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thumbnail The Guilty (2018 Denmark)

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Director: Gustav Möller
Starring:  Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi
Genre: Crime, thriller, drama
Duration: 85 mins Rated R

A police officer, Asger, temporarily assigned to emergency dispatch duty takes a desperate call from a kidnapped woman. The minutes that follow are so taut, that you almost forget to breathe but there’s more to The Guilty than a race against the clock. Drop by drop, information is fed to us about the incident that left Asger confined to desk duty. On the phone, he also veers wildly from the what-to-say-to-in-a-kidnap-scenario instructions given out at the Police Academy. Is Asger a good guy going the extra mile, or does he have a dangerous delusion of himself as a crusading cop? Or is it more complicated than that? This is Denmark’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

thumbnail Burning (2018 South Korea)

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Director: Chang-dong Lee
Starring:  Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Duration: 148 mins

Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, Korean master Lee Chang-dong’s remarkable new thriller Burning was the most acclaimed film of Cannes, setting a record for the highest-ever score achieved in the 18-year history of Screen International’s prestigious critics’ poll. Novelistic in scope, grandeur and impact and featuring three remarkable performances, it’s a gripping psychological study of thwarted love, ambition and obsession.

thumbnail The Insult (2018 Lebanon)

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Director: Ziad Doueiri
Starring: Adel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Camille Salameh
Genre: Drama, thriller
Duration: 113 mins

In today’s Beirut, a civilian dispute blown out of proportion finds Tony, a Lebanese Christian and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, facing off in court. As the media circus surrounding the case threatens a social explosion in divided Lebanon, Tony and Yasser reconsider their values and beliefs as revelations of trauma complicate their understanding of one another. The Insult is rooted in Lebanon’s tense ethnic and religious mix and the unhealed scars of the 15-year Civil War that ended in 1990. In a country that is a weathervane for Middle Eastern tensions, it’s a bold and timely play with fire, but also a sensitive, good-humoured probe into human weakness – especially of the male kind.

thumbnail The Nile Hilton Incident (2017 Sweden)

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Director: Tarik Saleh
Starring: Fares Fares, Mari Malek, Yasser Ali Maher
Genre: Drama, thriller
Duration: 106 mins

Egypt’s 2011 revolution provides the backdrop for Swedish director Tarik Saleh’s unforgiving political thriller, which incrementally shifts focus from the grimy back streets of Cairo to the highest levels of parliament in the course of a scandalous murder investigation. Only a writer-director intimately familiar with Egyptian culture but possessing an outsider’s perspective could convincingly portray the barely concealed menace lurking within the corridors of power. Even though Saleh was ironically forced to shift shooting to Casablanca after the production was shut down by the Egyptian state security service, the worn, begrimed locations remain remarkably evocative of Cairo’s implied putrefaction under the Mubarak regime.

thumbnail 11 minutes (2105 Poland)

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Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Starring: Richard Dormer, Paulina Chapko, Wojciech Mecwaldowski
Genre: Drama, thriller
Duration: 81 mins

A new thriller, directed by Polish New Wave master Jerzy Skolimowski, masterfully disorients viewers with a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes that ultimately meet up but not in the way you might expect, based on everything-is-connected dramas like “Babel” and “Crash”.
“11 Minutes” is the work of an older filmmaker, but it’s not an old man’s film. He’s angry and alienated by technology, but his film is playful in the same way that the best thrillers by Hitchcock students John Carpenter, Brian De Palma and Dario Argento perversely mess with your expectations. You have to submit to the filmmakers’ cantankerous whims and be willing to be led around by the nose to get the most out of “11 Minutes.”

thumbnail The Handmaiden (2016 South Korea)

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Director: Park Chan-Wook
Starring: Min-hee Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jin-woong Jo
Genre: Erotic thriller
Duration: 144 mins
Rated R

Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, relocates the story from Victorian Britain to 1930s Korea. Sookee is hired as a handmaiden to the repressed and isolated Japanese heiress Hideko, who lives with her domineering uncle. Though servile and charming on the surface, Sookee has been planted in the household by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count. His plan is to seduce and elope with Hideko and take possession of her considerable fortune. Sookee’s task is to get her new mistress to fall for the Count, but she finds herself sexually drawn to her instead. The film simmers with genuine sexual tension but more importantly, there’s longing, affection and intimacy between the maid and her sexually inexperienced heiress.

thumbnail Nocturnal Animals (2016 USA)

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Director: Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon
Genre: Drama, thriller
Duration: 115 mins
Rated R

A terrifying thriller for adults. At its heart, it’s about how the choices we make can devastatingly affect our lives and how violently divided urban and rural America is. Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is a Los Angeles art gallery owner married to a high flying entrepreneur. She’s been divorced for twenty years from a writing teacher and novelist (Jake Gyllenhaal). When she receives his new novel, dedicated to her, we see it as she reads it. The “real” events of the film are all about a woman facing a mid-life crisis, while the novel is a nightmarish tale of rednecks terrorising a young family in West Texas. The tone and style of the film embraces both stories, linking and interweaving them to create a whole that is genuinely disturbing.

thumbnail Goldstone (2016 Australia)

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Director: Ivan Sen
Starring: Aaron Pedersen, Alex Russell, Jacki Weaver
Genre: Crime, thriller
Duration: 110 mins

Indigenous detective, Jay Swan, (Aaron Pedersen) arrives to investigate a missing persons enquiry in the frontier town of Goldstone, overseen by Mayor Jacki Weaver and company hatchet man, David Wenham. What seems like a simple investigation opens out into a web of crime and corruption. A striking film to watch, but a better and bigger one to think about. The key to unlocking this ambitious genre hybrid- a Australian film classic and an outback noir masterpiece- is understanding that Goldstone is a country, not a town, and its name is Australia.

thumbnail The Most Wanted Man – Britain (2014)

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Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final leading role on screen. Adapted from John Le Carre’s 2008 novel and directed by Anton Corbijn, it is set entirely in the port city of Hamburg, where Mohammed Atta planned the September 11, 2001 attacks under the intelligence radar. When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community, laying claim to his father’s ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: as the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man’s true identity, oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist?

thumbnail Under The Skin – Britain (2013)

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Plot? Here’s what you need to know: An unnamed woman (Scarlett Johansson) with alluring menace, cruises the streets of Scotland in a cargo van looking for men. She’s not the usual femme fatale. She’s an alien, and what she does to these guys, well, that’s for you to find out.

Directed by Jonathan Glazer. He obsessed over how the world might really look to alien eyes. “I liked having it in my head. Finding the logic, the images. It’s like learning an alphabet, then a language, then writing in it, then trying to write poetry in it.”. For life to feel real, he decided, they needed real life. Extras shouldn’t just be non-professional actors, but people who didn’t even know they were being filmed, caught on hidden cameras when Johansson pulled up at the roadsides of Glasgow.