Benedict Cumberbatch has been tied up playing Marvel’s Doctor Strange for so long, it’s easy to forget he could read iTunes’ Terms of Service agreement and make it compelling. Fortunately, he finally has some serious new material: starring as Patrick Melrose in Showtime's new miniseries adaptation of Edward St. Aubyn’s beloved autobiographical novels of the same name. The episodes (each tackles one of the series' five books) follow Melrose as he stumbles through a darkly comic exploration of familial abuse, heroin addiction, and ultimately redemptive fatherhood in what sounds like a thorough indictment of both the British class system and the various psychological distortions of inherited wealth. The reviews of Cumberbatch’s performance have been predictably glowing, while Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving, and Blythe Danner round out the cast. Premieres May 12 on Showtime; sho.com.
Every once in a while, a debut feature breaks through the increasingly crowded slate of indie films: and Beast could be one of these, if reviews out of last year’s Toronto Film Festival are to be believed. Mixing the art house with the grindhouse, Michael Pierce’s first film, set on his native isle of Jersey in the U.K., offers a proto-feminist twist on the sleeping-with-the-enemy story, headlined by a blazing performance from his lead Jessie Buckley. When Buckley’s character, Moll, falls in love with an outcast loner misfit, she encounters all the usual family resistance with one gut-wrenching complication: her new boyfriend may or may not be the mysterious serial killer responsible for the deaths of several young girls on the island. However, rather than stoking fear, Moll’s increasing suspicions only draw her closer to her morally ambiguous beau as she uncovers who the real beasts are on the island. In theaters May 11; roadsideattractions.com.