Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Clockwise from bottom L: John Wick 3 (Photo: Lionsgate), The Hustle (Photo: Metro Goldwyn Mayer), Aladin (Photo: Disney), Godzilla (Photo: Warner Bros.), Detective Pikachu (Photo: Warner Bros.), Long Shot (Photo: Lionsgate

Yeah, we’re thinking John Wick is back—and so are Godzilla, Pikachu, and Aladdin this May

Clockwise from bottom L: John Wick 3 (Photo: Lionsgate), The Hustle (Photo: Metro Goldwyn Mayer), Aladin (Photo: Disney), Godzilla (Photo: Warner Bros.), Detective Pikachu (Photo: Warner Bros.), Long Shot (Photo: Lionsgate
Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

So many movies, so little time. Every week brings a new crop of them, opening in multiplexes and arthouse theaters across the nation, and arriving in increasingly high volumes on streaming platforms like Netflix. How’s a voracious moviegoer to keep up? That’s where The A.V. Club comes in. The first week of every month, we’ll be previewing all the major movies coming to theaters (or laptops or gaming systems or Rokus) near you, helping narrow down these upcoming releases by making educated guesses on whether they’re worth your time and money.

Long Shot

Theaters everywhere May 3

Twelve years after Knocked Up made him a movie star, Seth Rogen slides back into that old wheelhouse of a funny schlub romancing a confident, beautiful, professionally ambitious woman. This time, for extra comic disparity, his love interest is one of the most powerful people in the whole world: the U.S. Secretary Of State, played by a game Charlize Theron. Rogen, meanwhile, is the smitten kid she used to babysit as a teenager, grown up into a recently fired Vice-style political reporter. Inspired by his candor, she brings him aboard her presidential campaign as a speechwriter. Sparks and profane zingers fly.
Will it be worth your time? It’s not a terrible idea, building an American President-style romantic comedy around Rogen’s stoner-goofball leading-man shtick. But Long Shot, which reunites the actor with 50/50 and The Night Before director Jonathan Levine, is a little too lazy to really sell its opposites-attract love story, try as a typically game Theron does to generate some electricity between them. It’s also weirdly apolitical for a 2019 comedy about a woman running for president.

The Intruder

Theaters everywhere May 3

Consummate nice guy Michael Ealy and the perpetually underused Meagan Good play a couple who buy a new home, only to find out that it’s got a major Dennis Quaid infestation. Specifically, the guy they bought it from starts out seeming like a folksy, aw-shucks Dennis Quaid character but turns out to be an unhinged, perpetually overacting Dennis Quaid character. It’s a Quaid and switch! Soon the couple is defending their new home, and their lives, as the yuppie-stalker thriller revival continues on the heels of last year’s Breaking In.
Will it be worth your time? Full of jump scares and absurd decision-making, The Intruder makes no pretense of being anything more than it is: a b-grade potboiler updated for 21st-century sensibilities. If that sounds like your kind of thing, have at it.


Theaters everywhere May 3

Spawned from the same cutely grotesque CGI well that produced such variably tolerable child distractions as the Trolls movie and the despicable Minions, UglyDolls pulls liberally from those movies’ tried-and-tested playbook. Which is to say, it finds some adorably weird characters (in this case, harvested from a “gross, but in a commercially adorable way” toy line), hires a murderer’s row of musical talent (Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, Lizzo, Blake Shelton, Bebe Rexha, etc.) to bring them to life, and focuses on pushing a positive message about self-acceptance and following your dreams, no matter what Nick Jonas might think. Also, Pitbull is there.
Will it be worth your time? Nah. There are plenty of other options out there to keep the target demographic of indiscriminate toddlers occupied for a couple hours. Like the producers of this cheap-looking animated distraction, parents should save their money.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile

Select theaters and Netflix May 3

Is it possible to tell the story of one of America’s most notorious serial killers without actually depicting his murders? That’s the ambitious, unintuitive strategy of this true-crime biopic, which casts Zac Efron as the literal and figurative ladykiller Ted Bundy, while partially adopting the limited perspective of his girlfriend, Liz Kendall (Lily Collins), in denial about what her beau was up to when he wasn’t around. Joe Berlinger, who also made the recent Netflix documentary on Bundy, directs from a script adapted from Kendall’s memoir.
Will it be worth your time? As we wrote from Sundance, the film is more interesting in theory than in execution; it neither commits to its outside vantage nor gets much dramatic juice out of it. Still, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Wicked And Vile might still be worth seeing for Efron’s creepy star performance, transforming his whole pinup-star charisma into a mask he keeps tightly pulled over his true self.

El Chicano

Theaters everywhere May 3

Resting somewhere in the gritty intersection between a more traditional police procedural and a Punisher-esque comic book origin story, El Chicano is being billed as the first superhero movie with an all Latinx cast. Said assemblage includes Raúl Castillo as a police detective investigating the death of his brother—who might have been both an established gangster and the barrio’s urban legend answer to Batman—and George Lopez, doing the “comedic actor in a serious role” thing as Castillo’s cautious captain.
Will it be worth your time? Stuntman-turned director Ben Hernandez Bray cut his teeth on CW superhero shows like Arrow, and it shows a bit in the low-budget cinematography and potentially cheesy storytelling on display in the movie’s trailer. Still, early reports from El Chicano’s various festival screenings over the last year or so suggest that the film is a true passion project for Bray, meaning there could be more to his debut feature than a first glance might lead one to believe.


Select theaters May 3

In Clouds Of Sils Maria, the French writer-director Olivier Assayas cast Juliette Binoche as a self-consciously aging actress and Kristen Stewart as her assistant. He followed that movie by casting Stewart as another assistant in Personal Shopper, so it makes sense that he’d give Binoche another shot at the aging-actress part in his next film, Non-Fiction. This is more an ensemble piece than those two character studies, and owes a fair amount to Woody Allen with its bed-hopping story of a writer (Vincent Macaigne) having an affair with the actress wife (Binoche) of his editor (Guillaume Canet), and courting further danger by writing a lightly fictionalized version into his new book.
Will it be worth your time? It’s nowhere near this great director’s best work. But its approximation of a certain European (or New York) strain of neurotic highbrow sex-and-gab fest is not without its pleasures, either—many of them courtesy of Assayas’ reliably robust staging.


Select theaters May 3

Hero and House Of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou returns to the wuxia genre after more than a decade away with this epic tale of divided loyalties set deep in the more mythical reaches of China’s ancient past. The film starts off with more convoluted political intrigue than an episode of Game Of Thrones before transitioning into a high-flying martial arts spectacle in its second half, all driven by Daoist philosophy and Yimou’s sumptuous visual style (though the usual bright primary colors have been replaced by a more monochromatic, yin-yang scheme).
Will it be worth your time? Shadow takes a while to get going, so pay attention in the film’s winding, exposition-heavy first half if you want the full emotional impact of the fight scenes later in the film. Those fight scenes, though, are typically amazing.

Meeting Gorbachev

Select theaters May 3

Yep, it’s a biographical documentary on Mikhail Gorbachev, who agrees to a long interview on his achievements and failures. The buried lede is who’s conducting the interview: It’s Werner Herzog, the famously inquisitive and eccentric German director, who actually sat down three times, not once, with the last leader of the Soviet Union.
Will it be worth your time? Only if you’re dying for a fix of Herzog’s famous Teutonic accent. (He narrates, as usual, and also talks often during the interviews.) Otherwise, Meeting Gorbachev is about as personal as a Wikipedia page, laying out the basic details of its subject’s life when not tossing him softball questions about it.

Tell It To The Bees

Select theaters May 3

Based on a novel by Fiona Shaw and helmed by Super Mario Bros. director (!!!) Annabel Jankel, this period piece takes its title from a bit of secret-keeping advice that Anna Paquin’s small-town doctor passes on to a young boy she befriends, after his father kicks him and his heartbroken mother (Holliday Grainger) out of their rural Scottish home. Paquin and Grainger’s characters quickly rack up a few bee-worthy secrets of their own, though, developing a passionate romance that draws the ire of the kid, his asshole father, and the assorted 1950s-style bigots living in their tiny village.
Will it be worth your time? The two leads have a nice, affectionate chemistry, but the film crushes their love story under a lot of traumatic plot developments—still an unfortunate habit of mainstream movies about queer romance, regardless of the era during which they’re set.

Ask Dr. Ruth

Select theaters May 3

“I have an obligation to live large and make a dent in this world,” Dr. Ruth Westheimer says in the trailer for this documentary about her life. Children of the ’80s and ’90s may remember Westheimer for her short stature—the good sexologist stands at a tiny 4’7”—and frank talk about carnal matters on her many talk-show appearances. But there’s a deep tragedy behind Dr. Ruth and her proto-meme persona: Westheimer is an only child and refugee who fled Germany when she was 11, and her parents were both killed in the Holocaust shortly thereafter.
Will it be worth your time? Westheimer’s good cheer and indomitable spirit are undeniably endearing, and Ask Dr. Ruth seems poised to become this year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? as a result. Our own Josh Modell gave it an enthusiastic B+, writing, “Westheimer’s life was far more interesting—and her impact on the world far deeper—than the quick giggle that a thick accent curling delightfully around the word ‘vibrator’ can provide.”

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Theaters everywhere May 10

It’s somehow taken 24 years for the massively successful Pokémon franchise of video games, TV shows, and truly terrible rap songs to migrate to the world of live-action film. Now that it has, it’s doing so in one of the weirdest ways imaginable, with Ryan Reynolds voicing a telepathic, coffee-guzzling Sherlock Holmes-hatted version of series mascot Pikachu, teaming up with a young gumshoe (Justice Smith) in order to investigate the disappearance of his father in a city absolutely brimming with the title critters.
Will it be worth your time? If nothing else, Detective Pikachu promises to be an absolute visual spectacle, bringing to—sometimes rather disquieting—life characters that have been trapped in animated and video game forms for longer than most of its target audience has been alive. But while Reynolds’ smartass charisma is a known quantity at this point, it remains to be seen whether Goosebumps director Rob Letterman can build a compelling mystery that engages audiences’ minds in the same way that seeing Jigglypuff or Charizard battling on the screen might immediately command their eyes.

The Hustle

Theaters everywhere May 10

A posh-sounding con artist (Anne Hathaway) takes a less outwardly sophisticated scammer (Rebel Wilson) under her wing to pull off a major swindle. If this premise sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a gender-flipped remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, itself a redo of Bedtime Story, though the director remains, as ever, a dude: comedy veteran Chris Addison, an actor who has gone behind the camera for episodes of Veep and Playing House, among others. Expect some kind of gag about frequent fake-Brit Hathaway’s accent, and hopefully some kind of clever maneuvering to rejigger the ending of Scoundrels, which might not really work the same with the main schemers now played by women.
Will it be worth your time? This one has been bounced around the release schedule a bit, but Addison’s TV-comedy résumé is impressive and the Hathaway/Wilson pairing looks fun.


Select theaters May 10

Hey, you like Lord Of The Rings, right? Well, what if there was another movie that was also about a fellowship of friends tested by battle, but it was about the author of Lord Of The Rings and featured no actual dark magic or dragons? That seems to be the pitch for this biographical drama about the early days of author J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult), his university chums, and Edith Bratt (Lily Collins), who eventually became his wife.
Will it be worth your time? Like an entire trilogy spun out of The Hobbit, this might be more of a fans-only affair, though maybe it will prove more Shakespeare In Love than George Lucas In Love.

All Is True

Select theaters May 10

Speaking of the Bard, Kenneth Branagh kicked off his filmmaking career with a big-screen production of Henry V, and he’s been staging and starring in Shakespeare adaptations ever since. With All Is True, the actor-director takes his fandom to a new level, growing some very iconic facial hair to play history’s most famous writer during the final years of his life. He also casts Judi Dench—who won an Oscar for a similarly fast-and-loose take on the subject—as the aging author’s long-neglected wife, who he seeks out in Stratford after a long period of estrangement. Meanwhile, fellow Shakespeare veteran Ian McKellen steps in as The Earl Of Southampton.
Will it be worth your time? Reviews from late December, when All Is True received a small and brief awards-qualifying run, were mixed, with several noting that Branagh’s film takes nearly as many liberties with the historical record as the Best Picture-winning Shakespeare In Love, but with little of the wit and charm. Still, maybe the movie’s pleasures will shine brighter in blockbuster season than awards season; it’s not like much else opening this May will bring the theater to movie theaters.


Select theaters May 10

Willem Dafoe stars as the sexually outrageous and politically radical Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini in this focused biopic. Abel Ferrara, a provocateur in his own right, zeroes in on the last few days of the Salò, Or Rhe 120 Days Of Sodom director’s life, weaving in scenes from Pasolini’s unfinished works and culminating with his murder on the beaches of Ostia on November 2, 1975.
Will it be worth your time? It’s been nearly five years since Pasolini debuted at the Venice Film Festival—which, considering the caliber of talent involved, is usually a very bad sign. But The A.V. Club’s Ignaity Vishnevetsky liked the movie well enough when he saw it at TIFF in 2014, calling it “a flawed film of unvarnished integrity.”

The Professor And The Madman

Select theaters May 10

Let’s just get this out out of the way: It’s Sean Penn playing the madman this time, though he and Mel Gibson don matching unkempt-lunatic beards for this Oxford English Dictionary origin story. Yes, Gibson plays a professor working on the first edition of this hallowed text, while Penn plays an imprisoned murderer who submits a crazy number of citations. Similarly fraught was the making of this movie, which involved Gibson suing the producers for not providing enough resources to finish it properly, and director Farhad Safinia taking his name off of the final film.
Will it be worth your time? In the ’90s, a Sean Penn/Mel Gibson face-off would have been a movie event. These days, fewer people are in the mood to hear a Gibson character passionately advocate for the redemption of a bad man. Then again, Gibson just gave his best performance in years in uncomfortable parallel with his real-life troubles, so maybe leaning into his reputation is a workable strategy for him, even if he’d rather this movie didn’t actually get released in its current form.

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

Theaters everywhere May 17

With 2017’s John Wick: Chapter 2, director Chad Stahleski and star Keanu Reeves elevated an already-good action-revenge flick into the realm of greatness, doubling down on the ridiculousness of their comic book world of secret, honor-bound assassin hotels and street-corner hitmen to establish one of the best new action movie universes in years. Two years later, Reeves’ taciturn Baba Yaga is still on the run from what is apparently the entire, heavily armed population of New York. At least Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, and some probably-doomed horses are in his corner.
Will it be worth your time? Reeves and Stahleski make action-hero invincibility look good, imbuing Wick with just enough soul (and lovable canine companions) so as to not have him come off as a total mass-murdering sociopath. Given that this is the rare action franchise that only gets better the more over-the-top it goes, there’s no reason to expect Parabellum—“Prepare for war,” by the by—won’t elevate the series to even higher levels of goofily brutal fun.

A Dog’s Journey

Theaters everywhere May 17

Stick with us here: A Dog’s Journey is a sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, but neither of those films have anything to do with A Dog’s Way Home, which came out in January—except they’re all based on novels by the same guy, W. Bruce Cameron, who got famous on the strength of one of his other books, 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter. This one stars Josh Gad as the voice of Bailey, an eternally reincarnated pooch whose latest mission is to serve as best friend and protector of CJ, the granddaughter of his original human companion, Ethan (Dennis Quaid).
Will it be worth your time? Cameron has made a cottage industry out of feel-good hokum for dog owners and little kids obsessed with animals, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe—at least based on the trailers and marketing materials for the film—that A Dog’s Journey will mess with a winning box office formula.

The Sun Is Also A Star

Theaters everywhere May 17

In this adaptation of the bestselling novel by Nicola Yoon, practically minded Natasha (Yara Shahidi from Black-ish and Grown-ish) has a chance encounter with dreamy, idealistic Daniel (Charles Melton from Riverdale) and winds up spending the day with him in New York City, ostensibly for him to prove that he can make her fall in love with him. An even-more-youthful Before Sunrise mixes with a contemporary immigration drama when Natasha reveals that their spontaneous, unexpected time together may have a serious clock on it.
Will it be worth your time? From a visual standpoint and based only on the trailer, director Ry Russo-Young’s movie looks more lush and lyrical than the typical YA adaptation. But it also apparently features a main character saying, “I don’t believe in love,” so it’s hard to say whether the movie will transcend its potential clichés or just gussy them up a bit.

The Souvenir

Select theaters May 17

For her first film since 2013, British director Joanna Hogg (Unrelated, Archipelago) goes digging around in her own painful past. Set in the early 1980s, this autobiographical drama follows a film student (Honor Swinton Byrne, cast alongside her real mother, Tilda) who falls into a turbulent relationship with a troubled, unreliable government official (Tom Burke, from the recent BBC adaptations of The Musketeers and War & Peace). The movie, which won a major prize at Sundance in January, unfolds across several years, through illustrative moments out of time.
Will it be worth your time? The Souvenir revisits an emotional rollercoaster ride without really becoming one; it’s a subtle and leisurely affair, even at its most dramatically fraught. But Hogg brings a hazy, evocative beauty to just about every moment—one that’s enhanced by her decision to shoot on celluloid, a rare pleasure in this digital age. For the textures alone, it’s worth seeing.

Asako I & II

Select theaters May 17

Osaka teenager Asako (Erika Karata) falls in love with bad boy Baku (Masahiro Higashide). After he ghosts her and breaks her heart, she moves to Tokyo and meets Ryôhei (also Higashide), who looks (but doesn’t act) exactly like her estranged beau. Though it could be the setup for a weird doppelgänger thriller, that’s actually the premise of Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s gently whimsical drama, which puts a symbolic spin on the conflict between old and new love, between the baggage of past relationships and the possibilities of future romance.
Will it be worth your time? Asako I & II is much slighter than Hamaguchi’s last movie, the five-plus-hour Happy Hour. But it’s also pretty charming—a love-triangle date movie at once low-key and high-concept, shot with a lot of visual grace. Not for nothing did it premiere in competition at Cannes a year ago.

Trial By Fire

Select theaters May 17

Middle-of-the-road semi-prestige filmmaker Edward Zwick returns with the true-crime story of Cameron Todd Willingham (Jack O’Connell), a Texas man on death row after being convicted of murdering his three children. Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern), a teacher and poet (and definitely not the Eat Pray Love author), starts to re-investigate his case, and comes to believe that mishandled evidence may be resulting in a wrongful execution.
Will it be worth your time? Laura Dern generally has good taste in projects, but the earliest reviews out of last year’s Telluride Film Festival were on the mixed side.


Select theaters May 17

After making two English-language films starring older acting royalty—The Sense Of An Ending and Our Souls At Night, both in 2017—director Ritesh Batra returns to his hometown of Mumbai for a drama about a street photographer (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who talks a stranger (Sanya Malhotra) into posing as his fiancée to appease his grandmother. We’re not positive what happens next but can’t shake the feeling it will resemble the 1997 Jennifer Aniston movie Picture Perfect.
Will it be worth your time? All joking aside, reliable reports from Sundance, where the film premiered earlier this year, insist that Photograph is more nuanced than its contrived-sounding rom-com premise suggests. At the very least, it’s probably safe to assume that Batra has supplied some of the modest and modestly scaled poignancy of his unlikely international box office hit, The Lunchbox.


Theaters everywhere May 24

Don’t listen to Genie, no matter how catchy his song remains: You’ve definitely had a friend like him. In 1992, he was a shape-shifting blue blot hyperactively voiced by Robin Williams. This time around, he’s an occasionally motion-captured, Fünke-shaded Will Smith, gusting out of the magic lamp discovered by everyone’s favorite acrobatic street urchin (Mena Massoud). Disney’s live-action retelling of its animated retelling of One Thousand And One Nights looks to drag another megahit from the Mouse House vault into a flesh-and-blood realm. But will it take audiences to a whole new world or just on a bumpy nostalgia trip to an old one?
Will it be worth your time? Sandwiched between Tim Burton’s loose reimagining of Dumbo and Jon Favreau’s forthcoming, by-all-appearances slavishly faithful Lion King do-over, Aladdin may split the difference: Though it appears to be recycling most of the Broadway-ready tunes from the animated version, there are new songs, too, and Disney insists that the storytelling will be more nonlinear—a choice that tracks with the decision to bring aboard Guy Ritchie, last seen making the legend of King Arthur look like one of his chronologically jumbled crime pictures. However closely it sticks to script, though, do we really need a live-action version of every classic Disney cartoon?


Theaters everywhere May 24

The Kents got lucky with Kal-El. Imagine the damage The Last Son Of Krypton could do if he decided humanity was better squashed than protected. That’s the idea behind Brightburn, which basically retells the origin story of Superman as a bad-seed horror flick, with Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as the small-town marrieds who decide to raise as their own the star child who crash-lands in their backyard, only to discover that this may be one case where nature trumps nurture. In other words, their superboy would make Zack Snyder’s look friendly.
Will it be worth your time? Even with that brooding version of the Man of Steel flying around the DC Extended Universe, this looks and sounds like an effectively creepy subversion/perversion of the world’s most famous superhero. It’s also been produced by James Gunn, whose brother and cousin wrote the screenplay; it could be fun seeing the Guardians Of The Galaxy helmer do something mean with this genre again.


Theaters everywhere May 24

Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut with Booksmart, a classic “last night before graduation” teen sex comedy in all ways but one: This one is told from the perspective of the smart girls at school. Last Man Standing’s Kaitlyn Dever and Lady Bird’s Beanie Feldstein star as the honor students of the title, who realize on the eve of commencement that they’ve been too busy writing reports on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and studying Mandarin to take advantage of the teenage rebelliousness and debauchery enjoyed by their peers.
Will it be worth your time? Reviews out of this year’s SXSW film festival compared Booksmart to Superbad, which works on a number of levels. Not only is Feldstein the younger sister of Superbad star Jonah Hill, but the film’s depiction of the intense, sometimes emotionally fraught friendships that form between unpopular high schoolers has a similar emotional resonance. Oh, and they’re both really funny.

Ad Astra

Select theaters May 24, allegedly

Image for article titled Yeah, we’re thinking John Wick is back—and so are Godzilla, Pikachu, and Aladdin this May
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Officially, this science-fiction drama from writer-director James Gray is still scheduled to open on May 24, as it has been since the film blew right past its original January release date. But is it actually finished? Since there’s no trailer—just a single promo image of star Brad Pitt, who plays an astronaut traveling the galaxy in search of his father (Tommy Lee Jones)—it’s probably safe to assume that Ad Astra will not be floating casually into a theater near you in just three weeks. On the other hand, maybe this is just the logical endpoint of the J.J. Abrams, Cloverfield mystery-box marketing strategy: a publicity campaign so secretive that it doesn’t exist!
Will it be worth your time? Who are we kidding? This movie is not coming out in three weeks. But when it finally does, it will definitely be worth your time. Gray’s last two films, The Immigrant and The Lost City Of Z, were rapturously beautiful historical epics—the kind of grand visions that Hollywood too rarely bankrolls anymore. No reason to believe his maiden voyage to the stars will be any less transporting.

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

Theaters everywhere March 31

Move over, Endgame. There’s a new big-budget, high-stakes, shared-universe slugfest stomping into town this month. The sequel to 2014’s Hollywood Godzilla finds the planet’s chonkiest, most iconic kaiju rising again from the depths of the ocean to be gawked at by an ensemble of overqualified actors, led this time by Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame. But who cares about the puny humans, really? It’s the beasts we’ve come to see—and King Of The Monsters pits the big guy against no less than three classic Toho attractions: giant bug Mothra, giant pterodactyl Rodan, and giant, three-headed dragon Ghidorah.
Will it be worth your time? Director Michael Dougherty has never made a movie on a scale or budget anywhere near this one. But neither had the filmmakers behind the last Godzilla or 2017’s same-universe Kong: Skull Island, both of which offered plenty of Spielbergian bang for buck. Dougherty, anyway, does have experience in the monster department—his Krampus was filthy with nifty, practically conceived creatures. All signs point to some agreeably IMAX-sized mayhem.


Theaters everywhere May 31

Billing itself as an “epic musical fantasy,” Rocketman tells the “uncensored” life story of Reginald Dwight, better known by his stage name of Elton John. Beginning with Dwight’s childhood as a musical prodigy, the film chronicles that “fat boy from nowhere’s” transformation into a flamboyant, chart-topping musical icon with the help of lyricist Bernie Taupin. Don’t expect a straightforward timeline, however, as director Dexter Fletcher told audiences at this year’s CinemaCon that Rocketman is more of a musical than a traditional biopic.
Will it be worth your time? Fletcher stepped in to direct last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer dropped out, and trailers for the film seem to indicate a very similar crowd-pleasing tone. What that means for the “uncensored” bit promised in the film’s marketing materials remains to be seen, as Bohemian Rhapsody was widely criticized for glossing over Queen singer Freddie Mercury’s sexual relationships with men. John’s still alive, though, so how “uncensored” the movie ends up being is at least partially up to him.


Theaters everywhere May 31

Despite the fact that she’s won an Academy Award, Octavia Spencer is often relegated to the role of a wise maid or some other sort of motherly-but-subservient type. She plays on that typecasting as the homicidal villain of Blumhouse’s upcoming horror movie Ma, telling Entertainment Weekly that while “black people always die in the first 15 minutes of a horror film,” this time “not only do [I] not die, [I] get to kill people!” In the film, Spencer’s Sue Ann is a bit of a doormat, a lonely middle-aged woman who lets kids from her neighborhood party at her house at all hours of the day and night just to have someone around. But is that her real motive?
Will it be worth your time? Yes, Blumhouse made Get Out. But it’s also the production company behind Truth Or Dare. So its brand isn’t a guarantee of quality. Spencer and director Tate Taylor previously worked together on The Help, but that’s not really useful information in terms of whether either of them can pull off horror. In short, this could be fun or embarrassing; we’ll just have to see.


Select theaters and VOD May 31

Brian De Palma’s back and various On Demand channels have him, baby! It’s been a too-long seven years since his last bonkers palate cleanser, the kind of one-for-me ultra-stylized thriller that would usually indicate some more traditional studio gigs coming next. Maybe that was the idea with Domino, which stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a cop on the trail of an ISIS member (Eriq Ebouaney) who killed his partner, with Guy Pearce along for the ride as a CIA operative. But studios don’t really make Brian De Palma movies anymore, so maybe everything he gets to do from this point is really just one for him, at least in theory.
Will it be worth your time? De Palma himself has implied that it wasn’t really worth his time; supposedly Domino was wrested away from him by the producers for a cut that is much shorter than his preferred version. That said, the trailer looks pretty goddamned De Palma (lurid close-ups, murder-y grappling, and is that a split-diopter shot?), so fans will probably need to check it out regardless.