Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

A strange kind of euphoria has greeted this new Top Gun chapter, a sequel following some 36 years after the original. Nostalgia accounts for some of it, but – packed with more genuine feels and thrills than it needed to be  – Joseph Kosinski’s film also serves as a chastener for 2022: a reminder of blockbusters rooted in relatable human peril and emotions. Tom Cruise is back as Maverick, still an active flyer when most of his peers have gone on to high-ranking officer jobs. He’s tasked with schooling a corps of elite pilots on a dangerous seek-and-destroy mission. Incredible flying sequences and satisfying callbacks to the first film share the jetstream with oddly affecting ruminations on ageing and friendship.

RRR (2022)

Where’s it on? Netflix (in Hindi), ZEE5 (in the original Telugu)

Landing on Netflix and the Indian VoD service ZEE5 after a short run in UK cinemas in March, RRR shares its wake-up call with the new Top Gun: this is how blockbusters can be done. Already the fourth most successful Indian film of all time at the box office, and the country’s most expensive production to date, S.S. Rajamouli’s brain-fryingly brilliant action epic imagines a bromance between two real-life freedom fighters, Alluri Sitarama Raju (played by Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr), and their struggle against stuffed-shirt sadists in the British Raj. Influenced as much by Mel Gibson’s bloodthirsty historical epics as the hyperreal ‘heroic bloodshed’ of John Woo, RRR – Rise! Roar! Revolt! – is a tiger-punching, motorbike-swinging new highwater mark of eyes-agog cinematic maximalism.

L’Atalante (1934) 

Where’s it on? BFI Player

L'Atalante (1934)

If all that jet fuel and jungle fever feels like too much, here’s a calmer proposition, though no less heady. Jean Vigo’s sole full-length feature is one of the pantheon classics of French cinema, a barge-set romantic drama that sees the marriage of two newlyweds being tested on a working trip down the Seine. Vigo’s film is unforgettably pungent in its depiction of the grease and grime of onboard life, where the young couple shares space with Michel Simon’s no-graces boatman Père Jules and his hoard of cats. It’s also transfused with sublime visual poetry, not least in a lyrical underwater sequence after the skipper jumps in after his bride. No film education is complete without taking this particular river journey.

Luzzu (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

More boats, this time a ‘luzzu’. That’s the name for the traditional Maltese fishing vessel – brightly painted in blue, yellow and red – that anchors this nuanced and affecting drama from American-Maltese director Alex Camilleri. Newcomer Jesmark Scicluna plays the many-generation fisherman facing choppy waters. Bills are mounting, his boat is broken, and his profession is changing irrevocably as it adapts to new regulations. His newborn needs special care too, putting a strain on his marriage. Like a Dardenne brothers drama, Luzzu is a richly humane social realist film that often seems poised to turn into a thriller, as our beleaguered mariner finds himself tempted by some of the shadier practices of the fish industry. 

Get Carter (1971)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

“Jack Carter. What are you doing around here then?” “Visiting relatives,” comes Carter’s reply. Not exactly. Carter has travelled north from London back to his home turf in Newcastle to find out what really happened to his brother, apparently the victim of a drink-driving incident. Carter smells foul play, and craves revenge, and the stage is set for, what, the greatest of all British gangster films? It’s certainly up there. Mike Hodges’ film offered Michael Caine the opportunity to ditch the swinging-60s, Rule Britannia energy of his crime caper The Italian Job (1969) in favour of a far grungier gangster saga, one engulfed in cynicism and brutality.