Dune: Chapter One (2021, dir. Denis Villeneuve)

A desert planet with a fabled resource is given new custodians: a messiah figure may be among them. Impressive if slightly po-faced partial adaptation (Part Two is to come) of the Frank Herbert allegorical SF classic. Takes its time: the pacing is televisual rather than cinematic. However, it looks great, and a good cast plays to their strengths.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s another view.

Old Henry (2021, dir. Potsy Ponciroli)

1906. A farmer finds a wounded man and takes him in, hiding him from the team that’s hunting him. Excellent early 20th century Western, which manages to do a lot with modest resources and clear intent. Plenty to appreciate, not least Tim Blake Nelson in the lead.

Here’s the trailer.

The Sugarland Express (1974, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A wife helps her husband escape jail: a chase and media circus develops as they cross Texas to be reunited with their child. Excellent road movie/crime drama hybrid with comic and bittersweet touches, and full of directorial promise. Loads to recommend here.

Here’s the trailer:

The Hustler (1961, dir. Robert Rossen)

A young pool shark struggles to find himself in the world. Still-effective if slightly stagey drama from the Walter Tevis novel, balancing a faltering love story (perhaps too prominent in the mix) with pool hall and backroom dive bar action. Looks great, and the performances are fun throughout, not least George C Scott’s sly fixer. A sequel followed a generation later.

Here’s the trailer.

Slapface (2021, dir. Jeremiah Kipp)

A boy being raised by an abusive brother conjures a witch. Patchily-effective horror that doesn’t quite pull together its supernatural and abuse drama strands. Nevertheless, it looks good, maximises its resources, and has an effective central child performance. Plus the great Dan Hedaya pops up in support.

Here’s the trailer.

Titanic (1943, dir. Herbert Selpin [and Werner Klinger])

Rival speculators seek to profit from the maiden voyage of an oceangoing liner. Propagandist German WWII version, seeking to link English greed to their hubristic war efforts. Interesting in its influence on later versions in approach and some plot details, and a handsome – if clunky – production in its own right.

Here’s the trailer.

A Violent Man (2022, dir. Ross McCall)

A troubled lifer gets a new cellmate and an unexpected family contact. Claustrophobic prison drama – almost entirely set in a single cell – working well to maximise star Fairbrass’s trademark physicality. A touch long and repetitive maybe, but impressive and well-sustained nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

23 Walks (2020, dir. Paul Morrison)

Two single 60-somethings begin a faltering romance based on dog walking. Low key romantic drama with elements of social realism. It doesn’t all work, in part because of clumsy plot mechanics rather than a focus on a believable central relationship. Still, there’s engagement with life’s complexities, and a willingness to leave some matters unresolved.

Here’s the trailer.

Hollow City [Na Cidade Vazia] (2004, dir. Maria Joao Ganga)

A displaced orphan escapes into the city: he wants to go home. An Angolan version of Oliver Twist after a fashion, set in the early 1990s in the context of civil war. Offers a ground-level perspective, though struggles at times to balance narrative with didactic elements. Impressive, nevertheless, and worth investigating.

No trailer online, though a subtitled version of the film is here

Dementer (2021, dir. Chad Crawford Kinkle)

A new care facility worker believes that one of her service users is under malign influence. Impressive low-budget horror with a Dogme-ish aesthetic. Plays its cards a little close about how much is in the protagonist’s mind or otherwise, but this is still exhilarating genre filmmaking. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.