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Filmstalker's films for May 2011

Diary.jpgThere's everything happening this month, from the blockbuster to the classic re-release, from standard American comedy to Japanese Samurai action.

It's all coming this month, it's a vast and varied one and well worth heading to the cinema to catch even a few of these. So here's the rundown of the films I'd recommend watching this month, beginning and ending with some very big ones.

4th May
The Tree of Life
Written and directed by Terrence Malik. Should I just stop there? This is reason enough to go and see it surely? Then throw in Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and the story of innocence lost in a family in the 1950's as it follows the life of the eldest son in the family of three boys. I don't want to say too much, and I don't want to delve into the story too much either, I want things to remain a fair bit of a mystery for me too. This is a must see.

6th May
I was so excited to see this that I thought it was released last month and go so annoyed it wasn't. Now I realise it's this month and I'm really desperate to see it. Joe Wright has turned his hand to action, from Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and The Soloist (Filmstalker Review), to a teenager bred for killing. Hanna looks fantastic, the trailers have a great tone to them, and there's Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng. See anything wrong with this picture? I don't. The trailers deliver an action packed and intense film that looks like it's going to be piling on the pressure. Another cracker, I'm hoping anyway.

Scott Charles Stewart delivered Paul Bettany in Legion (Filmstalker review), and that was a pretty good fun film. Now he's taken the excellent actor and now action star, and given him a new action vehicle for his gruff, gravelly dark action anti-hero. Priest also stars Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Plummer and vampires. In a future world of warrior priests who have saved humanity from a worldwide plague of vampires, it seems that the vampires are back with a new army to destroy humanity, and only a few warrior priests truly believe.

13 Assassins
Another film this month where I should only have to mention the director to get your interest, Takashi Miike. Yet it might not be the Miike fans would expect as he delivers this classic sounding story of Samurai turning against their cruel master, an evil lord who looks set to take over an empire and bring it to ruin. However thirteen men conspire together, realising that they just can't let him continue, and set themselves against the lord and his army. The trailers look filled with heart and action, and with Samurai swords aplenty without sparing the blood, this looks like it's going to be a great film.

13th May
Taxi Driver
The classic 1976 film from Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader with the equally momentous performance from Robert De Niro, as well as Jodie Foster, is being re-released in cinemas this month. I'm sure you'll have to venture away from your multiplex to your local independent cinema, but hopefully that visit and this experience could be the start of many visits for you, and if you're a regular of your local independent then you're all set to see this re-release of a restored version. From all accounts this latest version looks wonderful on the big screen.

The Way
Written, directed and starring Emilio Estevez along with his father Charlie Sheen and a rather diverse international cast including bigger names of James Nesbitt, Deborah Kara Unger and Joaquim de Almeida. The film follows a father who is travelling to France to retrieve the body of his son who died travelling from France to Spain. I haven't heard or seen much about the film, but Estevez's Bobby interested me, and it looks like he has a lot more to offer from behind the camera and the keyboard. There's also a lot of interest in seeing Sheen and Estevez together.

Attack the Block
Have you seen the trailers for Joe Cornish's next film? It looks daft, but in a superb way. The entire situation makes you laugh, as does the clever writing, and the whole thing looks like it could be a lot of fun. Aliens invading London, although they hadn't planned on the rough teenage gangs defending their turf in the South London tower blocks, it does sound bizarre, but it looks fantastic fun, and those one liners.

Red Hill
It seems that the trailers for Red Hill have been around for quite a while, and I'm almost surprised that it's just being released now, I thought I had missed it. Not so as it's being released in the UK this month. Red Hill is the story of a town policemen sent to a small country town to get over his first shooting. There he finds that he's caught between the police and an escaped criminal looking for revenge. The trailers make the film look dark and quite noir-esque and set in the Australian outback without big guns and police car chases, with an almost western feel to it.

Holy Rollers
I'm really not sure about this film, while the blurb suggests something interesting I wonder if the material is going to go in a more comedic direction. The story is about a young orthodox Jew who is lured into becoming a drug mule and dealer, together with his fellow young Jewish men they smuggled around a million ecstasy tablets into America. The film is billed as a crime drama, but I just can't help but see Jesse Eisenberg first when I see Jesse Eisenberg and a comedic delivery second. Perhaps he'll break away from that a little with this film.

It's a rather unknown production and a rather unknown story, that of the Welsh boxer Howard Winstone who was well known for his hugely powerful right hand, that was before an accident where he lost three fingers of his hand and was unable to make a fist, thus losing his trademark powerful punch. He reworked the way he fought and became the champion of Britain, Europe and ultimately the Featherweight champion of the world in 1968, his fourth and final attempt. Sounds a perfect story to be put on film, but it isn't as big a production as The Fighter (Filmstalker review).

18th May
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Ah well, the full cast we were hoping for may not be there, but most of them are. I just wonder if we've lost two of the strongest cogs of this franchise machine, after all they were the enduring romantic storyline that provided a nice love triangle with Captain Jack Sparrow. By removing these two main characters we're left with the adventure side, however if you've seen the trailers then you'll know that there's a love interest coming back in, a mermaid and a young sailor with Sparrow receiving his own love interest with a female pirate. Great cast, some great new additions with Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Judi Dench, Richard Griffiths and the return of Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp obviously. Still, the trailers have missed something for me, that bold adventurous swashbuckling and more Sparrow. Is it going to work?

20th May
Julia's Eyes
Co-written and directed by Guillem Morales with Oriol Paulo, Morales wrote and directed El Habitante Incierto (The Uncertain Guest) (Filmstalker Review) which I really enjoyed, a clever and unique idea executed very well. Julia's Eyes has a similar idea, the unseen character who here seems to be a lot darker and more dangerous than his previous film. Julia is a woman who suffers the same degenerative disease of the eyes, slowly losing their vision. Her sister already had lost hers and had committed suicide in rather strange circumstances, circumstances that seem to be visiting Julia as her vision deteriorates and as she investigates the ever stranger details of her sister's death. The trailer doesn't give too much away but does set-up a lot, and what it does is really intriguing. I'm more than taken by the fact this is Morales' film, but more than that the trailers do look incredibly interesting.

Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, Aidan Gillen and David Morrissey star in this adaptation of the novel from Ken Bruen who also wrote the novel for London Boulevard. Ah Jason Statham, you know what you're getting with him and what you're getting is almost always good fun. I do think there's a lot more he's holding back from us, after all if you've seen The Bank Job (Filmstalker review) then you know there's a good actor in there too, not just an action star. Here we might get to see more of this as he leads a story about a serial killer who is killing London policemen, and he's the tough cop who is put on the case to stop him.

Age of Heroes
The story of the 30 Commando unit which carried out very specific and dangerous missions during World War II, missions that Ian Fleming was responsible for giving them, assigning them targets and missions as the unit's intelligence officer and planner. The film is largely unheard of but the cast includes Sean Bean, Danny Dyer and James D'Arcy as Ian Fleming, who in the film seems to have had his actual role slightly inflated. The film looks pretty action packed, and the co-writer/director has two more films entitled "Age of..." lined up, perhaps a trilogy if this goes well. Despite the appearance of Dyer, everything else looks rather interesting.

27th May
Apocalypse Now
Another re-release, and another classic. Apocalypse Now is getting a small cinematic release to sell it on Blu-ray, I'm not entirely sure how different a cut this is but it is the Francis Ford Coppola restored digital print. This isn't just a simple re-release to get you to buy another Blu-ray/DVD release of the film, this has been restored by Zoetrope studios and is the version that Coppola wants us to see, surely it's worth seeing again in the cinema for that reason alone. Again though, look to independent cinemas to see it, although wonderfully, Cineworld seem to be showing it throughout the country.

The Messenger
This film was made two years ago, yes it's the Oren Moverman film with Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson as soldiers who are responsible for telling family members that their loved ones have died in service. However one of the soldiers falls for the widow of an officer killed in action. I can hardly believe the film has taken this long for a UK release, but it's finally here and from what I've heard the story is a strong one with some great performances.

30th May
X-Men: First Class
Well there's been a lot of talk on both sides of the fence about this film, but when it comes down to the trailers we've seen so far there's no denying that it's looking like this could be one of the best X-Men films to date. The film is going back to the origins of the mutants and the beginning of the X-Men as well as the relationship at the core of the stories, that of Professor X and Magneto. A great cast of actors and mutant characters, and a superb story that's pulling in historical events around the Cuban Missile Crisis. Epic, action packed and dramatic, you might even think that this could end up being the best X-Men film ever and Matthew Vaughn could end up with another stinkingly hot film on his hands.



I am a big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This new one is great and just love Jack Sparrow!

Didn't do it for me, but if you're a fan of Samurai films, then 13 Assassins is going to be one of your favourites for years to come



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