In April last year, 42-year-old antiquarian book dealer Adrian Greenwood was found dead in his home, having been stabbed more than 30 times in a frenzied and brutal attack – with no suspects, no witnesses and no sign of forced entry. This documentary follows the work of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit as Det Supt Kevin Brown and his team embark on their investigation into who killed Greenwood, as well as find out what happened to the victim’s early edition of The Wind in the Willows, worth £50,000.
A young gay man in a small Welsh town, grappling with his feelings in a world many decades before gay rights were recognised as human rights, confided in his local doctor. John Sam Jones weeps at the memory of the small atom of kindness offered by the GP, who told him: “That’s a real nuisance for you in the age that we live in.”
Sadly the age that John Sam Jones lived in believed that homosexuality could be cured with utterly barbaric electric shock aversion therapy. It didn’t work, of course, and Jones’s ability to form relationships was impaired for years afterwards. Though he’s now happily married to his German partner.
This affecting documentary, from the excellent Testimony Films, looks at older gay men for whom the 1967 Sexual Offences Act didn’t provide a clean slate and a right to live as they wished.
Over the past decade Morgan Matthews has made a string of terrific documentaries, including the Bafta-winning The Fallen. He has also, in between times, shot this haunting film about his own father, a once-high-flying car designer fallen on hard times. Much of the film unfolds in his stepmother Anna’s rambling, pet-filled house, where you can almost smell the tobacco and booze that she and Geoffrey consume in significant quantities.
“Mog, I wish we’d have been closer,” Geoffrey tells his son tearfully at one point while lying on the bathroom floor in an alcoholic haze. His cussedness in the face of failing health and finances is somehow life-affirming, but for all that, it’s husky-voiced, high-maintenance Anna who nearly steals the show.
It’s yet another dramedy about fidgety American millennials, but Issa Rae’s series, which debuted last year and is streaming again ahead of the upcoming season two, finds new angles on young adults’ malaise. It’s frank, poignant, funny and incisive, with a zinging soundtrack.
Answering all questions about the early relationship between Professor Xavier (the superb James McAvoy) and Magneto (a top-notch Michael Fassbender) and the origins of their mutant factions, Kick-Ass co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn’s prequel is a terrific reboot of the arguably moribund Marvel series. Beginning in Nazi Germany and ending with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, this grandiose globetrotting fantasy boasts plentiful action spectacle and effective character-based drama set in an age of civil unrest and Cold War paranoia. As the Hellfire Club leader bent on world domination, Kevin Bacon makes for a great villain, who first unites then divides the nicely defined assortment of mutants. Vaughn’s fresh superhero vision makes imaginative use of collective expectations as to where a comic-book movie should go, and then doesn’t go there – it’s as much a tweaked Bond espionage thriller as a nuanced social and political commentary on the well-evoked period.