For anyone who likes movies, the first weekend of April brings a range of favorites to broadcast and cable stations. Take a look at what’s showing in the comfort of home.

 

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

As the delightful senior citizens explore in new adventures in the inevitable sequel – now playing in theaters – we can rewatch the first film to recall why we like them so much in the first place. This somewhat rambling comedy introduces us to a group of people who confront the realities of later years by pursuing new adventures. While some search for financial stability, and others long for personal resolution, they create a real sense of community in a dilapidated hotel they call home. With lovely performances from Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith.

Saturday, April 4, 9:30 a.m., Sundance

 

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

No matter how many times you have seen this classic from 1939, its magical moments still resonate in our movie memories. Who can forget when a young girl named Dorothy searches for peace over the rainbow or, with her dog named Toto, first discovers the colorful land where her house lands or, with her new friends, discovers that a mean witch can be afraid of water. This musical never grows old. And watching it immediately returns us to the first time we experienced its unrestrained joy.

Friday, April 3, 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies

 

Easter Parade (1948)

After her triumphant journey to Oz, Judy Garland became MGM’s musical darling with such hits as Meet Me in St. Louis and The Harvey Girls. This musical – about a Broadway star who tries to make his former partner jealous – may be thin in plot but rich in song and dance incuding the famous Garland duet with Fred Astaire, A Couple of Swells, that finds the pair dressed up as street urchins. Forget the story and celebrate the magic of two marvelous performers having a great time on screen.

Sunday, April 5, 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies

 

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Of the atrocities that people have faced, the events in Rwanda in 1994 remain impossible to comprehend. Logic evades any explanation of how people could mistreat each other

with such relish. Thanks, however, to the selfless acts of real heroes, some stories of hope emerged from the tragedy. Don Cheadle shines as a hotel manager who takes great risks to try to save hundreds of refugees from certain death. Without grandstanding a message, or avoiding the less comfortable dimensions of the story, writer/director Terry George creates a meaningful tribute to the human spirit.

Saturday, April 4, 5:55 p.m., Flix

 

The Natural (1984)

Robert Redford delivers a pitch-perfect portrayal of a mysterious baseball player in this moving story of deception, betrayal and redemption from director Barry Levinson. With strong support from Kim Basinger, Glenn Close and Robert Duvall, Redford digs beneath the sentimental surface of the story to let us know what it takes for someone to overcome unfair obstacles to obtain opportunities once denied. And the climactic finale scene is a baseball sequence for the ages. With a majestic musical score by Randy Newman.

Saturday, April 4, 6 p.m., Sundance

 

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Adapting a Broadway drama to the screen can be tricky especially when the dialogue is rich and the characters complex. And, when the playwright is Tennessee Williams, the risks can be considerable. But Broadway legend Elia Kazan – directing a cast headed by Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando – exceeds every expectation. This film writes the book on how to capture the essence of a theatrical work without simply duplicating what occurs on stage. And Leigh delivers a breathtaking portrayal of a fading Southern belle.

Friday, April 3, 4:15 p.m., Turner Classic Movies

 

Air Force One (1997)

Harrison Ford recently made headlines for his real-life heroics when making a dramatic crash landing in one of his airplanes. On screen, he presents a reel portrait of bravery as an American President who has to protect his freedom with his own hands. This thriller from director Wolfgang Petersen thrills with its brisk story, surprising situations and strong performances by Ford, Gary Oldman as a most threatening villain, and Glenn Close as the Vice President. While the resolution may be a bit extreme, it makes an exciting movie.

Saturday, April 4, 3:30 p.m., AMC

 

The Birdcage (1996)

Some movies can be seen over and over and still entertain. This delightful and sensitive comedy from director Mike Nichols – based on the French film La Cage Aux Folles – brings a sharp wit to the familiar story of how two partnered gay men prepare for the marriage of their son to the daughter of a conservative politician. With razor sharp work from Robin Williams and Nathan Lane – and devastating supporting performances from Gene Hackman and, especially, Dianne Wiest – this delicious farce supplies plenty of laughs. Time and time again.

Saturday, April 4, 7 p.m., POP

 

Sharing movies can be as easy as turning on the television or going online. And, when you watch as a family, take the time to chat about what you’re seeing. That makes it even more fun.

 

 

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