Six of the best films to see at the cinema this weekend

From Whitney Houston to Dublin gangsters, here are the best of this week’s releases

A new documentary, Whitney: Can I Be Me, sifts through the details of Whitney Houston's secret life. Video: Dogwoof

 

WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME ★★★★
Directed by Nick Broomfield, Rudi Dolezal. Starring Whitney Houston, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Bobby Brown, Robyn Crawford

In what will undoubtedly be the saddest picture of 2017, Nick Broomfield various new testimonies, from friends, biographers, backing musicians and from David Roberts, Houston’s Welsh bodyguard, as they recount a life characterised by self-doubt, self-censorship and self-destruction. Can I Be Me chronicles a most conflicted existence: it’s gospel versus crack cocaine, lesbianism versus Christian disapproval. Car-crash gawpers may quibble that Broomfield has (respectfully) avoided footage of the final years, but this remains a quietly devastating portrait of a magnificently loud talent. 105 mins TB

CARDBOARD GANGSTERS ★★★★ 

Cardboard Gangsters: Noisy, loud, violent and sad
Cardboard Gangsters: Noisy, loud, violent and sad

Directed by Mark O'Connor. Starring: John Connors, Fionn Walton, Jimmy Smallhorne, Kierston Wareing
This is Mark O’Connor’s most complete film yet. The picture, set among small-time criminals in Darndale, has admirable kinetic sweep and a keen sense of the absurdities of city life. It lacks story and structure but it’s so enjoyable on a scene-by-scene basis that it proves hard to care. O’Connor has – helped in no small measure by a towering turn from John Connors – come as close to a Dublin Boyz n the Hood as we could have hoped. It’s noisy, loud, violent and sad. Cult popularity beckons. 92mins DC 

MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE/ MA VIE DE COURGETTE ★★★★★

My Life as a Courgette
My Life as a Courgette

Directed by Claude Barras. Voices of Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud, Michel Vuillermoz, Raul Ribera, Estelle Hennard, Elliot Sanchez

Wonderful French animation concerning a group of disadvantaged youths in a care home. The film is a beautifully balanced, visual marvel. Barras has a habit of holding group shots longer than expected to press home the increasing closeness of the kids. He gives them round, expressive eyes, framed by reddened rims that speak to their continuing stress. Only a jerk would complain about it painting to rosy a picture of such scenarios. 12A cert, lim release, 66 min DC

AFTER THE STORM ★★★★

Sosuke Ikematsu and Hiroshi Abe in After the Storm
Sosuke Ikematsu and Hiroshi Abe in After the Storm

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. Starring Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki, Yoko Maki

The great Japanese director returns with the story of a broken marriage and its effects on children. As ever, the director has fashioned a lovely, appealing, lightly comic film that exists somewhere between late Ozu and early Spielberg. Just when you think you’re watching a variation on The Parent Trap, the film wanders away from big strings and melodrama. The bickering, especially between Ryota and his suspicious sister, is keenly observed. PG cert, lim release, 118 min TB

WONDER WOMAN ★★★

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman

Directed by Patty Jenkins. Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya

Gal Gadot stars as an Amazon super-woman who helps Pine’s agent defeat the Germans during (in questionable taste) the first World War. It wouldn’t take much for Wonder Woman to become the best film in the DC Extended Universe to date. Sure enough, it knocks Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice into a cocked cowl. It’s funny, lively and unpretentious. It is unencumbered with DC “Easter eggs”. Sadly, Wonder Woman does still end in the usual boring super-punch-up. 12A cert, gen release, 140 min DC

THE RED TURTLE/LA TORTUE ROUGE ★★★★

The Red Turtle: ‘damp washes and elegant story’
The Red Turtle: ‘damp washes and elegant story’

Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit

Lovely animation from Studio Ghibli concerning a man who, after being shipwrecked, gets menaced – or maybe protected – by a giant turtle. The damp washes and elegant story are right up to Ghibli’s consistently high standard. The picture’s baffling swerves do nothing to deflate its final emotional payoff. What we have is a beautiful fable that plays out in an environment that is so effectively realised the viewers feels he has lived there for days. Not to be missed. PG cert, Triskel, Cork; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 81 min DC

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