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: Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart in Night School

New this week: Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart in Night School

 

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP ★★★
Directed by Peyton Reed. Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer. 12A cert, gen release, 117 min
In the aftermath of the Marvel Civil War, Ant Man (Rudd) and The Wasp (Lilly) attempt to rescue Wasp Emeritus (Pfeiffer) from something called the quantum zone. It’s lightweight. It’s confusing. Not nearly enough is stolen from The Incredible Shrinking Man. Oh well. With all the overly pompous franchise movies cluttering up cinemas, it remains a pleasure to sink into something so unapologetically goofy. The mad San Francisco chases suggest a hallucinatory What’s Up, Doc?. DC

BLACK 47 ★★★★
Directed by Lance Daly. Starring Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Sarah Greene, Jim Broadbent. 15A cert, gen release, 99 min
The first widely released feature to focus on the Great Famine is an unmistakable genre piece. It’s The Outlaw Josey Wales with fewer Comanches but more rain. Weaving is the weathered cop pursuing Frecheville’s bereaved avenger across the devastated west of Ireland. At times, the determination to include every historical detail causes the package to strain. But the grey pools of Declan Quinn’s cinematography and the evocative strains of Brian Byrne’s score keep the brain twitching in even the glummest moments. DC

BLACKKKLANSMAN ★★★★
Directed by Spike Lee. Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Jasper Pääkkönen, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold, Michael Joseph Buscemi. 16 cert, gen release, 135 min
Coming off as a spicy mix of 1970s cop show, blaxsploitation thriller, civil rights jeremiad and didactic documentary, Lee’s latest circles around the true story of a black cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. With one swift movement, the sharp John David Washington (son of Denzel) shakes off his family history and carves out a place just for himself. The collision of styles is exhilarating. Terence Blanchard’s soundtrack is a blast. What’s not to like? Spike’s best in decades. DC

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN ★★
Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Toby Jones. G cert, gen release, 104 min
Who is it for? Disney’s latest live-action translation – referencing the likable, Americanised Winnie the Pooh flicks – imagines Christopher Robin (McGregor) as a depressed middle-aged, executive in gloomy postwar London. One day he encounters Pooh in the park (sounds worse if you say it out loud) and undergoes a reassessment of his priorities. At least Spielberg’s Hook had a workable internal logic. The final impression here is closer to the hipster arrogance of Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. Baffling. Morose. Sluggish. DC

CLIMAX ★★★★★
Directed by Gaspar Noé. Starring Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Kiddy Smile, Claude Gajan Maull, Souheila Yacoub. 18 cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 96 min
Peerless provocateur Gaspar Noé is throwing a party and you’re all invited. You might want to think it over. Noé’s most admired film since Irreversible starts as it means to go on: writhing, gyrating, and seething its way toward the inner circle of hell. A hugely impressive and gymnastic piece of Tanztheater set to 1990s set over one increasingly crazed night, Climax never lets up. Appropriately – or perhaps inappropriately – bacchanalian. Unquestionably the dance-horror-musical event of the year. TB

COLD WAR/ZIMNA WOJNA ★★★★
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. Starring Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 85 min
Nobody does doomed romance better than Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love), and Cold War is his doomiest romance yet. Love is not enough in this sorrowful, swooning Soviet-era drama concerning composer and pianist Wiktor (Kot) and the blonde, cherubic singer-dancer Zula (the mesmerising Kulig) who heads his folk ensemble. When the troupe reaches East Berlin, the pair have a clear chance to defect but it soon becomes clear that only one of them has any desire to cross the Iron Curtain. Thus begins a decade of border-crossing, partings and reunions. Almost indecently moving and easily one of the films of the year. TB

CRAZY RICH ASIANS ★★★
Directed by Jon M Chu. Starring Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Gemma Chan. 12A cert, gen release, 121 min
Rachel (Wu), a Chinese-American professor at NYU and a hugely likable clever-clogs, accompanies her suave boyfriend Nick (Golding), a Chinese businessman from Singapore, home for his best friend’s wedding. Only then does Rachel learn that Nick is the heir to a real-estate empire, a “crown prince” as the locals have it. Nick’s imperious mother (Yeoh) expects him to return to Singapore and marry a suitable – read rich – local. A big-skirted Cinderella story that coasts along on the chemistry between Wu and Golding and is entirely resistant to attempts at Maoist analysis. 12A cert, gen release, 121 min TB

FACES PLACES/VISAGES VILLAGES ★★★★
Directed by and featuring Agnès Varda and JR. Club, IFI, Dublin, 89 min
This fun, freewheeling documentary hatched between 89-year-old cinema veteran Varda and 33-year-old outdoor installation artist JR is just about the most adorable film of the year. Although slow on stairs, there is a spring in her step as the director of Cleo From 5 to 7 takes to road with JR’s camera-shaped van and a printer capable of producing the giant photographic images he uses in his large-form artworks. Rolling into various villages around France, they find suitable subjects and make enchanting art. An absolute delight. TB

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: A MONSTER VACATION ★★★
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez , Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Mel Brooks. G cert, gen release, 97 min
Vampirologists may quibble about Dracula (Sandler) and his daughter (Gomez) crossing water and sunbathing without a care in the world, but the film is, for better or worse, every bit as good as its predecessors. Even watched beside various incarnations of the Addams and the Munsters, Hotel Transylvania remains the most family-friendly and proudly silly of all the monster dynasties. TB

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS ★★★
Directed by Eli Roth. Starring Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Kyle MacLachlan, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, Colleen Camp, Lorenza Izzo. PG cert, gen release, 105 min
Roth’s unexpected kids’ movie wastes no time in whisking the viewer and its 10-year-old protagonist, Lewis (Vaccaro), into a strange new gothic world. It’s 1955, and following the death of his parents Lewis is sent to to live with his oddball, kimono-wearing uncle (the always amiable Black), a warlock, and his good witch neighbour (Blanchett). Together they must undo some bad magic left behind by their enchanted house’s previous owner, Isaac Izzard (MacLachlan). This is whimsical new territory for the director behind such gory standards as Hostel and The Green Inferno, but Roth has crafted a very convincing Spielbergian family entertainment. TB

I, DOLOURS ★★★★
Directed by Maurice Sweeney. Featuring Dolours Price, Lorna Larkin, Enda Oates, Gail Brady, Lauren Beale. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri only), 83 min
Constructed around a lengthy interview between veteran journalist Ed Moloney and the late IRA volunteer Dolours Price, Sweeney’s picture confirms the subject as a fiercely articulate woman with a chilling certainty of purpose. I, Dolours does more. In charting Price’s journey from civil rights activist to convicted bomber to peace process sceptic, it offers an efficient history of the entire conflict. The reconstructions are unnecessary, but this remains an essential watch for anyone with even a faint interest in the Troubles. DC

THE INCREDIBLES 2 ★★★★
Directed by Brad Bird. Voices of Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Brad Bird, Bill Wise. PG cert, gen release, 125 min
Terrific sequel to Pixar’s superhero saga finds Bob Parr, the sometime Mr Incredible, left at home with young Violet (who turns invisible), younger Dash (who moves speedily) and baby Jack-Jack (who does a lot of things). Meanwhile, Helen Parr is drawn into a scheme to rehabilitate the superhero reputation. The animation is glossier than ever. The design is so gorgeous you yearn to wear it home. It is, however, the jokes that really stand out. Excellent family entertainment. DC

JOHN PAUL II IN IRELAND: A PLEA FOR PEACE ★★
Directed by David Naglieri. Featuring Jim Caviezel, Pope John Paul II, Seamus Mallon, Dana, John Bruton, Tim Pat Coogan. 12A, lim release, 67 min
Did Pope John Paul II’s visit trigger the peace process? Accompanied by a nonstop score that grinds on the nerves long before it evolves into the Derry Air, the film allows not a disobliging syllable about the Catholic Church as it pushes its semi-sound argument. The timing has not been happy – images of a heaving Phoenix Park in 1979 only serve to remind us how tepid interest was 39 years later. DC

KING OF THIEVES ★★★
Directed by James Marsh. Starring Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone, Francesca Annis. 15A cert, gen release, 107 min
Following the Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary in 2015, there were inevitable suggestions that a “major Hollywood movie” was on the way. This is the third. The cast are all sound as various classes of elderly villain, but Marsh can’t decide what sort of film he wants to make. There’s a gentle comedy about lovable old geezers. There’s a wry satire on the decline of English expertise. There’s a hard-boiled thriller about ruthless hoodlums. They’re all just so-so. DC

THE LITTLE STRANGER ★★★★
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Charlotte Rampling, Will Poulter, Liv Hill, Oliver Zetterström, Kate Phillips, Dixie Egerickx, Josh Dylan. 15A cert, gen release, 111 min
The director of Room returns with a queasy, unclassifiable adaptation of Sarah Waters’s novel concerning a young doctor (Gleeson) caught up with a crumbling dynasty in postwar England. There has been some criticism of the distributors for flogging the film has a straight-up ghost story. That is in there. But The Little Stranger is more a drama about class, money and the British postwar rearrangement. A comparison with Brideshead Revisited would as useful as any with The Turn of the Screw. DC

LUCKY ★★★★
Directed by John Carroll Lynch. Starring Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr, Tom Skerritt, Barry Shabaka Henley, Beth Grant, Bertila Damas, Yvonne Huff. Club, QFT, Belfast, 88 min
This quirky drama, in which the late Harry Dean Stanton contemplates the mortality of Harry Dean Stanton, is really something to see. A living wake populated by a fine cast of veteran character actors, Lucky follows the nonagenarian of the title as he goes about his final days. Every morning, he exercises, drinks milk, puts on his cowboy clothes, sets off on his rounds. This is no fluffy eulogy or hagiography. There are flashes of anger and malcontent throughout. Every day, Lucky stands before a mysterious pit-stop to shout out an expletive. There’s an ongoing battle concerning the enforcement of smoking regulations, a contest that ultimately provides the film with a marvellous visual coda. TB

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN ★★★
Directed by Ol Parker. Starring Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, Cher, Colin Firth, Andy García, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep. PG cert, gen release, 114 min
The follow-up to the Abba smash alternates between the aftermath of the first film and flashbacks to the three romances that caused the famous paternal confusion. Here We Go Again is actually superior in almost every way. The new cast members are amusing. The film-makers just about get way with unearthing a few less well-known Abba songs. Crucially, the direction is more than competent. Sunnier than a lifetime of holidays, James is a real standout as the younger version of Streep. DC

MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A ★★★★
Directed by Steve Loveridge. 16 cert, lim release, 96 min
When she was attending Central St Martins College at the turn of the millennium, Sri Lankan-born Mathangi Arulpragasam had ambitions to become a documentary film-maker. Her obsessive lensing and brief but dizzying success as the rapper M.I.A ensures that this appropriately messy, wonderful film has plenty of material to work with. Stretching from the rapper’s Tamil Tiger origins to her controversial performance at Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl halftime show, this is the brilliant, engaging, witty, provocative portrait that its subject deserves. TB

THE MEETING ★★★
Directed by Alan Gilsenan . Starring Ailbhe Griffith, Marie Keenan, Terry O’Neill, Kevin McCormack, Brenda McSweeney, Allan Keating. 15A cert, lim release, 95 min

New this week: Ailbhe Griffith portrays herself in The Meeting
New this week: Ailbhe Griffith portrays herself in The Meeting

Griffith, victim of a terrible rape, plays herself in a re-enactment of her formal meeting with the attacker. Arranged in co-operation with Restorative Justice Services, the interview travels over much painful ground. Griffith emerges with great dignity. Her assailant obfuscates and rationalises. No viewer with any empathy could fail to be moved, but the awkward format – Griffith faces an actor on the other side of the table – never properly comes together. And the sentimental final shot is a real error. DC

MILE 22 ★★
Directed by Peter Berg. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, John Malkovich, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey, Elle Graham, Niklai Nikolaeff, Carlo Alban. 16 cert, gen release, 94 min
Tough agent Wahlberg has to transport evil Iko Uwais across an unnamed Asian city before disaster strikes. Uwais, an acclaimed Indonesian action star, remains best known in these territories for Gareth Evans’s The Raid, and his bruising, jaw-rattling battles juice-up what is otherwise an underwhelming glob of generic pulp. The rapid cutting – even in dialogue sequences –is exhausting. It’s like reading Tom Clancy by strobe light. If that’s your bag . . .DC

A MOTHER BRINGS HER SON TO BE SHOT ★★★★
Directed by Sinead O’Shea. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sun only), 87 min
The arresting title of this grim documentary helps explain what drew O’Shea towards the unresolved conflicts that stalk the Creggan estate on the outskirts of Derry. The director heard that one Majella O’Donnell had, indeed, made a “shooting appointment” with paramilitaries for her son. The resulting film is more a psycho-geographical study of the Creggan than a detective story, but it abounds with uncomfortable truths about how little has changed for some. DC

NIGHT SCHOOL
Directed by Malcolm D Lee. Starring Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, Keith David, Loretta Devine. 12A cert, gen release, 111 min
The director of Girls Trip fails to find anything worthwhile to do with the least awful performer from that puzzlingly well-received film. The gifted Haddish plays a teacher attempting to usher Hart through a high-school equivalency exam. Stretching each routine out to criminal over-extension, the picture (which somehow lists six screenwriters) fluffs its few promising turns and leans heavily into its most overused cliches. Haddish has nothing to work with. Hart is a menace. See me after class. DC

THE NUN ★★
Directed by Corin Hardy. Starring Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Blocquet, Charlotte Hope, Ingrid Bisu, Bonnie Aarons. 16 cert, lim release, 96 min
Scary nuns stomp across Romania in the latest film set in the Conjuring universe. The stupidity and lack of rigour – at one stage, a priest seems to be dictating a nun’s vows from the Old Testament – doesn’t entirely undermine the gallant efforts of a likable cast. Bichir is charismatic, Bloquet is funny. Twenty years her sister Vera’s junior and her absolute spit, Taissa Farmiga is funny, loopy and confident in the habits of the “Final Girl”. Still bad though. DC

NUREYEV ★★★★
Directed by Jacqui and David Morris. Featuring Rudolf Nureyev, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Grace Jabbari, Marlon Dino, Dana Fouras, Maria Fonseca. Club, lim release, 109 min

New this week: Nureyev. Photograph: Michael Ward/Getty Images
New this week: Nureyev. Photograph: Michael Ward/Getty Images

If there is one scene you cannot miss this year, it is the sight of Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn being “detained” in a San Francisco police station in 1967. Their crime? Attending a party at which there were narcotics. The look upon their faces – a marriage of bemusement and imperiousness – is something to behold. Utilising much the same formula as Asif Kapadia’s Amy, this terrific, beautifully curated new documentary uses archive footage and off-camera voices to chronicle the dancer’s journey to global celebrity from his war-torn childhood in the Soviet Union. TB

THE SEAGULL ★★
Directed by Michael Mayer. Starring Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, Elisabeth Moss, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, Glenn Fleshler, Michael Zegen, Billy Howle, Brian Dennehy. 12A cert, Triskel, Cork, 99 min
Ronan is so good at her job that she manages to enliven the bad acting required for Constantine’s densely symbolist (read terrible) play that kick-starts this adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull. Ronan is this-is-how-you-act-in-Chekhov good. And Bening is so good at her job that she finds high, broad, laugh-out-loud humour in every line of Michael Mayer’s screenplay. But the material stubbornly refuses to congeal into a movie shape. And the constant, desperately overcompensating camera movement makes one want to smash the dolly. TB

A SIMPLE FAVOUR ★★
Directed by Paul Feig. Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Ian Ho, Joshua Satine, Kelly McCormack , Andrew Rannells, Rupert Friend. 15A cert, gen release, 117 min
“This is bananas!” cries an exasperated Kendrick towards the end of this utterly baffling film. This is only occurring to you now, Anna? Feig, the hugely talented comic director behind Bridesmaids and Spy, directs hugely talented people in this tonally bewildering muddle. Darcey Bell’s hot source novel of the same name is, by all accounts, a dry thriller in the style of Gone Girl. How that translated into this weird, uncertain comedy is a mystery. The messy plot concerns a peppy mommy vlogger (Kendrick) who is asked by her glamourous new chum (Lively) to pick up her son from school. Every character is two-dimensional. Every twist is pointless. The final reveal will leave you apoplectic with rage. TB

THE WIFE ★★★★
Directed by Björn Runge. Starring Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Annie Starke, Harry Lloyd, Elizabeth McGovern. 15A cert, gen release, 100 min

New this week: Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce in The Wife
New this week: Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce in The Wife

It’s 1992 and the long-suffering wife (Close) of a much-lauded American novelist (Pryce) travels to Stockholm, where her husband will receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s a moment of triumph that unexpectedly leaves all parties reeling, with just a little prodding from a fanboy journalist (Slater, excellent) eager to write the author’s autobiography. Working from a clever script by Jane Anderson (Olive Kitteridge), Swedish director Runge’s film version of the 2003 Meg Wolitzer novel pivots around a subtle, inscrutable turn from Close, making her the bookies’ favourite to win the Best Actress Oscar next spring. TB

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