Five of the best

The Guardian - The Guide - - Film - Steve Rose

1

Blade Run­ner 2049 (15) (De­nis Vil­leneuve, 2017, UK) 163 mins. It has been a long wait, but this se­quel lives up to ex­pec­ta­tions. Like its pre­de­ces­sor, it leads you through dystopia with a noir-ish de­tec­tive mys­tery (Ryan Gosling makes a dis­cov­ery that threat­ens to over­turn the slave-based so­cial or­der, not to men­tion his own sense of self ). There are also new sights to be­hold, un­der­pinned by an ex­is­ten­tial depth wor­thy of aca­demic study.

2

Daphne (15) (Peter Mackie Burns, 2017, UK) 88 mins. Emily Beecham is a smart Lon­doner whose self-de­struc­tive im­pulses com­pli­cate what ought to be a charmed life. Prone to drunk­en­ness and mean­ing­less hook-ups, she’s of­ten com­pelling with it. With­out over-egging the dra­mat­ics or over-ex­plain­ing its hero­ine, this char­ac­ter piece typ­i­fies a de­tached, mod­ern life.

3

The Or­nithol­o­gist (NC) (João Pe­dro Rodrigues, 2016, Por/Fra/Bra)

A kayak­ing bird­watcher (Paul Hamy) gets lost in the Por­tuguese wilder­ness in this mys­te­ri­ous od­dity. En­coun­ters in­clude Chi­nese pil­grims, a cult and a gay shep­herd named Je­sus. Plus, of course, birds. Of­ten con­fus­ing (a knowl­edge of Catholic saints is handy) but agree­ably so, in a Weerasethakul sort of way.

4

The Road to Man­dalay (15) (Midi Z, 2016, Mya/Tai) 108 mins.

This de­pic­tion of Burmese im­mi­grants in Thai­land is all the more af­fect­ing for its fac­tual cur­rency and sub­tle emo­tions. Wu Ke-Xi ex­cels as a woman thrown into a hard­scrab­ble ex­is­tence, won­der­ing if dreams of a bet­ter life will come true. Her would-be suitor Guo (Ko Kai) adds ro­mance to her plight.

5

On the Road (15) (Michael Win­ter­bot­tom, 2016, UK) 121 mins.

You don’t have to be a fan of Wolf Alice to en­joy this, but it helps. We fol­low the guitar band’s UK tour in snatches of per­for­mance, back­stage ban­ter and down­time; but through­out, Win­ter­bot­tom threads a fic­tional ro­mance be­tween two crew mem­bers. From one an­gle, it’s a dif­fer­ent type of mu­sic doc; from another, it’s a dif­fer­ent type of ro­mance.

Blade of glory Ryan Gosling in Blade Run­ner 2049

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