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

Vince Vaughn's bone-crushing return while Armando Iannucci takes on Stalin are among this week's best movies

Official trailer for Armando Iannucci's, The Death of Stalin.

 

BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99
★★★★
Directed by S Craig Zahler. Starring Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Marc Blucas, Tom Guiry. Club, limited release, 132 min

This rollicking, deliberately disgusting thump-up does exactly what it title promises. Is there any end to the mighty talents of director, producer, cinematographer and sometime novelist Steven Craig Zahler? As with his terrific horror-western Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99 makes space for the film-maker’s ingenious musical compositions, in this instance performed in the medium of endearing cod-Philadelphia soul. The actors are great. The pace is relentless. A winner.Review TB

THE DEATH OF STALIN
★★★★
Directed by Armando Iannucci. Starring Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough. 15A cert, general release, 106 min

Iannucci moves from Westminster (The Thick of It) and the White House (Veep) to the aftermath of Stalin’s death for a characteristically grim, fast-paced satire. A terrific cast speaking in a variety of accents trade in fear and cynicism as interlocking plots unfold. The language is heightened. The pace is breathtakingly frantic. A comprehensive rebuttal to those who say comedy cannot be fashioned from the most miserable circumstance.Review/Trailer DC

I AM NOT A WITCH
★★★★
Directed by Rungano Nyoni. Starring Starring Margaret Mulubwa, Margaret Sipaneia, Selita Zulu, Nellie Namweemba Munamonga, Henry BJ Phiri, James Manaseh. 12A cert, limited release, 92 min

This knockout debut feature from Rungano Nyoni – a tale of paranoia concerning witches in contemporary Africa – is an extravagant flight of fancy that functions equally well as an anthropological curiosity, engrossing drama, feminist allegory, tart political satire and dire warning against xenophobia. Bursts of Vivaldi and Estelle’s American Boy score the gorgeous compositions of DP David Gallego, who shot 2015 Oscar nominee Embrace of the Serpent. Spellbinding stuff.Review TB

MARSHALL ★★★
Directed by Reginald Hudlin. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Sterling K Brown, Dan Stevens, James Cromwell, Keesha Sharp. 12A cert, general release, 118 min

Thurgood Marshall (Boseman), an NAACP lawyer, defends a black man accused of rape during the inter-war years. No button is left unpushed in this study of an incident from the early career of the first African-American appointed to the US Supreme Court. The courtroom cliches abound. Figures from the Harlem Rennaissance are clumsily shoehorned into the action. For all that, the film does have the desired effects on the less demanding parts of the brain. And Marshall’s story is one worth hearing.Review DC

IT’S NOT YET DARK ★★★★
Directed by Frankie Fenton. Featuring Simon Fitzmaurice, Ruth Fitzmaurice, Colin Farrell. PG cert, limited release, 80 min

Documentary on the extraordinary life of Simon Fitzmaurice: the stubborn mule who, after contracting motor neurone disease, refused to sit back from his ambitions as a film-maker and, assisted by friends and technology, directed the accomplished feature My Name Is Emily. Colin Farrell speaks Fitzmaurice’s words with a mellifluousness that never dips into the melodramatic. Stephen Rennicks, frequent collaborator with Lenny Abrahamson, delivers an effective, unobtrusive score. A classy piece of work. Review DC

THE SNOWMAN ★★★
Directed by Tomas Alfredson. Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, JK Simmons, Chloë Sevigny, Toby Jones. 15A cert, general release, 120 min

A killer is lose in Oslo. There’s nothing much wrong with Alfredson’s classy adaptation of an admired detective novel from the Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. Fassbender has enough weary charisma to play Harry Hole – the archetypal “troubled cop” – without breaking into so much as a trot. The plot clicks along adequately. Alfredson brings characteristic damp menace to the visuals. But this sort of procedural Scandi noir seems destined for telly. Review DC

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