Jay, Malik and Bobby

Close Encounters? No, just Encounter, though the choice of title is deliberate. Instead of Richard Dreyfuss on the road, heading towards alien contact, Encounter offers Riz Ahmed’s Malik on the road with his two sons, heading towards something… or perhaps something else… or perhaps nothing at all. It’s all a massive tease, really, and it’s Michael Pearce doing the teasing. He was the writer and director of Beast, a similarly playful story all about innocent people who might not be innocent, strapped to a slightly sensational (if you live in Edwardian England) story about a pretty young woman (played by Jessie Buckley) of some status going all Lady Chatterley with the possibly murderous, dirty, … Read more

Sound of Metal

Ruben at the drum kt

Sometimes a film gets up a head of steam that’s inexplicable. Sound of Metal is one such film, garlanded in critical buzz, a Twitter favourite and six Oscar nominations, only one of which I understand. Perhaps it’s the actor, perhaps it’s the story. This is Riz Ahmed’s moment. Having been remarkable since coming to prominence in the Michael Winterbottom film Road to Guantanamo in 2005, Ahmed has been blisteringly good in one thing after another (The Night Of, The Sisters Brothers, Mogul Mowgli to name but three). He’s again remarkable here, as Ruben, the drummer in a metal duo suddenly losing his hearing. One moment it’s crystal clear, the next it’s about three … Read more

Mogul Mowgli

Zed in hospital gown

Mogul Mowgli jumps into debates about authenticity and cultural appropriation – often conducted by people with no skin in the game on behalf of people who do – and does a decent job of trying to make itself heard above the din of the culture war. It does it by focusing on the particular rather than the general in a story about a rapper who gets sick and ends up in hospital, where, stripped of what he thinks of as his identity, he starts to wonder who he is. His family, meanwhile, gather about and try (in authenticity/appropriation style) to impose their idea of who he is on him. Riz Ahmed plays rapper … Read more