If it has been a while since you went to the pictures, there’s plenty coming up in May to tempt you back, says Dan Slevin

Back to the big screen in May

Niels Schneider and Gemma Arterton star in Anne Fontaine's film Gemma Bovery. Credit: J¾©r¾¥me Pr¾©bois.I sup­pose every month of cinema releases can boast being ‘some­thing for every­one’, but this month it really does appear to be justified.

First up, on Sunday 3 May, is a single screen­ing at the Embassy of the won­der­ful and utterly influ­en­tial first Beatles fea­ture, A Hard Day’s Night, screen­ing as part of the New Zea­l­and Inter­na­tion­al Film Festival’s Autumn Events pro­gramme. For once, that fam­ously loud Embassy sound sys­tem really does need to be turned right up. The fol­low­ing week­end there are screen­ings of restored ver­sions of two more greats: Bertolucci’s The Con­form­ist, a polit­ic­al thrill­er about Itali­an life under Mus­solini; and Kubrick’s Sparta­cus, in which Kirk Douglas fights anoth­er kind of total­it­ari­an­ism. On the week­end of 16 and 17 May, the pro­gramme is com­pleted by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odys­sey and Disney’s Pinoc­chio.

In the com­mer­cial realm we get to see one of the biggest Aus­trali­an domest­ic hits of all time when Robert Connolly’s Paper Planes hits theatres on 7 May. In it, a West­ern Aus­trali­an child (Ed Oxen­bould) dis­cov­ers a tal­ent for mak­ing, you guessed it, paper planes and, encour­aged by his fath­er (Sam Wor­thing­ton), travels to the World Paper Plane Cham­pi­on­ships in Tokyo to com­pete with the best. A feel-good Aus­sie movie in the mould of Red Dog.

A dif­fer­ent per­spect­ive on out­back Aus­tralia is on offer the fol­low­ing week when George Miller reboots his own Mad Max series with Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy takes over from Mel Gib­son as the eponym­ous post-apo­ca­lyptic car-crazy hero, try­ing to sur­vive in a world where oil and water are the only cur­ren­cies. It’s pretty hard to believe that Miller’s last two films were the anim­ated pen­guin vehicles Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two.

A year or so ago, social media in New Zea­l­and was agog with the idea that Michael Fass­bend­er could be in the South Island shoot­ing an inde­pend­ent west­ern. That fuss died down a little later when he returned to shoot The Light Between Oceans with Rachel Weisz in Marl­bor­ough and Otago, and it looked like these vis­its might be an annu­al occur­rence. Slow West tells the story of a 16-year-old boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) trav­el­ling across the fron­ti­er with a mys­ter­i­ous stranger known as Silas (Fass­bend­er).

Also open­ing on 21 May is Gemma Bovary, return­ing from this year’s Alli­ance Française French Film Fest­iv­al, a mod­ern retell­ing of Flaubert’s fam­ous nov­el star­ring Fabrice Luchini and lumin­ous Eng­lish star Gemma Arter­ton. Based on a graph­ic nov­el by Posy Sim­monds, it appears to have less span­dex and capes than most com­ic adaptations.

Finally, in my high­lights for May is the long-awaited block­buster Tomor­row­land, dir­ec­ted by Brad Bird (The Incred­ibles, Mis­sion: Impossible — Ghost Pro­tocol) and star­ring George Clooney. Clooney plays a grizzled invent­or who travels with a geni­us kid to unearth the secrets of the mys­ter­i­ous place that seems to exist only in both their memor­ies. Phew.

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