investigating the fissure.  Thunder, one of the dragons the kids discover, turns out to be a descendant of Toothless from the “How To Train Your Dragon” series.  Tom, one of the Dragon Riders, has earned the distrust of his fellow Riders by going off with Thunder on solo adventures.  But Tom’s discovered he’s of Viking heritage, and he has an as-yet unexplained special affinity for dragons.

May 6

Hatching

Hatching–Fresh from SFFILM 65 comes this Finnish body horror tale.  12-year-old Tinja has a mother who treats the family’s daily existence as raw (fake) material for her online blog “Lovely Everyday Life.”  The  same over-controlling mother also bans Tinja’s hanging out with other girls and makes sure her daughter’s non-home life centers solely around gymnastics.  When Tinja follows into the woods the cries of a crow supposedly killed by her mother, the 12-year-old discovers a nest with a lonely egg in it.  Taking the egg back home might not have been Tinja’s wisest move, given that the egg seems to grow extremely large very quickly.  No spoilers regarding what eventually hatches out of the egg, but let’s say the resulting chaos will definitely not be something Tinja’s mother will want broadcast on her blog.

May 9

Candy–Jessica Biel plays the title character in this true crime drama.  In 1980s Texas, Candy Montgomery (Biel) seems like the perfect housewife and mother.  Even her cheating on her husband is perfect.  So what causes her to allegedly do a Lizzie Borden number on Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey), the wife of the man Montgomery was having an affair with?  

May 10

Breeders Season 3–It’s the return of this dark comedy series about parents’ “I will protect them/I will kill them” dichotomy in raising their children.  The new season begins a couple of days after the finale of season 2.  The Worsley family is badly fractured.  Father Paul (Martin Freeman) has moved into his mother-in-law’s home after son Luke punches him out, and he’s not in any hurry to return home.  Meanwhile, mother Ally (Daisy Haggard) finds drinking big glasses of wine aren’t making any easier stresses from work, early menopause, or daughter Ava’s newfound rebelliousness.

May 15

Conversations With Friends–In this mini-series adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel, college students Frances (newcomer Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (Sasha Lane) are ex-lovers turned inseparable best friends.  At a spoken word poetry show in Dublin, the pair meet writer Melissa (Jemima Kirke) and later her handsome actor husband Nick (Joe Alwyn).  Melissa starts openly flirting with Bobbi while Frances begins an intense secret affair with Nick.  However, the affair starts taking a toll on Frances’ relationship with Bobbi.

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room–Alex Gibney’s documentary is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind.  Enron was once the seventh largest corporation in America.  But its fall was not the result of a good corporation going bad.  Gibney shows the whole enterprise was a Ponzi scheme from the word go.  Among the victims of Enron chief executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling’s machinations were Enron’s own employees (whose retirement funds were drained) and the people of California (thanks to a manufactured “energy crisis” of rolling blackouts which drove up the price of electricity nine times, resulting in millions for Enron).  If you need a new reason to be furious with rich greedhead assholes, this is your film.

Enron; The Smartest Guys In The Room

May 17

Sundown–The new film from Michel Franco (“New Order”) takes a different sort of aim at the sins of the obscenely privileged.  Members of the Bennett clan, including Neil (Tim Roth) and Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), are vacationing in Acapulco.  Alice is treating her stay as a working vacation as she’s sitting in the sun while managing the family’s multi-billion-pound slaughterhouse and pork production empire.  Neil, on the other hand, is trying to hide some personal unhappiness.  When a call comes in that the Bennett matriarch has died, the vacationing family members rush to the airport to fly back to England.  Neil stays behind, claiming he’s lost his passport.  This turns out to be a ruse to allow him to check out on his old life of privilege.  However, Neil can’t keep up the charade forever.

May 18

Helix–Viewers will find this series which previously ran on the SyFy Channel either incredibly surprising or a WTF Rifftrax-worthy mess.  A team of Center For Disease Control researchers led by Dr. Alan Farragut and Dr. Helen Jordan travel to an Arctic bioresearch station run by the Ilaria Corporation.  A viral outbreak has occurred, and those infected will either die or turn into zombies capable of spreading the virus to uninfected people.  However, Ilaria is deliberately hiding some very pertinent information about the virus…  

May 23

227–One of the 1980s’ seminal sitcoms followed the lives of the residents of an apartment building located at 227 Lexington Place, Washington D.C.  The show centers around Mary Jenkins (Marla Gibbs, fresh off “The Jeffersons”), a loving housewife with a tendency for nosiness and tartly expressing her opinions.  Other cast members include Regina King (in her first TV role as Mary’s daughter Brenda) and Jackee Harry (in her Emmy-winning role as Mary’s frenemy Sandra). 

May 26

Look At Me: XXXTENTACION–Arriving a little sooner than expected to streaming, director Sabaah Folayan (“Whose Streets?”)’s portrait of the controversial rapper considers why the art can’t be separated from the artist’s life.  Florida rapper Jahseh Onfroy, who took the stage name XXXTENTACION, built a social media following for both his music and his candor about his mental health struggles.  But as his career grew into genuine music stardom, it became harder for the public to ignore reports of the rapper’s history of violent behavior, which included acts of intimate partner violence.  How can these two sides of Onfroy’s life be reconciled?

May 27

Shoresy–In this spinoff prequel to the comedy series “Letterkenny,” foul-mouthed hockey bully Shoresy moves to Sudbury to join the struggling Bulldogs hockey team.  His hope is to parlay his harassing behavior on the ice into a championship-season run to Ontario.  In addition to seeing several characters who were in “Letterkenny” show up, expect to see appearances by such Canadian hockey legends as Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Keegan Long, and Bourke Cazabon.

May 31

GameStop: The Rise Of The Players

GameStop: The Rise Of The Players–Justin Dopierla was a dairyland money manager.  Rigoberto Alvarez’ parents immigrated from Mexico to Batavia, Illinois.  Jenn Kruza underwent chemotherapy treatment without health insurance.  These three ordinary people were among the nine “OG Diamond Hands” who invested their own money in a stock gamble on a company the investment community had labeled “Blockbuster 2.0.”  That company was GameStop.  Director Jonah Tulis tells the story of how these deserving people took a huge financial chance and endured weeks of tension and anxiety in waiting to see how this longest of shots paid out.  

Pistol–-Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) adapts Steve Jones’ memoir “Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol” for this biopic mini-series.  The series follows the rise of punk culture through the story of the rock band The Sex Pistols.  Jones and such cohorts as John Lydon and Sid Vicious want to use their band to “kick this country awake if it kills us.”  These working class kids with “no future” in Britain would wind up shocking the corrupt Establishment to its core and changing pop culture forever.

 

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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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