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

New this week: The 1983 breakout from The Maze and Shi LaBeouf remarkably channels tennis brat John McEnroe

The official trailer for "Maze". starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

 

MAZE ★★★★
Directed by Stephen Burke. Starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Barry Ward, Martin McCann, Eileen Walsh, Aaron Monaghan, Niamh McGrady. 15A cert, general release, 93 min
 

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (left) in Maze
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (left) in Maze

Exciting, well-made drama about the 1983 mass breakout from the Maze prison. The film is strong on the legacy of the hunger strikes and balanced in its treatment of the warders. As the organising force, Vaughan-Lawlor combines raw commitment with a sneaky flexibility to give us an honest man who lies like a master. The logistics are clearly laid out. The tension is well sustained. More like The Great Escape than we had a right to expect. Review/Trailer DC

BORG VS MCENROE ★★★★
Directed by Janus Metz Pedersen. Starring Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård, Tuva Novotny, Robert Emms. 15A cert, limited release, 100 min

Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe
Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe

Impressive, focused study of the tensions between Björn Borg and John McEnroe in the lead up to the famous 1980 Wimbledon final. LaBeouf makes McEnroe his own, while Gudnason does a remarkable approximation of Borg, right down to his walk and hockey-derived backhand. But something odd and rather fantastic happens during the final sequence, when both actors seem to disappear into their roles, mirroring how Borg and McEnroe’s tics equally disappeared during that 1980 encounter. Review TB

MOTHER! ★★★★
Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, Kristen Wiig. 18 cert, general release, 120 min

Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!, ‘a disgusting, disturbing feast for the senses’.
Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!, ‘a disgusting, disturbing feast for the senses’.

Lawrence and Bardem occupy a house in an endless nowhere. Their uneasy calm is distracted when a couple (Harris and Pfeiffer) arrive rudely and uninvited. It begins as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and ends in a Grand Guignol of (we assume) metaphorical chaos. If you thought Aronofsky’s Black Swan was overheated, then you are in for a proper shock. Kept aloft by a ragged, unusually disempowered Lawrence, Mother! remains, however, a disgusting, disturbing feast for the senses. Review/Trailer DC

THE VILLAINESS ★★★★
Directed by Jeong Byeong-Gil. Starring Kim Seo-hyung, Sung Joon, Ye-Ji Min. Club, IFI, Dublin, 129 min
 

Death becomes her: The Villainess
Death becomes her: The Villainess

The Villainess opens with a blistering first-person shoot-’em-up, cut-’em-up, shoot-’em-up charge down the corridor of a meth factory. Picture Oldboy’s most iconic fight scene but faster and with more weaponry. Eight minutes and many bad-guy corpses later, we establish that the rampaging assassin is a woman. Well, phew. They couldn’t possibly sustain that level of carnage? Or could they? Close enough. Mother! doesn’t get dibs on all the week’s crazy: stand up for this year’s most demented actioner.Review TB

IT ★★★
Directed by Andy Muschietti. Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard. 16 cert, general release, 134 min

Circus of horrors: Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in It
Circus of horrors: Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in It

Tolerable, industry-standard adaptation of Stephen King’s bullet stopper concerning a malign spirit – notoriously in the form of a clown – who feeds on the fears of a New England town. The escalating horrors are delivered via a rapid fusillade of discrete episodes that suggest journeys in a clunky, analogue-era ghost train. When all else fails, let’s have the mad clown jump loudly from the nearest large box. But it’s efficient enough. Review/Trailer DC

WIND RIVER ★★★★
Directed by Taylor Sheridan. Starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Julia Jones, Kelsey Chow, Graham Greene, Kelsey Asbille. 16 cert, general release, 107 min

Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham in Wind River
Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham in Wind River

Sheridan’s script credits include last year’s hit neo-western Hell and High Water. Squint through the snowscapes and this procedural could be High Water’s wintry cousin. Olsen is an FBI agent dispatched to an Indian reservation to help Renner’s parks and fisheries operative with a murder. Weary resilient locals trade in dark, cynical humour. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s score is as sparse as the frozen horizons. The mystery is very satisfactorily resolved. Very worthwhile. Review TB

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