Four new films to see in cinemas this week

Joaquin Phoenix in C’mon C’mon, The Hand of God, Final Account, Blue Bayou

Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman in C’mon C’mon

Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman in C’mon C’mon

 

C’MON C’MON ★★★★☆
Directed by Mike Mills. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Woody Norman, Scoot McNairy, Molly Webster, Jaboukie Young-White, Deborah Strang, Sunni Patterson. Limited release, 104 min
A befuddled radio journalist has to take care of his nephew when a family crisis erupts. If Phoenix had failed to turn up in an artfully dishevelled beard, director Mike Mills’s fourth feature would still easily qualify as his shaggiest to date. A hipster reworking of Uncle Buck, it’s cuter than that sounds, albeit a little too cute at times; even mental illness gets a polar bear retelling. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan’s lush monochrome photography brings an authentic gloss to material that explores intergenerational bonding without manufacturing anything like a Hollywood ending. Full review TB

THE HAND OF GOD/È STATA LA MANO DI DIO ★★★★☆
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Starring Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri, Betty Pedrazzi, Massimiliano Gallo, Ciro Capano. 15A cert, limited release, 135 min

Filippo Scotti in The Hand of God
Filippo Scotti in The Hand of God

Touching, beautiful extravagant drama hung around the director’s adolescence in Naples during the period that Maradona came to play for SSC Napoli. This episodic film swings from triumph to slog throughout. The performances of Saponangelo and Sorrentino recidivist Servillo as mum and dad are, however, never less than enchanting. Mrs Scotti’s practical jokes have that quality of borderline implausibility that confirms they can be drawn only from real life. Servillo gets to show us his warmest side. It is at its best a portrait of a city – Naples has never been so adored. Full review DC

FINAL ACCOUNT ★★★★★
Directed by Luke Holland. 15A cert, limited release, 94 min

Footage from Final Account
Footage from Final Account

As a teenager, Luke Holland discovered that his grandparents had died in the Holocaust. Some decades later, he set out to interview the last living generation of Germans to have participated in the Third Reich. Subjects protest that they were required to keep their mouths shut about the Bernburg Euthanasia Centre, about shooting prisoners into a pit, or even that a lot of people benefitted. A vital companion piece to Claude Lanzmann Shoah, Final Account ends with chilling scenes as a member of the SS recounts his culpability. Evasions and obfuscations come thick and fast. Full review TB

BLUE BAYOU ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Justin Chon. Starring Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Sydney Kowalske, Mark O’Brien, Linh-Dan Pham, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Emory Cohen. 15A cert, gen release, 118 min

Alicia Vikander in Blue Bayou
Alicia Vikander in Blue Bayou

An Asian-American man, adopted from Korea as a child, is confronted with the threat of deportation. If Chon had pared his own script back and nudged away his influences – a bit of Terrence Malick here, some John Cassavetes here – we might have had the drama the awful truth deserves. But Blue Bayou is plain exhausting. On at least two occasions, characters fall into despair as rain hammers with a thundering obviousness that would cause the creators of video games to think twice. Still, you couldn’t say the actors aren’t trying; Serena Williams puts in less effort. Full review DC

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