Don’t Tell A Soul (2020, dir. Alex McAulay)

Troubled brothers fleeing a robbery accidentally trap a security guard. Lean, effective thriller with a keen sense of autumn and of blue-collar lives. Works effectively in focusing on the implications of its set-up, and on impacts on its well-sketched characters. A fun, impressive little movie.

Here’s the trailer.

No Sudden Move (2021, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

Two criminals are hired for a straightforward job: matters get complicated. Excellent period drama, using the tropes of noir to critique capitalism and corporate greed. Lots to relish, not least a cast in depth, plus slick, confident direction, writing, and design. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Shorta (2021, dir. Frederik Louis Hviid & Anders Olholm)

Two officers – one trusted, one implicated in police violence – are caught up in a riot situation and cut off from support. This Danish drama mashes up the behind-enemy-lines likes of ’71 with a David Ayer-ish cop neo-noir. Somewhat schematic in its storytelling, but undeniably confident, and at least attempting – not always wholly successfully – to mix action with social commentary.

Here’s the trailer.

The Guilty (2021, dir. Antoine Fuqua)

A deskbound troubled police officer struggles to solve a possible abduction while working in an LA 911 call centre. Decent US remake of the 2018 Danish thriller of the same name. A stripped-back production that’s effective both as a drama and as a showcase for star Gyllenhaal, who’s onscreen throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

The Book of Henry (2017, dir. Colin Trevorrow)

A child genius suspects that his neighbour and classmate is being abused. Odd drama that tries for poignant and quirky but ends up too often as mawkish and clumsy. Some points for the attempt and for some minor design elements, but this is a misbegotten film.

Here’s the trailer.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016, dir. Ang Lee)

A troubled war hero about to be redeployed struggles with life in America. Its glossy direction and staging notwithstanding, this is an at-times awkward drama that doesn’t offer much new except in its good intentions and immaculate technical credits. Perhaps an indication that not all novels are translatable to film.

Here’s the trailer.

The Many Saints of Newark (2021, dir. Alan Taylor)

A late 60s/early 70s New Jersey teenager is raised in a mob-affiliated household and neighbourhood. This The Sopranos prequel works as a both an insight into the earlier lives of that series’ main characters, and as a stand-alone movie. Tony Soprano very much a supporting character here: the focus is on his uncle Dickie, played by a never-better Alessandro Nivola.

Here’s the trailer.

Witch Hunt (2021, dir. Elle Carnahan)

In an alt-America where witchcraft is both real and outlawed by the Constitution, a family works to protect witches. Somewhat awkward allegory with some strong ideas that it doesn’t quite know what to do with. Worth your time, though not for everyone: not the genre pic it first appears.

Here’s the trailer.

Under the Silver Lake (2018, dir. David Robert Mitchell)

An LA slacker investigates a neighbour’s disappearance: he soon spirals into a web of conspiracy. In the overlap of the Hitchcock / Pynchon / Paul Thomas Anderson Venn diagram, this 2011-set shaggy dog neo-noir is more a vibe than a movie: there’s indulgent pleasures along the way, but don’t expect a cohesive story.

Here’s the trailer.

Pig (2021, dir. Michael Sarnoski)

A remote Oregon truffle hunter journeys to the city – Portland – to find his stolen pig. Excellent drama about loss disguised as an existentialist thriller. Cage is on fine meditative form, and sensitive and clever writing and direction are in evidence throughout. Highly recommended.

Here’s the trailer.