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April Films to Watch at Home

J. Hoberman’s monthly film roundup, usually a selection of what to see in theaters, now offers films that can be streamed online while readers are staying at home because of the pandemic. 

Liu Hongyu/Kino Lorber

Yongzhong Chen in Long Day’s Journey Into Night

 
J. Hoberman’s monthly film roundup, usually a selection of what to see in theaters, now offers films that can be streamed online while readers are staying at home because of the pandemic. 
 
—The Editors

 

Venom and Eternity, the Lettrist poet Isidore Isou’s image-obliterating assault on cinema, premiered (uninvited and unofficially) at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival and remains the highwater mark of a French avant-garde that later mutated into Situationalism. Consider it a recalcitrant chunk of twentieth-century cultural history. Through April 17, Mubi.com.

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Arguably the strongest talent to emerge in Chinese (or even international) cinema over the past decade, Bi Gan epitomizes digital age cinephilia, engaging and synthesizing the work of a half-dozen major filmmakers (Hou Hsiao-hsien, David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovsky, Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, Wong Kar-wai) while establishing his own idiosyncratic style and interests. Following his debut feature, Kaili Blues (2015), Long Day’s Journey into Night (2018) is an atmospheric, tropical film noir that midway through takes a trip to the Bardo—replaying the first half as a dream both jumbled and, consisting of a single, sinuous forty-one-minute take, absurdly linear. The Criterion Channel.

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A fetish object as well as a film, Quentin Tarantino’s enjoyable and problematic Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) is a celebration of the movies and a recreation of Hollywood in 1969—achieved through a cornucopia of lovingly curated artifacts. (These range from radio spots and dance moves to comic books and billboards, not to mention TV westerns and the Manson Family.) As the title suggests, the movie is a fairytale—albeit one at least as violent as those collected by the brothers Grimm. Amazon Prime and others.

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The “Roger Corman Birthday Marathon” marks the drive-in movie impresario’s ninety-fourth birthday with continuous streaming of fifteen of his many productions. Most are from his New World period, including such ripe items as Jonathan Demme’s Crazy Mama (1975), the all-has-been disaster flick Avalanche (1978), and Jack Hill’s Mexican-American exploitation fantasy Sorceress (1982). There are also some vintage offerings directed by Corman himself, among them The Wasp Woman (1959) and a guilty pleasure of mine, Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957). April 4–5, ShoutFactoryTV.com.

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“Columbia Noir” surveys the dark terrain of cost-conscious Columbia Pictures’ post-World War II crime films. Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953) and Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950) (both featuring quintessential noir actress Gloria Grahame) are the stand-outs, but anything by genre directors Samuel Fuller, Phil Karlson, Joseph H. Lewis, and Don Siegel is well worth watching. From April 8, The Criterion Channel.

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A disciplined police unit of ultra-macho muscle Jews meet an anarchic gang of fanatical neo-Narodniks in Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s electrifying debut feature. Made in 2011, Policeman suggests a land at once insular and balkanized as the cops and terrorists, both violent and violently self-absorbed forces, collide at a billionaire’s wedding party for his daughter. From April 24, Film Movement Plus.

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