Four new films to see this weekend

I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Mulan, Socrates streaming, Les Misérables in cinemas

Jessie Buckley in I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Jessie Buckley in I’m Thinking of Ending Things

 

I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS ★★★★☆
Directed by Charlie Kaufman. Starring Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis, Guy Boyd, Colby Minifie. Netflix, 134 min
A young woman (Buckley, terrific) and her boyfriend (Plemons, tortured) travel through snowy territory to visit his parents (Thewlis and Collette). Time shifts. Characters change identities. Existential despair is addressed. Kaufman’s latest head-wrecker requires effort, but his firm grasp on his own grim aesthetic keeps hauling us back to somewhere like solid ground. I’m Thinking of Ending Things ultimately takes on the quality of a profoundly unsettlingly nihilistic horror film. The fear comes from our impotence in the face of the void. As rewarding as it is trying. DC

MULAN ★★★☆☆
Directed by Niki Caro. Starring Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Gong Li, Jet Li. 12A cert, Disney+, 115 min

Liu Yifei in Mulan
Liu Yifei in Mulan

A young Chinese woman (Liu Yifei) poses as a male warrior in the latest live-action translation of a Disney animation. Ditching Eddie Murphy’s talking dragon, much of the comedy and all of the songs, Niki Caro gives us a 12A wuxia with more empowerment than disembowelment. It is no longer easily recognisable as a family film. Nor is it a grown-up action film. But they may have found something like a middle way. Liu Yifei is spirited. The images are lovely (if polite). Sure to take up a lot of bandwidth this autumn. DC

LES MISÉRABLES ★★★★★
Directed by Ladj Ly. Starring Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Zonga, Issa Perica. Limited release, 104 min

Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables
Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables

A new cop on the beat encounters all kinds of chaos in a rough suburb of Paris during the aftermath of the 2018 World Cup. The escalating racial and class tensions underpinning Ladj Ly’s incendiary drama have inevitably drawn comparisons to La Haine and Do the Right Thing. The scale and the concerted chaos, however, makes for a wilder, more electrifying experience than either of these distinguished precursors. There are few direct references to Hugo’s eponymous novel, but it is set in the same locale as the Thénardiers’ inn. TB

SÓCRATES ★★★★☆
Directed by Alexandre Moratto. Starring Christian Malheiros, Tales Ordakji, Jayme Rodrigues, Vanessa Santana. Digital platforms, 71 min

Christian Malheiros in Socrates
Christian Malheiros in Sócrates

After his mother’s sudden death, Sócrates (Malheiros), a 15-year-old living by his wits in São Paulo’s coast, has little or no time for grief. With the rent already overdue, he fills in for his mother at her cleaning job, suggesting that she’s taking yet another sick day. Displaying a seemingly infinite capacity for rejection, the youngster bounces from shop to stand desperately looking for work. Moratto and Thanyá Montesso’s script is precise and minimal. Malheiros and Ordakji make for a wildly charismatic screen coupling. A happy surprise. TB 

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