Spring has sprung, and appropriately enough, Steven Spielberg is back with the ultimate Easter egg hunt in nostalgic sci-fi adventure Ready Player One.

Elsewhere, Wes Anderson welcomes you into his doggy dystopia, Marvel holds a superhero AGM, and gay teen romance gets its John Hughes moment.

There are thrills and chills on offer too, as a sceptical professor tries to find a rational explanation for three haunting tales in UK horror Ghost Stories. I’m sure that’ll work out just fine…

Comedy

Isle Of Dogs

Cert PG, 101 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Mar 30

Movie website

Four years after The Grand Budapest Hotel became his biggest hit to date, director Wes Anderson returns with this animated comedy adventure about a 12-year-old boy’s quest to find his missing dog.

Set in a dystopian future Japan where an outbreak of ‘canine flu’ has led to the dogs of Megasaki City being quarantined on Trash Island, the film sees young Atari (Koyu Rankin) enlist the help of a ramshackle band of canines (or, as they prefer, “a pack of scary, indestructible alpha dogs”) to find his dog, Spots.

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, playing the gang’s leader, Chief, heads a stellar voice cast including Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig and (of course) Bill Murray – not to mention a cameo from Yoko Ono…

This looks set to deliver much of the charm and deadpan wit that are Anderson’s hallmarks – though, as might be expected from its dystopian setting, there’s apparently a melancholy edge to it too.

Love, Simon

Cert 12A, 106 mins

Vue York

From Fri Apr 6

Movie website

This romantic comedy tells the story of Simon (Nick Robinson, Jurassic World), a gay teenager who’s struggling to come out to his family and friends.

Matters are made more complicated when he falls for one of his classmates online, but doesn’t know their identity.

Hailed as a landmark for being the first major studio movie to focus on a gay teenage romance, reviews suggest it’s a warm and funny, if generic, crowd-pleaser, with many critics comparing it to the films of John Hughes.

And who knows, if you’re lucky, maybe Barney from How I Met Your Mother will pay for you to go and see it

Tully

Cert 15, 96 mins

Vue York

From Fri Apr 20

Movie website

Believe it or not, it’s now ten years since Ellen Page graced our screens as the pregnant teen heroine in Juno.

Tully reunites the team behind the much-loved comedy, writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, for a look at the messy realities of motherhood.

It stars Charlize Theron (who also worked with Cody and Reitman on 2011’s Young Adult) as Marlo, an exhausted mum of three whose brother arranges a night nanny for her in the shape of Tully (Mackenzie Davis).

Marlo is hesitant at first, but the two gradually come to form a unique bond.

The film was well received after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with Film Journal calling it “a smart, deeply empathetic ode to motherhood”.

Sci-fi/Fantasy

Ready Player One

Cert 12A, 140 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Thurs Mar 29

Movie website

Steven Spielberg’s run of ‘70s and ‘80s blockbusters has been enjoyably homaged by the likes of Super 8 and TV’s Stranger Things in recent years – now the man himself is back to helm this nostalgia-powered fantasy adventure.

Based on the best-selling novel by Ernest Cline, the story takes place in a dystopian 2045, where people have found salvation in a virtual reality known as the OASIS.

When its creator (Mark Rylance) dies, he leaves a digital Easter egg hidden somewhere in his vast and fantastical world – whoever finds it first will both be heir to his immense fortune, and win control of the OASIS.

Our hero is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who races with his virtual allies Art3mis and Aech (Olivia Cooke and Lena Waithe) to find the prize before a team of agents working for the villainous Nolan Sorrento (Rogue One’s cape-swisher-in-chief Ben Mendelsohn).

The multitude of Eighties pop culture references should make this cinematic catnip to those who grew up on Spielberg’s much-loved early films. There’s a DeLorean in it, you say? Yeah, I suppose I might pop down…

Avengers: Infinity War

Cert TBC, TBC mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Weds Apr 23

Movie website

Well, pretty much everyone who’s anyone looks to be in this latest addition to the Marvel saga.

The usual core Avengers gang of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor et al are bulked out by more recent additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Guardians of the Galaxy to Black Panther.

It’s all in the service of defending the world from Thanos (Josh Brolin), their most powerful enemy since, er, the last one, who’s out to collect the Infinity Stones in order to impose his twisted will on reality – a prospect serious enough to have caused Captain America to stop shaving.

Directors the Russo brothers helmed 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, which was basically an Avengers movie in all but name – so they should be adept at juggling the ever-expanding cast here.

Drama

120 BPM

Cert 15, 143 mins

City Screen

From Fri Apr 6

Movie website

This French drama following a young man in an AIDS activist group in 1990s Paris won four awards at the 2017 Cannes Festival.

Nathan (Arnaud Valois) joins the ACT UP group, who are dedicated to shaking up a complacent establishment as the AIDS crisis reaches its height.

As he attends the weekly meetings, Nathan finds that some members favour more radical activism than others – and finds himself drawn to one of the campaigners, the passionate, driven Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart).

Director Robin Campillo co-wrote the screenplay with Philippe Mangeot, drawing on their own experiences from their time in ACT UP, and the film has received great acclaim for its vitality and its blend of the personal and political.

Funny Cow

Cert 15, 105 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Apr 20

Movie website

The mercurial Maxine Peake stars in this tale of a woman trying to make it on the northern comedy circuit in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Referred to simply as ‘Funny Cow’, her character ploughs her own furrow in the all-male environment, mining her troubled childhood and turbulent adult relationships for material.

A potential romance with middle class bookshop owner Angus (Paddy Considine) offers some respite from her stormy relationship with violent husband Bob.

Sheffield-born Tony Pitts, who plays Bob, also wrote the screenplay, while the soundtrack is courtesy of Steel City crooner Richard Hawley (who, as anyone who’s seen him live will know, isn’t above a groan-worthy gag or ten himself).

Thriller/Horror

Ghost Stories

Cert 15, 98 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Apr 6

Movie website

“Do you believe in evil, Professor? I didn’t, until that night…”

This UK horror anthology sees sceptical psychologist Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) investigate three chilling cases at the behest of his former mentor.

Goodman meets the tormented people at the heart of each tale (including Paul Whitehouse and Martin Freeman) and hears their stories – each one more frightening and inexplicable than the last…

The film is co-written and directed by Nyman and The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson, adapting their successful stage play. Dyson’s time in Royston Vasey and Nyman’s work with Derren Brown suggest this will be a creepy and tricksy viewing experience.

A Quiet Place

Cert 15, 90 mins

Vue York

From Thurs Apr 5

Movie Facebook page

John Krasinski is probably best known for playing Martin Freeman’s counterpart in the US version of The Office.

His latest movie – which he directs as well as stars in – is a far cry from the cheery world of Dunder Mifflin.

It’s a tense thriller in which a family of four are on the run from sinister creatures who hunt by sound – forcing them to live their lives in silence.

Kraskinski stars with his real-life wife Emily Blunt as the father and mother desperately trying to keep their children safe.

Said to favour the slow-burn horror approach of the likes of The Babadook, the film was a hit when it premiered at the South By Southwest festival in Texas recently.

If it does well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel, can I suggest they call it Quiet Place 2: Ssshhh Happens?

Beast

Cert TBC, 107 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Apr 21

Movie website

A young woman falls for a mysterious outsider, putting her at odds with her oppressive family and her community in this Jersey-set psychological thriller.

When Pascal (Johnny Flynn) rescues Moll (Jessie Buckley) from a dangerous encounter, the two fall deeply in love – but things take a dark turn when Pascal is accused of a string of brutal murders.

Moll defends her new lover at all costs – but is she blinding herself to the truth?

This first feature from British director Michael Pearce has been widely praised by critics as a creepy, compelling tale with standout performances from its two leads.

Q&A Screening

The Islands And The Whales plus director Q&A

Cert 12A, 81 mins

City Screen

Thurs Apr 5, 6:30pm

Movie website

Director Mike Day will join the audience for a Q&A session after this screening of his new documentary.

The film looks at the whale hunters of the Faroe Islands, whose way of life is under threat, less from the activism against whaling than from the whales themselves – it has been discovered that they are now toxic, due to the effects of marine pollution.

It’s an understandably controversial subject, which should make for a compelling discussion afterwards.

Seasons and one-offs

Tying in with the release of Ready Player One this month, City Screen have a winningly retro season compiling some of the many sci-fi classics that it harks back to.

Running on Monday nights for six weeks, it begins on 9th April with cult Japanese anime Akira.

Originally released in 1988, this tale of a biker gang in the dystopian city of Neo-Tokyo has gone on to be an influence on countless sci-fi movies since, and was a key factor in anime’s growing popularity outside Japan.

Next up, Robert Englund slashes his way back on to the big screen in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street (16th), before Doc and Marty fire up the flux capacitor in Back To The Future on 23rd.

The last offering for this month is Disney’s 1982 CGI trailblazer Tron, showing on 30th.

Elsewhere, Vintage Sundays wraps up one season and starts another. The last film in the Studio Ghibli season is Howl’s Moving Castle on 8th, in which a young girl teams up with a powerful (and rather petulant) wizard.

A week later on 15th, a season celebrating the work of the seminal Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman begins with 1957’s Wild Strawberries.

Considered one of Bergman’s warmest and most accessible films, it sees a grouchy professor and his daughter-in-law take a nostalgic road-trip together.

Next up on 22nd is one of the most famous face-offs in cinema history, as a knight plays chess with Death in The Seventh Seal.

It’s followed by Persona on 29th, which explores the volatile relationship between an actress and her nurse.

There’s also a small season of three classics of 1960s British cinema screening over the weekend of Friday 6th – Sunday 8th April, with all films being introduced by Professor Duncan Petrie of the University of York.

There’s a slice of kitchen-sink realism in A Kind Of Loving (6th), followed by a trip to swinging London courtesy of Blow Up (7th), before things come to a close on 8th with the Mick Jagger-starring tale of decadence Performance – a film which so shocked Warner Bros executives when they first saw it that they prevented its release for two years.

Of the one-off screenings this month, Studio Ghibli fans may want to check out a preview of anime Mary And The Witch’s Flower, showing at Vue, City Screen and Everyman on Tuesday 10th.

A young heroine; a magic flower; witches and wizards; based on a children’s book – it certainly ticks a lot of Ghibli boxes, which isn’t surprising considering its director Hiromasa Yonebayashi was responsible for one of the studio’s last films, 2014’s When Marnie Was There.

Meanwhile, I’ve heard good things about Australian western Sweet Country, which shows at City Screen on Tuesday 17th.

Set in 1929, it’s the tale of an Aboriginal farmhand (Hamilton Morris) who goes on the run after shooting a white man in self-defence. Veteran Australian actors Bryan Brown and Sam Neill are among those leading the posse who set out in pursuit.

And to finish, a weather warning – meteorologists have warned that York will experience localised outbreaks of Greased Lightning on Thursday 19th.

Affected areas are said to include Everyman, Vue and City Screen.

Experts advise that symptoms among those who have been struck by Greased Lightning include spontaneous dancing, hand jiving and involuntary chants of “Wella wella wella huh.”

Stay safe out there, folks…

Community Cinema

It’ll be temporarily quiet on the films front in New Earswick, as Film at the Folk Hall is taking a short break due to renovation work on the hall.

But never fear, as the team are using the time to make some improvements of their own, and will be holding a special relaunch event when the Folk Hall reopens in July.

Over in South Bank though, the Community Cinema is back after a short break.

Its summer season kicks off on 13th April, with Eric Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale.

Rohmer was part of the French New Wave group of directors in the 1950s and ‘60s, but this is one of his later works – it came out in 1996 as part of a series of four films taking in the four seasons.

A romantic comedy, it sees shy Maths graduate Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud) take a holiday in the seaside town of Dinard. While waiting for his sort-of girlfriend Lena to join him, he becomes entangled with waitress Margot and her free-spirited friend Solene…

For some reason, the film didn’t screen in the US until 18 years later, in 2014, when it came out not long after Richard Linklater’s magnificent coming-of-age drama Boyhood – leading one reviewer to suggest that “Rohmer’s sun-drenched roundelay might be a sequel to Boyhood transposed to France.”

SBCC’s second film in April showcases early starring roles for both Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth.

Showing on 27th, A Month in the Country is a 1987 British drama set in the aftermath of the First World War.

Set in Yorkshire (though mostly filmed in Buckinghamshire), it stars Firth as Tom Birkin, a destitute WW1 veteran doing restoration work on a church mural. He forms a friendship with Branagh, an archaeologist and fellow veteran, and together the two begin to come to terms with the horrors of their wartime experience.

Natasha Richardson plays the vicar’s wife to whom Birkin forms an emotional attachment.

Both screenings are in Clement’s Hall on Nunthorpe Road. Tickets are £3 for members or £4 for guests.