Black Narcissus (1947, dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)

Nuns newly-arrived in a remote Himalayan convent struggle with erotic impulses. While at best dated in some respects (brownface, some attitudes) this is a beautiful, technically-compelling and at times mesmerising movie. More a tone poem than overly concerned with narrative cause and effect, so may not be for all contemporary audiences.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t Tell A Soul (2020, dir. Alex McAulay)

Troubled brothers fleeing a robbery accidentally trap a security guard. Lean, effective thriller with a keen sense of autumn and of blue-collar lives. Works effectively in focusing on the implications of its set-up, and on impacts on its well-sketched characters. A fun, impressive little movie.

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.

Shorta (2021, dir. Frederik Louis Hviid & Anders Olholm)

Two officers – one trusted, one implicated in police violence – are caught up in a riot situation and cut off from support. This Danish drama mashes up the behind-enemy-lines likes of ’71 with a David Ayer-ish cop neo-noir. Somewhat schematic in its storytelling, but undeniably confident, and at least attempting – not always wholly successfully – to mix action with social commentary.

Here’s the trailer.

The Guilty (2021, dir. Antoine Fuqua)

A deskbound troubled police officer struggles to solve a possible abduction while working in an LA 911 call centre. Decent US remake of the 2018 Danish thriller of the same name. A stripped-back production that’s effective both as a drama and as a showcase for star Gyllenhaal, who’s onscreen throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

The Book of Henry (2017, dir. Colin Trevorrow)

A child genius suspects that his neighbour and classmate is being abused. Odd drama that tries for poignant and quirky but ends up too often as mawkish and clumsy. Some points for the attempt and for some minor design elements, but this is a misbegotten film.

Here’s the trailer.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016, dir. Ang Lee)

A troubled war hero about to be redeployed struggles with life in America. Its glossy direction and staging notwithstanding, this is an at-times awkward drama that doesn’t offer much new except in its good intentions and immaculate technical credits. Perhaps an indication that not all novels are translatable to film.

Here’s the trailer.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972, dir. Ronald Neame)

Survivors of an upturned cruise liner race against time to climb to the bottom of the ship. Earnest and clunky, this early entrant into the 70s disaster movie cycle is nevertheless impressive in its technical credits and its commitment of approach, and in its blending of veteran, current, and emerging onscreen talent. Based on a Paul Gallico novel: a sequel and other adaptations followed.

Here’s the trailer.

The Many Saints of Newark (2021, dir. Alan Taylor)

A late 60s/early 70s New Jersey teenager is raised in a mob-affiliated household and neighbourhood. This The Sopranos prequel works as a both an insight into the earlier lives of that series’ main characters, and as a stand-alone movie. Tony Soprano very much a supporting character here: the focus is on his uncle Dickie, played by a never-better Alessandro Nivola.

Here’s the trailer.

The Paper Tigers (2020, dir. Tran Quoc Bao)

Three middle-aged former martial arts students reunite to investigate the killing of their mentor. Straightforward but charming low-budget comedy with action elements: clearly a labour of love, there’s plenty to appreciate here, so the prospect of more from this writer-director is an appealing one.

Here’s the trailer.