The Settlers (2023)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
Bloody deeds at the ends of the earth are dramatised in this Patagonian western from first-time director Felipe Gálvez Haberle. In Tierra del Fuego at the turn of the 20th century, an expedition to demarcate the farming land of a wealthy Spanish businessman – notorious real-life figure José Menéndez – becomes a brutal routing out of the indigenous Selk’nam population. Based on a real episode of genocide in Chile’s colonial past, this period tale traverses stunning godforsaken scenery, conjuring a mood of fiery, Jacobean dread. Game of Thrones’ Mark Stanley is among the three horsemen leading the mission.
Occupied City (2023)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
Like Jonathan Glazer’s Holocaust drama The Zone of Interest (released last week), this vast documentary from Steve McQueen finds a suggestive way of tackling the horrors of war without ever showing them. Based on the book Atlas of an Occupied City, Amsterdam 1940-1945 by Bianca Stigter, McQueen’s wife, the whopping 266-minute project visits addresses across Amsterdam, filming quotidian happenings in the present day while a voiceover relays traumatic stories that occurred on these very spots during the city’s Nazi occupation. The approach opens up a fascinating interplay between past and present, not least as the film was shot during lockdown, when the Dutch city imposed its first curfew since the war.
Circle of Danger (1951)
Where’s it on? Blu-ray and digital platforms
In this irresistible thriller from Jacques Tourneur, American Ray Milland comes to Britain after the end of the Second World War to investigate the murky facts of his brother’s death in a commando raid. As he interviews a succession of the dead man’s war mates, Milland’s journey takes him round the houses, including Wales, the Scottish Highlands, Hammersmith and back north of the border again, picking up a romance with Patricia Roc along the way. Packed with incident, this 39 Steps-style mystery is lightweight but boosted by Tourneur’s flair for intrigue, a feeling for our landscapes worthy of Powell and Pressburger, and the eccentric affair between the two leads. It’s a great companion piece to Tourneur’s later British escapade: the occult classic Night of the Demon (1957).
Raw Deal (1948)
Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Saturday, 00:55
Essential noir – low budget but told with economy and urgency and awash in expressionist lyricism courtesy of the black-and-white images of master cameraman John Alton. The plot sees a convict (Dennis O’Keefe) busting out of prison to go after the mobster (a young Raymond Burr) who’s shafted him out of $50,000. Claire Trevor and Marsha Hunt play rivals for his affection, who get caught up in our hero’s attempts to evade the police. Raw Deal is the peak of the run of noirs that Anthony Mann directed before he switched allegiance to the western, taking all of this neurotic urban energy out in the American wilderness with him.
Where’s it on? BBC1, Sunday, 22:00
A sun-kissed holiday in Turkey is recalled from a melancholy distance in this acclaimed debut feature from Scottish director Charlotte Wells. Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio play the Brits abroad, a father and daughter sharing time in the sun sometime in the late 1990s, the latter scarcely aware of the gathering clouds that trouble her depressed father. It’s a film of languid moods and unstated emotions, in which Wells gives us the pieces and trusts us to put them together. Perhaps Lynne Ramsay’s Morvern Callar (2002), another enigmatic tale of a brooding Scot on holiday, has been an influence, but Aftersun – which picked up BAFTAs, an Oscar nomination and was named Sight and Sound’s best film of 2022 – announced the arrival of a distinctive voice and vision.