In this ever-changing world in which we live in, there’s simply too much stuff to process in a “seasonal film preview.” With our new monthly Film Preview and Power Rankings feature, we hope to aide you in organizing your film agenda around the top film events of the month ahead. Rankings are determined by a proprietary algorithm developed by CalTech postdocs moonlighting on MTurk. Your May 2016 Film Preview follows…
While it takes place thousands of miles from New York, the annual festival plays a larger part than any other in setting the city’s arthouse agenda for the months to come. This year, George Miller’s jury will size up new films from the Dardennes, Cristi Puiu, Jim Jarmusch, etc., while the Un Certain Regard sidebar does it usual part in highlighting the work of lesser-known auteurs.
May 11–22; Cannes, France; www.festival-cannes.com.
2. Anna in New York
Face of the French New Wave Anna Karina, now 75, visits to do post-screening Q&As at three of the city’s most reputable repertory venues. (Film Forum also mounts a weeklong Anna & Jean-Luc series May 6–12.)
3. Terence Davies (and Sunset Song)
Coinciding with the May 13 commercial release of Sunset Song, the latest film by Liverpudlian master Terence Davies, the Museum of the Moving Image mounts a complete retrospective of the director’s four-decade career. Davies himself talks with critic Michael Koresky, author of the first-ever monograph on the director, after screenings on the 8th and 10th.
May 7–22; Museum of the Moving Image.
4. Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet
MoMA presents the first complete North American retrospective of the work of the French filmmaking duo, known for such stylistically austere films as 1968’s The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach. (At 83, Straub’s still making films; Huillet passed away in 2006 at age 70.)
May 6–June 6; MoMA.
5. O.J.: Made in America
The seven-and-a-half-hour ESPN “30 for 30” documentary, which premiered at Sundance in January to rave reviews, gets a weeklong Oscar qualifying run ahead of its June airing on ABC.
Opens May 20; Cinema Village.
6. The Lobster
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, who several years ago concocted the genuinely twisted Dogtooth (the most unlikely Oscar nominee in recent memory), makes his English-language debut with this dystopian relationship comedy, which imagines a future where singles must pair up or get turned into animals. Starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz.
7. Rooftop Films
The annual plein-air, way-above-ground screening series has announced its summer slate. On the 18th, Weiner shows atop Industry City in Sunset Park; a shorts program at the Bushwick Generator follows on the 20th. Dates and locations TBA for the well-regarded indies that make up the rest of the slate.
8. J.G. Ballard and the Cinema (and High-Rise)
To mark the May 13 release of Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, a class-war comedy adapted from Ballard’s 1975 novel, Anthology offers an intriguing series of other Ballard adaptations (including the expected Crash and Empire of the Sun, but also Solveig Nordlund’s 2002 Low-Flying Aircraft) and the simply Ballard-esque (including Peter Weir’s 1974 The Cars That Ate Paris).
May 13–22; Anthology Film Archives.
Former Anthony Weiner aide Josh Kriegman and co-director Elyse Steinberg had their cameras rolling during the disgraced congressman’s very ill-fated 2013 mayoral campaign. The Sundance winner arrives just in time for reviewers to wax philosophical about our current campaign season.
10. Robert Downey (the Original)
The father of Iron Man, a New York filmmaker best known for his low-budget satires of the 60s and 70s, gets a greatest-hits mini-retro. The man himself is slated to appear at screenings of early underground breakthrough Chafed Elbows (1966) and ad-world satire Putney Swope (1969).
11. Labor of Love: 100 Years of Movie Dates
Per BAM: “Drawing on Moira Weigel’s new history, Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating, this series explores the long affair between singles looking for real life romance and the stories that they watched on-screen.” Someone finally programmed Cruising, Clueless, and La Ronde in the same series!
May 4–17; BAM.
12. New York African Film Festival
The annual showcase of African films—both from the continent and the diaspora—kicks off its 23rd installment with the local premiere of Venice fest alum Tanna, starring members of the South Pacific Yakel tribe. Purple Rain homage Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It, the first fiction feature in the Tuareg language, screens on the 7th and 9th.
May 4–10; Lincoln Center.
A sidebar of sorts to the African Film Festival, and co-presented by it, FilmAfrica also serves as a complement to BAM’s annual DanceAfrica, which runs concurrently. The series offers a varied selection, including the new Ethiopian film Lamb and 1998 Senegalese comedy TGV.
May 25–30; BAM.
Just in time for this year’s Cannes, the winner of last year’s Palme d’Or opens stateside. Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) directs novelist and former child soldier Anotonythasan Jesuthasan as a Tamil Tiger who flees to France with a woman (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and young girl (Claudine Vinasithamby) he must pretend are his wife and daughter.
15. La Magnani
The Italian actress Anna Magnani, who starred in Rossellini’s 1945 neorealist masterpiece Rome, Open City, went on to work with such heavyweights as Renoir, Pasolini, and Fellini. Everything in this 24-film retrospective, which includes a handful of rarities, is screening on celluloid.
May 18–June 1; Lincoln Center.
16. Spike Lee’s Dream Double Feature: Election Edition
In March, Noah Baumbach showed his “dream double feature” of George Miller’s Babe: Pig in the City and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. For the second edition of what the Metrograph is referring to as a “recurring special event,” Spike Lee comes up with a less dissonant midcentury pairing: Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole and Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd. Lee’s own documentary short We Wuz Robbed, about the 2000 election, plays alongside the one-two punch.
May 21; Metrograph.
In this brilliant comedy of masculinity in crisis by Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg), six men on a boating trip undertake a hazily defined competition—half Olympic contest and half beauty pageant—to determine who is “the best in general.”
18. Love & Friendship
Whit Stillman’s first film since 2011’s Damsels in Distress reunites Last Days of Disco duo Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny. Writing from Sundance in January, Brooklyn Magazine’s John Oursler called the film “an unlikely and winning adaptation of Jane Austen’s early novella.”
19. Black Girl
BAM gives a week to the new 4K restoration of Ousmane Sembène’s 1966 masterpiece, in which a housemaid from Senegal seeks a better life in France, to disastrous results. (The recent documentary feature about the director, Sembene!, also screens again at BAM as part of FilmAfrica.)
May 18–24; BAM.
20. Québec Direct Cinema
Anthology rolls out 17 programs in order to spotlight the documentary movement that flourished up north in the 50s and 60s. You might have heard of cinema verité giants like the Maysles brothers and D.A. Pennebaker, but have you heard of Michel Brault, Pierre Perrault, Gilles Groulx, Marcel Carrière, Claude Fournier, and Bernard Gosselin?
May 5–17; Anthology Film Archives.
21. Grrrl Germs: A Visual History of Riot Grrrl
During the month of May, Spectacle cues up various riot grrrl–related films, “from incandescent early films such as Sarah Jacobson’s I Was a Teenage Serial Killer (featuring music by Heavens to Betsy) to shorts from members of Miranda July’s chainletter tape collective Big Miss Moviola to raw and energetic archival footage.”
May 1–28; Spectacle Theater.
22. Panorama Europe
The Museum of the Moving Image and the Bohemian National Hall play host to this assortment of recent European features, many of them making their local premieres. The trades weren’t too fond of opening-night film Anna, for which Valeria Golino won best actress at Venice last year, but other selections look intriguing. Among them, there’s a theatrical adaptation of 19th-century Portuguese novel The Maias, as well as refugee doc Lampedusa in Winter.
23. The Nice Guys
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star in Shane Black’s private-eye comedy. Black (in a former life, the hotshot screenwriter behind Lethal Weapon) most recently took the reins of Iron Man 3, but his new neo-noir appears to be a return to the form of his beloved 2005 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
24. Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL in 35mm
The Metrograph devotes a Memorial Day weekend screen to Channing Tatum’s “Magic” Mike Lane and his stripping co-workers. If you’re in the market for a full double feature, why not start with the less complicated pleasures of Gregory Jacobs’s sequel, before taking in Steven Soderbergh’s bottom-line-obsessed original?
May 28; Metrograph.
25. Captain America: Civil War
The Avengers fracture into Team Iron Man and Team Captain America in this latest feat of character management from Marvel, which unofficially kicks off the summer moviegoing season.