In these increasingly heated political times, when our world is marked by confusion, division and dissent, it’s vital to stay engaged. It’s gnarly out there. But, as per usual, the cinema is a place for escape from and high engagement with this world we live in.

Perhaps this month’s column can serve as a clearheaded, evenhanded guide to remind you, dear readers and moviegoers, that there’s certainly something opening at a movie theater worth your time. And who knows, you just may see something that far exceeds that! This month, there’s a good roundup of massive Hollywood blockbuster material with plenty of smaller, off-the-beaten-path indies and foreign titles. So dive in, and go see some movies.

Colossal“Colossal”
Synopsis: A woman discovers that severe catastrophic events are somehow connected to the mental breakdown from which she’s suffering.
What You Need To Know: Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo has made his career thus far on twisting genre movies with his particular indie stylings. They often succeed by delivering on the fun of his concepts — be it the paradoxical, pretzel-like logic of time travel in “Timecrimes” or an alien attack on the planet in “Extraterrestrial” — without forgetting the necessary character moments. His latest sees him working with his starriest cast to date, not least of which is Anne Hathaway, here doing similar work with a less likable character like her Oscar-nominated turn in “Rachel Getting Married.” It walks a fine line between comedy and dark, coming-back-home style drama, and does it well, with a strong feminist undercurrent boiling under (and eventually on) the surface. All of that and fun with kaiju monster tropes too! We liked it quite a bit when we saw at TIFF last year.
Release Date: April 7th (Limited)

Cristian-Mungiu 2

“Graduation”
Synopsis: After an attack before a college entrance exam jeopardizes his daughter’s future, Romeo Aldea thinks up ways of solving the situation, but none of them follow the principles he taught his daughter.
What You Need To Know: The Romanian new wave continues to deliver, and this latest celebrated picture proudly “ends not with a bang but an ambivalent whimper,” as our review from Cannes 2016 stated, “But of course that too is part of the point.” It sure is, and though the latest from Cristian Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” “Beyond The Hills“), comes complete with all the familiar tropes and anti-payoffs, it’s still a remarkably taut, pretty-much perfectly scripted piece of work. Few modern filmmakers are better than Mungiu at wrapping up social, political and historical themes in neo-realist, genre-inflected material.
Release Date: April 7th (Limited)

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“Your Name” 
Synopsis: Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart?
What You Need To Know: Already one of the biggest global box office hits of last year, the film is only now getting a proper US release, and this gorgeous-looking anime (check out the trailer) from Makoto Shinkai should find at least a small niche appreciation and following. Over the past year, the film has been building buzz at various festivals and received the standard one-week Oscar-qualifying run (where it didn’t end up getting a best animated film nomination). Now’s the time to catch up, and you’ll want to pay close attention, as the plot is quite dense, featuring some sci-fi body swapping action amid a romance between its lead characters. We’re glad to see this one making its way to US theaters.
Release Date: April 7th (Limited)

Their Finest Gemma Arterton Sam Claflin

“Their Finest”
Synopsis: A British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg.
What You Need To Know: Per our review from TIFF last year, “the charming, rousing WWII romance ‘Their Finest‘ is a film that openly stumps for two causes: the value of women in the workplace, and the power of cinema to tell stories that people need to hear.” Who could argue with that? Coming from director Lone Scherfig, whose 2009 hit “An Education” was Best Picture nominated and made a star of Carey Mulligan, it hopes to bring her back into the hearts and minds of moviegoers looking for period films that seem like nostalgia trips on the surface but actually cut deeper than expected. Adapted from Lissa Evans’ novel “Their Finest Hour and a Half,” and starring Gemma Arterton plus featuring another comic performance from the wonderful Bill Nighy, this one could do solid business in a slow spring movie season.  
Release Date: April 7th (Limited)

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“All These Sleepless Nights”
Synopsis: Two art students roam the streets of Warsaw, exploring a city torn between its past and future.
What You Need To Know: The blurring of lines between documentary and fictional/constructed narratives is nothing new, but with the proliferation of documentary features being produced, there’s an undeniable and quite exciting surge in filmmakers attempting to stretch and experiment with the genre’s contours. With “All These Sleepless Nights,” young Polish director Michal Marczak indulges in his own personal doc structure for a film about youth and the seemingly never ending party cycles one often finds themselves in during their 20s. Winner of the Wold Cinema Directing award at Sundance 2016 and playing the fest circuit for most the year, it’s got our attention and looks to be an immersive, highly cinematic experience.
Release Date: April 7th (Limited)