Arts

New movies to stream, rent and buy

Damon Smith reviews the latest movies to watch at home via streaming services. This week, intense psychological thriller The Lighthouse and indie road movie Queen & Slim

Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake and Robert Pattinson as Ephraim Winslow in The Lighthouse
Damon Smith

THE LIGHTHOUSE (Cert 15, 109 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Thriller/Horror, available from May 25 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from June 8 on DVD £21.99/Blu-ray £24.99). Starring: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman.

EPHRAIM Winslow (Robert Pattinson) arrives on an isolated island off the coast of 1890s New England as monstrous waves crash onto the jagged landscape.

He will serve the next four weeks as lighthouse keeper alongside a cantankerous old coot called Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), who makes mysterious night-time visits to the lantern room.

There is friction between the two men as Wake delegates the most physically gruelling and arduous tasks to Ephraim such as carrying heavy canisters of kerosene across the island's rocky terrain.

As tensions rise, Ephraim experiences hypnotic visions of a beautiful mermaid (Valeriia Karaman) and a menacing one-eyed seagull.

According to maritime tradition, it is bad luck to kill a seabird.

When the gull perishes in gruesome fashion, an ill wind blows across the island, trapping the two men in their claustrophobic station with dwindling rations.

Shot in stunning black and white, The Lighthouse is a stylish and unsettling horror, which was deservedly nominated for Best Cinematography at this year's Academy Awards.

Director Robert Eggers demonstrated a masterful, vice-like grip of our attention in his debut feature, The Witch.

He exerts similar control here, plumbing the pent-up frustration and sexual desires of two salty sea dogs at the mercy of elemental forces and their febrile imaginations.

Homoeroticism splashes through every frame and Eggers layers his picture with sensual imagery that both beguiles and infuriates the lead characters.

Dafoe and Pattinson are handsomely matched, trapped in a vicious cycle of mutual admiration and toxic masculinity that will propel them both to the brink of self-destruction.

RATING: ****

:: QUEEN & SLIM (Cert 15, 132 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Thriller/Romance, available from May 25 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from June 8 on DVD £21.99)

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Indya Moore, Sturgill Simpson.

Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) sit in the booth of a late-night Ohio diner, exchanging pleasantries on a hastily arranged first date.

On the awkward journey home, Officer Reed (Sturgill Simpson) pulls the couple over for a driving violation.

A fractious interrogation in the cold culminates in Slim shooting the cop dead in self-defence.

"You're a black man who killed a cop, then took his gun," summarises Queen, who argues that their only viable course of action is to flee

"I'm not a criminal," pleads Slim. "You are now," sombrely replies his date.

Severing contract with nearest and dearest, the reluctant fugitives head to New Orleans to lie low with Queen's estranged uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) and his harem of lovelies, including the luminous Goddess (Indya Moore).

Queen & Slim is a stylish, sweaty and absorbing romance, which one character pithily describes as "the black Bonnie and Clyde".

Fuelled by the fury of Black Lives Matter, music video director Melina Matsoukas's splashy feature film debut allows sparks of romance to build into a raging inferno of passion in the aftermath of a police shooting that could have been ripped from news headlines.

Screenwriter Lena Waithe engineers dramatic detours that strain credulity and Matsoukas makes an occasional creative misstep.

Intercutting an erotically charged sex scene in a car with a violent street protest is heavy-handed and risks emboldening the very stereotypes the film seeks to tear down.

Kaluuya and Turner-Smith are beautifully paired as luckless love birds, who become poster children for racial injustice.

RATING: ****

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Arts