From the Civil War to The First Omen: A Selection of 10 Exceptional Films to View in April

From the Civil War to The First Omen

This month’s must-watch movies include Alex Garland’s Civil War, an Omen prequel, and a wordless Sasquatch comedy featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough.

Abigail
The new horror comedy, “Reservoir Dogs vs. M3gan,” is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who are known for their works such as the excellent Ready or Not and the past two films in the Scream franchise. Alisha Weir portrays the character of Abigail, the 12-year-old daughter of a wealthy individual, in the musical Matilda. Dan Stevens, Melissa Barrera, and Kathryn Newton portray a group of individuals who are remunerated for the purpose of abducting the protagonist and thereafter providing care for her on a secluded estate. Unbeknownst to them, Abigail may not be a 12-year-old girl but rather a vampire.” The directors stated in Total Film magazine that all of their films contain violent content.” “But I would argue that this is undoubtedly the most bloody. We spent a lot of time apologizing to our actors for this movie! I mean, blood is in the DNA of a vampire movie, and the quantity of blood work in this one is fairly intense! But it’s still entertaining.”
On general distribution from April 19

Coup de Chance

Woody Allen has written and directed more than 50 films, but Coup de Chance is the first of them that isn’t in English. Set in picturesque Paris, his French-language comic thriller stars Lou de Laâge as Fanny, a fine-art dealer; Melvil Poupaud as Jean, her wealthy husband; and Niels Schneider as Alain, a bohemian author who had a fancy on her at school. When Fanny and Alain fall into an affair, she wonders whether she can start a new life with him. But she may have miscalculated how far Jean will go to keep their marriage intact. Coup de Chance “is not a major reinvention, but it does have more spirit and joie de vivre than anything Allen has done in a while,” comments Jonathan Romney in Screen International. “A smart, lively cast reveals that he is actually pretty excellent at directing in French, and the stars seem likewise to be having a good time in this light comedy that takes an unexpectedly dark turn. Allen very much knows what he’s doing.”
Released on April 5 in the US and April 11 in Germany

Sasquatch Sunset

Usually, someone playing in a comedy will have to master pages of sophisticated dialogue, but not in this case. Written and directed by David and Nathan Zellner, Sasquatch Sunset is a wordless film about a family of Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) journeying through the forest on a quest to find others of their kind. These ape-like monsters are played by Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough, together with Nathan Zellner and Christophe Zajac-Denek, but you might not know them, considering that they wear prosthetic make-up and shaggy outfits, and their lines consist of grunts and howls. “It is shamelessly a gross-out comedy,” says Kristy Puchko of Mashable, “urging spectators to laugh over the goopy muck of sex, death, and childbirth. Yet just beyond this sticky surface, there’s an impassioned grief, warning of the disasters mankind brings with our conquering and carelessness… “Sasquatch Sunset is a daringly ambitious and fascinatingly audacious family drama that’s sure to induce chuckles, gasps, and gagging.”

Monkey ManDev Patel distinguished himself as an actor in Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Lion, and The Green Knight. Now he is establishing himself as an action hero, director, producer, and co-writer, too. Co-produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out), Monkey Man is a dark thriller featuring Patel as an orphan who works in an underground fight club in a fictional Indian city and who plans to take revenge on the gangsters who killed his family. “There’s a strong feeling of cultural identity and individuality that infuses every part of this vicious brawler,” says Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting, “one that never forgets that character development and story are just as crucial to guarantee the action has an impact… Patel’s strong, daring vision delivers an epic crowd-pleaser of mythic proportions.” If Monkey Man leaves you with a thirst for more ultra-violent revenge, don’t miss Boy Kills World (released on April 26), starring Bill Skarsgård. Incidentally, Sharlto Copley is in both films.

Civil War

The Civil War is destined to be one of the year’s most polarizing pictures. Written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Men), this political thriller is set in a dystopian near-future in which the United States isn’t united any more. California and Texas have seceded from the rest of the country and now call themselves the Western Alliance. Battling to make sense of the tumult, a team of journalists (Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, and Cailee Spaeny) are on their way to Washington, DC, to question the president (Nick Offerman). But will they be able to reach him before the rebels do? “The Civil War is a furiously convincing and disturbing thing,” argues Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com. “It’s a terrific movie that has its own life force. It’s unlike anything Garland has made. It’s nothing like anything anyone has made.”

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

There’s still no evidence of a new James Bond film being made, but the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming, turns up in Guy Ritchie’s The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. As represented by Freddie Fox, Fleming is an intelligence officer who helps Winston Churchill establish a special forces team during World War Two. The film is taken from a non-fiction book, Churchill’s Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII by Damien Lewis, although the trailer hints that Ritchie’s typically over-the-top romp would make the normal Bond film appear like a documentary. Henry “Superman” Cavill, Alan “Reacher” Ritchson, Eiza González, Henry Golding, and Alex Pettyfer play some of the ungentlemanly warriors.

The First Omen

In Richard Donner’s The Omen (1976), the Antichrist is haunting the streets of London, but he is still a little kid who has yet to reach his full demonic power. Several sequels and a long gap later, it’s time for a prequel that explores why some Catholic grandees are planning to deliver the Antichrist to Earth. Bill Nighy and Ralph Ineson play priests participating in the Satanic conspiracy in Rome, and Nell Tiger Free plays a US nun who stumbles on the truth. “Let’s call a spade a spade here: the bar for these kinds of prequels, sequels, and remakes, especially with these iconic horror franchises, is not particularly high,” Free remarked in SFX magazine. “I think expectations might be low. It will be nice to exhibit what we’ve done, since I don’t think that it’s what people are going to be anticipating, whatever.”

Challengers

Luca Guadagnino, the filmmaker of Call Me by Your Name and Bones and All, excels in sensual dramas about intense and not necessarily healthy relationships. His latest is Challengers, a black comedy set in the realm of professional tennis, where, as the old joke goes, love means nothing. Zendaya stars as Tashi, a former champion who now instructs her husband, Art (Mike Faist). Determined to put an end to his losing record, Tashi signs Art up for a tournament that will match him against Patrick (Josh O’Connor), his former best buddy, and her former boyfriend. The teaser promises hot encounters involving all three of the main characters, but the really sexy thing, according to O’Connor, is the tennis. “The tennis is the sex,” he told Empire magazine. “Those moments are incredibly seductive. The film deals with the tension before and after. The sex they’re all eager for is on the court.”

The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed 

With a score of 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed is a deadpan indie comedy by Joanna Arnow, who writes, directs, and edits, as well as playing the lead part. Inspired by Arnow’s own experiences, the film is a portrait of Ann, a neurotic thirtysomething who is drifting through life in New York. She is stuck in a dispiriting office job, and her most significant long-term relationship is a sex-only arrangement with an older man (Scott Cohen) she barely knows. Could things change when she goes on a date with a laidback musician (Babak Tafti)? “Arnow’s script captures the anxieties and banalities of millennial life with uncanny precision,” comments Hannah Strong in Little White Lies. “It’s a confident, sweet, and deeply funny feature debut that gives a sharp sense of Arnow’s personality and vision and announces her as a bright new spark in the American indie landscape.”

Girls State Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss’s Emmy-winning documentary, Guys State, examined one of the annual week-long get-togethers in which 1,000 American teenage guys had the experience of forming a pretend government, with all the debating and campaigning that entails. The duo’s follow-up investigates an analogous camp for girls, a Girls State, that was conducted in Missouri in 2022 at the same time as an adjacent but separate Boys State. We are shown the friendships being established and the challenges being battled out. But the participants and the filmmakers also notice that the program itself is dripping with sexism: the females are subjected to distinct dress requirements and provided with different activities from the boys. “Moss and McBaine embed with several participants across the political spectrum, with various pains and ambitions, to fascinating effect,” says Adrian Horton in The Guardian. “The film’s chief enjoyment is seeing how motivations transform, character is forged, and the sharpening of the young women’s disparate judgments on the genuinely disappointing differences between boys and girls.”

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