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: Kissing Candice

New this week: Kissing Candice

 

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. 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

BOOK CLUB
Directed by Bill Holderman. Starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T Nelson, Richard Dreyfuss, Alicia Silverstone, Ed Begley Jr, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Wallace Shawn. 15A cert, gen release, 104 min
Four women re-evalute their lives after reading Fifty Shades of Grey in their book club. Yes, yes, it’s great to see these older actresses above the title. But this really is a profoundly dreadful film. Keaton does the best job of maintaining dignified enthusiasm while enduring gags that Mrs Brown would think too roughly hewn. In contrast, a haughty Fonda delivers her dialogue as if tonguing pieces of rancid fish onto the back of her fork. DC

THE BREADWINNER ★★★★
Directed by Norah Twomey. Voices of Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Ali Badshah, Kawa Ada. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin (Sun/Tues), 93 min
The latest from Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon concerns a girl in Taliban-controlled Kabul who is forced to dress as a boy to support her family. If the previous Cartoon Saloon features, Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells, had a flaw, it was a lack of discipline in their narrative structure. Despite its frequent diversions into high fantasy, The Breadwinner has greater momentum and a more secure story arc. As ever, the visuals are gorgeous. DC

CITIZEN LANE ★★★★
Directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan. Starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Michael Gambon, Marty Rae, Derbhle Crotty, Barry McGovern, Ned Dennehy. G cert, Light House, Dublin (Sun/Mon/Wed), 81 min
By any reasoning, O’Sullivan’s hybrid portrait of the art collector and gallery founder Hugh Lane simply shouldn’t work. The film’s marriage – or rather menage – of talking heads, artistic flâneurism and historical recreation ought to make for a screaming match, or at the very least uneasy transitions. But working from Mark O’Halloran’s fiendishly clever script, the December Bride director and dexterous editor Mick Mahon have fashioned a project as elegant as its subject. TB

DEADPOOL 2 ★★★
Directed by David Leitch. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Leslie Uggams, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, Julian Dennison, Stefan Kapicic, TJ Miller, Terry Crews. 16 cert, gen release, 120 min
Deadpool is rescued by the X-Men after falling into suicidal despair. He blows his chance (obviously) during an encounter with a young mutant. Depending on your appetites, the constant self-reference is either a shameful cheat or a release from the superhero sameness. It’s probably a bit of both and Reynolds’s relish is, for the most part, passed on to the audience. This time round they’ve toned down the recreational sexism. Maybe that’s why it feels less grating. DC

THE HAPPY PRINCE ★★★
Directed by Rupert Everett. Starring Rupert Everett, Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Anna Chancellor, Benjamin Voisin, Tom Wilkinson. 15A cert, gen release, 104 min

New this week: Rupert Everett in The Happy Prince

Effective, nicely acted study of Oscar Wilde’s decline featuring a bloated, puffed-out Everett in the lead role. There is no great revisionism at work. Bosie (Morgan) remains a selfish oik. Robbie Ross (Thomas) is again celebrated as the most loyal of supporters. The film-making, packed with too many close-ups, allows only a few mad flourishes. The Happy Prince does, nonetheless, mark out new territory in its willingness to probe Wilde’s final weakness and fragility. You can smell the decay. DC

HEREDITARY ★★★★★
Directed by Ari Aster. StarringToni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro. 16 cert, gen release, 127 min
How freaky is Hereditary, the “scariest film since The Exorcist”? Imagine if Rosemary’s baby had a child with little Gage from Pet Sematary and it climbed to the top of Jacob’s Ladder and fell down with a grotesque splat. Prepare yourself for a discombobulating study of grief that goes beyond the conventional seven stages to take in another 100,000 or so, ranging between psychiatric meltdown, demonic possession, sporadic pyromania and roaring-crying. A nerve-shredding masterpiece. TB

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

IN THE FADE/AUS DEM NICHTS ★★★
Directed by Fatih Akin. Starring Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Johannes Krisch, Samia Chancrin, Numan Acar, Ulrich Tukur, Rafael Santana. 16 cert, lim release, 106 min

New this week: Diane Kruger in In the Fade

Kruger deserved her best actress award at Cannes for this harried turn as a German woman driven to violent revenge after neo-Nazis murder her child and her Kurdish husband. The picture begins as a model of controlled anguish as Kruger weaves the character’s despair into every muscle and every tortured sigh. Then, sadly, it falls into madness with a melodramatic trial sequence and a wildly implausible denouement. Indecently gripping nonetheless. DC

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM ★★★
Directed by JA Bayona. Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Jeff Goldblum, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Geraldine Chaplin. 12A cert, gen release, 128 min
Adequate follow-up to the world-crushing Jurassic World. This time round, Howard and Pratt are asked to help the dinosaurs escape from a volcanic eruption. But evil men in suits have ulterior motives. The action is satisfactory, but what sets Fallen Kingdom apart is the decision to allow Bayona, director of the spooky The Orphanage, to turn the last act into a variation on the haunted house movie. The mesh doesn’t really work, but it remains an interesting experiment. DC

KISSING CANDICE ★★★
Directed by Aoife McArdle. Starring Ann Skelly, Ryan Lincoln, Conall Keating, Ryan McParland, Catriona Ennis, John Lynch. 18 cert, lim release, 103 min
Interesting, infuriating drama of teenage life on the Irish Border. The excellent Skelly plays a young woman who, during a seizure, falls for an imagined character who eventually turns up in the flesh. Kissing Candice is sure to drive some viewers barmy. As the picture goes on, its refusal to settle into a rhythm becomes irritating. Still, individual shots stick firmly in the brain. Characters linger. The impressive sound design makes its own throbbing case. We need odd things. DC

LEK AND THE DOGS ★★★★
Directed by Andrew Kötting. Starring Xavier Tchili, Alan Moore. Club, Triskel, Cork, 92 min

New this week: Lek and the Dogs, exclusively at the Triskel, Cork

Kotting’s latest freely associative feature adapts Hattie Naylor’s Ivan and the Dogs, a stage play inspired by the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a boy who spent two years living with dogs on the Moscow streets until he was captured by the police in 1998 and eventually adopted. Experimental film can be a euphemism for half-baked, but there’s unorthodox and compelling architecture at play here. The British director remains a real original. TB

MCQUEEN ★★★★
Directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui. Featuring Alexander McQueen. 15 cert, lim release, Dublin, 111 min
On the night that fashion designer Alexander McQueen took his own life in 2010, his long-time collaborator and friend Mira Chai Hyde felt a presence in her room. It sounds unlikely, and yet, watching this well-crafted biographical documentary, one can empathise. The film-makers have properly scoured the archives in search of their subject and yet McQueen remains a ghostly, unknowable presence throughout. There are illuminating contributions from Hyde, from assistant designer Sebastian Pons, and from art dealer Detmar Blow, the widower of McQueen’s former mentor, Isabella Blow, as this elegantly constructed film outlines the biographical details. TB

OCEAN’S 8 ★★★
Directed by Gary Ross. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Armitage, James Corden. 12A cert, gen release, 110 min

New this week: Sandra Bullock and crew in Ocean's 8

Female take on the glamorous sequence featuring all those listed above. Ocean’s 8, like its predecessors, exists solely as a vessel for movie stars and celebrities. A heist at the Met Ball ensures that, in addition to the main cast, there are glimpses of Anna Wintour, Serena Williams and Kim Kardashian. The film rattles along, powered by costume changes, silliness and Bullock and Blanchett’s attempts to out-cool one another. But few of these talented people seem to be trying very hard. TB

ON CHESIL BEACH ★★★
Directed by Dominic Cooke. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff, Bebe Cave, Adrian Scarborough, Samuel West, Jonjo O’Neill. 15A cert, gen release, 110 min
Fitful adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel concerning a disastrous honeymoon in the early 1960s. Ronan is great as the sexually inhibited musician and Howle strong as her insensitive husband. Unfortunately, McEwan’s own script cannot find a cinematic substitute for the sharp prose that helped us understand how sexually bewildered adults could then be. We have, in the decades since 1962, been so bombarded with sexual imagery that the film’s central premise proves too hard a sell. DC

THE PIANO ★★★★★
Directed by Jane Campion. Starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin, Kerry Walker, Genevieve Lemon. 15 cert, Light House, Dublin (Sun/Mon/Wed), 117 min
Top performances, Michael Nyman’s swelling score and Stuart Dryburgh’s darksome cinematography can’t hide the problematic narrative of this 1993 multi-Oscar winner: Ada (Hunter), an 19th-century bride, is sent to a New Zealand to survive attempted rape, sexual blackmail and extreme domestic violence. Campion’s screenplay leaves the mute Ada to choose between her cold, rapey husband (Neill), and her hot, bothered, rapey suitor (Keitel). There is no sense of sisterhood between the film’s women – indeed, Ada’s own daughter (Paquin) betrays her. There is also the troubling notion that Ada has to choose between sex and art. A feminist classic? TB

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
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

SHOW DOGS ★★
Directed by Raja Gosnell. Starring Will Arnett. Voices of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Natasha Lyonne, Jordin Sparks, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O’Neal, Omar Chaparro, Stanley Tucci, RuPaul. PG cert, gen release, 90 min
When baby panda Ling Li is kidnapped by animal traffickers, an FBI agent (Arnett) is teamed with a tough-minded NYPD K-9 unit Rottweiler, Max (voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges). Their mission: infiltrate a Las Vegas dog show, where Ling Li is due to be sold. There, Max mingles with a fallen champion Papillon named Philippe (Tucci), affable Australian shepherd Daisy (Sparks), excitable pug Sprinkles (Iglesias), Zen-master Komondor Karma (O’Neal), and Persephone (RuPaul), a . . . gosh, is that even a dog? Play dead, please. TB

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY ★★★
Directed by Ron Howard. Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. 12A cert, gen release, 134 min
The young Han Solo falls in with a bad crowd. The new Star Wars movie isn’t really a Star Wars movie. It’s a car chase movie. It’s a heist movie. It’s a poker movie. During the pretty good opening 20 minutes, it actually promises to be a space version of Howard Hawks’s Only Angels Have Wings. Then it falls off the rails and loses coherence. Ehrenreich, though good, can’t capture the cool of a young Harrison Ford. TB

STUDIO 54 ★★★★
Directed by Matt Tyrnauer. Featuring Ian Schrager, Bob Colacello. Club, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 98 min
Engrossing, surprising documentary on the upmarket disco that defined New York nightlife in the dying years of the 1970s. Students of the era’s innovative dance music must look elsewhere for elucidation – Studio 54 didn’t do much to develop the sounds. Its unhappy innovations were in the fields of celebrity veneration and body fascism. Drawing on new testimony from co-founder Schrager, the film confirms that awful bits of our present started there. DC

SUPER TROOPERS 2 ★★
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. Starring Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Rob Lowe, Brian Cox. 16 cert, gen release, 99 min
Sequel to a not-much-loved comedy from the turn of the century. Oh, yeah. The current film is almost entirely concerned with jokes aboot the cultural distinctions between Canada and the USA. The eponymous former Vermont coppers reunite to police a sliver of the US’s northern neighbour that is about to become part of the Green Mountain State. Cue endless chatter aboot the metric system, the weakness of American beer and the word “about”. Who ordered this? DC

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