1939. With England on the cusp of war, an excavator is hired for a private archaeological dig. Good-looking and well-acted though slight reimagining of the Sutton Hoo site discovery, hampered by a busy script that doesn’t care to fillet the source novel to make a film-shaped story.
An itinerant Civil War veteran volunteers to take an orphaned child to distant family. Handsome, straightforward, elegiac and allegorical Western. Light on story, perhaps, but does what it needs to do at its own pace. Recommended.
Hercule Poirot must investigate a killing on a luxury sleeper service. Handsome if slightly stagey and camp version of the Agatha Christie stalwart. An awkward backstory and too many starry suspects make for tricky telescoping of the novel, but fans won’t mind a bit.
A young teacher takes a first job as a governess to two wealthy orphans: she comes to believe their stately home is haunted. Good-looking but otherwise rote version of MR James’ The Turn of the Screw. A few well-executed jumpscares aside, there’s nothing special here, alas.
A journalist investigating vessel disappearances in the Caribbean finds the modern-day descendants of 18th-century pirates are responsible. While the movie (adapted from a post-Jaws Peter Benchley book) doesn’t do its premise justice, there’s some fun to be had, not least in the gleeful supporting cast of Brit character actors.
A man on the run kills a preacher and assumes his identity in a new town. Stark, austere drama-thriller from the Damon Galgut novel, dealing with guilt, regret and inability to communicate. Great performances and a minimalist approach help, though the material and its handling may not be for all. Recommended, nevertheless.
Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister Enola investigates their mother’s disappearance. Handsomely-produced but wildly inconsistent Victorian teen detective romp. A strong cast and good production values help, but a weak and smug script scuppers the enterprise as a whole, despite fun moments.
An Ohio family is linked in different ways with a series of tragedies and crimes. Splendid adaptation of the Donald Ray Pollock novel; a brooding back country gothic noir meditating on faith and violence. Not for everyone, but there’s strong work from all concerned here. Recommended.
A coastal resort is threatened by a predatory great white shark. Peerless proto-blockbuster and inventor of the summer event movie, Jaws retains its ability to thrill and impress. Character, action, location shooting, direction and a semi-improvised approach to dialogue are counterpointed by a terrific score. Sequels of diminishing quality followed.
Two low-level drug dealers find themselves in a new state, working for a new boss. Low-key, novelistic drama (adapted from the John Brandon book) with thriller elements. Its gentle pace and lack of narrative drive may infuriate some, but there’s plenty to appreciate if you go with it.