Five Must-See Movies
April sees the return of a number of larger-than-life directors like Claire Denis, Terry Gilliam, and Mike Leigh. Meanwhile, Alex Ross Perry is back with his own take on the treacheries of stardom, and David Robert Mitchell returns with a paranoid neo-noir to follow up on his much beloved It Follows.
There could even be some surprises in store for the wide releases. Shazam! is building a healthy buzz among critics and Pet Semetary is looking like it could be a thoroughly solid horror movie on par with last year’s A Quiet Place.
In a field as crowded as this it can be tough to cut through all of the hype and big names, but nothing is quite as satisfying as paring this list down to just five films. So without further ado, let’s dive into the most intriguing films coming to us this month.
(dir. Sydney Pollack, Alan Elliot)
This Aretha Franklin concert was originally captured by the legendary Sydney Pollack and has been sitting around in an unfinished state since the 70s. The original footage of this electrifying performance was shot in a way that made it impossible to sync up the sound to the video.
Over 40 years later, the film is complete and will finally hit theaters. Critics say this is as riveting and transcendent as a concert film gets, and honestly, it’s hard to expect much else from the Queen of Soul in her prime.
Release Date: April 5th
Watch the trailer for Amazing Grace
(dir. Emma Tami)
This horror western tells the tale of a couple living in the isolated American frontier. From the trailer, the film evokes the atmospheric brooding and loaded folkloric weight of Robert Eggers’ The Witch.
This has the makings of a fantastic year for horror and The Wind could very well be a surprise entry in the long list of great horror films coming our way. Those who love their scares channeled through an evocative slow burn should definitely have this on their radar.
Release Date: April 5th
Watch the trailer for The Wind
(dir. Camille Vidal-Naquet)
This visceral portrait of a young sex worker is an invigorating exploration of masculinity and loneliness. The raw energy of the trailer is grounded in the vibrant cinematography and an entrancing performance from Felix Maritaud, who had previously appeared in the critically acclaimed BPM (Beats per Minute). Critics have described the film as tender an experience as it is grim, and have drawn parallels to Agnes Varda’s Vagabond.
Release Date: April 10th
Watch the trailer for Sauvage
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
(dir. Bi Gan)
Bi Gan’s cinematic approach resembles that of Wong Kar-wai or Apichatpong Weerasethakul. His debut Kaili Blues, was a masterful blend of dreams and reality tethered together by his cinematic flourishes. Meanwhile, the trailer for his new film, a neon-drenched noir, looks even better.
One of the most intriguing aspects is the much talked about 3D dream sequence that erupts halfway through the film. Kaili Blues proved that Bi Gan is comfortable pushing cinematic boundaries to enrich his stories. We can only wonder what he has in store in bringing this odd format into his bag tricks.
Release Date: April 12
Watch the trailer for Long Day’s Journey Into Night
(dir. Claire Denis)
Claire Denis’ highly anticipated venture into sci-fi and her first English language film stars Robert Pattinson, Mia Goth, Juliette Binoche, as well as Andre Benjamin (better known as Andre 3000) who shines with a quiet emotionally resonant performance. The plot takes place on a prison ship sent on an experimental mission that becomes more clear as the story unravels.
The film is much messier than a lot of Denis’ major works, and in some ways resembles her approach in Trouble Every Day. Nevertheless, it’s a refreshing take on the genre with fantastic performances and is reminiscent in tone to Tarkovsky’s Solaris.
Release Date: April 12th
Watch the trailer for High Life
Noah Hutton’s sci-fi satire Lapsis may stumble at times, but its punchy riffs on the gig economy make it worth a look.
A staggering work that uses clips from over 400 films to tell a personal story about cinephilia, alienation, and loss, while speaking directly to our anxious moment. Read my review in The Quietus.
A Sylvia Plath poem comes to life in this meditation on loneliness, infatuation, and love as it exists in our inner worlds. Read my review at Ultra Dogme.
Equal parts Errol Morris and David Lynch, this oddball journey through the world’s largest retirement community reveals a startling portrait of American alienation. Read my review at In Review Online.
With 2020 finally drawing to a close, lets take one last look at the wonderful films that came out in this otherwise devastating year.
Aubrey Plaza shows off her considerable talents and range, overcoming a messy script to once again prove her mettle as a formidable dramatic lead.