You Were Never Really Here
In an industry where female directors still struggle to get work, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay has established herself as an uncompromising artist of breathtaking vision with films like Ratcatcher (1999) and We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011). No surprise, then, that You Were Never Really Here, her latest film, won her the Best Screenplay award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as an unstable hitman tasked with rescuing a young girl, Ramsay’s film is a taut, 21st-century Taxi Driver according to the rapturous reviews out of Cannes. In theaters April 6; youwereneverreallyhere.movie.
Lean on Pete
Director Andrew Haigh first caught the attention of the international film scene with Weekend (2011), his spare but honest movie about two young British men falling in love after a weekend-long hookup. His latest feature, about a young boy and his horse, is also quietly poetic. A far cry from the exotic fantasy of The Black Stallion, Lean on Pete stars Charlie Plummer as a young boy raised by a ne'er-do-well father in rural Washington who finds solace in a part-time job caring for a broken-down racehorse. The film slowly but skillfully applies an emotional vise-grip that could break the most indifferent heart: i.e., bring Kleenex. In theaters April 6; a24films.com.
In the eyes of many—including this writer—E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End may be one of the greatest novels in the English language, and James Ivory’s classic 1992 film adaptation, with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, took home two Oscars. Who would dare scale that mountain again? Kenneth Lonergan, apparently. But if any modern writer were up to the task, it would be the writer-director of Margaret and Manchester by the Sea. Originally premiering on the BBC, this mini-series has already received glowing reviews in the U.K., including for the surprising way Lonergan explores the novel’s main theme, “only connect,” in relation to our socially fractured modern world. Premiers April 8 on Starz; starz.com.