The Best Movies, TV, Books and Music for May
Including the heist/zombie film of the year and a surprising podcast from Jeff Goldblum
Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise.
Note, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, release dates are highly tentative.
WATCH: Army of the Dead
You may have issues with Zack Snyder’s uneven and bloated superhero flicks, but the director’s visual flair is ideal for genre films that don’t need a lot of backstory or heavy emotional lifting. Like now: His Netflix debut follows a ragtag group of mercenaries into a (smart and fast) zombie-filled Las Vegas to pull off a heist. Two words: Zombie tiger. (5/21, Netflix)
More new movies: One woman has 90 minutes left of air and no idea where she is in the thriller Oxygen (May 12, Netflix) … Jigsaw returns, now with Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, in Spiral: From the Book of Saw (May 14, theaters) … Angelina Jolie is pursued through the woods in For Those Who Wish Me Dead (May 14, theaters / HBO Max) … Riders of Justice is sort of like Taken but with Mads Mikkelsen (May 14, theaters / VOD) … Guy Ritchie’s latest heist flick Wrath of Man looks suitably bloody (May 7, theaters) … It’s summer, so you want sequels and remakes? Welcome, A Quiet Place Part II (May 28) and Cruella (May 28).
Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne, That Thing You Do!, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) was a songwriter’s songwriter and well-loved power-pop maestro. He died of complications related to COVID-19 last year. On May 5th, you can hear the love of what seems like the entire music community during a virtual concert/tribute, featuring Courtney Love, Chris Carrabba, Nicole Atkins, Ben Lee, Peter Buck and dozens more. (5/5)
More new music: (5/7) Iceage; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones; Weezer; Bebe Rexha … (5/14) The Black Keys; Julian Hatfield; St. Vincent; Paul Weller … (5/21) Olivia Rodrigo; Twenty One Pilots … (5/28) Kele Okereke; Dispatch; Moby; Sharon Van Etten . New reissues, compilations, tributes, live records and box sets: (5/7) New Order; Amy Winehouse … (5/14) Paul McCartney; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
READ: Project Hail Mary
Your summer read is here, courtesy of the author of The Martian. This time, an astronaut wakes up to realize he alone can prevent an extinction-level event … but he doesn’t remember who he is, how he got into space or what he’s supposed to do (and his crewmates are dead). (5/4)
More new fiction: (5/11) While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams; How Lucky by Will Leitch … (5/25) The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan. New non-fiction: (5/4) Persist by Elizabeth Warren; On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed; The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis … (5/11) Brat: An ’80s Story by Andrew McCarthy; Yearbook by Seth Rogen (5/18); Freedom by Sebastian Junger.
WATCH: The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has been turned into an Amazon Prime limited series via Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. Here, a historical reality is given a slight alternative history, as the hidden routes, people and houses that made up the Railroad during the 1800s (which helped enslaved African-Americans escape to the north and freedom) gets quite literal, with that journey now an actual railroad. (5/14, Prime Video)
More new TV: Star Wars: The Bad Batch (5/4, Disney+); Girls5eva (5/6, Peacock); That Damn Michael Che (5/6, HBO Max), Jupiter’s Legacy (5/7, Netflix); The Upshaws (5/12, Netflix); Hacks (5/13, HBO Max); Falston (5/14, Netflix); Marvel’s MODOK (5/21, Hulu); Crime Scene Kitchen (5/26, Fox), Housebroken (5/31, Fox).
While I’d normally suggest avoiding any show that reminds us of the on-going pandemic, the latest ESPN 30 for 30 spotlights one of the most important and overlooked aspects of 2020, which was the bubble for the 144 players in the WNBA from July to October 2020. It’s not just a look back at the early days of Covid, but a reminder of the force for good and social change that is the WNBA. (May 13, ESPN)
More returning shows and TV specials: The Hills (5/12, MTV); Love, Death and Robots (5/14, Netflix); MTV Movie Awards (5/16, MTV); Black Monday (5/23, Showtime); In Treatment (5/23, HBO); Master of None (5/23, Netflix); Lucifer (5/28, Netflix); Hell’s Kitchen (5/30, Fox).
Download: Dark Dice
Not into Dungeons & Dragons? You will be after Jeff Goldblum joins this D&D podcast, which is an “improvised audio drama.” Our favorite enigmatic star will play elven sorcerer Balmur. (5/12)
This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.
Suggested for you