New On Screen April 2024 – Robert Downey Jr’s The Sympathizer, Back To Black & More

Recent Oscar winner Robert Downey Jr returns in a new spy comedy, while Amy Winehouse’s tumultuous life and career are revisited on the big screen.

By Yong Shu Chiang        3 April 2024

The Sympathizer

Out 15 April, HBO Go

Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Hoa Xuande, Sandra Oh

“You are a man of two faces,” a Vietnamese official says about the protagonist of this dark comedy. In fact, the Captain (Hoa) could be a man of many more; after all, he is a spy. A communist, he was a North Vietnamese mole within the South Vietnam army. With the Vietnam War ending, he secures passage to the United States with his superior, a general. At the same time, the CIA recruits him to be a counterspy, to spy on his former comrades. As the Captain assimilates to life in America, he finds himself with split loyalties and a fractured identity.

Robert Downey Jr: Third time lucky

Robert Downey Jr

Thirty-one years after his first Academy Award nomination, the celebrated actor with a chequered past has just won his first Oscar soon after wrapping up his Marvel career.

It’s only been weeks, but Iron Man has finally got his little man in gold.

Robert Downey Jr, one of the leading actors of his generation, was recognised at the recent Academy Awards for playing the antagonist to the title character in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.

In accepting his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, after his third nomination, the 58-year-old memorably thanked his “terrible childhood and the Academy” for his success. 

For much of his adult life, and throughout his career, Downey has both done excellent work as well as been plagued by substance abuse issues attributable to the issues his parents faced when he was a child.

He made his big-screen debut in 1984 and was soon associated with The Brat Pack, a group of up-and-coming actors in Hollywood during that time. Some of his early notable appearances were in Weird Science (1985), Less than Zero (1987), Chances Are (1989) and Air America (1990).

In 1993, Downey received his first Oscar nomination for playing the silent-movie star Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin, a stunning performance that many felt was deserving of the Best Actor award that went to Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) instead.

His life and career fell apart between 1996 and 2001, when he lapsed into addiction, was in and out of rehab, and was arrested numerous times. His wife at the time left him.

Post-addiction, his career has enjoyed a resurgence, first with a role on the popular TV series Ally McBeal, then in a string of well-reviewed and successful turns in films such as The Singing Detective (2003), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and Tropic Thunder (2008) – for which he received his second Oscar nomination.

2008’s Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes a year later entrenched Downey in blockbuster franchise success – his two titular characters have been credited in 12 movies altogether – and he has now embarked on another phase of his career, with 2020’s Doolittle and then Oppenheimer.

Downey can next be seen, in multiple roles, in The Sympathizer, about a Vietnamese spy who moves to the United States after the end of the Vietnam War.

We Are Family

We Are Family

Out in cinemas now (Available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Eric Tsang, Carlos Chan, Catherine Chau

Chi Kwong (Tsang) has a zeal for acting, but has only had a career as an extra. He stumbles into a role of a lifetime, however, when he encounters a performing troupe of sorts: a group of actors who hire themselves out as a “rent-a-family” for a select clientele. As he adjusts to this newfound late career, he navigates the intricate rules around how to maintain the suitable level of professionalism, and discretion, required. As he finds kinship among his fellow actors, he learns that they, too, struggle not to cross the lines of their morally ambiguous vocation.

SAFRA members enjoy special discounts on MovieMax Member rates and Combo Sets at Shaw Theatres. For more info, go to

Civil War

Out in cinemas 10 April (Available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura

A work of speculative fiction, this thriller asks the chilling question, “What if the United States of America devolved into warring states?” In this scenario within a familiar contemporary setting, a second American Civil War is unfolding as several states have seceded from the union. As forces vie for control of the country, with extremist militia battling the United States Army on multiple fronts, a group of journalists, Joel (Moura), Lee (Dunst) and Jessie (Spaeny), travel across the map to document divisions among the people and the escalating violence. 

Back To Black

Back To Black

Out in cinemas 11 April (available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Marisa Abela, Eddie Marsan, Jack O’Connell

Amy Winehouse had an unforgettable voice. An award-winning singer-songwriter whose second and final studio album, Back to Black, is a modern classic, she died at just 27 in 2011, after personal troubles that fame only served to exacerbate. This biopic charts her life and career, starting with her humble beginnings as a jazz club singer in the early 2000s, to her rise as a multi-award-winning musician. It also examines her relationships with her father Mitch and her on-off boyfriend Blake, amidst her struggles with substance abuse, addiction and mental illness.


Out 11 April, Prime Video

Stars: Walton Goggins, Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten

After living within an ordered, post-apocalyptic underground society, in secure vaults designed to protect against nuclear fallout, a young woman sets out to explore the world above. Lucy (Purnell) discovers that what used to be Los Angeles is now a savage, lawless place, with the vault-dwellers having been forgotten for 200 years and dismissed as long-dead idealists. Unsurprisingly, different factions fight over the resources that remain, amidst a landscape of mutated beings, and Lucy struggles to stay alive while trying to find her father.

City Hunter

City Hunter

Out 25 April, Netflix

Stars: Ryohei Suzuki, Misato Morita, Masanobu Ando

Ryo (Suzuki) is an incorrigible skirt-chaser, a pervy private investigator with a wandering eye – but also a crack marksman’s aim. His main redeeming feature: he is part of a team that sweeps up trouble in the Japanese underworld. Together with his partner Hideyuki (Ando), they are the “City Hunter” agency that takes on all kinds of crime-busting missions. One day, as Hideyuki dies in his arms, Ryo promises to take care of his tomboy sister Kaori (Morita). Together, they race to solve his murder and bring the perpetrators to justice, by hook or by crook.

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