Roald Dahl’s The Witches [AKA The Witches] (2020, dir. Robert Zemeckis)

An orphan is raised by his grandmother, who warns him about witches who are all-too-real. This second version is less spiky than the 1990 Nic Roeg-directed attempt, but still balances child-centric adventure and a dark sensibility: the Americanisation works well, even if the story’s still a touch contrived.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s another review.

The Senator [AKA Chappaquiddick] (2017, dir. John Curran)

Edward Kennedy’s presidential ambitions are destroyed because of his involvement in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Sober political drama focusing on ambition, hubris, legacy, and arrogance. Decent performances and production values help, though there’s awkwardness in the focus on the politician over the deceased.

Here’s the trailer.

Seberg (2019, dir. Benedict Andrews)

Actor Jean Seberg struggles with her personal life, civil rights activism, and the pressures of fearing FBI surveillance. Decent biopic focusing on 1968-1970; a very solid cast and subtle direction help, even if the script doesn’t get us close to the protagonist. Lots to appreciate, not least the production design and performances.

The Woods (2006, dir. Lucky McKee)

A rebellious teen with latent psychic powers finds herself in a sinister all-girls boarding school. A well-paced 60s-set supernatural tale that does what you might expect, but with some class and style.

Wolves At The Door (2017, dir. John R Leonetti)

A group of friends are attacked in their LA home. Odd recreation of the Manson Family murders. Though technically competent, it barely stretches to an hour’s running time and does little except an extended stalk-and-slash sequence rendered pointless and tasteless by its real-life contexts.

Bad Times At The El Royale (2018, dir. Drew Goddard)

One night at a motel on the California/Nevada border, where no-one is who they appear to be. Twisty-turny self-conscious comedy-thriller; lots of fun if you go with it, though the movie’s stately pace may frustrate some.

LBJ (2017, dir. Rob Reiner)

A modest biopic of Lyndon Johnson, focusing on his succession from Kennedy. Straightforward and sympathetic to its protagonist, with good performances from a quality cast – Richard Jenkins comes off best – and only marginally-distracting (though excellent) prosthetics.

Moonwalkers (2015, dir. Antoine Bardou-Jacquet)

The CIA try to hire Stanley Kubrick to fake the Apollo 11 moon landing. Weak-sauce low budget farce with a shaky grasp of space history, though with some game playing in service of a duff script and an old idea.