#Alive [AKA #Saraitda] (2020, dir. Cho-Il Hyung)

A gamer teen is stranded in their high-rise apartment during a zombie outbreak. Clever, effective z-movie, adept at finding new ways to explore the sub-genre’s possibilities, and with some telling points to make about technology in everyday life. No game-changer, but offers definite evidence of afterlife in the undead.

Here’s the trailer:

James vs. His Future Self (2019, dir. Jeremy LaLonde)

A socially-awkward physicist is visited by a future version of himself. Smart little romantic comedy with SF elements. Crucially, it doesn’t overplay the time travel elements, but uses them to tell a straightforward but charming story. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer:

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015, dir. John Madden)

Sonny and Sunaina are to be married, but complications arise when an expansion plan is threatened. With the hotel residents’ stories pretty much told in the first movie, this sequel struggles to justify itself, lifting instead the plot of a Fawlty Towers episode. Still, fans won’t complain, plus Richard Gere twinkles in support.

Otherworld [AKA Harmony] (2018, dir. Corey Pearson)

A young woman has the power to remove fear from others, though at a cost to herself. First of an intended five-film sequence, this works as a modest standalone SF-tinged romance, though struggles to justify its running time in wider story and world-building terms.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011, dir. John Madden)

British senior citizens relocate to India, where they find themselves in a dilapidated retirement hotel. Slight but fun romantic comedy aimed directly at Mamma Mia! fans. A strong cast helps; the film decides this isn’t the place to schematically engage with the negative impacts of colonialism, going instead for crinkly and twinkly. A sequel soon followed.

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.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020, dir. David Dobkin)

No-hoper Icelandic childhood best friends dream of winning Eurovision. Ferrell adapts his sports comedy template to fit, with generally appealing results. While it’s overlong and needs more jokes, everyone’s having fun, the musical parodies are good, and there are plenty of in-jokes and guest appearances for the faithful.

Top Hat (1935, dir. David Sandrich)

An identity mix-up complicates the lives of a dancer and a couturier’s muse, both visiting London. Charming and witty musical comedy with elements of screwball farce and a keen sense of knowing camp, with several dance sequences that have become iconic. A Depression-era fantasy, still effective as escapist nonsense of the highest order.

Aladdin (2019, dir. Guy Ritchie)

A street thief falls for a princess; a magic lamp offers the opportunity to win her hand. Okay-as-far-as-it-goes live-action/CG remake of the 1992 Disney animation. A couple of new songs, Will Smith brings some pizazz as the genie, and a nice magic carpet gag; otherwise this is a product rather than a movie, and feels it at times too.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018, dir. Ol Parker)

In 1979, a student has romantic adventures in the Med; this links with the present. Both sequel and prequel to Mamma Mia!, this ABBA-based jukebox musical is part-reprise, part deconstruction. More fun than the first, and as impermeable to criticism as its predecessor. You’ll either love it, or be baffled.