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: Nicole Kidman in How to Talk to Girls at Parties

New this week: Nicole Kidman in How to Talk to Girls at Parties

 

ANON ★★
Directed by Andrew Niccol. Starring Clive Owen, Amanda Seyfried, Colm Feore, Charles Gattis, Mark O’Brien. 16 cert, gen release, 100 min

New this week: Amanda Seyfried in Anon

In this future, everybody’s consciousness is recorded and as citizens walk through the streets they see a dropdown menu before every object encountered. This should make life easy for cops such as Sal Frieland (Owen), but somebody is messing with the system. People are being murdered and, as the assault takes place, having their own point-of-view replaced with that of the killer. It sounds intriguing. But the plot is dull, the characters wafer-thin and the futurology unimaginative. DC

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, 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, Light House, Dublin, 107 min
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

BREAKING IN ★★★
Directed by James McTeigue. Starring Gabrielle Union, Seth Carr, Ajiona Alexus, Christa Miller, Jason George, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Levi Meaden. 15A cert, gen release, 88 min

New this week: Gabrielle Union in Breaking In

In Miguel Ángel Vivas’s 2010 thriller Kidnapped, the intruders are listed simply as Head Thief, Young Thief and Strong Thief. Breaking In’s triumvirate could easily be billed as Head Thief, Wimp Thief, and Rapey Mexican Thief. Their target is an African-American mom (Union), who must pitch her wits and various improvised weapons in order to save her two children from murderous marauders. Does Gabrielle get to announce: “You broke into the wrong house”? You bet she does. TB

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
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

ENTEBBE ★★★
Directed by José Padilha. Starring Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, Eddie Marsan, Ben Schnetzer, Lior Ashkenazi, Denis Ménochet, Nonso Anozie. 12A cert, gen release, 107 min

New this week: Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike in Entebbe

Having scored successes with undeniably thrilling celebrations of jackbootery in Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, Brazilian director José Padilha’s Entebbe (perhaps surprisingly) works awfully hard to be less gung-ho than previous films about that hostage crisis. There are meaningful exchanges between Brühl’s nervy, compromised Wilfried Böse, a member of the Revolutionary Cells, and Ménochet’s pragmatic flight engineer about the PR implications of German’s executing Jewish hostages. Pike plays fellow hijacker Brigitte Kuhlman as vulnerable, dazed and idealistic. The uneasy attempts at balance won’t please anyone who has an opinion on either side of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. 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

HAVE A NICE DAY/HAO JI LE ★★★★
Directed by Liu Jian. Voices of Yang Siming, Cao Kou, Ma Xiaofeng, Zhu Changlong, Cao Kai. Club, Triskel, Cork, 78 min

New this week: Have a Nice Day

Don’t mind that title. Nobody is having a nice day in this gritty, gut-wrenching animated crime saga. In an unlovely Chinese city, two construction workers double-job as delivery boys for a local hoodlum. Their banter is disturbed when the younger man puts a knife to his colleague’s neck and makes off with a suitcase filled with a million yuen of the boss’s money. Sadistic mobsters – including the elderly Uncle Liu and Skinny – are duly dispatched. A scathing, thrilling depiction of post-communist malaise. TB

HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES ★
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. Starring Alex Sharp, Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Matt Lucas, Lara Peake, Eloise Smyth. 15A cert, lim release, 102 min
Hugely misconceived punk musical concerning a young lad (Sharp) who encounters an alien (Fanning) in 1970s Croydon. Though the director is sympathetic to the genre, the film looks to have been composed by somebody who knows it only through shocked reports on contemporaneous tabloid newspapers and early-evening telly. Sharp and Fanning just about get away with it, but Kidman is ludicrous as a punk auntie. DC

I FEEL PRETTY ★★
Directed by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein. Starring Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell, Lauren Hutton, Tom Hopper. 12A cert, gen release, 110 min
Schumer, online drone at a beauty firm, biffs her head and becomes convinced that she is more “conventionally attractive” (stay with me as I entertain the film’s own logic) than she has hitherto believed. Ham-fisted satire about attitudes to female sexuality follow in a fitful comedy that can’t quite decide what it thinks about the issues. Perennial gloom-bot Williams – hilarious as a wispy fashion maven – comes closest to saving an indifferent project. DC

LEAN ON PETE ★★★★
Directed by Andrew Haigh. Starring Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Travis Fimmel, Steve Zahn, Amy Seimetz, Justin Rain. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 127 min
Charley (Plummer), a motherless 15-year-old Portlandian, happens upon a local racetrack, hardboiled horse owner Dell (Buscemi), and his world-weary jockey, Bonnie (Sevigny). Bonnie repeatedly warns the boy not to get too attached to Lean on Pete, the ill-starred racehorse of the title. But it’s already too late. The spirit of Sam Shepard lives on in this unsentimental coming-of-age tale, an unvarnished fable that falls somewhere between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Grapes of Wrath. TB

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, Light House, Dublin, 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

MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER ★★★★
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Voices of Ruby Barnhill, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Teresa Gallagher, Ewen Bremner. PG cert, lim release, 104 min
Mary (Barnhill) is a red-headed klutz holidaying at her Great Aunt Charlotte’s estate. Finding a broomstick, she is whisked away to the Endor School for witches and warlocks, where the headmistress (Winslet) and a mad scientist (Broadbent) mistake her for their newest pupil. A sign reading: “Trespassers will be transformed” suggests this centre for alchemical excellence is not going to be as much fun as Hogwarts. The debut feature from Studio Ponoc was produced by Studio Ghibli veterans, including director Yonebayashi, and it shows. As transporting as any witch’s broomstick. TB

MICHAEL INSIDE ★★★★
Directed by Frank Berry. Starring Dafhyd Flynn, Moe Dunford, Lalor Roddy, Robbie Walsh, Steve Blount, Hazel Doupe. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast; Light House, Dublin, 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

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

REDOUBTABLE ★★★★
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius. Starring Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo, Micha Lescot, Grégory Gadebois, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Marc Brun Adryan. Club, lim release, 107 min

New this week: Louis Garrel and Stacy Martin in  Redoubtable

Jean-Luc Godard (Garrel) squabbles with wife Anne Wiazemsky (Martin) as 1968 bubbles around him. Suggestions that Hazanavicius’s film trivialises Godard and his work are not so much wrong as irrelevant. It transpires that the director of The Artist, known first in France for spy spoofs, has returned to his original taste for broad pastiche. Redoutable is utterly trivial, occasionally disrespectful and hugely amusing. Wiazemsky, an intellectual in her own right, is misused, though. DC

SHERLOCK GNOMES ★★★
Directed by John Stevenson. Voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mary J Blige, Johnny Depp, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Stephen Merchant, Ashley Jensen, Matt Lucas, Ozzy Osbourne. G cert, gen release, 86 min

New this week: Sherlock Gnomes

The only film this year that can boast that it is “based on Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” sees the headliners of the 2011 original relocate to a scruffy London garden. When all of their ornament chums are kidnapped, a bickering Gnomeo (McEvoy) and Juliet (Blunt) team up with Sherlock Gnomes (Depp) and Watson (Ejiofor). Juliet throws herself into her new duties, while Gnomeo goofs off and undermines her efforts. There are not nearly enough jokes and they misuse “wherefore art thou?”. But Kung Fu Panda director Stevenson keeps the plot moving at a jaunty pace. TB

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

TULLY ★★★★
Directed by Jason Reitman. Starring Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, Emily Haine, Elaine Tan. 15A cert, gen release, 96 min
Reitman reunites with Theron and Diablo Cody, writer of his breakthrough Juno, for an ingenious (sometimes too ingenious) examination of the rigours of motherhood. Flat-out after the birth of her third child, Theron is gifted the services of a “night nanny” (Davis) to allow some sleep during the small hours. She suddenly realises how annihilated she has become. Not everybody will buy the jarring ending, but the film plays fair with its audience. All the bits fit together and Theron is terrific. DC

THE YOUNG KARL MARX/LE JEUNE KARL MARX ★★★★
Directed by Raoul Peck. Starring August Diehl, Stefan Konarske, Vicky Krieps, Olivier Gourmet, Hannah Steele. Club, QFT, Belfast; IFI, Dublin, 118 min
Released to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth, the new film from Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) is no mere biopic, but a superhero-style origins story for The Communist Manifesto. At its heart, The Young Karl Marx is a cerebral, frock-coated bromance between the charismatic, combustible Marx and the rakish Friedrich Engels. Diehl’s mesmerising Marx is a force of nature, jollied along by righteous anger and poverty. Two centuries on and, just in time for his birthday, Peck ensures that Marx lives. TB

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