Coming Attractions in Film: April 2011

April shows more promise on the film front with the release of the action thriller Hanna, the courtroom drama The Conspirator, and the adaptation of the best-selling novel Water for Elephants. Boston local film festivals continue to showcase the best in independent and international films.

By Sarah Sanders.

HANNA — the story of a unique young girl who happens to be an assassin.

Hanna. Wide release, April 8. This action thriller brings to life a unique, young girl (Saoirse Ronan), who has been trained for a very deadly purpose by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana). Groomed to be the perfect assassin, Hanna is sent on a mission across Europe with agents hot on her trail. As Hanna closes in on her target, the truth of her existence is revealed and her mission is called into question. The film brings together again director Joe Wright and his Atonement star Ronan in what appears to be a fast-paced, engaging, and intelligent thriller.

First Annual Hollywood Scriptures Film Series. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, April 14–17. The Hollywood Scriptures series aims at understanding the human nature through cinematic interpretation. For its debut run, the series focuses on the traumatic effects of war on soldiers and veterans in four critically acclaimed contemporary films: Waltz with Bashir (Israel, 2008), Lebanon (Israel, 2009), Armadillo (Netherlands, 2010), and the documentary War Don Don (2010). Each screening will be followed by a one-hour panel discussion.

The Conspirator. Wide release, April 15. Director Robert Redford takes audiences back to the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination with this staunch, period, courtroom drama. The lone woman charged for conspiring to kill the 16th President, Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) faces charges in a military tribunal defended by her reluctant lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy). Rumor has it that Redford took pains to maintain the historical integrity of the story and hasn’t taken Hollywood liberties, which should make for a rewarding film about the power of the truth versus justice.

Labyrinth (1986) and The Dark Crystal (1982). A Double Feature at the Brattle Theater, April 15. Enjoy the twisted, fairy-tale-inspired puppet worlds of director Jim Henson with this cult classic double feature. Starring David Bowie as the quintessential “Goblin King,” Labyrinth follows a young Jennifer Connelly as she journeys through a magical world to find her missing baby brother, after wishing he’d never existed. In The Dark Crystal, the orphan Jen embarks on a quest to find a magical crystal that will restore peace to his planet. Before there was CGI, there were the imaginative visions of Henson, whose movies reflect his unique style and the time in which they were made.

A glimpse of DESIRE: THE JOURNEY OF A WOMAN, one of the films at the Boston International Film Festival

2011 Boston International Film Festival. At the AMC Loews Boston Common Theater, April 15–24. The Boston International Film Festival (BIFF) returns for its ninth year with over 100 short and feature films from 30 countries around the world. The festival aims to bring together the international artistic community with the Greater Boston Area in an attempt to promote the most creative independent and experimental films. With gala events for the opening and closing nights, as well as panel discussions throughout the festival, the BIFF has more than enough to offer audiences.

Water For Elephants. Wide release, April 22. Based on the best-selling novel by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants tells the story of veterinary student Jacob (Robert Pattinson), who runs away with a traveling circus in the early part of the Great Depression after his parents die in a car crash. Pulled by fate to the circus, Jacob quickly invites trouble when he falls in love with his boss’ beautiful wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon). Director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) takes the best seller and transforms the story into a beautiful, Depression-era film imbued with all the wonder of a circus act.

A scene from THE FUTURE, a film directed by Miranda July, screening at the Independent Film Festival Boston

Independent Film Festival Boston. At the Somerville Theater, Brattle Theater, Coolidge Corner Theater, and the Stuart Street Playhouse, April 27 through May 4. Also returning for its ninth annual showing, the Independent Film Festival of Boston will feature about 110 full-length and short films, filmmaker appearances, and panel discussions. The opening night program features the documentary Being Elmo by Constance Marks about Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Elmo. The festival will wrap up with the documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop by Rodman Flender about the late night talk show host’s breakup with NBC and how he landed on his feet with his show on TBS.

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