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The 7 Indie Films You Must See This April

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire April 1, 2014 at 9:51AM

Here's 7 indie films you must check out this April.
"Only Lovers Left Alive"
SPC "Only Lovers Left Alive"

April is here and with it comes a considerable month for specialty film releases Stateside thanks to new films from Jim Jarmusch, Lars von Trier, Jonathan Glazer, David Gordon Green and Errol Morris, among others. It certainly makes for a lot of options, though here's a lucky 7 in particular we think you should check out:

1. Only Lovers Left Alive (April 11)

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Slimane Dazi
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Current Criticwire average: A- (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"?  If the fashionable bloodsuckers of the "Twilight" movies traded their frantic stares for expressions of ennui, they might have something in common with Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), the retro cool vampires at the heart of Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive." But that could never happen. Jarmusch's characters are always too hip for the mainstream, which he reminds viewers by making a welcome return to the realm of deadpan comedies that put his work on the map in the first place. Not that he ever drifted too far from it.  A centuries-old couple bored with contemporary society, Adam and Eve spend part of the movie living separately in Detroit and Tangiers before uniting at each location, muttering refrains about modern culture and recalling better times. They have sparse company in their understated despair: An enjoyable John Hurt surfaces in a few scenes to play the stately Christopher Marlowe, still hurt by living eternally in the shadow of William Shakespeare. Eve's horny younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) crashes at Adam's Detroit home in search of an excuse to party and briefly causes problems that, if they didn't involve casual violence, wouldn't seem out of place in a chick flick. But "Only Lovers Left Alive," despite its unapologetically silly developments, also contains the wistfulness and wine-drenched romanticism of "Before Sunrise" and its sequels. For Adam and Eve, however, the coming dawn presents a literal barrier to enjoying their lives together to the fullest extent.  Read Indiewire's full review here.

Watch the trailer below:

2. Under The Skin (April 4)

Director: Jonathan Glazer
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Robert J. Goodwin, Kryštof Hádek, Paul Brannigan, Michael Moreland, Scott Dymond, Jeremy McWilliams
Distributor: A24
Current Criticwire average: A-  (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"?  The premise is deceptively simple: Michel Faber's 2000 science fiction novel "Under the Skin" follows an alien tasked with kidnapping earthlings and selling their bodies for consumption back home. Adapting the material into his first feature since 2004's "Birth," music video director Jonathan Glazer only borrows half that scenario, following the extraterrestrial seductress (a virtually unrecognizable Scarlett Johansson) as she repeatedly nabs hapless male victims while her motives remain mysterious. A totally wacky head-trip with midnight movie sensibilities and a daring avant garde spirit, Glazer's movie meanders aplenty, but owes much to Johansson's intense commitment to a strangely erotic, unnerving performance unlike anything she has done before. Read Indiewire's full review here.

Watch the trailer below:

3. Nymphomaniac, Volume II (April 4)

Director: Lars von Trier
Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Connie Nielsen, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Willem Dafoe, Mia Goth, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Michael Pas, Jean-Marc Barr, Udo Kier
Distributor: Magnolia
Current Criticwire average: B (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"? A new Lars Von Trier movie always elicits a mixture of excitement and unease, but "Nymphomaniac" is on another level. Part two of his two-part, four-hour-plus epic (the first volume is in theaters now, just FYI), which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as the sex-addicted woman of the title, promises plenty of explicit nudity and outrageous exchanges — along with more than a modicum of brains. Reviews suggest that Von Trier’s film, which features a cast that also includes Jamie Bell, Stellan Skarsgaard and Shia LaBeouf among many other familiar faces, brings an enticing literary and philosophical sensibility to its lewd subject matter. It’s another reminder that no matter how much people like to characterize Von Trier as a provocateur, the ideas embedded in his work resonate even louder than the shocks.

Watch the trailer below:

4. Joe (April 11)

Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Ronie Gene Blevins, Gary Poulter
Distributor: Lionsgate
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"? A dozen years ago, Nicolas Cage was still considered a serious actor and David Gordon Green was considered a promising new filmmaker. A few years later, both of their reputations shifted dramatically: Cage became the butt of countless jokes about his overacting in subpar genre efforts and Green took a curious detour into largely derided studio comedies. Green started crawling back to the understated narrative style that put him on the map with his strange twist on the buddy movie formula "Prince Avalanche" earlier this year, while Cage hasn't done much worth talking about since 2009's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans." But both men finally get the chance to hit their sweet spots with the moody Southern gothic drama "Joe," the very definition of a return to form. Read Indiewire's full review here.

Watch the trailer below:

5. Blue Ruin (April 25)

Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David Thompson, David W. Thompson, Brent Werzner, Stacy Rock, Sidné Anderson
Distributor: RADiUS-TWC
Current Criticwire average: A- (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"?  The quiet life of a beach bum is upended by dreadful news. He sets off for his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance but proves an inept assassin and finds himself in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. This is "Blue Ruin," which has been winning over film festival audiences left and right since it debuted at Cannes last Spring, and almost a year later will surely do the same in US theaters. A tense and unexpected film from up and coming filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier, it is most surely a film you should go see this April...

Watch the trailer below:

6. The Unknown Known  (April 4)

Director: Errol Morris
Distributor: RADiUS-TWC
Current Criticwire average:  B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"? There's no doubting Morris' presence in "The Unknown Known," both as the aggressive interrogator behind the lens and through the darkly witty aura of mystery he uses to enshroud Rumsfeld's testimonies. Aided by a typically first-rate score by Danny Elfman, the documentary creates an ominous atmosphere to frame Rumsfeld's unsurprisingly disingenuous and frequently digressive anecdotes as the aging government official recounts his final days in the Bush Administration with a mixture of pragmatism and naïveté. Read Indiewire's full review here.

Watch the trailer below:

7.  Locke (April 25)

Director: Steven Knight
Cast: Tom Hardy, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Olivia Colman, Tom Holland, Ben Daniels, Bill Milner, Alice Lowe, Danny Webb, Lee Ross, Silas Carson, Kirsty Dillon
Distributor: A24
Current Criticwire average:  B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a "Must See"? You'll want to see "Locke," opening in limited release in the U.S. on April 25th, because it stars Tom Hardy as a guy who spends the whole movie in his car rushing someplace important we aren’t immediately made privy to, and dealing with a whole lot of consequences via numerous phone conversations. It’s from British writer-director Stephen Knight (he wrote "Eastern Promises" and "Dirty Pretty Things"), and it is unexpectedly riveting, thanks to an intense performance from Hardy that will come as no surprise to those who’ve seen him in far bigger films.

Watch the trailer below:

This article is related to: Lists, Trailers, Only Lovers Left Alive, Nymphomaniac: Volume II, Blue Ruin, Locke, The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld, Joe, Under the Skin