Latest movies reviewed: All films in cinemas this week rated

The Irish Times what-to-see guide to the movies now in cinemas across Ireland

Assassination Nation - official trailer.

 

ASSASSINATION NATION ★★★★☆
Directed by Sam Levinson. Starring Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Bill Skårsgard, Bella Thorne, Joel McHale. 18 cert, gen release, 108 min
It’s not always subtle, but Levinson’s satire concerning a town where every second citizen has his browser history hacked has indecent zip and impressive edge. The messages are conveyed by a dizzying mass of violent, sexual images – some leering in the style of Larry Clarke – that throb to an excellent score by Ian Hultquist. Bravura shots abound. It falls apart a little in an anarchic last act, but the last line is an absolute killer. Full review DC

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY ★★★★☆
Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech, Mike Myers. 12A cert, gen release, 134 min

Bohemian Rhapsody: Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon. Photograph courtesy Twentieth Century Fox
Bohemian Rhapsody: Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon. Photograph: Twentieth Century Fox

Squabbling is a defining characteristic of Bohemian Rhapsody, which blazes through Freddie Mercury’s life in a series of agreeably cheesy vignettes: Freddie’s Parsi origins and disapproving dad, his lifelong love for Mary Austin (Boynton), the tours, the parties, the loneliness between, the hangers-on, and various eruptions of creative differences with the band. The final scene, a flawless, moving replication of Queen’s entire 20-minute set from Live Aid, is absurdly impressive, with Malek interpreting Mercury as a geomagnetic storm. A kind of magic. TB

THE CAMINO VOYAGE ★★★★☆
Directed by Dónal Ó Céilleachair. Starring Danny Sheehy, Liam Holden, Brendan Begley, Breandán Moriarty, Glen Hansard. PG cert, limited release, 97 min
It takes some class of determination to row all the way from Ireland to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. It takes more to do so in a traditional naomhóg. Yet four brave men – poet Sheehy, artist Holden, musician Begley and stonemason Moriarty – set out to do just that in three gruelling yearly stages, beginning in 2014. Musician Glen Hansard joined them later. Ó Céilleachair’s film records the journey with care and grace. You’ll feel uplifted and a little exhausted by the close. DC

COLD WAR/ZIMNA WOJNA ★★★★★
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. Starring Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc. 15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 85 min
Nobody does doomed romance better than Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love), and Cold War is his doomiest romance yet. Love is not enough in this sorrowful, swooning Soviet-era drama concerning composer and pianist Wiktor (Kot) and the blonde, cherubic singer-dancer Zula (the mesmerising Kulig) who heads his folk ensemble. When the troupe reaches East Berlin, the pair have a clear chance to defect but it soon becomes clear that only one of them has any desire to cross the Iron Curtain. Thus begins a decade of border-crossing, partings and reunions. Almost indecently moving and easily one of the films of the year. TB

DOGMAN ★★★★☆
Directed by Matteo Garrone. Starring Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Alida Baldari Calabria. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast, 103 min
Marcello (Fonte) is a small, timid, kindly man who runs a dog grooming parlour on a largely abandoned sweep of the southern Italian coast. The neighbourhood is routinely terrorised by a coke-addled ex-boxer (Pesce), a monstrous variant of La Strada’s Zampano. Fonte, who was deservedly named best actor at Cannes earlier this year, brings an unforgettable pathos and a doleful expression pitched somewhere between Peter Lorre and Charlie Chaplin to his wronged beta-male hero. TB

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD ★★☆☆☆
Directed by David Yates. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Zoe Kravitz, Alison Sudol, Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner, Jude Law, Claudia Kim. 12A cert, gen release, 134 min

Jude Law in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Jude Law in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a bit of a marvel. Yates’ picture fleshed out the Harry Potter universe without disappearing up its own Quidditch. What has gone wrong? Redmayne is back as the magical zoologist Newt Scamander in a confusing, overpopulated film that plays like the work of a particularly anal Potter Reddit. The march of non-personalities serves to bury many of the characters we liked so much from the first film. Oh, well. The costumes, at least, are lovely. DC

FIRST MAN ★★★★☆
Directed by Damien Chazelle. Starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Christoher Abbott, Ciarán Hinds, Olivia Hamilton. 12A cert, gen release, 141 min
Fine study of Neil Armstrong from the director and star of La La Land. The film is great on the sensual assault of space travel, but it is most notable as a character study. Who better to play such a famously unknowable character than the perennially blank Gosling? Foy will get more demanding roles in her career, but she may be relieved that her dreaded “wife part” is more fleshed out than is usually the case. Spectacular, but also intimate. DC

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB ★★★☆☆
Directed by Fede Álvarez. Starring Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, Vicky Krieps, Claes Bang. 15A cert, gen release, 115 min

Claire Foy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web. The film keeps flagging autism as a superpower, but not everyone on the spectrum is a chess grandmaster
Claire Foy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Lisbeth Salandar is back in an adaption – keep up here – of the sequel to Steig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy penned, after that author’s death, David Lagercrantz. The film redraws Lisbeth as James Bond or possibly the Equaliser, as she gets drawn into a convoluted plot to capture all the nuclear launch codes in the world. Even the titles feature naked dancing lady silhouettes. Fede Alvarez is a fine action director, and his exciting set-pieces provide decent compensation for Lisbeth’s now omnipotent skills. But the plot is a shaggy, loose-ended mess. Full review TB

THE GRINCH ★★★☆☆
Directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney. Voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury, Pharrell Williams. G cert, gen release, 86 min
The latest adaptation of the 1957 Dr Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is jeopardised by a distinct lack of bah humbugging. The Grinch, as voiced by Cumberbatch, dotes on his loyal dog, Max. and spoils Fred, the fat reindeer he enlists into his Christmas-stealing scheme. We’re told the Grinch’s heart is two sizes too small, but there’s nothing in his interactions with the Whos of Whoville to support this abnormal cardiovascular theory. As all-ages Christmas porn goes, it’s a huge improvement on The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the unlovely Jim Carrey Grinch. TB

HALLOWEEN ★★★☆☆
Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle. 18 cert, gen release, 105 min

New this week: Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween
Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween

The 11th film in the Halloween franchise hovers somewhere between reboot and sequel. Forty years after the murderous events of the 1978 original, Laurie Strode (Curtis) is a survivalist granny with PTSD whose paranoia and fears around Michael Myers has alienated her from her daughter (Greer) and granddaughte (Matichak). An early scene in Halloween 2018 dismisses the notion that Michael and Laurie are biological siblings. Boom. – everything you knew since 1981 is wrong. It’s the only innovation in this perfectly entertaining, decently scary, entirely predictable bit of fanservice. TB

THE HATE U GIVE ★★★★☆
Directed by George Tillman Jr. Starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Anthony Mackie, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, Issa Rae, Lamar Johnson, Dominique Fishback. 12A cert, lim release, 132 min
Stirring, inspiring adaptation of Angie Thomas’s novel concerning a young African-American woman coping with the shooting of her friend by a cop. If anything, the film tries too hard to cover all angles of the debate. Her white boyfriend struggles to keep up; another pal reveals low-level racist tendencies. All this can feel a little schematic, but Stenberg’s mesmeric performance keeps the picture aloft. She has the gift of spreading warmth wherever she goes and her intelligence shines through in every scene. DC

JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN ★★☆☆☆
Directed by David Kerr. Starring Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Emma Thompson. PG cert, gen release, 89 min
As long ago as 2003, Johnny English, an entirely superfluous spy spoof, was already underwhelming and outmoded when it transitioned from likable TV advertising campaign to the big screen. The belated 2011 sequel didn’t offer much of an improvement, but it was an absolute riot placed beside this unnecessary, half-baked third film. Emma Thompson, playing a half-bright British PM, the charming talents of Kurylenko and Lacy (playing a tech-bro billionaire), and even Atkinson’s contortions are squandered by a script that doesn’t seem to contain a single joke. TB

JULIET, NAKED ★★★★☆
Directed by Jesse Peretz.Starring Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Dodds, Jimmy O Yang, Lily Newmark, Lily Brazier, Johanna Thea. 15A cert, gen release, 97 min
Byrne throbs with sublimated frustration as Annie, an Englishwoman living tolerably with an academic (O’Dowd) obsessed with reclusive rock star Tucker Crowe (Hawke). Things turn peculiar when Annie happens upon Tucker online. Adapted from a Nick Hornby novel, Juliet, Naked takes a women’s perspective on common male toxicities. There are truths here about age. There are truths about the lies we tell ourselves. A rare, enchanting romcom in an era where such things barely exist. DC

THE LONELY BATTLE OF THOMAS READ ★★★★☆
Directed by Feargal Ward. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sun/Mon only) , 80 min
Thomas Reid was the stubborn Kildare man who, in the middle part of this decade, refused to sell a hunk of land, earmarked for “strategic industrial development”, to a dumfounded Industrial Development Authority. Ward’s hugely impressive, often beautiful documentary (bordering on docu-drama) uses recreations, interviews and a wandering camera to create a portrait of a genuine original: eccentric, determined, infuriating. Two worlds exist in parallel here: the modern and the ancient. Neither has, at time of release, encroached significantly on the other. DC

MANDY ★★★★★
Directed by Panos Cosmatos. Starring Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke. Club, Light House, Dublin (Sun/Tues only), 121 min
Ostensibly, this is a movie in which logger Red (Cage) exacts a terrible (but appropriate) revenge against a Manson Family-like religious cult and their cannibal biker cohorts from hell (actual hell) – we don’t wish to spoil these adversaries, but wow! – after they have abducted his girlfriend Mandy (Riseborough). Any summary ignores the incredible textures in the film. Cheddar Goblin Macaroni, anyone? It’s fascinating to observe Cage snake his way in and around the 1980s largesse of the project. As Roache’s creepy man-child leader has it: “You’re a special one, Mandy.” TB

NATIVITY ROCKS! THIS AIN’T NO SILENT NIGHT ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Debbie Isitt. Simon Lipkin, Daniel Boys, Craig Revel Horwood, Bradley Walsh, Meera Syal, Helen George, Ruth Jones, Celia Imrie, Hugh Dennis and Anna Chancellor. Cert G, gen release, 100min

Debbie Isitt's Nativity Rocks!

Coventry, as the fictional mayor of that place reminds us in Nativity Rocks, has survived bombing and rationing and poverty. But can it withstand a fourth film in the Nativity sequence? Kind of. The plot concerns the staging of a rock opera to help the city win most Christmassy spot in the land. Characters come and go randomly.There’s a lot of chatter about family and Christmas and the magnificent city of Coventry – did we mention Coventry already? It’s still marginally more tolerable than the last one. TB

OVERLORD ★★★☆☆
Directed by Julius Avery. Starring Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Gianny Taufer, Pilou Asbæk, Bokeem Woodbine. 16 cert, gen release, 109 min
It’s the night before D-Day and a plane full of ethnically diverse, entirely mismatched paratroopers are making their way through chaotic skies toward occupied France: Private Boyce (Adepo) is the good guy, Tibbet (Maguro) is a loudmouth from the Bronx, and Corporal Ford (Russell) brings the brawn. Their mission is to take out a Nazi radio tower ahead of the upcoming firefight; instead, they stumble on Nazi zombie experiments. As a shoot-’em-up actioner, it zips by cartoonishly and pleasingly enough. TB

PETERLOO ★★★☆☆
Directed by Mike Leigh.Starring Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Pearce Quigley, David Moorst, Karl Johnson, Philip Jackson, Tom Gill, Steven Wight, Tim McInnerny, Sam Troughton, Alastair Mackenzie. 12A cert, lim release, 155 min
Like all of us, Leigh’s sprawling, lumbering examination of the Peterloo Massacre – the slaughter of democracy protestors in 19th-century Manchester -- has its strengths and its weaknesses. It is lovely to look at. It has real sweep. The problem lies with the sometimes clunky dialogue and the occasionally rushed characterisation. Isn’t that what Leigh is supposed to do best? No matter. Peterloo still manages to inform and enrage. A qualified success. DC

ROBIN HOOD ★☆☆☆☆
Directed by Otto Bathurst. Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin, Jamie Dornan, F Murray Abraham, Paul Anderson. 12A cert, gen release, 115 min
The latest take on the ancient myth is horrendous mess of bad ideas seasoned with uncertain acting and horrendous design. Egerton is an estuary Hood. Foxx is a former adversary turned pal. Hewson is an inexplicably Northern Irish Marian. Like Guy Ritchie’s recent, slightly less terrible variation on King Arthur, the film owes more to Assassin’s Creed than it does to any ancient chronicles. But it doesn’t have even that film’s good natured geezer chic. Utterly pointless.

ROSIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Paddy Breathnach. Starring Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’Halloran, Ruby Dunne, Darragh McKenzie, Molly McCann. 12A cert, gen release, 82 min
Working from a script by Roddy Doyle, Breathnach gives us a troubling, moving study of how homelessness now functions. Greene and Dunford are super as a couple flung into a hotel when their landlord sells up. Rosie is claustrophobic throughout, but Doyle’s durable humanism does provide some light in the darkness. The mechanism of society has become clogged, but the film wastes no time blaming those who merely maintain the cogs and levers. DC

SHOPLIFTERS ★★★★★
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Starring Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Jyo Kairi, Miyu Sasaki, Kiki Kirin, Mayu Matsuoka, Kengo Kora, Chizuru Ikewake. 15A cert, limited release, 120 min

Lily Franky and Sakura Andô in Shoplifters
Lily Franky and Sakura Andô in Shoplifters

Kore-eda was a deserved winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes with this Dickensian tale of a family of thieves who – out of common decency – adopt an abused young girl. The Japanese film-maker has been constructing quiet, nuanced masterpieces for 20 years and Shoplifters shows all his talents to advantage. The film creeps up on you. It yields its pleasures stealthily. It has, however, more to say about questions of public and private morality than whole libraries. DC

SMALLFOOT ★★★☆☆
Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick. Voices of Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Danny DeVito. Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, Jimmy Tatro, G cert, gen release, 96 min
Smallfoot
, an inversion of the Big Foot myth in which Abominable Snow Persons are terrified to learn that humans are real, is bogged down with elaborate mythology introduced in song. But once the film gets into its stride, it’s a likable and zany family fable. The voice cast is charming and the creature design appealing, even if the human characters, as is often the case in CG animation, don’t really cut it. The theme – your leaders are lying to you – is a welcome swerve for a kid’s film, as is a rap number performed by Common that rhymes: “Over time/ We Surmised/ We were facing genocide.” Deep. TB

A STAR IS BORN ★★★★★
Directed by Bradley Cooper. Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Dave Chappelle, Rebecca Field, Michael Harney, Shangela Laquifa Wadley. 15A cert, gen release, 135 min
A triumphant return to an indestructible Hollywood warhorse. Gaga exceeds all expectations as the talented working-class ingenue propelled to fame by Cooper’s soused rocker. Leaning into the male lead like a bird investigating promising movements among the undergrowth, she is exotic when she’s ordinary and rooted when she’s fantastic. Cooper is equally strong – browned to the colour of yesterday’s tea – as a decent man laid low by addiction. The music is great. The nimble camera-work is a pleasure. What’s not to like? DC

SUSPIRIA ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Luca Guadagnino. Starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Lutz Ebersdorf, Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven, Elena Fokina, Sylvie Testud, Renée Soutendijk, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jessica Harper. 18 cert, lim release, 153 min
Incoherent, endless, occasionally impressive adaptation of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic horror set in a dance school run by witches. The director’s superficial visual elan does just about hold the thing together. Cut to fine, nervy melodies by Thom Yorke – not the equal of Goblin’s from the original, but what is? – the film rejoices in the juice and agony of its horrors. But nothing this incoherent can hold the attention over 152 barely connected minutes. A waste of good ideas. DC

VENOM ★★★☆☆
Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott. 15A cert, gen release, 112 min
Hardy places a journalist infected with a symbiotic alien in Sony’s latest unconnected Marvel adaptation. With reviews embargoed until day of release and the star telling reporters his best bits have all been cut out, Venom was shaping up to be a disaster of Green Lantern proportions. It’s rubbish all right – too much CGI, too little story – but, thanks to some Nic Cageian excess from the star, it’s perfectly entertaining rubbish. Less up itself than Infinity Wars. DC

WIDOWS ★★★★☆
Directed by Steve McQueen . Starring Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson. 16 cert, gen release, 130 min
The director of Hunger takes another sharp turn as he attempts an adaptation of Lynda La Plante’s 1983 TV series concerning a gang of hoodlums’ wives who plan a heist. It’s all terribly unlikely (let’s have the babysitter drive the getaway car!) and a little over-stuffed with subplots (Duvall and Farrell as Irish-American crooks). But on a scene-by-scene basis it’s quite magnificent. All the performances are excellent, but Debicki stands out from the distinguished crowd. DC

THE WIFE ★★★★☆
Directed by Björn Runge. Starring Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Annie Starke, Harry Lloyd, Elizabeth McGovern. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin, 100 min
It’s 1992 and the long-suffering wife (Close) of a much-lauded American novelist (Pryce) travels to Stockholm, where her husband will receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s a moment of triumph that unexpectedly leaves all parties reeling, with just a little prodding from a fanboy journalist (Slater, excellent) eager to write the author’s autobiography. Working from a clever script by Jane Anderson (Olive Kitteridge), Swedish director Runge’s film version of the 2003 Meg Wolitzer novel pivots around a subtle, inscrutable turn from Close, making her the bookies’ favourite to win the Best Actress Oscar next spring. TB

WILDLIFE ★★★★☆
Directed by Paul Dano. Starring Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp. 12A cert, lim release, 105 min
In his directorial debut, actor Dano takes on a Richard Ford novel about a couple (Mulligan and Gyllenhaal) falling apart in early 1960s Montana. Mulligan is at her best when sulking like a cat confronted with a rainy garden and, as the film progresses, she gets more opportunities to wrinkle her snout and droop her whiskers. But the standout performance may be that of young Ed Oxenbould as the couple’s son. A whole generation’s coming disenchantment is captured in his drooping features. DC

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