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What to Watch in April 2024

Our monthly guide to all the best film and television coming your way in April...

Film

 

The First Omen (April 5)

It has been almost 50 years since Richard Donner’s seminal horror The Omen first arrived on cinema screens and introduced us to Damien, the antichrist in child form whose chilling exploits would go on to spawn three sequels charting his quest for world domination.

The announcement that a prequel to the original 1976 film was in the works came in 2016, but April will finally see the arrival of The First Omen, which sees much of the action take place in Rome where an American woman sent to work in church discovers a shadowy plot to bring about the arrival of the antichrist.

Directed by Arkasha Stevenson, the new film stars Nell Tiger Free alongside a cast that includes Sônia Braga, Bill Nighy, Ralph Ineson and Tawfeek Barhorn, The First Omen arrives in UK cinemas on April 5 and is sure to provide entertainment for any horror fans who enjoy their scares with a side of biblical prophecy.

 

The Book of Clarence (April 19)

If The First Omen is too gory a take on the religious theme for you, you might want to try The Book of Clarence instead, which explores its biblical subject matter from an altogether more comedic angle. Set in Jerusalem in the year 33 A.D., the story follows a down-on-his-luck Hebrew named Clarence who, observing the rise of a young prophet named Jesus, sets about a dastardly scheme to transform his own fortunes by claiming to be the true messiah – while accumulating as much money and influence as possible in the process.

Starring LaKeith Stanfield alongside a cast that features David Oyelowolo as John the Baptist and Nicholas Pinnock as Jesus, The Book of Clarence is directed by Jeymes Samuel and makes its arrival in UK cinemas on April 19.

 

Monkey Man (April 5)

First emerging n our screens as one of the seemingly endless alumni of Channel 4’s Skins, Dev Patel has since become something of a national treasure, turning in a series of memorable performances since his breakout role in Slumdog Millionaire, including those in films such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Personal History of David Copperfield.

Now, Patel turns his hand to directing – and writing, and producing – making his directorial debut with new action-thriller Monkey Man, in which he also stars as a man living a double life as a masked bareknuckle fighter.

Initially announced in 2018, the project was originally being developed by Netflix, who described Patel’s film as “John Wick in Mumbai.” The official story goes that Jordan Peele, the man behind films such as Us and Nope as well as a reboot of The Twilight Zone, saw an early version and decided the film was too good to be confined to a streaming platform, snapping up the rights from Netflix to give it a cinematic release under his own Monkey Paw Productions instead. However, rumour has it that Netflix had begun to get the jitters over distributing the film in India when it emerged that the film’s plot included references to state corruption from a fictional political movement that bears some uncanny resemblances to Narendra Modi’s BJP and its extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology.

Whatever the truth, the film’s tale of revenge and retribution is sure to keep cinemagoers on the edge of their seats when the film makes its debut in cinemas on April 5.

 

Civil War (April 12)

The latest offering from director Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Ex Machina) is another which examines the worrying political climate of a nation, only this time it’s America that finds itself in the crosshairs. But first let’s just clear something up: we’re not talking about the Civil War of the 1800s here – instead, Garland’s film is rather more preoccupied with its imminent sequel.

Set in the near future, the film stars Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaney and Stephen McKinley-Henderson as a team of journalists travelling across the United States to document the outbreak of the Second American Civil War – the result of a somewhat improbable alliance between the separatist forces of Texas and California.

For fans of comedy series Parks and Recreation, the prospect of Nick Offerman as President of the United States may well be worth a trip to the cinema in itself, but Garland’s films are always entertaining, often thought-provoking, and usually well worth your time.

 

The American Society of Magical Negroes (April 26)

Our final film pick this month is a satirical swipe at racism in America from director Kobi Libii, which centres around a young man named Aren who is introduced to a shadowy secret society of African-Americans possessing magical powers. Their aim? Keep black people safe… by keeping white people happy.

Starring Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, Drew Tarver and Michaela Watkins, Libii’s film manages to squeeze a lot of joy, heart and humour out of a serious subject, which deserves praise in itself, but what it lacks in subtlety it more than makes up for in riotous fun.

 

 

TV

 

This Town (BBC One / iPlayer, March 31)

OK, technically we’re cheating a little here because This Town makes its debut on BBC One on March 31st, but when Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight shows up with a new TV drama series, it’s time to sit up and take notice, whatever day it is.

Set primarily in Coventry and Birmingham in 1981, against the backdrop of a recession, the conflict in Northern Ireland and a newly-installed Thatcher government, This Town tells the tale of Dante Williams (Levi Brown), a young man living in turbulent times who, along with his friends, finds that turning to music may be his only salvation.

Also starring Jordan Bolger, Michelle Dockery, Geraldine James and Nicholas Pinnock, the series features original music from the multi-talented Kae Tempest and producer Dan Carey, alongside a selection of iconic tracks from the ska and two-tone bands whose emergence plays such a key part in the story’s backdrop. If you’re a fan of Peaky Blinders or bands such as The Specials and others on the ska revivalist Two Tone scene, you won’t want to miss this.

 

Ripley (Netflix, April 4)

The series of novels by Patricia Highsmith featuring con artist and serial killer Tom Ripley - affectionately known as ‘The Ripliad’ – have already been subject to various screen adaptations, perhaps the most well-known of these being Anthony Minghella’s 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Matt Damon in the titular role. News of a TV series that would mine the original source material was first announced back in 2019, but after navigating a tricky journey to our screens via a pandemic and a jump from from Showtime to Netflix, Ripley is set to make its long-awaited debut in April.

Starring Andrew Scott, known to many as Sherlock chief antagonist James Moriarty or Fleabag’s much-objectified ‘hot priest’, the new series is the brainchild of writer-director Steven Zaillian, whose impressive CV includes penning the Oscar-winning screenplay for Schindler’s List alongside a long list of nominations for others such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gangs of New York. Also starring alongside Scott are Johnny Flynn, Dakota Fanning and John Malkovich, Ripley looks set to be well worth the wait when it finally lands on April 4.

 

Scoop (Netflix, April 5)

The infamous interview given to Emily Maitliss by Prince Andrew in the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal has rapidly become this generation’s Frost/Nixon moment and is currently in the process of being further immortalised in a series being developed by Prime Video, with Maitliss herself on-board as an executive producer.

First, though, we’re to be treated to a feature-length adaptation courtesy of Netflix, starring Gillian Anderson in a frighteningly-convincing portrayal of the former BBC journalist and Rufus Sewell in an equally mesmerising turn as the scandal-plagued Prince. Billie Piper, Keeley Hawes and Amanda Redman also appear in key roles in this fast-paced drama exploring the machinations behind the scenes that made the interview possible. Due to arrive on April 5, it’ll every bit as grimly fascinating as the interview itself.

 

Fallout (Prime Video, April 11)

Video games have a patchy history when it comes to working well as films or television shows, but recent success stories such as The Witcher and The Last of Us give us hope for this upcoming adaptation of post-apocalyptic role-player Fallout.

Created by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner, the setting is an alternate Earth in which rapid advances in nuclear technology after WWII lead to a catastrophic war for resources, with what is left of humanity sealed away in huge fallout shelters called vaults. Some 200 years after a nuclear cataclysm, a young woman emerges from her vault in search of help, only to find the world has become an extremely hostile place.

Ella Purnell takes the leading role alongside Kyle MacLachlan, Mike Doyle, Walton Goggins and Michael Emerson, among others. If you’re a fan of the games or enjoy sci-fi generaly, this’ll be right up your street.

 

 

 

 

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