Black Narcissus (1947, dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)

Nuns newly-arrived in a remote Himalayan convent struggle with erotic impulses. While at best dated in some respects (brownface, some attitudes) this is a beautiful, technically-compelling and at times mesmerising movie. More a tone poem than overly concerned with narrative cause and effect, so may not be for all contemporary audiences.

Here’s the trailer.

The Manor (2021, dir. Axelle Carolyn)

A new resident in a nursing home believes the establishment has a horrifying secret. Brisk, unfussy supernatural horror with a Twilight Zone episode feel: maybe needs more meat on its bones, but it nevertheless tells a straightforward story with minimum fuss, while offering Barbara Hershey a welcome lead.

Here’s the trailer.

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.

You’re Next (2011, dir. Adam Wingard)

A family reunion is interrupted by home-invading masked killers. Superior horror flick with touches of black comedy. Knows precisely what it is and works to fulfil expectations well: a brisk, bloody job well done.

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.

Black Widow (2021, dir. Cate Shortland)

Natasha Romanoff reunites with her estranged fake family to disrupt a post-Soviet Russian agent programme. Patchy Marvel SF/spy adventure (the first Phase 4 movie) awkwardly balancing dysfunctional familial bickering and action set-pieces. A strong cast helps, as does a relatively low-stakes approach and some attempts at character.

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.