May in Minnesota could mean slugging beers on a sunny patio or hiding inside with the heat on full blast. Should the latter come to pass, curl up on the couch with your remote in hand: Here are five movies coming to Netflix in May.
May 1: Don’t Think Twice (2016)
If you’ve been sleeping on comedian Mike Birbiglia’s understated directorial efforts, here’s your low-stakes means of fixing that.
Don’t Think Twice tells the bittersweet story of New York improv troupe The Commune, a tight-knit group of friends whose bonds are stretched thin when a Saturday Night Live analog plucks one of the members from obscurity.
With Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, and Kate Micucci on the bill, you get some solid yuks, but the movie’s success lies more in the sad illumination of the improv experience than in any punchline. It’s Birbiglia’s knack for telling believable stories about comedians—skirting Mary Sue pitfalls—that makes Don’t Think Twice worthwhile.
May 1: Forrest Gump (1994)
At some point it became cool to rag on Robert Zemeckis’ unlikely tale of a boy from Alabama stumbling through the most pivotal events of the 20th century. Perhaps Forrest Gump is simply a victim of its own pervasiveness in American culture.
Truth be told, the movie holds up pretty well despite the naysaying of its detractors. Sure, it’s a little ’90s-y and yeah, it birthed a terrible chain restaurant into the world (yes, that’s the origin of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.), but throw it on the TV and you’ll probably enjoy it more than you’d care to admit.
Bonus tie-in: The film’s Netflix arrival coincides with the present tale of Liverpudlian Rob Pope, who is currently running a la Gump across the country and back to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund and Peace Direct.
May 16: The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
While The Place Beyond the Pines found itself on many a critic’s year-end list, the movie didn’t quite blow up at the box office—and that was a pretty big surprise given the semi-recent star turn by Bradley Cooper and the unrelenting hotness of Ryan Gosling.
Regardless, this story of a motorcycle bandit and the cop who pursues him (Gosling and Cooper respectively) deserves to be seen. The lead performances are on point, and director/co-writer Derek Cianfrance’s addition of a quasi-discrete third act almost makes this two movies in one.
May 22: Inglourious Basterds (2009)
With Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine as his character conduit, director Quentin Tarantino gleefully declares at movie’s end, “I think this might just be my masterpiece.”
And sure enough, the more times you watch Inglourious Basterds over the years, the more difficult it is to make an argument against the weirdo auteur. QT’s twist on The Dirty Dozen offers a story that’s hard not to love: a ragtag group of Jewish-American soldiers killing Nazis. But it’s the execution that sets Basterds apart: eye candy not often matched; an immaculate, star-making performance from Christoph Waltz; and two lengthy multilingual scenes—the opening and the bar clip—worthy of dedicated screenwriting masterclasses.
If it’s not his best movie, Inglorious Basterds is certainly Tarantino’s most ambitious.
May 26: War Machine (2017)
The only new release on the list is the Netflix-produced War Machine, which looks promising despite the overabundance of Brad Pitt soldier movies and what appears to be a portrayal very similar to his aforementioned Aldo Raine character.
In this black comedy, Pitt plays a U.S. general tasked with ending the war in Afghanistan.
The film is based on the Michael Hastings book The Operators, and fictionalizes Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who famously lost his job after some choice words about members of the Obama administration made their way into Hastings’ Rolling Stone article, “The Runaway General.”