While it would be easy for this month to be swallowed by insane hype and glorious spectacle of Avengers: Endgame and the final season Game of Thrones – we’re here to remind you that there are lots of other great things on big and small screens that don’t involve a Stark fighting Thanos or a Stark fighting the Night King. From profoundly moving indies and lighthearted comedies in cinema, to loads of fantastic dramedies, anthologies, satires, and animation on television – April didn’t give us a minute to rest our eyes.
After 11 years and 22 films, Avengers: Endgame climaxes the MCU’s ambitious saga with a staggeringly epic and immensely satisfying swan song. Endgame draws upon every drop of investment fans have ever given, and pays it off with interest. Emphasizing hard-earned emotion just as much as deliriously grandiose action, this series finale balances heartbreaking farewells with euphoric triumph in an elegantly crafted and supremely moving blockbuster venture. With so much to juggle, what the Russos have pulled off here is nothing short of a marvelous miracle.
Following up from the Oscar-winning Moonlight, Barry Jenkins turns his deft eye toward an adaptation of James Baldwin’s seminal novel. If Beale Street Could Talk is mesmerizing and profoundly moving – marrying richly-drawn characters with stunning performances, and accentuating Baldwin’s beautiful prose with Jenkins’ visual poetry. This is a tender story of love and family, buoyed by hope and drowned by despair. Like the blues, this film can feel astonishingly warm, even as it paints a disturbing portrait of systemic racism in America.
Based on the life of the WWE Superstar Paige and her tight-knit pro wrestling family, this comedy written and directed by Stephen Merchant (co-creator of The Office) is a cheeky and heartwarming story of an outcast struggling to fulfill her quixotic ambitions. From a young girl wrestling in small indie shows with her parents and older brother, to becoming the WWE’s youngest ever female world champion at the age of 21, Paige’s unusual passion is tested at every turn. Buoyed by a great cast, this “soap opera in spandex” is a rousing crowd-pleaser.
More than just a cover of a beloved classic, 2019’s Pet Sematary makes clever creative changes to Stephen King’s seminal novel (and the 1989 film) to craft genuinely darker surprises for familiar fans, and chilling terror for new ones. This new remake contracts the story to focus on a family nightmare, while expanding it’s themes to dig deeper into complex themes of grief and mortality. Pet Sematary suffocates you with an atmosphere of dread and well-crafted set-pieces, amidst sterling acting and subverted expectations. Read our full review here.
Funny, breezy and sweet – Shazam! is a delightful kid-friendly comedy disguised as a superhero origin story. Blissfully unburdened by the doom and gloom of DC’s extended cinematic universe, this is a popcorn crowd-pleaser with heart and hilarity. Chuck’s Zachary Levi is perfectly cast as Billy Batson’s magical alter ego, carrying the film with boyish charm and wide-eyed naivete rather than spandex-busting muscles (although he does have that too) . While it does have its share of villainous threats, at its core, this is a sentimental film about growing up and finding your family.
Written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who also created Killing Eve), Fleabag returns stronger than ever for a bravura second (and sadly, final) season. This caustic dramedy centering around a selfish and cynical café owner is a terrific mix of raunchy humour and aching drama. Continuing from a myriad of sexual and familial disasters, this season elegantly mines unsettling topics for farcical comedy. Fleabag’s uproariously self-aware and self-destructive journey through irreconcilable guilt and grief only gets funnier as it gets darker.
Speaking of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, her other hit show Killing Eve returns for a second season, and it remains as sardonic, unpredictable, and thrilling as ever. Jodie Comer is a psychopathic delight that wrings pitch black humour from horrifying violence, while Sandra Oh amazes as the show’s grounded heart, attempting to reconcile her humanity with her escalating obsession over Villanelle. The chemistry between these two crackles, even as their cat-and-mouse tête-à-tête is complicated by an unexpected third party. Witty, quirky, and grisly – Killing Eve keeps killing it.
After it’s remarkable debut season, Bill Hader’s pitch black dramedy about a cold-blooded hitman turned inept thespian returns for an equally hilarious and harrowing season two. While Barry’s the new episodes maintain the show’s satirical view of self-absorbed Hollywood, this season is a much darker and more introspective character study. As Barry attempts to reconcile with past trauma and evil deeds in search of redemption through art and love, the show dives into the reflexive lies people tell themselves, and the myriad of masks we present to the world.
Despite some concern over a production studio switch from Madhouse to J.C. Staff, One-Punch Man’s highly-awaited second season return proves to be worth the wait. While the animation is noticeably different, it doesn’t detract from the series’ real knockout strength – it’s subversive comedy. We pick up with Saitama and Genos, as their hero’s journey courts challenges from new and old superpowered rivals, and an apocalyptic prophecy looms. The story’s raised stakes only complements the show’s parody of shonen tropes, and penchant for deadpan punchlines.
Hank Azaria’s acerbic portrayal of disgraced baseball announcer Jim Brockmire remains one of TV’s filthiest and most uproarious character studies in season three. As our titular motormouth recovers from his drug and alcohol-fueled rampage, Brockmire emerges from rehab a sober and changed man – or so he thinks. Still the same braggadocious asshole he always was, Jim realizes that his fundamental brokenness goes beyond substance abuse. J.K. Simmons joins a fresh cast as Brockmire’s new colleagues both test and help him through his search for redemption.
Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement’s vampire mockumentary movie makes a seamless transition to TV. What We Do In The Shadows continues the duo’s uniquely offbeat and charmingly deadpan humour into a longer format, and brilliantly expands its quirky mythology (look out for the introduction of “energy vampires”) into the New World – specifically Staten Island. This show delights in finding the goofy tone between the macabre and the mundane, with a new cast that quickly establishes a great comedic chemistry. Think The Office with a bloodier bite.
Superhero spoof The Tick has reached its fullest potential during this second season of it’s latest live-action incarnation. And that’s largely because this era of mainstream superhero saturation has armed creator Ben Edlund with plenty to unack through comedy. Yes, season two parodies the phenomenon in ways will leave you in stitches. But what makes it stand apart is that it doesn’t just poke fun at the popular – it’s also insightful enough to probe the reasons why. All while telling a thrilling, surprising and emotionally fulfilling story that can stand on its own.
Argentinian webseries La Frecuencia Kirlian (or Ghost Radio) first gained a following in 2017 on YouTube and Vimeo. Now renamed The Kirlian Frequency, the animated horror anthology has migrated to Netflix, reinvigorating international attention with new English dubs. The show revolves around a midnight radio talk show, broadcasting from a small Buenos Aires town where all kinds macabre supernatural events occur. It’s mysterious host keeps watch and takes calls, offering advice to his listeners. With only five 10-minute episodes, this is a fun and easy binge.
Hosted by Helen Mirren and written byFred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers – Documentary Now! is a mockumentary that parodies a wide variety of iconic non-fiction films. Currently in its third season, this geeky series is both a satirical send-up, and a painstaking love letter to the art of documentary filmmaking. Sure, it subversively pokes fun at the tropes and hallmarks of everything from The Artist Is Present to Chef’s Table, but it also smartly explores the grey ethics and persuasive power of the medium through compelling imitation. Read our full review here.
Cooked up by creators behind Chef’s Table, Street Food is a sumptuous new food documentary exploring the meals, cultures and communities surrounding hawkers and vendors around the world. This first season’s travelogue focuses on Asia – heading to Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam – to tell the humble and inspiring stories of various local cooks. Emphasizing that there’s room for both tradition and innovation in cuisine, some stick to age-old consistency, while others modernize to survive.
Hot off the success of Get Out and Us, comedian Jordan Peele continues his potent transition to sci-fi and fantasy with a revival of The Twilight Zone. This new 2019 version lives up to Rod Serling’s 1950’s vision of using creepy genre conceits as parables for social critique and political commentary. Though a little uneven, at it’s best, these new stories are urgent, challenging and smartly contemporary – and yet still feel timeless enough to be considered future classics. Inventive, incisive, and less cynical than Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone is a thoughtful treat.
This new Ultraman anime isn’t a reboot, but a direct canon continuation of Ultra Q from the 1960s. The live-action tokusatu-style visuals have been traded in for 3D computer-generated animation, and the title hero is shrunken down to a human-sized hero – but this new version is a more than worthy successor. The story jumps ahead to follow Hayata’s (the original Ultraman) son Shinjiro, as he prepares take over the mantle from his father. The changes may take some getting used to, but ultimately, Ultraman proves to be an engaging ride for fans old and new.
Viceland’s new six-part documentary series is a sensational and emotional peek behind the curtain at some pro wrestling’s most infamous scandals and tragedies. From the psychologically damaging effects of Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s marriage (where their real-life intertwined with fiction), to the shocking murder of Bruiser Brody in a Puerto Rico locker room – Dark Side of the Ring investigates the darkest corners of a wild industry. Equal parts nostalgia trip and true-crime inquiry – this is fascinating viewing for marks, smarks and non-fans.
Based on the Rilakkuma character – one of the many adorable designs to come from Japanese stationery company San-X – Rilakkuma and Kaoru follows the adventures of Kaoru (voiced by To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before‘s Lana Condor) and her kawaii stuffed companions. As Kaoru faces the stress of office life, and the struggles of being a single-twenty-something, the talking plush toys provide her some needed comfort and cuteness. This delightfully relaxing slice-of-life tale, told in gorgeous stop-motion animation, will make your cheeks hurt from smiling too much.