May’s Trailer Recommendations
Yasuke (anime series, created by LeSean Thomas)
Race, skin color, and social status -related biases are scrutinized in this anime series loosely based on a historical figure: African warrior Yasuke is the first black person mentioned in historical documents in Japan, in the 16th century. The series embellishes the historical truth with fantasy elements, but also talks about the rise of the hero known as the “Black Samurai” in the service of the powerful daimyo Nobunaga, whose tormented history is also presented in Kagemusha by Akira Kurosawa. Yasuke was also praised for its soundtrack, composed by Flying Lotus.
The series has been available on Netflix since April 29.
Benedetta (biography, drama, dir. Paul Verhoeven)
Religion, faith, and especially God’s plan for us are some of the most frustrating topics of discussion, for the simple reason that the same argument can serve both the believer and the atheist in a possible confrontation. Paul Verhoeven seems to have hit a nerve with his new film, Benedetta, about a nun (Virginie Efira) who converts from “God’s anointed” to “Satan’s tool” after being drawn into a lesbian relationship. The inability to find meaning in the mysterious ways of the Lord is perfectly described by the superior mother (Charlotte Rampling): “Perhaps God plunged Benedetta into a trance, or perhaps He only sent us a lunatic who sets His work in motion through the nonsense coming out of her mouth.”
Benedetta will have its world premiere in the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival (July 6-17).
Annette (musical, dir. Leos Carax)
Leos Carax’s English language film debut, Annette, is based on an original story by the Sparks’ founders, Ron and Russell Mael, and portrays the love story between a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and an opera singer (Marion Cotillard). The fruit of their passion, little Annette, will be born with a unique gift. “Every Leos Carax movie is an event, and this one really lives up to expectations! Annette is exactly the gift that cinema, music and culture enthusiasts were hoping for, and the film I have been looking forward to all year”, here’s how the president of the Cannes Film Festival, Pierre Lescure, presented the musical.
Annette has its world premiere on July 6, as the opening film of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (horror, dir. Michael Chaves)
If the number of Covid cases doesn’t get “cheeky” again, The Conjuring 3 could be one of the first new films available in cinemas across the country in early summer. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as paranormal experts Lorraine and Ed Warren, who will investigate the sensational case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson. The film is based on real events: in 1981, Johnson killed his landlord, and in court the defense claimed that a demon possessed him, forcing him to commit the crime.
The film premieres in Romanian cinemas on June 4.
Oxygen (Sci-Fi, horror, dir. Alexandre Aja)
After the success with the American production Crawl, the French horror expert Alexandre Aja returns to his native language with Oxygen, a Sci-Fi horror about a woman (Mélanie Laurent) who wakes up in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of who she is or how she got there. Her only companion is MILO (voiced by Mathieu Amalric), an AI program that notifies her regularly that the oxygen level in the chamber is constantly decreasing. The reviews published so far make endless use of the word “intense” and suggest that Laurent gives the performance of her career in this claustrophobic horror.
Oxygen premieres on Netflix on May 12.
West Side Story (musical, dir. Steven Spielberg)
Loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, the musical West Side Story was released on Broadway in 1957 and adapted for screen in 1961, and 60 years later a new adaptation comes from none other than Steven Spielberg. The story also takes place in the 1950s, which will allow Spielberg to comment on racial conflicts. It stars Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler, a young actress of Colombian-Polish descent, chosen from the 30,000 aspiring actresses who auditioned for the role. In the teaser above, we also hear Rita Moreno singing, the legendary Puerto Rican actress returning to the NYC Upper West Side after playing a leading role in the 1961 version.
Scheduled to be released in theaters on December 10.
The Underground Railroad (drama series, created by Barry Jenkins)
The reviews of this new series created and directed by Barry Jenkins (the Oscar for Moonlight) say that Amazon Prime should have not released all ten episodes of the first season at the same time, because the extremely dense and brutal story is not at all suitable for binge-watching, each episode needs time to be digested properly by the viewers. The series is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead, and follows two slaves from the mid-19th century fleeing the enslaved South with the help of a secret railroad. The novel and the series present an alternate history, but the Underground Railroad actually existed, helping through its network of tunnels, hidden routes and safe houses tens and tens of thousands of enslaved African-Americans to gain their freedom in the abolitionist North in the 19th century.
The Underground Railroad will be available on Amazon Prime starting with May 15.