Behind The Candelabra (2013, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

The last decade of Vegas performer Liberace’s life, from the perspective of his lover Scott Thorsen. A well-played and effective biopic, made with Soderbergh’s customary deftness, getting beyond the camp and rhinestones to explore the frailties of two people drawn to each other out of lack.

Red Hill (2010, dir. Patrick Hughes)

The arrival of a transferred deputy to a remote Australian community coincides with the escape of a vengeful murderer. While the plot elements don’t quite work, this is nevertheless a well-staged and good-looking contemporary Western/horror hybrid, with a couple of mythic touches and a great villain.

The Gift (2015, dir. Joel Edgerton)

A seemingly perfect couple’s new life in California is corrupted by a schoolmate of the husband. A superior psychological thriller, with writer-director-star Edgerton capably balancing both genre expectations and fresh ideas. Much to appreciate, and to make Edgerton one to watch.

Tag (2018, dir. Jeff Tomsic)

Five school friends have been playing the same game of tag for 30 years. Based on a true story, this is a solid action-comedy with a couple of moments of dark genius. The denouement is emotionally-manipulated, but by then the flick’s earned enough goodwill to let matters slide. Unexpectedly good, and thus a recommendation.

Arkansas (2020, dir. Clark Duke)

Two low-level drug dealers find themselves in a new state, working for a new boss. Low-key, novelistic drama (adapted from the John Brandon book) with thriller elements. Its gentle pace and lack of narrative drive may infuriate some, but there’s plenty to appreciate if you go with it.

Dark Waters (2019, dir. Todd Haynes)

A lawyer investigates an environmental conspiracy linked to chemical company Dupont. Based on a true story, this sober drama is deliberate and effective. Oddly, the weak link is producer/star Ruffalo, who’s simply 20 years too old to be playing the lead, despite his sterling efforts. A sturdy cast of character actors helps things along.

Seberg (2019, dir. Benedict Andrews)

Actor Jean Seberg struggles with her personal life, civil rights activism, and the pressures of fearing FBI surveillance. Decent biopic focusing on 1968-1970; a very solid cast and subtle direction help, even if the script doesn’t get us close to the protagonist. Lots to appreciate, not least the production design and performances.

Bad Education (2020, dir. Cory Finlay)

A school superintendent and their deputy are revealed, in part by a student investigation, to be embezzling from the school system. Smart black comedy-drama, based on a true story. Underplayed throughout, with fine performances from seasoned hands, and a sense that maybe the right lessons are still to be learned by some.

Hammer (2019, dir. Christian Sparkes)

An estranged father and son are forced to work together when a drug deal goes wrong. Smart, lean all-in-one-day indie thriller with as keen a focus on character and relationships as on the narrative’s spiralling complications. Lots to appreciate and enjoy; recommended. Great to see Will Patton in a leading role too.

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016, dir. Sam Liu)

An origin story for The Joker, filtered through his attempts to show anyone can become like him if they have a single day traumatic enough. Okay expansion of the iconic Moore/Bolland graphic novel. Doesn’t add much except running time; for completists only, perhaps, though those unfamiliar with the book may appreciate it more.