dir Sean Baker; with Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor 15/US ****.
This film is so fresh and original that it's easy to forget that it was shot entirely on an iPhone, proving that money isn't what makes a movie engaging. With snappy dialog, colourfully complex characters and a farcical plot that's genuinely hilarious, this is a seriously unforgettable Christmas comedy.
A Bigger Splash
dir Luca Guadagnino; with Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton 15/It ****
A remake of the 1969 French classic La Piscine, this is a fresh, enjoyably twisted drama about a group of people whose lives are inextricably entangled. With fine performances from the eclectic cast and the striking visual stylings of director Luca Guadagnino, this is a fast, funny little romp. And it carries a surprisingly nasty sting in its tail.
dir Ben Wheatley; with Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller 15/UK **
With a string of triumphs behind them, Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump hit a rough patch in this adaptation of JG Ballard's dystopian social satire. The political observations are strong, but oddly stuck in the 1970s period setting. And it isn't easy sitting through chaotic violence when there isn't a single sympathetic character.
dir Karyn Kusama; with Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard 15/US ***.
This unnerving, contained thriller pours on suggestions of horror until the audience begins to believe that the terror might only be in the central character's mind. But even so, there are so many nagging incongruities that it's impossible to sit back and relax. This is fiendishly clever filmmaking, with sharply layered performances and a terrific sense of a single setting.
dir Deepa Mehta; with Randeep Hooda, Ali Momen 15/Can ***
An disarmingly comical tone undercuts any point this movie might be making about gang violence, as it portrays murdering thugs as hapless dandies who don't realise that they're playing with fire. Even so, the film is sharply well-made, with a strikingly watchable cast (in largely unlikeable roles) and enough humour and energy to keep us entertained.