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Big Hollywood stars headline TV series headed to streaming in May

Cinemas are staying closed in the midst of the pandemic, but some of Hollywood's biggest movie stars will be glowing bright on streaming platforms in May.

Cinemas are staying closed in the midst of the pandemic, but some of Hollywood's biggest movie stars will be glowing bright on streaming platforms in May.

Steve Carell, Janelle Monae, Jennifer Connelly and Mark Ruffalo all have new TV series marked to debut.

And Netflix recently picked up "Lovebirds," a comedic murder-mystery starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, that was originally headed to multiplexes. It's slated to hit the service on May 22.

Also coming to a home theatre near you, "Snowpiercer," an episodic reimagining of Bong Joon-ho's dystopian thriller with Connelly playing the overlord of a class-divided locomotive that crosses the globe (Netflix, May 25). A second season of "Homecoming" begins with Monae picking up where Julia Roberts' character left off (Amazon's Prime Video, May 22).

Here's a rundown of other standout titles heading to streaming services in May:


"I Know This Much is True"

Mark Ruffalo plays identical twin brothers whose turbulent relationship has endured the many demons of their troubled family. But when an incident at a public library leaves one of them committed to an asylum for his paranoid schizophrenia, the other brother goes to great lengths to contend with his own past. The six-part series offers Ruffalo space to deliver a hauntingly nuanced performance under the guidance of Derek Cianfrance, director of "Blue Valentine" and "The Place Beyond the Pines." The story is adapted from the Wally Lamb novel, which became a bestseller after it was picked for Oprah's book club in 1998. (Crave/HBO, May 10)


"Space Force"

Steve Carell reunites with Greg Daniels, the writer who revamped "The Office" for American audiences, for a space-race satire in the vein of "Dr. Strangelove." When General Mark R. Naird (Carell) is tasked with establishing a sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces — called the Space Force — he walks into a highly disorganized project that's hardly off the ground, never mind prepared to launch into space. What ensues is a succession of comedic fumbles as Naird charges head-first into a battle of the political nitwits. The supporting cast is stacked with scene stealers, including John Malkovich, Fred Willard and Jane Lynch. (Netflix, May 29)



After their hopes of having a baby are dashed, young couple Nikki and Jason consider applying for adoption. That's the framework for this British comedy series about the friendships, tribulations and unforgettable moments that spring from becoming parents. Pulling a thread from relationship comedy "Catastrophe," about two strangers who shoulder the responsibility of parenting after a one-night stand, "Trying" comes at parenthood from a different angle, with its lead actors Rafe Spall and Esther Smith dealing with their own insecurities for the unimaginable lives ahead of them. (Apple TV Plus, May 1)


The Golden Age of Hollywood

Scandals, gilded ambitions and celebrity gossip abound as Tinseltown goes under the microscope on streaming services this month. Hollywood star Natalie Wood is the focus of HBO documentary "Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind," which looks at her enduring legacy and the mystery surrounding her drowning death. The film is produced in association with her daughter, actress Natasha Gregson Wagner, and debuts May 5 on Crave/HBO.

Meanwhile at Netflix, "American Horror Story" and "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy takes an imaginative bent with his seven-part series "Hollywood," which uses a fanciful — yet overly simplistic — alternate reality of the film industry post-Second World War to ponder how inclusivity might've reshaped what we saw on the silver screen. Using caricatures of real-life agents and stars, such as Rock Hudson, as the pawns in a larger story, Murphy blends contemporary perspectives with a deeply pessimistic view of a bygone era. The lavish production launches on May 1.

And on the same day over at Disney Plus, aficionados of yesteryear will get a kick out of "Prop Culture," a docuseries that celebrates some of Disney's most iconic props. One episode revisits clothing and artifacts from the classic musical "Mary Poppins," a waltz down memory lane that leaves some of the film's original cast shedding a few tears.


"The Eddy"

"La La Land" director Damien Chazelle revisits his passion for jazz music in this drama that unfolds inside a Paris nightclub. When a musician (Andre Holland of "Moonlight") is handed the responsibilities of the business, which is awash in debt, he quickly learns the city's darker side is looking for its own payback. The eight-part series is steeped in the energy of live jazz performances and holds tight onto the feeling of an evening in a smoky club. (Netflix, May 8)


In Case You Missed It (titles already streaming):


"The Midnight Gospel"

Podcaster Duncan Trussell's philosophical ruminations undergo psychedelic surgery at the hands of animator Pendleton Ward ("Adventure Time") in this absolutely bonkers series. Each episode centres on Clancy, a cartoon "spacecaster" who journeys across dimensions to interview various intellectuals about big ideas, such as spirituality, growing old, and religion. It's some heady stuff that's counterbalanced by layers of trippy neon animation that at once scrambles and deepens the audio conversations. "The Midnight Gospel" won't be for everyone, but it's certain to attract a cult following, particularly among viewers with a taste for hallucinogens. (Netflix)


"Peanut Butter Falcon"

A troubled crab fisherman, played by Shia LaBeouf, who's on the lam encounters a young man with Down syndrome who escaped an assisted living facility and is headed to Florida in hopes of meeting his wrestling hero. The two embark on the unlikeliest of road trips in this heartwarming drama that became last year's highest-grossing independent movie. (Crave/HBO)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.

Follow @dfriend on Twitter.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

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