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LES MISERABLES (Cert 15, 104 mins, Altitude Film Distribution, Thriller/Action, available from November 30 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/Curzon Home Cinema/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from November 30 on DVD £15.99)
STEPHANE (Damien Bonnard) joins the Anti-Crime Squad in the Montfermeil suburb of Paris to be closer to his young son.
He shadows experienced duo Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga), who willingly bend the law to get the desired results for their chief (Jeanne Balibar).
During a hellish first day, Romany circus ringmaster Zorro (Raymond Lopez) threatens violence against The Mayor (Steve Tientcheu) unless a stolen lion cub is returned within 24 hours.
Expanded from a 2017 short film, Les Miserables is a nerve-jangling thriller which lights the fuse on civil unrest in housing projects where Victor Hugo penned and partially set his 19th-century novel.
French writer-director Ladj Ly focuses intently on one quotation from the book – “There are no bad plants or bad men. There are only bad cultivators” – as he zig-zags between feuding factions of a broken Parisian society.
Dramatic tension is underpinned by the bad-cop/good-cop dynamic of Chris and Stephane, which warps as the latter’s induction day reaches a shattering climax.
POSSESSOR (Cert 18, 103 mins, Signature Entertainment, Horror/Thriller, available from November 30 via Premium Video On Demand for 48 hours on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from January 19 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
CORPORATE assassin Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) takes control of other people’s bodies using brain-implant technology.
She successfully executes a lawyer at a drinks party in the guise of waitress Holly Bergman (Gabrielle Graham) then severs the neural connection.
“Our next contract is almost finalised and it’s a big one,” smiles Tasya’s boss Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh) during the debrief.
They are being hired by Reid Parse (Christopher Jacot) to seize control of technology company Zoothroo, run by his bullying stepfather, ruthless businessman John Parse (Sean Bean).
The plan is to control the body of Colin Reid (Christopher Abbott), who is dating John’s daughter Ava (Tuppence Middleton), and kill the old man and Ava at a forthcoming dinner party, clearing the path for Reid’s boardroom coronation.
Unfortunately, the assassination doesn’t unfold as intended and Tasya is trapped inside Colin’s body.
Possessor is a hallucinogenic sci-fi thriller which gives new meaning to the concept of a hostile takeover.
Canadian writer-director Brandon Cronenberg shares some of the gore-slathered fascinations of his father, body horror trailblazer David Cronenberg. You’ll need a very strong stomach when he serves just desserts.
THE VIGIL (Cert 15, 89 mins, Vertigo Releasing, Horror/Thriller, available from November 30 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from January 4 on DVD £15.99)
YAKOV Ronen (Dave Davis) has tentatively stepped away from his Jewish roots following the death of his younger brother Burech (Ethan Stone).
Following a support group meeting with other Jews in transitional phases of their lives, Yakov meets former rabbi Reb Shulem (Menashe Lustig), who has a job proposition.
He is willing to pay Yakov $400 to act as a shomer for Holocaust survivor Rubin Litvak (Ronald Cohen).
A shomer is typically a family member or friend who stands guard over the body of the deceased and recites the Psalms to ward off unseen evil.
As Yakov begins his five-hour shift, he discovers alarming evidence of a demonic presence called a Mazzik (Rob Tunstall) in the Litvak residence.
BLACK BEAUTY (Cert PG, 107 mins, streaming from November 27 exclusively on Disney+, Drama/Romance)
ASHLEY Avis writes and directs a new adaptation of Anna Sewell’s beloved 19th-century novel, transplanting the action from Victorian England to present-day America.
Orphaned teenager Jo Green (Mackenzie Foy) is sent to live with her estranged uncle, John Manly (Iain Glen), a horse whisperer who tames wild mustangs at Birtwick Stables in New York.
Initially, the relationship is strained and John struggles to connect with his niece on the same deep level as his animals.
Jo is drawn to one seemingly untameable black stallion, which she christens Beauty (voiced by Kate Winslet).
A touching friendship blossoms “like flowers do in spring” but fate contrives to drive a wedge between Jo and Beauty.
The horse is leased out to well-to-do society wife Mrs Winthorp (Claire Forlani), who insists that Jo keeps an “appropriate distance” from the stallion and her strapping son George (Calam Lynch).
THE END OF THE STORM (Cert PG, 99 mins, Altitude film Distribution, available from November 30 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, Documentary)
IN 2020, Liverpool Football Club lifted the Premier League trophy for the first time.
It had been 30 long years since the club’s last league title – Kenny Dalgleish was manager for the 1989-90 season – and Jurgen Klopp and his men completed the task in emphatic style, finishing 18 points clear of Manchester City in the eye of the Covid-19 storm.
James Erskine’s documentary is granted unprecedented access to the club in a year when all professional sports came to a standstill.
The film witnesses Liverpool’s historic season through the eyes of manager Klopp, the fans and key players including Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
NOELLE (Cert PG, 100 mins, streaming from November 27 exclusively on Disney+, Comedy/Drama)
CHRISTMAS comes early in writer-director Marc Lawrence’s feel-good festive fable, which jingles its bells on Disney+ this week.
Noelle Kringle (Anna Kendrick) and her brother Nick (Bill Hader) grow up at the North Pole.
They are the children of Santa Claus (Jay Brazeau) and his wife (Julie Hagerty), and every Christmas Eve, Noelle and Nick witness the magic as their father’s sleigh is filled with presents for the nice people of the world.
When Santa dies, the red suit passes to Nick, who crumbles under the weight of responsibility of becoming the next icon of the Yuletide season.
He flees the North Pole and reinvents himself as a yoga instructor in Phoenix, Arizona.
In Nick’s absence, the next male member of the bloodline, IT expert Gabe (Billy Eichner), is chosen by the elf counsel to continue the good work.
Noelle and her nanny Polly (Shirley MacLaine) steal the sleigh and fly to Arizona to persuade Nick to return home and reclaim his birthright.
VIRGIN RIVER – Season 2 (10 episodes, streaming from November 27 exclusively on Netflix, Drama/Romance)
THE past catches up with everyone in a 10-part romantic drama series based on the Virgin River novels by Robyn Carr.
At the end of the first series, nurse practitioner and midwife Melinda Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) was unsettled by a declaration of love from former US Marine and bar owner Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson) after she learnt that his friend Charmaine Roberts (Lauren Hammersley) was pregnant with his child.
In these instalments, Mel keeps her distance from Jack for the sake of the baby and devotes herself to work under Doctor Vernon Mullins (Tim Matheson).
However, Doc’s wife, town mayor Hope McCrea (Annette O’Toole), and many of the locals are convinced that Mel and Jack deserved a second chance at happiness in each other’s arms.
BETTER CALL SAUL – SEASON FIVE (Cert 15, 502 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, available now on Amazon Video/iTunes/Netflix and other download and streaming services, available from November 27 on DVD £29.99/Blu-ray £44.99, Comedy/Drama/Romance)
PETTY con artist Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) continues his transformation into criminal defence lawyer Saul Goodman in the multi-award-winning spin-off from Breaking Bad, created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.
This series, Jimmy and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) are drawn into the simmering conflict between methamphetamine distributor-turned-restauranteur Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and cartel enforcer Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton).
Also, Jimmy apportions blame for the death of his older brother Chuck (Michael McKean) and fixer Mike (Jonathan Banks) agrees to flex his muscles on one side of the feud with the Salamanca clan.
The three-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets include all 10 episodes.