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15 Films to See in April

Written by on March 31, 2016 

10. Neon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro; April 8th)

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Synopsis: Working behind the scenes at a Brazilian rodeo, a man dreams of becoming a designer when he draws fashion designs over the nude models in his friend’s magazine.

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Why You Should See It: Another of last year’s festival discoveries, we said in our review, “It doesn’t stop at the tease with gender roles and macho stereotypes either. Subtly but surely, Mascaro establishes a fevered, deeply sensual visual language that, while never describing same-sex intimacy of any kind, releases a strong homoerotic charge. Not only is there a marked focus on male anatomy – see a group shower scene shot on steamy lens and the sequence where Iremar has to stroke a prize stallion’s comically engorged genitalia in order to steal its semen – which deviates from the female objectification customary in mainstream, heterosexual cinema, the overall languid, yearnful tone highlights a repressed quality of the rampant carnality threatening to break free. In this sense, it registers as a near-surprise when the sexual preference of the main characters is revealed towards the end.”

9. The Measure of a Man (Stéphane Brizé; April 15th)

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Synopsis: An unemployed factory worker is trying to make ends in working-class France.

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Why You Should See It: Featuring last year’s Best Actor winner at Cannes, we said in our review, “The Measure of a Man is not a film that will be lauded for its direction nor for its cinematography, screenplay or editing. It’s a film that will be remembered for its absorbing lead performance. Vincent Lindon takes one deep into the mind of Thierry, a man who has recently lost his factory job and is now trying desperately to find work. Unfortunately, obstructions of the modern world, from the current state of the economy to the introduction of technology in the workplace, prevent him from doing so and thus he struggles to support his family financially.”

8. Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov; April 1st)

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Synopsis: A history of the Louvre during the Nazi occupation and a meditation on the meaning and timelessness of art.

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Why You Should See It: Aleksandr Sokurov, the director of Russian Ark, is back with a new drama arriving in limited release this week. We said in our Venice review, “Who are we without museums? Supposedly a tribute to France’s artistic excellence throughout the centuries, Francofonia quickly reveals itself as an exploration of the Louvre, the role of a museum, and the clash between the abstract notion of artwork and certain inescapable circumstances of the real world. And yet, a French version of Russian Ark this is not.”

7. Louder than Bombs (Joachim Trier; April 8th)

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Synopsis: The fractious family of a father and his two sons confront their different feelings and memories of their deceased wife and mother, a famed war photographer.

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Why You Should See It: Joachim Trier‘s latest may not reach the heights of his two excellent previous features — Reprise and Oslo, August 31st — but it’s still a tenderly realized drama full of great, small moments. Featuring strong performances from the ensemble, which includes Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg, and Gabriel Byrne, it’s interesting to see how Trier approaches American culture as he explores the difficulty of communication for those in this estranged family. For a more mixed take, check out our review from Cannes.

6. The Invitation (Karyn Kusama; April 8th)

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Synopsis: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

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Why You Should See It: Director Karyn Kusama is back this year, returning to her low-budget roots with The Invitation, a taut psychological thriller following a dinner party with many twists and turns that aren’t easily shaken. We said in our review at SXSW, “As the tension effectively builds and pay-off is pulled off with aplomb, The Invitation is a mostly effective small-scale thriller, despite some missteps along the way.”

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