In a strange but comfortingly personal coincidence, all but three of the following films were screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival ’13 or Glasgow Film Festival ’14 (also released this month, We Are the Freaks and The Sea were part of EIFF13 while Exhibition, Visitors and Half of a Yellow Sun were part of GFF14).
THE DOUBLE | Dir: Richard Ayoade | Released: 04/04
A ticket for The Double sits on my bookshelf, sadly unused. I was unable to attend the screening at this years Glasgow Film Festival, which is a shame as it would’ve been a nice continuation for me after seeing Ayoade’s memorable debut Submarine there in 2011. After a thoroughly impressive break into directing, The Double looks like it continues to display Ayoade’s quirky comic wisdom while delving into a darker, cleverer and fully-formed conceit of surreality with the creativity to suggest an evolutionary and long-lasting career for Moss from The I.T. Crowd. I’d prefer two Mia Wasikowska’s, but two Jesse Eisenberg’s is still a good deal.
NOAH | Dir: Darren Aronofsky | Released: 04/04
Aronofsky’s no stranger to overly-ambitious projects. The Fountain remains one of my most “what if?” films, watching it three times in as many days to try and find more appreciation for its profound premise, so who knows how much visceral scorn Aronofsky has for the cursed project that had to be completed for half of its original budget, and how much he has used it as fuel in his latest feature. For me he seems to be at his best when adopting a tunnel vision on one message – Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler – which makes some comments from critics about Noah‘s ironic gluttony of ideas being presented worrisome, if not thought-provoking. Not pandering to the religious community nor to the action movie masses, Aronofsky continues to satisfy his own desires in this powerful looking epic which boasts impressive performances (Russel Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly) but will no doubt spawn many terrible “the book was better” comments. Probably better than Evan Almighty, anyway.
A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM | Dir: Mark Cousins | Released: 04/04
This cine-essay on the depiction of children in film – linked to the behaviour of his young niece and nephew one morning – was a personal highlight from the 2013 Edinburgh Film Festival (and this years Glasgow Youth Film Festival!). It’s an illuminating and endearing documentary, told with passionate and loving care that will be a definite delight for any cinephile. You’ll be teased and tickled by the little glimpses into films that you’ve never heard of but immediately want to discover everything about. Click here for a list of screenings across the UK.
CALVARY | Dir: John Michael McDonagh | Released: 11/04
The Rotten Tomatoes consensus for McDonagh’s previous film, The Guard, reads as a likeable one for his new film! “A violent, crackerjack comedy with a strong Irish flavor and an emminently likable Brendan Gleeson in the main role.” This is nothing to concern yourself with as Calvary has brought acclaim at all its film festival visits, including its place as the Surprise Film at the Glasgow Film Festival where people described it as maturer but no less entertaining successor with an appreciative message on modern-day Christianity. Chris O’Dowd, Aiden Gillen (sporting an excellent mustache), Dylan Moran and Kelly Reilly join Gleeson in an all-star Irish cast for this dark, mysterious comedy about a priest searching for the man who he thinks has threatened murder on him, with McDonagh purposely neglecting to reveal who this killer is thought to be to the audience, making each encounter ooze suspense.
THE LUNCHBOX | Dir: Ritesh Batra | Released: 11/04
In the most unlikely way for two strangers to begin a beautiful bond since Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max, a wife’s homemade lunchbox for her neglectful husband accidentally falls into the hands of a lonely male widower who appreciates every loving second of effort put into its creation. It seems to be universally adored, winning the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award at Cannes 2013. The final third of heartwarming Asian films at this years Glasgow Film Festival (alongside Capturing Dad and The Great Passage) that I sadly missed; the trio will be completed as I definitely won’t miss this upon release. Come for a packed lunch with me in the cinema because this is bound to make you starving.
MAGIC MAGIC | Dir: Sebastián Silva | Released: 18/04
It’s got the psychological thrills of Polanski, the eccentric dark humour of the Coen Brothers and it has Michael Cera creeping the mayonegg’s outta ya! I described it as “stomach churning”, which is exactly how you want to feel in a dark room surrounded by strangers. The worst advertisement for a Chilean holiday is an affecting and unpredictable horror (I think it’s a horror..?) where Juno Temple shines in her paranoia.
LOCKE | Dir: Steven Knight | Released: 18/04
The writer of Peaky Blinders, Dirty, Pretty Things and Eastern Promises brings us a stylish British thriller well worth supporting with a strong, understated character study. A film where Tom Hardy is on screen its entire 85 minute duration can leave no complaints (except his sketchy Welsh accent).
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 | Dir: Marc Webb | Released: 18/04
Ashamedly haven’t seen the first one. Will attempt to reconcile that very shortly! The casting for this franchise has been absolutely spot on but I doubt anything it produces will match Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 – the best superhero movie in this current era. Jamie Foxx can try his best to sway me though.
TRACKS | Dir: John Curran | Released: 25/04
Propelled by some of the most luscious cinematography you’ll see in 2014, a standout performance from Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver (no elaboration needed), Tracks is the true story of Robyn Davidson’s fiercely independent (minus some friendly camels) 1,700 trek across the Australian desert. Some notes in the narrative admittedly do ring false, but this is a thoroughly enjoyable and affecting watch that appropriately documents the action rather than imposingly dramatizing it. Why watch it? Why not! (you’ll get the joke if you watch the film, or even the trailer…)
TRANSCENDENCE | Dir: Wally Pfister | Released: 25/04
I’m not sure if this sci-fi on anti-technology terrorism, radiation poisoning from a laced bullet and is any further grounded in reality than the majority of Johnny Depp’s body of work from the last 15 years, but it’s certainly a welcome change! Depp is programmed from a coma to inhabit a computerized machine to establish communication but he quickly evolves as uncontrollable AI that threatens to assume collective intelligence take over all technology. A darker companion to the universe in Spike Jonze’s Her, perhaps? Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kata Mara, Paul Bettany and the always radiant Rebecca Hall round out the cast in Pfister’s directorial debut after his work as a cinematographer with Christopher Nolan and on films like Moneyball and Lauren Canyon, something I remember very fondly.
What are you looking forward to watching this month?