Denmark (3 stars)

In a dreary Welsh town, Herb (Rafe Spall) is down on his luck, unemployed and facing a cut in his benefits. Divorced, with a son he rarely sees, terrible neighbours and gangs of teen muggers roaming wild, everything about his life is intolerable and it looks for a while like this is going to be as grim for us as it is for him. When he gets it in his head that his lot would be better if he were in a Danish prison, Herb sets out on the ferry to try to get himself banged up, with some fairly predictable developments, but the odd unpredictable one too as the film tries to stay on the front foot. Darkly funny in places, this study of desperation and “incarceration tourism” is told in a way that’s comedically offbeat enough to negate the grimness, so Herb’s life comes across as more pathetic than bleak and we don’t mind too much rooting for him, even if the results are hardly In Bruges.

Resin (4 stars)

We stay in Denmark for a unique drama that often resembles a backwoods horror, but played arrow-straight. A bold opening sees a man flailing in water, calling out for someone called Liv, who appears to have drowned. “Did they believe you?” his wife asks him. Many years later we discover that Liv is their daughter who lives with them in their isolated home, a setup that feels like a folk tale of a father shielding a child from the outside world. Clearly Liv is being kept hidden away for reasons, but not delving too deep into her father’s motivations leaves the movie enigmatic, priming us for its startling developments, including how a woman in town will become involved and the meaning of the title. Like a sinister fairy tale, it plays out with a dreamlike quality, exploring our connection with nature in a way that’s visually striking, filled with tension and performed with a raw power.

Driveways (4 stars)

Strong performances are also to the fore in this unassuming American indie, as a single mother and her young son, Cody, arrive at the house of her sister to pack it up following her death. The great Brian Dennehy puts in a lovely turn as their initially grumpy neighbour, a Korean War vet stuck in the loneliness of old age. As small acts of kindness bring them together, the details of their lives are quietly teased out in well written, organic ways and through subtle, nuanced performances. The key relationships between mother and son and between Dennehy and Cody develop in pleasing fashion, while well sketched secondary characters add flavour in a film about the importance of having people around you, offering affecting, deeply felt scenes without ever having to resort to major dramas.

Standing Up, Falling Down (4 stars)

It can occasionally feel that the makers of this comedy drama are in fact giving in to such impulses, but mostly they get reined in for the easy-going tale of Scott (Ben Schwartz), a struggling stand-up comedian in his 30s who moves back to his small east coast hometown and in with his parents. What could be one of those portraits of stunted adolescence that can easily come across as self-indulgent also chips in the familiar routine of Scott pining for an old flame, but does so in a likable manner, peppered with smart-aleck dialogue. That only increases when Scott encounters Billy Crystal’s doctor, whose life contains its own woes, and strikes up a friendship with him. Seeing Crystal on screen at any time is a treat, and he and Schwartz share a chemistry that carries them through many scenes of witty conversations that feel movie-written yet amiable, and often very funny.

Denmark: Glasgow Film Theatre, Friday March 6th & Saturday March 7th

Resin: Glasgow Film Theatre, Wednesday March 4th and Cineworld, Renfrew St, Friday March 6th

Driveways: Cineworld, Renfrew St, Thursday March 5th and Friday March 6th

Standing Up, Falling Down: Cineworld, Renfrew St, Sunday March 1st and Monday March 2nd