The top 10 movies you need to watch in May

It’s May, it’s May, the lusty month of May, as Vanessa Redgrave sang so many moons ago in Camelot. And as she told it, everyone goes blissfully astray in May.

In movie terms, we stretch from the sublime vision of Leah Purcell blasting away in the outback in to the ridiculous return of Tom Cruise tearing up the skies in Top Gun: Maverick. He’s probably too old to pilot a fighter jet – even in America – but what does Maverick care for such constraints?

After almost two years of home schooling, home working, and home viewing, it might be time to put on the parka and check out a big-screen movie, even if a mask is still a useful accessory. There is a lot to choose from below, from Finnish horror to arty Italian crime, and British wartime hijinx. And if you want some action, Gerard Butler is back in business routing bad guys, so that’s all right then.

Go blissfully astray. It’s May.

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The Drover’s Wife

Advance word on of the Henry Lawson poem is that it is not to miss. Purcell plays the lead and wrote and directed the film, continuing her trailblazing career as a major hyphenate talent of Australian cinema. The original story was about a woman on a lonely farm defending her children against a snake. The adaptation looks to have taken it a long way from there. Opens May 5.

Operation Mincemeat

This better be good. John Madden (Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) directs Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Jason Isaacs and Kelly Macdonald in an adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s rollicking book about the most famous trick of World War II – when Britain dumped a dead body off Portugal with documents aimed at misleading Hitler about the coming invasion of Sicily. Opens May 12.

This Much I Know To Be True

Andrew Dominik (Chopper, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) focuses his considerable gifts on the creative collaboration between Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on the recent albums Ghosteen and Carnage. Ghosteen was written after the death of Cave’s son Arthur in 2015 and the album is one of the most acclaimed of the last decade. The trailer is intense. Opens May 11.

To Chiara

Swamy Rotolo plays a 15-year-old Calabrian girl who doesn’t know her father is a mafioso. She enjoys dancing and singing and the attention of boys, until her world blows up. The film is powerfully drawn by Jonas Carpignano, the final in his trilogy of films set in Calabria. Most of the actors are non-professional. The style is langorous, but Rotolo gives a heartbreaking performance. Opens May 12.

Firebird

Think of this as Putin’s nightmare. On a Soviet airforce base in Tallinn in 1977, two young men fall in love. They try hard to toe the line, but the attraction is stronger than the threats of the military or the state. Billed as a romantic thriller, it looks to be a well-made tale of Cold War passion, from Estonian-born writer and director Peeter Rebane. Opens May 17.

Everything Went Fine

Francois Ozon directs the evergreen Sophie Marceau in what looks like an absorbing drama. She is opposite the great Andre Dussollier, who plays her father. He is 85 and has had a stroke; she must help him to end his life. Marceau is playing the writer Emmanuele Bernheim, who collaborated with Ozon on two of his early successes (Under the Sand, Swimming Pool) and wrote the book on which this is based. Opens May 19.

Top Gun: Maverick

Who can resist, even if just for the nostalgic fun of seeing Tom Cruise back in the saddle as Maverick? He’s the test pilot who confused altitude with attitude and taught Val Kilmer who was boss. A mere 36 years later, Rear Admiral Kilmer has chosen Mav to instruct a new class of top-gunners, some of whom are women. Fasten seat belts, it’s gonna get bumpy. Opens May 26.

Last Seen Alive

The set-up bears a strong resemblance to The Vanishing, a fabulous Dutch thriller from 1988, but without apparent credit. Gerard Butler plays Will Spann, whose wife (Jaimie Alexander) disappears at a gas station while he’s filling the car. He has no idea what’s happening, but we know what big Gerard will do when he catches the bad guys. Butler brings back the biff better than most. Opens May 19.

Hatching

For horror lovers, this looks like the biscuit. After her mother kills a crow that dared enter the house, a young girl nurtures an egg she finds in the forest. The egg grows very large and then things get weird. It looks suspenseful and it’s a Finnish-Swedish co-production, so you know it’s going to be creepy as can be. Opens May 26.

How to Please A Woman

English comedian Sally Phillips teams up with a well-appointed Australian cast for a comedy about sex and middle-aged ladies. As in, yes please, even if we have to pay for it, but the boy-for-hire has to clean the house first. Opens May 19.

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