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Ozark Series Finale and More on Netflix this April

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It’s not surprising that the upcoming series finales of “Grace And Frankie” and “Ozark” have drawn a lot of April Netflix chatter.  The Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda comedy is the streamer’s longest running original series.  Meanwhile, the intense crime drama starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney still has viewers wondering if these characters will get away with it all or not.  Add to the mix the final season of the USA Network crime drama “Queen Of The South,” and you already have an intense programming month. 

Ozark: Season 4 | Part 2 Official Trailer | Netflix

But that’s before we add in the April premieres and returning series.  On the premiere side, former POTUS Obama introduces viewers to amazing natural parks from around the world; director Richard Linklater presents an animated recollection of his late-’60s childhood; a Dutch mini-series recounts the early days of the first erotic phone service; and Stan Sakai’s famed comic “Usagi Yojimbo” gets a science fictional update.

But several of the returning series aren’t slouches either.  Natasha Lyonne gets into a different type of time-travel trouble with the new season of “Russian Doll.”  “Ultraman” is back to punch out more extraterrestrial kaiju.  And hopefully Dr. Seuss won’t spin in his grave at the thought of the new season of “Green Eggs And Ham.”

If what’s mentioned above doesn’t sound interesting, there’s enough variety in what’s being offered this month that viewers are likely to find something they’ll stream.   

April 1

Apollo 10 1/2

 

Apollo 10 ½: A Space-Age Childhood–Director Richard Linklater’s third venture into animated feature film-making begins with asking “what if NASA’s first attempt at creating a lunar module to land on the Moon only had room for an adventurous pre-teen?”  That pre-teen is Stanley, the Linklater stand-in.  But the details of his adventure soon give way to grown-up Stanley’s (voice of Jack Black) reminiscences of a childhood filled with rides on the back of flatbed trucks or creating songs for push button telephones.

The Bubble–In Judd Apatow’s pandemic era comedy, a group of film actors are holed up at Cliveden House hotel in Berkshire.  They’re there to complete “Cliff Beasts 6,” the newest installment of a crappy dinosaur action film franchise.  However, the pandemic bubble created at the hotel is not the only bubble these thespians are living in.  There’s also the emotional bubble that comes with being a working actor.  When these actors’ individual emotional bubbles collide with those of their fellow actors and/or the hotel staff, watch out.

Full Metal Jacket–Famed director Stanley Kubrick’s legendary Vietnam War movie adapts Gustav Hasford’s novel “The Short-Timers.”  Privates James T. “Joker” Davis (Matthew Modine) and Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence (Vincent D’Onofrio, “Daredevil”) undergo brutal Marine basic training on Parris Island under the eye of Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey).  Davis eventually graduates and goes off to Vietnam as a reporter for Stars And Stripes.  But he arrives just as the Tet Offensive begins and he soon finds himself caught up in the Battle of Hue.  As is memorably said “Vietnam may kill me, but it can’t make me care.”   

The Last Bus Season 1–When’s the last time a school field trip turned into a fight to survive the robot apocalypse?  That’s what befalls the group of smart but emotionally mismatched students in this British comedy.  The field trip had begun as a chance to see the official release of tech billionaire Dalton Monkhouse’s (Robert Sheehan, “The Umbrella Academy”) newest invention, the Genie Orbs.  These AI-powered drones are designed to clean up the environment.  Except that the drones carry out that function by vaporizing the audience members.  The students on the field trip manage to escape on a rickety old double-decker bus.  But as they soon learn to their horror, the Genie Orbs have been getting their inner Dalek on by busily exterminating humans around the world.  

The Last Bus

Tiger And Bunny: The Beginning et al.–As both “Tiger And Bunny” movies and the second series are being shown this month on Netflix, they’re all lumped together in this entry.  This anime asks what would happen if you mixed Marvel-type superheroes with NASCAR drivers?  45 years ago in Stern Bild City (think a re-imagined NYC), superbeings referred to as Noted Entities with eXtraordinary Talents (NEXT) started appearing.  Some of these beings became superheroes.  But being a superhero in this universe means you work for a sponsor company and also advertise other companies on your uniform.  The exploits of these heroes are broadcast on Hero TV as a sort of reality show competition to crown the year’s King Of Heroes.  Veteran loner hero Wild Tiger gets assigned a new younger partner named Barnaby Brooks, Jr., whom Tiger refers to as Bunny.  Both heroes may have the same superpower, but they have very different ideas about how a superhero should act.

We The Animals–Jeremiah Zagar adapts Justin Torres’ semi-autobiographical novel with a mixture of live action and animated sequences.  10-year-old Jonah lives with brothers Manny and Joel in Utica, New York.  The mixed-race boys run wild through the town and countryside, stealing food  from neighbors’ gardens and stores.  Their parents Paps and Ma are locked in an emotionally abusive relationship.  The boys try to weather the ups and downs of that relationship, but Jonah has an added burden.  He’s getting an inkling that he likes boys.  

April 6

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story–For four decades, British TV and radio personality Jimmy Savile was so beloved by the public that he was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.  It wasn’t until after Savile’s death in 2011 that stories began leaking out about the media personality’s long record of sexual assault and abuse.  An investigation would reveal that there were over 450 such assault and abuse allegations…and that the youngest of Savile’s alleged victims was 5 years old at the time.  While recounting the whole sordid story, the documentary faces the big question: how did Savile escape justice all those years?

Palpito Season 1–This series from Colombia begins with the interruption of young Camila’s wedding day thanks to her sudden cardiac arrest.  She needs a heart transplant to continue living, yet the wait for a replacement heart is a long one.  Camila’s wealthy husband doesn’t want to see his new wife die, so he decides to cut corners by hiring a gang specializing in organ trafficking.  The gang members accomplish the job by murdering Valeria in a traffic accident and extracting her heart.  When Valeria’s husband Simon learns his wife was murdered, he plunges into the world of organ traffickers in search of revenge.  But what happens when Simon falls in love with the woman whose life was saved by Valeria’s heart?  

April 7

Senzo: Murder Of A Soccer Star–Senzo Meyiwa was the much-loved captain of South Africa’s national soccer team.  But in 2014, he was shot and killed in Vosloorus, supposedly during a home invasion gone wrong.  Yet despite the passage of years, there are still questions about the homicide that keep the case open.  This docuseries will go over the crime and attempt to unpack the truth behind this high-profile crime.

April 8

Dirty Lines–One of April Netflix’s hidden gems might be this Dutch drama which recounts the strange but true story behind Europe’s first erotic phone line.  In 1980s Amsterdam, the end of the Cold War has brought among the younger generation a strong interest in sex.  Brothers Frank and Ramon Stigter want to capitalize on this desire with their new company Teledutch by creating telephone erotic sex lines.  They hire sexually uninformed psychology student Marly Salomon to record audio for these lines.  Offering anonymous sex to anyone with a phone becomes an immediate success, and the Stigter brothers become rich.  Marly soon becomes Teledutch’s resident sex expert thanks to her learning about what people want to hear and what they desire.  The ex-student’s plans for expanding the Teledutch offerings soon prove an embarrassment to her more conservative parents.  But that’s not the only problem faced by this new phone sex empire.

Green Eggs And Ham

Green Eggs And Ham: The Second Serving–This Very Loose animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book of the same name follows the adventures of friends Sam-I-Am (Adam Devine) and Guy-Am-I (Michael Douglas).  (Douglas’ character is the unnamed person in the Seuss original who refused to eat green eggs and ham.)  In the new season, Sam travels to East Flurbia in search of his missing mother.  Sam and Guy soon find themselves involved in a globe-trotting adventure that’s more than a little connected to Dr. Seuss’ “The Butter Battle Book.”  Expect Keegan-Michael Key’s Narrator to wonder again if certain series events were in the original book.

April 12

Hard Cell Season 1–Before Catherine Tate became known in America as the “Doctor Who” companion Donna Noble, she was an accomplished comedian.  This new mockumentary series sees Tate playing multiple characters in a story set at the fictional women’s prison HMP Woldsley.  A documentary crew has come to the prison to capture life among both inmates and staff.  While that’s going on, the inmates are rehearsing a musical directed by ex-EastEnders star Cheryl Fergison.

April 13

Our Great National Parks Season 1–Former POTUS Barack Obama is your guide for this docuseries that visits some of the world’s best national parks.  This is an armchair tourist’s chance to see surfing hippos and red elephants among other natural wonders.  The show will take viewers to places as varied as California’s Monterey Bay and Indonesia’s Gunung Leuser National Park.  Producer James Honeyborne previously worked on the docuseries “Blue Planet II.”

Hard Cell

April 14

Ultraman Season 2–At long last, it’s the next season of this reboot of the classic Japanese action hero.  Young Shinjiro Hayata discovers that his father was the original Ultraman, and that he’s inherited his father’s ultra abilities.  By the time young Hayata has gotten comfortable with his powers, he’s defeated the menace of Ace Killer with the aid of his two Ultra “brothers.”  The new season will see Ultraman and his brothers face a new big bad known as Alien Pedant.  Meanwhile, Bemular’s big plan proceeds apace while the goals of the Star Cluster Council and Agent Adad remain huge question marks.

April 16

Ouija: Origin Of Evil–Before director Mike Flanagan freaked out Netflix viewers with “The Haunting Of Hill House,” he made this prequel to the horror movie “Ouija.”  It focuses on the backstory of Lina Zander from the first film.  In 1967 Los Angeles, Lina is the teenage daughter of fake fortune teller Alice.  She convinces her mother to incorporate the Ouija board into her psychic act.  When Lina’s younger sister Doris starts manifesting a real spirit world connection, the Zanders mistakenly believe it’s the blossoming of real psychic powers supposedly inherited from Grandmother Zander.  The truth is, Doris has been possessed by a very creepy supernatural entity, which means trouble is on its way.

April 19

White Hot: The Rise And Fall Of Abercrombie And Fitch–Back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, Abercrombie & Fitch was the It Brand to wear.  The company created an All American image revolving around beautiful models, pulsing dance beats, and a trademark cologne.  But as director Alison Klayman’s documentary shows, A&F’s air of exclusivity was married to a racially discriminatory culture that excluded non-white workers and produced at least one racially offensive clothing line.

April 20 

Russian Doll

Russian Doll Season 2–If Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) thought she no longer had to endure her Groundhog Days on acid, she has another think coming.  Set four years after the events of the first season, the new season will see Nadia and Alan discover the unwanted answer to the question “what can be worse than enduring endless death?”  The elements of that answer include: a time portal located in a notorious Manhattan spot, an era-spanning intergenerational adventure, waking up in a subway car, and emerging from a grave.  

April 22

Along For The Ride–In this adaptation of the popular YA novel by Sarah Dessen, college-bound Auden decides to spend her last free summer with her father in picturesque Colby Beach.  But instead of partying with other teens, she prefers to roam the town’s streets at night and avoid other people.  An encounter with an insomniac named Eli changes Auden’s plans.  The two wind up fulfilling the childhood dreams Auden had set aside, and learn a bit about themselves in the process.

The Seven Lives Of Lea Season 1–In this French drama, Lea accidentally stumbles across the corpse of Ismael, a teenager who disappeared thirty years earlier.  But the bigger consequence from the incident occurs when she wakes up one day in the year 1991…and in the body of a different person.  When this time-traveling waking occurs more than once, Lea soon becomes determined to find a way to prevent Ismael’s death.

April 27

Bullsh*t The Game Show–”Deal Or No Deal” host Howie Mandel hosts this new game show where what you actually know is less important than what you appear to know.  Contestants answer questions to advance up the money ladder.  But advancement depends on either giving the correct answer or giving an incorrect answer and convincing other contestants that the erroneous answer is right.

Silverton Siege–In 1980 South Africa, Calvin leads a trio of anti-apartheid freedom fighters on a sabotage mission.  When the mission goes sideways, the freedom fighters retreat to a bank, where they take the people inside hostage.  The South African police surround the bank, and it looks like the lives of Calvin and his team are forfeit.  That’s when Calvin gets the idea of demanding that ANC leader Nelson Mandela be released from his brutal life imprisonment on Robben Island in one hour…

April 28

Bubble–The second Netflix movie premiere this month with “bubble” in the title is a science fiction anime.  Tokyo has been cut off from the outside world thanks to a rain of bubbles that defy the laws of gravity.  For some of the young people orphaned by this disaster, they’ve turned the city into an extreme parkour battlefield involving building to building leaps.  Hibiki, one such player known for his dangerous parkour style, makes a mistake which sends him to probable death in the gravity-bending sea.  Fortunately, a mysterious girl known as Uta saves him.  But Uta is more than she appears to be, and the link between the two teens will eventually lead to a world-changing revelation.

Samurai Rabbit

Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles–Stan Sakai’s comic series “Usagi Yojimbo” began as an anthropomorphic tribute to classic samurai cinema.  Over the decades, the series also made frequent forays into Japanese mythology and science fiction.  This new animated action comedy series, made with Sakai’s creative approval, takes place in Neo Edo.  This is an alternate 26th century Japan where science fiction technology is blended with Edo-period design and anthropomorphic animals.  Lead character Yuichi Usagi is a samurai-in-training who’s also a descendant of “Usagi Yojimbo”’s hero Miyamoto Usagi.  As he wanders the country, he’s accompanied by his tokage lizard Spot on his quest to rid Neo Edo of the dangerous Yokai.  Fortunately, Yuichi will have friends in this fight: rhino bounty hunter Gen, mischievous fox thief Kitsune, and cat ninja Chizo.  These friends are also descendants of “Usagi Yojimbo” characters.     

April 29

Youth v. Gov–In 2015, 21 young Americans filed a climate change lawsuit against the U.S. government.  The case, formally referred to as Juliana v. U.S., is known informally as #YouthVGov.  In it, these plaintiffs ranging in age from 14 to 25 claim the U.S. government’s willful actions in creating the climate crisis violates their constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal safety, and property…especially given that they’ll be part of the generation tasked with cleaning up this mess.  This film introduces viewers to the young activists who’ve taken on this incredible challenge and how this legal struggle has changed them.  (Note: As of this writing, the lawsuit is still wending its way through the court system.)

 

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.

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