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All The Cool Stuff Coming To Hulu In May 2024

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Call this May on Hulu a “something for everyone” month.  There’s a heartwarming nature documentary, an action film classic and its sequels, an acclaimed historical epic, a weird trip through American subcultures, and a strange but true documentary about a jaw dropping Japanese reality TV show.  You might not want to yell “Yippie kay yay, mother f***ers” at everything being shown, but you might enjoy finding a new favorite show or film.

May 1

The Joy Luck Club–Wayne Wang’s adaptation of Amy Tan’s novel centers on a San Francisco mahjong club formed by four Chinese immigrant women.  The film recounts the story of each member’s past, their conflicts with their now adult daughters regarding achieving success, and how these mothers and daughters manage to find ways to resolve their conflicts.  Wang’s film would be the first major Hollywood film to star an all Asian American and mostly female cast.  Currently, a sequel to this film is in the works with the original cast reprising their roles, as the mothers of Wang’s film become grandmothers thanks to their daughters having children of their own.

The Joy Luck Club

Mr. Turner–Mike Leigh’s biopic recounts the last 25 years of the life of renowned British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall).  The 19th century artist is famously described as the “painter of light,” a man who could depict light in a way that imbues his landscapes with intense spiritual feeling.  On the other hand, outside of painting and talking about the same, Turner could be high-handed, insensitive, and impulsive.  Yet beneath all these irritating behaviors, could there be an immense sadness at Turner’s heart?

My Name Is Khan–Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan stars in this serious drama about American anti-Muslim hysteria.  Rizvan Khan (Khan) is a Muslim man with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Despite these drawbacks, he manages to win the love of a Hindu single mom (Kajol) and her young son.  But their happiness gets torn apart thanks to Americans in San Francisco (really) unable in the wake of 9/11 to distinguish among Muslims, Hindus, Arabs, or Indians.  Khan’s soon on a journey to redeem himself by telling America’s president that his name is Khan but he’s not a terrorist. 

Rushmore–For those unfamiliar with the films of Wes Anderson, Hulu is showing several of his early films this month including this sophomore film.  The title refers to the elite prep school attended by go-getter Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman).  Max enjoys being at Rushmore, having become editor of the school’s paper, member of the wrestling team, and theatrical impresario (among other extracurricular activities).  On the other hand, this middle-class scholarship boy also happens to be one of the school’s worst students, academically speaking.  Life changes for Max when he develops a crush on lovely first grade teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) and befriends melancholy self-made millionaire Herman Blume (Bill Murray).    

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Shardlake Season 1–This historical mystery series is based on C.J. Sansom’s novels.  Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer living with scoliosis in the time of Henry VIII.  His life gets turned upside down when the English monarch’s Chief Minister, Thomas Cromwell (Sean Bean), tasks him with investigating the murder of one of Cromwell’s commissioners in the town of Scarnsea.  That now-dead official had gone there to gather evidence to justify the local monastery’s closure.  Now Shardlake must both solve the murder and finish the job of closing the monastery.  However, the monks there are decidedly unenthusiastic about the new Cromwell agent’s presence.  And Shardlake himself wonders if his companion Jack Barak is just an assistant or also Cromwell’s spy.    

May 2

The Contestant–When aspiring Japanese comedian Tomoaki “Nasubi (Eggplant)” Hamatsu , wins an audition for a job sponsored by famed TV producer Toshio Tsuchiya, he probably didn’t expect to live naked in a one-room apartment for over a year.  But that was precisely what happens to him on Tsuchiya’s “comedy” show “A Life In Prizes.”  The only way Hamatsu could get clothing or even food was to win prizes from the mail-in sweepstakes mentioned in the magazines left in the apartment.  Supposedly, should Hamatsu win $8,000 in sweepstakes prizes, he could even leave the apartment.  Until then, as this documentary recounts, he had to survive on a diet that included sugary drinks and dog food.  

The Contestant

May 3

Die Hard–On Christmas Eve, NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) crashes the Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party in Los Angeles in hopes of reuniting with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia).  However, his plans must change radically when German “terrorist” Hans Gruber and his heavily armed team take the entire tower hostage.  Soon, McClane is forced to play a deadly solo game of hide and seek with Gruber’s team while simultaneously trying to convince the skeptical LAPD to get off their butts and help.  This action blockbuster spawned several sequels, all of which are also being shown this month on Hulu.  Just remember to shout “Yippie kay yay, mother f***er” while watching. 

Welcome To Wrexham Season 3–Last month’s scheduled premiere of the new season of this popular sports docuseries was probably delayed to allow the remainder of the Red Dragons’ 2023-2024 season to finish up first.  As Season 3 begins, the team owned by actors Rob McElhenny and Ryan Reynolds has taken a big professional step up by reaching the English Football League Two.  But in practical terms, that just means the Red Dragons’ games have increased in intensity.  Meanwhile, can Wrexham’s Women’s Team make the most of their promotion to the Welsh Adran Premier League?  

May 4

12 Hour Shift–In this dark comedy set around 1999, nurse and drug addict Mandy works in an Arkansas hospital.  With the help of shift supervisor Karen, she makes some extra money offing terminal patients and selling their internal organs to a biker gang.  However, the nurse’s life soon gets complicated by the loss of an organ shipment, the arrival of officious Officer Myers, and the treatment of comatose crook Jefferson.

May 7

Billy And Molly: An Otter Love Story–Get your warm fuzzies on with this acclaimed documentary about a heartwarming interspecies relationship.  Billy Mail is a salt-of-the-earth philosopher who lives in Scotland’s Shetland Islands with wife Susan and devoted sheepdog Jade.  One rainy evening, a half-drowned and starving young wild otter gets washed up onto the Mails’ jetty.  The couple decide to nurse the ill otter (who will be named Molly) back to health.  In doing so, the Mails acquire a new member of the family and Billy in particular gets his love of the natural world awakened. 

May 8

In Limbo Season 1–Charlie (Ryan Corr, “House Of The Dragon”) has trouble writing an eulogy because he’s bickering with his best mate Nate…who recently committed suicide.  Is Nate talking to Charlie now because he’s stuck in limbo and needs his mate’s help to transition?  Or is Nate’s presence a sign of Charlie’s mental balance being less stable than he thinks?  

May 9

Billy And Molly: An Otter Love Story

Black Twitter: A People’s History–How did Black folks shape the titular social media platform to spark legitimate change (e.g. #OscarsSoWhite, #UKnowUrBlackWhen)?  This docuseries, based on articles Jason Parham wrote for WIRED, recounts that story.  But the success of Black voices on Twitter in bringing attention to such injustices as the killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown would wind up sparking severe pushback from the alt-right and white supremacists.

May 10

Eileen–In 1964, Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie) works as a secretary at a drab Massachusetts boys’ prison.  Into her colorless life comes the “glamorous” Dr. Rebecca St. John (Anne Hathaway), who becomes Eileen’s first friend.  Yet the new doctor gives off an air of something being off about her.  When paired with Eileen’s emotional blankness, the results turn out to be both life-changingly messy and leading to someplace filthy (emotionally and otherwise).

May 15

I Am Not Your Negro–Raoul Peck’s stunning documentary takes as its starting point James Baldwin’s uncompleted book “Remember This House.”  It would have recounted the lives and assassinations of Baldwin’s close friends Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.  Peck’s film connects Baldwin’s ideas to such subjects as Black representation in Hollywood and #BlackLivesMatter to create an interrogation of America’s true ideals.

My Scientology Movie–TV presenter Louis Theroux arrives in Los Angeles, supposedly intending to make a movie showing the more positive side of Scientology.  Yet his journeys around Los Angeles to various Scientology-connected sites as well as his conversations with people who’ve left the cult-like organization suggests there is no positive side to be found.  That impression might also come from Scientology leader David Miscavige’s creepy authoritarianism or the unsettling prison-like exterior of the notorious Riverside compound known as Gold Base.

Royal Rules Of Ohio

Uncle Samsik–In the early 1960s, military academy graduate Kim San returns to South Korea after studying economics in America.  When Kim encounters Park Doo Chil aka Uncle Samsik (Song Kang-ho, “Parasite”), the two men discover they both share the same dream of turning South Korea into an important industrial nation.  Park also brings to the table his skills as a strategist who can quickly read peoples’ desires, assess situations, and make thorough plans.  It might sound like a dream partnership, except for Park’s willingness to do anything he feels is necessary to accomplish Kim’s goals.

May 16

Paddington–When an intelligent Peruvian bear with a fondness for marmalade arrives in London, he’s befriended by the Brown family.  The bear, who’s named Paddington by the Browns, is an orphan who hopes to find a home with the British explorer who met his Aunt Lucy.  While Paddington searches for the explorer, evil museum taxidermist Millicent Clyde wants to kill and stuff the Peruvian bear for display in the Natural History Museum.  Based on Michael Bond’s book.     

Royal Rules Of Ohio–Thelma, Brenda, and Nana Agyekum are three 20-ish Ghanian sisters living in Columbus, Ohio with mother Delali (aka Mama Dollars) and father Yaw (aka Akili Bobo).  The three sisters also happen to be the daughters of royal descendants of two of the most wealthy and powerful Ghanian kingdoms.  Thus, the trio lives in luxury.  But the price of that luxury is having their lives put under a microscope to ensure they do nothing to endanger their family’s social position.  Will the sisters’ fondness for partying and drinking screw up their privileged lives?

May 17

birth/rebirth–Rose works in a hospital morgue.  Celie is a labor/delivery nurse.  The two women may work in the same hospital, yet they don’t know each other.  That will change when Celie’s beloved 7-year-old daughter Lila unexpectedly dies from bacterial meningitis.  Rose swipes Lila’s corpse so she can use it in the human phase of her regeneration experiments.  When Celie finds out, the two women eventually become partners in creating a serum that will bring Lila back to life.  But the key ingredient in the serum is fetus cells, and learning how the two women acquire and/or create those cells might not be for the faint of heart. 

Chief Detective 1958

The Sweet East–During a Washington D.C. field trip, independent-minded high-school student Lillian gets separated from her classmates thanks to the chaos of a pizza restaurant shooting.  When Lillian accidentally falls in with a group of Maryland punks engaged in pointless rebellion, it’s the start of her odyssey through an America seemingly populated by scammers who want to both objectify her and control her.  Soon, the high school student becomes both a missing person and a tabloid subject.

May 22

Chief Detective 1958–This prequel to the popular Korean TV drama “Chief Inspector” takes place in the 1950s to 1960s, a decade before the events of the later drama.  It follows the exploits of Detective Park Young-han and his team as they solve crimes using analog investigation methods (i.e. common sense, insight, and tenacity).  Detective Park’s fury at Korean society’s everyday violation of human dignity and its frequent corruption will eventually make him a detective for the people.       

May 24

Ferrari–Michael Mann’s biopic captures highly driven auto manufacturer Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) in 1957 trying to both cement his legacy and deal with serious personal and professional crises.  The upcoming 1000-mile endurance race known as the Mille Miglia offers an opportunity to break a land speed record with his revolutionary Formula One race car.  Saving his car company from bankruptcy depends on ex-wife Laura (Penelope Cruz) signing over to him all her shares in the company.  However, her unresolved grief regarding the death of their only son and her ignorance of Ferrari’s infidelities may scuttle this plan.  Finally, Ferrari’s mistress Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley) demands he publicly acknowledge his illegitimate son. 

May 30

The Promised Land–In 18th century Denmark, poor Army Lieutenant Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen) wants to take advantage of agricultural reforms to develop a piece of land on the supposedly untamable Jutland heath.  If Kahlen succeeds, the Danish King will make him a noble.  However, the heath soil is impossibly tough, and the nearby forest is home to outlaw bands.  Most dangerously, neighboring nobleman Frederik de Schinkel happens to be a sadistic monster who wants to run Kahlen off the land by any means necessary.   

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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.