Almost every film in cinemas this week, reviewed and rated

The Irish Times what-to-see guide to the movies now in cinemas across Ireland

New this week: Martin Freeman in 'Ghost Stories'

New this week: Martin Freeman in 'Ghost Stories'

 

BLACK PANTHER ★★★
Directed by Ryan Coogler. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker. 12A cert, gen release, 134 min
Marvel’s first outing with a black protagonist stars Boseman as an African king who, from time to time, fights oppression as the lithe Black Panther. Coogler has as much right to direct a so-so children’s film as the next chap, but a little more roughage would have been nice. It’s efficient, fun and very well acted. But the excess of CGI is suffocating and the surface plot is impossible to care about. Just good enough. DC

BLOCKERS ★★★★
Directed by Kay Cannon. Starring Kathryn Newton, John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Gideon Adlon, Geraldine Viswanathan, Graham Phillips. 16 cert, gen release, 102 min
Three girls plan to lose their virginity. Their parents plan to stop them. The film sets itself apart from most high-school shag comedies by focusing uncritically on female sexuality even as it relishes the dads’ discomfort with that topic. “Why is sex even bad?” someone says, casually encapsulating the dilemma at the heart of so much American comedy. The routines are hit and miss but when they work they properly tear the roof off. DC

COCO ★★★★
Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. Voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Edward James Olmos. PG cert, gen release, 105 min
The latest from Pixar risks telling children (and all others) a tale of the Mexican Day of the Dead. On paper, the mythology scans as complicated and dark, but in the capable hands of Oscar-winner Unkrich and Pixar veteran Molina, Coco is accessible for even the youngest. The animation eschews the tiring photo-realism of Cars 3 and The Good Dinosaur in favour of the transporting carnivalesque, replete with a stage show by Frieda Kahlo and candy-coloured Xoloitzcuintli. Welcome back. TB

DAMO AND IVOR: THE MOVIE ★★
Directed by Rob Burke, Ronan Burke. Starring Andy Quirke, Ruth McCabe, Simon Delaney, Tina Kellegher, Enda Oates. 15A cert, gen release, 90 min
It is unfortunate for Andy Quirke, prime perpetrator of this effluvial comedy, that it emerges in the wake of the justifiably celebrated Young Offenders. It’s a bad time to be making bad jokes at the expense of working-class wasters. Then again, Damo and Ivor: The Movie is not significantly worse than Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie. Inspired by some TV series that I won’t pretend to have seen, this hangs on the relationship between Dublin twins – one posh, one working-class – who, following separation at birth, end up living with their colourful granny in the Northside. Imagine The Prince and the Pauper with endless masturbation jokes and you’re halfway there. DC

A FANTASTIC WOMAN/UNA MUJER FANTÁSTICA ★★★★★
Directed by Sebastián Lelio. Starring Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Kuppenheim, Nicolas Saavedra, Amparo Noguera. 15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 104 min
This Chilean drama, which won the best foreign language picture at the Oscars, details the struggles of a trans woman to make a life for herself following bereavement. Which makes it sound heavier than it actually plays. Yes, there are moments of anger and frustration, an extended scream against lazy assumptions and blinkered bigotry. But it is also light, funny, wry and inspiring. The first transgendered person ever to present at the Oscars, charismatic star Daniela Vega allows a vulnerability to peak through the carapace of confidence. She is in virtually every scene, and she owns every one of them. DC

GAME NIGHT ★★★★
Directed by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein. Starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Michael C Hall. 15A cert, gen release, 100 min
Even semi-amusing studio comedies are now so rare that, when a properly funny one arrives, the temptation is to have it stuffed and mounted. Game Night concerns insanely competitive yuppies (Bateman and McAdams) who devote their evenings to gaming exercises in mid-brain one-upmanship. One event, a staged murder mystery party, goes quickly out of control. The trick is to keep the dialogue so sharp and the relationships so cleanly defined that nobody bothers to question the increasingly preposterous plot turns. Directors Daley andGoldstein follow up their hilarious, unfairly derided updating of National Lampoon’s Vacation with a critical hit that shows were right about them all along. So there. DC

GHOST STORIES ★★★★
Directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson. Starring Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther, Nicholas Burns, Jill Halfpenny, Paul Whitehouse. 16 cert, gen release, 98 min
A prickly nightwatchman (Whitehouse) hears terrible things while guarding a derelict building once used as an asylum for female patients. A nervy, bullied young man (Lawther) is involved in a hit-and-run incident with a demonic beast while driving deep in a forest. A wealthy high-flier from the financial sector (Martin Freeman, oozing smug) is terrorised by a poltergeist just as his wife is going into labour. This is a modern Dead of Night portmanteau from Andy Nyman (the co-creator of Darren Brown’s stage shows) and The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson. TB

THE HURRICANE HEIST ★★
Directed by Rob Cohen. Starring Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Melissa Bolona, Ralph Ineson, Ben Cross. 12A cert, gen release, 103 min

New this week: Ben Cross in The Hurricane Heist
New this week: Ben Cross in The Hurricane Heist

With a nod to the comparatively masterful high concepts of Snakes on a Plane and Sharknado, Hurricane Heist features a hurricane and a heist. As the film opens, two boys witness the death of their father in an Alabama category 5 storm. The old man disappears just as the younger one fancies he sees a skull in the clouds. If only the rest of the film had got behind the skull motif. Instead we have to wait until the final scene – the storm in a race against trucks – for a dash of mitigating camp. TB

I, TONYA ★★★★
Directed by Craig Gillespie. Starring Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale. 15A cert, gen release, 110 min
Searing, politically edgy study of the journey that took Tonya Harding (Robbie) from ice skating star to the most reviled woman in 1994 America. The film’s sympathies lie with Harding, roundly abused by her ruthless mother and manager, LaVona (Janney), and her violent, shotgun-wielding husband (Stan). The film’s treatment of domestic violence is occasionally a little uneasy. But a fired-up Robbie and an incandescently horrid Oscar-winning Janney make it work. A blast. TB

ISLE OF DOGS ★★★★★
Directed by Wes Anderson. Voices of Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Ken Watanabe, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, F Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono. PG cert, gen release, 101 min
In a futuristic Japan, a thuggish, totalitarian Mayor Kobayashi – the descendant of a long line of cat fanciers – uses an outbreak of snout fever to justify the banishment of all canines. The puppers and doggos of Megasaki City are accordingly rounded up and dumped on Trash Island. Here, the mutts scrap in marvellous cottonwood dust-ups and struggle to survive on maggoty morsels. Wes Anderson’s second stop-motion film (after Fantastic Mr Fox) doesn’t put a paw wrong. TB

JOURNEYMAN ★★★
Directed by Paddy Considine. Starring Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker, Paul Popplewell, Anthony Welsh. 15A cert, lim release, 92 min
Matty (Considine), a boxer at the end of his career, takes on the brash young opponent in a final title fight. This is going to be a life-changing bout, promises the trash-talking newcomer. He’s correct, but not in the way Matty thinks: A head injury leaves him entirely dependent on his wife (Whittaker) – and entirely changed. Thoughtful, tender-hearted drama pivots around the actor/director’s central performance, but that turn is never allowed to overshadow terrific work by Whittaker and Welsh. TB

LADY BIRD ★★★★★
Directed by Greta Gerwig. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet. 15A cert, gen release, 94 min
Gloriously funny, surprisingly moving comic-drama about the struggles between a feisty teenager (Ronan, delightful) and her harassed mum (Metcalf, nuanced) in millennial Sacramento. For somebody so often identified as the most fashionable of cinematic hipsters, actor-turned-director Gerwig proves (not for the first time) to have an enormously generous spirit. Nobody is perfect in the Lady Bird universe. But nobody is fully malign either. Laurie gets her moment of catharsis. Ronan is eventually allowed the chance to breath. Essential. DC

MARY MAGDALENE ★★★
Directed by Garth Davis. Starring Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tahar Rahim, Ariane Labed, Denis Menochet, Lubna Azabal, Tchécky Karyo. 12A cert, gen release, 120 min
The film is here to contradict the myth that Mary Magdalene, first witness of Christ’s resurrection, was a prostitute. That aside, the film-makers’ purpose remains obscure. The picture is peppered with feminist asides, but those philosophies don’t power the narrative as we might expect. Yes, the story is told from Mary’s perspective. Her eyes are, however, always on the Nazarene. Still, it is well cast and nicely shot. Mara is a rooted Mary, Phoenix a charismatic Jesus. DC

MICHAEL INSIDE ★★★★
Directed by Frank Berry. Starring Dafhyd Flynn, Moe Dunford, Lalor Roddy, Robbie Walsh, Steve Blount, Hazel Doupe. 15A cert, gen release, 96 min

New this week: Dafhyd Flynn in Michael Inside
New this week: Dafhyd Flynn in Michael Inside

Flynn is terrific as a young Dubliner who gets cast on the slippery slope when he’s banged up for a minor offense. Dunford is charismatic as the bully on the yard. Berry’s follow up to I Used to Live Here is technically assured: enveloping score by Daragh O’Toole; oily, claustrophobic camerawork from Tom Comerford; an astonishing lead performance by Flynn. But it the generous humanism underlying the documentary realism that really sets it apart. DC

MIDNIGHT SUN ★★
Directed by Scott Speer. Starring Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle. 12A cert, gen release, 92 min
Largely terrible teen sick pic about a girl who, confined indoors with a rare disease, falls for the local hunk and causes dad to worry. Thorne is grand as the lead, in the fashion of a Disney Channel graduate. But Schwarzenegger does nothing for the family’s reputation with his wooden turn (we surely don’t need to name his distinguished father). The performance suggests a cast member of Thunderbirds: every part of the face frozen bar blinking eyes and hinged jaw. DC

120 BPM ★★★★
Directed by Robin Campillo. Starring Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel, Antoine Reinartz, Félix Maritaud, Ariel Borenstein, Aloïse Sauvage. 16 cert, gen release, 143 min

New this week: 120 BMP
New this week: 120 BMP

Sprawling, exciting study of the Act Up awareness campaign during the Aids crisis in Paris. The picture’s desire to touch on all relevant issues perhaps explains why the analysis is sometimes a little sketchy. Haemophiliacs and transgendered people had their own specific concerns; a continuing prudishness kept governments from offering useful advice on sexual health. The personal drama at the heart of the picture remains hugely touching. An admirably ambitious epic. DC

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING
Directed by Steven S DeKnight. Starring John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman. 12A cert, gen release, 110 min
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim was no masterpiece – a flashy, epic fight between giant robots and giant lizards – but it had some style and sweep. It doesn’t look as if they’re even trying here. Boyega is predictably charming as a roguish Prince Hal figure who, after living the wild life, gets quickly lured into the fight against scaly things, but the plot is incoherent, the action boring and the dialogue mindless. No fun at all. DC

PETER RABBIT ★★★
Directed by Will Gluck. Starring Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, Margot Robbie, James Corden, Sia. G cert, gen release, 94 min
Having seen off the mean-spirited elder Mr McGregor (Neill), Peter and his woodland chums fall out with a younger, high-strung McGregor (Gleeson). Cordon’s Peter doesn’t bear much resemblance to Beatrix Potter’s naughty creation. Still, though there are shades of the dreaded Alvin and the Chipmunks, director Will Gluck (Easy A) has a flair for slapstick and comic sadism. Yes, it’s a travesty of the original material, but it’s a passably amusing travesty. TB

A QUIET PLACE ★★★★★
Directed by John Krasinski. Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe. 15A cert, gen release, 90 min

New this week: Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmonds in A Quiet Place
New this week: Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmonds in A Quiet Place

A family struggles to noiselessly survive a post-apocalyptic world in which alien invaders hunt by sound. They have something of an edge against the mysterious creatures that have depopulated the planet: the eldest daughter (the remarkable Simmonds) is deaf. While others have perished, sign language has allowed the family to communicate in their remote, survivalist-friendly farm. Nail-biting thrills, family drama, and a perfectly calibrated high concept ensure that this as good a film as you’ll see this year. TB

READY PLAYER ONE ★★★
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Susan Lynch. 12A cert, gen release, 140 min
A young gamer competes for dominance in a virtual universe. Ready Player One is a grand act of stage management, but it lacks the clean narrative punch of Spielberg’s early masterpieces. In those films, every scene led inexorably to a late moment of awe-inspiring revelation. By the close of this undeniably entertaining, madly overlong film, we’re too battered to appreciate our reward. Good young cast. Many great action sequences. But exhausting. DC

THOROUGHBREDS ★★★★
Directed by Cory Finley. Starring Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff. 15A cert, gen release, 92 min

New this week: Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy in Thoroughbreds
New this week: Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy in Thoroughbreds

Sparky, angular amalgam of Heathers and Double Indemnity starring Cooke and Taylor-Joy as Connecticut rich kids who talk their way into a murder plot. It’s sharp and clever and features a delightful final performance from the late Anton Yelchin as a deluded loser too dumb to understand how the girls plan to manipulate him. The film is, perhaps, a little short on plot, but its nastiness is very welcome. DC

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI ★★★
Directed by Martin McDonagh. Starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas Hedges, Clarke Peters, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, John Hawkes. 15A cert, gen release, 115 min
Martin McDonagh’s third film as director starts quite brilliantly. Oscar winner McDormand plays a desperate mother who refuses to take the murder of her daughter lying down. Harrelson is the decent police chief, Rockwell his racist deputy. Sadly the beautifully knotted narrative begins to fray over messier second and third acts. The uneasy treatment of racism becomes more noticeable. The improbable twists become harder to forgive. A shame. DC

TOMB RAIDER
Directed by Roar Uthaug. Starring Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi. 12A cert, gen release, 118 min
Lara Croft climbs things, shoots things and solves things. Stand upwind, folks: the first unforgivable stinker of 2018 has landed with a big plop. Ordinarily, videogame movie adaptations this atrocious are sequels, but somehow this unwanted Tomb Raider reboot remarkably matches all the terribleness of Silent Hill: Revelation 3D and Streetfighter: The Legend of Chun-Li without a first instalment. Vikander may be as beautiful and capable as Angelina Jolie, but she has none of the latter’s A-list qualities. TB

UNSANE ★★★
Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Amy Irvine, Polly McKie, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Gibson Frazier. 16 cert, gen release, 97 min
Soderbergh latest experiment – shot entirely on an iPhone – is one really good one and one very unsatisfactory one. The good one sees Foy imprisoned against her will in a mental facility. Are we seeing her hallucinations? Is it really an insurance scam? In the last third, sadly, it turns into a disappointingly crude Gothic melodrama. Everyone’s very good in it. The director makes a virtue of his still-novel shooting method. But the script needed work. DC

WONDERSTRUCK ★★
Directed by Todd Haynes. Starring Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Millicent Simmonds. PG cert, lim release, 117 min

New this week: Jaden Michael, Oakes Fegley and Julianne Moore in Wonderstruck
New this week: Jaden Michael, Oakes Fegley and Julianne Moore in Wonderstruck

It’s Todd Haynes’ Night at the Museum! Anyone? Rose is a deaf teen growing up unhappily in New Jersey with her strict father. Ben, from Minnesota, has lost his mother (Williams), and is curious to know who his father is. After a freak magic realist accident leaves him deaf, he heads to New York, just as Rose did many decades earlier. Both parallel journeys end in the American Museum of Natural History. Sadly, the only wonder about this messy, overstuffed film, is the bewilderment of seeing so many talented people attached. TB

A WRINKLE IN TIME ★★★
Directed by Ava DuVernay. Starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine. PG cert, gen release, 109 min
A young girl (Reid, very good) searches mysterious dimensions for her missing father (Pine) in a messy, wild but very enjoyable sci-fi epic. A Wrinkle in Time’s colouring-outside-the-lines is matched by an alarming sincerity. No wonder Oprah literally towers over the picture and the excellent young cast. An empowering motion picture for 10-year-old girls, this is the movieverse’s answer to broccoli: a film for smart, earnest little girls like Lisa Simpson to enjoy between recycling projects. TB

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE ★★★★★
Directed by Lynne Ramsay. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola, Alex Manette, John Doman, Judith Roberts. 18 cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 90 min
Ramsay returns with a searing revenge drama set in a terrifying, heightened version of New York City. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a private operative who spends most of his time rescuing victims of sexual slavery. A US senator hires him to recover his daughter and punish those who put her through hell. The first death triggers a veritable cornucopia of butchery. It is a brash, noisy, violent picture, but it is also a subtle, intricate, thoughtful one. DC

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