Eight Films to watch in April

Eight Films to watch in April

From a near-silent horror film to an Australian Western and the new Avengers team-up, these are the titles to check out this month, writes Christian Blauvelt.

A Quiet Place


The famous tagline for Alien was “In space, no one can hear you scream.” For A Quiet Place, it could be “Here, everyone can hear you scream.” This horror film directed by, and starring, John Krasinski takes place in a time when hungry monsters have overrun the world and are attracted to their human prey by even the slightest sound. If you don’t make any noise at all, they might pass you by. So best not sneeze, let alone make any outbursts in childbirth – that’s the challenge facing Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s wife in real life and onscreen, who at one point has to give birth in a bathtub without making a sound. Krasinski won raves for his direction of A Quiet Place at the South by Southwest Film Festival, where it was the opening night film. Every snapped twig and rustling leaf conveys extra menace or “minimalist dread” as Indiewire’s Eric Kohn puts it, adding “this riveting near-silent thriller exudes the despair of a broken world with the concision of a Cormac McCarthy novel folded into a simplistic B-movie premise.” Released 5 April in the UK and Brazil, 6 April in the US and Canada, and 20 April in Spain and Vietnam. (Credit: Apparition)

Zama


We’ve had to wait nine years for a new film by Lucrecia Martel, the Argentine master behind several of the finest films released since 2000 – among them La Ciénaga (The Swamp), The Holy Girl and The Headless Woman, which placed on BBC Culture’s list of the greatest films of the 21st Century. Zama tells the story of a 1790s bureaucrat in one of Spain’s colonies in the New World endlessly waiting for a letter from the king to transfer him to a better post. Finally, rather than dithering he decides to make his mark by setting out on an expedition on his own. Critics adored Zama when it played at the Venice and Toronto film festivals last year, though The Playlist’s Jessica Kiang cautions that this is a film with mysteries that may require several viewings to unpack. “It’s as if Martel spent every moment of this intervening decade plotting how to pack each scene more densely,” she writes. “It will certainly deter the less persistent viewer.” Released 5 April in The Netherlands and 13 April in the US. (Credit: Strand Releasing)

Avengers: Infinity War


In the world of Marvel an ending is usually just the beginning of another story. But the steward of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, powerhouse producer Kevin Feige, keeps emphasising that Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the 10 years of films the comics publisher’s film division has produced since the first Iron Man in 2008. Does this mean someone will die? Perhaps Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, conspicuously absent from all promotional materials for the film? (And certainly a character no one would miss.) We’ll see. Some blood won’t be shed until 2019’s still-untitled Avengers follow-up film, which Captain America actor Chris Evans has said will be his last time wielding the shield. This time around, earth’s mightiest heroes take on the purple-hued villain Thanos, whose long-teased plan is to gather the elemental Infinity Stones which he can use to bring balance to existence by killing off half of all life in the universe. If it retains much from Jim Starlin’s extraordinary 1990 comic miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet, it could be interesting – but that would mean including cosmic deities with trippy names like Mistress Love and Syre Hate, which seems unlikely for this mass-market mega-event. Released 25 April in Australia and Thailand, 26 April in the UAE and UK, and 27 April in the US, Canada and India. (Credit: Disney-Marvel)

Redoubtable


Michel Hazanavicius, the French director behind the 2012 Oscar winner for best picture, The Artist, seems determined to make homage the central theme of his career. Before his loving tribute to Hollywood silent cinema stormed the Academy Awards, he had already released two spy-film spoofs that paid lavish lip-service to the James Bond series, and since then he remade a Montgomery Clift vehicle The Search. And he’s keeping the streak going with Redoubtable, his ode to Jean-Luc Godard’s “radical period” in the late 1960s, in which the cantankerous nouvelle vague director married actress Anne Wiazemsky and cast her in increasingly provocative films such as La Chinoise, Week End, and One + One while taking to the streets in protest and flirting with Maoism. Hazanavicius has shot Redoubtable in the pop-art style of Godard’s films of the mid-to-late ‘60s, splashed with primary colours and lots of onscreen text that looks ripped from comic books or billboards. Released 27 April in the US and 11 May in the UK. (Credit: StudioCanal)

Let the Sunshine In


Claire Denis is one of the greatest film-makers working in the world today. Her latest is a loose adaptation of Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse and stars Juliette Binoche as a woman exploring new relationships in her 50s and finding that dating somehow only becomes more complicated when you get older. That makes it sound like a light rom-com and certainly does nothing to reflect the complexity and nuance Denis always brings to her films. Writing in Variety critic Guy Lodge captures something of Denis’ style of studied ambivalence: “If the humour in Let the Sunshine In is slightly amped up by its maker’s usual standards, it hardly reaches for its chuckles: Denis, like the best artists, knows all human life is a comedy, albeit with an unhappy ending.” Released 13 April in Estonia, 20 April in the UK, 26 April in South Korea and 27 April in the US. (Credit: Curiosa Films)

The Rider


This writer teared up just watching the trailer for Chloe Zhao’s second film, about a rodeo cowboy played by Brady Jandreau who has to sell his horse and give up riding after sustaining a massive head injury from a bucking bronco. Jandreau is himself a former cowboy, his character is named Brady and his real-life friends and family and play his friends and family in the movie. But it isn’t a documentary, more a naturalistic reverie about masculinity in the US today and what happens when a way of life begins to fade from history. “What’s so subtly special about The Rider is the way it takes what easily could have been reportage and turns it into modern American myth,” writes Emily Yoshida in New York Magazine. “Brady and his friends live in a milieu both quintessentially American and completely obscure to most 21st-century Americans. And yet, their story feels universal to any person — or country, for that matter — that has ever had to accept a fundamental change or loss or blow to their sense of self.” Released in the US 13 April and The Netherlands 19 April. (Credit: Sony Pictures Classics)

Sweet Country


From The Man From Snowy River to The Proposition, and even Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, the Australian Western has been a genre unto itself, one very much distinct from the six-shooter antics of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. But like the Hollywood Western, the Down Under variant often uses its setting to address the intersection of nation-building and racism, and director Warwick Thornton’s new film is no exception. Sweet Country tells the story, based on a real-life incident, of a middle-aged Aboriginal Australian man named Sam (Hamilton Morris) whose attempt at helping a much-younger white man backfires horribly resulting in the younger man’s death. Sam is then pursued across the country for murder in a protracted chase that raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of guilt and what really constitutes justice. Released 6 April in the US and 19 April in Hungary. (Credit: Samuel Goldwyn Films)

BPM


It’s hard to find anyone who’s seen BPM who hasn’t been moved by it. Robin Campillo, whose previous films They Came Back and Eastern Boys were showered in awards, turns his gaze to the height of the AIDS epidemic in France during the late 1980s and early ‘90s when unofficial government policy there, much like in the US, was to not acknowledge there was a crisis at all. BPM focuses on a group of activists who are trying to publicise the importance of safe sex and highlight other measures that could halt the spread of HIV. The Village Voice’s April Wolfe notes that “Campillo underscores the immediacy of this story with thumping electronic tracks that play as the characters lose themselves on a darkened dance floor” and throughout there is a strange mix of grief and joy, heartache and celebration. Released in Finland on 30 March and in the UK and Ireland on 6 April. (Credit: The Orchard)

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