As the weather starts to warm and the flowers bloom, so too does the movie slate become increasingly more promising, with a whole host of springtime movies that will surely thaw the snowy remnants of winter. After a surprisingly robust March that saw the likes of “The Place Beyond the Pines” and “Spring Breakers,” April has even more killer selections to make your spring that much warmer.
Whether your tastes run to the more esoteric fare or the bigger budget Hollywood spectacle, if your desires lie in sexy thrillers, weepy biopics or scuzzy low-budget horror movies, April pretty much has you covered. Let us know what you’re looking forward to and if we’re totally off our rocker when it comes to these selections.
"Trance" Synopsis: An auction house worker (James McAvoy) gets involved in a scheme to steal a famous painting, but after the job is done, there's just one problem -- he can't remember where he put it. His partners in crime (led by a suavely menacing Vincent Cassel) enlist the aid of a beautiful hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) to try and retrieve the painting by diving into his memories. What You Need To Know: It's a new film by Danny Boyle, the artistically restless genre-hopper who has been responsible for everything from "Trainspotting" to "28 Days Later" to the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire." Boyle shot "Trance" and did a preliminary edit of the film before focusing his attention on last summer's London Olympic Games, where he was the creative director and architect of the jaw-dropping Opening Ceremony. After his duties for the Olympics were fulfilled, he returned to "Trance," finishing the edit and enlisting Rick Smith, from influential electronic band Underworld, to provide a pounding score. The results, as our very own Oli Lyttleton can attest, are a hallucinogenic, hypersexual blast from start to finish (he called it a "head-spinning, psychologically rich take on the crime flick"). It's a thriller that slips in between past and present, between memory and fantasy, giving psychedelic flourishes to what could have been an otherwise one-dimensional piece. It's also surprisingly emotionally resonant, commenting on how we construct the memory of relationships versus what they actually were in real life. If you liked this year's psychosexual thriller "Side Effects," it's kind of like that but cranked up to 11 and with every colored strobe light in the zip code blinking at once. Release Date: April 5th (limited); expanding in the weeks to come.
"Upstream Color" Synopsis: Okay…this is a little tougher to describe than most… A young woman named Kris (Amy Seimetz) is mysteriously drugged one night and robbed. Much later, Kris meets Jeff (writer/director/cinematographer/composer Shane Carruth), who has gone through a similar ordeal, and the two try to puzzle out what has happened to them and how their experiences fit in with a much larger picture. What You Need to Know: "Upstream Color" makes the return, after nearly a decade, of Carruth, whose last film, the twisty, micro-budgeted time-travel saga "Primer" was a surprise smash at Sundance in 2004. The new film is just as hard to puzzle out but has an emotional component that "Primer" sorely lacked, and it's clear that Carruth has grown as a filmmaker in the years since his debut. (He spent much of that time working on an ambitious feature called "A Topiary," only to give up after funding repeatedly fell through.) The film justifiably dazzled our very own Rodrigo Perez, who saw it at Sundance, saying that it could be read as "an exhaled, ephemeral dream where time, space and madness intermingle." And certainly a movie as (to use Rod's phrase) "beguilingly enigmatic" as this will produce a multitude of reactions. We know people who loved it, others who hated it, and others still who are still trying to put things together enough to solidify an opinion (as our headline noted: "Results May Vary"). But that's part of the movie's fun. Seek out a theater that is playing "Upstream Color," make dinner reservations for afterwards, watch it, and then discuss it all night long like a pot-fueled dorm room philosophical debate. It's that kind of experience. And it's very good to have Mr. Carruth back. Hopefully the next one won't take a decade. Release date: April 5th (out on DVD and Blu-ray May 7th)
"Simon Killer" Synopsis: Simon (Brady Corbet from "Melancholia") is newly graduated and freshly dumped, and travels to Paris to "find himself" like so many young Americans attempt while abroad. Instead, he loses his money, falls in love with a prostitute, and starts to lose his mind, until his homicidal tendencies begin to creep to the forefront. What You Need to Know: The latest film from the promisingly unflinching Antonio Campos (who last directed minor indie sensation "Afterschool"), those looking for a straight-up genre piece will likely be disappointed. Instead, "Simon Killer" is one of those unsettling slow-burn descents into madness, albeit one with a really cool soundtrack (included: tracks from LCD Soundsystem, Spectral Display, and a bouncy Japanese girl group cover of Miike Snow's "Animal"). Corbet is hypnotic – you literally cannot look away, no matter how hard you try. Bringing a strange relatability to the character -- we've all been hung up on that one relationship to the point that we can't shut up about it -- it's an intriguing piece of work. Our own William Goss, who saw the film at last year's Sundance Film Festivalcalled it a "noir-tinged, noose-tightening ordeal" and acknowledged Campos' distinct talent. Not for the faint of heart. Release date: April 5th