If the only April release was my top pick of the month it would be one of the finest lineups of the years, but thankfully there’s more to recommend. Featuring films about cinephilic obsession, subversive superhero tales, and what is sure to be at least one divisive big-screen near-future adventure, check out the list of must-sees below.

12 & 11. Kim’s Video (David Redmon and Ashley Sabin; April 5) and I Like Movies (Chandler Levack; April 8)

Anyone interested in physical media will appreciate a pair of films this month. Kim’s Video explores the strange story of the East Village establishment that housed around 55,000 DVDs while I Like Movies is a Canadian coming-of-age tale about a video store clerk who has bigger dreams in life, and is chockfull of cinephile-related humor that rang quite a familiar bell for this writer. John Fink said in his review of the former, “A sweeping documentary by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, Kim’s Video follows the personal-inquiry, man-on-the-street format from their previous works Mardi Gras: Made in China and Girl Model. With Redmon largely remaining behind the scenes, asking questions while holding his camera, the film is simply left to wander where the story takes it: from the cool counterculture of the East Village before eventually turning into a heist film with a mafia connection.”

10. Girls State (Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss; April 5)

Four years ago, just before the pandemic was in full force, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss’ Boys State picked up the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Well-timed with the election year, it captured a week-long leadership program, sponsored annually by the American Legion and held in nearly every state, chronicling several-hundred Texas high school students gathering to form and choose a mock government. With another election upon us, the directors are back for a gender-swapped sequel Girls State, this time taking place in Missouri. Jake Kring-Schreifels said in his review, “Perhaps because Boys State didn’t acknowledge this parallel sister program, Girls State is at once a chance to redeem that oversight, make an easy bid for Apple TV+ to build out a digital double feature, and offer a compelling counterpoint to the original’s testosterone-fueled endeavor. Instead of parachuting into Texas, the filmmakers––and their 30 camera operators––set up shop in Missouri. The major difference? The state scheduled both programs to happen at the same time on the same campus, inviting comparison and adding a new wrinkle into this future-building exercise.”

9. Monkey Man (Dev Patel; April 5)

After nearly two decades of work in front of the camera, Dev Patel has crafted his directorial debut with the actioner Monkey Man. John Fink said in his SXSW review, “With a premise that is as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be, Monkey Man anoints Dev Patel as a new action director and star. Filmed on location in Mumbai and Indonesia in the height of the COVID pandemic and saved from a Netflix direct-to-streaming deal by Jordan Peele and Universal, this film about reinvention bursts with the same frenetic energy of a Danny Boyle or John Woo picture, with Patel––co-writer, director, star, and sometimes camera operator––throwing everything he has at the screen, and then some.”

8. The Old Oak (Ken Loach; April 5)

While the 87-year-old Ken Loach is still with us, the legendary director has indicated The Old Oak, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, will be his last work. Following a pub owner in a dilated mining town, the film tells the story of tensions rising when Syrian refugees join the community. Rory O’Connor said in his review, “In The Old Oak, an English man and a Syrian woman become unlikely friends on one side of a simmering culture war. It’s the latest from Ken Loach and, if reports are true, it will be the 86-year-old director’s last. The Old Oak is, of course, a timely story about modern Britain, immigration, and xenophobia. It’s also a parting statement from Loach––one last rallying cry for solidarity––and a fitting coda to his six-decade long career.”

7. Humane (Caitlin Cronenberg; April 26)

The horror output from the Cronenberg dynasty expands with Caitlin Cronenberg’s directorial debut Humane. Starring Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, and Peter Gallagher, the film is set over a single day, “months after a global ecological collapse has forced world leaders to take extreme measures to reduce the earth’s population,” according to the synopsis. “In a wealthy enclave, a recently retired newsman has invited his grown children to dinner to announce his intentions to enlist in the nation’s new euthanasia program. But when the father’s plan goes horribly awry, tensions flare and chaos erupts among his children.” Although curiously skipping the festival circuit, hopes are high the Cronenberg DNA carries through here.

6. Civil War (Alex Garland; April 12)

After Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid, A24’s now-two-year trend of releasing a wildly divisive film on IMAX continues with Alex Garland’s Civil War, coming on the heels of a rather enthusiastic SXSW premiere. John Fink said in his review, “While bound to spark hundreds of think pieces, Alex Garland’s stirring Civil War will undoubtedly go down, too, as one of the most provocative films of the year. It’s also an early contender for one of the best, offering a stunning warning: no matter what the cause, war is hell. Civil War is less interested in the causes of conflict and more about front lines as the Western Forces march towards the White House through the East Coast, turning small towns into battlefields.”

5. Sasquatch Sunset (Nathan and David Zellner; April 12)

Life in the wilderness––breathing in the mountain air, basking in the sun, and foraging for the perfect meal––can also be punishing and unforgiving. Particularly if you are a Sasquatch family. This simple premise is the foundation of David and Nathan Zellner’s most experimental gamble yet, Sasquatch Sunset, which captures a year in the Sasquatch way of life. Set in the vast expanse of Northern California––not far from where the infamous Patterson–Gimlin film was shot––we witness the circle of life for these creatures in all their birth, playfulness, territorial drive, fornication, and death. The result is almost exactly what one may expect from the logline––with perhaps a bit more bodily fluids and Sasquatch phalluses––and while it’s impressive that the Zellners stay steadfast in their conceit, one wishes the overall effect added up to something with a bit more impact. Continue reading my Sundance review.

4. Challengers (Luca Guadagnino; April 26)

Originally set for a release last fall, Luca Guadagnino’s tennis romance Challengers (starring Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, and Mike Faist) now arrives a few weeks ahead of the French Open. While the love triangle seems like quite a departure from his prior, horror-tinged outing Bones and All, we’re most curious to see if it’s a breakout for writer Justin Kuritzkes, partner of Past Lives director Celine Song, who also scripted Guadagnino’s second feature of the year, Queer, which likely arrives this fall.

3. The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed (Joanna Arnow; April 26)

Another stellar portrait of modern malaise alongside Ryan Martin Brown’s recent Free Time, Joanna Arnow’s dryly funny debut feature The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed finally arrives this month after premiering at Cannes last year. Rory O’Connor said in his review, “In The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed, Ann, a lugubrious New Yorker, sleepwalks through her daily life––colorless job, perennially disappointed parents––while maintaining a long-term sub/dom relationship with an older man. She visits her Jewish family, goes to yoga, and attempts some Internet dating. Invariably she winds up in her boyfriend’s lifeless brownstone. Executive-produced by Sean Baker, this is the feature debut of writer-director Joanna Arnow, a Brooklyn-based actor and filmmaker who made a name for herself as a wry observer of millennial sex lives and stasis with a couple of award-winning shorts: Bad at Dancing (2015) and Laying Out (2019). In Dancing, Arnow sat naked on the floor, casually asking for advice from a friend having sex right in front of her. The sense that everyone around you is getting their shit together (and maybe getting laid) is present again here; yet eight years hence, it arrives with the added humility of lived experience.”

2. The People’s Joker (Vera Drew; April 5)

As the superhero tentpole machine finally takes some last gasps, it’s only fitting for a subversive parody of Gotham City to show there may still be some life in comic book adaptations––if one is willing to think wildly outside the box. Vera Drew, who has worked as an editor on I Think You Should Leave, On Cinema, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and more, brings an absurdist yet personal sense of humor with her directorial debut The People’s Joker. After the powers at be attempted to squash the film right after its TIFF 2022 premiere, it’s now been revived under fair-use protection and arrives this month. Capturing a transgender woman’s journey as the Joker, played by Drew herself, it’s an endearingly homespun tale of discovering one’s true identity while also being a detailed exploration of anti-comedy and finding artistic fulfillment. If anything, it will surely be the best Joker-related film of the year.

1. The Beast (Bertrand Bonello; April 5)

One of the most stunning experiences I’ve had in a cinema in many years (on an IMAX screen at TIFF, no less), Bertrand Bonello’s The Beast is a singularly knotty, mesmerizing epic that spans three time periods exploring loneliness, connection, and the fears of love. David Katz said in his review, “Where to begin with Bertrand Bonello’s wonderful The Beast? It’s been so gratifying to see the initial reaction to the French filmmaker’s tenth feature, after several decades of increasingly remarkable work––the majority of it dark, beautiful, and sleazy. In fact, for what a discomforting and despairing experience much of The Beast is, when I’ve thought back its moments of real, uncomplicated cinematic pleasure, its verve and sense of joyousness, are what mark my memories. It’s romantic, without a capital-R.”

More Films to See

  • Yannick (April 5)
  • Coup de Chance (April 5)
  • Arcadian (April 12)
  • In Flames (April 12)
  • Laroy, Texas (April 12)
  • Sweet Dreams (April 12)
  • Egoist (April 19)
  • Force of Nature: The Dry 2 (April 19)
  • The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (April 19)
  • We Grown Now (April 19)
  • Terrestrial Verses (April 26)
  • Coconut Head Generation (April 26)

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