★★★☆☆ The second adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel, after Edmund Goulding’s 1947 big-screen version, Mexican master filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s latest ventures away from fantasy, revealing the monsters in this fable to be all too human.
★★★★☆ British director Andrea Arnold follows up 2016’s American Honey and a sojourn in television with her first documentary, Cow. A near-wordless study of dairy cow Luma’s life and shot from a bovine-eye view, Cow resists the urge to anthropomorphise Luma while eliciting deep empathy for this non-human animal.
★★★★☆ Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the acclaimed director of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, makes his return to UK screens this week – a full six years after his last feature – with the Tilda Swinton-starring Memoria.
★★★★★ Paul Thomas Anderson returns to the director’s chair with Licorice Pizza, a joyous, hazy and nostalgia-inflected romantic drama set in California’s San Fernando Valley of the 1970s, featuring knockout debut performances from Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman.
★★★★☆ Titane may only be her second feature, but French director Julia Ducournau has already asserted herself as among the strangest and most exciting filmmakers working in genre cinema. Her follow up to 2016’s Raw exceeds even that film in its unhinged capacity to disturb and enthral. In short, Titane is a triumph.
★★★★☆ The franchise reboot we never knew we needed, Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections is a wonderfully strange and baffling film, less of a fourth entry in an ongoing saga and more a personal reflection on the original trilogy.
“This can’t last. This misery can’t last.” A strange epitaph to begin an end of year list, perhaps, but these words – spoken by the aptly-named Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter – neatly summarise a year that for many of us has at once seemed interminable and all too transitory.
★★★★☆ While not quite hitting the highs of the similarly-themed animated offering Into the Spider-Verse, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home is still a thoroughly entertaining, web-slinging adventure.
★★★★☆ Though it is inhabited by folkloric creatures, Lamb ultimately reveals itself as a human drama that uses generic conventions as a way of examining the destructive nature of trauma.
★★★★★ Winner of the Golden Bear at last year’s Berlin Film Festival and banned in its home country of Iran, Mohammad Rasoulof’s eighth film as director intensely scrutinises Iran’s use of the death penalty through the lens of four separate episodes.
★★★★☆ The tragicomic absurdity of cultural morality is the target of prolific Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude’s latest feature, the bawdy social satire – and 2021 Golden Bear winner – Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn.
★★★★★ Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi spins out Haruki Murakami’s fable of a theatre director and his chauffeur into an intimately detailed, three-hour study of grief, loss and acceptance.