Life is a game of cards: Burning Angel and Other Stories, by Lawrence Osborne, reviewed

This compelling and unnerving collection of stories is Lawrence Osborne’s first, coming in the wake of recent critically acclaimed novels – including The Forgiven, adapted into a film – and earlier works of memoir, essays and travelogue. Born in England, currently residing in Bangkok, Osborne has earned comparisons with Graham Greene for his portraits of flawed white characters in foreign settings, and Patricia Highsmith, thanks to the menacing noir atmosphere. These nine stories, written over the past decade, do not disappoint. Osborne removes his protagonists – English or American, on the young side of middle age – from their native environments and transplants them into exotic, perilous locations. Divorced from

A compelling, if flawed, example of the new American noir: Red Rocket reviewed

Mikey (Simon Rex) first appears striding down a road in utterly wrecked jeans and shirt. He is carrying nothing and seems to be going nowhere until he walks up the pathway to the house of the wife he abandoned and her venomously disapproving, chain-smoking mother. Sean Baker’s Red Rocket is a movie set in Texas City in Galveston County. It’s basically an oil town and almost all the action in this film takes place on the perimeter of a vast refinery. Everything is very grainy, especially the dark interiors. This is because the film is shot on 16mm film, a medium which, on the big screen, produces a lively, speckled

Spellbinding: Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time reviewed

The premise for the unsnappily titled Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time is this: a Hungarian neurosurgeon meets a fellow Hungarian neurosurgeon at a medical conference, falls in love, and gives up her shiny life and career in America to be with him in Budapest. They had agreed to meet on one of the city’s bridges. He doesn’t show. She tracks him to the hospital where he works. He says he’s never met her before. And now we are on board. Now we have to know: is he gaslighting her? Is she crazy? How is this going to play out? This is one of those films