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15 Films to See in April

Written by on April 1, 2019 

Considering how packed the fall slate can be, distributors often hold their stranger, bolder films for a spring release when they have the opportunity to better thrive. That’s certainly the case this April, when some of the most daring releases will hit theaters, along with some promising studio fare, must-see documentaries, and more.

Matinees to See: The Wind (4/5), Suburban Birds (4/5), Pet Sematary (4/5), Sauvage/Wild (4/10), Dogman (4/12), Teen Spirit (4/12), Girls of the Sun (4/12), Wild Nights with Emily (4/12), Rafiki (4/19), Little Woods (4/19), Carmine Street Guitars (4/24), JT LeRoy (4/26), and The White Crow (4/26)

15. Mary Magadalene (Garth Davis; April 12)

Chalk this one up to mere curiosity more than anything else. The downfall of The Weinstein Company meant that a number of films were left by the wayside, waiting to be picked up by other distributors. One that has taken awhile is Mary Magdalene, a Biblical drama from Garth Davis (Lion). After getting an Easter-timed released elsewhere last year, it’ll now open in the U.S. around that time this year, courtesy of IFC Films. Starring Rooney Mara as the title character and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus, I’ll be curious to see two of our finest actors in yet another collaboration.

14. Shazam! (David Sandberg; April 5)

While there’s a certain superhero film that is on most radars, we have to say this DC offering looks to bring a much greater deal of fun. Jared Mobarak said in his review, “Horror director David F. Sandberg is the perfect choice to bring this character to fruition because of these nightmarish themes. The sins’ creature design is memorably grotesque and the sense of apprehension as far as Billy living up to a destiny he never asked for is palpable thanks to a resonant backstory rooted in abandonment. That horror mindset leading to effective scare tactics is also perfect for the humor inherent to material centering on a fourteen-year-old with the physique of a thirty-something and God-like powers at his fingertips.”

13. Fast Color (Julia Hart; April 18)

As superhero films dominate the Hollywood tentpole marketplace, smaller productions are finding more interesting ways to expand the storytelling boundaries of such tales. This year, Julia Hart follows up her excellent drama Miss Stevens (which was a break-out role for Timothée Chalamet) with her own take on superheroes in Fast Color. Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a woman with special abilities that must go on the run, the film premiered at SXSW last year and will now arrive this month.

12. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Terry Gilliam; April 10)

Throughout his career as a director, Terry Gilliam has aimed to portray the outlandish and disorderly in imaginative, transportive ways. His greatest achievements are able to synthesize less a narrative coherence and more an emotional attachment to a character’s eccentric journey through various stages of bewilderment. His long-burning passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote–finally seeing the light of day some 30 years later–clearly aims to be an epic descent into chaos, but the adventure often has trouble conveying a sense of entertaining spectacle to go along with the frivolous bafflement. Still, there’s enough to recommend here, especially for those curious to what exactly Gilliam has been dreaming up the last few decades.

11. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (Pamela B. Green: April 26)

“Alice Guy Blaché helped invent cinema as we know it,” Manohla Dargis recently wrote in The New York Times. The early cinema pioneer, who broke into the industry at the age of 21, went on to direct over 1,000 films, yet largely seems to be written out of film history, at least when compared to her male peers. A new documentary, narrated by Jodie Foster, now aims to correct that narrative with what looks to be an essential, empowering look at early movie-making.

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