An itinerant Civil War veteran volunteers to take an orphaned child to distant family. Handsome, straightforward, elegiac and allegorical Western. Light on story, perhaps, but does what it needs to do at its own pace. Recommended.
A former detective returns to Japan from the US: an old friend’s daughter under threat. Neither quite a neo-noir, an action thriller or a study of overseas crime syndicates, The Yakuza tries to be all three with variable results. Slow, but interesting, with flashes of a darker, better, and more violent film lurking.
After an accident, six New York elevators halt: their occupants are forced to know each other – and themselves – better. Contrived and clumsy festive ensemble movie: an unsubtle Christian message delivered via what’s meant to be Richard Curtis-style whimsy. Some moments work nevertheless.
A man spiralling in work, money, and relationship issues is made an offer he daren’t refuse. Odd drama with genre elements that has strong performances (Andy Nyman and James Cosmo are great) though which struggles to tell a story: overlong, episodic but interesting, and worth sticking with despite its frustrations.
A suburban dad is drawn to a Wyoming mountain after a close encounter with an unidentified flying object. Still hugely-effective blend of heart and smarts: perhaps Spielberg’s most complete film, mixing technical excellence with quest narratives, hard SF and senses of innocence and wonder.
An LA gang’s debt collecting team comes up against a rival street organisation. Very straightforward gangland drama/thriller that doesn’t offer much that’s not been seen many times before. Despite director Ayer’s welcome return to the streets, this isn’t near his best work.
A downtrodden salesman gets in over his head when he joins a tough new gym and starts to be mentored. Tough drama with thriller and arthouse elements: not for everyone, but well-acted, directed and focused throughout. Well worth sticking with, though it’s a touch overlong.
Dramatization of a 1960 escape attempt from The Rock. A lean, laconic prison drama with some wry touches, Escape isn’t a standard action/thriller offering, but something more meditative, and all the better for its deliberate pace and careful style. Recommended.
A young police officer is co-opted into an elite SWAT team on a behind enemy lines mission in Mosul against Daesh. Compelling rookie’s eye view of a single day of combat, rendered in semi-documentary style. Plenty to appreciate, not least the refusal to overly Westernise the movie. Recommended.
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.