Five of the best films to see at the cinema this weekend

New this week: Early Man is a primitive hoot, Last Flag Flying sombrely channels The Last Detail, and Downsizing proves the law of diminishing returns

Back to the stoned age: Early Man

Back to the stoned age: Early Man

 

EARLY MAN ★★★★
Directed by Nick Park. Voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Miriam Margolyes, Timothy Spall, Rob Brydon, Richard Ayoade. PG cert, general release, 88 min

The latest stop-motion treat from Aardman Animation follows a group of prehistoric oddballs as they prepare for a football match against more technologically advanced neighbours. The film is not quite up to the standards of Wallace & Gromit. But what is? The puns are solid. The characters are charming. And the animation retains the homemade feel that began winning fans 40 years ago. It cheers you up simply to know they still exist. DC

DOWNSIZING ★★★
Directed by Alexander Payne. Starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Jason Sudeikis, Udo Keir, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern. 15A cert, general release, 135 min

The dread reek of Long-Cherished Project Syndrome spills around every corner of Payne’s strange science-fiction satire. In the near future, humans shrink themselves to the size of their own thumbs as a way of stretching resources. Begins in a spirit of great invention, but, as it goes on, the high concept becomes bizarrely irrelevant. Still, Damon is a good Everyman and Waltz gives good Eurotrash. Odd in ways it didn’t intend. Review DC

THE POST ★★★★
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Stuhlbarg, Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford. 12A cert, general release, 116 min

Effective, unflashy investigation of the Washington Post’s efforts to print the Pentagon Papers – revealing the state’s dishonesty about the Vietnam War – during a turbulent period for America. Hanks is solid as editor Ben Bradlee. Streep is subtle as publisher Katharine Graham. But it’s the film’s conversation with events in its near future (Watergate) and distant future (the current Trumpocracy) that sets it apart. The cheeky closing shots will delight fans of post-classical Hollywood. Review DC

COCO ★★★★
Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. Starring Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos. PG cert, general release, 105 min

The latest from Pixar risks telling children (and all others) a tale of the Mexican Day of the Dead. On paper, the mythology scans as complicated and dark, but in the capable hands of Oscar-winner Lee Unkrich and Pixar veteran Adrian Molina, Coco is accessible for even the youngest. The animation eschews the tiring photo-realism of Cars 3 and The Good Dinosaur in favour of the transporting carnivalesque, replete with a stage show by Frieda Kahlo and candy-coloured Xoloitzcuintli. Welcome back. Review TB

THE COMMUTER ★★★
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Starring Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill, Florence Pugh, Killian Scott. 15A cert, general release, 104 min

If x is Neeson then y is the ridiculous thing that Neeson has to do so that his wife/family are no longer in jeopardy. And if all variables are travelling at a mighty velocity, then what is the mode of transport? No, fool, it’s not a plane. That was the same director’s Non-Stop. The Commuter is set on a train and it’s a perfectly adequate entry to the Late Neeson School of Loud Bangs. Makes no sense, mind you. Review TB

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