Films for April

Four films to look out for this month (which is not to say there aren't more besides). But here is a quick round-up of the top pics for April.

Wild and musical

Wild Rose, out on 12 April is a drama with music about an intergenerational clash between wild and ambitious youth Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) and her mum, Marion (Julie Walters). Leaving prison, Rose is itching to get underway with the career she knows she could have as a country singer: but down-to-earth mum is fed up with “all her nonsense” and keen that she confront reality, settle down and take responsibility for her life.

Critical reception so far has been positive with various commenting on the fun of it all, as well as the energy fizzing from start to finish with clever and inspirational use of country music. Also much praise for the sterling performances put in by both Buckley and Walters. I shall be there!

The Spy Game – 40 years on

Next up and altogether more sombre, is Red Joan, out on 19 April. This, at one book remove, is based on the true story of Melita Norwood, exposed, in 2000, as the KGB's longest-serving British spy. The film combines drama and romance in a fashion that has not entirely wowed critics to date.

It begins with the arrest of long-retired octogenarian Joan, and her interrogation by the intelligence services: and while Joan denies everything, the audience is slowly made party to the truth in a series of flashbacks to her younger self.

Judi Dench, previously associated with the world of espionage playing M to Daniel Craig's Bond, swaps sides here to put in a neat performance as OAP Joan: but her considerable acting talents are limited by the fact that much of her on-screen time is taken up sat one side of a table under interrogation. Sophie Cookson, playing Joan's younger incarnation has more scope for active interpretation of the role: and she does well with what she has. Consensus, though, is this latest sally on-screen by Theatre Director Trevor Nunn falls short of what it might have been.

The Endgame is nigh

What to say? If you follow my poor blogging attempts you will know I have watched every last one of the Marvel movies in this 20-episode hero-fest. That's right: a mega cosmos-spanning narrative from the earliest faltering steps taken by Iron Man and Captain America through to the tragedy of Avengers: Infinity War.

If you like the genre and know the story arc, you will be there. If not, my commiserations.

For those not entirely up to speed with the franchise, over many years and multiple films we finally wound up, last year, at Infinity War. The premise: big baddy Thanos reckoned there was just too much life in the universe. So he collected a bunch of infinity stones, stuck them together on back of his infinity gauntlet and with one SNAP of his fingers took out half the universe. The film ended on a sombre note.

Now, in Avengers: Endgame, last in the current arc, and out on 25 April, we discover how/if the surviving members of the Avengers manage to undo the snap. Does anyone believe they will fail? Nah!

But fan theories abound as to who will survive to fight another day and who now will move on to other work in the film industry.

Cautionary note: if you want to understand/get the best from this film, make sure you have seen and properly watched both Avengers: Infinity War (out on various platforms now) and Captain Marvel (still out in the Broadway).

Before the Lord of the Rings

Last but by no means least, out on 3 May is Tolkien, a biopic about the young and socially awkward Tolkien in the years before he became famous as author of the internationally acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Here I shall declare an interest: the film blurb declares it to be about “the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school”. Well, yes. I was at the same school as Tolkien – albeit many years after. So I shall be attending in full pedant regalia ready to spot every least error of detail or historical solecism!

Meanwhile, the film appears outwardly a great idea because it unites the true Tolkeenies with lovers of historical drama. Or is it destined to fall into the cinematic crack of doom that lies between the two groups: not wyrd enough for the former; too wyrd for the latter?

The film features up and coming actor Nicholas Hoult as the young Tolkien and Lily Collins as Edith Bratt, recipient of his romantic advances. It should shed further light on the influences that led Tolkien to create his chef d'oeuvre.

Or failing that, it might just prove suitable antidote to the local council elections, declared that day. Whatever your political allegiance.

See you next month.