12 Films I Saw This April (Film List 2021)

Hello All,

This month there isn’t an array like other months. I’ve been busy trying to get my latest short film off the ground for the last year a bit since the first wave of lockdowns prevented my graduation film from being completed. In the next few days, I will be filming May and June could be a little light due to this, so I’ll keep trying to watch films in my spare time. I hope you like what I have written here regardless. Stay safe and be there for one another.

I, like many come up with many new years resolutions, some I keep to and others I don’t. This may seem very strange to say for someone that has actively studied the craft of filmmaking, but I wanted to watch more films…

So the rules are that I need to pick films which I haven’t seen before, regardless of the era of cinema. Some of these films have now become some of my favourite films ever now.

The Brood- Date Viewed: 04/04/2021

Director: David Cronenberg

Studio: Canadian Film Development Corporation

Release Date: 1979

A body horror classic from master David Cronenberg. After his wife is put into the care of an unconventional psychologist – close family members of hers are brutally murdered by what can only be described as twisted manifestations of her daughter. An incredible film, which represents the internal with the external and how it can change a person’s physicality. An extremely unsettling story that uses the imagery of children to horrifying effect.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Fantastic Planet – Date Viewed: 05/04/2021

Director: René Laloux

Studio: Les Films Armorial, Ceskoslovenský, Filmexport

Release Date: 1973

An animation classic that can be read in so many ways, ranging from oppression to animal cruelty, this parables centres on humans-like Oms as they try to escape their oppressors – the Draags. This visually striking piece is a rich and thematic piece that starts with a pet Om starting a revolution through education. Let the film guide you in regard to what you take from it. There’s plenty to be taken so long as you give it your attention, a real achievement.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

The Color of Pomegranates- Date Viewed: 06/04/2021

Director: Sergei Parajanov

Studio: Armenfilm

Release Date: 1969

Perhaps one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Every frame is a painting and so rich in vibrancy and colour. This film chronicles Armenian poet and musician Sayat-Nova (Vilen Galstyan) from birth up until his death. This film explores his relationships with others as he grows older, but the imagery feels otherworldly. Give this film a watch – it feels like a masterclass in framing and colour.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Yojimbo – Date Viewed: 07/04/2021

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Studio: Kurosawa Production, Toho

Release Date: 1961

A blend of Samurai and Western combine to make this brilliant story of a lone Ronin who enters a town entrenched in corruption as he plays both sides to free the village. This film has all the Kurosawa hallmarks, as the action is lively, the comedy is funny, and the performances across the board are incredible. Visually this film is striking, in turn, becoming so popular is created a sequel ‘Sanjuro’. This film is definitely worth a watch.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Soul – Date Viewed: 08/04/2021

Director: Pete Docter

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios

Release Date: 2020

Pixar does what they do best, create beautifully crafted stories blended with heart and humour. This film is no exception. Soul revolves around a Jazz musician who dies in an accident before he has his big break. Pixar is nothing short of genius as they get to the centre of the human condition while telling an uplifting, complex story about people, which they always pull of with such verve. I would 100% recommend this to anyone.

Currently on Disney+ (At the time of writing)

Dead Presidents – Date Viewed: 09/04/2021

Director:Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

Studio: Hollywood Pictures, Caravan Pictures, Underworld Entertainment

Release Date: 1995

An underrated gem, which blends social realist drama, war film and heist epic. This Hughes Brother’s epic depicts some of the most harrowing aspects of the Vietnam war, which shows characters who have known each other for years changed and break beyond repair as they try and live in America. Sometimes the pacing is off, but I feel like it could be a bit longer to develop the characters and set each sequence. But this film is worth the watch on performances alone, which are incredible across the board.

Currently on Disney+ (At the time of writing)

Booksmart – Date Viewed: 11/04/2021

Director: Olivia Wilde

Studio: Annapurna Pictures, Gloria Sanchez Productions

Release Date: 2019

I love this film so much, just like everyone who watches Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. A coming of age film, which doesn’t relegate characters to clichés. This film allows them to stand unjudged and proud of who they are. An extremely funny and endearing film, which delivers laugh after laugh. The ensemble cast shines and now I can’t hear the word “Barcelona” without hearing George. This film could potentially be the Mean Girls of its generation in terms of its cultural appeal.

Rental on Netflix (At the time of writing)

Ran – Date Viewed: 12/04/2021

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Studio: Herald Ace, Nippon Herald Films, Greenwich Film Productions

Release Date: 1985

Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear‘ sees Kurosawa adapt it to the legend of Motonari, who was famous for having three sons known as the three arrows. This story takes that and adapts the framework of Shakespeare to create a complex, beautiful and jaw-dropping effort. Its rich array of characters, colour and locations are beyond belief. This film represents so many of the reasons why cinema exists, to create epics and portray stories in such a way where they transcend. Ran is truly a masterpiece and is now perhaps one of my favourite films ever.

Rental on Amazon Prime

Sound of Metal – Date Viewed: 14/04/2021

Director: Darius Marder

Studio: Caviar, Ward Four, Flat 7 Productions

Release Date: 2020

Riz Ahmed shines in a story of a drummer who suddenly loses his ability to hear. In Darius Marder’s first film, he creates a narrative that centres on the sensations of losing something important but gaining something inexplicable. The sound design is incredible and deservedly won the Oscar, but the performances allow that to carry heft. What this film does best is illustrate the affliction without making it feel like a burden or a disability.

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

Onibaba – Date Viewed: 19/04/21

Director: Kaneto Shindo

Studio: Kindai Eiga Kyokai, Tokyo Eiga

Release Date: 1964

This Japanese horror set around the 14th Century during a civil war; we are introduced to a young woman and her mother in law as they kill enemy soldiers and sell their equipment to survive. When a survivor of the war comes back, his connection to the young woman starts to fracture the relationships which inhabit the Susuki grass. This film is a tense, striking and atmospheric film genre classic, which is worth seeking out.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

The French Connection- Date Viewed: 28/04/21

Director: William Friedkin

Studio: Philip D’Antoni Productions

Release Date: 1971

William Friedkin’s gritty classic follows a pair of NYC police as they try to stop a drug smuggle coming in from France. Intersected with violent outbursts, high octane chases and an ambiguous ending this film has become a benchmark for the film noir genre like so many of the beats from this film have been applied to many successful classics of the genre. A genre classic, which is definitely worth the watch.

Currently on Disney+ (At the time of writing)

Paddington 2 – Date Viewed: 30/04/21

Director: Paul King

Studio: Heyday Films, StudioCanal UK

Release Date: 2017

The only exception to the rule. It is the greatest film of all time. What else do I have to say?

Rental on Amazon Prime

Thankfully I’ve been really on it this month. It has been a delight to watch these films. Some of these films have been the most visceral and philosophical experiences I’ve had in recent memory. I would recommend all of these films, but I want to single out ‘Ran’ in particular, as it summaries so much of what I love about cinema, spectacle, intricacy vibrancy. Truly a masterpieceI’d highly recommend seeking it out.

I have been watching these using a mix of Netflix, Amazon Prime, BFI Player and Disney+ and even rental. Typically all of these would cost a lot, but I have been fortunate to have access to these platforms for free – at least for now. Once that is over, I’ll be prioritising which platforms to still stick with moving forward. I hope you check these films out.

Watching these films again helps get money back into the film industry, so it feels good to feel like I’m helping while enjoying these films. I have watched so many new Films during this time, so I’m splitting this into two posts. The second part will be out later this month.

Stay safe, be present, enjoy things that you like.


Stills courtesy of FILMGRAB / Kiss Them Goodbye / Bluscreens.net / anothermag.com / Elevation Pictures / Movieclips Classic Trailers / movienco.co.uk / screenmusings.com / Screen Goblin /commonsensemedia.org / NME / Joe’s Movie Blog / cultandexploitation.blogspot.com / fancaps.net / ingloriousbaguettes.com / listal /

Published by Adam Shafi

Here's my work, ranging from films to essays. Hope you enjoy it!

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