Four new films to see in cinemas this week

Nitram, The Princess, Pompo: The Cinephile, Minions: The Rise of Gru

NITRAM ★★★★★

Directed by Justin Kurzel. Starring Caleb Landry Jones, Judy Davis, Anthony LaPaglia, Essie Davis, Sean Keenan, Rick James. 15A cert, limited release, 112 min

Controversial drama concerning the lead-up to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. The finished project will do little to win over those who object to its mere existence, but it is hard to imagine the material being more sensitively handled. Respectful in its treatment of the final carnage, psychologically nuanced without offering the perpetrator an ounce of sympathy, Nitram is a character study of the highest order. Jones is electric as the disturbed young perpetrator. Judy Davis is extraordinary as his wracked mother. Essential — if harrowing — viewing. Full review DC

THE PRINCESS ★★★★☆

Directed by Ed Perkins, Featuring Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Camilla Parker-Bowles.15A cert, limited release, 109 min

Effective skilful documentary on the life of Princess Diana. The miracle is that, despite so much of the material being familiar, it somehow manages to avoid redundancy. Working with no voiceover, no captions and no contemporary talking heads, the director cuts together archival footage into an impressively seamless whole. Perkins injects interest into even the most overexposed sequences by layering them with an endless, grating, often mean-spirited chorus of commentators, reporters, establishment figures and vox-popped members of the public. The implicit message is that all bear some responsibility. Full review DC

POMPO: THE CINEPHILE ★★★☆☆

Directed by Takayuki Hirao. Voices of Hiroya Shimizu, Konomi Kohara, Ai Kakuma, Akio Ôtsuka.12A cert, gen release, 90 min

Lively anime set in a heightened version of Tinseltown called Nyallywood, where Joelle “Pompo” Pomponett is an irrepressible cineaste and the most powerful producer in town. She’s a marvellous, magical character who, in this adaptation of the popular manga, takes second place to the male auteur she has plucked from obscurity. “As long as the lead actress looks attractive, it’s a good movie,” insists Pompo. Her second maxim (“anything that runs longer than 90 minutes is disrespectful to the audience’s time”) is one that Pompo: The Cinéphile happily adheres to. Full review TB

MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU ★★☆☆☆

Directed by Kyle Balda. Voices of Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Taraji P Henson, Michelle Yeoh, RZA, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless. G cert, gen release, 87 min

The yellow nuisances from Despicable Me are back for a second prequel. The previous film, while no Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead or Frasier as sidekick spin-offs go, was lively and silly enough to justify its existence. This follow-up, conversely, reminds one of that grim period in the early 21st century when every other animation seemed to feature cartoon animals leaping around to the strains of Funkytown. What’s this? Oh yes. St Vincent’s cover of Funkytown on The Rise of Gru’s slick Jack Antonoff-produced soundtrack. None of these skits congeal into anything like a plot. Can the Minions go back to being minions again? 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