What movies are the best to see this April? Every month, our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum shares her insights and tips on all things cinematic. From film festivals to must-see new releases – and of course, the awards season – she’ll be our expert guide to the silver screen. In this dispatch, Greenbaum shares her list of the top films you need to see this April. These are the movies people will talking about this month.
april is the start of blockbuster season
April is a huge month for movies everywhere. Some of the world’s most prominent film festivals have already happened or are right around the corner, meaning there’s already buzz about what next year’s hit films will be.
Blockbuster season has also officially begun.
Big releases to look forward to later this month include Hellboy, an adaptation of the much-loved graphic novels starring David Harbour. And Little, which stars Issa Rae and the fourteen-year-old star of Black-Ish, Marsai Martin, who is also the executive producer.
And of course, the end of the month brings the release of Avengers: Endgame, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s epic 22-movie saga. The movie’s posters – 32 in all – carry the tagline “Avenge the Fallen.” Which has given birth to a viral trend taking over social media. Your call on whether you want to check out the memes. Some of them are hysterically funny.
the top films you need to see this april
If you’re looking to make a trip to the movie theater this month, and blockbusters alone won’t satisfy you, here are some slightly lesser-known gems that we recommend you see:
1. Ash is the Purest White
Written and directed by Jia Zhangke, Ash is the Purest White is an intense and arresting drama. It screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, where it competed for the Palme D’or.
Zhao Tao stars as Qiao, the girlfriend of a powerful mob boss in the mining town of Datong, China. Her incredibly memorable and nuanced performance helps to ground the audience on an effective wavelength. The film bravely takes on a story that spans many years and changes, both in its protagonists’ lives and the landscape of their home. Qiao’s relationship to Bin, who is played by Liao Fan, manages to feel more and more authentic and emotionally fraught as the film continues. Ultimately, it goes to a place that makes the entire viewing experience worthwhile.
2. Apollo 11
Directed by Todd Douglass Miller, Apollo 11 is a documentary about the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission. It utilizes only original archival footage and voice recordings from the actual space flight.
The lack of retrospective interviews and narration allows the film to transport viewers back in time. It also allows us to experience some of the feelings of wonder from the time of the mission. In this beautiful and untouched time capsule of a film, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins are true heroes. And the audience is right alongside them as they achieve a spectacular first for mankind.
3. Taken by the Tiger
Even if you’re not familiar with tigers or the challenges they face in the wild, Ross Kaufman’s beautiful documentary, Taken by the Tiger, will be sure to get your attention. His film travels around the globe, touching on activists in both Russia and India who are working to save the species from extinction.
The man most at the movie’s center, Pavel Fomenko, shines in particular. He puts his own life and safety at risk in order to save the animal he loves. The beating heart of the film is audible throughout.
4. Black Mother
This film is a gorgeous meditation on the island nation of Jamaica. In Black Mother, director Khalik Allah makes incredible stylistic choices throughout that help to turn this documentary into an amazing work of art.
The film is divided into trimesters, based around one subject’s pregnancy. But really, it is a collection of portraits of the people who call the island their home.
Allah chooses to split the audio from the visuals, turning his subjects’ narration into near-poetic voice-overs that play over the visuals of their faces and bodies. He focuses in particular on the women who live as sex workers, and the way gender dynamics influence every part of their lives. The film is simultaneously grounded and surreal, a cinematic experience that feels wholly original.
5. High Life
Directed by the legendary Claire Denis and starring Robert Pattinson, High Life is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Pattinson plays Monte, a criminal who has been sent to space as an experimental mission to retrieve data – with no real plans for his return. The film begins off in a cerebral and almost sweet way: he is raising a baby alone in their spaceship.
But soon the story takes the viewer back in time, to show the complicated, disturbing and unique events that brought him and his daughter to this moment. The movie is disquieting and strange. It doesn’t shy away from difficult questions nor images. And in this way, the filmmaker creates a truly singular two-hour experience. Any audience member is sure to remember it for a long time after they’ve left the theater.
6. Unicorn Store
For anyone who has ever felt different from the crowd, this charming little film is for you. It screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017, and marks Brie Larson’s directorial debut. Now its available to stream on Netflix.
In Unicorn Store, Larson also stars as the quirky and lovable Kit, alongside Mamoudou Athie, and her Captain Marvel co-star Samuel L. Jackson.
The movie utterly sweet and, yes, magical – although some may find the film’s over-the-top aesthetic of glitter and rainbows a tad overwhelming. This is the perfect movie to sit down and watch on any less-than-perfect day. The performances are all delightful, and the tone is charismatic and assured all the way to its satisfying ending.
Bonus: The Tribeca Film Festival
If you are anywhere near New York at the end of this month, you may want to think about picking up tickets to this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It runs from April 24 to May 5, 2019.
Even without a festival pass, tickets are available for individual purchase on the festival’s website. And it is a great chance to be the first person to catch some amazing films. There are short and long narratives and documentaries from from around the world, and of course there will also be many interesting panel discussions to attend. Scattered in theaters all over New York, the festival will certainly be a week to remember.
We’re keen to see the opening night film: Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo,” a loving chronicle of the eponymous New York landmark.
The film chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of the legendary Harlem theater, and features interviews with Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx.
Those are our recommendations for the top films you need to see this April. Have a great month!
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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.
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