Ghost Story (1981, dir. John Irvin)

Four old men, and the sons of one of their number, are each haunted by a vengeful spirit. Straightforward (and not that scary) adaptation of the Peter Straub novel: it doesn’t gel as a whole, but there are effective sequences and some lovely moments, both in production and performance terms.

Here’s the trailer.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2019, dir. Justin Pemberton)

A history of capitalism with projections for the future, based on Thomas Piketty’s bestseller. A clear and accessible overview, engaging and brisk, documenting continuity and change in economic terms between the Industrial Revolution and now. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

You Should Have Left (2020, dir. David Koepp)

A wealthy family stay in a remote Welsh vacation rental; the house has secrets. Slight, austere, though generally effective psychological thriller, adapted from the Daniel Kehlmann novel. No real surprises, but the movie’s well-played and directed, and succeeds within the strictures of the Twilight Zone-ish story.

Here’s the trailer.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957, dir. Terence Fisher)

A condemned nobleman scientist confesses his experiments in human reanimation. Sensational in its time, this first Hammer gothic literature adaptation not only offers a template for two decades of productions, but still works in dramatic and genre terms, with direction, lead performance, and art direction all standouts.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013, dir. Thor Freudenthal)

Percy and friends have to find the Golden Fleece so they can save their home. Cut-price sequel (no returning guest stars) with join-the-dots plotting as before, this time taking elements from the first two Indiana Jones movies as well as the Rick Riordan source books and wider Greek myth. Not very good; Part 3 (The Titan’s Curse) was never made.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief [AKA Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief] (2010, dir. Chris Columbus)

A New York teen finds he is Poseidon’s son, and is wanted by the Gods. Straightforward tick-box fantasy quest from the bestselling Rick Riordan books. Slumming starry character actors help, but aping of the same director’s Harry Potter formula reinforces the schematic way the monomyth is handled here. A sequel followed.

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016, dir. Sam Liu)

An origin story for The Joker, filtered through his attempts to show anyone can become like him if they have a single day traumatic enough. Okay expansion of the iconic Moore/Bolland graphic novel. Doesn’t add much except running time; for completists only, perhaps, though those unfamiliar with the book may appreciate it more.

The Old Guard (2020, dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood)

Near-immortal warriors induct a new recruit, while being hunted for their DNA. Patchy superhero-ish flick from a graphic novel. The film can’t decide whose story this is, telling the veteran’s and the newbie’s, rather than focusing. The result is overlong and slow, but with strong moments, a badass declaration of love, and some solid action.

True History of the Kelly Gang (2019, dir. Justin Kurzel)

The life of an Australian outlaw, as narrated to his child. An excellent adaptation of the Peter Carey novel, with vivid performances and a distinctive visual approach. The best movie version of the Ned Kelly story to date, and a strong arty outback Western in its own right. Recommended.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987, dir. George Miller)

Three friends accidentally conjure a priapic demon. Fun loose adaptation of the John Updike novel, offering four meaty roles for enthusiastic players. Nicholson is controlled, all are having fine time, and Miller’s direction is elegant throughout. A good job done all around.