Four new films to see this weekend

Pinoccho and Spree on limited release, Project Power and Sputnik on demand


PINOCCHIO ★★★★☆
Directed by Matteo Garrone. Starring Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini. 12A cert, limited release, 126 min
A carpenter creates a living puppet from possessed wood. Garrone's live-action version of the classic novel tends towards the folklore-horror of The Singing Ringing Tree. This Pinocchio gets hanged by the neck from a lonely tree. He pleads for mercy before a terrifying monkey judge. Yes, there is a talking cricket (unnamed), but he's closer to an LSD aberration than an amiable star of musical comedy. The picture comes across as moral instruction through the medium of magic realism. Beautiful, but unsettling. DC

PROJECT POWER ★★★★☆
Directed by Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman. Starring Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Machine Gun Kelly, Rodrigo Santoro, Amy Landecker, Courtney B Vance. Netflix, 111 min

Inclining towards Neil Burger's undervalued Limitless, Netflix's latest action picture imagines a powerful drug that can turn ordinary men – and Jamie Foxx – into different classes of super-being. The downside is that the effects only last five minutes. So, one pop song's duration away from ingestion, you'd best not be standing before a hurtling train. It's utter nonsense, but energetically staged and delightfully acted. Fishback, playing a young dealer who does the right thing, is a future star. DC

SPREE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Eugene Kotlyarenko. Starring Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Gene McHugh. 16 cert, limited release, 93 min

READ MORE

Kurt Kunkle (Stranger Things' Keery),  the incel hero of this inventive thriller, is a driver for the titular rideshare company, a budding musician, a zoomer, and a wannabe social influence. The brash, larky satire is as broad as its targets. (Kotlyarenko's debut feature, Wobble Palace, had more nuanced and original notes on social media and interpersonal relationships.) But Spree's thin black joke is counterpointed by Joe Keery's central turn. His Kurt remains a pitiable, eager-to-please goofball, even as the bodies pile up. TB

SPUTNIK ★★★☆☆
Directed by Egor Abramenko. Starring Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Pyotr Fyodorov, Anton Vasiliev. Various digital platforms, 113 min

It's 1983 and a cosmonaut (Fyodorov) returns from a space mission with an injured fellow cosmonaut, an unexpected passenger and amnesia. As the nifty tagline – "Man has A New Inhabitant" – suggests, he is playing host to an alien lifeform that lives inside his body, but slithers out through his mouth at night. Sleekly packaged with Oleg Karpachev's earnest score, well-paced horror set-pieces, and Hollywood-worthy visuals, it's easy to see why Sputnik has dominated the streaming services in its native Russia. TB