Maniac directed by Cary Fukunaga – Episode 1 [9/10]

From its opening frame featuring  a down-and-out Emma Stone (a mesmerising performance) in a half-retro, half-futuristic New York, Fukunaga stuns with sumptuous scenes and wonderful cinematography. Jonah Hill is perfect as the hallucinating depressive son of a scion. In the second half the two volunteer into a pharma’s clearly dodgy group trial, and the signals are clear that this is going to be one trippy experience, perhaps a la Legion (one of my faves from 2017), and that the clashing duo will team up. All the bit players are superb. Not a moment of Maniac is wasted, not a moment is predictable. What a stunner of an opening episode!

The Nowhere Child by Christian White [6/10]

Family secrets make for marvellous mysteries. When a Melbourne photographer is confronted by an American man claiming she is the grown-up version of a child missing for nearly three decades, her increasingly baffled investigations take her to Kentucky and a backwater cult. The Nowhere Child’s plot combusts capably, if a trifle slowly, and the plucky protagonist works well. White’s style is sure and smooth, the locales evocative. I enjoyed this quick classic-hued tale. A solid Australian crime debut.

Songs You Make at Night by Tunng [8/10]

British folktronica group Tunng has been making gorgeous mixed-fi music for over a decade, one of those influential but ignored bands that it’s a treat to discover. Songs You Make at Night is one of their best, a sumptuous amalgam of acoustic guitar and electric piano, heavy bass beats, and found sounds sprinkled with clicks and the like, all hushed over by Sam Gender’s feather-light weary falsetto (I swear he channels Robert Wyatt unerringly at the start of amazing “Dream In”) and Becky Jacobs’s ethereal voice. The lyrics pinch and pull with poetry. Standout tracks include nigh-poppy “Dark Heart” and pastoral “Like Water.” A must buy for 2018, songs you hear at night and in the quiet of the day.