Five of the best
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.
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.
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.
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.
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