Trancers II (1991, dir. Charles Band)

Jack Deth battles a nemesis in present-day LA, while dealing with future complications. Tatty straight-to-video sequel with only glimmers of the vim of the original. A shame, as there’s some good ideas, plus a decent cult movie cast, though they don’t all have much to do. Further episodes followed.

Here’s the trailer

Trancers (1984, dir. Charles Band)

A vengeful 23rd-century ex-cop is sent to 1984 LA to capture the man who killed his wife. Zesty low-budget The Terminator variant with a sense of humour and of being playful with its budget limitations. Loads of fun, a few satiric jabs, and great lead performances. Five sequels followed.

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 Paper Tigers (2020, dir. Tran Quoc Bao)

Three middle-aged former martial arts students reunite to investigate the killing of their mentor. Straightforward but charming low-budget comedy with action elements: clearly a labour of love, there’s plenty to appreciate here, so the prospect of more from this writer-director is an appealing one.

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.

Ride (2018, dir. Jeremy Ungar)

A private hire driver picks up an unorthodox passenger. LA-set mashup of Collateral and The Hitcher for the Uber/Lyft generation. Okay performances (it’s basically a car-set three-hander), and some good moments, though the movie suffers from a lack of story: at 75 minutes, though, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Here’s the trailer.

The Tax Collector (2020, dir. David Ayer)

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.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t Let Go (2019, dir. Jacob Aaron Estes)

A detective races to save the life again of his niece, who is contacting him through time from before her recent murder. Odd timeslip procedural (a cousin to Deja Vu) that succeeds if you go with its premise. Excellent performances and committed direction help no end.

Here’s the trailer.

Feats First: The Life and Music of Lowell George (2015, dir. Eliot Riddle)

A documentary exploration of the life and music of Little Feat frontman Lowell George. Overlong and reverent but still engrossing overview of the career and life of George, linking him and Little Feat to the LA of the 60s and 70s. Niche, inevitably, but well-researched and with plenty of input from the likes of Van Dyke Parks.

True Romance (1993, dir. Tony Scott)

A pop-culture geek finds true love and a suitcase of cocaine. A modern fairy story, an ode to the movies, and a movie nerd’s fantasy script come together; riffing on Malick’s Badlands and wearing its references on its sleeve, True Romance stands up well to this day, and has a cast of up-and-comers and veterans to die dor.