NetflixHannah Gadsby: Douglas
TV, Australia, 2020 out 26 May
When Hannah Gadsbys Netflix special Nanette landed in 2018, it seemed to shake the very foundations of comedy. The Tasmanian-born performer took audiences on a masterfully controlled revisionist rollercoaster ride of a history lesson, an expos full of take-no-prisoners polemic and personal insights, triggering a tsunami of thinkpieces that damn near broke the internet.
Her follow-up show, Douglas, in the words of the Guardians Jenny Valentish, skewers the proprietorial way that everything is named and claimed by powerful men and tackles the feedback she received from men who complained that Nanette was not comedy but a lecture.
Interactive TV, US, 2020 out 12 May
Whenever I hear about a new interactive online video experiment, I hope itll be as great as the Like a Rolling Stone interactive video, or as interestingly techie as the Google Chrome-integrated music video The Wilderness Downtown, or as weirdly tangled and expansive as the 2014 narrative short Possibilia.
I havent seen the new Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt interactive special yet, but chances are it will be more like Black Mirrors Bandersnatch: ie a Choose Your Own Adventure style spin-off with limited narrative possibilities. The trailer shows Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) in the lead-up to her marriage to Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe). In one scene the viewer can choose to either perform wedding planning duties or make out with Daniel Radcliffe. Naturally we would all choose the latter.
TV, US, 2020 out 8 May
After venturing into space for the big, bold, brassy Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, director Damien Chazelle returns to Earth and to the musical themes of his earlier films Whiplash and La La Land for his first small-screen production. Chazelle helms the first two episodes of The Eddy, a musical drama set in present-day Paris that revolves around the titular jazz club, owned by a famous pianist named Elliot (Andr Holland).
Expect a not on the brochure look at Parisian life and culture, the narrative involving underworld connections and an almost gritty visual texture. Expect also some bee bop be doo bop orgies of jazzy goodness.
Honourable mentions: Rick & Morty Season 4 (TV, 6 May), Snowpiercer (TV, undated), Hollywood (TV, 1 May) Space Force (TV, 29 May), Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill (TV, 5 May), The Butterfly Effect (film, 15 May), The Colour Purple (film, 1 May), Primal Fear (film, 1 May), Tomorrow, When the War Began (film, 1 May).
TV, US, 2020 out 16 May
Australian screenwriter Tony McNamara, who was Oscar-nominated for The Favourite, is the creator of this satirical comedy-drama about the rise of Catherine the Great. Elle Fanning plays the long-serving empress of Russia in her early years, as a young woman in an arranged marriage to Peter (Nicholas Hoult) who gets her bearings during this dramatic new period of her life.
The Great is far from a dry history lesson instead, its a rambunctious black comedy replete with gallows humour, lavish costumes, a spirited visual energy and the occasional penis joke.
Film, Germany/France/US/UK/Poland, 2018 out 28 May
The French director Claire Deniss first English language film is a futuristic sci-fi led by an understated performance from Robert Pattinson, who plays a death row inmate floating around space on a ship that is supposed to find energy in a black hole but has become a playground for experiments conducted by a maniacal scientist (Juliette Binoche) who is determined to have a baby. So, just your average space voyage.
The beautiful garden the film opens with reminded of the one Bruce Dern fought tooth and nail for in the 1972 classic Silent Running. At its peak, Deniss film reflects some of the aesthetics and atmospheric integrity of the great Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky which is no small praise.
Honourable mentions: Aguirre, Wrath of God (film, 25 May), Judy & Punch (film, 30 May), Hightown (TV, 17 May), Macbeth (film, 1 May), Billions season five (TV, 3 May), Serenity (film, 6 May), Redfern Now: season 1-2 (TV, 21 May), Redfern Now: Promise Me (TV, 21 May).
Film, Australia, 2017 out now
If youre stuck at home experiencing cabin fever, why not use the director Warwick Thorntons visually ravishing neo-western to travel to eye-watering locations from sun-scorched deserts to a shimmering salt lake. Thorntons critically acclaimed cross-country morality play follows an Aboriginal man (Hamilton Morris) who kills a violent, racist war veteran (Ewen Leslie) and is chased across unforgiving landscape by a hard-bitten cop (Bryan Brown).
Film, UK, 1976 out now
The director Alan Parkers 1976 classic contains my favourite line well, two lines from any movie musical: You give a little love and it all comes back to you. Dont you know youre gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do? Its an earnest, life-affirming message delivered at the end of a freakishly weird film.
Telling the story of gangsters jostling for power circa New York in the 1920s, Bugsy Malone famously features an all-child cast (including a young Jodie Foster) playing adult characters, whose guns shoot whipped cream instead of bullets. Stranger still, when they sing, they mime adult voices. Once seen (or heard), never forgotten.
Honourable mentions: The Clinton Affair (TV, 24 May), Animal Kingdom (film, 6 May), Jungle Book (film, out now), The Proposition (film, out now), Bone Tomahawk (film, out now).
TV, US, 2020 out 7 May
The words from the team behind Fleabag and Killing Eve should immediately pique your interest. The title refers to a pact forged many years ago between former sweethearts Ruby (Merritt Wever) and Billy (Domhnall Gleeson), both agreeing that if one of them ever sends a text to the other reading RUN and the receiver responds with the same, they will immediately cease whatever it is theyre doing and travel across America together.
A breathless on-the-run narrative mixes the sentiments of a romcom with highly stressful situations, as the characters find their romantic expectations clash with the harsh elements of that annoying thing called reality.
Honourable mentions: Deliver Us (TV, 1 May), Under the Wire: Life of a War Reporter (film, 8 May), ZeroZeroZero (TV, 11 May), Darklands (TV, 14 May), Kick-Ass (film, 1 May), Liar, Liar (film, 1 May), Scott Pilgrim vs the World (film, 1 May), Death Becomes Her (film, 1 May), Inside Man (film, 1 May).
TV, US, 2020 out 1 May
As a VR nerd, I was naturally attracted to a futuristic virtual reality-themed series in which people upload themselves into a digital afterlife although Id personally like a few pixelation and field-of-view issues resolved before committing to an eternity with Oculus.
From creator Greg Daniels (a writer for The Office, The Simpsons and Parks and Recreation), the series follows a young app developer (Robbie Amell) who chooses to be uploaded into a digital heaven after an accident involving a self-driving car. Its the Good Place in VR.
TV, US, 2020 out 8 May
Creator/star Jason Segel plays a tech company employee whose boring existence is kicked into excitement when he encounters a bizarre thinktank called the Jejune Institute, which offers a range of reality-bending experiences.
Sound trippy? Dispatches from Elsewhere was inspired by the real-life institute of the same name, which specialised in alternate-reality gaming. Sort of like a cross between flashmobs and the entertainment company that blew Michael Douglass mind in David Finchers 1997 thriller The Game.
Honourable mentions: The Vast of Night (film, 29 May), Little Monsters (film, 8 May), Midsommar (film, 6 May), Homecoming season two (TV, 22 May), A Very English Scandal (TV, 5 May).
Film, US, 2019 out 4 May
The House of Mouse is adding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to its Disney+ library earlier than expected, on May 4 (Star Wars Day). I dont care for the film, frankly, nor the committee-managed and risk-averse post-George Lucas era of the science fiction franchise (though I do think the Han Solo origins movie Solo: A Star Wars Story is significantly underrated).
But hey, Rise of the Skywalker has Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver engaged in a light sabre battle on a pier-like platform, with giant waves from a raging sea rising and crashing around them, so it cant be all bad.
Honourable mentions: Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (TV, 4 May), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (film, 15 May).
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