TV, US, 2022 – out 6 May
Remember Mike Myers?! The Canadian comedian cemented his place in the collective consciousness with Wayne’s World and reached peak megastar status with the Austin Powers movies. But a light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long, as ol’ mate Eldon Tyrell famously said – thus Myers slipped out of the spotlight. Re-emerging in a very different ecosystem, where box office clout doesn’t necessarily matter, Netflix has commissioned Myers to create, write and star in a spin-off to a movie nobody has talked about a long time: 1993’s So I Married an Axe Murderer.
In his six-part series Myers plays not one but eight characters including a far-right radio host, a journalist and a former Russian oligarch. The narrative involves a secret society that controls world events, which sounds very 90s – evoking an era when conspiracy theories still felt like kooky, harmless fun.
Film, Australia, 2018 – out 15 May
Australian auteur Jennifer Kent’s second feature, after her breathtakingly brilliant The Babadook, follows an Irish convict (Aisling Franciosi) who pursues vengeance against the men who killed her husband and baby circa Tasmania 1825. The beautiful, rugged landscape, shot with painterly flair by Radek Ladczuk, is presented in a boxed-in aspect ratio, which has a psychologically condensing effect, reducing the ability to find solace in the natural world.
The violence is so shocking it can barely be spoken let alone written about, though there’s no doubting Kent’s vision, audacity and ability to make piercingly polemic feminist statements. Her next feature film will be the true crime lesbian period piece Alice + Freda Forever.
The Lincoln Lawyer, season 1
TV, US, 2022 – out 13 May
The 2011 film adaptation of Michael Connelly’s novel The Lincoln Lawyer arrived early in that tectonic plate-shifting period of human history known as the McConaissance. The hunky Matthew McConaughey played an attorney whose office is on wheels, working mostly from the back of a Lincoln Town Car. Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – taking on the role in Netflix’s new series – has big shoes to fill. This take on the character was helmed by hotshot creator David E Kelley, whose recent shows include Nine Perfect Strangers and Big Little Lies.
Honourable mentions: The Takedown (film, 6 May), Along for the Ride (film, 6 May), Love Death + Robots: volume 3 (TV, 20 May), Sea of Love (film, 23), Stranger Things: season 4, part 1 (TV, 27 May)
A Ghost Story
Film, 2017, US – out 20 May
A movie about a man walking around with a bedsheet over his head sounds like a dumb joke or a gimmicky student film. And yet writer/director David Lowery’s supernatural drama is an amazing ghost movie; one of the all-time greatest, in fact, full of cosmic energy and a mind-bending outlook. Said apparition (Casey Affleck) returns to the house where he and his partner (Rooney Mara) used to live and observes the space, and the world around him, slowly change while he remains a powerless onlooker, adrift from the space/time continuum.
The film barely leaves the one location but shoots to the outer realms of existence and consciousness, tossing around big and even contradictory ideas – about fate and predetermination, for instance, and the universe being a mess of chaos and randomness. Expressing any of these thought bubbles coherently is impressive; pulling it off in the context of a movie about a dude wearing a bedsheet is kind of incredible.
Rocco and His Brothers
Film, Italy, 1960 – out 3 May
Following five brothers and their no-nonsense matriarch, Luchino Visconti’s film is long, shaggy and uneven, but manages a rare and near-paradoxical combination – of neo-realism and melodrama. It begins in the key of the former, following the family adapting to life in Milan after relocating from a rural community, and inches towards, then finally explodes with, the latter – tangly romantic plotlines leading to explosively emotional outcomes.
Honourable mentions: Zero Dark Thirty (film, 3 May), The Cult of the Family (TV, 4 May), Pet Sematary (film, 7 May), Angelyne (TV, 20 May), Leviathan (film, 14 May), From (TV, 27 May).
Australia Votes 2022
TV, Australia, 2022 – out 21 May
A great Australian horror movie, starring two power-seeking pollies? Or a great Australian comedy, full of cringe-inducing spectacle? Or maybe: another reality TV series, with less attractive people than usual, and one epic round of voting/elimination towards the end? Whatever your thoughts on the federal election, it is unquestionably a huge event on TV and streaming: not as significant as the return of Mike Myers, sure, but a big deal nonetheless. The cast includes everybody’s favourite psephologist – Antony Green.
TV, Australia, 2020 – out 9 May
If you missed this excellent series from 2020, about four strangers detained in, or working for, an Australian immigration detention centre, it’s returning to iView. Co-created by Tony Ayres, Elise McCredie and Cate Blanchett – who also appears in a small supporting role – the series draws tension and intrigue from a cleverly chopped up, nonlinear narrative that eventually comes together to form a full vivid picture. Production values are impressive across the board, from Bonnie Elliott’s rough-hewn cinematography to Mark Atkin and Martin Connor’s intriguing use of parallel editing.
Honourable mentions: Days Like These with Diesel (TV, 4 May), Gruen Nation (TV, 11 May), Black Mirror, season 4 (TV, 13 May), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (TV, 26 April).
SBS on Demand
2022 Eurovision song contest
TV, Italy, 2022 – out 11 May
Maybe you care, maybe you don’t care; maybe you like the songs, maybe you can only watch with earplugs in. Either way, you know what Eurovision is about: eclectic musical acts from around the world belting out tunes of varying quality – from those suggesting divine inspiration to others that make listeners say “there is no god”. Love it or hate it, Eurovision has stuck like glitter glue to the zeitgeist since launching in the 1950s.
A Scanner Darkly
Film, US, 2006 – out 18 May
Created using a process called rotoscoping, which transforms live action into animation, Richard Linklater turned Philip K Dick’s classic dystopian novel into a beautifully odd looking film, with a whacked-out aesthetic befitting its drugged-up characters. Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop trying to track down the supply chain for a popular and hugely addictive narcotic known as Substance D. To “pose” as a user he must become an addict, which sends him down a dangerous path – towards personal oblivion and a ripsnorting final twist that reveals the true purpose and source of the drug. Linklater returned to the rotoscoping technique recently in the excellent Apollo 10 ½.
Honourable mentions: Cobra (TV, 4 May), The Bambers: Murder at the Farm (TV, 10 May), Dark City (film, 11 May), Inside Llewyn Davis (film, 11 May), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (film, 12 May), Holding (TV, 12 May), The Truth About The Wanninkhof Case (TV, 19 May), Missing Angel (TV, 26 May).
Amazon Prime Video
TV, US, 2022 – out 20 May
What do you do when your neighbour correctly suspects you’re hiding something in your shed – and that certain something is your portal to a distant deserted planet? Sissy Spacek & JK Simmons confront this entirely relatable, everyday conundrum in a new series that looks, from the trailer, like an elongated, slightly sweetened episode of The Twilight Zone. Playing a married couple, the pair hold hands, exchange sweet nothings, and leave this stinkin’ planet to visit a far prettier one.
Every James Bond movie
Film, various years – out 11 May
The latest James Bond outing – last year’s No Time to Die – is one of those franchise exercises determined to evoke “grand finale” vibes despite the fact we all know the narrative will soon be rebooted for more milking of the cash cow. Prime Video will upload the entire collection on 11 May.
Honourable mentions: The Godfather trilogy (film, 1 May), The Hobbit trilogy (film, 1 May), Sully (film, 4 May), The Wilds, season 2 (TV, 6 May), Conversations with Friends (TV, 16 May).
The Time Traveler’s Wife
TV, US, 2022 – out 16 May
Audrey Niffenegger’s novel is great; the mawkishly sentimental 2009 movie starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams is awful. Therefore the bar set for HBO’s new six-episode adaptation is both very high and, in terms of screen adaptations, very low. Written by veteran Steven Moffat – best-known as head writer and executive producer of Dr Who – the role of Clare Abshire, who has to put up with a partner with an uncontrollable tendency to spontaneously melt away then reappear in another timeline, will be played by Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie, and the titular time traveler by Theo James.
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Film, US, 2021 – out 3 May
Sion Sono’s dystopian sci-fi movie is far from the greatest Nicolas Cage movie: in fact – as someone who has seen, written about and ranked every single one of them – I can tell you that it is precisely the 74th best. But this ballsy midnight movie about a criminal (Cage) with bombs attached to each of his testicles, on a mission to find a governor’s missing daughter, does have Nicolas Cage in it, which alone makes it worth watching. Cage is currently experiencing one of several career comebacks, and is currently in cinemas going full meta in the enjoyable action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
Honourable mentions: The Suicide Squad (film, 3 May), The Staircase (TV, 5 May), Halloween Kills (film, 12 May), Elysium (film, 13 May), Gravity (film, 28 May).
TV, US, 2022 – out 27 May
“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope!” Those famous words were first spoken a lllooonnggggg time ago, in, yes, a galaxy far far away – originating in George Lucas’s brilliantly innovative first Star Wars movie. There have been so many Star Wars productions since that it’s easy to forget the pioneering spirit of the originals, though it would be unreasonable to expect the latest of countless sequels and spin-offs to rekindle that spirit.
Ten years ago, the release of an Obi-Wan Kenobi series – with Ewan McGregor returning to a character he played in the (*shudder*) Lucas-directed prequel movies – would have been huge news; now it feels like just another suck on the teat. But hey: I’ll be watching.
Film, US, 1991 – out 18 May
Oliver Stone’s very long but engrossing classic arrived at a time when the director was making powerful political statements and Kevin Costner was a huge box office drawcard. The assassination of JFK (and later Lee Harvey Oswald) remains, of course, one of the greatest magnets for American conspiracies, dramatised in Stone’s film with cloak and dagger lines such as (this one’s spoken by Donald Sutherland) “you’re closer than you think.” Famous scenes include Kevin Costner’s “magic bullet” courtroom monologue.
Honourable mentions: Sneakerella (film, 13 May), The Revenant (film, 13 May), The Valet (film 20 May), Pistol (TV, 31 May).
TV, US/Japan, 2022 – out 24 May
Veteran director Michael Mann (whose best work includes Collateral, Heat, and The Insider) has slowed down in recent times, with seven years transpiring between his last production (Chris Hemsworth thriller Blackhat) and Tokyo Vice, a TV series he executive produced and directed the first episode of. Ansel Elgort plays an American journalist who relocates to Tokyo and takes on a dangerous beat, investigating the yakuza. Expect neon lights, loud music and an operative tone.
Honourable mentions: Star Trek Beyond (film, 2 May), Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (TV, 6 May), A Life Too Short (film, 10 May), Finding Yingying (film, 10 May), Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber (TV, 12 May).