Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Where’s it on? BBC2, Saturday 11:45pm
With so much of John Singleton’s film raging against the curtailing of life, it was painful to read of his sudden, recent death, aged just 51. His first feature is still powerful and relevant as it follows Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in his mission to leave LA’s Crenshaw ghetto. Charting the despair and tit-for-tat reality of gang life, it also gave Ice Cube a belter of a role as Doughboy, and a place on the soundtrack. Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett also make their mark as Tre’s parents, fully committed to a future for which they must fight.
A Ghost Story (2017)
Where’s it on? Netflix
David Lowery’s astonishing film upends expectations at every turn. It’s a ghost story that’s not a horror film. It’s also a tale of loss and bereavement that’s strangely uplifting. And it features one of the most unconventional performances from a major Hollywood star as you’re likely to see, with Casey Affleck as a sheet-shrouded spectre, fated to watch his widow (Rooney Mara) as she tentatively begins her new life without him. It’s a small story, well told – a formula that Lowery would repeat in his most recent success, The Old Man & the Gun (2018).
The Hunt (2012)
Where’s it on? BFI Player
The release of Arctic (2018) returns the spotlight to another story of Mads Mikkelsen on thin ice. In Thomas ‘Festen’ Vinterberg’s take on pitchfork justice, he’s at the mercy of the mob after being accused of an offence that unravels his life. As his friends melt away it’s clear that the truth is no match for collective hysteria. It’s all in the casting. So when seeking a victim, pick one who has so often played a predator. Mikkelsen’s character has a stoicism that helps the horrifically tense story grip. He’s deeply impressive. So is the film.
High Life (2018)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
As Dark Star (1974) made clear, life on a spaceship can have its problems. Claire Denis’ new feature shares nothing with John Carpenter except for a gnawing anxiety at living among the stars. It comes with a twist: the crew here are criminals exchanging imprisonment on Earth for life as experimental subjects. Juliette Binoche is the doctor who commands them, with Robert Pattinson and Mia Goth also on board. Much has been made of the sexual content, and while many will share one sub-editor’s praise of its “orgasmic brilliance”, there will be others who have to fake it.
Where’s it on? Amazon Prime
Down among the sub-menus of the streaming service, you will find Billy Bob Thornton as a dipso lawyer seeking one last shot at glory. While that premise doesn’t thrill, season one of David E. Kelley’s show works well, with William Hurt excellent as the villain, and nice support from Olivia Thirlby, Maria Bello and Nina Arianda. Thornton brings a nicely noir-ish tone to his character, who tackles conspiracy and intrigue when not getting half-cut and striding into the Santa Monica seas. Season two upped the violence and failed; a third outing is due later this year.