BBC Culture

Nine films to watch in May 2014

  • Frank

    Michael Fassbender stars in this eccentric movie about cult British comedy character Frank Sidebottom – but you wouldn’t know from watching it. The actor, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in 12 Years A Slave, spends the entire film wearing a giant plaster head. Maggie Gyllenhaal co-stars in a comedy loosely based on the experiences of journalist Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats). According to Variety: “Frank’s” insights into human nature extend beyond the sphere of music, finding yet another fresh angle on the ‘Being There’ fable, in which a mentally unsound man is mistaken by his peers as a prophetic figure.” Released 2 May in the US and 9 May in Ireland

  • Godzilla

    This $160m reboot of the Japanese monster classic stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Juliette Binoche, and comes 60 years after the original Godzilla. Director Gareth Edwards was given the job on the back of his 2010 low-budget breakthrough Monsters; he has dealt with the pressure by viewing the blockbuster as a “little passion project”. He told Indiewire that if he’d thought about the number of people who would watch the movie, “it would have paralyzed me”. Instead, he says, “I tried to treat it in the same way, like when I did the smaller film". Released 14 May in France, 15 May in Brazil and 16 May in the US

  • The Double

    British actor and comedian Richard Ayoade follows up his directorial debut Submarine with a Kafkaesque tale of modern alienation that is the latest indie to feature a doppelganger. Based on a novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, it stars Jesse Eisenberg as a clerk in a dead-end desk job who falls for co-worker Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) – and battles his more charismatic lookalike. Variety calls it a “dark and heady dystopian-noir cocktail”, while Indiewire says it is “a cinematic swoon, certainly one of the most imaginative and riveting head trips to come along in some time”. Released 8 May in Portugal, 9 May in the US and 15 May in Greece

  • We Are The Best!

    Swedish director Lukas Moodyson has adapted his wife’s graphic novel memoir about three young girls who form a punk band together in 1980s Stockholm, creating a coming-of-age tale that has the charm of his breakthrough film Together. It has “an irresistible energy, a killer soundtrack, and three lovely central performances”, according to Indiewire, while The Guardian praises “an exuberant tale of teen rebellion that will appeal to anyone who has ever been a teenager”. Released 30 May in the US and 27 June in Taiwan

  • The Immigrant

    Starring Marion Cotillard as a Polish nurse forced into prostitution upon arrival at Ellis Island by a pimp (Joaquin Phoenix), The Immigrant is a slow-burning emotional drama set in 1920s New York. Director James Gray (The Yards, Two Lovers) looks at the dark side of the American dream with what London’s Evening Standard called "a sincere and decently handled portrait of a time when so many believed the US to be an almost mythical land of plenty." According to Indiewire, “it’s a beautifully shot film marked by deeply felt performances from its leads, that will play to those attuned to the loveliness of Gray’s minor-key redemption stories.” Released 9 May in Finland and 16 May in the US

  • A Million Ways to Die in the West

    Family Guy writer/director Seth MacFarlane follows his feature directing debut Ted –the highest-grossing adult comic film ever made - with an equally filthy comedy. Set in Arizona in 1882, it stars MacFarlane in his first acting role, as cowardly sheep farmer Albert who backs out of a gunfight because he has never fired his weapon. Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson and Neil Patrick Harris co-star. Released 29 May in Hong Kong and 30 May in the US

  • Advanced Style

    Inspired by his grandmother’s unique personal style, blogger Ari Seth Cohen began collecting the street fashion of the world’s over-60s in 2008. Based on his blog, this documentary features seven sassy New Yorkers aged between 62 and 95 who are each challenging stereotypes about beauty and ageing. As Cohen told The New York Times: “From a style point of view, I find them more interesting because they are of an age where they don’t have to impress anyone and can wear what they want.” Released 2 May in Ireland and 3 May in the US

  • Maleficent

    Angelina Jolie makes her first onscreen appearance in four years in Disney’s retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective. The latest in a series of revisionist fairy tales, it follows Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman and Oz: The Great and Powerful to humanise the classic baddie. Jolie was so convincing that she terrified children on set, meaning her five-year-old daughter Vivienne had to be cast to play alongside her. "She was four at the time. Other three-and four-year-old[s] wouldn't come near me,” she told Entertainment Weekly. Released 28 May in France, 29 May in Australia and 30 May in the US

  • Chef

    Iron Man director Jon Favreau returns to indie film-making with an amiable comedy drama about a master chef who finds professional fulfilment operating a street food truck. Despite a high-profile cast including Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr, it harks back to Favreau’s pre-Hollywood days – as with 1996 breakthrough hit Swingers, he has written the script and acts in the film, which won the audience choice award for best narrative at last week’s Tribeca Film Festival. According to Variety: “It could be that, not unlike his maybe-autobiographical protagonist, the writer-director-star wanted to get back to his own roots.” Released 8 May in New Zealand, 9 May in the US and 15 May in Portugal