Four new films to see this week

Wim Wenders’s Tokyo-set Perfect Days, plus Memory, Wicked Little Letters and The Moon Thieves

Perfect Days ★★★★★

Directed by Wim Wenders. Starring Kōji Yakusho, Tokio Emoto, Arisa Nakanoa. PG cert, gen release, 124 min

Wenders’s best fiction film in decades concerns an apparently contented man in late middle-age who looks to have mastered the art of living simply and well. Hirayama (Yakusho, winner of best actor at Cannes) rises in Tokyo. He drives listening to carefully curated dad rock on cassette. He cleans beautifully designed loos with an assiduousness that borders on the obsessive. He buys a book at weekends. He dines in the same restaurant. Perfect Days could be seen as an anti-road movie — far from being a paean to open space, it is a tribute to the quietly fulfilling quotidian. A film to live by. Full review DC

Memory ★★★★☆

Directed by Michel Franco. Starring Jessica Chastain, Peter Sarsgaard, Merritt Weaver, Brooke Timber, Elsie Fisher, Josh Charles, Jessica Harper. 16 cert, gen release, 100 min

As Memory opens, we have cause to fear for Chastain’s Sylvia, a vulnerable recovering addict who is followed home after attending a high school reunion. Her stalker is Saul (Sarsgaard), who suffers from early-onset dementia. Sylvia believes he was one of several students who sexually harassed her at high school. Revisiting the complex relationship between the carer and patient that Franco previously mined in his 2015 Un Certain Regard winner Chronic, the heart of Memory is the bond between Sylvia and Saul, an arrangement that transitions from dependency to romance. An effective and troubling drama. Full review TB


Wicked Little Letters ★★★☆☆

Directed by Thea Sharrock. Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Anjana Vasan, Joanna Scanlan, Gemma Jones, Malachi Kirby, Lolly Adefope, Eileen Atkins, Timothy Spall. 15A cert, gen release, 104 min

Sweary Irish blow-in to a polite English town (Buckley) is wrongly accused of sending obscene anonymous letters in an amusing retelling of a true incident from the inter-war years. Gesturing towards our current digital trolling, Wicked Little Letters has much to do with prejudice. At its best, we get some of the regional sauce that Alan Bennett so savours in his dialogue. Colman and Buckley wallop the nautical language back and forth like central European baseliners in a Wimbledon final. Sadly, the film runs out of steam as it develops into a detective story with a solution that will surprise nobody. Full review DC

The Moon Thieves ★★★☆☆

Directed by Steve Yuen. Starring Anson Lo, Edan Lui, Louis Cheung, Michael Ning, Keung To. 12A cert, limited release, 108 min

Chaotic horology heist featuring members of insanely popular Hong Kong boyband Mirror. Bespectacled watch-making boffin (Lui), a skilled thief (Cheung), a safe-cracking wizard (Lo), and an explosive specialist (Ning), make their way to Tokyo with plans to swap out three watches that belonged to Picasso for counterfeits. Pitched somewhere between ditzy HK 1990s action flicks and Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans films, The Moon Thieves – unconvincingly styled as The Moon Thi4v3s – has fun with locks and watch mechanics. No matter how he scowls and swaggers, the cherubic-looking Keung To would be better utilised in a Nativity play. Full review TB

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Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic