Knives Out (2019, dir. Rian Johnson)

A famed mystery writer is killed; an unconventional detective arrives. Sharp, witty and well-constructed comedy-thriller, a love letter to Agatha Christie and to the likes of Deathtrap and Sleuth. Bags of fun, with a game cast of character actors all enjoying themselves. Recommended.

VFW (2020, dir. Joe Begos)

A group of veterans defend their bar from a violent drug gang. Gory, well-cast homage to early John Carpenter flicks (and by extension Rio Bravo). A game cast have fun, everyone’s in on the joke, and it’s good to see these vets have meaty roles. Doesn’t overstay its welcome, neither.

Spenser Confidential (2020, dir. Peter Berg)

A Boston ex-cop, fresh from jail, partners with his new roommate to unravel the conspiracy that led to his imprisonment. A loose adaptation of a post-Robert B Parker Spenser novel, and not a good one. A by-the-numbers comedy thriller that doesn’t do its characters justice, despite a decent cast.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019, dir. Tim Miller)

A young woman is targeted for termination; an augmented soldier is sent as a protector. This alt-timeline sequel (ignoring all but the first two films) is for series fans only. Some OK action, nice ideas and good jokes, but no purpose, some handwavey plotting, and too much weightless CG tomfoolery instead of grounded mayhem.

Here’s another review.

The Invisible Man (2020, dir. Leigh Whannell)

A domestic abuse survivor believes her supposedly dead ex-partner is still tormenting her. Superior if contrived genre flick that uses its slightly awkward premise to make some relevant points before kicking into full-on gear late on. Not sure the climax plays wholly fair, but the movie works well, in no small part due to smart direction and its lead.

Padre [AKA The Padre] (2018, dir. Jonathan Sobol)

A young Columbian woman partners with an English conman in exchange for help with getting into the US. Decent little road movie/chase thriller with some quirky aspects and excellent location shooting. No game-changer, but a solid cast keeps things moving along.

Brahms: The Boy II (2020, dir. William Brent Bell)

A family recovering from trauma rent a rural property on the grounds where a tragedy occurred. Predictable bloodless jumpscare sequel that struggles to reconfigure its villain, rules and premise from Part I. The dependable Ralph Ineson glowers in support as a gamekeeper.