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

Avengers: Infinity War - official trailer.

 

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ★★★
Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Sebastian Stan, Benicio del Toro, Paul Bettany, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Peter Dinklage. 12A cert, gen release, 149 min
If Thanos (Brolin) will allow us to say so, the latest superhero chaos kicks off when that alien tyrant arrives on Earth in search of magic jewels that will allow him to dominate or destroy or redecorate the universe. Before long, everybody in Stan Lee’s phone book has rallied in resistance. Even Marvel sceptics might, if the film didn’t take its guff so seriously, accept the gang-show aesthetic and offer two cautious thumbs up. But it’s as up-itself as ever. DC

BEAST ★★★★
Directed by Michael Pearce. Starring Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James, Trystan Gravelle, Oliver Maltman, Charley Palmer Rothwell. 15A cert, lim release, 107 min

New this week: Johnny Flynn and Jessie Buckley in 'Beast'

Upstaged her own deathly birthday party, Moll (Buckley, terrific) slinks off to a local nightclub where a boozy evening is rounded off with an encounter with rugged Pascal (Flynn), a huntsman who lives off the land. Pearce’s film resurrects the psychological thriller with jolts of Hitchcockian intrigue and class snobbery. The insular Jersey setting amplifies both Moll’s isolation and rebellion and makes for strange colonial undercurrents and hints of such ley-line English horrors as The Wicker Man. TB

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

THE CURED ★★★
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
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

CUSTODY/ JUSQU’À LA GARDE ★★★★★
Directed by Xavier Legrand. Starring Denis Ménochet, Léa Drucker, Thomas Gioria, Mathilde Auneveux, Mathilde Saïkaly, Florence Janas, Saadia Bentaïeb. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast; Light House, Dublin (Sun only), 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

THE DELINQUENT SEASON ★★
Directed by Mark O’Rowe. Starring Cillian Murphy, Eva Birthistle, Andrew Scott, Catherine Walker, Lydia McGuinness. 15A cert, lim release, 104 min

New this week: Cillian Murphy and Eva Birthistle in 'The Delinquent Season'

Jim (Murphy) and Daniele (Birthistle) are smugly married. They have other smug marrieds, including Chris (Scott) and Yvonne (Walker) around for dinner parties, until Jim and Yvonne embark on an affair. Sub-Bergmanesque shenanigans ensue. The debut feature from acclaimed playwright Mark O’Rowe is a bit of a disappointment. The denizens of The Delinquent Season are all ghastly and yet – despite valiant efforts from a talented ensemble cast – not quite horrid enough to be interesting or engaging. TB

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS/PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI ★★★★★
Directed by Sergio Leone. Starring Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Josef Edger, Wolfgang Lukschy, Gian Maria Volontè. Club, QFT, Belfast, 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

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
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

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

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

LET THE SUNSHINE IN/UN BEAU SOLEIL INTÉRIEUR ★★★
Directed by Claire Denis. Starring Juliette Binoche, Gérard Depardieu, Josiane Balasko, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Alex Descas, Laurent Grévill, Xavier Beauvois. 15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 95 min
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

LOVE, SIMON ★★★★
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

MAKING THE GRADE ★★★★
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

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
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

THE OLD DARK HOUSE ★★★★★
Directed by James Whale. Starring Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Ernest Thesiger, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart, Raymond Massey. Club, QFT, Belfast; IFI, Dublin, 72 min

New this week: Gloria Stuart in 'The Old Dark House' (1932)

Two sets of travellers shelter with lunatics in a terrible storm. Hugely welcome reissue for James Whale’s funniest, most subversive horror flick. From 1932, The Old Dark House might be the most British film ever made on American soil. It’s not just that it exploited the finest that Yorkshire (Laughton), Surrey (Karloff), Worcestershire (Whale) and Marlborough College (Thesiger) had to offer. The sensibility could hardly be more English if it were served with pickled onions. Spooky. Queasy. Hilarious. Brilliant. 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
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

RAMPAGE ★★
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

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

TRUTH OR DARE ★★★
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

THE WOUND ★★★★
Directed by John Trengove. Starring Nakhane Touré, Bongile Mantsai, Niza Jay Ncoyini, Thobani Mseleni, Gamelihle Bovana, Halalisani Bradley Cebekhulu. Club, lim release, 88 min

New this week: South African drama 'The Wound'

Three gay men work out tensions at a Xhosa coming-of-age ritual in South Africa. Comprising balanced compositions that use every inch of the widescreen frame, Paul Ozgur’s cinematography eats up the baked landscapes. The flawless performances convey the suppressed panic that dogs closeted men in hyper-masculine environments. Audiences outside South Africa will be particularly intrigued by the interactions between the modern nation and ancient tribal traditions. A necessary and troubling film. DC

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

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