Aftersun

Charlotte Wells’s debut film comes garlanded with award nominations and with high praise from critics I admire, but I left the cinema feeling baffled. Click on image for full review ...

Living

An elegant, quietly comic and melancholic film about the final days of an emotionally-repressed civil servant …. please click on image for full review

Hit the Road

Mum, Dad, big brother, little brother and ailing dog Jessie hit the road in a borrowed SUV on an Iranian road trip in which the laughs and the charm conceal something more sombre and elegiac. Please click on image for full review ...

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

This witty, warm-hearted two-hander about a repressed widow in her sixties buying the sexual services of a much younger man touches on unexpectedly deep issues of ageing, fear of intimacy, loneliness, privilege and exploitation. Click on image for full review ...

The Quiet Girl

This Irish-language film, Colm Bairéad’s first feature, captures the delicate beauty and subtle storytelling of Claire Keegan’s short novel, Foster, on which it is based. Please click on image for full review ...

Compartment No 6

This closely-observed, strangers-on-a-train film, the train running north through days and nights from Moscow to Murmansk in the Arctic Circle, is funny, warm and tender.  Please click on picture for full review ...

The Novice

You might think The Novice is about a would-be nun, but it’s not; it’s about a would-be rower and is one of the most edge-of-the-seat viscerally exciting films I've seen in years ... Please click on image for full review

Ali & Ava

A love song to the city of Bradford in all its diversity, through a tender story of the burgeoning romance between Ali (of Pakistani heritage) and Ava (of Irish heritage). Please click on image for more ...

Parallel Mothers

Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit complement each other beautifully in this visually glorious drama of new motherhood and old history. Please click on image for full review ...

Lamb

Myth, folklore and horror feed into this sad and haunting tale of maternal yearning and family love. Please click on image for more ...

Petite Maman

This short sweet film about the friendship between two small girls is at once simple and mysterious, visually pleasing and emotionally profound. Please click on image for full review ...

The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch is smart, stylish, warm-hearted and funny: what else would you expect from Wes Anderson? Please click on image for full review ...

The Green Knight

An excellently spooky and mystery-laden version of the 14th century anonymously-authored poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Please click on image for full review ...

After Love

Joanna Scanlan delivers a powerfully moving performance as widow Fahima Hussain in a film whose slow, quiet unfolding both contains and concentrates its emotional depths. Please click on image for full review ...

Ammonite

Rented from Amazon for 13.99, and every penny wasted. Watched on the sofa, with increasing incredulity, by Sarah, HoneyBee and Jos.

The Queen’s Gambit

Who would have thought that chess could be such an edge-of-the-seat spectator sport? Or that a young woman in the all-male world of chess could not only triumph but also appear so utterly cool? Please click on image for full review ...

His Girl Friday/ Bringing Up Baby

Hilarious! I watched these after seeing Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo on BBC4’s current excellent Thursday night series of classic films. Both films have wonderfully-written roles for the leading women, played with great wit and style by Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday – btw she is not actually His Girl Friday, but rather His Lead Reporter – and by Katharine Hepburn in Bringing up Baby ... Please click on image to read more ...

Saint Maud

Jennifer Ehle and Morfydd Clark are superb as terminally ill Amanda and her new palliative care nurse Maud in this highly satisfying and darkly humorous dread-filled melodrama. Please click on image for more …

Rocks

This closely-observed and warmly empathetic take on a fifteen-year-old girl and her school-friends in south London has been described as ‘uplifting’ and ‘feel-good’; it turned out to be a much more tragic story than I was expecting. Please click on image for full review.

When They See Us

This is a harrowing four-part docu-drama about the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of five black and Hispanic teenagers in 1989, for the gang-rape and assault of a woman jogger in New York’s Central Park; it is enraging as well as harrowing and, as a powerful documentation of white America’s deeply-embedded racism, hugely important. Please click on image for full review ...

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Céline Sciamma’s glorious, subversive fourth film – winner of Best Screenplay and the Queer Palm at Cannes – is a wonderfully intelligent story about art, love and the female gaze.  Please click on image for more ...

Parasite

A brilliantly crafted and wittily choreographed story of class war in contemporary Seoul. Please click on image for full review ...

1917

Ho hum: beautiful cinematography, weighty subject matter, excellent acting; so why does this much-praised film seem more like a video game than an accurate representation of the First World War? Please click on image for full review ...

Little Women

What a terrific film with which to kick off the new decade: the tender, funny, passionate story of four glorious, loving, high-spirited sisters, the March girls, growing up in genteel poverty in Concord during the American Civil War; over seven years we follow their journeys towards the finding of their authentic grown-up selves. For full review please click on image ...

Harriet

Cynthia Erivo is magnificent as freedom fighter and liberator of slaves Harriet Tubman in this wonderfully watchable inspiring film by Kasi Lemmons. Please click on image to read more ...

Sorry We Missed You

The phrase ‘gig economy’ seems to me a euphemism: isn’t a ‘gig’ something you go to for pleasure and entertainment? You’ll find neither pleasure nor entertainment in Ken Loach’s sombre new film, Sorry We Missed You; rather, a brutally realistic depiction of what the so-called gig economy does to people’s lives. Please click on image to read more ...

For Sama

I have often wondered, watching on the news as one Syrian town after another gets bombed to smithereens, why do civilians stay? How can they? I remember asking that question three years ago, at the end of 2016, as the news showed us the very last civilians in eastern Aleppo climbing on to buses and leaving behind the city that had been turned to rubble by their own president. Waad al-Kataeb’s documentary For Sama provides some kind of answer to that question. Please click on image for more ...

Dog Weepies 2

In the order in which I watched them: Old Yeller (1957); Dean Spanley (2008); All Dogs Go to Heaven (1991); Lassie Come Home (1943). Please click on image for reviews ...

Bait

A strange intriguing scary but at times hilarious film in old-style monochrome from Cornish director Mark Jenkin about class war in a Cornish fishing village. Please click on image to read more ...

Dog Weepies 1

For my recent birthday I asked my daughters to get me as many as they could of the 10 DVDs ranked in the Guardian by film critic Anne Billson as the top ten Dog Weepies. My Dog Skip (dir: Jay Russell, 2000, starring Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, and wonderful Enzo - who played Eddie in Frasier - as Skip, see above) is pretty much my idea of a perfect dog movie, touching as it does on a number of themes (coming-of-age, the construction of masculinity) and having at its heart a warm, believable, unsentimental relationship between human (boy) and dog. In the Guardian it was ranked at 7. How would the other films compare? Please click on image to find out ...

Don’t Look Now / Performance

The Watershed was showing these two Nicolas Roeg films in a double bill as part of its retrospective season of classics, curated by Mark Cosgrove. My friend Helen Taylor, who was introducing Don’t Look Now, invited me to see both of them with her. Please click on image to find out what we thought ...

I, Tonya

This is the funny, gripping, tragic, true tale of Tonya Harding, world champion figure skater and first ever to perform the Triple Axel in competition. Please click on image for full review ...

The Sisters Brothers

It’s some time since I saw Jacques Audiard’s previous films, A Prophet and Rust and Bone, but I seem to remember that in both of them we saw how some of the best aspects of human behaviour – generosity, thoughtfulness, idealism – can spring out of harsh and violent surroundings, and take us by surprise; so too, here, in the beautiful landscape of America’s west coast where the greed for gold drives all men. Please click on image to read more ...   

Bird Box

Had I been watching this in the cinema with Ismay, I would have been clutching her arm throughout, and doubtless embarrassing her with loud gasps and cries of fear and horror: truly edge-of-the-seat stuff … pretty damn scary even at home with the lights on, Pippin snoozing in front of the fire and Snuffkin curled up on her footstool. Please click on image for more ...

The Favourite

What a pleasure to watch this dynamic, colourful, stylish, noisy, tragicomic film about three remarkable women, played with élan by Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone; set in the court of Queen Anne, it is a psychological rather than a costume drama, but with utterly splendid costumes nonetheless ... Please click on image to read more ...

Shoplifters

This Palme d’Or winner is a film about loneliness and love in the modern world; it is at once specifically Japanese and yet simultaneously universal. Please click on image to read more ...

Disobedience

I went to see Disobedience at the Watershed with elder daughter and oldest friend (I’ve just read Anna Burns’s Milkman, the funniest, darkest and most feminist novel ever, and am trying out her naming-style); younger daughter was busy that Saturday afternoon making Christmas wreaths and decorations, and I wasn’t entirely sure that mother-in-law would enjoy it. Please click on image to read review ...

The Wife

Early one morning, when novelist Joseph Castleman and his wife Joan are still in bed, the phone rings. It’s Stockholm. Castleman has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. From there it all begins to unravel in this gripping, suspenseful, and at times very funny film. Please click on image to read more ...

Crazy Rich Asians

All four of us enjoyed this archetypal story of young lovers overcoming family disapproval to win through and plight their troth at last; we especially enjoyed the non-archetypal setting of high life – literally at times: the final party is held on the conjoined roofs of a row of skyscrapers – amongst the Singapore super rich. No, not super rich: crazy rich! Please click on the image to read more ...

Cold War (Zimna Wojna)

This is a story that is rich, complex, funny and tragic, yet told with an extraordinary economy. It's not even an hour and a half long, but it feels as if you are living through a whole era, a whole life. The film is shot in black and white (as was Pawlikowski’s memorable earlier film, Ida): it is utterly beautiful and seems utterly right. Please click on image to read more ...

Apostasy

Siobhan Finneran is outstanding in this gripping, harrowing drama about a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Manchester – a woman and her two daughters – who are destroyed by their own community. Please click on image to read more ...

Leave No Trace

Debra Granik’s film about a 13-year-old girl living with her traumatised war vet father in the wild woods of an Oregon national park is as powerful – although less violent – as Winter’s Bone (2010), and as concerned with the daily lives of people who live outside the mainstream. Please click on image to read more ...

The Happy Prince

Rupert Everett writes, directs and stars in this tender, moving biopic about Oscar Wilde’s final years in exile in France and Italy, reduced to penury and shunned – or worse – by the English abroad. Please click on image to read more ...

The Boy Downstairs

Sophie Brooks’s low-budget debut offers a quirky feminised (not exactly feminist) version of the New York chattering classes romcom, with Zosia Mamet as existentially-challenged would-be writer Diana and Matthew Shear as ex-boyfriend Benjamin. Please click on image to read more ...

Tully

Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis are utterly brilliant as, respectively, exhausted, harassed, at-the-end-of-her-tether Marlo, mother of two small children and a newborn baby, and Tully, a competent, sympathetic, friendly and curious young night-nanny, who has been gifted to Marlo by her rich, successful brother ... Please click on image to read more

Western

In her first film for more than ten years Valeska Grisebach (who, she says, has been busy bringing up a daughter, screenwriting and teaching) casts a compassionate eye on men and masculinities: specifically, a group of German construction workers in Bulgaria, and the men in the remote village which is meant to be benefitting from their hydro-electric project. I don’t usually find myself attracted to films that focus on men and their problems, but I really liked this one. Please click on image for more ...

The Silent Child

This moving, compassionate Oscar-winning short film – written and directed by former Hollyoaks stars Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton, stars Maisie Sly (from Swindon, a local girl!) as four-year-old Libby, who is profoundly deaf (as is Maisie Sly herself), as she begins to communicate in British Sign Language with a social worker (played by writer Rachel Shenton) who has come to the family home to help prepare Libby for going to mainstream school. Libby’s parents however … (Please click on image to read more)