Dark

“A person lives three lives. The first ends with the loss of naivete, the second with the loss of innocence and the third of life itself.”

Midsommar

When Dani (Florence Pugh) loses her family to an appalling tragedy, she finds her friends and boyfriend unable to provide the support or even the language she needs to be able to process her grief. Her baby-faced, blank edifice of a boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) is on the verge of breaking up with her anyway and his friends are keen to stop him wallowing in his guilt and cut her loose. In the fall out from Dani’s trauma, the group ends up inviting her on a research trip-cum-alternative festival holiday to visit the Swedish home of Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), a fellow student at their university.

The Highwaymen

Die! In the name of the law! This is the engine that drives The Highwaymen, Netflix’s retelling of the exploits of Depression era bank-robbers, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, and the men who killed them. The Highwaymen follows two ex-Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) who are brought out of retirement by the no-nonsense state Governor, Ma Ferguson (Kathy Bates), for one last job - the extrajudicial execution of outlaws deemed too famous and too violent to be brought to justice any other way.

WHAT/IF & Velvet Buzzsaw

Susan Sontag’s Notes on Camp are so démodé these days. (Thanks Anna.) I’m almost embarrassed to have to mention them. But even if tattered, dishevelled and  dragged through the Met, they still have a value: as monitory examples for television producers, for example. The people behind two recent Netflix productions would do well to take note of the following:

Detective Pikachu

The central premise of Detective Pikachu is simple and disquieting. Pikachu - the sweet, yellow, fluffy Pokémon who can shoot electricity from his body - has become a cop.

Among the Shadows

There are films that make you go “wait, how did they do that?” There are films that make you go “wait, did they just do that?” Lindsay Lohan’s new low-budget werewolf film is one of those rare and dreadful films that make you go “Waaawaaaaaawaaaaaaa!%&%&&%###~!??”

We. The Revolution

The second game from Polish newcomers Polyslash, We. The Revolution offers players the experience of being a rising star in the judiciary of the newly Republican Paris as it slides fast into The Terror. Playing as the fictional Alexis Fidèle, you must successfully navigate the demands of party, family and the mob in order to deliver justice and avoid being ground to dust under the wheels of history.

Babel

Kenah Cusanit’s audacious debut, Babel, is set in Iraq just before the First World War, following Dr Koldewey, architect and archaeologist, across the ruins of Babylon for a few hours of one day in 1913.

If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk opens with a quote from the eponymous book. It talks of New Orleans, the origin of jazz and the rhythm that narrates the Black American experience. Baldwin proposes the rhythm as a language, hard to set down but, if drummed with eloquence, then perhaps the White man might just vibe to it. Barry Jenkins picks up the baton and takes it to the stand.

Aquarela

If, like me, you stay up watching those 10 hour Youtube compilations of giant waves and have recurring dreams of cities, mountain ranges under water, then Aquarela is a delight beyond your wildest hopes.

I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians

Winner of the Crystal Globe at the 2018 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Radu Jude’s latest film is a complex blend of satire, historiography and manifesto. By turns hysterically funny and deeply unnerving, I Do Not Care is an accomplished and nuanced film that lives up to its weighty subject matter.

Adèle

Leïla Slimani’s début novel, Dans le Jardin de l’Ogre (now out in English as Adèle) is a gripping yet unsatisfying book. As a study of a nymphomaniac, that is, perhaps, its intent: to be lurid but not lubricious, subversive but unsexy, to force upon the reader the mental pathologies of its title character. It is the story of an obsession told so obsessively that it frustrates as much as it compels.

The Song of the Tree

The Song of the Tree is the outrageously beautiful, perfectly executed debut feature from Kyrgyz director Aibek Daiyrbekov. A musical set among nomads in the 18th century and filmed against the backdrop of the Tian Shan mountains, it tells a traditional story of love and rivalry without ever putting a foot wrong.

The Truk

The Truk, and that’s with a k for ‘ketamine’, is a punchy first time feature from French director Sarah Marx. Following young ex-con Ulysse as he leaves jail and tries to pay his mother’s care bill, this film punches well above its weight and delivers a convincing and nervy portrait of France in crisis.

Transit

If you are sick of the glossy sentimentalism of period WWII dramas, you may find the concept of Transit appealing. The plot, from a novel by Anna Seghers, concerns a refugee navigating Marseille on the eve of its occupation; it is shot, however, in modern dress and against the backdrop of the present-day city. It is a good idea and one I have always wanted to see done well – so you will understand that this shoddy, po-faced film failed to impress.

The Legend of the Stardust Bros.

If you feel infinite sadness that you will never see Earth Girls are Easy for the first time again, do not despair: there are other masterpieces out there. The Legend of the Stardust Bros. is one of them.

Mothers' Instinct

Originally titled Duelles, Olivier Masset-Depasse’s film follows two mothers into a web of guilt, paranoia and mutual fear in an idyllic Belgian suburb. Unnerving performances give weight to this slick, stylish psychological thriller.

The Vanishing

In December 1900, three Scottish lighthouse keepers vanished from the Flannan Isles, a tiny archipelago 32 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. The tragedy excited wild speculation at the time and forms the basis for a new psychological thriller: The Vanishing. Unfortunately, the only thing that mysteriously disappears here is any sense of narrative cohesion, which falls off a cliff around the end of the second act.