F9 [AKA F9: The Fast Saga; Fast & Furious 9] (2021, dir. Justin Lin)

The Torettos and friends search for a codebreaking device. More of the increasingly-interchangeable series: 150 minutes of soapy sentimentality, decent stuntwork, and terrible physics-worrying spectacle. Director Lin does what he can with the material tho, and there’s some fun moments from seasoned character actors like Shea Whigham.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s another view.

The Princess Bride (1987, dir. Rob Reiner)

A grandfather reads a fairy story of true love to his ill grandson. Excellent distillation of the William Goldman novel, with the right balance of thrills, jokes, well-sketched characters, and a cast that knows exactly the movie they’re in. Lots of fun throughout.

Here’s the trailer

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial [AKA E.T.] (1982, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A boy befriends a stranded alien. Still-powerful Christ allegory dressed up as a child-friendly sci-fi comedy. Works in all kinds of ways, and is technically astounding throughout. What shines is the quiet confidence on display, and Spielberg’s ability to tell story through character moments and shot composition. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer

Trancers II (1991, dir. Charles Band)

Jack Deth battles a nemesis in present-day LA, while dealing with future complications. Tatty straight-to-video sequel with only glimmers of the vim of the original. A shame, as there’s some good ideas, plus a decent cult movie cast, though they don’t all have much to do. Further episodes followed.

Here’s the trailer

No Sudden Move (2021, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

Two criminals are hired for a straightforward job: matters get complicated. Excellent period drama, using the tropes of noir to critique capitalism and corporate greed. Lots to relish, not least a cast in depth, plus slick, confident direction, writing, and design. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

No Time to Die (2021, dir. Cary Joji Fukunaga)

A retired Bond combats the threat of a stolen bioweapon. Last of the Craig-era pics, this is the Avengers: Endgame of Bond flicks, rounding out a loose five-film arc. Less successful as a stand-alone movie, but it tries something different, Craig and a guesting Ana de Armas are both great, and there’s neat moments aplenty among the bombast and soapy stuff.

Here’s the trailer.

Under the Silver Lake (2018, dir. David Robert Mitchell)

An LA slacker investigates a neighbour’s disappearance: he soon spirals into a web of conspiracy. In the overlap of the Hitchcock / Pynchon / Paul Thomas Anderson Venn diagram, this 2011-set shaggy dog neo-noir is more a vibe than a movie: there’s indulgent pleasures along the way, but don’t expect a cohesive story.

Here’s the trailer.

Kate (2021, dir. Cedric Nicolas-Troyan)

A Tokyo-based assassin has 24 hours to get revenge on the yakuza chief who fatally poisoned her. The 1940s noir D.O.A., basically, as a stylised action movie. Okay as far as it goes, though the rote script and a fetishized approach to Japanese pop culture detracts from Mary Elizabeth Winstead badassery and intermittently-terrific action choreography.

Here’s the trailer.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021, dir. Adam Wingard)

An expedition to Earth’s hollow centre searches for a power source critical to fight the Titans. Following Godzilla: King of the Monsters, this series continuation pillages everything from At The Earth’s Core to, er, The Core. Some neat moments aside, though, this is uninvolving CG monster city battle gubbins with a decent cast stranded.

Here’s the trailer.

Soapdish (1991, dir. Michael Hoffman)

Machinations behind the scenes of a daytime soap opera. One key moment aside (a plot twist that doesn’t hold nowadays), this is a sprightly camp farce with everyone in on the joke and strength in depth in the cast and playing. Something of a time capsule, but there’s plenty of fun here to be had nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.