Petite maman (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Riding high after the breakthrough acclaim for Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), French filmmaker Céline Sciamma now returns with this delicate, 72-minute palate cleanser. It’s a simple story, filmed naturalistically, but with a gentle time-warping aspect that lends the film a touch of casual enchantment. Like a fairytale, it centres on a house in the woods; a family has arrived to clear the place out. While her parents are busy sorting, eight-year-old Nelly plays amid the autumnal surroundings, and soon she encounters a girl exactly her age. There’s something calming and unadorned about Petite maman. It seems to slip effortlessly into the perspective of children, accessing their life of play and imagination in a way that feels close to the Japanese tradition of My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Nobody Knows (2004).

Drive My Car (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

A theatre director is fixated on revelations of his wife’s infidelity in this three-hour adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story. He’s mounting a production of Uncle Vanya, and for perverse reasons he casts his wife’s handsome actor boyfriend in a key role. Meanwhile, his producers have given him a driver to ferry him around in a red Saab, and this taciturn chauffeur becomes his confidante as his thoughts spiral back into the secrets of the past. This latest work from Japanese auteur Ryusuke Hamaguchi is further evidence that expanding short stories into films can often work better than truncating novels. It unfurls its mysteries with the measured, hypnotic pace of a late-night road trip. See it now, and get excited for Hamaguchi’s other film of 2021, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, which will be released early next year.

  • A season of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s films runs at Close-up Cinema from 19 November to 5 December

The Power of the Dog (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

It’s been 12 years since we had a Jane Campion film in cinemas – the last time being her rhapsodic Keats biopic Bright Star in 2009. Her small-screen mystery Top of the Lake helped tide us over, and it’s with the backing of Netflix that she now returns with this handsome Montana-set, New Zealand-filmed western. A brooding character study with a jangling Jonny Greenwood score to bring the foreboding, it revolves around Benedict Cumberbatch’s moody rancher, a bullying alpha male who takes against his brother’s new bride (Kirsten Dunst) and enters into a complex locking of horns with her effete teenage son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). It arrives in cinemas this week before landing on Netflix on 1 December amid a flurry of Campion activity: her Palme d’Or winner The Piano (1993) was added there this week, with An Angel at My Table (1990) to follow on 30 November.

Dementia 13 (1963)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Dementia 13 (1963)

He’d made a couple of sexploitation films prior, but Dementia 13 is the ‘official’, above-board first feature by one Francis Coppola. Like Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich, the future director of The Godfather (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979) cut his teeth working under legendary B-picture producer Roger Corman. And in true Corman style, Dementia 13 was made quickly and cheaply, but with buckets of ingenuity and low-grade visual finesse. Beginning with a dreamlike death scene on a rowboat at night, it follows a scheming widow to Ireland, where attempts to unlock her dead husband’s inheritance bring her into orbit with his oddball family, who are still haunted by the death of a young daughter. Coppola fills these 68 minutes with the stuff of nightmares: bodies in the lake, mechanical dolls that move without warning and an axeman at large around the family castle.

Richard III (1955)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Richard III (1955)

Richard III is the most straightforward of the three Shakespeare films directed by Laurence Olivier. There’s none of the centuries-collapsing structure of his wartime Henry V (1944) or the gothic noir atmosphere of his Hamlet (1948). Yet by virtue of Olivier’s own delicious turn as the hunchbacked king alone, it remains among the finest versions of one of Shakespeare’s history plays on film, an irresistible Technicolor pageant. Fellow acting knights John Gielgud (as the Duke of Clarence), Ralph Richardson (as the Duke of Buckingham) and Cedric Hardwicke (as King Edward IV) give the House of York a suitably enunciated regality, while a young Claire Bloom moves among their rivals as the Lady Anne. Olivier constrains the scenes of Richard’s plotting and machination within palace walls before the action heads outside for the fateful battle at Bosworth Field.