Pick of the Litter – April 2017

BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

The Fate of the Furious

(Universal) Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron. The first post-Paul Walker film in the franchise shakes things up quite a bit. Dominic Toretto does the unthinkable; he turns on his gang, his family. He has thrown his lot in with a manipulative cyber terrorist. Stopping the two of them becomes a big priority and they’re going to have help from an unexpected quarter – the man they just put away. April 14

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The Transfiguration

(Strand) Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Lloyd Kaufman, Anna Friedman. This is a unique take on vampire films. Milo is a young African-American teen who is fascinated with vampires to the point of obsession. He meets Sophie who is also an outsider and the two form a strong bond but that bond is beginning to push Milo further into the belief that drinking human blood will transform him into an actual vampire. April 7

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

(Abramorama) Denzel Washington (voice), Common, Bill Clinton, Carlos Santana. John Coltrane is without question one of the brightest lights in the jazz pantheon. His music transcends boundaries or even description – it is music that is felt and experienced more than listened to. He remains today as influential a musician as he has ever been and his story deserves to be told and his music heard by those who haven’t yet had a chance to experience the miracle that is John Coltrane. April 14

Queen of the Desert

(IFC) Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, Robert Pattinson. There are few things in life that make me as happy as hearing “a new Werner Herzog film.” While this isn’t strictly new (it was originally released in 2015 and is only now making it to the US) it is at least new to us. This is based on the extraordinary but true story of Gertrude Bell, a British woman of many talents who held a particular fascination for the Bedouin on whose affairs she advised the British government during the early years of the 20th century. As policies changed, she found herself at odds with her own government – and taking the side of the people whom she cherished. April 14

Demain

(Under the Milky Way) Melanie Laurent, Cyril Dion, Olivier De Schutter, Michelle Long. When French actress Laurent was pregnant, her activist husband told her that her child could live in a world of food shortages, clean water shortages, overpopulation and scarce energy. She was determined not just to find a way to avoid this future but to seek out alternatives to it. This is a documentary Laurent and her husband made looking for viable solutions to all of those problems now before it is too late. April 14

Finding Oscar

(FilmRise) Kate Doyle, Scott Greathead, Sebastian Rotella, Fredy Peccerelli. In 1982, a massacre occurred in the tiny Guatemalan village of Dos Erres. In the 35 years since the tragedy, justice has yet to be served and the victims lie in unquiet graves. There is hope in the form of a little boy who may have survived the massacre and may be able to finally shed light on what happened and bring those that perpetrated this heinous crime to justice. The search for that boy – now a man – is not an easy one however. April 14

Phoenix Forgotten

(Cinelou) Matt Biedel, Ana Dela Cruz, Florence Hartigan, Jeanine Jackson. While many feel that found footage horror films have run their course, it has to be said that having an A-list director like Ridley Scott involved in the production is at least intriguing. The incident that this is based on – the Phoenix lights – actually did happen. The footage of three teens who disappeared shortly thereafter did not. Doesn’t mean it can’t be a cool and scary movie though. April 21

 

 Bang! The Bert Berns Story

(Abramorama) Steven van Zandt (narrator), Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Van Morrison. Bert Berns was a songwriter and producer of some of the biggest rock and soul hits of the Sixties. Songs like “Twist and Shout,” “Hang on Sloopy” and “Another Piece of My Heart” all sprung from his fertile mind. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 and some say it would have been sooner but for his association with Tommy Ryan – a high ranking member of the mob – which threw a cloud over his career. April 26

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