Directed by David Mackenzie

Set in the endlessly cinematic backdrop of West Texas, Hell or High Water is classic, bareknuckle filmmaking helmed by director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) and writer Taylor Sheridan (Sicario). It almost seems like the Western genre would find a difficult fit in contemporary times, but the economically-stunted locations (the film was shot in New Mexico) serve as fitting scenery for two brothers forced to push back against the banks that are bleeding both their family and their community dry. Ben Foster – arguably one of the best character actors working today – continues to chew the scenery like nothing else, as the loose-cannon brother who lives for the thrill. If that sounds like an archetype, it definitely is, but the film doesn’t seem to care to shy away from it. You also have the soulful, pragmatic brother played by Chris Pine, and the rugged deputy ranger on his last case before retirement, played by Jeff Bridges. Lo and behold, things turn out probably how you expect them to. But Hell or High Water sticks to its guns, and by taking time to shine a light on the forgotten citizens and communities of West Texas, the film transcends cliche to provide a far more authentic experience. The cops-and-robbers genre still has juice left in it.




Directed by Denis Villeneuve

With a few feature films already snug tightly under his belt, Denis Villeneuve continues to be one of the most interesting directors working at the moment. Making films which could easily have become mild popcorn fare in a lesser-director’s hands, Villeneuve demands absolute control, with a tight focus on tension and drama, whilst bringing out the best of his actors. Bathed in darkness, the film – exquisitely shot by Roger Deakins – plays less like a procedural action thriller, and more like a slow-burning revenge western. The anti-hero in this case, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), absolutely chews up the screen in every scene he has – a modern-day Lee Van Cleef. Those perhaps looking for a more detailed examination into the cartels and the drug war should probably look elsewhere, because Sicario is more intent on being a work of art: an examination of fear, desperation, revenge and power. Sicario sets itself apart from other stories on the drug cartels with it’s amazing use of silence: there’s nothing more terrifying. Denis Villeneuve is currently set to direct Blade Runner 2, with Roger Deakins as director of photography. A cinephile’s wet dream.