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Four new films to see this week

Steven Spielberg’s seven Oscars-nominated The Fabelman, plus brawny Gerard Butler in Plane, documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, and dark Bulgarian drama January

The Fabelmans ★★★★☆

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Jeannie Berlin, Julia Butters, Robin Bartlett, Keeley Karsten, Judd Hirsch. 12A cert, gen release, 150 min

Spielberg goes back to his origins with a drama about a young man growing up in the 1950s and early ’60s. As young Sammy struggles with family secrets, he sharpens his prodigious talents as a filmmaker. Think ET without the alien. The result is neither so sentimental nor so moving as the director’s more personal 20th-century films. It does, however, feel complete in itself. Cleanly shot. Immaculately performed. Do you need to know Spielberg’s story to engage with the film? That knowledge will help, but there is enough intrigue and emotion to keep casual viewers interested. Full review DC

Plane ★★★☆☆

Directed by Jean-François Richet. Starring Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, Tony Goldwyn. 15A cert, gen release, 108 min

Gerard Butler, generally looking like more than one blood vessel is about to explode, plays Scottish pilot and former RAF man Brodie Torrance. From the maker of the remake of Assault on Precinct 13. The only reason, one suspects, that Plane has not landed upon us with an exclamation point, is to prevent confusion with the similarly titled 1980 comedy from the Zucker brothers. Certainly, it’s a film that in other respects is unrestrained, not least when it comes to wielding a lump hammer to the throat, splattering fatal wounds, and round after round of armour-piercing bullets. Bracingly violent. TB


All the Beauty and the Bloodshed ★★★★☆

Directed by Laura Poitras. Featuring Nan Goldin. 18 cert, gen release, 122 min

This documentary, winner of the Golden Lion at Venice, doubles as a study of photographer Nan Goldin’s career and an investigation of her campaign against guilty parties in the US opioid crisis. The film is powered along by righteous fury: focusing on Goldin’s attempt to remove the Sackler family’s name from the world’s art galleries. But larger questions are not asked, let alone answered. Do alternate good-guy billionaire philanthropists – capable of financing galleries and museums and universities– exist? And how does one even begin to untangle the ethical issues at the dark heart of most contemporary art collections? TB

January ★★★☆☆

Directed by Andrey Paounov. Starring Samuel Finzi, Iossif Sarchadzhiev, Zachary Baharov, Leonid Yovchev, Malin Krastev, Borislav Chouchkov. Digital download, 110 min

Bulgarian adaptation of an allegorical play by Yordan Radichkov concerns a lonely man going bonkers in a remote snowy locale. Several men in fact. Shot almost entirely in black and white, January plays out in the gloomy long takes we expect of Béla Tarr. You can’t help but think of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. The great amount of waiting nudges us towards a certain Beckett play from the 1950s. There is an explicit nod to The Shining. This remains a singularly odd piece that mixes obscure political musings with raw folk horror. Perfect gloomy winter entertainment. DC

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