Four new films to see this week

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Paul Mescal in Carmen, Amanda and Reality

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ★★★★☆

Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K Thompson. Voices of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae. PG cert, gen release, 140 min

Dazzling sequel to the first animated deconstruction of Spider-Lore. Built around the efforts of one Spider-Man – Moore’s Miles Morales – to thwart an interdimensional trickster called The Spot (Schwartzman), Across the Spider-Verse continues that remarkable blend of knobbly humanity and fit-inducing visual invention. You just don’t get this bebop freedom in the adult-contemporary live-action films. You don’t get the clattering montages that replicate the eye moving around a comic book’s flashy grid. It does flag a bit in its last half hour, but there is enough innovation to sustain hope for a third episode. Full review DC

Carmen ★★★☆☆

Directed by Benjamin Millepied. Starring Paul Mescal, Melissa Barrera, Rossy de Palma, Nicole da Silva, Benedict Hardie, Elsa Pataky, Tracy “The D.O.C.” Curry, Marina Tamayo, Tara Morice.15A cert, gen release, 117 min.

Fitful updating of Bizet’s opera to the southern US border. Mescal is an Afghan veteran who falls for a Mexican woman while reluctantly serving with racist vigilantes. What we have is a peculiar mash-up of three or four different films, none of which is entirely successful. It begins by hinting at a folk musical. Then it’s a gritty road movie. Then it’s a surreal dance flick. By the time we get to a final boxing sequence, cut to polite sub-Hamilton hip-hop, the deluge of competing genres will have dulled even the most accommodating sensibility. Mescal strong as always. Full review DC


Amanda ★★★★☆

Directed by Carolina Cavalli. Starring Benedetta Porcaroli, Galatéa Bellugi, Michele Bravi, Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Curzon Home, 94 min

“Work is not going well,” snaps 25-year-old Amanda when her older sister questions her need to acquire an electric fan in a supermarket promotion. “You don’t go to work,” comes the exasperated response. Actor-turned-director Carolina Cavalli’s absurdist Gen-Z comedy is an absolute riot of zingers and hilarious situations, underpinned by poignant disaffection and possible borderline personality disorder. As the mother of the title points out, Amanda is incapable of even rudimentary tasks because she is “too busy doing nothing”. There’s something of the Greek Weird Wave in writer-director Cavalli’s deadpan humour. Full review TB

Reality ★★★★☆

Directed by Tina Satter. Starring Sydney Sweeney, Marchánt Davis, Josh Hamilton. 12A cert, gen release, 83 min

In June 2017, US whistle-blower Reality Winner received the longest prison sentence ever imposed for leaking government secrets – in her case a much-disputed document alleging Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Writer-director Tina Satter wisely eschews the polarised politics underlying the case in favour of a nail-biting reconstruction of Winner’s interrogation and arrest. Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney brilliantly captures the central character. Satter, a first-time feature filmmaker, finds inventive ways to dramatise redacted words. Flashes of the real-life Winner’s Instagram account add to the urgent authenticity. 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