Tag Archives: movie preview

10 films you need to see in April 2017

Free Fire.jpeg

Just ahead of the summer movie season (which arguably kicks off on May 5th with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), April is shaping up to be a strange month at the cinema. Even the major releases seem a little more low-key than usual. But with most of the tentpole franchises absent (save one notable exception), maybe it’ll make room for something a little different to catch on at the box office.

Box office prognostication aside, there are a lot of really promising, slightly offbeat offerings this month. Here are the 10 I’m most excited for.


Graduation (April 7, Limited)

A high-profile title on last year’s festival circuit, Graduation is the latest project from Romanian auteur Cristian Mungiu. Best known for his Palme d’Or-winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Mungiu found success at Cannes again this year with Graduation, winning the festival’s Best Director award (which he shared with Olivier Assayas for Personal Shopper). The IMDB plot description for Graduation is concise and mysterious, conveying perhaps all I want to know going in: “A film about compromises and the implications of the parent’s role.”

Colossal (April 7, Limited)

Featuring a somewhat bonkers premise and a surprisingly star-studded cast, this latest film from Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) is one that sounds too unique not to give a chance to. Anne Hathaway stars as Gloria, an American alcoholic who begins to realize that her own actions are directly linked to those of a giant monster who is simultaneously terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. Though it received generally positive reviews out of last year’s TIFF, this one seems like it could be divisive. In case it helps win you over, the film also stars Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, and Tim Blake Nelson.

Win It All (April 7, Netflix)

Kicking off a strong month of Netflix exclusives is the latest from director Joe Swanberg, Win it All. Swanberg, once known for his truly voracious movie-making pace, has taken a break (by his standards) from movies to work on two recent series for Netflix, Easy and Love. Now back with his first film since 2015’s Digging for Fire, it seems like Swanberg has found a medium that suits his low-key films. Win it All stars Jake Johnson, Keegan-Michael Key, and Joe Lo Truglio and follows a man who spends all the money he’s promised to hold on to for an imprisoned friend, only to have to quickly win it back when the friend’s prison sentence gets shortened. Johnson (here a co-screenwriter) has become a regular collaborator with Swanberg, so here’s hoping this go-round is as entertaining and insightful as 2013’s great Drinking Buddies.

Mine (April 7, Limited)

Utilizing the usually successful trope of putting your protagonist in a confined space they can’t get out of (think 127 Hours, Buried, and Frozen [not the Disney one]), Mine is about a soldier (Armie Hammer) who gets stranded in the desert, surrounded by landmines and unable to move. It’ll be interesting to see how Hammer handles having the film pretty much all to himself (by the looks of it), considering his other work has either been supporting roles or with a co-lead. The premise here is good, so let’s see if the delivery does it justice.

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z (April 14, Limited)

I’m still not totally sold on James Gray as a director, and 2015’s middling The Immigrant didn’t do a lot to change my mind. However, I have hope for his latest project, despite the fact (because of the fact?) that it stars the likes of Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson. The Lost City of Z tells the true story of Col. Percival Fawcett (Hunnam), a British explorer searching in the 1920’s for a mysterious South American city.

Maudie (April 14, Limited)

Delving into the life of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, Maudie stars Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. Those two names alone are enough to pique my interest, but when combined with strong buzz from the festival circuit and a gorgeous-looking trailer, Maudie becomes a must-seee.


Tramps (April 21, Netflix)

While it may not have the same star power as something like the upcoming War Machine, it was nice to see Netflix snap up this indie crime romance, which earned strong reviews during its premiere at TIFF last fall. Starring Callum Turner (Green Room) and Grace Van Patten (Stealing Cars), Tramps is written and directed by Adam Leon, who made a splash with 2013 debut feature, Gimme the Loot. An unlikely rom-com, Tramps takes place in New York and follows two strangers who end up working together when a shady deal goes awry.

Free Fire (April 21, Wide)

With a top-notch cast (Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, etc.) and a brash, bullet-riddled premise, it’s not too surprising that Free Fire is getting a major release. It’ll be a big step up in terms of attention for director Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, Kill List), though, previously a favourite in the cult film community. Free Fire looks fun and crowd-pleasing, and I’m intrigued to see how Wheatley’s vision competes among big-budget fare at the box office.

The Circle

The Circle (April 28, Wide)

After his directorial trifecta of Smashed, The Spectacular Now, and The End of the Tour, I’m now automatically excited for any movie helmed by James Ponsoldt. The Circle is far and away his biggest project to date, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson and based on the popular 2013 novel of the same name by Dave Eggers. The film follows Mae (Watson), a young woman who lands a lucrative job at a powerful tech company (the titular “Circle”), only to discover that they may have a sinister agenda. Having read and liked the book, I’m highly intrigued to see what Ponsoldt does with the material.

Rodney King (April 28, Netflix)

A new Spike Lee movie is reason enough to perk up one’s ears (although perhaps also still resist full-fledged excitement, given the director’s spotty track record). This one sounds particularly interesting, even though details are still scarce. Rodney King seems to be a one-man show, examining King (portrayed here by Roger Guenver Smith) and the infamous videotape of his brutal beating at the hands of the LAPD. Lee likely won’t shy away from a bit of controversy with this latest project, so you’ll want to be part of the conversation about this film, which conveniently makes its premiere on Netflix.

Other films of note: Their Finest (April 7, limited) looks like a charming return to form for Lone Scherfig (An Education), following a group of British propaganda filmmakers during WWII and starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, and Bill Nighy. And speaking of charm, Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, and Jenny Slate team up for Gifted (April 7, limited), the latest from Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man) about a young girl with exceptional mathematic skill. Terrence Davies also returns hot off the heels of last year’s Sunset Song with A Quiet Passion (April 14, limited), examining the life of Emily Dickinson. And, finally, April also has something for the adrenaline junkies in the crowd, unleashing the hotly anticipated The Fate of the Furious (April 14, wide).

31 New Releases to Watch in July

A lot of new movies come out each year, but how many do we actually watch? The big blockbusters tend to take all of the attention, but there are so many good indies out there that it’s impossible to keep up with them all. In line with that, here’s one new release (big and small alike) for every day in July, as well as a one-sentence summary of why each might be worth your time.

Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation


Ant-Man – Because even without Edgar Wright on board, the idea of Paul Rudd playing a superhero is too fun to resist.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Because Ghost Protocol was so damn good that it gave me (possibly misplaced) hope that this one will be, too.

Terminator Genysis – Because even though it looks sort of awful, I’ll probably watch it anyways.



Major Releases

Magic Mike XXL – Because, good lord, this looks absolutely ridiculous and like it’ll probably also be a lot of fun.

Paper Towns – Because John Green adaptations are here to stay, and this one looks like it could be charming, coming-of-age fun.

Self/Less – Because even if this Ryan Reynolds vehicle is terrible (which is quite possible) it’s directed by Tarsem Singh, which means it’ll still be pretty to look at.

Southpaw – Because who can turn down an opportunity to watch Jake Gyllenhaal punish himself on screen?

Trainwreck – Because it’s about time Amy Schumer and Bill Hader got their own movie, and the trailer looks completely delightful.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Mid-Size Releases

Boulevard – Because this Dito Montiel-directed drama is Robin Williams’ final live-action role and he’s apparently excellent in it.

The End of the Tour – Because, based on the trailer, this fictionalized story of David Foster Wallace looks like it both does its subject proud and manages to be narratively and thematically rich.

Irrational Man – Because Woody Allen movies are always worth watching, even when they’re not good.

Jimmy’s Hall – Because Ken Loach movies are always worth watching and are always good.

The Stanford Prison Experiment – Because if you don’t want to see Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, James Frecheville, and a bunch of other great young actors sport ‘70s-era hair and moustaches, you’re CRAZY.

Strangerland – Because I feel like I know exactly what this movie will be like, and sometimes that’s okay.

Two Step

Two Step

Teeny Tiny Indies

Meet Me in Montenegro – Because this looks like a quiet and lovely little international drama from the director of In Search of a Midnight Kiss.

Safelight – Because Juno Temple and Evan Peters are charismatic and quirky in a non-annoying way, so the idea of them playing a roadtripping couple here is appealing.

Tangerine – Because it’s the “iPhone movie” from Sundance!

Two Step – Because this stylish, creepy-sounding thriller got good notices at SXSW.

Unexpected – Because if Joe Swanberg releasing twelve movies a year wasn’t enough, now his wife is at it, too.

10,000 KM

10,000 KM

Foreign Language

10,000 KM – Because this Spanish relationship drama (starring Harry Potter’s Natalie Tena) sounds like an interesting meditation on technology.

Ardor – Because Gael Garcia Bernal always picks interesting movies (when he’s not working in Hollywood).

Phoenix – Because the last time German director Christian Petzold teamed up with Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld (on 2013’s Barbara) very good things happened, and it sounds like Phoenix is even better.

Samba – Because I’d watch Charlotte Gainsbourg and Tahar Rahim in anything, so it’s an added bonus that Samba also happens to look like a good movie.

Stations of the Cross – Because this German movie about religion won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival last year.

Cartel Land

Cartel Land


Amy – Because this intimate-looking doc aims to show you Amy Winehouse’s life beyond the incessant, destructive tabloid coverage.

Best of Enemies – Because this Vidal/Buckley doc made big waves at Sundance.

Cartel Land – Because this acclaimed doc shines a light on the issue of drug cartels in Mexico and the resulting tensions with the U.S.

I am Chris Farley – Because why shouldn’t there be a documentary about Chris Farley?

Listen to Me Marlon – Because this highly personal doc is narrated by Marlon Brando’s collection of his own audio recordings

The Look of Silence – Because it’s the follow up from Joshua Oppenheimer to 2013’s The Act of Killing.

Stray Dog – Because we’ve all been waiting for Debra Granik’s follow-up to Winter’s Bone, and even though most of us were probably not expecting her to make a documentary next, I’ll take it.