Son Of A Gun (2014, dir. Julius Avery)

A young convict gets in over his head with a charismatic bank robber. Generally effective crime drama with a few black comic and slightly pretentious touches. Solid performances and a matter-of-fact approach to the action help.

Here’s the trailer.

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (2018, dir. Jim Hosking)

Disparate eccentrics converge on a hotel where a special event is to take place. Deadpan crime comedy that might very well have been lots of fun to make. Some good moments from a solid cast, but this is an awkward beast that doesn’t really work.

Here’s the trailer.

Bad Education (2020, dir. Cory Finlay)

A school superintendent and their deputy are revealed, in part by a student investigation, to be embezzling from the school system. Smart black comedy-drama, based on a true story. Underplayed throughout, with fine performances from seasoned hands, and a sense that maybe the right lessons are still to be learned by some.

Hammer (2019, dir. Christian Sparkes)

An estranged father and son are forced to work together when a drug deal goes wrong. Smart, lean all-in-one-day indie thriller with as keen a focus on character and relationships as on the narrative’s spiralling complications. Lots to appreciate and enjoy; recommended. Great to see Will Patton in a leading role too.

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.

Blue Story (2019, dir. Rapman)

London teens become inexorably drawn into turf warfare, and the violence that comes with it. Straightforward though vivid and confident debut, keenly balancing school and street, the ordinary world and the futility of revenge. Lots to admire, not least the use of music and fourth wall breaking throughout; writer-director Rapman is one to watch. Recommended.

Searching (2018, dir. Aneesh Chaganty)

A father searches his missing daughter’s online life for clues about her disappearance. Smart, precise, and well-sustained evolution of the found-footage movie, with its storytelling conceit backed up by a solid mystery and a good lead performance. Recommended.

Villain (2020, dir. Philip Barantini)

A career criminal tries to go straight, but his wayward brother’s debts force him back into crime. Modest but effective East End gangsterism, with a melancholy touch and a strong central performance. No surprises, but there’s talent in the writing and direction, and Fairbrass shows that he can be subtle.

The Kitchen (2019, dir. Andrea Berloff)

Three New York women take over their imprisoned husbands’ protection racket. Lovingly-designed but superficial 70s-set crime drama based on a graphic novel, with strong performances and a great cast in depth. The tick-box script is the issue; a poorly-handled FBI subplot doesn’t help either.

Bad Boys for Life (2020, dir. Adil & Bilall)

A veteran detective is targeted for assassination by a face from the past. Slick threequel which, despite having few new ideas of its own (borrowing from Silence of the Lambs, Temple of Doom and John Woo‘s love of trails-bike gangs), delivers in terms of shouty, shooty buddy-cop fun. Don’t be surprised if a Part 4 rolls around soon.