Films and TV you can't miss this May

Eva Mackevic

Don't miss out on the best the screen has to offer this May—read our list for the top of the bunch in film and television. 

Lean on Pete

Young Charlie (Charlie Plummer) doesn’t have an easy life: his mother left when he was a baby, his father is a flaky drunk who’s never there for him and he doesn’t go to school because they’re always on the move. To kill time and earn some money, Charlie gets a job helping a cranky old racehorse trainer, Del (Steve Buscemi). There, he befriends a racehorse past his time named Lean on Pete, who’s about to get sold for slaughter, prompting Charlie to take drastic measures to save his new friend’s life. It takes a while for the pure awe at 18-year-old Plummer’s deeply expressive, honest performance to sink in—the slightest quiver of his lip conveys an avalanche of emotion. But once it does, Lean on Pete takes you on a soul-stirring journey along the beautifully hostile, rugged landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, and gets you choked up at the lessons in kindness and resilience it’ll teach you along the way.

A poignant and delicately composed masterclass in wistful Americana, Lean on Pete will disarm anyone with a love for the poetry of solitude, road movies and tender friendships between human and animal. 

With equally strong, full-bodied supporting performances from Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Travis Fimmel, it’s one heartbreaker of a film.

 

On Chesil Beach

Love, sexual tension and intimacy issues collide on one fateful wedding night in this stifled, low-key drama. Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) are the young couple on the verge of a blissful new chapter of life as a married couple—or so he thinks. She, on the other hand, is crippled by deep-rooted fears threatening her love for Edward.It’s a gorgeously shot, idyllic portrayal of 1960s Britain, with the understated drama unravelling through meaningful looks and slightest touches.

The film tackles the most awkward matters of sexuality with an unrelenting thirst for authenticity, resulting in an uncomfortable watch that will chafe your skin for days.

 

Entebbe 

A gripping and intense, if slightly wobbly dramatisation of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight by Palestinian radicals and the daring rescue mission that followed. Though it features solid and assured performances by Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl at the forefront, the recurrent artsy metaphors and cinematic truisms never quite allow Entebbe to properly hit home.

 

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

What starts off as a Sid and Nancy-like love story rapidly mutates into a trippy potpourri of latex, aliens and Jodorowsky-inspired imagery—and it’s a blast to keep up. Based on a short story by Neil Gaiman, and starring Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, plus goofy cameos from Simon Amstell and Matt Lucas, it’s a standoffish and fresh homage to punk rock in 1970s London.

 

Jeune Femme

If there’s such a thing as a filmic incarnation of the human Id, this erratic French comedy is most certainly it. We meet our heroine, Paula, screaming and banging her head against the door of her former lover’s flat—and things only get worse from there. While her obnoxious presence can get a bit overbearing, Paula’s ability to see the best in every situation (from homelessness to joblessness via frigid men) is ultimately absorbing. The cinematography and soundtrack match her wild energy to a tee, shaping a film that’s bursting with life even at its most miserable.

 

Television

By Mike McCahill

 

Homeland: season 7 (Channel 4)

What is it? The globetrotting procedural, now back on home turf.

Why should I watch it? This season plugs into some compelling contemporary concerns: political divisions, fake news, even Russia’s return to prominence.

Where did we leave it? With alterna-President Keane responding to an attempted assassination by rounding up perceived enemies.

Best episode? Episode four’s uneasy, Ruby Ridge-like stand-off, a crystallisation of where we are today.

 

Top of the pops: 1985 (BBC4)

What is it? A twice-weekly, half-hourly nostalgia hit, care of the BBC archives.

Why should I watch it? Because we’ve reached a moment when almost anybody could break into the charts: 1985 showcases, among others, Radio 2 mainstays (Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson), German avant-gardists (Propaganda), sensitive singer-songwriters (Scritti Politti, Stephen Duffy), an upstart American talent calling herself Madonna—and, erm, Russ Abbot.

Best presenters? The all-Liverpudlian duo of Janice Long and John Peel become instant favourites—not least for offering the perverse fascination of seeing droll indie guru Peel having to summon prime-time showbiz enthusiasm for, say, Shakin’ Stevens. 

 

What to stream this month:

Mozart in the Jungle: season 4 (Amazon Prime)    

Good vibrations: New York’s most likable orchestra reassembles for another blithe season.

 

The Looming Tower: season 1 (Amazon Prime)

Absorbing, illustriously cast dramatisation of America’s attempts to catch Osama before 9/11.

 

Love: Season 3 (Netflix)

Scant surprises, but Judd Apatow’s long-form romcom finally grants its lovers and viewers alike their happy ending.