THE LOST DAUGHTER (Netflix)
Olivia Colman plays an academic vacationing alone in Greece who is forced to consider her legacy as a mother of two daughters when she crosses paths with a large creepy family. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s feature directorial debut, adapting Elena Ferrante’s novel, is superb as both truly suspenseful thriller and intricate psychological portrait; the tone of menace and destabilisation is consistent and intense.
NIGHTMARE ALLEY (Cinemas from Thursday)
Guillermo del Toro’s 1941-set neo-noir about a hustler (Bradley Cooper) who learns how to become a ‘mentalist’ at a flea-ridden carnival is full of ideas (and astonishingly beautiful sets) but, at two and a half hours, is a bit of a plod. A ton of great actors, including Willem Defoe and Toni Collette, get to be colourful along the way.
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH (Apple+ and cinemas)
Joel Coen’s adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth is fun, lean, mean and gorgeously designed and shot, with clear, bold performances. Stripped to its essence in all regards, the play shines through, shot and spoken with care and love.
THE KING’S MAN (Cinemas)
Matthew Vaughn’s prequel to his two Kingman: The Secret Service movies may be the best of the three; it’s certainly better than the last one which was not good. Here Ralph Fiennes takes the heroic lead, showing us what his James Bond might have been. Guess what? It would have been sublime. The story, an alt-history fantasia set around WW1, is wooly, shaggy and ludicrous, but it has some moments of pathos, new to the series, that Fiennes absolutely nails. Acting of this caliber can raise a silly action movie like this to greater heights, and here, it does. I had fun.
THE HAND OF GOD (Netflix)
Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God is full of magic moments; it’s funny, heartwarming and very wise, and restores to Naples what Gomorrah removed: beauty. It’s a sublime and moving account of his teenage years in that gritty city in the 1980s, and a late entry into the list for best films of 2021.
MR SATURDAY NIGHT (Foxtel)
This 90-minute documentary on Robert Stigwood and, in particular, his creation of Saturday Night Fever is slender, feeling like the magazine article rather than the proper biography. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the story, it’s a truly fascinating one.