Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo has been featured at the sharp end of ‘best movies ever made’ lists since long before 4K became a thing, but any excuse to watch this masterpiece again shouldn’t be shunned.
Starring Hitchcock favourite James Stewart as a private investigator who suffers from the titular condition, and Kim Novak as the focus of his latest case, Vertigo is a tale of obsession and identity that, much like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now, grew into its status as an all-time classic.
Most pensioners fill their spare time with rounds of golf, weekly bingo, or a part-time job in the local garden centre. In The Mule, Clint Eastwood’s smooth-talking Earl Stone, a divorced horticulturist and Korean War veteran whose livelihood was ruined by online flower delivery companies, earns his extra pocket money doing something a lot less legal.
The octogenarian’s appearance and clean driving licence make him the ideal candidate for a job ferrying product across Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel – and after an unsure start Earl quickly gets used to a smuggler’s lifestyle. While his outdated attitudes and treatment of his estranged family mean he’s never totally likeable, his fish-out-of-water manner makes it difficult not to root for this unlikely criminal. But how long can he keep it up after the DEA start sniffing around?
When Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus meets Woody Harrelson’s Twinkie-munching Tallahassee during a zombie outbreak, the unlikely pair begin a cross-country mission to find out if the former’s parents have survived, encountering various survivors and victims, including an undead Bill Murray, on the way.
Zombieland is silly, outrageously violent and easily rewatchable, a bit like an American Shaun of the Dead, plus it has what is probably the best opening sequence of any film released in the past 10 years – and not just because it's soundtracked by Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The Old Man & The Gun
Imagine if Compo, Foggy and Clegg from Last of the Summer Wine spent their time robbing banks instead of rolling down hills in old bathtubs and you’d have something close to The Old Man & The Gun – it even has that evocative retro look.
It stars Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker – the charming ringleader of an ageing trio of real-life thieves who pull off each job as politely as possible. With Casey Affleck as the weary detective on Tucker’s tail, and Sissy Spacek as his Nora Batty, this old-fashioned tale of an unlikely geriatric crimewave is a suitable way for Redford to bow out on a 58-year big-screen career.
You could plan the perfect robbery in the time it took for Steve McQueen to make Widows, which is ironic considering that’s pretty much what it’s all about.
When a group of thieves are killed in a heist gone awry, it’s left to their grieving wives to repay the debts of the dead – and what better way to do that than pulling off a job their other halves never got a chance to?
Widows is much more than just a grittier version of Oceans 8 though. While it’s still very much a blockbuster, it all plays out with a backdrop of inequality and corruption. If you liked The Wire, you’ll be happy McQueen spent so long perfecting this.
Bad Times at the El Royale
When an ageing priest, a struggling singer and a talkative vacuum-cleaner salesman meet in the lobby of the seemingly deserted El Royale hotel, it’s pretty obvious there’s more coming their way than just slow room service – and not just because we’ve already seen a mysterious bag being buried beneath the floorboards of one of the suites.
Dakota Johnson's no-nonsense Emily soon joins them and before long the various characters’ true motives and identities start to be revealed. Bad Times… is a Tarantino-esque late ‘60s noir with some genuinely standout scenes and its fair share of gut-punching violence – it’s just a shame that the thing it has most in common with QT’s recent work is that it’s just that little bit too long.
Michael Bay’s Transformers series somehow managed to give the ‘big robots smashing seven bells out of stuff’ genre a bad name, but 2013’s Pacific Rim managed to claw back a bit of respectability.
Pitting gigantic, mind-controlled mechs called Jaegers against even bigger sea monsters from another dimension, Pacific Rim isn’t exactly a masterclass in emotional subtlety. Unsurprisingly the tiny humans are overshadowed by their vessels and scaly foes, but there aren’t many things that look better on a big telly than robots and monsters having a ruck in 4K.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Essentially the movie version of that Spider-Man doppelganger meme, Into the Spider-Verse is quite possibly the freshest superhero film in years.
After notorious Brooklyn gangster Kingpin – portrayed here as a giant, evil thumb – opens up a portal to multiple other dimensions, recently bitten teenager Miles Morales finds himself getting to grips with his new superpowers while trying to help a motley crew of arachno-heroes return to their rightful dimensional homes.
It sounds like pretty run-of-the-mill superhero stuff, but with plenty of genuinely good gags, a script that’s almost painfully meta, and a 4K-friendly art style that feels both eye-poppingly modern and faithful to Spidey’s comic book roots, here’s hoping Into the Spider-Verse is just the first strand of a brand new web.
Martin Scorsese’s bromance with Leonardo DiCaprio continued for a fourth straight film when the Oscar-dodging actor appeared as US Marshal Teddy Daniels in 2010’s nouveau Hitchcockian Shutter Island.
Having arrived to investigate the disappearance of a patient from the island’s secure psychiatric facility, Daniels and his partner are soon trapped there by a huge storm. With the hospital’s staff oddly uncooperative and various parts of the island off limits, including the mysterious lighthouse, things soon take a turn for the strange. Shutter Island is far from Scorsese’s finest work, but even that puts it among the best of most other directors.
When telling stories the whole world already knows there’s a danger that they just don’t offer enough jeopardy. So while we know that Ryan Gosling’s Neil Armstrong will take mankind’s pioneering steps on the moon at the end of First Man, what makes the film so compelling is the journey he went on while Apollo 11 was still just a twinkle in NASA’s eye.
From his days flying experimental high-altitude jets and puking his guts up on a G-force simulator, to the parade of funerals he has to attend for colleagues, First Man reveals the myriad human costs of the space program, both large and small. If you’re a moron, it also proves how easy the whole thing would’ve been to fake.