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Latest Reviews

Past Lives
2023
*****
Director: Celine Song
Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro, Moon Seung-ah, Ji Hye Yoon, Choi Won-young, Min Young Ahn, Seung Min Yim

Nora and Hae Sung, two childhood friends, lost contact when Nora's family immigrated from South Korea to Canada. They momentarily rediscover each other online and finally meet in New York City for the first time in 24 years. Celine Song's semi-autobiographical feature debut is a moving and intimate drama about two people with a shared past and unresolved feelings, who discover that they are old friends and complete strangers. Song's romantically tinged film presents a what if scenario, but it goes deeper than that. The wonderfully directed debut delivers subtle and poignant observations about the choices that shape our lives.

The Square
2017
***
Director: Ruben Östlund
Cast: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary, Christopher Læssø, Lilianne Mardon, Lise Stephenson Engström, Marina Schiptjenko, Elijandro Edouard, Daniel Hallberg

While Christian, curator of the X-Royal art museum in Stockholm, prepares to launch a new installation called The Square, his personal and professional life begins to unravel. Ruben Östlund's darkly comic satire exposes the hypocrisy and absurdity of the art world and Christian's private life. The superficiality and pretentiousness of the modern art scene may be an easy target, but Östlund makes some clever and poignant observations. However, at 151 minutes, this is an unwieldy and scattershot film, which often doesn't know when to cut away from a scene.

Copshop
2021

Director: Joe Carnahan
Cast: Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, Alexis Louder, Toby Huss, Chad Coleman, Ryan O'Nan, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau, Robert Walker-Branchaud, Tracey Bonner, Christopher Michael Holley, Marshall Cook, Keith Jardine

A police station in Nevada becomes a battleground when a shady criminal intentionally gets himself arrested to stay safe. A rookie officer caught in the middle of all this attempts to survive the night. This action film kicks off like a poor man's Rio Bravo remake with second rate Pulp Fiction characters. In all honesty, the premise has some potential, but the events get increasingly stupid. Like he did with his previous film, Boss Level, Joe Carnahan is so busy with action that he forgets to make a good case why all of this is happening.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
2024
***½
Director: George Miller
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Lachy Hulme, George Shevtsov, John Howard, Angus Sampson, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, Charlee Fraser, Dylan Adonis

The young Furiosa is kidnapped from the Green Place of Many Mothers and thrown into the harsh wasteland ruled by warlords. In the years that follow, she grows up to be a fierce and determined warrior, who plots revenge on her kidnappers. The final scene of this prequel, which is set some 15 years earlier, brings us right back to the opening of Mad Max: Fury Road. The enthralling 2015 film was a critical and commercial hit, but it didn't leave me curious as to how Furiosa lost her arm or why she cut her hair. In terms of story, that is pretty much all this needlessly long and occasionally confusing spin-off has to offer. Nevertheless, the action set pieces are once again absolutely spectacular, even if they rely a bit more on CGI and don't really offer much new. Anya Taylor-Joy and Alyla Browne are great in the title role, but Chris Hemsworth is a bit too camp as Dementus.

No Hard Feelings
2023

Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales, Matthew Broderick, Scott MacArthur, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Kyle Mooney, Hasan Minhaj

Maddie is an aimless and promiscuous 32-year-old native of Montauk, Long Island who accepts a wealthy couple’s peculiar offer. In exchange for a car, she is to seduce and deflower their socially awkward 19-year-old son before he heads off to Princeton. Whoever thought this baffling and ill-judged premise would work, should be hanged. This is a typical modern day comedy that starts with a raunchy and irreverent concept. However, Maddie is never forced to question the moral implications of her actions, because the movie ultimately lacks the courage to follow through with its central conceit. The humour is consistently cringey rather than funny. Jennifer Lawrence tries her darndest in the lead, but her character is annoying and unpleasant, until the sickeningly sentimental ending turns her into a saint.

I, Daniel Blake
2016
****
Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe, Steven Richens, Gavin Webster

After suffering a heart attack, Daniel Blake, a 59-year-old joiner from Newcastle, is caught in the clutches of the bureaucratic welfare system. Amidst his struggles, Daniel befriends a young single mother with problems of her own. Ken Loach's fact-based working class drama tells a moving and anger-inducing story about a small guy in a buraucratic hell. Daniel is not allowed to return to work, but he must actively seek employment (which he cannot accept) in order to receive Employment and Support Allowance. The system is cold and inhuman, but the people caught in the middle remain warm, compassionate, and good -humoured.

Talk to Me
2022
****
Director: Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou
Cast: Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, Zoe Terakes, Chris Alosio, Marcus Johnson, Alexandria Steffensen

A group of Australian teenagers organise parties where they use a mummified hand to communicate with the dead. They become addicted to the thrilling experience, and take it a step too far. YouTubers Danny and Michael Philippou make their directorial debut with this short, smart, and powerful horror movie. The usual horror tropes are always nearby, but the Phillipous tell the story with dynamism and lovely visuals. Sophie Wilde gives a strong lead performance as Mia, a young woman who is grieving her mother.

65
2023
**
Director: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Cast: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, Nika King

65 million years ago, a spaceship from Somaris crash-lands on Earth. While the two survivors attempt to trust each other and reach the escape shuttle, they must navigate a landscape swarming with dinosaurs. As if that's not enough, they are also incredibly unlucky with timing. This high concept science fiction movie offers a silly and dull mix of Journey to the Center of the Earth and After Earth. The formulaic script by the directors doesn't contain enough material even for the 93 minute running time.

Ferrari
2023
***
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Sarah Gadon, Gabriel Leone, Jack O'Connell, Patrick Dempsey, Michele Savoia, Lino Musella, Domenico Fortunato, Jacopo Bruno

In the summer of 1957, Enzo Ferrari is faced with mounting personal and professional challenges. While the Ferrari car company is running out of funds, Enzo must keep his wife and mistress happy, and prepare his racing team for the Mille Miglia race. Michael Mann's well-made biographical drama concentrates on a short period in its subject's life. Although the racing scenes are exciting, the film as a whole never feels particularly captivating or important. It is unclear why this story is told in English. Now the Italian characters are played with a fake accent, real accent, or no accent at all. Troy Kennedy Martin scripted from the 1991 biography Enzo Ferrari: The Man, the Cars, the Races, the Machine by Brock Yates.

Don't Breathe
2016
**½
Director: Fede Álvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang, Franciska Törőcsik, Emma Bercovici, Christian Zagia, Katia Bokor, Sergej Onopko

Three young thieves break into the home of a blind war veteran, who allegedly has $300,000 in the house. What should be a walk in the park turns into a deadly cat-and-mouse game. Despite the compelling premise, Fede Álvarez's short and tense horror movie doesn't lead to anything particularly original. The burglars predictably become idiots and the old blind man turns out to possess super speed, strength, and senses. The questionable twist in the second half transforms the old man into a monster, so that we would root for the hapless and helpless home invaders. Followed by a 2021 sequel.

Blue Ruin
2013
****
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W. Thompson

A vagrant living out of his car learns that the man who murdered his parents is being released from prison. He sets out to exact revenge, but the plan quickly escalates out of his control. Jeremy Saulnier's second feature is a grim and stylish neo-noir that explores the psychological impact of revenge and the cyclical nature of violence. The film is short, gripping, and beautifully shot by the director himself. Macon Blair gives an understated and believably vulnerable lead performance.

Capernaum
2018
****½
Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Bankole, Kawthar Al Haddad, Fadi Kamel Youssef, Nour el Husseini, Alaa Chouchnieh, Cedra Izam, Nadine Labaki, Joseph Jimbazian, Farah Hasno, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole

Zain, a 12-year-old street kid from the slums of Beirut, who has suffered incredible hardship, sues his parents for bringing him into the world. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn why and how he ran away from home and ended up caring for the infant son of a paperless Ethiopian refugee. Nadine Labaki's gritty and thought-provoking drama draws attention to child poverty and social injustice. Like Brazilian classics Pixote and Central Station, Labaki's beautifully directed film feels natural, authentic, and utterly believable. Zain Al Rafeea gives an incredible performance as Zain, who is not a helpless victim but a smart, resourceful, resilient, and compassionate boy. What Boluwatife Treasure Bankole does as the infant boy may not be classified as acting, but she is a terrific screen presence.

Shotgun Wedding
2022

Director: Jason Moore
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge, Sônia Braga, Cheech Marin, Callie Hernandez, Desmin Borges, D'Arcy Carden, Lenny Kravitz

Darcy and Tom have invited friends and family to their wedding on a picturesque island in the Philippines. Their special day takes an unexpected turn when the entire wedding party is taken hostage by a band of pirates. This action comedy has a cute premise, but the film itself offers forgettable set pieces and very little to laugh about. The story is stupid and formulaic, the characters feel incredibly sitcommy, the dialogue is clunky and unfunny, and the performances apart from Jennifer Coolidge are dreadful.

Air
2023
***½
Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Jay Mohr, Julius Tennon, Dan Bucatinsky, Gustaf Skarsgård, Jessica Green

In 1984, Nike's basketball shoe division is a distant third behind Converse and Adidas. To turn the tide, the company's talent scout bets the entire annual budget to try and sign a promising rookie named Michael Jordan. This dramatised true story about the creation of the Air Jordan shoe line was released almost simultaneously with two other buyopics, BlackBerry and Tetris. Unlike those two, this one deals with a product that is still relevant, so in essence this is a two-hour Nike promotion. This is certainly the most enjoyable film about a shoe I have ever seen, but its story doesn't offer much suspense unless you've been locked in a basement for the last 40 years. The performances are great, though.

Tytöt tytöt tytöt (Girl Picture)
2022
****
Director: Alli Haapasalo
Cast: Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino, Sonya Lindfors, Cécile Orblin, Oona Airola, Mikko Kauppila, Amos Brotherus, Bruno Baer, Nicky Laaguid

Alli Haapasalo's delighful comedy drama tells the stories of three girls on the verge of adulthood. While Rönkkö attempts to have a satisfying sexual experience, her best friends Mimmi self-sabotages her own happiness with Emma, who must juggle between her budding romance and her athletic ambitions. The script by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen is raw and authentic, and it beautifully captures the curiosity, vulnerability, and emotional intensity of the late teenage years. The dialogue is lively and the three ladies in the lead are terrific.

All of Us Strangers
2023
****½
Director: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy, Carter John Grout, Ami Tredrea

Adam, a lonely gay man in his 40s, is overcome by his past. While Adam grows close to his younger neighbour Harry, he pays visits to his childhood home, where he imagines conversations with his long-dead parents. Andrew Haigh's fifth feature is a heartbreaking drama about loss and grief and an intriguing mystery cum ghost story that deals with painful memories. Something is nicely off from the first moment, and the story remains moving and gripping until the end. This is a beautifully acted and orchestrated film with a particularly lovely final shot. Haigh's script is based on Taichi Yamada's 1987 novel Strangers.

The Equalizer 3
2023
**½
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Eugenio Mastrandrea, David Denman, Gaia Scodellaro, Remo Girone, Andrea Scarduzio, Andrea Dodero, Daniele Perrone, Dea Lanzaro

While recovering from a gunshot wound in Sicily, Robert McCall discovers that a ruthless criminal gang has the people of the town of Altamonte under its thumb. After a decent sequel, the final part takes this franchise back to the nuts-and-bolts action of The Equalizer. After a relatively slow build, the third part of the trilogy becomes monotonous when McCall starts killing the Camorra members one by one without one obstacle or any decent opposition.

Turist (Force Majeure)
2014
****
Director: Ruben Östlund
Cast: Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius, Stana Katic

A Swedish family are on a skiing holiday in the French Alps. The vacation week turns sour when the father only appears to look out for himself when the family is faced with a potentially life-threatening situation. Ruben Östlund's smart, intriguing, and darkly comic psychological drama looks at family dynamics and masculinity in crisis. Östlund tells this story through long and deliberately paced scenes. His film is consistenly captivating, although he perhaps doesn't have quite enough material here for two hours. The performances are great.

Civil War
2024
****½
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sonoya Mizuno, Nick Offerman; Jesse Plemons, Sonoya Mizuno, Jefferson White, Nelson Lee, Evan Lai

A Civil War has broken out between the authoritarian federal government and the seceded Western Forces (of Texas and California). Two journalists and two war photographers are heading to Washington, D.C., but they are forced to take a long route through Virginia. Alex Garland's topical dystopia reflects the current polarisation in the US. However, like the journalists on screen, who only record and report the events, his subtle film doesn't really take sides in the conflict. This leads to an unpredictable and thought-provoking drama that slowly builds towards a tense and action-packed climax. While the lead performances are great, Jesse Plemons gives a mesmerising and scene-stealing cameo. The sound design is brutally loud.

Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope)
2017
**
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Cast: Sherwan Haji, Sakari Kuosmanen, Ilkka Koivula, Janne Hyytiäinen, Nuppu Koivu, Kaija Pakarinen, Niroz Haji, Simon Hussein Al-Bazoon, Kati Outinen, Tommi Korpela

A Syrian refugee who has lost most of his family arrives in Helsinki and seeks asylum in Finland. He ends up getting help from a middle-aged Finnish man who runs a struggling restaurant. Aki Kaurismäki is a director whose works always revolve around the same style, themes, and subject matter. This time he recycles Le Havre and Drifting Clouds into an incredibly dull drama, which is interrupted by 4-5 pointless musical performances. The topic is potentially thought-provoking, but that is irrelevant because this story is not set in the real world. Kaurismäki's dry humour is present, but the jokes feel forced.

My Octopus Teacher
2020
****
Director: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
Cast:

In 2018, South African filmmaker Craig Foster started free-diving in the waters of the Great African Seaforest. He met a young octopus and gradually developed an unusually close and profound connection to the creature. This Academy Award winning documentary tells a moving story about a fascinating and supremely intelligent octopus that helps a man get over depression. The underwater images (captured mostly by Foster) are breathtaking. However, this is not a nature documentary, and some people may object to Foster's endless narration, which can feel trite at times.

Pahanhautoja (Hatching)
2022
****
Director: Hanna Bergholm
Cast: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Reino Nordin, Oiva Ollila, Ida Määttänen, Saija Lentonen

Tinja is an insecure 12-year-old girl who feels pressured to indulge her controlling and perfectionistic mother. One day, Tinja picks up an orphaned egg, which hatches into a strange and overly protective creature she names Alli. Hanna Bergholm's feature debut is a smart, atmospheric, and surprisingly funny horror film. The story is clearly allegorical, as Tinja's pursuit of perfection gives birth to Alli, who represents Tinja’s repressed emotions. Siiri Solalinna gives a terrific performance in the lead. The special effects are impressive.

Celle que vous croyez (Who You Think I Am)
2019
****½
Director: Safy Nebbou
Cast: Juliette Binoche, François Civil, Nicole Garcia, Marie-Ange Casta, Guillaume Gouix, Charles Berling, Jules Houplain, Jules Gauzelin, Francis Leplay, Pierre Giraud, Claude Perron

A 50-year-old woman creates a fake social media profile to spy on her ex, and ends up developing an intense online relationship with his 20-something roommate. Her web of deception and identity play gradually and inevitably escalates out of control. Safy Nebbou's takes a Catfish-like premise and turns it into a terrifically tense, twisty, and erotic psychological drama with Hitchcockian vibes. Juliette Binoche gives a stunning multi-layered performance as a literature professor whose own actions blur the line between reality and fiction.

The Handmaiden
2016
****½
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Cast: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-sook, Moon So-ri, Lee Yong-nyeo, Lee Dong-hwi, Jo Eun-hyung, Rina Takagi

During the Japanese occupation of Korea, a con man hires a young pickpocket to pose as a handmaiden and encourage a wealthy Japanese heiress to marry him. But who is actually conning who in this intriguing scenario? Park Chan-Wook's erotically charged thriller was Inspired by the 2002 novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. This is a visually lavish and fabulously entertaining tale of desire and deception.

The Lost City of Z
2016
**½
Director: James Gray
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid, Franco Nero, Edward Ashley, Clive Francis, Harry Melling, John Sackville

After his first survey trip to the Amazon in 1905, major Percy Fawcett becomes fixated with finding evidence of an ancient civilization. In the following 20 years, this British explorer makes personal sacrifices to embark on several expeditions to the Amazon jungle to find the Lost City of Z. With this adaptation of David Grann's 2009 non-fiction book, James Gray attempts to create his own Apocalypse Now or Fitzcarraldo. Unfortunately, this fact-based drama and its protagonist do not have the scope, ambition, madness, or obsessiveness to match those iconic works. I blame the episodic and occasionally baffling script, which is unable to hold my sustained attention. One moment, Fawcett is deep in the jungle, the next scene he's safely at home, and before he returns to the Amazon, he does a bit of fighting in the First World War. The members of the Royal Geographical Society ridicule him for his fanciful theories, but when he returns from another expedition without any additional proof, they hail him as a hero. Gray is clearly at awe of the character, but I fail to see what his actual accomplishments are. Charlie Hunnam feels too contemporary for the role.

Men
2022
****
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Zak Rothera-Oxley, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin, Sarah Twomey, Sonoya Mizuno

After a traumatic breakup, Harper retreats to a rented country house to process her husband's apparent suicide. Around the village, she encounters men, all of whom treat her with varying levels of hostility. Alex Garland's intriguing and allegorical horror film deals with Harper's deep-seated grief and guilt. The village men, all of them played by Rory Kinnear, appear to represent her dead husband's personality traits or, if you will, different forms of toxic masculinity. As if this wasn't abstract enough, Garland fills the screen with rich religious imagery (fertility figures, forbidden fruits, etc.). The graphic last third will definitely divide the audience. Nevertheless, the performances are great and the visuals are impressive.

Warrior
2011
***
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Nick Nolte, Kevin Dunn, Vanessa Martinez, Noah Emmerich, Laura Chinn, Capri Thomas, Lexi Cowan, Denzel Whitaker

Tommy and Brendan were estranged years ago when their parents broke up. Now the brothers are forced to face their past and each other as they enter the same high-stakes mixed martial arts tournament. Gavin O'Connor's crowd-pleasing family/sports drama has become an audience favourite. This is a well-acted and infinitely watchable film, but there is no denying that the screenplay is predictable and the characters are walking clichés. The redemption arc is familiar but compelling, but we spend way too much time in the octagon watching buff men bash each other to pulp.

Three Thousand Years of Longing
2022
**½
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba, Aamito Lagum, Sabrina Dhowre, Nicolas Mouawad, Ece Yüksel, Matteo Bocelli, Lachy Hulme, Megan Gale, Burcu Gölgedar

Alithea, a middle-aged scholar on a work trip to Istanbul, unleashes the Djinn trapped inside an antique bottle. While Alithea contemplates her three wishes, the Djinn describes his 3,000-year history through three separate stories. George Miller's romantic grown-up fantasy is based on A. S. Byatt's 1994 short story The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye. This is a silly and baffling film, and I'm not sure what to make of it. It's all about storytelling, but the three One Thousand and One Night stories are forgettable and drenched in second rate digital effects. As the Djinn recounts his past, Swinton and Elba spend half of the runtime in a hotel room dressed in bathrobes. There was to be no Academy Award for best costume design.

Tom of Finland
2017
***
Director: Dome Karukoski
Cast: Pekka Strang, Lauri Tilkanen, Jessica Grabowsky, Taisto Oksanen, Seumas F. Sargent, Jakob Oftebro, Niklas Hogner, Werner Daehn, Christian Sandström, Martin Bahne, Kari Hietalahti

Touko Laaksonen is a gay man who must hide his true self in post-war Finland, but his controversial homoerotic drawings, eventually published under the name of Tom of Finland, turn him into a worldwide icon in the gay community. Dome Karukoski's well staged but frustratingly formulaic biographical drama only goes skin deep. Laaksonen was gay and he drew some pictures, and that's as much as we learn about him. At times, the dialogue sounds anachronistic and the timeframe stops making sense, especially as it's unclear which decade we are in at any point. Although Pekka Strang gives a strong performance, the character he plays seems to be permanently in his 30s, until he is suddenly an old man. Lauri Tilkanen plays his life partner, but this relationship is so ambiguous that it doesn't leave any impression.

C'mon C'mon
2021
***
Director: Mike Mills
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Scoot McNairy, Molly Webster, Jaboukie Young-White, Woody Norman, Deborah Strang, Sunni Patterson

Johnny is a radio journalist who travels across the country interviewing children about their thoughts about the future. When his estranged sister is overwhelmed by her husband's bipolar disorder, Johnny agrees to take their 9-year-old son Jesse off their hands for a while. Mike Mills' low-key drama portrays how these two people gradually bond and how Johnny learns to appreciate the challenges of parenthood. The film is likeable and well-acted, but to me it has an air of pretentiousness about it, especially every time the precocious kid recites dialogue written by a grown-up. Robbie Ryan's black and white cinematography looks great, though.

A Cure for Wellness
2016

Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Harry Groener, Celia Imrie, Adrian Schiller, Ivo Nandi, Ashok Mandanna, Tomas Norström, David Bishins, Carl Lumbly, Lisa Banes

A young overworked executive is sent to retrieve his company's CEO from a wellness center in the Swiss Alps. He discovers a mysterious facility that uses questionable practices on its patients, yet they have no wish to leave. Gore Verbinski's psychological horror film is visually stunning (apart from the awful CGI eels) and it features a lovely soundtrack by Benjamin Wallfisch. However, the story by Verbinski and Justin Haythe is the bastard son of Shutter Island and The Road to Wellville, and it's frankly stupid, ridiculous, and disgusting. Dane DeHaan is out of his depth as the young stockbroker, who begins to question his own sanity.

Meg 2: The Trench
2023

Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Cliff Curtis, Melissanthi Mahut, Whoopie Van Raam, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Felix Mayr

Six years have passed, and rescue diver Jonas Taylor has become an all-around action man and a single dad to an adopted daughter. All hell breaks loose again when Megs and other creatures escape the Trench while the thermocline is temporarily ruptured. The Meg offered consistent silliness and occasional goofy fun, but the sequel doesn't come up with anything new. The movie spends half of the runtime in the Trench, where the team discover a secret underwater mining facility. Down there, Ben Wheatley, better known for low-key indie films such as Kill List, directs some ridiculous and almost incomprehensible action set pieces. On the surface, things are a bit more coherent, but also hopelessly stupid and predictable. Like last time, it all ends in a carnage at a tourist resort.

Boiling Point
2021
****
Director: Philip Barantini
Cast: Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, Alice Feetham, Hannah Walters, Malachi Kirby, Taz Skylar, Lauryn Ajufo, Daniel Larkai, Lourdes Faberes, Jason Flemyng, Ray Panthaki

The head chef of a high-end London restaurant must battle personal and professional demons, while he and his staff attempt to get through a stressful night when everything comes to a boil. Philip Barantini's relentless drama was shot in one continuous take. Its story doesn't add up to much more than 90 minutes in a pressure cooker, but the one take technique guarantees that the film is consistently gripping and entertaining. Stephen Graham and the rest of the cast are excellent. Followed by a TV mini series in 2023.

Ingrid Goes West
2017
***½
Director: Matt Spicer
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, Billy Magnussen, Wyatt Russell, Pom Klementieff, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Meredith Hagner

Ingrid Thorburn is an unstable young woman who moves to Los Angeles to befriend a popular social media influencer and immerse herself in the woman's glamorous but vacuous lifestyle. Matt Spicer's enjoyable darkly comic drama is like a cross between Single White Female and The Talented Mr. Ripley, but set in the age of social media. As Ingrid's obsession spirals out of control, the film explores identity, authenticity, and the consequences of obsessive behavior. Aubrey Plaza is terrific in a more dramatic and demanding role.

Old Henry
2021
***½
Director: Potsy Ponciroli
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze, Gavin Lewis, Trace Adkins, Stephen Dorff, Richard Speight Jr., Max Arciniega, Brad Carter

In 1906, a widower and his teenage son run a pig farm in a remote corner of Oklahoma Territory. One day, they take in a wounded stranger with a saddlebag full of cash, who is tailed by a group of dodgy lawmen. Potsy Ponciroli's short and moody but rather conventional Western provides a fictional end to a historical character. The story is set in a small world where the men all seem to know each other by name or face, and the only teenager on screen is reliably annoying. The climactic shootout is brutal but a bit dumb.