Seriously Good Films to Watch This Month

Noted film critic Bill Newcott, creator of AARP's "Movies for Grownups," offers his picks.

The cast of All Is True

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Charlie Says (May 10)

A trio of actresses as Charles Manson's followers.

Director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) has found a surprisingly relevant way to revisit the grisly Tate/LaBianca murders 50 years later: Through the eyes of the women Charles Manson coerced into carrying out the slaughter. Set three years after the murders, the film follows a grad student (Nurse Jackie’s Merritt Wever) assigned to teach women’s studies classes to three of Manson’s former acolytes who are still blindly devoted to “Charlie” (Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith). The instructor is determined to open their eyes, even if it means dooming them to a lifetime of crippling guilt.

All Is True (May 10)

The cast of All Is True

Director/star Kenneth Branagh engages in heavy speculation about William Shakespeare’s final days. We find 51-year-old Will (Branagh) puttering in his garden in 1616, turning away admirers and grieving over the long-ago death of his young son Hamnet. His two grown daughters (Kathryn Wilder and Lydia Wilson) are not much comfort to him — nor is his long-suffering wife, Anne (Judi Dench). Branagh walks us through the story with the patience of a gardener pointing out his favorite flowers — in this case a series of sterling performances, especially by Ian McKellen as an old friend who drops by to trade recitations of Will’s sonnets. All Is True may not be true, but as the Bard’s words roll off these masters’ tongues, Shakespeare’s genius is unmistakable.

Aniara (May 17)

Aniara movie

The story of a massive Mars-bound spaceship thrown off course is a haunting and harrowing meditation on the course of civilization. Swedish co-writers/co-directors Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja set their story on Aniara — the ultimate cruise ship — where passengers alternate between gorging at all-you-can-eat restaurants and shopping at high-end boutiques. Even after disaster strikes, that instinct for accumulation dies hard: The passengers, beyond any hope of rescue, continue to consume the ship’s limited resources. It’s a one-way trip, of course, ending on a note that there’s always hope for life — if not necessarily life from Earth.

For biweekly video reviews of the latest films, go to or check out Bill Newcott’s website,

This article is featured in the May/June 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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