SAINT MAUD (StudioCanal). A private agency nurse (Moffydd Clark), living in Scarborough, deeply religious, in regular communion with God and given to self-mortification, wants to save the soul of a former famous dancer (Jennifer Ehle) who is dying and whom she is caring for. This disturbing and serious adult horror movie is directed by Rose Glass and has a terrific performance by Clark and strong support from Ehle. A major film.
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (Netflix). Courtroom dramas rarely fail and this one written and directed by Aaron Sorkin is based on fact. Anti-Vietnam war protestors in 1969 are accused of conspiracy to provoke violence at the Democratic National Convention. Eddie Redmayne is a civil rights activist. Mark Rylance is the main lawyer. Yama Abdul Mateen II is a black power leader who is bound, gagged and handcuffed in court. And best of all is Frank Langella as the biased judge. Totally gripping.
SUPERNOVA (StudioCanal) is a depressing road movie, written and directed by Harry Macqueen and sensitively acted by Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, who are cast as a musician and a novelist, a long-time middle-aged couple, facing up to dementia. They journey in a campervan through a picturesque English countryside to reunite with family and friends. The film, modest and understated, is a moving experience. The novelist is unflinchingly realistic: he wants to be remembered for what he was; not what he is about to become. The carer suffers most.
NEWS OF THE WORLD (NETFLIX). Westerns used to be a popular genre. Today they are a rarity. So, Paul Greengrass’s film is welcome. In lawless Texas in 1870, five years after the civil war had ended, a former confederate captain (Tom Hanks, grizzled, laid-back), a man of integrity in an evil world, makes a living reading local, national and international newspapers to illiterate communities. On one journey he finds an abandoned 10-year-old child (Helena Zengel, feral), twice orphaned. He decides to take her home to safety. There is action but may be not enough for some viewers.
DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD (Netflix) is Kirstin Johnson’s deeply disturbing documentary about her father’s descent into dementia and death. She persuades him to participate in staging scenes of his forthcoming death. At the end of the film, we attend his funeral and listen to a tearful oration. Only he is not dead. He is 86 and still alive and watching the service.
GOOD GRIEF (Finite Films), a 45-minute one-act play, written by Lorien Haynes and directed by Natalie Abrahami, is a new form of entertainment, neither film nor theatre, but a hybrid. It was rehearsed on zoom and then filmed in a studio to all Covid protocols. Adam (Nikesh Patel) is having a relationship with Cat (Sian Clifford), the closest friend of the woman he loved dearly and who died of cancer. They are both still grieving. Will they be able to move on? The actors are well cast but the script feels incomplete.