The Park Is Mine (1985, dir. Steven Hilliard Stern)

A struggling ex-soldier holds Central Park hostage to gain attention for veterans’ issues. Odd mix of post-First Blood action and issues-based drama, this talky oddball siege flick has a lot going for it, even if it feels compromised in its execution.

Here’s the trailer.

You Should Have Left (2020, dir. David Koepp)

A wealthy family stay in a remote Welsh vacation rental; the house has secrets. Slight, austere, though generally effective psychological thriller, adapted from the Daniel Kehlmann novel. No real surprises, but the movie’s well-played and directed, and succeeds within the strictures of the Twilight Zone-ish story.

Here’s the trailer.

Ava (2020, dir. Tate Taylor)

A troubled assassin returns to her home city, but complications arise. Neither full-on action thriller or character-led drama, Ava works best simply as a star vehicle for its producer Chastain. A decent if typecast set of supporting players helps, but there’s little fresh brought to the table here.

Here’s the trailer.

The Quarry (2020, dir. Scott Teems)

A man on the run kills a preacher and assumes his identity in a new town. Stark, austere drama-thriller from the Damon Galgut novel, dealing with guilt, regret and inability to communicate. Great performances and a minimalist approach help, though the material and its handling may not be for all. Recommended, nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

Summer of ’84 (2018, dir. François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell)

A conspiracist teen and his friends became convinced a cop neighbour is an active serial killer. Solid 80s-set teen mystery/horror that’s careful to pace itself and focus on atmosphere as much as plot. Doesn’t overplay the nostalgia either; this is an impressive and well-sustained movie.

Here’s the trailer.

Da 5 Bloods (2020, dir. Spike Lee)

Four black Vietnam veterans return to find their fallen comrade, and to retrieve a cache of gold. Smart, incendiary mix of military action and state of the nation drama. Playful and serious in equal measure, and cine-literate as hell. Oh, and the Best Actor Oscar? The statuette’s got Delroy Lindo’s name on it already.

Here’s the trailer.

Higher Power (2018, dir. Matthew Charles Santoro)

A self-destructive father is targeted because of his unique DNA. Awkward and clumsy low-budget oddball superhero/metaphysical drama. Functions rather better than a CG effects showcase than as a movie, despite reliable villainy from Colm Feore.

Here’s the trailer:

The Devil All The Time (2020, dir. Antonio Campos)

An Ohio family is linked in different ways with a series of tragedies and crimes. Splendid adaptation of the Donald Ray Pollock novel; a brooding back country gothic noir meditating on faith and violence. Not for everyone, but there’s strong work from all concerned here. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Jaws (1975, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A coastal resort is threatened by a predatory great white shark. Peerless proto-blockbuster and inventor of the summer event movie, Jaws retains its ability to thrill and impress. Character, action, location shooting, direction and a semi-improvised approach to dialogue are counterpointed by a terrific score. Sequels of diminishing quality followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t Let Go (2019, dir. Jacob Aaron Estes)

A detective races to save the life again of his niece, who is contacting him through time from before her recent murder. Odd timeslip procedural (a cousin to Deja Vu) that succeeds if you go with its premise. Excellent performances and committed direction help no end.

Here’s the trailer.