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: Lily James in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

New this week: Lily James in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


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

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

Directed by Xavier Legrand. Starring Denis Ménochet, Léa Drucker, Thomas Gioria, Mathilde Auneveux, Mathilde Saïkaly, Florence Janas, Saadia Bentaïeb. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dubln, 94 min
A young boy copes with weekend visits to an abusive father following his parents’ antagonistic separation. The research is rigorous. The performances are consistently strong with Gioria excelling as the cautious terrified child. The result is a film that addresses the worst manifestations of toxic masculinity within the context of a hurtling drama that never allows attention to wander. A stunning debut from a director who just oozes potential. DC

Directed by David Freyne. Starring Sam Keely, Ellen Page, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Paula Malcomson, Stuart Graham, Oscar Nolan, David Herlihy. 16 cert, gen release, 95 min

New this week: Sam Keely in The Cured

Freyne’s impressive debut feature imagines an Ireland in which, following a zombie apocalypse, rehabilitated flesh eaters are integrated back into society. Keely is broken as the damaged hero. Vaughan-Lawlor is charismatic as a rebel. Page is impressively flattened as Keely’s sister-in-law. The core action gets a little swamped by import in the closing stages. But this remains an original, thoughtful entertainment that is sure to propel its creator towards still greater things. DC

Directed by Sergio Leone. Starring Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Josef Edger, Wolfgang Lukschy, Gian Maria Volontè. Club, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sun only), 100 min
In 1964, A Fistful of Dollars, a Spanish-shot, English-dubbed, German-co-produced, Mexican-set remake of the Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 samurai movie Yojimbo, with an Italian director at the helm, trumpeted the arrival of the spaghetti western. Leone would claim that: “Eastwood, at that time, only had two expressions: with hat and no hat.” That’s a little unfair. The actor may not have been technically gifted, but he had plenty of star quality. His delivery of lines like “Get three coffins ready” is hard to beat. TB

Directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson. Starring Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther, Nicholas Burns, Jill Halfpenny, Paul Whitehouse. 16 cert, lim 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

Directed by Mike Newell. Starring Lily James, Glen Powell, Michiel Huisman, Tom Courtenay, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Penelope Wilton. 12A cert, gen release, 123 min
Lazy, lifeless adaptation of the popular novel following a postwar writer (James, fine) as she hears tales of the Nazi occupation of Guernsey. At least two Downton Abbey alumnae join at least one theatrical great and at least one graduate of the British new wave in a film that pays more attention to the cut of the actors’ tweeds than to narrative cohesion. So anaemic you feel the urge to feed it a pint of Guinness. DC

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

Directed by Greta Gerwig. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet. 15A cert, genrelease, 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

Directed by Paolo Virzì. Starring Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Christian McKay, Janel Moloney, Dana Ivey, Dick Gregory. 15A cert, gen release, 112 min

New this week: Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren in The Leisure Seeker

Mirren and Sutherland are tolerable in the story of an elderly couple making one last journey to Hemmingway’s house in Key West. Virzì’s grey-pound drama distinguishes itself in at least one regard: It’s some achievement to make a film about the twilight years that oozes bogus sentimentality while still being every bit as depressing as Michael Haneke’s unflinching Amour. There’s supposed to be a trade-off here. But miserable and drippy? Not fair. DC

Directed by Claire Denis. Starring Juliette Binoche, Gérard Depardieu, Josiane Balasko, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Alex Descas, Laurent Grévill, Xavier Beauvois. 15A cert, lim release, 95 min

New this week: Juliette Binoche in Let the Sunshine In

Isabelle (Binoche) is a smart woman who makes bad choices. Not too far into the series of fragmented encounters that passes for a plot, she tells a friend that she can only orgasm by thinking about how much of a bastard her banker lover is. Or by imagining him with a whore. And so on. Rumours tells us that Denis’s odd film is inspired by Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments. But it’s not really; rather, it is an odd, meandering reverie that engages as often as it frustrates. TB

Directed by Greg Berlanti. Starring Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duchamel, Tony Hale. 12A cert, gen release, 109 min
Simon Spier is a much-admired high-school senior growing up in a picture-perfect American suburb. His friends are bubbly and gorgeous. His parents are loving and understanding and played by Garner and Duchamel. His younger sister is the opposite of bratty. It shouldn’t be a big deal for Simon to come out, and yet it is. None would ever mistake this shiny, glossy movie for the queerer pictures in the Gregg Araki archive, but by going the full John Hughes, it’s a landmark LGBTQ movie. Affecting, too. TB

Directed by Ken Wardrop. G cert, lim release, 87 min
Picking up where 2010 sleeper hit His & Hers left off, Ken Wardrop’s third feature depicts the relationships between Irish piano students and their teachers. The film meets and warmly greets some 51 participants – hailing from all over Ireland – as they prepare for their Royal Irish Academy of Music examinations. Using that body’s grade structure, Making the Grade opens with five-year-old Harry Keegan climbing on to a stool for his first lesson, and closes with those tackling Rachmaninoff for Grade Eight. Heartwarming. TB

Directed by Mouly Surya. Starring Marsha Timothy, Dea Panendra, Egi Fedly, Yoga Pratama, Rita Matu Mona, Vayu Unru, Anggun Priambodo, Safira Ahmad. Club, QFT, Belfast; IFI Dublin, 95 min

New this week: Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

Surya’s macabre Indonesian comedy is jollied along by extreme patriarchal privilege, machete-violence, deadly culinary skills and the spirit of Sergio Leone. We say Leone: we mean specifically the Dollars trilogy, an allusion that’s sounded out by Yudhi Arfani’s knowing trumpet soundtrack. Marlina may know how to cook chicken soup, but, excluding survival skills, she has little in common with Once Upon a Time in the West’s civilising and sexually-pestered Claudia Cardinale. Mad. Essential. Riveting. TB

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

Directed by Kathleen Hepburn. Starring Shirley Henderson, Théodore Pellerin, Nicholas Campbell, Jared Abrahamson, Mary Galloway. Club, Triskel, Cork; IFI, Dublin, 112 min

New this week: Shirley Henderson in Never Steady, Never Still

Henderson gives a career-best performance in Hepburn’s remarkably surefooted directorial debut. Judy, a woman living in farflung British Columbia, struggles with debilitating tremors in the later stages of Parkinson’s. Every button, every step is a challenge. Her family situation is as precarious as her health. Her carer husband (Campbell) dies suddenly. Her rudderless son, Jamie (Pellerin) is struggling with his own sexuality. A beautiful, wintry, heartfelt film, for which Hepburn has drawn from her own mother’s experiences. TB

120 BPM ★★★★
Directed by Robin Campillo. Starring Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel, Antoine Reinartz, Félix Maritaud, Ariel Borenstein, Aloïse Sauvage. 16 cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sun only), 143 min
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

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

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

Directed by Brad Peyton. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Marley Shelton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. 12A cert, gen release, 107 min
Are a giant albino ape and the artist formerly known as The Rock enough in themselves? That is the philosophical question posed by the latest film from the director of San Andreas. What more could a flick need? A giant flying wolf? Well, you get that too in Rampage. Why are we still having this conversation? Obviously it has its moments. But this creature feature is let down by very ordinary CGI and some indifferent supporting performances (stop smirking, Morgan). DC

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

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

Directed by Jedd Wadlow. Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron. 15A cert, gen release, 100 min
While holidaying in Mexico, our industry-standard PYTs get lured to a haunted convent for a game of Truth or Dare. Then the game follows them home. Ha ha ha! Given that the rules make no sense, it’s hardly worth explaining them in any more detail. There has always been a place for good, honest horror trash. The actors give it their all. There are some super squirmy moments. Will do well enough until somebody reboots Final Destination. DC

Directed by Todd Haynes. Starring Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Millicent Simmonds. PG cert, QFT, Belfast, 117 min
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

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

Directed by Lynne Ramsay. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola, Alex Manette, John Doman, Judith Roberts. 18 cert, 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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