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10 Movies To See In April

10 Movies To See In April

We’re inching ever close to the 2014 summer blockbuster season, but that’s not to say April is lacking its fair share of spectacle and bombast. This month’s ten movies to see ranges from Marvel’s latest to a mess of independent fare moving away from the festivals and into your local multiplex. It’s time to see what’s worth plunking down your dollars and cents for this month at the movies.

Dom Hemingway
Synopsis: Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is a prominent safecracker recently released from prison after serving a twelve-year stint. Content to get back to his wild ways, a brush with death forces Dom to reconnect with the daughter (Emilia Clarke) he’s never taken time out for.
What You Need to Know: Jude Law goes all-out as the profane and insane, Dom Hemingway. The film blends comedy and danger all wrapped within a family drama about father/daughter estrangement; and it lets the Kahleesi herself, Emilia Clarke, change her hair and sing a song. Director Richard Shepard’s film caught the attention of our own Kevin Jagernauth last year at TIFF where he gave it a “B+,” praising its formula: “two parts Irvine Welsh, one part ‘Bronson’ a few dashes of perversity” all wrapped in “a blanket of excess.” The movie, according to Jagernauth also delivers on the laughs with several “laugh-out-loud” and “impressively, wittily written” moments.
Release Date: April 2nd in limited release

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Synopsis: In light of the Avengers aftermath, all Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) seeks is a quiet life in Washington, D.C. Instead, he’s drawn back into the antics of S.H.I.E.L.D. and paired up with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to unravel a conspiracy that goes deeper than they expect.
What You Need to Know: In 2011, “Captain America: The First Avenger” was the second-highest grossing superhero film of the year (behind Marvel’s other Avenger character, “Thor”) and outgrossed the midnight showing numbers of other comic book movies released in that frame. The massive acclaim for “The Avengers” all but guarantees the success of Captain America’s latest outing in spite of Oliver Lyttelton noticing the film’s bumps in his “B-” review. He says there’s a lot to like and a “serious, semi-grounded feel while still keeping things relatively light and bouncy,” yet the film fails to achieve the lofty ambitions its set. Regardless of quality the Marvel universe isn’t slowing down and the screenwriters are already planning “a psychotic 1950s Cap” for a third outing. If anything, the stinger at the end credits is easily going to whet appetites for “Guardians of the Galaxy” and/or provide a brief taste of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Release Date: April 3rd

Alan Partridge
Synopsis: Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan), a disgraced television broadcaster, ends up in the middle of a hostage situation when a fellow DJ (Colm Meaney) learns he’s been fired.
What You Need to Know: Steve Coogan’s brought the laughs as Alan Partridge for almost twenty years, yet the character has never quite caught on across the pond. Our own Drew Taylor was less than impressed with the finished product when he saw it back at the New York Film Festival. In his “C”-grade review he was rather surprised how, in spite of five screenwriters, including “Veep” screibe Armando Iannucci they “came up with…this.” The movie certainly looks to have an uphill battle to attract all but the devout Coogan/Alan Partridge fans. However, Coogan’s recent work in “Philomena” will hopefully inspire a new group of fans to seek out a side of the actor they might not be familiar with.
Release Date: April 4th in limited release

Nymphomaniac: Volume 2
Synopsis: The further adventures of nymphomaniac Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as she recounts her sexual exploits from her adulthood onwards.
What You Need to Know: Lars Von Trier’s sexual opus continues in its second volume. Part one of “Nymphomaniac” was released to VOD at the beginning of March before hitting theaters on March 21st. And since then the movie has done well in anticipation of volume two. Much like the first, this follow-up sees VOD release on the 4th and a theatrical release April 18th, so depending on your theater you can see parts one and two from the privacy of your own home, or in the theater around the same time. There are still no details on a full-length release of the five-hour plus cut, though the director’s version of part one has already unspooled at the Berlin Film Festival. Anyhow, Playlist scribe Ben Brock found Volume 2 packing less of a punch than part one in his “B-” review. “If you thought ‘Vol. I’ was a brilliant piece of provocation, then ‘Vol. II’ might disappoint you.” Either way, Von Trier continues to push the boundaries of the ratings board with his sexual bildungsroman and audiences seeking sex and absurdity will want to close out the series.
Release Date: April 4th in limited release

Under the Skin
Synopsis: An alluring alien (Scarlett Johansson) starts to question who she is in the world as she seeks to sate her ravenous sexual desires.
What You Need to Know: There were those who felt Scarlett Johansson found her niche playing a sexy alien, but director Jonathan Glazer took a tale which, on the surface, looked like a derivative of the ’90s “Species” franchise and turned it into a provocative and thought-provoking story. Our Chris Willman saw Glazer’s latest at Telluride last year where he gave it a “B+.” He praised Johansson’s acting, declaring her “perfectly cast” in this exploration of life and mortality, and described it as “horror with a heart.” The trippy trailer gives nothing away, but shows the director of “Sexy Beast” on the top of his game. There isn’t a lot in the way of science fiction or horror out this year, let alone with such an A-list leading lady, and few will be anything like this.
Release Date: April 4th in limited release

Synopsis: Joe Ransom (Nicolas Cage) is an ex-con drawn into the drama of a young boy (Tye Sheridan) looking for a way to escape his troubled home life.
What You Need to Know: Actor Nicolas Cage has become a punch line of late with his wild performances, both on-screen and off, it’s almost hard to remember the man has an Oscar under his belt. The same could be said for director David Gordon Green marking his return to serious dramatic work after the success of “Pineapple Express” and the failures of divisive comedies like “The Sitter” and “Your Highness.” The enchanting “Prince Avalanche” was a critical success for Green last year, and he hopes to keep the good karma rolling while returning Cage to Actor status with “Joe.” Oliver Lyttelton saw “Joe” at the Venice Film Festival where it received a “B+” review. The first trailer doesn’t emphasize it, but it’s said the movie “lands closest to being Green’s first western.” If you’re interested in seeing Cage “the most dialed-down he’s been in awhile” while supporting Green’s accomplishments in drama, stop by and visit “Joe.”
Release Date: April 11th in limited release

Only Lovers Left Alive
Synopsis: Adam and Eve (Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton) are married vampires who’ve been living the good life for centuries. Unfortunately, Adam grapples with his immortality and his troubles double with the arrival of Eve’s “sister,” Ava (Mia Wasikowska).
What You Need to Know: Director Jim Jarmusch has carved out a niche in the cinematic firmament with melancholic films like “Dead Man” and “Broken Flowers.” His latest is also his most accessible, according to Jessica Kiang who experienced the film at last year’s Cannes. In her “B+” review praise went out to Jarmusch whose latest is an “offbeat, fun, and frequently very funny film.” Vampires are in right now and what better way to attract an audience than have Loki himself (Hiddleston) play the undead who, thankfully, doesn’t sparkle? The blend of comedy, horror, and a very popular leading man should aid in giving Jarmusch a higher than average box office, and hopefully inspire fans to seek it out who might have avoided the esoteric director.
Release Date: April 11th in limited release

Synopsis: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is one of the leading researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence. When he’s shot by anti-AI extremists and is prepared for death, his wife (Rebecca Hall) decides to upload his consciousness, turning him into an even larger threat dead than alive.
What You Need to Know: You may not know “Transcendence” director Wally Pfister by name or face, but he’s a leading cinematographer with an Oscar under his belt for lensing Christopher Nolan’s Inception.” In fact, Pfister has been Nolan’s go-to director of photography since “Memento.” The prestige associated with Nolan proves Pfister is a master of his craft, but will that translate into the ability to direct a motion picture? Pfister is untested in that department with “Transcendence” being his debut film, but the Nolan factor has led to him gathering a strong crop of actors including Depp, Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman, and Kate Mara. Depp’s name could either harm or help the picture if audiences are interested in watching the actor play a character not slathered in greasepaint, and, if anything, the movie should be framed beautifully. The trailer is a bit confusing, and possibly gives too much away but the intrigue of the sci-fi premise looks promising.
Release Date: April 18th

Blue Ruin
Synopsis: Dwight (Macon Blair) is a troubled man who sets out for revenge on the recently released man who murdered his parents.
What You Need to Know: “Blue Ruin” is a “no-frills pressure cooker of a film” that doesn’t let up till the final frame. That’s according to Gabe Toro who caught director Jeremy Saulnier’s film at TIFF in 2013 and bestowed the film with an “A-” review. The director of the little seen “Murder Party” returns to tell a terrifying story many are considering “the most suspenseful American film of the year;” as if the ravenous praise for this vaguely plotted thriller isn’t enough to whet your appetite, “Blue Ruin” also made an appearance on the Playlist Staff’s Best Movies of 2013. With horror dwindling as the months go on, it’s always nice to get that jolt of terror at the movie theater.
Release Date: April 25th in limited release

Synopsis: Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is embarking on a new chapter in his life, but as he drives to a meeting, he makes a series of phone calls which have life-altering consequences.
What You Need to Know: Single location movies come with a special host of complications because the gimmick requires leaps of plotting to keep said character in that one location (“Buried” being a prime example). Steven Knight’s “Locke” looks to subvert those notions following one character, in one car, talking on the phone for 90-minutes. It helps that the director is Steven Knight, screenwriter of “Eastern Promises” and “Dirty Pretty Things” and the actor is Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”). The trailer and reviews are incredibly vague on plot details “because a major part of the pleasures of ‘Locke’ is the way that Knight…parcels out little pieces of information to reveal why the title character is on his journey.” Oliver Lyttelton’s quotes indicate his appreciation for the film as he gave it a “B+” during its screening at the Venice Film Festival.
Release Date: April 25th in limited release

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