Film & Photography

All The Cool Stuff Coming To Netflix In April 2024

Updated: Apr 04, 2024 11:26
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This April’s premieres on Netflix have some worthy offerings even if it won’t necessarily take viewers’ minds off the trash fire nature of current events.  There’s an animated update of a classic Norman Lear comedy.  The “Train To Busan” director adapts a science fiction body horror manga.  A spinoff series from “The Sandman” updates the boy detective genre.  A British mini-series takes the kitchen stress and pressure seen in “The Bear” and turns the dial to 11.  And for those who just want something unapologetically trashy, why not go with seeing Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, and Kevin Bacon in a tale of sex, lies, and violence? 

Whether you want to learn more about the legendary Hollywood composer whose music you heard in “Dune Chapter Two” or finally see Pedro Almodovar’s answer to “Brokeback Mountain,” you’re in luck this month.


April 1

Baby Driver–One of Edgar Wright’s best films deliriously mixes music and insane car action.  Nearly silent Baby (Ansel Elgort) is fulfilling his penance to criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey).  He serves as wheelman for the robberies Doc plans, but he needs his personally curated music mixes to truly cut loose.  An encounter with a lovely waitress named Debora (Lily James) gives Baby a reason to go straight.  But his proverbial “one last job” for Doc ends as badly as the viewer expects, and the consequences are not pretty.

Born On The Fourth Of July–Oliver Stone’s adaptation of Ron Kovic’s autobiography can be called in Roger Ebert’s words, an artist’s apology for the U.S.’ disastrous involvement in Vietnam.  In the early 1960s, Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise in a stunning performance) makes his personal sacrifice for America by signing up to fight in Vietnam.  But dreams of glory soon melt away in the harshness of a battlefield mistake and an injury that leaves him a paraplegic.  On returning home, Kovic soon becomes a rageaholic on an emotional downward spiral.  How can the vet deal with the pain of his Vietnam experiences?

Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka Season 1–In this classic anime dramedy, protagonist Eikichi Onizuka seems to be unlikely teacher material.  He’s a former bike gang leader, lazy, and a pervert who has a fondness for teenage girls.  It’s expected that his becoming homeroom teacher for Holy Forest Academy’s infamous Class 3-4 will end with his being yet another casualty of the class’ history of psychologically breaking its teachers.  Instead, thanks to Onizuka’s spectacularly unconventional methods and his focus on the roots of his students’ problems, he might unexpectedly become the greatest teacher in all of Japan.

Role Models–David Wain (“Wet Hot American Summer”) directed this comedy starring Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd.  Minotaur energy drink traveling salesmen Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) have differing attitudes towards their job.  Wheeler loves it while Danny thinks it’s a career dead end.  One disastrous work day ends with the two salesmen being ordered to do 150 hours community service in the Sturdy Wings big brother program.  The trouble is, neither Danny nor Wheeler can find common ground with their charges.  Wheeler gets Ronnie Shields, who has a history of driving away previous Big Brothers.  Danny gets the shy teen and obsessed medieval LARPer Augie Farks.  

Wild Things–Cult classic or trashy guilty pleasure?  You decide.  The upscale Miami suburb of Blue Bay gets rocked by claims from wealthy high schooler Kelly van Ryan (Denise Richards) and white trash student Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) that high school counselor Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) raped them.  But detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) is determined to prove the trio is working a big money scam.  Deaths, double crosses, and deceptions fly faster in this film than bullets in a John Woo movie.

April 3

Crime Scene Berlin: Nightlife Killer–The newest installment of Joe Berlinger’s “Crime Scene” franchise turns to the “Darkroom Murderer”’s crime spree.  In 2012, the Berlin party scene was rocked by a trio of murders by an unknown perpetrator.  The murderer secretly drugged the male victims before killing and robbing them.  The press dubbed the killer “The Darkroom Murderer,” as one crime was committed in a gay men club’s dark room.  Yet the perpetrator eluded capture until one near-victim survived the would-be killer’s attack…and his stolen credit card was used by the perp in an attempt to buy a train ticket.

April 4

Ripley–It’s a new adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith classic The Talented Mr. Ripley, with Andrew Scott as the complicated sociopath Tom Ripley.  Wealthy Mr. Greenleaf has hired Ripley to travel to Europe and convince his prodigal vacationing son Dickie to return home to the United States.  What the rich old man doesn’t know is that Ripley is not really friends with his son.  But the con artist and murderer is quite happy to use the job to ingratiate himself into Dickie’s social circles for his own ends.  

April 5

Good Times

Parasyte: The Grey–Director Yeon Sang-ho (“Train To Busan”) loosely adapts Hitoshi Iwaaki’s science fiction body horror manga “Parasyte.”  Young Su-in wakes up in a hospital bed after a suspicious car accident.  She survived the accident thanks to a telepathic parasitic creature merging with her body.  However, this merger puts Su-in in a new level of danger.  There’s a deadly war going on between humans and parasitic creatures from outer space.  Choi Joon-kyung leads the Grey Team, whose job is to eradicate the parasites.  Su-in and her parasite have achieved a level of symbiosis that prevents them from going homicidal.   Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many other human-parasite symbiotes.

Scoop–How did the BBC get the Duke Of York to publicly discuss his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein?  This drama tells the behind-the-scenes story of how that interview was secured.  It would be a process that involved navigating palace vetoes, breaking through to Prince Andrew’s inner circle, and the resulting negotiations.  Gillian Anderson plays “Newsnight” lead presenter Emily Maitlis, who conducted the interview.  Billie Piper plays “Newsnight” producer Sam McAlister, who managed to book Prince Andrew.  Rufus Sewell plays the Prince, while Keeley Hawes plays Prince Andrew’s private secretary Amanda Thirsk.

April 10

Anthracite–In 1994, the members of a cult committed mass suicide at an anthracite mine near a rustic hamlet in the Alps.  In the present day, two different people investigate the cult’s legacy for different reasons.  Former motocross champion Jaro Gatsi has been falsely accused of murdering a woman in the manner of one of the cult’s rituals.  Ultra-geek Ida is trying to find her father, who disappeared while investigating the cult.  Could something in their pasts provide answers?

The Hijacking Of Flight 601–The dramatic mini-series recounts the longest aerial hijacking in Latin American history.  In 1973, a pair of armed revolutionaries hijack Flight 601 and threaten to blow up the plane unless the Colombian government releases 50 political prisoners and pays them a hefty ransom.  When the government refuses to deal with terrorists, the revolutionaries start fatally shooting one passenger per hour while forcing the plane to fly across Latin America.  How do the Captain and two courageous flight attendants outwit the hijackers and get the remaining passengers home safely?   

April 12

Amar Singh Chamkila–This biopic recounts the life of Amar Singh Chamkila, the man known as Punjab’s original rockstar of the masses.  He rose from poverty to wealth with songs frankly speaking of marital infidelity, youthful angst, and drug use in India’s villages.  The lyrics of Chamkila’s daring songs couldn’t be ignored by Indian society…but neither could Indian society’s more conservative elements easily swallow them.  Perhaps that’s why Chamkila, his wife Amarjot Kaur, and two members of their band were assassinated on March 8, 1988.  Score and soundtrack by the legendary AR Rahman.

The Grimm Variations

Good Times Season 1–In this animated update of the classic Norman Lear sitcom, viewers follow the fourth generation of the Evans family as they struggle to keep their heads above water while living in Apartment 17C in one of Chicago’s last remaining housing projects.  The new cast members include Junior (Jay Pharaoh), Grey (Marsai Martin), and Beverly (Yvette Nicole Brown).  Executive produced by Seth MacFarlane and the late Norman Lear.

Strange Way Of Life–Director Pedro Almodovar takes his shot at the Western genre with this short film that might be called an answer film to “Brokeback Mountain.”  After a 25-year separation, Silva (Pedro Pascal) rides back into the town where old lover Jake (Ethan Hawke) is now the sheriff.  But is Silva’s return an attempt to rekindle their old affair?  Or a diversion to prevent Jake from arresting Silva’s son Joe for murder?  

April 15

Hans Zimmer: Hollywood Rebel–This cinematic biography looks at the life and work of movie composer Hans Zimmer.  Over his 40-year career, Zimmer’s scores have broken all the rules on writing music for movies and introduced new generations of moviegoers to the power of orchestral music.  He’s worked with such luminaries as Denis Villeneuve, Christopher Nolan, and Steve McQueen.  Now learn about Zimmer’s life, which stretched from post-war Germany to the heights of Hollywood royalty.

April 16

Knocked Up–Judd Apatow’s acclaimed comedy follows the unexpected effects of a one-night stand.  Ambitious Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) celebrates her being hired as on-camera talent for E!  She gets utterly drunk with immature Canadian slacker Ben (Seth Rogan), whom she meets at a nightclub.  Their one-night stand together is marked by Ben accidentally failing to wear a condom.  When Alison discovers two months later that she’s pregnant, she and Ben eventually decide to see if they can make a relationship work.  But does Ben even support and take responsibility for Alison?  Can Alison hide her pregnancy from her bosses and avoid being fired? 

Dead Boy Detectives

April 17

The Grimm Variations Season 1–This anime anthology series created by CLAMP with animation produced by Wit Studio reimagines the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.  Charlotte is the younger sister of brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.  The innocent and curious child’s wondering whether the characters in her brothers’ stories truly lived happily ever after leads her to imagine different endings which gives the darker side of human desire its due.      

April 21

Duran Duran: There’s Something You Should Know–For something light, why not try this documentary tracing the history of key New Romantic band Duran Duran?  Follow them from their Birmingham roots and early days at the Rum Runner club to their explosion in America via the music videos the band made for MTV.  But success doesn’t necessarily mean the band over the years easily navigated around such problems as cocaine abuse, band member friction, and keeping the band’s sound relevant.

April 22

Ahead Of The Curve–Franco Stevens founded Curve magazine in the 1990s thanks to a fistful of credit cards, tons of chutzpah, and an insanely lucky run at the racetrack.  The magazine wound up delivering over the years both the queer representation Stevens didn’t see growing up and varieties of intersectional lesbian experience.  As Jen Rainin’s documentary shows, Stevens is now dealing with both making life adjustments in the wake of a disabling injury and examining current queer intersectional work to find ways to ensure the magazine’s continued existence.

Brigands: The Quest For Gold–In mid-19th century Italy (after the Unification of the Italian States), Philomena flees her cruel but wealthy husband and takes a valuable map with her.  The map would have helped her Piedmont leader husband track down a solid crop of gold located somewhere in Southern Italy, and use the proceeds to finance his crushing of the local brigands.  But as the fleeing wife discovers, the brigands aren’t monsters as much as rebels trying to gain liberty and survive.  It’s not kumbaya time for Philomena, though.  More experienced and ruthless female bandits aren’t terribly welcoming to her.  Meanwhile, the State attempts to turn the brigand groups against one another.  

Boiling Point

April 24 

Deliver Me–Why does a 14-year-old boy shoot his best friend in the back of the head?  The answer, in this adaptation of Malin Persson Giolito’s novel of the same name, depends on understanding how two childhood friends’ relationship gets torn apart by gang violence and class differences.  Dogge and Billy are unlikely best friends who hail from opposite sides of the highway.  Dogge may live a seemingly privileged existence in Stockholm’s Ronnviken district, but his parents are negligent addicts.  Billy lives with his poor family of first generation immigrants in the Varinge towers.  When a Varinge gang leader recruits Billy and Dogge to become drug runners, a future tragedy is set in motion.  

April 25

City Hunter–Can this new live-action adaptation of Tsukasa Hojo’s popular manga and anime still fly in a world which has seen the arrival of the #MeToo movement?  Ryo Saeba works as a “sweeper” in the gritty underbelly of modern-day Tokyo’s Shinjuku District.  On one hand, he coolly displays his insane fighting skills and eye-popping marksmanship.  On the other hand, he’s an unabashed lecher.  (How much of Saeba’s “humorous” sexual harassment from the source material will make it into this film is up in the air.)  This film follows Saeba reluctantly partnering with the tomboyish Kaori Makimura to investigate the murder of his former partner, who’s also Kaori’s brother.

Dead Boy Detectives–Waiting for the next season of “The Sandman?”  Tide yourself over with this spinoff from the series.  Teenagers Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland have several things in common.  They’re best friends, they like solving mysteries…and they’re ghosts.  The two boys, who were born decades apart, have jointly decided to forego the afterlife to have adventures together as supernatural detectives investigating paranormal cases.  Don’t be surprised if Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s Death of the Endless makes an appearance on the show.

April 29

Boiling Point Season 1–Thought “The Bear” was too emotionally intense?  This mini-series follows the efforts of Carly, a gifted chef who’s opened a new high-end restaurant called Point North.  She wants to make her own mark in the culinary world.  But meeting that goal means facing with her crew the pressures to stay profitable, finding ways to draw in new and hungry customers, delivering quality food day in and out, and somehow making their complicated personal lives work.  Yes, it’s a sequel to an earlier film of the same name.  However, all you need to know from that film is that Carly’s mentor Andy hasn’t voluntarily left the restaurant world.       

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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.