Back to IndieWire

The 14 Indies You Must See This April: ‘Green Room,’ ‘Hardcore Henry’ and More

The 14 Indies You Must See This April: 'Green Room,' 'Hardcore Henry' and More

Everybody Wants Some!! (April 1)

Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Blake Jenner, J. Quinton Johnson, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell
Criticwire Grade Average: A-
Why is it a Must See? Linklater’s on a roll, especially with chronology-themed stories. “Before Midnight” was a tricky needle to thread and ended up as a fitting cap to a sublime film trilogy. “Boyhood” transcended the discussion of its production and existed on its own as one of the year’s best (and most-beloved) films. Now, trading in the familiar environs of high school to capture a year in the life of Texas college students, the indie icon seems to have found another sweet spot.

Francofonia (April 1)

Director: Alexander Sokuorv
Cast: Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Benjamin Utzerath, Vincent Nemeth, Johanna Korthals
Criticwire Grade Average: B+
Why is it a Must See? Spanning genre, language and century, Sokurov’s latest offering uses the WWII German takeover of the Louvre Museum in Paris as the basis for a treatise on our collective relationship to art. Emptying the cinematic toolbox, Sokurov uses stylized recreations and archival footage to paint a picture of 1940s France and the figures from preceding and intervening decades who’ve helped shape our understanding of the past. From its elemental manipulation of colorized images to the sweeping panoramas of the French metropolis, it embraces its unclassifiability to wonderful effect.

The Dark Horse (April 1)

Director: James Napier Robertson
Cast: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston, Sia Trokenheim, Kirk Torrance, Xavier Horan, Miriama McDowell, Baz Te Hira, Wayne Hapi, Andrew Grainger, Roseanne Liang
Why is it a Must See? Chess is a tricky metaphor, even when used sparingly. This drama, based on the real struggles and triumphs of chess genius Genesis Potini, manages to craft its feature narrative around the benefits and burdens of the game’s expertise. At the center is Cliff Curtis as Potini, a Maori chess champion who mentors aspiring players while learning how to deal with his increasingly difficult mental health bouts. Curtis anchors a story of leadership and understanding that doesn’t lean on tired tortured-genius tropes. 

No Home Movie (April 1)

Director: Chantal Akerman
Criticwire Grade Average: A-
Why is it a Must See? As the film world mourned Akerman’s passing last fall, one small consolation was her final film, a personal documentary about the filmmaker and her mother. (For those looking for a primer on Akerman’s life and career, “I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman” will also arrive in theaters this month.) A meditation on survival, it features the director’s trademark attention to the architecture of domestic life. This glimpse into the life and mind of a unique cinematic voice, the film takes on an extra layer of resonance in the wake of Akerman’s passing. 

Miles Ahead (April 1)

Director: Don Cheadle
Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Keith Stanfield, Austin Lyon, Michael Stuhlbarg, Leticia Martinez, Morgan Wolk, Jeffrey Grover, Philip Krinsky
Criticwire Grade Average: B-
Why is it a Must See? It’s refreshing when an atypical musical biopic can make its way onto the calendar, as has happened in recent years with “Love and Mercy” and “Jimi: All is By My Side.” Cheadle’s look at the times and influence of legendary jazz musician Miles Davis doesn’t see the trumpeter played by two different actors or tell his story without using Davis’ work. But the consideration of the Davis’ inspirational genius, confined to a pair of key moments in his life, make for a far-from-normal examination, in front or behind the camera.

Neon Bull (April 8)

Director: Gabriel Mascaro
Cast: Juliano Cazarré, Alyne Santana, Carlos Pessoa, Maeve Jinkings, Vinícius de Oliveira, Josinaldo Alves, Samyade Lavor
Criticwire Grade Average: A-
Why is it a Must See? Back in September, out of Toronto, our Eric Kohn called Gabriel Mascaro’s sophomore feature the “great discovery of this year’s festival.” A spirited blend of the previous work in Mascaro’s filmography, “Neon Bull” uses the glowing color palette evoked by its title to deliver a unique look at life on and beyond various rodeo stops in Brazil. Incorporating fantastical elements as the film progresses and evolves, it draws the connection between man and animal against an ever-shifting landscape.

Louder than Bombs (April 8)

Director: Joachim Trier
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne, Amy Ryan, David Strathairn, Devin Druid, Rachel Brosnahan, Ruby Jerins, Megan Ketch
Criticwire Grade Average: B+
Why is it a Must See? Trier brings a patient eye to a story of a family in quiet turmoil. A patriarch who can’t connect with his disaffected teenage son and the young man struggling with his responsibilities as a new father all deal with the loss of the woman who held them all together. Making his English-language debut, Trier brings a lyrical approach to what could easily become an indulgent tale of suburban apathy. Instead, he brings focus and clarity to what becomes, in a way, a beautifully wrought ghost story. (Keep an eye out for a sequence in the movie’s middle third that could easily double as one of the year’s best short films.)

Hardcore Henry (April 8)

Director: Ilya Naishuller
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovskiy, Haley Bennett, Andrey Dementiev, Dasha Charusha, Sveta Ustinova
Criticwire Grade Average: B
Why is it a Must See? Audiences went wild for this first-person thrill ride when it premiered at TIFF 2015. While this isn’t the first film in history to tell its story from a primary POV, this is an impressive undertaking. From its fight scenes to its bonkers aerial stunts to comforting presence of Sharlto Copley, it’s an action movie with a clear vision, which can sometimes be a rare treat. And, as evidenced in the trailer above, who doesn’t enjoy a good bit of entertainment that tosses in a little bit of “Don’t Stop Me Now”? 

Green Room (April 15)

Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Mark Webber, Joe Cole, Callum Turner
Criticwire Grade Average: A-
Why is it a Must See? “Blue Ruin” was one of the best films of 2013, a methodical, self-contained revenge tale that plays its hand beautifully. Saulnier’s follow-up has a larger cast, but the same steady hand is here. When a punk band finds itself stuck in a skinhead commune, they must outwit their would-be captors to survive. Saulnier never mines this premise for a cheap laugh or an easy, brainless gorefest. Instead, it tells a truly warped tale without luxuriating in its own brutality. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it does reward the cinephiles who can put their trust in a gifted, confident visual storyteller.

Sing Street (April 15)

Director: John Carney
Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aiden Gillen, Mark McKenna, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kelly Thornton, Kyle Bradley Donaldson
Criticwire Grade Average: A-
Why is it a Must See? After a quick jaunt to the States for 2013’s “Begin Again,” Carney is back on Irish streets again. A smashing Sundance debut signaled another hit for the director, after the success of his lovely, low-key musical “Once.” Time will tell if “Sing Street” has the chops for Broadway, but a singalong through 1980s Dublin should do the trick for theaters and living rooms this year. 

Men & Chicken (April 22)

Director: Anders Thomas Jensen
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, David Dencik, Søren Malling, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Nicolas Bro, Ole Thestrup, Kirsten Lehfeldt, Bodil Jørgensen, Lisbet Dahl, Birthe Neumann, Rikke Louise Andersson
Why is it a Must See? Put three of Scandinavia’s best actors in anything and it would be worth watching. But getting the chance to see Mikkelsen, Dencik and Malling flex their comedy chops in the midst of a crazy, isolated battle of man vs. nature is too good to pass up. Throw in the truly odd, “American Gothic”-inspired poster and we’re sold.

Elvis & Nixon (April 22)

Director: Liza Johnson
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Michael Shannon, Colin Hanks, Alex Pettyfer, Sky Ferreira, Johnny Knoxville, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan, Ashley Benson, Tracy Letts, Joey Sagal, Gus Rhodes
Why is it a Must See? It’s a central bit of casting that makes the long, circuitous journey through disbelief, sense and intrigue. Spacey’s doing for American presidents what Sufjan Stevens did for American states. Shannon’s bringing his sandpaper grit sensibilities to one of the smoothest icons in 20th century pop culture. We’ll get our first taste of the story behind the iconic Elvis/Nixon photo later this month at Tribeca, but audiences won’t have to wait long thereafter to catch it in theaters. (To tide you over until then, here’s a bit of the Drunk History version, featuring Bob Odenkirk and Jack Black.)

A Hologram for the King (April 22)

Director: Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Sarita Choudhury, Alexander Black, Tracey Fairaway, David Menkin, Tom Skerritt, Sidse Babett Knudsen
Why is it a Must See? The last collaboration between Tykwer and Hanks yielded “Cloud Atlas,” a film that had its detractors, but certainly didn’t rest on its cinematic laurels. While this film, adapted from the Dave Eggers novel of the same name, might veer more toward the tried and true stranger-in-a-strange-land arc (rather than the less familiar people-sublimating-in-a-cloud-of-pink-smoke glimpsed briefly in the trailer above), it does appear to have some of the visual panache that made that former pairing intriguing. And speaking of novel adaptations with authorial connections, “Hologram for the King” serves as a serendipitous precursor to the forthcoming “The Circle,” also starring Hanks and adapted from an Eggers novel.

The Meddler (April 22)

Director: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Lucy Punch, Billy Magnussen, Michael McKean, Jason Ritter, Casey Wilson, Cecily Strong, Sarah Baker
Why is it a Must See? “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is one of the decade’s unsung, overlooked rom-coms. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria is back with “The Meddler,” which uses family, rather than loneliness in the face of an impending apocalypse, to focus its story. Amidst a strong ensemble, including J.K. Simmons and Rose Byrne, Susan Sarandon plays the loving mother that inspires the title.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox