The nights close in - and you're spoilt for choice!
Doctor Sleep **1/2
Stephen King movie sequels are having a poor run, with Doctor Sleep as disappointing as IT: Chapter 2.
Following on decades after the events of The Shining, Doctor Sleep centres on a now grown up Dan(ny) Torrance (Ewan McGregor) as he struggles with alcohol addiction and the horrors of his past.
The big bad this time are The True Knot, a group of semi-immortal people who travel around tracking down children with special powers who they will then either admit to their group, or kill to feed off their "shine" in order to live longer. Their leader, Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson, interviewed above), is drawn to a young girl, and this is when they cross Dan's path as he must help her to escape their clutches. Read our full review here.
Sorry We Missed You ****1/2
Three years after their critically-acclaimed and award-winning I, Daniel Blake portrayed the grim reality of life for people on welfare in Britain, director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty (interviewed below) have produced a similarly sombre view of people working in the gig economy.
The cumulative effect of these two films is the obvious implication that the UK is currently at war with its working class.
Kris Hitchen is heartbreaking as the earnest and dutiful Ricky, who has been fighting an uphill struggle against debt since the 2008 financial crash meant he lost his job, mortgage and family home. Times are tough but Ricky, a proud man who has never claimed the dole, thinks he has found the solution to all of his family's problems. Read our full review here.
Brittany Runs a Marathon ***1/2
The title of the new Jillian Bell-starring movie Brittany Runs a Marathon may be a little on the nose, but this dramedy is about as emotionally nuanced as they come.
Our believably flawed-but-likeable heroine is Brittany Forgler (Bell), a 28-year-old New Yorker who is always down for a good time, even though her hard-partying ways are starting to take their toll psychologically, physically and financially.
When she visits a doctor in the hope of scoring the prescription drug Adderall for recreational use, she is instead told she needs to drop 55 pounds, or the weight of a Siberian husky, as she quips. Read our full review here.
After the Wedding ****
Based on a Danish film of the same name from 2006, After the Wedding is a taut domestic drama mostly done with style and verve.
However, the film cannot resist a rather ill-judged, melodramatic scene involving a fit of over-acting from Julianne Moore towards the climax.
Of course, one viewer's over-acting is another's giving it socks. Read our full review here.
If you fancy a horror film that will make you jump a lot and laugh in equal measure, then Countdown is the movie for you.
The premise of the film, and the opening scenes, are weak, but there is something about Countdown that just works the more into it you go and the more you allow yourself to get wrapped up in this utterly ridiculous adventure.
So the plot: a bunch of high school kids at a party download the Countdown app which tells them how much longer they have to live. When one of the party finds out she has only a matter of hours left, things start to get weird and the very real nature of the app is revealed. Read our full review here.
Western Stars ***1/2
Given that being a proper rock star is all about acting, Bruce Springsteen hams it up something rotten in this beautifully-constructed monument to myth-making by director and long-time Boss collaborator Thom Zimny.
It's a concert movie with a difference. Having decided not to tour his recent and rather good album Western Stars, Bruce and Zimny assembled a thirty-piece orchestra and set up in a century-old barn on Springsteen's New Jersey farm and filmed the Boss as he played all 13 songs from the album, along with one well-chosen cover version.
Here is Bruce, in basic tailoring of black shirt, black jeans and black cowboy boots, singing in front of an invited audience of friends and what look like record company suits, as they sip brandy in the intimate surrounds of that beautiful barn. Soft lights glow (cinematographer Joe DeSalvo deserves a doff of a Stetson), and you can almost hear the horses below as they move about in their stables. A spiritual quality pervades everything. Read our full review here.
By the Grace of God ***1/2
Disquieting to watch, and based on real events, By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu) recreates the explosive fallout in France in 2015 and 2016 when abusers banded together to confront a French priest and question church silence about his crimes.
The relentless catalogue of abuse at the hands of Fr Bernard Preynat recalled by these now middle-aged men is not an easy watch. They were boy scouts in the 1980s and early 90s when the notorious priest in the French diocese of Lyon abused them.
The Anglophone world has had its share of fictional films and documentaries on the subject of clerical sex abuse and long may they continue, disquieting as they may be. A French film on the subject is something new, to this reviewer at least. Read our full review here.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco ***
San Francisco - a great city which, like so many great cities, is going through rapid change. The tide of gentrification is leaving out-priced natives behind as "blow ins" arrive to refurbish former crack dens and slum areas without any real sense of belonging for their new neighbourhoods.
One such disenfranchised native is Jimmie (Jimmie Fails), a young man who has spent most of his life couch-surfing and eking out a life in shelters. When we meet him, he's sharing a cramped tumbledown house with his best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors), and Mont's blind father (a lovely, understated performance from Danny Glover).
However, Jimmy has a big dream. He's fixated on a beautiful old house in the Filmore area of the city that looks like something from a Hopper painting crossed with a fairytale, "witch's hat" tower and all. Read our full review here.
Black and Blue ***
John Carpenter's Escape from New York is reworked as Escape from New Orleans for this cop-on-the-run thriller. Yann Demange's Belfast-set '71 was a better tribute to the American master, but if your guilty-as-charged pleasures include, say, Den of Thieves and The Purge: Anarchy, then 007 star Naomie Harris earns her stripes as rookie officer Alicia West.
Back home in New Orleans after 10 years in the Army, West's third week on the job sees her stumble on a murder as a cabal within the force ties up 'loose ends' in the midst of a corruption investigation. She has recorded the execution on her bodycam, but also lost her weapon at the scene. With her enemies closing in and every door in the area slammed shut, West may not live long enough to find out who's not on the take.
Director Deon Taylor (Traffik, The Intruder) has carved out a career in hardboiled hijinks and with Heat and LA Confidential's Dante Spinotti as his cinematographer, Black and Blue unloads plenty of grit onscreen. Read our full review here.
The Addams Family **1/2
Back (from the dead) on the big screen after 26 years, The Addams Family have returned to put the frighteners on populism, and property porn. Their mission is admirable, the script less so.
Having been run out of more places than Jesse Pinkman, Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron) and the gang are looking for "somewhere horrible, somewhere corrupt, somewhere no one in their right mind would be caught dead in" to call home.
New Jersey proves to die for. Read our full review here.
Terminator: Dark Fate *
There has been some nervy joshing and odd-looking attempts at bigging-up going on around the release of Terminator: Dark Fate. Methinks these film critics protest too much and maybe feel bad about being uncharitable to Terminator Genisys, the last outing for the series in 2015.
One UK news report has gathered a fistful of first reactions in efforts to declare it the best sequel since Terminator 2. "Easily among the year's most entertaining action films," cooed someone, while another describes it as "an on-the-edge-of-your-seat, popcorn-guzzling watch for old and new fans alike".
Hmm, it's not. It's one of the most turgid, mind-numbing exercises in so-called cinematic craft that one could ever expect to witness and hear, very loudly indeed, way louder than the crunching of popcorn. You could be a half-man half-machine and crunch monster rivets instead and no one would hear you in the unceasing torrent of noise. Read our full review here.