I find it fitting that while we find ourselves in the middle of the most unprecedented box office occurrence of the millennium, I settled on three smaller movies for the top spots in April’s best movies. Maybe I’m a fraud, maybe I’m a highfalutin lover of capital “C” Cinema, maybe I’m well-reasoned, or maybe, juuuuust maybe, I unearthed a few hidden gems for you to watch down the line. (There’s probably more than one correct answer there — I’ll let you decide which are the most fitting.) All I know is that I found these films completely and utterly captivating in their own ways.
In combination with the honorable mentions that I’ll lay out in due course, April was easily the best month of film in 2019 so far. Whatever kind of film fan you are, chances were solid that you could find something to sink your teeth into.
Here are my picks for the best movies of April 2019:
#3: Under the Silver Lake
It’s a bit unfortunate that we had to wait as long as we did for Under the Silver Lake to release. The film premiered at Cannes last year to split reactions from fans and critics, leading to A24 pushing the film’s release date back from June 22nd, 2018 to December 7th, 2018. Rumors swirled that director David Robert Mitchell went back to the editing room to tinker with the film in that time, although reps from A24 have denied that claim.
And then, right before its release in December, a Blu-Ray rip made its way onto piracy networks, forcing a move (along with other factors) to Under the Silver Lake‘s final release date.
But as for the movie itself, it’s difficult not to get intoxicated by Mitchell’s cryptic vision. It’s understandable why some would view his follow-up to It Follows as a bit of a mess — tackling the idea of conspiracy theories, the film intentionally becomes more and more obscure and strange with every revelation, or lack thereof.
Andrew Garfield anchors Under the Silver Lake with a Travis Bickle-light descent into chaos, adding a new layer to the shaggy-dog detective movie formula. With pieces of The Long Goodbye to even The Big Lebowski, the puzzles of Under the Silver Lake become more curious by the second — sometimes becoming even downright hilarious or terrifying…or both.
I’m still processing this movie as I write, and with the ambition on display from Mitchell, this rumination will continue indefinitely.
#2: Little Woods
You’ve seen this setup in a film before: the lead character is looking to escape her past and earn a fresh start in the last week of her parole only to get dragged back into a less than legal game (in this case, selling prescription medication) to help the lives of others. The magic of Little Woods comes in its execution. Unlike many films that have this kind of story, Little Woods isn’t a thriller, building tension until all hell breaks loose in the third act as a wild goose chase involving law enforcement takes place. Though there are plenty of tense moments throughout, director Nia DaCosta is much more concerned about the toll that living in such a way takes on someone.
It’s not an accident that the title of the film is “Little Woods”, the name of the North Dakota town in which the movie is set. DaCosta paints a picture of a certain walk of life in this corner of the country, where blue-collar workers not only rely on living paycheck to paycheck, but never have the chance to better themselves without resorting to other, less legal means. I can’t recommend this movie enough.
#1: High Life
I’ll state the obvious first: High Life isn’t for everyone. In fact, it may be the most A24 movie in the history of A24 in that it has no concern if you’re onboard or not. It obfuscates itself with circular editing and stoic figures, opting for gross, animalistic displays of sexual frustration and anger above all else.
High Life isn’t a comfortable experience; it largely hopes to shock and confound with every move. To that end, the cast goes for broke when given the opportunity, both literally and figuratively foaming at the mouth to discuss humanity and its reliance on feeling tethered to some kind of warmth or growth. Robert Pattinson continues his rather impeccable post-Twilight career with an amazing performance, and, as for Juliette Binoche, well.. she’s at the center of one of the most head-scratching, disgusting, bizarre, and oddly titillating scenes of the decade.
For many, this will be first time viewing a Claire Denis film with this being her first English-language film. I hope this film spurs many to go backwards through her filmography. With time, I see High Life joining the same group as Under the Skin, Children of Men, and Ex Machina (among others) as modern science fiction marvels.
*To read the site’s full review of High Life, please click here.
In Case You (Or I) Missed It
I couldn’t make it through this article without mentioning a certain movie that is most likely going to become the highest grossing movie of all-time. Nor could I do the same for a few other movies that are equally as lovely even if they aren’t setting the world on fire from a financial perspective.
Here’s a few honorable mentions:
Shazam! is one of the corniest, goofiest, silliest movies of recent memory, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. As the superhero landscape has molded and evolved since Iron Man back in 2008, there’s been a growing propensity to make our blockbusters more serious than ever, so much so that they’ve forgotten one of the most vital things about the genre: the pure ecstasy of developing superpowers. I could watch Zachary Levi smile with glee for an eternity; I hope Warner Bros. and DC allow me that opportunity with sequels down the road.
Endgame is the finish that many hoped they would get. Though it is consistently at risk at crumbling under its own weight with a dizzying amount of moving parts and star power in each frame, my analysis of Endgame comes down to one important factor: there’s so much cool shit in this film!
The latest Netflix rom-com boils down to merely hanging out with Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, and DeWanda Wise for an hour and a half, but their chemistry together is more than enough to make it worthwhile.
Side note: Someone Great is the first time I’ve seen someone use a Juul in a movie. So…yay?
Channeling the troubled grunge stars of the 90’s, Elisabeth Moss is endlessly watchable as Becky Something. Her Smell is all about confrontation, no matter where our lead character takes, and though it might be too much for some to handle, it’s certainly worth it in the end.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on the best movies of April 2019? Comment down below!
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