New to stream and on DVD/Blu-ray: Nomadland, Mortal Kombat, Kindred, The Boys and Bosch...
FILM OF THE WEEK
NOMADLAND (Cert 12, 118 mins, Searchlight Pictures, Drama/Romance, available now on Disney+, available from June 28 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from June 28 on DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £21.99)
Starring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells, Melissa Smith.
SIXTY-something Fern (Frances McDormand) retrieves precious belongings from her storage locker before she hits snow-laden roads in a rusty white van.
In her rear-view mirror is the once prosperous mining town Empire in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada, which is now a graveyard of weather-beaten empty stores and company homes.
A seasonal job fulfilling orders at an Amazon warehouse tides Fern over. One of her colleagues, Linda May (playing herself), quits the cacophonous shop floor for the serenity of a desert camp run by Bob Wells, which provides "a support network for people who need help now".
Fern follows Linda May to sun-scorched Arizona, where she is embraced by dispossessed and displaced souls including David (David Strathairn) and Swankie (Charlene Swankie).
Inspired by Jessica Bruder's non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America In The Twenty-First Century, writer-director Chloe Zhao's Oscar-winning character study is an achingly beautiful and poetic paean to solitude.
McDormand melts effortlessly into her surroundings, fiercely committed to authenticity in her role whether she is relieving herself in a bucket or tenderly recalling her father's poignant mantra: "What's remembered, lives."
Joshua James Richards' exquisite cinematography captures tightly wound emotions in the majestic wilderness in every imaginable refraction of natural light, set to the haunting lament of composer Ludovico Einaudi's score.
Zhao's elegant script exercises restraint when feelings are most heightened. Characters turn their backs on the past without fanfare and when one nomad dies, the tribe tosses rocks into an open fire in remembrance, causing embers to spew heavenwards into a starry firmament.
KINDRED (Cert 15, 96 mins, Sky Cinema, streaming from June 25 exclusively on NOW TV, Thriller/Romance)
Starring: Tamara Lawrance, Fiona Shaw, Jack Lowden, Edward Holcroft, Chloe Pirrie.
CHARLOTTE (Tamara Lawrance) and her boyfriend Ben (Edward Holcroft), who harks from rarefied stock, learn she is pregnant shortly after they nervously announce plans to move to Australia.
Ben's controlling mother Margaret (Fiona Shaw) is apoplectic with rage at the prospect of losing her only grandchild: "You're not stealing my own flesh and blood to the other side of the planet!"
A freak accident leads to Ben's death and grief-stricken mother-to-be Charlotte is hastily moved into Margaret's decaying country pile, which she runs with her stepson Thomas (Jack Lowden).
Haunted by strange visions, Charlotte initially accepts the help but when it becomes clear that Margaret and Thomas intend to keep her under lock and key, Charlotte grows fearful that she is being held prisoner until she gives birth.
Interspersed with moody shots of cawing crows, Kindred is a psychological thriller that takes some of the same pre-natal classes as Rosemary's Baby.
First-time director Joe Marcantonio, who co-wrote the script with Jason McColgan, generates suspense at key moments. However, he finds it difficult to sustain suspense when it takes Lawrance's heroine an unfeasibly long time to understand the gravity of her twisted situation.
Her strong performance is matched by a finely calibrated portrayal of poisonous motherhood from Shaw, who simmers with anger at key junctures to underline the lengths to which Margaret will go to nourish Ben's memory.
Pleasingly, Marcantonio swerves at the last minute to avoid conventional crowd-pleasing pay-offs, which ensures his picture sends a shiver down the spine as end credits roll.
MORTAL KOMBAT (Cert 15, 110 mins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Action/Adventure/Fantasy, available now via Premium Video On Demand rental, available from June 28 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from July 5 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/4D Ultra HD Blu-ray £34.99)
Starring: Lewis Tan, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Lawson.
IN 1617 Japan, fearsome warrior Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), leader of the Shirai Ryu clan, is murdered by rival Bi-Han (Joe Taslim).
More than 400 years later, Hanzo's unsuspecting descendant – cage fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) – is blissfully unaware that a dragon-shaped birth mark on his chest will empower him to fight in an ancient inter-realm tournament called Mortal Kombat.
Cole trains under thunder god Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) alongside other chosen champions: Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), Jax (Mehcad Brooks) and Kano (Josh Lawson).
Soul-sucking sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han), commander of Outworld, intends to secure victory before the tournament has begun and he dispatches his demented underlings led by Sub-Zero (Taslim) to slay Earthrealm's gladiators.
Inspired by the video game series, Mortal Kombat is a fantastical smackdown with the same heavy-handed, gleefully violent mentality that blighted a 1995 film version.
Working from a lumbering screenplay by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham, this bruising introduction to the titular tournament lays the groundwork for a sprawling franchise with a pithy parting shot from the chief antagonist ("The next time I see you, I will bring armies!")
Digital effects go into overdrive during breathlessly choreographed fight sequences, cranking up the gore with a slow-motion symphony of exploding heads, severed limbs and scorched skin.
The on-screen body count reaches double figures in the opening 10 minutes and director Simon McQuoid takes great delight in graphic displays of aggression.
A colourful supporting turn from Lawson as foul-mouthed Australian arms dealer Kano provides welcome comic relief between repetitive bouts of bludgeoning.
SERIES / BOX SETS
BOSCH – SEASON 7 (8 episodes, streaming from June 25 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, Thriller/Drama)
TITUS Welliver completes his tour of duty as Los Angeles Police Detective Harry Bosch in the seventh and final salvo of hour-long investigations based on the best-selling novels of Michael Connelly.
Drawing inspiration from the 2014 book The Burning Room, these eight episodes follow Harry as he investigates the death of a 10-year-old girl in an arson fire with partner Detective Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector).
They meet fierce opposition from powerful figures and warnings from superiors, Deputy Chief Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick) and Lieutenant Grace Billets (Amy Aquino).
Unperturbed, Bosch is determined to bring the girl's killer to justice and weather the professional consequences.
THE BOYS – SEASON TWO (Cert 18, 475 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, available now on Amazon Prime Video, available from June 28 on DVD £26.99/Blu-ray £32.99, Fantasy/Comedy/Action/Adventure)
THE spandex-clad second series of the darkly satirical comedy adapted from Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's comic books arrives on home formats this week.
The team of renegades known as The Boys comprising Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), Female (Karen Fukuhara), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) and Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso) is on the run from the law.
The fugitives are hunted by a superpowered team called The Seven, whose members include A-Train (Jessie Usher), Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), The Deep (Chace Crawford), The Homelander (Antony Starr), Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) and newest recruit Starlight (Erin Moriarty).
The addition of social media savvy Stormfront (Aya Cash) to the ranks of The Seven alters the power dynamic and could allow The Homelander to stage a coup. Meanwhile, the evil Vought conglomerate led by Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) ruthlessly exploits national paranoia.
The three-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets include all eight episodes.