Even with all the reboots, retreads, prequels and sequels at hand, not all the tentpole-franchise news is gloomy this month.
The follow-up to the 2014 sci-fi smash, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earns points for its cheeky humor, its retro-clever soundtrack (hey, “Fox on the Run”!) and the filmmakers’ non-insistence on a contrived, Return of … subtitle.
A pre-release thumbs-up as well to Alien: Covenant, a prequel/reboot with the sizable assets of original Alien director Ridley Scott and co-stars Michael Fassbender and Noomi (the real Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) Rapace. I also see that James Franco found time to fit it into his busy schedule.
Whither Baywatch? The camp TV show goes raunchy, and with the Midas touch of producer/star Dwayne Johnson. I plan to skip, but let me know how the back-to-the-beach stuff turns out.
Re Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: I suppose if there can be eight (and counting) Fast and Furious flicks, we can live with a fifth Pirates. Here’s hoping Johnny Depp bounces back, but he’s no Dwayne Johnson at the box office. That will likely be verified when Baywatch and Pirates open against each other on Memorial Day weekend.
If any of the above films stumble into Oscar-season mention next winter, it will likely be for little more than visual effects. (Insert Baywatch “visual effect” joke here.) Meanwhile, some of the films nominated for 2016 Academy Awards are showing up in May at the Flint Institute of Arts.
Iran’s The Salesman, set for May 12-14 at the FIA, ended up winning the Oscar for best foreign film, although its chances were boosted by the controversy over the Trumpian travel ban and its impact on the movie’s director, Asghar Farhadi. In the 125-minute, PG-13-rated allegorical drama, husband-and-wife actors find their relationship souring during ongoing stage performances of Death of a Salesman.
Coming May 5-7 is 20th Century Women, a nominee for best original screenplay. Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and arthouse fave, Greta Gerwig, co-star in a comedy-drama (119 min., R) about a teenager and the three women in his life who explore love and freedom in 1970s Southern California.
I Am Not Your Negro, making its Flint debut May 19-21 at the FIA, is an Oscar-nominated documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House, which explores the history of racism in the U.S. through reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The narrator of the 93-minute, PG-13 film is Samuel L. Jackson.
And the same weekend that Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and … uh, friends begin cavorting on Florida beaches, the FIA will present a different kind of waterside tale in The Red Turtle. An Academy finalist for best animated feature, this French-Belgian entry (80 min., PG-13) is a dialogue-free story of a young man who meets a giant red turtle after he is shipwrecked on a deserted island.
For times and other info on FIA films and other events, visit flintarts.org or call 810.234.1695. Consult your local multiplex for other options.