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: André Leon Talley in The Gospel According to André

New this week: André Leon Talley in The Gospel According to André

 

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, general 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, general 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, Triskel, Cork; 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

COLUMBUS ★★★★
Directed by Kogonada. Starring John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, Michelle Forbes. Club, IFI, Dublin, 104 min

New this week: Rory Culkin and Haley Lu Richardson in Columbus
New this week: Rory Culkin and Haley Lu Richardson in Columbus

It seems only fair that modern architecture – including Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Union Bank building and the Miller House and IM Pei’s Cleo Rogers Memorial Library – takes centre stage in debuting writer-director Kogonada’s carefully calibrated, minimalist drama. Taking cues from the clean, unfussy lines of those constructions, Columbus concerns a book translator (Cho) who finds himself stranded in the Indiana town of the title, where he befriends an architectural enthusiast (Richardson). Could pass as an American remake of a hitherto undiscovered Yasujiro Ozu drama. 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

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ ★★★
Directed by Kate Novack. Featuring André Leon Talley, Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Valentino, Manolo Blahnik, Maureen Dowd, Fran Lebowitz, Eboni Marshall Turman, Will.i.am. Club, lim release, 94 min
The gang is all here for this appropriately ostentatious tribute to André Leon Talley, the former editor-at-large of Vogue – or, as Will.i.am helpfully puts it, “the Nelson Mandela of fashion”. That’s not quite right: as this exuberant, hyper-articulate Talley explains, “I don’t live for fashion, I live for beauty and style.” Working with cinematographer Bryan Sarkinen and a wealth of gorgeous archive footage, Kate Novack’s directorial debut is big on beauty and style. And Talley makes for fantastic company. 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 (Tues 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

JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN ★★
Directed by David Kerr. Starring Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Emma Thompson. PG cert, gen release, 89 min

New this week: Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Strikes Again
New this week: Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Strikes Again

As long ago as 2003, Johnny English, an entirely superfluous spy spoof, was already underwhelming and outmoded when it transitioned from likable TV advertising campaign to the big screen. The belated 2011 sequel didn’t offer much of an improvement, but it was an absolute riot placed beside this unnecessary, half-baked third film. Emma Thompson, playing a half-bright British PM, the charming talents of Kurylenko and Lacy (playing a tech-bro billionaire), and even Atkinson’s contortions are squandered by a script that doesn’t seem to contain a single joke. TB

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

MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A ★★★★
Directed by Steve Loveridge. 16 cert, Triskel, Cork; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 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
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 (Sat 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, Light House, Dublin (Sun only), 109 min
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 SILVER BRANCH ★★★★
Directed by Katrina Costello. Featuring Patrick McCormack. Club, lim release, 75 min

New this week: Patrick McCormack in The Silver Branch
New this week: Patrick McCormack in The Silver Branch

Beautifully shot, thoughtful documentary on the poet Patrick McCormack, who led resistance against plans to build an “interpretive centre” in the Burren. It is a testament to the power of Costello’s film-making that the picture can win over even those (ahem) not entirely on board with McCormack’s pastoral philosophy. The poet remains an elusive personality, but the world around him is evoked with startling vivacity. DC

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

A STAR IS BORN ★★★★★
Directed by Bradley Cooper. Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Dave Chappelle, Rebecca Field, Michael Harney, Shangela Laquifa Wadley. 15A cert, gen release, 135 min

New this week: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born
New this week: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born

A triumphant return to an indestructible Hollywood warhorse. Gaga exceeds all expectations as the talented working-class ingenue propelled to fame by Cooper’s soused rocker. Leaning into the male lead like a bird investigating promising movements among the undergrowth, she is exotic when she’s ordinary and rooted when she’s fantastic. Cooper is equally strong – browned to the colour of yesterday’s tea – as a decent man laid low by addiction. The music is great. The nimble camera-work is a pleasure. What’s not to like? DC

TEHRAN TABOO ★★★★
Directed by Ali Soozandeh. Voices of Negar Mona Alizadeh, Bilal Yasar, Arash Marand, Zahra Amir Ebrahimi. Club, lim release, 96 min

New this week: Tehran Taboo
New this week: Tehran Taboo

Everyone is trapped and on the verge of ruination in this German-Austrian rotoscoped animated feature. Intersecting stories play out in the sprawling metropolis of the title: Pari, a woman with a young son who has been forced into prostitution after her drug-addicted husband is sent to jail; Sara, her pregnant neighbour; and Babak, a talented young musician who has a one-night stand with a girl at an underground club, an encounter that forces them to explore backstreet medical options in the hope of “restoring” her virginity ahead of her upcoming marriage. Compelling. TB

UNDER THE CLOCK ★★★
Directed by Colm Nicell. Club, lim release, 76 min

The Clerys clock on O’Connell Street. Photograph: Frank Miller
The Clerys clock on O’Connell Street. Photograph: Frank Miller

Nicell’s documentary, which is very much in the style of oral collages such as His & Hers, goes among various Dubliners whose lives were changed by encounters outside Clerys department store on O’Connell Street. The film parts company from the clock early on and makes only fleeting returns. This is a bit of a shame. It would be nice to get more on the atmosphere of O’Connell Street in earlier decades. But the film’s impressively unsentimental portrait of the wider nation offers many surprises. DC

VENOM ★★★
Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott. 15A cert, gen release, 112 min

New this week: Tom Hardy (we think) in Venom
New this week: Tom Hardy (we think) in Venom

Hardy plays a journalist infected with a symbiotic alien in Sony’s latest unconnected Marvel adaptation. With reviews embargoed until day of release and the star telling reporters his best bits have all been cut out, Venom was shaping up to be a disaster of Green Lantern proportions. It’s rubbish all right – too much CGI, too little story – but, thanks to some Nic Cageian excess from the star, it’s perfectly entertaining rubbish. Less up itself than Infinity Wars. DC

WAJIB ★★★★
Directed by Annemarie Jacir. Starring Mohammad Bakri, Saleh Bakri, Karma Zoabi, Rana Alamuddin, Maria Zriek. Club, QFT, Belfast, 97 min
A son and his father drive about Nazareth delivering wedding invitations. Various tensions reveal themselves. Domestic audiences will find resonances in the story of a slightly smug emigrant who pontificates endlessly about what’s gone wrong with the old country. We’ve heard that before. Shot with an intimate camera, peppered with very good jokes, the leisurely film hits a crisis point in the closing 10 minutes that brings all is narrative strands together satisfactorily. A little gem. DC

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