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

Aquaman - official trailer

 

AQUAMAN ★★★☆☆
Directed by James Wan. Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison. 12A cert, gen release, 143 min
The latest DC adaptation starts promisingly with the future Aquaman’s dad discovering a watery Atlantean (Kidman) next to his remote lighthouse. The marry and raise the hero. All those bits are really charming. Then the sub-Thor mythological stuff begins and the superstructure judders. There’s only so much fabulous maritime vulgarity a chap can handle and Wan exceeds the average human limit sometime before the first hour. Aquaman is still more digestible than any DC flick since Wonder Woman. DC

THE BELLY OF THE WHALE ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Morgan Bushe. Starring Lewis MacDougall, Pat Shortt, Michael Smiley, Lauren Kinsella, Art Parkinson, Peter Coonan. 15A cert, lim release, 86 min
Shortt, playing a miserable alcoholic reduced to flogging Chinese Teddy Bears, and MacDougall, a young Scot returning home to take over the family’s caravan park, bounce erratically about an Irish town in a feature that never quite locates its own identity. At times it plays like an indie comedy. At others it comes across like an existential Russian drama. Thank heavens for Smiley’s reliably sound turn as a corrupt politician with ruthless intentions. 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
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, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 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

CREED II ★★★★☆
Directed by Steven Caple Jr. Starring Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad, Brigitte Nielsen. 12A cert, gen release, 130 min
The follow-up to Ryan Coogler’s excellent Creed also stands as a belated sequel to Rocky IV. Ivan Drago (Lundgren) is back and his son is challenging for the title. Will Donnie Creed (Jordan) fight the man who killed his dad? Will Rocky (Stallone, OBVIOUSLY) be in his corner? That would be telling. We can reveal that Creed II is almost as sleek as its predecessor and certainly as well acted. If you don’t leave punching the air you may wish to throw in the towel. DC

DEAD SOULS ★★★★☆
Directed by Wang Bing. Club, IFI, Dublin, 495 min

New this week: Dead Souls
New this week: Dead Souls, exclusively at the IFI

Shot between 2005 and 2017, this momumental film visits more than 120 survivors of China's re-education camps. There are obvious parallels with Claude Lanzmann’s epic Holocaust chronicle Shoah, but the survivors of the Jiabiangou and Mingshui re-education camps are not victims of a systemic extermination policy, but convicted rightists, who, some 10 years after the revolution, are confined in the Gobi Desert facilities. The situation there is not as catastrophic as the Cultural Revolution. But between famine and ongoing skirmishes, many starve, shrink and die horrendously, both in the camp and beyond. Essential, if sobering work. TB

DISOBEDIENCE ★★★★☆
Directed by Sebastián Lelio. Starring Rachel Weisz. Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola. 15A cert, Triskel, Cork, 114 min
The director of A Fantastic Woman tackles Naomi Alderman’s novel concerning a passionate lesbian relationship within London’s orthodox Jewish community. From the handsomely framed sensuality of its sex scenes to the perfectly formed swells of Matthew Herbert, this carefully crafted chamber piece may prove too tasteful for more rambunctious sensibilities. Veteran cinematographer Danny Cohen makes great, naturalistic use of London’s bright grey skies and escalators. And even under mousy wigs and minimal makeup, Weisz and McAdams shine like the movie stars they are. 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
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

FREE SOLO ★★★★★
Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin. PG cert, gen release, 99 min

New this week: Free Solo
New this week: Free Solo

Some way into the year’s most white knuckle film, rock climber Alex Honnold recalls that more than one ex-girlfriend has told him that he has a personality disorder. By then we’re deep into his two-year preparations to climb the sheer wall of El Capitan, a kilometre-high sheer granite impossibility in Yosemite National Park. If he manages it, he’ll be the first climber to scale the monolith free solo. That’s as in without ropes and safety equipment, as in one finger and toe at a time up a landmark that looks like it belongs in a Roadrunner cartoon. Personality disorder? The man is bonkers. Terrifying but magical. 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

THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Lars von Trier. Starring Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Gråbøl, Riley Keough, Jeremy Davies. 18 cert, lim release, 153 min

New this week: Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built
New this week: Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built

Von Trier’s latest provocation concerns a maniac (Dillon) murdering largely stupid women in northwestern bits of the awful, decadent USA (Lars guesses, never having been there). Of course the film does. What else would it be doing? After two hours of navel-gazing and navel-gouging, Jack descends amusingly and thoughtfully into a version of Dante’s hell. Those scenes are the best thing the director’s done in years, though they don’t justify ploughing through all the preceding wretchedness. DC

KEEPERS OF THE FLAME ★★★☆☆
Directed by Nuala O’Connor. Featuring Diarmaid Ferriter, Mary Black, Aiden Gillen, Joseph O’Connor, Olivia O’Leary, Cécile Morgan. G cert, lim release, 89 min

New this week: archivist Cécile Morgan, of the Military Service Pensions Collection Project, in the documentary Keepers of the Flame
New this week: archivist Cécile Morgan, of the Military Service Pensions Collection Project, in the documentary Keepers of the Flame

The unpromising starting point is a dive into the Irish Military Service Pensions archive and a consideration of how payments were made, who gained and who lost out. Around that fulcrum, the documentary bends a comprehensive examination of the challenges that accompany commemoration. The reasonable, humane arguments are structured with the clarity you would expect from a professional historian such as Ferriter. It is, in the age of online fury, refreshing to hear contentious issues pondered in such measures tones. DC

MORTAL ENGINES ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Christian Rivers. Starring Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, Stephen Lang. 12A cert, gen release, 128 min

Mortal Engines
New this week: Mortal Engines

It’s some years into a dystopian future and marauding city-machines – like Laputa and Howl’s Moving Castle – rove around in search of smaller, weaker city machines to absorb and enslave. The cruellest imperialists of the lot live in the City of London, an endlessly greedy empire determined to gobble all of continental Europe while knowing all the while that their own entire system is unsustainable. Ahem. Sheehan and Jihae shine amid spectacular steampunk visuals and a mess of generic world-building. 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. G cert, gen release, 100 min
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

THE OLD MAN & THE GUN ★★★★☆
Directed by David Lowery. Starring Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Isiah Whitlock Jr, John David Washington, Tom Waits. 12A cert, gen release, 92 min
Redford (allegedly in his last role) and Spacek are delightful as an ageing bank robber and the woman who offers him a belated shot at domesticity. Lowery’s film has the grace to treat its elder characters with respect. It does that by treating them like human beings: nuanced characters with the same needs as people their grandchildren’s age. Scored to great tunes by Scott Walker and The Kinks, it could hardly offer a more satisfactory swansong to an admired star. DC

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET ★★★☆☆
Directed by Phil Johnston, Rich Moore. Voices of John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Sean Giambrone. PG cert, gen release, 112 min
Ralph (Reilly), former brute from the platform game Fix-It Felix Jr, and Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman), speed star from racing game Sugar Rush, are living in equilibrium when a vital part for Sugar Rush gets broken. The two use their arcade’s newly upgraded internet connection to access the world that lies beyond the wires. The sequel to Wreck-It Ralph is a bit ramshackle in its plotting, but there are many good jokes about current online discontents. DC

ROMA ★★★★★
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Fernando Gregiaga. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin (also Netflix), 134 min
Gorgeous, complex monochrome drama concerning a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City and the indigenous servant who holds their world together. If anything, the film slightly overdoes its virtuoso gestures: hugely long shots down impossibly busy thoroughfares. No fair-minded viewer would, however, argue that the technical elan overshadows emotion. Alongside fascinating social observations and surprising outbreaks of humour, Roma feature one or two of the most heart-wrenching scenes in recent cinema. Will work nicely on Netflix, but, if you’re near one of the few cinemas showing Roma, it is worth making the trip. DC

ROSIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Paddy Breathnach. Starring Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’Halloran, Ruby Dunne, Darragh McKenzie, Molly McCann. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Mon only), 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, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sat/Mon only), 120 min
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

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU ★★★★★
Directed by Boots Riley. Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross. Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer. 16 cert, gen release, 112 min
Stanfield is “Cash” Green, a flunking millennial reduced to living in his uncle’s garage and working a low-paid telemarketing position. Cash struggles at work until a veteran (Glover) advises him to use his white voice. As a “power caller”, Cash leaves behind the troubles of his friends and coworkers as they struggle to unionise against a rigged system. It’s only when he is invited to a party with a bonkers chief executive (Hammer) that he realises just how rigged. Busy, boundless and brilliant, this is the madcap Marxist adventure comedy you need to see right now. TB

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE ★★★★☆
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman. Voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Cravitz, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine. PG cert, gen release, 117 min

New this week: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
New this week: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

One alternative version of Spider-Man encounters many others in a dazzling animation from the team behind The Lego Movie. The candy-charged flash manages to accommodate soul and sincerity. The film’s embrace of diversity stretches beyond the social to the sub-atomic and the quantum mechanical (no, really). The structural innovation helps confirm – despite welcome advances in representation – how conservative most Marvel films are. Easily the best superhero movie of 2018. DC

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

THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS ★★★★☆
Directed by Tim Wardle. Featuring Edward Galland, David Kellman, Robert Shafran. 12A cert, QFT, Belfast; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 97 min
“When I tell people my story, they don’t believe it,” says Robert Shafran at the start of this astonishing documentary. It transpires that, adopted as a baby, he was one of triplets whose later meeting the film relates with great lucidity. Working with Irish editor Michael Harte, director Wardle crafts an impeccable sequence of reveals, that take in a refugee from the Holocaust, unethical scientific design, and files that can’t be opened until 2055. A surefire Oscar contender. TB

WHITE BOY RICK ★★★☆☆
Directed by Yann Demange. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, RJ Cyler, Jonathan Majors, Eddie Marsan, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie. 15A cert, gen release, 111 min
The extraordinary true life of Rick Wershe, a teenage FBI informant turned teenage drug dealer, makes for a curiously downplayed film. Despite its gangland setting, and despite having the talented Demange at the helm (who wrest genre thrills from the Northern Irish conflict in ’71), there’s not nearly enough sense of jeopardy in White Boy Rick. Still, a terrific cast occasionally shine through the low-key script. TB

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. CF3 DC

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.