Four new films to see in cinemas this weekend

Elvis, The Black Phone, Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest, The Big Hit

ELVIS ★★★☆☆

Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Starring Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Luke Bracey, David Wenham, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Kodi Smit-McPhee. 12A cert, gen release, 159 min

The reasonable premise is that Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks blinking through layers of latex), the carnival huckster who managed Elvis (Butler making the best of an impossible brief) beginning in 1956, lured a raw talent away from his roots and forced him into an artificial school of pure showbusiness. The problem is that latter world is very much Luhrmann’s own. Hysterically edited, blaringly shot, the biopic is already in Vegas long before we have actually left Tennessee. Every character bar Parker and the King is blown into oblivion. Mind you, it’s still Luhrmann’s least annoying film since Moulin Rouge!. Full review DC

THE BLACK PHONE ★★★★☆

Directed by Scott Derrickson. Starring Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, James Ransone, Ethan Hawke. 16 cert, gen release, 103 min

A teenager (Thames) is kidnapped by a serial killer (Hawke) in an effective adaptation of a story by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King). Derrickson is restrained with his jump scares and succinct with world-building. The Black Phone subverts any number of Spielbergian tropes - not to mention voguish nostalgia - with a grimy, bad-old-days version of the past. Hawke and Thames give big performances to enact a compelling cat-and-mouse game in a film wherein even the supporting characters are richly drawn. Effective, eerie entertainment. Full review TB

CANNON ARM AND THE ARCADE QUEST ★★★★☆

Directed by Mads Hedegaard. Featuring Kim “Cannon Arm”, Walter Day, Shigeru Miyamoto. 15A cert, limited release, 97 min

Our hero is an enigmatic, mullet-haired Danish grandfather dubbed, yes, Kim “Cannon Arm”. His aim is to play an obscure 1980s arcade game called Gyruss for 100 straight hours on a single coin (demands of space preclude an explanation of how lavatory breaks are arranged). In colder hands, the documentary could have seemed patronising or plain insulting. But Hedegaard remains generous to his subjects. Kim does, nonetheless, remain opaque. A surprising denouement brings us to the “game over” screen in satisfactory fashion. But Canon Arm himself is still just out of reach. You could say the same of Bjorn Borg, Bobby Jones, Don Bradman, Eusébio… Full review DC

THE BIG HIT/UN TRIOMPHE ★★★☆☆

Directed by Emmanuel Courcol. Starring Kad Merad, David Ayala, Lamine Cissokho, Sofian Khammes, Pierre Lottin, Wabinlé Nabié, Aleksandr Medvedev, Saïd Benchnafa, Marina Hands. 15A cert, gen release, 117 min

The Big Hit modernises, fictionalises, and Frenchifies Jan Jönson’s colourful attempt to help prisoners stage Waiting for Godot. There are struggles. Mostly, however, these are faux-impediments in an unabashedly feelgood film that hits all the regular beats of the superstar teacher subgenre. Is there a scene in which the prisoners call out to other inmates for a grander moment of group catharsis? Of course. Will the authorities relent when the troupe is asked to perform the show on tour? Indeed. Does the hard man prove to have a softer side? Bien sur. Full review TB

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