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: Benedict Cumberbatch voicing The Grinch

New this week: Benedict Cumberbatch voicing The Grinch

 

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY ★★★★☆
Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech, Mike Myers. 12A cert, gen release, 134 min
Squabbling is a defining characteristic of Bohemian Rhapsody, which blazes through Freddie Mercury’s life in a series of agreeably cheesy vignettes: Freddie’s Parsi origins and disapproving dad, his lifelong love for Mary Austin (Boynton), the tours, the parties, the loneliness between, the hangers-on, and various eruptions of creative differences with the band. The final scene, a flawless, moving replication of Queen’s entire 20-minute set from Live Aid, is absurdly impressive, with Malek interpreting Mercury as a geomagnetic storm. A kind of magic. TB

COLD WAR/ZIMNA WOJNA ★★★★★
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. Starring Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc. 15A cert, IFI, 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

DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT ★★★☆☆
Directed by Gus Van Sant. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Udo Kier, Kim Gordon, Beth Ditto. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin (Mon only), 114 min
Interesting, lively study of the late cartoonist Bill Callahan, an American original who fought alcoholism after being rendered paraplegic in a car crash. Don’t Worry could have turned out as two Movies of the Week in the same package: one about disability and one about alcoholism. But Van Sant’s canny casting lifts it above those levels. Phoenix – as phlegmy and scrunch-eyed as ever – plays Callahan as a decent man rendered awkward by ancient neuroses. Hill is excellent as his eccentric mentor. DC

FAHRENHEIT 11/9 ★★★★☆
Directed by Michael Moore. Featuring Michael Moore, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton. Club, Light House, Dublin (Fri only), 120 min
Michael Moore is back doing what he does: satirical montage, dubious stunts and powerful if sometimes unreliable reporting from the front line. This time round, we get (inevitably) a report from the front line of the Trump Wars. There’s something on the Parkland shootings. There’s something on the water scandal in the director’s hometown of Flint, Michigan. It may be familiar, but the jokes are still good and the anger is still righteous. If you like Moore you’ll like this. DC

FIRST MAN ★★★★☆
Directed by Damien Chazelle. Starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Christoher Abbott, Ciarán Hinds, Olivia Hamilton. 12A cert, gen release, 141 min
Fine study of Neil Armstrong from the director and star of La La Land. The film is great on the sensual assault of space travel, but it is most notable as a character study. Who better to play such a famously unknowable character than the perennially blank Gosling? Foy will get more demanding roles in her career, but she may be relieved that her dreaded “wife part” is more fleshed out than is usually the case. Spectacular, but also intimate. DC

GOOD FAVOUR ★★★★☆
Directed by Rebecca Daly. Starring Vincent Romeo, Lars Brygmann, Clara Rugaard, Alexandre Willaume, Victoria Mayer, Helena Coppejans. 12A cert, IFI, Dublin, 101 min

Good Favour
New this week: Good Favour, exclusively at the IFI

Daly follows up her acclaimed Mammal with an enigmatic drama concerning a young man who stumbles into an odd Christian community. Good Favour casts enough of a spell to compensate for its ambiguities. The forest setting and the oddly pleasing sound of an English-language script delivered by a varied European ensemble makes for a space in which anything is possible. In common with its inscrutable protagonist, it requires you to follow deep into the woods. TB

GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN ★★★☆☆
Directed by Ari Sandel. Starring Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Ken Jeong, Jack Black. PG cert, gen release, 90 min
Contrary to the dire accompanying warnings on the promotional materials – “Children under 8 may find some of the film’s content too scary” – is good, clean family fun. But the picture is haunted, alright: haunted by the absence of Jack Black, who turns up as RL Stine in a late and insignificant cameo. It thus falls to an entirely new set of likable younger characters to do the heavy lifting when Slappy, the evil megalomaniac from the first film, returns. TB

THE GRINCH ★★★☆☆
Directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney. Voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury, Pharrell Williams. G cert, gen release, 86 min
The latest adaptation of the 1957 Dr Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is jeopardised by a distinct lack of bah humbugging. The Grinch, as voiced by Cumberbatch, dotes on his loyal dog, Max. and spoils Fred, the fat reindeer he enlists into his Christmas-stealing scheme. We’re told the Grinch’s heart is two sizes too small, but there’s nothing in his interactions with the Whos of Whoville to support this abnormal cardiovascular theory. As all-ages Christmas porn goes, it’s a huge improvement on The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the unlovely Jim Carrey Grinch. TB

HALLOWEEN ★★★☆☆
Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle. 18 cert, gen release, 105 min
The 11th film in the Halloween franchise hovers somewhere between reboot and sequel. Forty years after the murderous events of the 1978 original, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a survivalist granny with PTSD whose paranoia and fears around Michael Myers has alienated her from her daughter (Greer) and granddaughte (Matichak). An early scene in Halloween 2018 dismisses the notion that Michael and Laurie are biological siblings. Boom. – everything you knew since 1981 is wrong. It’s the only innovation in this perfectly entertaining, decently scary, entirely predictable bit of fanservice. TB

THE HATE U GIVE ★★★★☆
Directed by George Tillman Jr. Starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Anthony Mackie, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, Issa Rae, Lamar Johnson, Dominique Fishback. 12A cert, gen release, 132 min
Stirring, inspiring adaptation of Angie Thomas’s novel concerning a young African-American woman coping with the shooting of her friend by a cop. If anything, the film tries too hard to cover all angles of the debate. Her white boyfriend struggles to keep up; another pal reveals low-level racist tendencies. All this can feel a little schematic, but Stenberg’s mesmeric performance keeps the picture aloft. She has the gift of spreading warmth wherever she goes and her intelligence shines through in every scene. 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
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

JULIET, NAKED ★★★★☆
Directed by Jesse Peretz.Starring Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Dodds, Jimmy O Yang, Lily Newmark, Lily Brazier, Johanna Thea. 15A cert, gen release, 97 min
Byrne throbs with sublimated frustration as Annie, an Englishwoman living tolerably with an academic (O’Dowd) obsessed with reclusive rock star Tucker Crowe (Hawke). Things turn peculiar when Annie happens upon Tucker online. Adapted from a Nick Hornby novel, Juliet, Naked takes a women’s perspective on common male toxicities. There are truths here about age. There are truths about the lies we tell ourselves. A rare, enchanting romcom in an era where such things barely exist. DC

KATIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Ross Whitaker. Featuring Katie Taylor.12A cert, lim release, 90 min
Delightful documentary on the rise of Bray’s Katie Taylor. The boxer emerges as a contradictory personality: shy, modest, but frighteningly determined. The storytelling around her is efficient, lucid and (ahem) punchy. Family and associates laud the boxer without ever becoming overly gushy. We get a taste of her attachment to Christianity. We get some sense of what drives her to greater heights. But, unlike Notorious, the recent makeweight Conor McGregor doc, Katie never feels like a product of the fighter’s marketing machine. DC

THE LONELY BATTLE OF THOMAS READ ★★★★☆
Directed by Feargal Ward. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin (Tues only), 80 min
Thomas Reid was the stubborn Kildare man who, in the middle part of this decade, refused to sell a hunk of land, earmarked for “strategic industrial development”, to a dumfounded Industrial Development Authority. Ward’s hugely impressive, often beautiful documentary (bordering on docu-drama) uses recreations, interviews and a wandering camera to create a portrait of a genuine original: eccentric, determined, infuriating. Two worlds exist in parallel here: the modern and the ancient. Neither has, at time of release, encroached significantly on the other. DC

MANDY ★★★★★
Directed by Panos Cosmatos. Starring Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke. Club, Light House, Dublin (Sat only), 121 min
Ostensibly, this is a movie in which logger Red (Cage) exacts a terrible (but appropriate) revenge against a Manson Family-like religious cult and their cannibal biker cohorts from hell (actual hell) – we don’t wish to spoil these adversaries, but wow! – after they have abducted his girlfriend Mandy (Riseborough). Any summary ignores the incredible textures in the film. Cheddar Goblin Macaroni, anyone? It’s fascinating to observe Cage snake his way in and around the 1980s largesse of the project. As Roache’s creepy man-child leader has it: “You’re a special one, Mandy.” TB

MIRAI ★★★★☆
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda. Voices of Moka Kamishiraishi, Haru Kuroki, Gen Hoshino, Kumiko Aso. PG cert, Light House, Dublin, 98 min
Inspired by the birth of his second child, the director of Wolf Children has crafted a wonderful time-travelling adventure with a four-year-old protagonist at the centre. Pre-schooler Kun lives in his beautifully designed home with his architect dad, his mum, and his toy trains. The idyll is shattered by the arrival of Mirai, Kun’s new little sister, who makes constant demands on his now permanently sleep-deprived parents. What follows is moving, weird, elegantly animated and unendingly wise. An absolute treat for anime fans. TB

OVERLORD ★★★☆☆
Directed by Julius Avery. Starring Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Gianny Taufer, Pilou Asbæk, Bokeem Woodbine. 16 cert, gen release, 109 min

New this week: Overlord
New this week: Overlord

It’s the night before D-Day and a plane full of ethnically diverse, entirely mismatched paratroopers are making their way through chaotic skies toward occupied France: Private Boyce (Adepo) is the good guy, Tibbet (Maguro) is a loudmouth from the Bronx, and Corporal Ford (Russell) brings the brawn. Their mission is to take out a Nazi radio tower ahead of the upcoming firefight; instead, they stumble on Nazi zombie experiments. As a shoot-’em-up actioner, it zips by cartoonishly and pleasingly enough. TB

PETERLOO ★★★☆☆
Directed by Mike Leigh.Starring Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Pearce Quigley, David Moorst, Karl Johnson, Philip Jackson, Tom Gill, Steven Wight, Tim McInnerny, Sam Troughton, Alastair Mackenzie. 12A cert, lim release, 155 min
Like all of us, Leigh’s sprawling, lumbering examination of the Peterloo Massacre – the slaughter of democracy protestors in 19th-century Manchester -- has its strengths and its weaknesses. It is lovely to look at. It has real sweep. The problem lies with the sometimes clunky dialogue and the occasionally rushed characterisation. Isn’t that what Leigh is supposed to do best? No matter. Peterloo still manages to inform and enrage. A qualified success. DC

ROSIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Paddy Breathnach. Starring Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’Halloran, Ruby Dunne, Darragh McKenzie, Molly McCann. 12A cert, gen release, 82 min
Working from a script by Roddy Doyle, Breathnach gives us a troubling, moving study of how homelessness now functions. Greene and Dunford are super as a couple flung into a hotel when their landlord sells up. Rosie is claustrophobic throughout, but Doyle’s durable humanism does provide some light in the darkness. The mechanism of society has become clogged, but the film wastes no time blaming those who merely maintain the cogs and levers. DC

SMALLFOOT ★★★☆☆
Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick. Voices of Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Danny DeVito. Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, Jimmy Tatro, G cert, gen release, 96 min
Smallfoot
, an inversion of the Big Foot myth in which Abominable Snow Persons are terrified to learn that humans are real, is bogged down with elaborate mythology introduced in song. But once the film gets into its stride, it’s a likable and zany family fable. The voice cast is charming and the creature design appealing, even if the human characters, as is often the case in CG animation, don’t really cut it. The theme – your leaders are lying to you – is a welcome swerve for a kid’s film, as is a rap number performed by Common that rhymes: “Over time/ We Surmised/ We were facing genocide.” Deep. 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
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

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD ★★★★☆
Directed by Peter Jackson. Club cert, lim release, 99 min

New this week: They Shall Not Grow Old, on limited release

Jackson honours the veterans of the first World War in striking fashion. He has ploughed through the Imperial War Museum’s archives, polished up the combat footage, colourised it, altered the running speed to modern standards, added dialogue where mouths move and – for certain venues – rendered it into 3D. It’s more than a gimmick. The restored footage strips distance between the viewer and the subjects in startling manner. The suffering is made plain. The comradeship is touching. A very worthwhile experiment. DC

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

WIDOWS ★★★★☆
Directed by Steve McQueen . Starring Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson. 16 cert, gen release, 130 min
The director of Hunger takes another sharp turn as he attempts an adaptation of Lynda La Plante’s 1983 TV series concerning a gang of hoodlums’ wives who plan a heist. It’s all terribly unlikely (let’s have the babysitter drive the getaway car!) and a little over-stuffed with subplots (Duvall and Farrell as Irish-American crooks). But on a scene-by-scene basis it’s quite magnificent. All the performances are excellent, but Debicki stands out from the distinguished crowd. DC

THE WIFE ★★★★☆
Directed by Björn Runge. Starring Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Annie Starke, Harry Lloyd, Elizabeth McGovern. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin, 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

WILDLIFE ★★★★☆
Directed by Paul Dano. Starring Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp. 12A cert, lim release, 105 min

New this week: Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal in Wildlife

In his directorial debut, actor Dano takes on a Richard Ford novel about a couple (Mulligan and Gyllenhaal) falling apart in early 1960s Montana. Mulligan is at her best when sulking like a cat confronted with a rainy garden and, as the film progresses, she gets more opportunities to wrinkle her snout and droop her whiskers. But the standout performance may be that of young Ed Oxenbould as the couple’s son. A whole generation’s coming disenchantment is captured in his drooping features. DC

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