Ten New Movies You Can Watch in April That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Get comfy on the couch with Cate Blanchett's latest stunning performance, a bear doing cocaine and M Night Shyamalan getting eerie again.
April 14, 2023
Before the pandemic, when a new-release movie started playing in cinemas, audiences couldn't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the past few years forcing film industry to make quite a few changes — widespread movie theatre closures and plenty of people staying home in iso will do that — that's no longer always the case.
Maybe you've been under the weather. Perhaps you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Given the hefty amount of films now releasing each week, maybe you simply missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their new releases from cinemas to streaming recently — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here are ten that you can watch right now at home.
The least surprising aspect of Tár is also its most essential: Cate Blanchett being as phenomenal as she's ever been, plus more. The Australian Nightmare Alley, Thor: Ragnarok and Carol actor — "our Cate", of course — unsurprisingly scored an Oscar nomination as a result. Accolades have been showered her way since this drama about a cancelled conductor premiered at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival (the prestigious event's Best Actress gong was the first of them), deservedly so. Blanchett is that stunning in Tár, that much of a powerhouse, that adept at breathing life and complexity into a thorny figure, and that magnetic and mesmerising. Even when she hasn't been at her utmost on rare past occasions or something she's in hasn't been up to her standards — see: Don't Look Up for both — she's a force that a feature gravitates around. Tár is astonishing itself, too, but Blanchett at her finest is the movie's rock, core and reason for being.
Blanchett is spectacular in Tár, and she also has to be spectacular in Tár — because Lydia Tár, the maestro she's playing, earns that term to start with in the film's on-screen world. At the feature's kickoff, the passionate and ferocious character is feted by a New Yorker Festival session led by staff writer Adam Gopnik as himself, with her achievements rattled off commandingly to an excited crowd; what a list it is. Inhabiting this part requires nothing less than utter perfection, then, aka what Tár demands herself, her latest assistant Francesca (Noémie Merlant, Jumbo), her wife Sharon (Nina Hoss, Shadowplay) and everyone else in her orbit constantly. Strong, seductive, severe, electrifying and downright exceptional, Blanchett nails it. That Lydia can't always do the same, no matter how hard, painstakingly and calculatingly she's worked to ensure that it appears otherwise, is one of the movie's main concerns.
MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM
In 2022, The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were meant to share the same Splendour in the Grass bill. Karen O's band didn't make it to what became Splendour in the Mud, but the two groups have shared plenty before — and for decades. Their maps have overlapped since pre-9/11 New York, when both were formed in the turn-of-the-millennium indie-rock wave, then surfed it to success and worldwide fame. Both The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were born of the Lower East Side pre-gentrification. Both spun in the same orbit as late-90s saccharine pop and Y2K nu-metal rock gave way to electrifying guitar riffs and an explosive sound that'd become a whole scene. Both are led by charismatic singers who came alive onstage, but also found chaos and challenges. Alongside Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, The Moldy Peaches, The Rapture and TV on the Radio, both now sit at the heart of documentary Meet Me in the Bathroom.
Based on Lizzy Goodman's 2017 book Meet Me in the Bathroom, an oral history that focuses on exactly what its subtitle says it does — Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011 — this is a fond look back at bands setting the room on fire and rolling heads as one century gave way to the next. While the film isn't about just one or two groups, it returns to The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs again and again, and not simply because they're two of the early 00s' biggest NYC post-punk, garage-rock revival names. Listening to The Strokes' first record, 2001's Is This It, is a jolt and a buzz. With Julian Casablancas behind the microphone, it thrums and hums with the energy of hopping between bars, gigs and parties, and with the thrill of a heady night, week, month, year and just being in your 20s. Hearing O's voice is galvanising — intoxicating as well — and has been since the Yeah Yeah Yeah's self-titled EP, also in 2001. It's no wonder that directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern just want to keep listening, and also inhabiting that vibe.
KNOCK AT THE CABIN
Does M Night Shyamalan hate holidays? The twist-loving writer/director's Knock at the Cabin comes hot on the heels of 2021's Old, swapping beach nightmares for woodland terrors. He isn't the only source of on-screen chaos in vacation locations — see also: Triangle of Sadness' Ruben Östlund, plus oh-so-many past horror movies, and TV's The White Lotus and The Resort as well — but making two flicks in a row with that setup is a pattern. For decades since The Sixth Sense made him the Oscar-nominated king of high-concept premises with shock reveals, Shyamalan explored the idea that everything isn't what it seems in our daily lives. Lately, however, he's been finding insidiousness lingering beyond the regular routine, in picturesque spots, when nothing but relaxation is meant to flow. A holiday can't fix all or any ills, he keeps asserting, including in this engaging adaptation of Paul Tremblay's 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World.
For Eric (Jonathan Groff, The Matrix Resurrections), Andrew (Ben Aldridge, Pennyworth) and their seven-year-old daughter Wen (debutant Kristen Cui), a getaway isn't meant to solve much but a yearning for family time in the forest — and thinking about anyone but themselves while Eric and Andrew don robes, and Wen catches pet grasshoppers, isn't on their agenda. Alas, their rural Pennsylvanian idyll shatters swiftly when the soft-spoken but brawny Leonard (Dave Bautista, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) emerges from the trees. He says he wants to be Wen's friend, but he also advises that he's on an important mission. He notes that his task involves the friendly girl and her dads, giving them a hard choice yet also no choice at all. The schoolteacher has colleagues, too: agitated ex-con Redmond (Rupert Grint, Servant), patient nurse Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird, Avenue 5) and nurturing cook Adriane (Abby Quinn, I'm Thinking of Ending Things), all brandishing weapons fashioned from garden tools.
The actors have it: in The Whale, Brendan Fraser (No Sudden Move), Hong Chau (The Menu) and Sadie Sink (Stranger Things) are each masterful, and each in their own way. For viewers unaware that this drama about a reclusive 600-pound English professor stems from the stage going in, it won't take long to realise — for multiple reasons, the film's performances chief among them. As penned by Samuel D Hunter (also a writer on TV's Baskets) from his award-winning semi-autobiographical play, The Whale's script is talky and blunt. The movie is confined to its protagonist Charlie's home, and is as claustrophobic as it's meant to be as a result. But it's that key acting trio, with the portrayals they splash through a flick that's a complicated sea of feelings and ideas, that helps The Whale swim when it swims. Yes, the Brenaissance is upon us, showering Fraser in accolades including his first-ever Oscar; however, fellow Academy Award-nominee Chau and rising star Sink are equally as powerful.
Is it really the Brenaissance if Fraser hasn't ever been too far from our screens for too long? When he was recently stellar in 2021's No Sudden Move, albeit in a supporting part? Given that it's been decades since he's had the space and the feature to serve up this kind of lead effort, the answer remains yes. Slip his The Whale performance in beside standout 2002 thriller The Quiet American — although the latter didn't place The Mummy action star and Encino Man comedic force beneath considerable prosthetics. Fraser doesn't let his appearance here do all the work, though. Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, who hones in on the stressed and tested as he has so frequently before (see: Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, The Wrestler and mother!), doesn't allow it to, either. At the core of the pair's collaboration is a portrayal that overflows with vulnerability and grief alongside optimism for humanity, and acutely fuses Charlie's emotional and physical states. The character self-mockingly jokes that his internal organs are buried deep, but nothing conceals Fraser's sensitivity.
Punching has never been what matters most in the Creed movies, no matter how fast and furiously fists frequently fly. One of the key things that's always set this boxing franchise apart — with its first instalment landing in 2015 and sequel Creed II hitting in 2018 — is its focus on character and emotion first and foremost, including favouring both above going round for round in the ring. Blows are traded, obviously. Bouts are fought, bruises inflicted, bones broken and titles won. But the Creed saga has kept swinging again and again, leading to latest instalment Creed III, because it's still about its namesake, who he is as a person, and his feelings, demons and conflicts. When you have Michael B Jordan (Just Mercy) leading a series — even when it's a part of the broader Rocky series, or perhaps especially when that's the case — you give him the room to dig deep. You also give him weighty material to bear, as well as the space to bare Adonis 'Donnie' Creed's soul.
Jordan gives himself that room, weight and space in Creed III, in the actor's first stint as a director. Notching up a ninth chapter for the overall saga that dates back to 1976's three-time Oscar-winner Rocky, this is also the first film to sport either that character or Creed's moniker but not feature Sylvester Stallone on-camera — or his involvement beyond a producer credit. Creed III is all the better for Rocky Balboa's absence, despite Stallone turning in his best performance yet in the initial Creed film. Understanding what it means to move on and openly unpacking what that truly entails is something else this franchise-within-a-franchise has long gotten right. So, Donnie has moved on from struggling with his father's legacy, and from his need to live in the past. He has another date with history, but Jordan and screenwriters Keenan Coogler (Space Jam: A New Legacy) and Zach Baylin (King Richard) — with a story also credited to the original Creed's director Ryan Coogler (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) — aren't just mindlessly repeating the series' pattern.
YOU CAN GO NOW
Who better than frank, lively and charismatic First Nations artist Richard Bell to sum up what You Can Go Now is truly about: "I am an activist masquerading as an artist," he offers. The Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang man says this early in Larissa Behrendt's documentary about him, because he and the Eualayai/Gamillaroi After the Apology and Araatika: Rise Up! filmmaker both know how essential and inescapable that truth is. They're not here to reveal that Bell's art is layered with statements. Neither is the feature itself. Rather, in a powerful instant must-see of an Australian doco, they explore and contextualise what it means for Bell to be an activist spreading his advocacy for the country's First Peoples around the world by being an artist, especially when the Aboriginal art realm is so often dominated by white interests. They address and examine not just what Bell's work says but why, what it responds to and how it's significant on a variety of levels, including diving deep into the personal, national and global history — and modern-day reality — informing it.
Seeing what Bell's art literally expresses — simply taking it in, as splashed across the screen instead of hanging in a gallery — is still crucial to Behrendt's film, of course. In an array of pieces that frequently use heated words on intricately and colourfully painted canvases, his work utters plenty. "I am not sorry". "Give it all back." "We were here first." "Ask us what we want". "Aboriginal art — it's a white thing." Among these and other declarations, You Can Go Now's title gets a mention, too. Every piece sighted — works that riff on and continue a dialogue with styles synonymous with American artists Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock among them — conveys Bell's activist-artist raison d'être overtly, unflinchingly and unmistakably. Excellent art doesn't end conversations, however, but continues them, pushes them further and prompts more questions. Not that this is You Can Go Now's main takeaway, but Bell makes excellent art, with Behrendt helping to fuel and unpack the discussion.
Killer trailer, filler flick: that's the Cocaine Bear story. This loosely based-on-a-true-tale horror-comedy sports a Snakes on a Plane-style moniker that sums up its contents perfectly, as the sneak peek that arrived at the end of 2022 made enticingly clear. Going heavy on the so-OTT-it-can-only-be-real vibe, that initial glimpse also tasked Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story) with exclaiming a couple more sentences to express the utter bewilderment that this story sparks. "The bear, it fucking did cocaine. A bear did cocaine!" he shouts, and with exactly the right amount of infectious incredulity. That is indeed what happened in reality back in 1985, after all, and it's what Elizabeth Banks brings to the screen in her third stint as a director after Pitch Perfect 2 and Charlie's Angels — always playing it, for better when it's at its goriest and for worse when it stretches its idea thinner than a white line, like wild tale that it inescapably is.
Yes, almost four decades ago, an American black bear did cocaine when drug smuggler Andrew C Thornton (Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason) dropped a hefty pile of the narcotic from the air. The stash landed in the wilderness, catching the attention of the world's most unlikely coke fiend in Georgia's Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. The creature ripped open the white powder-filled containers, then ingested — and Cocaine Bear endeavours to have fun hypothesising what could've come next. On-screen, a rampage by the critter now-nicknamed Pablo Escobear ensues, with blood, guts and limbs flung around; the body count mounting like Michael Myers is doing the offing (or maybe Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey's other recent ravenous bear); and two words getting screamed over and over. They're just the terms a picture called Cocaine Bear was always bound to focus on: cocaine and bear, obviously.
OPERATION FORTUNE: RUSE DE GUERRE
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre isn't the best chance to see Aubrey Plaza slink around swanky locales filled with the one-percent in the past year. That honour goes, of course, to her award-nominated turn in the second season of The White Lotus. Plaza's new action-comedy also isn't the best recent movie to cast the deadpan talent as enterprising, resourceful and calculating, and see her plunged into a dangerous, largely male-only realm, all while putting a scheming plan into action. That film is the exceptional Emily the Criminal, which sadly bypassed cinemas Down Under. And, thanks to her star-making turn in Parks and Recreation, wannabe franchise-starter Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre definitely isn't the finest example of her wry comic talents, either. But in a rarity for writer/director Guy Ritchie and his typically testosterone-dripping capers — see: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Revolver, RocknRolla and The Gentlemen — Plaza is the gleaming gem at the centre of this formulaic flick. Putting in a more vibrant performance than the scowling Jason Statham isn't hard, but this is firmly Plaza's picture.
Ritchie's go-to leading man still plays Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre's namesake, though: the improbably titled super-spy Orson Fortune, an off-the-books agent who does jobs the British Government can't officially be involved with. Handler Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes, Best Sellers) has one such task, recovering a just-stolen item known as 'the handle', which the powers-that-be don't want going to nefarious parties. But, in a mission that first requires collecting a contact at Madrid's airport, then gets far more chaotic quickly, Fortune will have to work with a new team. And, he'll have to jet around the globe with stops at Cannes, in Turkey and more, doing an aspiring Bond and Mission: Impossible act, but in a film that never even threatens to shake or stir the espionage genre. It also doesn't venture beyond mixing Ritchie's beloved bag of tricks together, reading like an effort to split the difference between his last two movies: The Gentlemen and effective revenge thriller Wrath of Man.
With a title that speaks of next generations, The Son is a film about second efforts, including off-screen. For writer/director Florian Zeller, it marks the French novelist and playwright's sophomore stint behind the camera, and notches the list of movies he's helmed based on his own stage works up to two as well. After dual Oscar-winner The Father, which earned Zeller and co-scribe Christopher Hampton the Best Adapted Screenplay award and Anthony Hopkins the much-deserved Best Actor prize, it's also his second feature with a family member in its title. And, it's his second largely confined to interior settings, focusing on mental illness, exploring complicated father-child relationships within that intimate domestic space and driven by intense dialogue spouted by a committed cast. Hopkins pops up once more in another psychodrama, too, as a dad again.
Within its frames, The Son follows New York lawyer Peter Miller (Hugh Jackman, Reminiscence) as he's happily starting over with his second wife Beth (Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman) and their newborn Theo, his second son. Here's the thing about second chances, though: sometimes your first shots can't simply be forgotten, no matter how eager you are to move on. Peter confronts this truth when his ex-spouse Kate (Laura Dern, Jurassic World Dominion) unexpectedly knocks at his door one day, distraught about learning that their 17-year-old Nicholas (Zen McGrath, Red Dog: True Blue) has been ditching school long-term. The teen hasn't been a contented presence around her home since his dad left, either, with depression setting in after such a big upheaval to his status quo. So, Peter and Kate agree to a parental rekindling, with Peter giving being an active dad to Nicholas — having him come to live with him, Beth and Theo, in fact — a second go.
SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS
A sequel to 2019's Shazam! and the latest film the DC Extended Universe, Shazam! Fury of the Gods goes all-in on family — but Billy Batson (Asher Angel, High School Musical: The Musical — The Series) and his pals are too young to knock back Coronas. Also, Shazam! Fury of the Gods isn't much concerned with Billy in his normal guise, giving his Shazam self (Zachary Levi, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood) the bulk of the character's screentime. The time for origin stories has been and gone here, but largely ditching Angel robs this franchise-within-a-franchise of one of its main points of difference in the DCEU. None of the series' other flicks are about awkward adolescents learning to grapple with power, and understanding that their wildest dreams aren't as easy as they'd always hoped. Shazam! Fury of the Gods still manages to hit some of those notes thanks to a bigger focus on Billy's best friend and fellow foster kid Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer, We Are Who We Are), a person with disability, but sidelining the teenager who turns into Shazam is clumsy and noticeable.
Similarly plain as day from scene one: that Shazam! Fury of the Gods got as lucky as any superhero movie can with its new cast members. The film opens at the Acropolis Museum in Greece, where two of Atlas' offspring are determined to get back the Wizard's (Djimon Hounsou, Black Adam) broken staff and reclaim their dad's magic — and those two daughters, Hespera and Kalypso, come in the form of Helen Mirren (1923) and Lucy Liu (Strange World). Despite splashing around the film's fondness for dim lighting and dull CGI early, this introductory sequence lets its big-name talents make more of an imprint standing around in their costumes and looking formidable than much that follows. Indeed, whenever Mirren and Liu are on-screen, and West Side Story's Rachel Zegler as well, Shazam! Fury of the Gods makes a case for pushing aside not just Billy, but Shazam and everyone else.
Looking for more at-home viewing options? Take a look at our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows — and fast-tracked highlights from January, February and March, too. You can also peruse our best new films, new TV shows, returning TV shows and straight-to-streaming movies, plus movies you might've missed and television standouts of 2022 you mightn't have gotten to.
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