Here are the five films you can't afford to miss this month. From Louis Theroux's fascinating new documentary to the hotly anticipated thriller, The Girl on the Train, and Ken Loach's final film, there's something for every taste. 

I, Daniel Blake

This allegedly final film from veteran director Ken Loach sets its sights squarely on the stifling and dehumanising nature of Britain’s benefits system.

Set in Newcastle, it follows the title character (played brilliantly by comedian Dave Johns), a widowed carpenter forced out of work by a heart condition, and his friendship with Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mother from London struggling to provide for her two children.

At their worst, Loach’s films can be preachy and simplistic. I, Daniel Blake doesn’t totally avoid this charge, but it also plays to Loach’s strength—namely, a wonderful feel for the lives of ordinary people.

Paul Laverty’s screenplay nails those moments that bring characters to life, and the movie as a whole packs an enormous emotional punch.

 

Swiss Army Man

This decidedly odd two-hander stars Paul Dano as a man stranded in the wilderness who discovers a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) and uses it as a multi-purpose tool to aid his survival, all the while carrying on (real or imagined) conversations that force him to reassess his life.

This divided audiences at the Sundance Film Festival and, despite the fine performances, my patience also ran out long before the end.

Read more: 5 Reasons why we love Daniel Radcliffe

 

Queen of Katwe

Chess has always been a niche subject in cinema, largely because pushing little bits of wood around a board is difficult to dramatise (although 2000’s The Luzhin Defence is worth checking out).

This film, however, efficiently charts the rise of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), moving from the slums of Katwe to becoming a Woman Candidate Master in a remarkably short time. David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o also star.

 

The Girl on the Train 

Paula Hawkins’ debut novel was the publishing sensation of last summer, and here comes the inevitable big-screen adaptation, with Emily Blunt in the title role and the action transferred from London to New York (it’s a good deal slicker than the original’s commuter-belt drudgery had suggested).

Haley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson co-star.

Read more: First look at Emily Blunt in The Girl on a Train

 

My Scientology Movie

Louis Theroux’s quizzical look at “the world’s fastest growing religion”, and its chairman David Miscavige, is in keeping with Theroux’s Weird Weekends TV series.

As a viewing experience, it’s often as eccentric as its subject matter—at one point Louis hires actors to re-enact key moments in the Scientology story—but it can’t top Alex Gibney’s wonderful Going Clear on the same subject.

 

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