Culture | What we’ll be watching and reading this May
We're all still staying at home, so here are our top picks to keep us entertained throughout May.
By Christopher Kingston
At the time of writing, we are facing yet another few weeks of lockdown but don’t worry, in another self-isolation special, we’re recommending loads of great films, TV, books and a couple of online theatre shows to get you through the coming month. Here we go.
Cult-classic director Danny Boyle’s latest offering, Yesterday, sees struggling musician Jack Malik (played by Eastenders’ Himesh Patel) wake up to discover he’s the only one who remembers The Beatles. He takes credit for their songs and becomes a superstar in his own right. A charming film, particularly for those who are mega fans of The Beatles – there’s even a cameo from Ed Sheeran playing a fictionalised version of himself.
Yesterday – Amazon Prime – Now TV – DVD
Stars of Avengers Endgame Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson play Bernard Garrett Sr. and Joe Morris, businessmen who find a way to help their fellow African Americans to tackle the racism of the 1960s. Hiring a working-class white man to pose as a real estate agent and banker, they attend his meetings in the disguise of a Janitor and a Chauffeur. Also starring Nicholas Hoult, this is a film that deals with a side of America that unfortunately still exists today.
The Banker – Apple TV+
Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher) star in the remake of the Australian new wave film from 1976. A family film based on the book by Colin Thiele, Storm Boy follows a young boy growing up on a largely uninhabited coastline of Southern Australia. He rescues three orphan pelicans and forms a close bond with them. A hidden Gem for the whole family to enjoy.
Storm Boy – Amazon Prime / Sky / Virgin
Sonic The Hedgehog
Based on the long-running video game series, Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) teams up with local Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) to find his lost rings and prevent the evil Dr Eggman Robotnik (Jim Carrey) from capturing him. Fun to be had by all the family and the perfect lockdown entertainment for the kids to enjoy.
Sonic The Hedgehog – Sky/Amazon Prime
Trolls World Tour
Animated films based on toys seem to be popular at the moment, so it was no surprise that Trolls (2016) joined their ranks. Trolls World Tour follows on from 2016’s offering, seeing Branch and Poppy (voice by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick) off on a new adventure as they discover that there are other Troll tribes out there devoted to different types of music. When Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) seeks to destroy all other kinds of music and let rock rule supreme, can the Trolls stop her? A must for the whole family.
Trolls World Tour – Amazon Prime
Another animated offering, this time from Netflix. Narrated by Ricky Gervais, we follow four siblings with horribly selfish parents who form a plan to get rid of them for good and form their own imperfect family. Based on the book of the same name by American writer Lois Lowry.
The Willoughbys – Netflix
Based on the bestselling novel by Sally Rooney and starring Daisy-Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal who play lovers Marianne and Connell growing up in Ireland. Normal People is a beautiful love story about classmates who move in and out of each other’s lives through school and university. In this 12-part series, we follow their journey as they mature, grow older and navigate their way through life. As always, we highly recommend you also read the book which made the longlist for the Man Booker Prize 2018 and was the winner at the British Book Awards in 2019.
Normal People – BBC Three and iPlayer
Apple TV is the newest streaming service to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime and has already amassed plenty of original content. Their latest is a British comedy about adoption, following Jason and Nikki (played by Rafe Spall and Esther Smith) a couple who desperately want to become parents but struggle when trying to conceive. They decide to go down the road of adoption only to face a whole new set of challenges that come with the adoption process. With their dysfunctional friends and odd family are they really ready to be parents? Also staring the always excellent Imelda Staunton.
Trying – Apple TV+
From the creator of Glee and American Horror Story comes a new series, set in the golden age of 1940s Hollywood and following a group of actors and filmmakers as they try to make it to the big time. With an honest look at racism, sexism and homophobia and a mix of fictional and non-fictional characters such as Vivien Leigh and Rock Hudson, there’s also plenty of well-known actors taking on some iconic roles, including Queen Latifah as Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind. With 7 episodes, this is perfect binge-watching entertainment.
Hollywood – Netflix
Nathan, played by Robbie Amell, is injured in a car crash and signs up to be uploaded into a computerized simulation where he can live forever in a digital world. A clever sci-fi comedy from the creator of Parks and Recreation and the US version of The Office.
Upload – Amazon Prime
Dead to Me – Season 2
In season one, Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) had to deal with the sudden death of her husband who is killed in a hit and run. She met Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini) at group counselling and they quickly became friends, but it wasn’t long before we found out that Judy knows more than she is letting on. Dark, funny and sad, this series is a beautiful depiction of grief and female friendship. No spoilers here, but series one left us on a cliff-hanger and we can’t wait to find out how it turns out.
Dead to Me – Season 2 – 8 May – Netflix
Chris Evans (Captain America) plays a father coming to terms with the accusation that his 14-year-old son may be a murderer. Andy Barber is an assistant district attorney, and when his son is charged with murder, he tries to protect his boy at all costs. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and as a father, Andy must believe him. As shocking revelations surface, Andy questions whether he really knows his son and faces a trial of his own – between loyalty and justice. Based on the novel of the same name by William Landay, it stars Jaeden Martell as Jacob, and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery as Jacob’s Mother.
Defending Jacob – out now Apple TV+
A series based on the current lockdown may not be everyone’s cup of tea at the moment, however, ITV has made a brilliant four-part mini-series about the coronavirus pandemic. The series will focus on four stories of how families are coping through all this, with Sheridan Smith set to appear in episode 1 about a single mum who is pregnant and alone in her home. We at HLN are really looking forward to this one and think you will too.
Isolation Stories – ITV – 4 May
With the theatres currently shut thanks to COVID-19, YouTube and other platforms are airing various productions, such as the National Theatre live and The Shows Must Go On.
With a new show airing every Thursday and Friday throughout the month of April, we have already seen performances like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar from a few weeks back and the fabulous productions of Jane Eyre and Treasure Island from National Theatre live. Here are two others coming soon.
Frankenstein (National Theatre)
Two actors who have played Sherlock Holmes Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller unite in Danny Boyle’s epic production of Frankenstein, with both actors sharing the role of the creature and its creator Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Both versions are available from the 30 April for a week and are based on the classic work of Mary Shelley.
Fleabag (NT Live) – Amazon Prime
If you fancy something lighter in tone, then why not try this one-off show written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. If you were a fan of the TV series then you will love the play; you do have to pay £4 to rent the show from Amazon Prime, however, the proceeds will be going to a variety of charities, including NHS Charities Together, National Emergencies Trust, and Acting for Others, so you can help do your bit for the community.
My Dark Vanessa
A woman confronts her past after her former teacher is accused of sexual abuse and begins to question if their affair really was the great love she always thought it was. Brave and emotional, My Dark Vanessa is a brutally honest look at sexual consent.
From the Author of Apple Tree Yard, Platform Seven combines the supernatural with the harsh reality that is coercive control. The narrator, Lisa, is a ghostly figure who died on the same platform just months earlier, who slowly allows us nuggets of information to help piece together her story and paints a suffocating picture of controlling relationships.
From the author of Red Dragon and the iconic The Silence of the Lambs, Cari Mora is Thomas Harris’ first novel in 13 years. Following the title character after she escapes from the violence of her native country and tentatively settles in Miami, Cari Mora is a story that reflects the desperate and difficult struggles refugees and immigrants face.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
The ground-breaking, bestselling trilogy ‘The Hunger Games’ took the world by storm and was a surprise hit for Author Suzanne Collins; not since J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books have people been so thoroughly invested in a story. In The Ballad of Song Birds and Snakes we return to the nation of Panem, however this time it’s set long before Katniss took part in the Hunger Games. We follow a young Coriolanus Snow as he prepares to take part as a mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games. Fans have waited a long time for this novel, and it’s even set to become a film directed by Francis Lawrence.
The Kennedy Curse
Widely regarded as one of the world’s most trusted storytellers, James Patterson’s latest real-life thriller takes looks at The Kennedy family, giving us a fascinating insight into the family’s highs and lows, including the assassinations, drug abuse and fatal accidents of the American royalty. You don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate this book – we would challenge even the biggest fan of thriller fiction not to be engrossed in this real-life mystery.