They only started making feature films in Paraguay in 1955 and, like many of the earliest offerings, Catrano Catrani's Codicia was an Argentinian co-production. More recently, Galia Giménez's Maria Escobar (2002), Paz Encina's Paraguayan Hammock (2007), Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori's 7 Boxes (2012) and Hérib Godoy's Empty Cans (2014) have received international recognition. But the breakthrough picture has proved to be Marcelo Martinessi's delightful debut, The Heiresses, which earned Ana Brun the Best Actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival. Nodding in the direction of Gianni Di Gregorio's Mid-August Lunch (2008) and Sebastián Lelio's Gloria (2013), this is not only a disarmingly offbeat rite of late-life passage, but it also offers astute insights into recent Paraguayan history and the legacy left by decades of dictatorship.

Peering through the gap left by a half-open door, fiftysomething Chela (Ana Brun) watches her companion Chiquita (Margarita Irún) show a haughty woman around the items they have for sale in their dark Asunción home. As they have run up debts, Chiquita has tried to cook the books to keep cash coming in. But, despite the best efforts of their loyal friend, Carmela (Alicia Guerra), Chiquita has been sentenced for fraud and hires illiterate maid Pati (Nilda Gonzalez) to look after Chela while she's inside. She shows her how to prepare the drinks tray that Chela requires while painting and explains how many pills she needs to take each day. Yet, when Carmela offers them an envelope containing donations raised during her birthday party, Chela rejects it and criticises Chiquita for the fact that they have been selling her heirlooms and nothing belonging to her family. 

Nettled by the remark and by Chela's rebuttal of her advances because she smells of cigarettes and alcohol, Chiquita spends her last night on the sofa and Chela seems more concerned with the fact that her hair needs dyeing than with her partner's imminent incarceration. Looking very much out of place, Chela accompanies Chiquita to the prison gates and looks around anxiously when she pays her first Saturday visit and sees how well the pragmatic Chiquita has settled into her new surroundings. Back home, however, she keeps hearing noises in the night and asks Pari to sleep on the sofa to reassure her. However, she gently chides her for putting the items in the wrong place on her tray and only forgives her when she discovers she has a talent for foot massages. 

Chela feels the need of a little pampering after her elderly neighbour, Pituca (Maria Martins), asks if she can give her a lift to her daily card game. As she is afraid of being kidnapped, Pituca no longer trusts taxis and is willing to pay for Chela to drive her across town in the Mercedes left to her by her father. Chiquita is worried, as Chela doesn't have a licence and is usually nervous behind the wheel. But Chela welcomes the chance to get out of the house and earn a few guaraní. Moreover, after helping Angy (Ana Ivanova) collect her things after splitting up with her boyfriend, Cesar (Raul Chamorro), Chela develops a crush on the statuesque fortysomething and even agrees to risk the motorway to take her mother to Itauguá for her regular medical appointments.

Having told Pituca that Chiquita has gone to stay in Punta del Este, Chela hopes that her friends and neighbours will stop gossiping about her absence. But she asks Carmela to attend a meeting with Chiquita's lawyer on her own, as she wants to have a trial run on the M2 before taking Angy's mother. Moreover, when she sees Chiquita having her hair done by the working-class minions who have become part of her prison circle, Chela feels superfluous and feels put out by her lover's joke about her being like Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976).

However, she also feels more confident and comes out to greet the women browsing through her possessions. She refuses to offer a discount for her dining table and seems not to mind the hole that it leaves in the centre of the room. Indeed, Chela's focus is solely on Angy and she smartens herself up and uses lipstick for the trip to Itauguá. While waiting outside the clinic, she allows Angy to teach her how to smoke and tries on her sunglasses because the younger woman thinks they suit her. 

Having pleasured herself for the first time in a long while, she also accepts an invitation to meet two of her divorced friends while waiting for the card game to end. They chatter inanely and Chela puts up with their thoughtless remarks about lowering standards to drive people around because Angy kisses her on both cheeks and places a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Moreover, she would rather be associating with widows and bimbos than Chiquita's new acquaintances, like the woman who killed her husband's mistress. 

Having bought a small table to replace the one she sold, Chela lets her piano go. But she keeps taking tips from Pituca and her friends and delights in her moments alone with Angy in Itauguá. She discovers that Angy also paints and was nicknamed `Chiqui' by her father. On revealing that her own father called her `Poupée', Chela is thrilled when Angy starts to use it. However, she is hurt when Angy abandons her to go off with Cesar and Pati realises something is wrong when Chela mopes around the house that evening. Hiding her pain, she continues driving and listens as Pituca badmouths one of her bridge school after she reminisces about her 52 years of marital bliss. 

Having been disturbed by a prisoner shaking the bars of Chiquita's cell while she was waiting for her to return from the showers, Chela takes Pituca and Angy to a funeral. Saddened by seeing how one of her ex-lovers had gone to seed, Angy asks Chela if they can go back to her house with a bottle of wine, while the reception continues to midnight. Chela sends Pati to bed and listens intently, as Angy candidly describes how she used to have threesomes with her the man and his mistress and Chela is so overwhelmed by the fact that Angy is bisexual that she makes an excuse to calm herself down in the bathroom. When she gets caught peeking at Angy reclining on the sofa, however, she bolts back into the bathroom and is crushed to discover that Angy has disappeared into the night. 

Driving round in the hope of spotting her, Chela returns to the venue to find that everyone has left. She buys a hot dog at a snack bar and sits in a daze at one of the pavement tables. Indeed, she is so disorientated that she goes to the prison and is surprised when the duty guards tell her that she has missed visiting hours. Returning home, she leaves Angy a phone message and thinks she has called to see her the next morning when the doorbell rings. But it's Carmela bringing Chiquita home early and Chela has to fight to hide her disappointment. 

She is also dismayed when Chiquita does a deal to sell the bottle green Mercedes and remains so out of sorts that she drops her drinks tray. Unable to sleep next to her snoring lover, Chela gets up in the night and climbs the stairs to the roof of the house in which she was born to let the breeze blow across her face. Pati comes to check if she is okay and they hug. The next morning, there's no sign of Chela or the car keys and Chiquita is bemused to find the gates open and the car gone. 

The closing song, `Greetings From Ypacari', signifies that Chela has flown the nest for good. But Martinessi leaves us guessing whether she has taken her chance with Angy or simply decided to abandon the cosseted existence she has known since she was a girl. Given that he also uses a snippet from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, the chances of an inglorious retreat remain on the cards, however.

Acting predominantly with her eyes, while occasionally arching a brow or inclining her head, Ana Brun is outstanding as the embarrassed heiress who comes to realise that status, privilege and material possessions are not as important as she had always believed. She might continue to prioritise her own desires, but she learns to fend for herself and make her own decisions without seeking the approval of her father or her partner. In many ways, her character resembles that of fellow Berlin laureate Paulina García in Gloria. But this is a much more watchful performance that is made all the more poignant by Margarita Irún's controlling complacency, Ana Ivanova's careless coquettishness and the excellent María Martins's class-conscious cattiness. 

Pacing the action to perfection, Martinessi has Luis Armando Arteaga's widescreen, but shallow-focused camera make telling comparisons between the wood-panelled gloom of Carlo Spatuzza's shabbily chic interiors and both the brightly coloured bustle of the prison visiting area and the sunlit city beyond Chela's front door. He also invites the viewer to realise that this is a world largely devoid of men and prompts speculation about what might have happened in recent patriarchal Paraguayan history to impact on survival rates among the elite. But, while it hints at dark deed, this is a story about reawakening and renewal, whose deft intimacy and caustic wit make it one of the best films of the year so far.

Echoes of Benedikt Erlingsson's Of Horses and Men (2013) and Grímur Hákonarson's Rams (2015) can be heard in Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson's Under the Tree, a pitch black comedy of neighbourly manners that stands every chance of following the Icelandic director's debut feature, Either Way (2011), in being remade in America. Frustratingly, David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche (2013) was more widely seen than its source and Sigurðsson's sophomore outing, Paris of the North (2014), failed to reach this country at all. However, the story of two couples bickering over an overhanging tree has a universal ring that makes its inexorably escalating malevolence all the more plausible and tragicomically compelling. 

When wife Agnes (Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir) catches him watching a sex tape he made with old flame Rakel (Dóra Jóhannsdóttir), Atli (Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson) is forced to move in with parents Baldvin (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Inga (Edda Björgvinsdóttir), who are mourning the sudden disappearance of their elder son, Uggi. They live next door to Konrad (Þorsteinn Bachmann) and Eybjörg (Selma Björnsdóttir) and Inga has taken against the trophy wife that caused the break-up of Konrad's first marriage. Thus, when she asks them to trim the top of a tree that is preventing the sunlight from reaching their back garden, Inga refuses point blank to co-operate.

Agnes similarly refuses to have anything to do with Atli and not only changes the locks on their apartment, but also has him ejected from her workplace when he comes to reason with her after she ignores his phone messages. While he's out, Inga accuses Eybjörg of allowing her dog to foul her garden and tosses a plastic bag of evidence over the fence. Eybjörg vows to get even before reminding Konrad of his monthly conjugal duty, as they are trying to conceive a child. 

The next morning, Baldvin discovers that his tyres have been slashed and Inga hurries out to sling insults when Eybjörg returns from her daily cycle to deny having anything to do with the vandalism. Unconvinced, Baldvin pushes an arriving tree surgeon back into his truck and any hopes that the husbands might broker a peace are dashed when Konrad objects to Inga branding him a loser. Atli similarly burns his bridges by ignoring Esra (Bjartur Guðmundsson) and taking daughter Asa (Sigrídur Sigurpálsdóttir Scheving) out of kindergarten to go for a picnic on the grass verge of an IKEA superstore car park. By the time he returns, Agnes has called the police and she informs their neighbours of her husband's video habits when he gatecrashes a tenants' meeting. 

Meanwhile, Eybjörg has returned from a cycle to discover that someone has broken the gnomes in her flowerpots and she gets Konrad to collect some photographic evidence before wreaking her revenge on Baldvin and Inga's cat. As they have installed a CCTV camera, they check the footage to see how a pair of gnomes ended up in their sitting-room while Inga was out searching. But they can find nothing and Baldvin decides to camp in the garden in a tent after Konrad is spotted with a chainsaw. 

Atli collects his belongings and asks Agnes to let him see Asa. But she contacts the cops to claim he is harassing her and damaged kindergarten property. She also calls Rakel to let her know that Atli still has images of her on his laptop and she tells him to delete them because there's no longer anything between them. Fortunately, she has no objection to him reliving old times and even gives him advice on how to conduct the custody negotiations. However, Baldvin does more good when he calls to see Agnes and reminds her that Atli has never quite recovered from his brother's disappearance (and probable suicide). Yet, when Atli gets home on Uggi's birthday to find Inga curled in a ball of misery on the carpet, she dismisses his efforts to console her and curses him for not having his brother's strength of personality. 

During supper, Inga toasts her absent son and ignores Atli when he baldly states that Uggi killed himself. That night, Baldvin comes to the tent with a bottle and they joke about the fact he once took naughty snapshots of Inga, but didn't have the courage to get them developed. He also tells Atli that he has hurt Agnes and will have to wait and see how she reacts over time. 

The next day, Inga kidnaps Eybjorg's dog, Askur, and takes him to the vet to be put down. She also has him stuffed and leaves him on the doorstep for Eybjörg and Konrad to find when they return from an appointment with her gynaecologist. As she suspects that Eybjörg spirited the cat away to mirror Uggi's fate, Inga refuses to feel any remorse. But Baldvin can't bring himself to sing at choir practice that night, as he wonders how things had spiralled out of control. 

At least Agnes seems to have realised the need for a truce and she sends Atli an e-mail asking if they can divorce with dignity for their daughter's sake. He settles down in his tent with mixed emotions and puts his headphones on to help him sleep. Thus, he doesn't hear Konrad shoot out the CCTV lens or fire up the chainsaw. Baldvin is woken up by the noise, but he is too late to prevent the tree from falling on the tent and is still in a daze when he leaves the hospital after Atli dies. However, he retains the wherewithal to break into Konrad's garage and fires at him with an air pistol before his target defends himself with a sledgehammer. A struggle with tools picked up from around the room ensues before Konrad runs Baldvin through with a fork and has his throat slashed with a Stanley knife. 

As the camera pulls up away from the bodies lying in pools of blood, the scene fades to autumn. A chill drizzle falls, as the tops of leafless trees sway in the wind. Inga smokes a cigarette at her window and looks down into the garden to see her cat sidle past the tree stump, as if it has never been away.

Ending with the perfect punchline for what is essentially a shaggy cat story, this macabre farce has much in common with Hannes Holm's A Man Called Ove (2016). Once again, a quiet suburban street becomes the scene of a simmering altercation that steadily lurches out of control, as conclusions are jumped to and retribution is taken before justification has been confirmed. But, while voices of reason could occasionally be heard in Holm's Oscar-nominated romp, they are barely audible in this instance, as those who might have been able to restore the peace get sucked into the abyss themselves. 

Despite his crass insensitivity, it's hard to feel much sympathy for either Atli or Agnes, whose failure to confront their marital drift leaves them both feeling exposed and betrayed. With their smug sense of superiority, Konrad and Eybjörg are also rather resistible. But they do little to merit the loathing that Inga feels towards them, as she channels the breakdown levels of grief she has experienced since her first-born vanished without a trace. Yet, while she veers from cheap slurs to grisly canicide, Edda Björgvinsdóttir appears to remain in icy control, as she calculates ways to wound Selma Björnsdóttir, whose dual crime of being younger and more attractive is perhaps exacerbated by the fact that Björgvinsdóttir might have been close friends with Þorsteinn Bachmann's first wife. 

Whatever the underlying causes, the discord rapidly descends into the kind of tit-for-tat animosity in which Laurel and Hardy once indulged to glorious slapstick effect. But, while this is often savagely hilarious, viewers will more often find themselves wincing than laughing. Cinematographer Monika Lenczewska and editor Kristján Loðmfjörð conspire with Sigurðsson to ensure developments are timed with excruciating precision, while Daníel Bjarnason's brooding score reinforces the tone of disconcerting normality that the cast bring to proceedings that say much about the state of communities and communication in the social media era.

Since playing English teacher David Wilder in Dawson's Creek, Ken Marino has been a familiar face on our television screens. In addition to recurring roles in Party Down, Marry Me, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh Off the Boat and Agent Carter, however, Marino has earned three Emmy nominations as the producer of the sitcom Children's Hospital and the web series, Burning Love. Moreover, he has also based Katherine Dieckmann's Diggers (2006) on his father's exploits as a clam digger in the 1970s and made his directorial debut with How to Be a Latin Lover (2017). Working from a script he reworked with wife Erica Oyama from a Elissa Matsueda original, he returns behind the camera for Dog Days, which has been described in some quarters as a `canine Love Actually'.

Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) is so devoted to her dog Sam that she leaves the television on so that he can watch her presenting a Los Angeles daytime show. He barks when an interview with dog psychologist Danielle (Tig Notaro) goes badly and, when she gets home, he brings her the pink bra belonging to the  girl sleeping with her boyfriend, Peter (Ryan Hansen). While Danielle reassures Elizabeth that Sam's broken heart will mend, barista Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) moons over vet Dr Mike (Michael Cassidy) and fails to notice that regular customer Garrett (Jon Bass) is besotted with her. When she finds skinny stray Gertrude at the back of the coffee shop, Tara follows the advice of dog-walking best friend Daisy (Lauren Lapkus) and takes her to the clinic to introduce herself. However, Dr Mike is too much of an animal person to realise she's flirting with him and suggests it might be better to find Gertrude another home, as Tara can't keep pets in her digs. 

The same problem besets Dax (Adam Pally), who is left in charge of Charlie when sister Ruth (Jessica St Clair) goes into labour with twins while ranting at him for missing her baby shower. Henpecked husband Greg (Thomas Lennon) bundles her into the car, while Dax wonders what he's going to do with a pooch with a penchant for chewing things. A new arrival is also expected by adoptive parents Grace (Eva Longoria) and Kurt (Rob Corddry). But, even though they have filled her room with toys, Amelia (Elizabeth Phoenix Caro) is nervous about settling into her new home and sits timidly on the edge of the bed with a cuddly blue dog.

Across town, Walter (Ron Cephas Jones) is having to get used to being alone after the death of his wife. His sole companion is a podgy pug named Mabel. But she runs away when he has a seizure while out walking and 16 year-old pizza delivery boy Tyler (FinnWolfhard) feels responsible for finding her, as she charged across the street in recognition when he called out to Walter, who is one of his regular customers. Tara also feels guilty about letting Gertrude go to a rescue pound, as she has a fragile skull and has to wear a pink plastic helmet to protect her. Much to her surprise, Tara discovers that New Tricks is owned by Garrett, who is delighted when she asks if she can volunteer. 

While his mood improves, Grace becomes increasingly stressed at not being able to connect with Amelia, in spite of dancing to `Wannabe' by The Spice Girls during breakfast. Elizabeth is also feeling glum, as she swears on air when ex-basketball star Jimmy (Tone Bell) winds her up during an interview. She is even more put out when she hosts a birthday party for Sam in the parkk and he begins frolicking around with Brandy, who just happens to belong to Jimmy. Amy (Jessica Lowe), her make-up artist friend is amused, but Elizabeth is most decidedly not, as Sam hasn't been so sprightly since Peter left. However, she discovers she is going to be seeing a lot more of Jimmy, as he has just been made her new co-host.

Meanwhile, Amelia has found Mabel and Grace and Kurt are so touched by the way she chatters to her that they agree to let her stay. However, Tyler is still helping Walter search for her, although they have forged another bond because Tyler lost his father four years ago and Walter can help him with his summer studies because he's a retired English professor. Dax and Charlie have also become pals, even though the dog dawdles to sniff trees during his morning walks and keeps stopping Dax from canoodling with the girls he brings back to his apartment.

However, Ruth is too exhausted to take Charlie back and Dax gets caught smuggling him back into the building by Tara, who mace sprays him because she thinks he's abducted a person. As they use frozen peas to cool their eyes, Tara asks Dax to bring his band, Frunk, to the fundraiser she's organising with Garrett to help New Tricks relocate after the landlord sold their premises. However, Dr Mike is also keen to get involved and he makes a play for Tara, who can't resist, even though she's been coming to realise what a nice guy Garrett is. 

Elizabeth reaches the same conclusion about Jimmy when he humiliates Peter when they bump into him in a pet store. They become lovers, as well as partners and all seems to be going smoothly, even though nobody seems to have noticed how lonely weather presenter Alexa (Phoebe Neidhardt) is. However, it all goes wrong on air during an interview with clown Wacky Wayne (David Wain), when Elizabeth confronts Jimmy about being headhunted by another channel and she suggests backstage that they take a step back. Kurt also has a dilemma to address when he meets up with Tyler at the start of the new school term and sees one of the flyers he is posting about Mabel.

However, Amelia takes the news very well and is happy that Mr Snuggles (as she has renamed Mabel) will be reunited with Walter. He has gone to the party in the park with Tyler and admits that he feels he has let his wife down by losing her beloved pet. But he is enjoying reconnecting with the world and is even considering adopting a new dog from New Tricks. Daz has also become attached to Charlie (even panicking after he trips out on a hash brownie scarfed during a band rehearsal) and takes him to the benefit, which Jimmy is reporting on while grieving for Brandy, who had to be put down after suffering a stroke while playing fetch on the beach. With Sam giving her the big sad eyes, Elizabeth dashes to the park to tells Jimmy she loves him, while Garrett gives Tara a pen engraved with Gertrude Stein's delightful line, `I am because my little dog knows me.'

Kurt calls Walter while he's watching old home movies of his wife and her yellow Volkswagen. They meet in the park, but he sees how much Mabel means to Amelia and suggests they stay together and he can say `hello' whenever they run into each other. Grace is overwhelmed and Amelia hugs her because she has now accepted her as her mom. Even Daz sheds a tear when he leaves Charlie with Ruth. 

One year later, New Tricks has moved into Walter's sprawling home and he is pleased to be able to see it so full of life again. Garrett and Tara are still an item, while Daisy has snagged Dr Mike. Gertrude is watching TV when Jimmy proposes to Elizabeth live on air and she and Sam give him a new dog to complete their family. So, everyone is content, as the credits roll with a selection of out-takes that probably should have been left as extras for the DVD release. 

Strictly, disc is where this genial, but lightweight charmer belongs. There's nothing remotely cinematic about Marino's visual style, with the images being lit and framed like a teleplay. However, the screenplay is solidly structured and, while the plot strands are pretty formulaic, they slot together pleasingly enough, thanks to the efforts of an admirable ensemble. Ironically, for a film that sets such store by the importance of our four-legged friends, the canine actors aren't name-checked in the closing crawl, which is doubly disappointing, as they steal every scene they are in. 

Despite distancing herself from her Desperate Housewives persona, Eva Longoria struggles to suggest the anxieties experienced by an adoptive mother trying to connect with her child, while Nina Dobrev and Vanessa Hudgens are almost interchangeable as the LA cuties who keep choosing the wrong hunk. A similar whiff of chauvinism informs Jessica St Clair's display as the shrewish mother-to-be, although this vignette does allow Marino to slip in a clip from John De Bello's Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978), as Adam  Pally is helping Charlie down from his snaffled high. The weakest segment is also the most intriguing, as Ron Cephas Jones's friendship with Finn Wolfhard doesn't ring true for a second. But it raises several social issues that are frustratingly skated over, while it's also the only episode to examine the emotional bond that exists between a dog and their humans.

There must have been a better film to mark the centenary of the Battle of Amiens, but Richard Lanni's Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero is the only title on the release schedule and it will have served its purpose if it introduces a few younger viewers to the grim realities of the Great War. That said, this animated biopic of the most decorated war dog in US military history is not solely for kids, as Lanni and co-scenarist Mike Stokey II have opted against allowing the eponymous Boston terrier to talk and have wisely kept his actions as authentically canine as possible. 

Flashing back from the Western Front in March 1918, the action opens with Margaret O'Brien (Helena Bonham Carter) explaining how the United States joined the war against Germany on the side of the British and the French. Some time in 1917, while her brother, Robert Conroy (Logan Lerman), was marching through New Haven, Connecticut with his platoon of Doughboys, he had spotted a hungry dog on the pavement and tossed him a biscuit. This proved to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Needing every friend he can get, the scrappy pup digs his way under the Yale University barrack fence and makes such a good impression during parade on Sgt Casburn (Jason Ezzell) that Conroy is allowed to keep him, much to the dismay of his buddy, Elmer Olsen (Jordan Beck), who doesn't like dogs. But tent mate Hans Schroeder (Jim Pharr) agrees with the drill sergeant that Stubby makes a fine mascot and he romps alongside Conroy as he goes through basis training. Even Colonel Ty (Pharr) is impressed when Stubby learns to salute. But he growls when he first sees a gas mask and whimpers when he gets a whiff of the tear gas that Casburn has been using to acclimatise his rookies to the conditions they are going to experience in the trenches. 

Nevertheless, Stubby keeps square-bashing alongside Conroy and enjoys playing catch with a baseball. When orders come to leave for Europe, however, Conroy has to leave Stubby in the cookhouse so that he will be safe. But the devoted dog slips his lead and not only chases the troop train, but also stows away inside a packing crate to be winched aboard the ship about to cross the Atlantic. Using his keen sense of smell, he tracks Conroy to his cabin and is allowed to stay on board the Minnesota when his salute charms General Edwards (Brian Cook).

As Margaret takes up the story, she knew nothing about Stubby following her brother, as she scoured the newspapers for stories about the troops beating the German U-boats and reaching France. A map shows their route across country to Chemin des Dames, where they would engage the enemy for the first time. Stubby makes himself useful straight away by chasing the rats into No Man's Land. He also reveals a gift for finding bodies buried under rubble after the trench comes under attack. But he takes a snarling dislike to French soldier Gaston Baptiste (Gérard Depardieu) until he gets to sample some cheese and happily toddles after him when Baptiste announces that Conroy, Olsen and Schroeder have been selected for special reconnaissance duties. 

They are moved to a billet behind the lines and Stubby is keen to follow wherever Conroy leads. Thus, he trots beside his master and Baptiste as they ride on horseback through the countryside to a vantage point that allows them to spy on the Germans. They spot a consignment of mustard gas canisters being delivered and Stubby races back to base to warn the soldiers and then charges through the nearby village to sound the alarm. Conroy plucks him up by the collar just as the foul green gas curls through the streets and Baptiste covers Stubby's snout with a wet cloth to protect him as they shelter inside a barn. 

Margaret reveals how her sibling's letters were full of news about Stubby's heroism and how everybody adored him. Baptiste becomes fonder than most when he catches a rabbit and they get to feast on a stew that is far better than the slop served up by the cook (Guillaume Sentou). While the French soldiers teach Olsen and Schroeder how to play pétanque (after Stubby steals the cochonnet), Baptiste takes Conroy for a walk to a hill overlooking the plain. He shows him a photograph of his wife and three daughters, while Conroy explains how Margaret had raised him and his two sisters after their parents had died. 

Such moments of calm are few and far between, however, and Stubby is soon in the thick of the action once more. When a Doughboy is wounded in No Man's Land, Stubby jumps out of the trench and rushes through the barbed wire and shell craters to find him and bark out directions to the stretcher bearers. French and American troops alike turn in admiration at the plucky dog, who risked his life to save one of their own. 

As the spring of 1918 passes, the 26th (Yankee) Division of the 102nd Infantry Regiment is transferred to Seicheprey. With the Germans attempting a desperate push to break the defences and advance on Paris, this became the site of the heaviest fighting experienced by US troops during the conflict. Stubby refuses to flinch, however, and not only helps Conroy and Baptiste capture three German soldiers who infiltrated their trench, but also saved lives by grabbing a stick grenade in his mouth and running to a deserted part of the line. Conroy persuades a doctor to care for him and Stubby finds himself in the same ambulance as Schroeder. 

Baptiste is sent back to his regiment shortly afterwards and Conroy put a brave face on the Three Musketeers being broken up in his letters home. Having retaken Seicheprey, the Americans were holed up in the ruins of the town when Conroy was diagnosed with Spanish Flu and taken to the field hospital. He was reunited with Stubby when he staggered into the compound with a bandaged paw after stealing sausages from a German barbecue (a bit of artistic licence here, one suspects) and, together with Olsen and Schroeder, they got to spend a furlough in Paris. Feted wherever they go, the friends take photographs in front of famous landmarks and Conroy sends them home to his sisters. 

Back on duty at Marcheville, Stubby sniffs out a German spy and is promoted to the honorary rank of sergeant. Corporal Conroy jokes that he now outranks him and he is delighted to be reunited with Baptiste. It's now September 1918 and the Allies are certain that they have broken German morale. Yet the war drags on and Stubby gets to meet Captain George S. Patton (Nicholas Rulon) when he rolls up on a tank during the final advance. Yet, even though an armistice is agreed for 11am on 11 November, the fighting continues until the last second. Conroy jumps into a trench to help Baptiste in a stand-off with two Germans in gas masks. They let them escape when whistles are blown to signal the end of hostilities. But not everyone is so lucky, as Olsen is killed during the futile advance and Stubby takes his helmet to Schroeder, who finds the bullet hole in the rim. 

Baptiste says his farewells before the Americans ship out and Stubby is hoisted on top of a car at the quayside so that the crowds can see him. A reporter takes his picture and a match cut shows us the real Sgt Stubby in a black-and-white snapshot, as a caption reveals that he took part in 17 battles in four campaigns during his 18 months in service. A selection of photos show Stubby at the head of parades and posing with Conroy. But they only hint at the fact that he became a hero on his return and met three presidents before finally passing away in 1926. He might not have gone on to be a movie star like Rin Tin Tin, but he was preserved and remains on display in the Smithsonian Institute. 

Animators seemingly can't stop themselves from anthropomorphising animals and there are moments when Stubby's wide eyes, pugnacious attitude and jaunty saunter err towards Disneyfied cuteness. But, even though the dialogue isn't always particularly sophisticated, the characterisation is needlessly bland and Patrick Doyle's score is sometimes distractingly effusive, this is a thoughtful attempt to convey the nightmarish nature of war for young and old alike. Moreover, despite the chilling gas sequence, it avoids demonising the enemy.

The switch from computer-generated layouts to a facsimile hand-drawn style for the debriefing segments is particularly effective in the way it reminds viewers of the gravity of the situation Stubby finds himself in. That said, Helena Bonham Carter's narration sounds a touch twee in places, as does the stereotypical bonhomie voiced by Gérard Depardieu. Yet, even though he passes over the carnage completely, Lanni largely keeps sentimentality at bay, even when Stubby is wounded and Olsen is killed (off-screen). Those seeking to pay their cinematic respects will have to wait until Xavier Beauvois's The Guardians is released next week. But this could prove useful to anyone seeking to introduce their kids to the War to End All Wars.

Released in 2001, Rivers and Tides provided a beguiling insight into the working methods and thematic concerns of Scottish-based environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy. He has since featured in James Fox's fascinating BBC documentary, Forest, Field & Sky: Art Out of Nature, which also considered the work of James Turrell, Julie Brook, Richard Long, Charles Jencks and David Nash. Now, Goldsworthy has reunited with Thomas Ridelsheimer for Leaning Into the Wind, which adopts much the same approach as the original film, as it show Goldsworthy creating, while affording him a platform to espouse his views.

On the first leg of the travels recorded in the film, Goldsworthy goes to Ibitipoca in Brazil to play with a sunbeam piercing the roof of an abandoned shack and to admire the clay-and-dung floor made by a peasant couple, who are proud of their practicality and sceptical about an English artist coming all this way to pay them a call. The scene shifts to San Francisco, where he works with a chainsaw crew to create nicks in a pair of tree trunks that are installed in the ceiling of a small building and covered in hair-laced mud so that the process of the coating drying and cracking can be captured by a timelapse camera. 

Back in Dumfriesshire, Goldsworthy clambers through the branches of a row of small, autumnal trees. With the grey sky providing a backdrop for the harsh dusk light, the scene resembles both an early work of Scandinavian Expressionist cinema and the scene in Modern Times (1936), in which Charlie Chaplin passes through the innards of a factory machine. On a sunnier day, Goldsworthy climbs up a bigger tree and photographs the shadow of Man and Nature entwined that is cast on to the grass. He muses that he used to be rather precious about his process, but has come to realise that Nature is everywhere and that there's little point in even singling it out when discussing what he does. 

He walks by the burn that has been criss-crossed by fallen elm trees and the camera hovers in a drone over his head, as he picks his way under, along and through the gnarled branches. Back in his studio, he shows us photographs he took of one of the trees to show how he used yellow leaves and snow to emphasise the fissures in the bark that reveal the violence of the break that caused the tree to fall. He explains how yellow is a symbol of life and how sad it is that Dutch Elm Disease is removing the colour from the landscape. But he keeps finding enough leaves to work with, even though the wind blows them off the smooth black rocks he is attempting to cover. 

Goldsworthy studied art at the Lancaster Annex of Preston Polytechnic and he revisits the human-shaped chambers he carved into the rock at Morecambe Bay. He also passes the pillars he created at Clougha Pike, as he reveals his desire to leave part of himself in a landscape that had meant so much to him. The extent to which he identifies with the places in which he works is made evident in an anecdote about the shock he felt when a tree he had regularly utilised was irrevocably changed when woodsmen removed some of the branches and he created a piece with a black snowball to convey his sense of loss. 

As he works with some twigs spanning the burbling burn, Goldsworthy reveals that works often reflected what was going on in his life at the time of their creation and he is reminded of these events when he returns to the spots. However, impermanence is a key facet of his oeuvre and few items remain in situ for long. He speaks to the camera about how life doesn't pan out as one expects it to and that parting from his first wife, sculptor Judith Gregson (who was subsequently killed in a car crash), and raising a family with Tina Fiske impacted upon his changing attitudes to his work. A home movie clip from 1999 shows his children helping him with a piece and his daughter, Holly, is now one of his assistants. She sits on his shoulders linking twigs to hang from the branches of a bare tree like weeping willow strands. 

Holding a muddy hand in a waterfall, Goldsworthy shows how a simple gesture can have a profound meaning. He similarly lies on a stone during the rain to leave a dry outline and leaves his shape in a light dusting of snow on the grass. During a visit to Edinburgh, he makes another `rain shadow' on the pavement and uses red, yellow and green leaves to form lines down the middle of some stone steps. He even clambers through a hedge, with pedestrians passing him without any idea what he is doing or hoping to achieve. As far as Goldsworthy is concerned, the city is as valid a place for his art as the countryside. Hence, he created a sinuous crack running through the environs of the De Young Museum in San Francisco and a series of 25 limestone arches outside the St Louis Art Museum. 

A clever cut contrasts the Stone Sea installation with some curved branches in the jungle in Gabon, as Goldsworthy is shown trees that offer humans sanctuary from charging buffalo and elephants. He thinks it's very generous of Nature to protect humankind in this manner and another cut takes us to the Oak Room that Goldsworthy built from interwoven branches at Château La Coste in Provence. The notion of security also informs the Sleeping Stones he creates in Spain. But, while he is happy to build a space from transported boulders, he feels uneasy about cutting into the bedrock and apologises to the camera crew for getting them up so early for nothing. 

He has fewer qualms about moving boulders to form a low wall through a wood in New England, as they have previously been transported by ice and he feels they make a pertinent comment about the way people walled off expanses of land to farm. Indeed, Goldsworthy avers that he learnt more about his craft from working on farms than he did at art school. A series of shots of various sleeping stones follows, as Goldsworthy edges his way along a passage cut deep into the earth that give the impression of a wall having been cleaved in twain. 

After showing Holly a hole in a wall he created at Digne les Bains in Provence, Goldsworthy hikes into the woods to find a long-abandoned village. Holly also helps him cover his hands in poppy petals so he can immerse them in a slowly moving stream and allow the petals to float away. This contrasts with earlier shots of him blowing red and yellow petals out of his mouth and climbing a tree to shake it from within to release a cloud of pollen on the breeze. 

From these eruptions of colour, however, we return to Penpont to accompany Goldsworthy on a walk into the lush hills. It's tipping down and blowing a gale. But he explains that he sometimes gets more moments of clarity while leaning into the wind than he does in any other aspect of his life. He will be blown over from time to time, but he always gets back up to confront the elements. The symbolism may seem a bit forced, but the concept of a single figure against the landscape is mischievously revisited during the closing credit crawl, when the cut-out shape clinging to the upper branches of a bare tree at the side of a winding road suddenly moves and we realise that it had been an inanimate Goldsworthy all along. 

Once again, Ridelsheimer shows the sixtysomething Goldsworthy making fleetingly beautiful art from everything from rocks and branches to raindrops and icicles, But, while this profile is often captivating, it lacks the observational stillness that made Rivers and Tides so mesmerising. Goldsworthy speaks more frequently to the camera, as he modestly tries to explain his motivations and methods. Yet, while his work has a potent eco message, he shies away from any contentious or genuinely revelatory statements about either himself, his work or the imperilled world around him. Moreover, nothing is said about his sources of patronage or the critical response to his distinctive achievement. 

As before, Ridelsheimer's HD cinematography is discreet and delightful, while Fred Frith's jittery jazz score prevents proceedings becoming too cosy. But, coming after Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky's Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013) and James Crump's tribute to Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria and Michael Heizer in Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art (2015), this globe-trotting sequelmentary feels less intimate or substantial than its predecessor.

Back in 2012, Finnish documentarists Jukka Kärkkäinen and Jani-Petteri Passi introduced us to Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, a band made up exclusively of musicians with developmental difficulties. During the course of The Punk Syndrome, we got to know guitarist Pertti Kurikka, singer Kari Aalto, bassist Sami Helle and drummer Toni Välitalo, and the personal and creative tensions that manager Kalle Pajamaa has to try and keep under check. Formed in 2004 during a workshop organised by the Lhyty charity, PKN (which translates as `Pertti Kurikaa's Name Day') have been playing live since 2009. But, as Kärkkäinen and Passi reveal in Punk Voyage, success comes at a cost. 

Following a fractious gig, Pertti and Sami argue about the standard of playing, while Kari complains about the fact that there was only beer backstage. As usual, Toni looks on in bemusement and Kalle strives to keep the peace. But it takes an edgy band meeting before Kari commits to remaining with PKN and they vow to make 2015 their best year ever. No sooner have they all group-hugged and agreed to pull in the same direction, however, than Toni vetoes a proposal to compete in the Finnish heats of the Eurovision Song Contest and he has to be coaxed into shaking hands on the deal by reminders that his mother will be able to watch him on the television. 

With Kari urging Pertti to come up with a new riff rather than the same old thrash that drives the majority of their songs, Sami grumbles that he can't keep up with the pace and Pertti confides in Kalle that he doesn't know how much longer he'll be able to put up with Sami's negativity. Meanwhile, a new source of friction has arisen because Toni and roadie Niila `Nippe' Suoranta have both fallen for singer Jutta Tahvanainen and they bicker at each other while Kalle tries to get the band to photo shoots for the Finnish Eurovision qualifying show, Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu. Yet, while Jutta is happy to kiss and canoodle with Toni, she also likes holding hands with Nippe while she's singing and the more possessive Toni becomes, the more resentful Nippe grows. 

As rehearsals for the contest progress slowly, Pertti finds the strain of having to come up with new material increasingly onerous. Kari is also brooding because Sami is moving out of their residential centre and he feels abandoned. Thus, on the big night, he is in a foul mood and Kalle has to sweet-talk him into performing and not messing things up for everyone else by behaving badly in the green room. Pertti throws up because he is so nervous and the show's runners realise that pandering to PKN's unique needs is a full-time job. 

They play `I Always Have To' with typical panache and the studio audience goes suitably wild. But the musical experts only give them 1.2% of the vote and they remain bottom of the heap until the final viewer votes are cast. Unable to comprehend what is going on, Pertti would rather go home to bed than return to the stage under a shower of golden ticker tape. But his bandmates haul him back in front of the cameras, as Kari commiserates with the other acts, but declares that the best always rises to the top.

Shortly after their triumph, however, Pertti announces that he will be retiring when he turns 60 and Sami accuses him of simultaneously ruining his life and making him unemployed. In addition to attending prayer meetings, Sami also campaigns on behalf of the Centre Party and he is at headquarters when it wins the Finnish general election. Meanwhile, Pertti dresses in a top hat and cape and wears Dracula-style make-up to give a speech about defying Satan before receiving a friendly reminder from Kalle of the need to flush the toilet rather than stink out the dressing-room. 

During their next gig, PKN play `Toni the Troublemaker' to cheer up their drummer, whose feud with Nippe is making it more difficult for them to be in the same room. Having failed to reach an agreement on who is dating Jutta, Nippe decides to quit and is subjected to a volley of abuse by Sami and Pertti, who debate whether to throw him off the balcony of their hotel room. As usual, it's all talk and Nippe simply has to sit it out. But, on returning home, he proposes to Jutta and she accepts him and shows off her engagement ring to the camera while looking at wedding dresses online.

Having signed a new record deal (in spite of Pertti's protests that he plans to retire), the quartet fly to Vienna for the Eurovision semi-final. They dislike being stage-managed by the show's director and find it hard to go the cheery vote messages that will go out during the transmission. Sami tries to put Kari and Pertti off during their rehearsal and Kalle has to remind them that they need to work as a team. As they endure the round of press conference and sponsor events, Kari becomes particularly sullen and he swears in English during one official event and can barely conceal his contempt during a reception at the Finnish embassy that Sami revels in, as he talks about his plans to run for the Helsinki council at the next election.

At a night club, as the bandmates are pestered for interviews, snapshots and autographs, Kari's face is like thunder and the camera keeps close to him, as if hoping to catch the eruption that will be a highlight of the film. But he contents himself with mumbling that it has been a disappointing day, as he refuses a polite request for a photo. The next day, however, Kari's good humour is restored by the challenge of clearing the toilet bowl after Pertti has blocked it and a mischievous cut shows him shaking hands on the red carpet with Conchita Wurst after he has described the method he employed to spare Pertti's blushes. 

Kalle confides in one of the stage crew that he has no idea how PKN will perform, as Kari is in a strange mood and the slightest thing can set him off. But they do their stuff and Kari gives the camera a quiet look of satisfaction, as they plonk themselves down backstage. However, the voting doesn't go their way and Toni and Kari need comforting before they head back to their dressing-room. Toni orders people to stop applauding because they failed. But they get a heroes' welcome back in Helsinki and lap up the adulation (and plenty of free booze) before Kari tells the roaring crowd that their fortnight in Vienna was basically a waste of time. 

There's little sense of celebration at Pertti's birthday party and it's clear Kari, Sami and Toni disgree with Kalle's contention that nobody is angry with him for calling it a day. Pertti has shave his head by the time they play their last gig and Kari pulls down his short to perform tackle out in front of a small, but enthusiastic outdoor crowd. The camera bounces around with the fans, as the final chords fade away and Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät disappear into musical folklore as the first punk band to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. 

Given their shared Eurovision heritage, it's a shame that Kärkkäinen and Passi were unable to include footage of PKN's appearance with Mr Lordi at a 2014 charity gig. Nevertheless, there is still much to enjoy in this combined catch-up with and farewell to Pertti, Kari, Toni and Sami. Unlike the first film, there is less sense of the band members being exploited by the film-makers, as they have spent a good deal of time in the spotlight and know exactly how to use the camera to their advantage. That said, while salty banter is par for the PKN course, there are moments when Pertti, Kari and Sami's autism leaves them looking a little exposed in the lens's relentless gaze. Similarly, the images of Toni suffering heartbreak after losing out to Nippe feel more than a touch intrusive. 

As in The Punk Syndrome, Kärkkäinen and Passi manage to be both candid and compassionate. But. as was the case with Michael Lindsay-Hogg's Let It Be (1970), there's a greater emphasis on the disintegrating band's dynamic than on their music and a few more scenes of PKN playing live and in the studio might not have gone amiss. It's perhaps understandable that Eurovision should prove such a distraction. but more might have been made of how the organisers approached accommodating such a unique act and how hard Kalle had to work to keep his charges focused on the task at hand. The dream may be over, but one hopes this isn't the last we get to see of this fab Finnish four.