Four new films to see this week, including Pixar’s latest streaming

Luca, In the Heights, In the Earth, The Money Order

Luca

Luca

 

LUCA ★★★☆☆
Directed by Enrico Casarosa. Voices of Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Marco Barricelli, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan. Disney+, 95 min
Pleasant enough Pixar release concerning a young sea monster who, disguised as a human boy, takes to the Italian Riviera with his more confident pal. Director Casarosa based the look on his own childhood in Genoa, and if it is nods to Liguria you require the film will not disappoint. But the thin characters, loose plotting and shaky internal logic are not up to the standards of classic Pixar. STStill, Luca will fill a gap for less-demanding younger viewers. It’s well-meaning. It’s lively. It’s moderately funny. It’s no Finding Nemo. DC

IN THE HEIGHTS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Jon M Chu. Starring Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Jimmy Smits. 12A cert, cinema release, 143 min

In the Heights
In the Heights

The citizens of Manhattan’s Washington Heights cope with everyday trials and the threat of gentrification in this lively adaptation of Lin-Manuel “Hamilton” Miranda’s first theatrical success. Working with DOP Alice Brooks, Chu, who directed the first two underrated Step Up sequels before he scored a hit with Crazy Rich Asians, crafts a genuine cinematic experience defined by innovative shots and angles. Diverse casting – in terms of age, shape, and ethnicity – adds to the spectacle. But where is the urban grit? There’s plenty of razzle dazzle here, but little that passes for oomph. TB

IN THE EARTH ★★★☆☆
Directed by Ben Wheatley. Starring Joel Fry, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, Ellora Torchia. 18 cert, cinema release, 108 min

Ellora Torchia in In the Earth
Ellora Torchia in In the Earth

A scientist investigates something weird in the woods. Not everything works in the admirably bizarre In the Earth, but nobody could deny the director of Kill List was back in his freak-folk wheelhouse. This is a very English class of psychedelia. It is to Zabriskie Point as The Incredible String Band were to Jefferson Airplane. It is at home to runes and standing stones and forgotten incantations. Its occasional incoherence and eventual abandonment of conventional narrative will drive some viewers crackers, but you will surely know you’ve seen a Ben Wheatley film. DC

THE MONEY ORDER/MANDABI ★★★★☆
Directed by Ousmane Sembène. Starring Makhouredia Gueye, Ynousse N’Diaye, Isseu Niang, Mustapha Ture. QFT, Belfast; digital platforms, 92 min

Makhouredia Gueye (left) in The Money Order
Makhouredia Gueye (left) in The Money Order

Ibrahim (Gueye), an unemployed Senegalese father of seven and husband of two, receives a money order for 25,000 francs from Paris, where his nephew works as a streetsweeper. This unexpected windfall brings begging neighbours, eager creditors and nothing but trouble. Martin Scorsese has been instrumental in restoring the work of Ousmane Sembène, the great Senegalese master often characterised as “the father of African cinema”. This 4K restoration of his magnificent 1968 feature premiered in 2019 and finally, this month, reaches Irish cinemas and digital platforms for the first time. TB

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