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The 7 Indie Films You Must See This April

The 7 Indie Films You Must See This April

From Terrence Malick and Danny Boyle to Angela Davis and Matthew McConaughey, the specialty market is offering up an awesome mix of films for the first full month of Spring 2013.  Check out Indiewire’s picks for the month’s 7 best options below. Though do head over to the full month’s calendar as well,
as there are plenty more worthy films (including studio offerings — is it just us or does “Oblivion” have a lot of potential?) that
didn’t end up making this list.

1. To The Wonder  (April 12)

Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem
Distributor: Magnolia
Current Criticwire average: B- (see all grades)

Why Is It a “Must See”? Any Terrence Malick film — even perhaps his most tepidly received — is inarguably an event, thus putting this month’s theatrical release of “To The Wonder” atop this list. Malick’s sixth feature film and first to be set in a contemporary setting (or made within five years of another Malick film, for that matter), “Wonder” premiered at Venice last year before being picked up by Magnolia. Starring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem, the film follows an American (Affleck) who reconnects with a woman from his hometown (McAdams) after his relationship with a European woman (Kurylenko) falls apart. In his review, Indiewire’s Eric Kohn calls the actors “props in a moving picture book that keeps fluttering by, the stars of ‘To the Wonder’ are at the mercy of Malick’s greater tapestry.” Not that that’s unexpected, or a bad thing.

Check out the film’s trailer below:


2. Mud (April 26)

Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon, Tye Sheridan
Distributor: Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a “Must See”? Coming off a year that saw the release of a quartet of generally acclaimed (and all very different) performances (“Killer Joe,” “Bernie,” “Magic Mike” and “The Paperboy”), Matthew McConaughey kicks off what should likely be another prolific year (he has three films and an HBO series on tap) with Jeff Nichols’ “Mud.” The film — which premiered at Cannes almost a year ago — could have been part of the actor’s impressive 2012 CV but Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions opted to hold it until this month, where hopefully it will get the attention it deserves. The follow-up to Nichols’ “Take Shelter,” the film stars McConaughey as a fugitive who becomes friends with two Arkansas teenagers. Back in Cannes, Nichols said the film “moves unlike anything else I’ve made.” 

Watch the trailer below:

3. Trance (April 5)

Director: Danny Boyle
Cast:  James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Tuppence Middleton
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Current Criticwire average: B (see all grades)

Why Is It a “Must See”? In his follow-up to the Oscar-nominated “127 Hours,” returns to the noir genre of his debut film “Shallow Grave” in “Trance.” A rare Boyle film that skips the festival circuit, the film stars James McAvoy as a young auctioneer Simon forced to undergo hypnosis administered by a perceptive therapist (Rosario Dawson) at the bidding of gangster Franck (Vincent Cassel). The Playlist called the film a “twisty, trippy, terrific thriller” in their review, adding that  “if it’s not quite Boyle’s very best, is probably his most satisfying and coherent since ‘Trainspotting.'”

Watch the trailer below:

4. Upstream Color (April 5)

Director: Shane Carruth
Cast: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a “Must See”? Nearly 10 years after his debut “Primer” topped Sundance’s awards, Shane Carruth has finally offered us a follow-up with “Upstream Color,” which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. “The plot of ‘Upstream Color’ is tough to define but not exactly intangible,” Eric Kohn wrote in Indiewire’s Sundance review. “An advanced cinematic collage of ideas involving the slipperiness of human experience. Carruth’s polished, highly expressionistic work bears little comparison to his previous feature aside from the constant mental stimulation it provides for its audience.” That stimulation potentially comes your way this month, with Carruth releasing the film himself across the US.

Watch the trailer below:

5. Simon Killer (April 5)

Director: Antonio Campos
Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Constance Rousseau, Michael Abiteboul
Distributor: IFC Films
Current Criticwire average: B (see all grades)

Why Is It a “Must See”? A highlight from last year‘s Sundance, Antonio Campos’ “Simon Killer” is finally hitting theaters this month. Campos’ follow-up to his acclaimed debut “Afterschool” (which also gave us the debut performance of Ezra Miller), “Simon Killer” follows a recent college graduate (Brady Corbet) who flees to Paris after a break-up. That seems like the set-up of a romantic comedy, though “Killer” evolves into something that’s close to the farthest thing from it. “With a dense, often impermeable style and a mentally unstable protagonist, ‘Simon Killer’ is like watching the disturbed anti-hero of ‘Afterschool’ all grown up,” Eric Kohn wrote in Indiewire’s review.

Watch the trailer below:

6. Free Angela and All Political Prisoners (April 5)

Director:  Shola Lynch
Distributor: CODEBLACK Films/Lionsgate
Current Criticwire average: B+ (see all grades)

Why Is It a “Must See”? Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are teaming up to release Shola Lynch’s “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners.”  The documentary chronicles the life of Angela Davis, once a young college professor who saw her social activism implicate her in a botched kidnapping attempt that ended with a shootout and her name on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. “Confidently constructed, and aided by an assured focus, ‘Free Angela & All Political Prisoners’ is a solid tribute a woman who was one of many vital pieces of the civil rights movement, and an insightful study of a time when the American identity — both politically and socially — was being drastically reshaped,” The Playlist wrote in their review.

Check out the trailer below:


7. In The House (April 19)

Director:  Francois Ozon
Distributor: Cohen Media Group
Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner
Current Criticwire average: B (see all grades)

Why Is It a “Must See”? The sole foreign language entry on this list is arguably Francois Ozon’s most acclaimed films in years. Starring newcomer Ernst Umhauer as a  sixteen-year-old boy insinuates himself into the house of a fellow student from his literature class and writes about it in essays for his French teacher (a fantastic Fabrice Luchini), the film premiered to strong reviews at Toronto last year (where it won the FIPRESCI prize for best film in the Special Presentations program). 

Watch the trailer below:


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