Hollow City [Na Cidade Vazia] (2004, dir. Maria Joao Ganga)

A displaced orphan escapes into the city: he wants to go home. An Angolan version of Oliver Twist after a fashion, set in the early 1990s in the context of civil war. Offers a ground-level perspective, though struggles at times to balance narrative with didactic elements. Impressive, nevertheless, and worth investigating.

No trailer online, though a subtitled version of the film is here

Dementer (2021, dir. Chad Crawford Kinkle)

A new care facility worker believes that one of her service users is under malign influence. Impressive low-budget horror with a Dogme-ish aesthetic. Plays its cards a little close about how much is in the protagonist’s mind or otherwise, but this is still exhilarating genre filmmaking. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Antlers (2021, dir. Scott Cooper)

An alcoholic teacher in a run-down former mining community is concerned a student is being abused. Stately wendigo horror with allegorical intent: doesn’t quite link between first peoples’ famine, monsters, and opioid-depressed communities, but there’s a quiet professionalism at work, even if Cooper’s tendency to ponderousness dulls the piece at times.

Here’s another view.

And here’s the trailer.

Ida Red (2021, dir. John Swab)

Tulsa-based criminals work to raise the money to get a matriarch out of prison before she dies. Not-bad 2010-set noir drama with action elements. Does plenty of things seen elsewhere (from Heat to Hell or High Water) but has its own decent vibe, a fine cast of character actors, and some quirky moments. Swab remains a talent to keep an eye on.

Here’s the trailer.

Chungking Express (1994, dir. Wong Kar Wai)

Two stories in the same part of Hong Kong, both featuring lovelorn cops. Splendid postmodern comic romance with thriller asides: a love letter to the sidestreets, drawing on the 60s French New Wave and 80s Cinema du Look in more-or-less equal measure. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Riders of Justice [AKA Retfærdighedens Ryttere] (2020, dir. Anders Thomas Jensen)

A soldier teams up with three data specialists to get revenge for his wife’s death. What sets itself up as a straightforward action thriller quickly develops into a black comedy that’s touching, outrageous, and daring in all kinds of ways. Highly recommended.

Old (2021, dir. M Night Shyamalan)

A remote beach has the power to age humans dramatically: holidaying strangers race against time to escape. Good-looking if at-times awkward Twilight Zone-ish yarn with horror elements. Not sure the movie plays wholly fair with its resolution, but there’s an OK one-time watch here.

Here’s the trailer.

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.