The Little Things (2021, dir. John Lee Hancock)

A veteran cop and an ambitious detective collaborate to catch a serial killer. Well-made and acted if slightly over-familiar neo-noir with procedural aspects. Its deliberate pace and quiet style may not be for everyone, but Denzel Washington is as good as ever and LA is made to feel unfamiliar: no easy feat.

Here’s the trailer.

Bacarau (2019, dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles)

A remote village is beset by a series of unexplained deaths. Part Brazilian political allegory, part weird western, part body-count horror with SF touches, Bacarau is tremendous throughout, looks great, makes you think, and has Udo Kier on fine form. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Rams (2020, dir. Jeremy Sims)

Long-feuding sheep-farming brothers are impacted by a virus threatening their rare breed flocks. Very pleasurable comedy-drama – a remake of the 2015 Icelandic film of the same name – which transposes its story well, and which does pretty much what you’d expect, but with confident ease. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Rust Creek (2018, dir. Jen McGowan)

A young woman takes a wrong turn and ends up on the run from a pair of backwoods Kentucky meth dealers. An interesting take on a well-worn premise, spending as much time on character and relationships as on in-peril thriller/horror melodramatics. Lots of promise here from all involved.

Here’s the trailer.

The Woman in the Window (2021, dir. Joe Wright)

An agoraphobic and alcoholic psychiatrist believes she witnesses a murder. A strong cast and at-times confident direction can’t save this attempt to emulate a De Palma-ish emulation in turn of Hitchcock. A silly script is the main issue: good actors have little to do, though Amy Adams clearly relishes the chance to play vulnerable. Copycat did this better.

Here’s the trailer.

Ride (2018, dir. Jeremy Ungar)

A private hire driver picks up an unorthodox passenger. LA-set mashup of Collateral and The Hitcher for the Uber/Lyft generation. Okay performances (it’s basically a car-set three-hander), and some good moments, though the movie suffers from a lack of story: at 75 minutes, though, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Here’s the trailer.

Silk Road (2021, dir. Tiller Russell)

A tech wiz develops an online trading portal for drugs: a burnout agent begins to investigate. Loosely based on a true story, this thriller/drama plays off opposites – digital/analogue, young/old – to generally OK if at-times soapy effect. No real surprises, but some effective playing from a decent cast. Paul Walter Hauser shines in a key supporting role.

Here’s the trailer.

The Ice Road (2021, dir. Jonathan Hensleigh)

Trucker brothers transport key equipment over treacherous ice roads to rescue trapped miners. Straightforward thriller with action elements, riffing on Hawksian reality TV and The Wages of Fear. Somewhat perfunctory in plotting and direction, though a decent cast, location shooting, and some character elements add value.

Here’s the trailer.

Antebellum (2020, dir. Gerard Bush & Christopher Renz)

A US Civil War-era plantation is not as it first appears. Clumsy attempt to mash together the likes of Westworld and The Village. Unfortunately, any good intentions are masked by a fetishised approach to depicting slavery, and by not thinking through either the premise or its implications. A shame, as Janelle Monae and – especially – Gabourey Sidibe are good here.

Here’s the trailer.

Body Brokers (2021, dir. John Swab)

A young addict becomes involved in insurance fraud masquerading as drug treatment. Drama/thriller with documentary elements – not entirely unlike The Big Short – that’s a touch too didactic, but nevertheless interesting, well-played, sheds light on a fresh (to me, anyway) scam, and is packed with quality character actors. Director Swab’s one to watch.

Here’s the trailer.