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 strong 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.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011, dir. Sean Durkin)

A young woman struggles with memories of her recent cult commune experience. Excellent austere thriller with horror elements, with a storming cental performance and lots of interesting detail. It’s left to the viewer how much is real, which makes for tense and sometimes unsettling viewing. Recommended.

The Public (2018, dir. Emilio Estevez)

One harsh winter’s night, a sacked librarian supports a protest occupation of a city-centre library by homeless patrons. Perhaps-simplistic but heartfelt and well-meaning social issues drama with black comic touches. It’s not subtle in its execution, but you’d have to be a hard-hearted son-of-a-bitch not to enjoy the effort.

The Kill Team (2019, dir. Dan Krauss)

A US soldier in Afghanistan is pressurised by a new sergeant into complicity in the murder of Afghan civilians. Developed from writer/director Krauss’s own documentary of the same name, this is a low-key but effective study of morals v camaraderie. No real surprises, but solid nevertheless.

The Vast of Night (2020, dir. Andrew Patterson)

A 1950s small town’s radio DJ and switchboard operator track a mysterious transmission. Clever SF drama told with both intimacy and verve, as well as featuring some remarkable camerawork. An impressive debut, signalling those involved as ones to watch. Recommended.

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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.

Phantom (2013, dir. Todd Robinson)

A veteran Soviet submarine commander is sent on a final classified mission to test new technology. Okay Cold War flick that does nothing new, but which revels in the subgenre (!) to pleasing one-ping-only effect. Makes maximum use of an old Russian vessel for its principal location.

Lazy Susan (2020, dir. Nick Peet)

An idle woman struggles with life, family and relationships. A star vehicle and passion project for star/co-writer Sean Hayes, this blue-collar black comedy tries too hard to capture the quirky appeal of films like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. Some moments work, but overall, the film doesn’t.

The Vanishing [AKA Keepers] (2018, dir. Kristoffer Nyholm)

A mismatched trio of lighthouse keepers turn on each other. Lean, austere psychological thriller that – while not quite landing all of its story and character moments – offers meaty roles for its central characters, and a welcome change of pace for its star. The movie’s premise is based on a real-life incident.

The Rhythm Section (2020, dir. Reed Morano)

A lost young woman is trained as an assassin to avenge her parents’ terrorism-related deaths. Solid thriller mashing up La Femme Nikita with a comicbook origin story. Lively is a great lead and good technical credits help (there’s a fine one-shot car chase), though the script is rote, and there’s clumsy use of pop song scoring.