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

New this week: Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

New this week: Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

 

BEAUTIFUL BOY ★★★☆☆
Directed by Felix Van Groeningen. Starring Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan. 15A cert, gen release, 121 min
Nicholas (Chalamet) has been missing for a few days before he turns up, clearly at the tail end of a drug binge and unable to talk to his worried father, David (Carell). It’s the start of a predictable, maddening pattern and downward spiral. Upon each return, Nicholas looks further gone than before, until finally, he’s stealing from his own family to pay for his crystal meth habit. The dual protagonist structure allows for two tremendous performances that hang off nothing in particular. The film ends so abruptly, there’s nothing Van Groeningen – the brilliant Belgian director who reinvented the weepie with The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012) – can do to convince the viewer that this is a movie. TB

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

BUMBLEBEE ★★★★☆
Directed by Travis Knight. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Angela Bassett. 12A cert, gen release, 109 min
Good grief. After a decade of ear-splitting rubbish, Michael Bay’s Tranformers sequence has (without Bay at the helm) delivered a glorious entertainment. Travis Knight’s shamelessly Spielbergian film casts Steinfeld as a rebellious teen in 1987 who encounters autobot Bumblebee in the form of a VW Beetle. She belatedly allows humanity into the series and – after the horrid objectification of female bodies in earlier episodes – hollows out some welcome feminist space. Fun for all. It’s like Knight and Bay! DC

BURNING ★★★★☆
Directed by Lee Chang-dong. Starring Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong Seo, Steven Yeun. 16 cert, lim release, 148 min

Burning
New this week: Yoo Ah-in in Burning

One of the most positively reviewed film in Cannes history, Lee’s adaptation of a slim Haruki Murakami story concerns an awkward love triangle between a shy young man, his occasional lover and her new, more sophisticated boyfriend. It’s not zippy. The characters are opaque. The narrative uncertainties and the social uneasiness contribute to a drama that delights in frustrating expectations. An impressive follow-up to the director’s Poetry. DC

THE CAMINO VOYAGE ★★★★☆
Directed by Dónal Ó Céilleachair. Starring Danny Sheehy, Liam Holden, Brendan Begley, Breandán Moriarty, Glen Hansard. PG cert, QFT, Belfast (Sat only); IFI, 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

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? ★★★★★
Directed by Marielle Heller. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Richard E Grant, Dolly Wells, Jane Curtin, Ben Falcone, Anna Deavere Smith, Stephen Spinella. 15A cert, gen release, 108 min

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
New this week: Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

McCarthy excels as boozy Lee Israel, the real-life biographer of Estée Lauder and Tallulah Bankhead, who, in the early 1990s, launched a second career as a forger of literary correspondence. Grant (like McCarthy, Oscar-nominated) is her even boozier, serially untrustworthy pal. The compactness of Can You Ever Forgive Me? has invited inevitable under-appreciation. It’s a great New York movie. It’s a great film about friendship. It’s also a great cat movie (if that’s your bag). DC

CELLAR DOOR ★★★☆☆
Directed by Viko Nikci. Starring Karen Hassan, Catherine Walker, Mark O’Halloran, Una Carroll, Ian McElhinney. 15A cert, lim release, 90 min
Interesting, experimental Irish horror that seems to concern a young woman searching for her baby in an institution run by the Catholic Church. Before long, the connecting thread from one sequence to the next gets lost in the creative jumble. Too much of Cellar Door feels like an unstructured juxtaposition of striking sequences. It does, however, come together in its closing minutes and – no small compliment – will repay a second viewing. A cult following awaits. DC

COLETTE ★★★★☆
Directed by Wash Westmoreland. Starring Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson, Denise Gough, Aiysha Hart. 15A cert, gen release, 112 min
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Knightley) is a pigtailed teenager living in a corner of Burgundy who is not adverse to a roll in the hay with her parents’ slick and much older friend Willy (Henry Gauthier-Villars, played by West). It’s only after the naive country girl has married and moved to Paris with Willy that she and we come to realise that he’s a literary fraud. A womaniser, a bully, and gambler, Willy is reluctant to let the brink of poverty come between him and whoring, so he tells Colette to write a novel. She writes a bucolic tale recalling her rural childhood. He trashes it and demands a rewrite with a closer focus on the schoolgirls. The second draft is an overnight sensation, published under Gauthier-Villars’s name. It takes a while for Colette to emerge from his shadow, but she does so with gusto in this good looking cradle-to-grave biopic. TB

DESTROYER ★★★☆☆
Directed by Karyn Kusama. Starring Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford. 16 cert, gen release, 121 min
Detective Erin Bell (Kidman at full stretch) staggers, still drunk from the night before, onto a sunny southern Californian crime scene. She recognises the victim and, following some ridicule from her attending colleagues, staggers away in the opposite direction. A sluggish screenplay flips between the contemporary ragged Erin and her lone wolf investigation and a bank robbery committed 17 years ago by a gang she and an another undercover cop (Sebastian Stan, understated and completely wasted here) had infiltrated. Destroyer really wants to be a blazingly lit, freewheeling noir in the style of Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. Despite good performances and tech specs, it’s not. TB

A DOG’S WAY HOME ★★★☆☆
Directed by Charles Martin Smith. Starring Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Edward James Olmos, voice of Bryce Dallas Howard. PG cert, gen release, 96 min
A simple variation on The Incredible Journey (the celebrity-voiced 1993 version, not the gently narrated ’63 original), this very American pet tale pivots around Bella, a pitbull puppy who is raised by stray cats and voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard. When Bella is adopted by kindly VA hospital worker Lucas (Hauer-King) and his war veteran mom (Judd), the pooch seems set for life. Even dog-loving viewers may flinch at some of the schmaltz. Just the same, this is a decent family film. TB

ESCAPE ROOM ★★★☆☆
Directed by Adam Robitel. Starring Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Jay Ellis, Nik Dodani. 15A cert, gen release, 100 min

Escape Room
New this week: Escape Room

This year’s Stateside horror hit is a high-concept PGish reworking of Saw, minus the torture porn and inventiveness. What’s left, you say? A reasonably diverting genre exercise that shares DNA with every second contemporary horror by its apparent mania for bumping off attractive young folk in a series of hostile environments. A mismatched bunch respond to a mysterious black box invitation that leads them to an anonymous Chicago office block. A shy maths whiz (Russell), a stockroom boy with limited prospects (Miller), a badass war veteran with PTSD (Woll), a high-flying money man (Ellis), an older former miner (Labine), and an Escape Room nerd (Dodani) must escape the escape rooms or die trying. Serviceable until they expand the universe in the final act. TB

THE FAVOURITE ★★★★★
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, Mark Gatiss. 15A cert, gen release, 119 min
It is 1708 and, as the War of the Spanish Succession takes a breather, cynical Sarah Churchill (Weisz), Duchess of Marlborough, and sly Abigail Hill (Stone), later Baroness Masham, squabble for the attentions of dotty Queen Anne (Colman). Lanthimos transforms what could have been a straight-up period drama into a savage, weird, twisty comedy of appalling manners. The dialogue sparkles. The photography is weirdly brilliant. The performances are flawless. A near masterpiece. DC

FREE SOLO ★★★★★
Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin. Featuring Alex Honnold. PG cert, PG cert, QFT, Belfast (Fri/Sat only); IFI/Light House, Dublin, 99 min
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

GLASS ★★☆☆☆
Directed by M Night Shyamalan. Starring James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard. 15A cert, gen release, 129 min
Messy, largely boring sequel to Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and Split. Tough Willis, mad McAvoy and evil Jackson find themselves under the care of psychiatrist Paulson. The nice visuals and committed performances do not compensate for a story that rejoices in going nowhere interesting. The much-promised grand finale never arrives. The last reversal feels like a parody of the high Shyamalan style, and the theorising about comic-book lore is exhausting for those not wholly on board. Night’s gone off again. DC

GREEN BOOK ★★★☆☆
Directed by Peter Farrelly. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D Marinov, PJ Byrne. 12A cert, gen release, 130 min
Farrelly moves from Dumb and Dumber to the quasi-true story of an Italian-American goodfella (Mortensen) who drove an African-American pianist (Ali) about the segregated South in the 1960s. It’s not the subtlest film: the racial politics are crude; the two actors lay it on with a trowel; the denouement is shamelessly sentimental. And yet the darn thing works. The gears engage. The motor runs smoothly. The destination is achieved. There are worse things in heaven and earth. DC

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD ★★★★☆
Directed by Dean DeBlois. Voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig, F Murray Abraham. PG cert, gen release, 104 min

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
New this week: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

When dragonslayer Grimmel (F Murray Abraham) threatens, Hiccup (Baruchel) and the good denizens of Berk have little option but to move their dragon to the possibly mythological realm of the title. The Night Fury-obsessed Grimmel, however, has other plans. The Hidden World introduces a “wild and skittish” Light Fury love interest for Toothless and zips along, punctuated by credible action sequences and gleeful silliness. Sit tight for the emotional finale. We’re going to miss this franchise. TB

AN IMPOSSIBLE LOVE/UN AMOUR IMPOSSIBLE ★★★★☆
Directed by Catherine Corsini. Starring Virginie Efira, Niels Schneider, Jehnny Beth, Estelle Lescure. 16 cert, Triskel, Cork, 135 min
Beautifully made, ultimately troubling drama, spanning many decades, concerning an awkward on-off romance. Viewers familiar with the semi-autobiographical novels of Christine Angot will have some idea where the story is going and will grasp ambiguities in the title, but, narrated by the couple’s daughter in versions of the author’s prose, this difficult saga will still exert a grip. Efira is terrific as the woman who can’t tear herself away from a pompous jerk. DC

LIZZIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Craig William Macneill. Starring Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jay Huguley, Jamey Sheridan, Fiona Shaw, Kim Dickens, Denis O’Hare, Jeff Perry. Club, Triskel, Cork, 105 min

New this week: Kristen Stewart and Chloë Sevigny in Lizzie
New this week: Kristen Stewart and Chloë Sevigny in Lizzie, exclusively at the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork

This meticulous, deceptively quiet film takes its title character out of folk history and rewrites her as a queer, proto-feminist battling against the worst excesses of patriarchal power. Lizzie Borden (Sevigny on top form) is an outspoken spinister – those things are not unrelated – who keeps pigeons and befriends the new Irish maid, Bridget (Kristen Stewart affecting a decent brogue). Both Lizzie and her sister face possible destitution. Bridget, meanwhile, is raped nightly by Lizzie’s father. We know from the outset that this cruelty will finally be met with the savagery it deserves. TB

MARY POPPINS RETURNS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Salah, Joel Dawson, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke. G cert, gen release, 130 min
Some reviews have claimed that the revisiting of Mary Poppins is “practically perfect in every way”. It’s not. It’s not terrible either. One might reasonably call it astonishingly adequate in every regard. Blunt is well-cast, if a bit too flinty, and throws herself into the role with abandon. Taking the Dick Van Dyke chair, Miranda can’t decide whether to do proper Cockney or comically heightened Cockney. The songs are tolerable. There’s no story to speak of. But, yes, it’s fine. DC

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Josie Rourke. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce. 15A cert, gen release, 124 min
Perfectly adequate retelling of Queen Mary’s unhappy demise, featuring a determined Ronan as the Scotswoman and a wracked Robbie as her rival Elizabeth I. It’s a pretty unimaginative affair with too many baffling diversions from the facts. (Why does Mary, raised in France, speak with a Glaswegian accent?) Still, the pleasures of a classy production with classy performers are not to be wholly dismissed. It’s the best Sunday-night telly at the cinema this Friday. DC

THE MULE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Dianne Wiest, Andy Garcia, Alison Eastwood, Taissa Farmiga, Ignacio Serricchio. 15A cert, gen release, 117 min
The great man plays a nonagenarian who drives drugs across the US for the Mexical cartels. It’s messy and tonally unsure, but there are worse ways of spending your time than watching Clint snarl, shuffle and frown his way through another geriatric meltdown. The other actors appear cowed, as if performing before a personification of the US constitution. Indeed, the whole film seems flattened by the distinction of Eastwood’s presence. It scarcely matters that little else is up to scratch. 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

RBG ★★★★☆
Directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. Featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jane Ginsburg, James Steven Ginsburg, Nina Totenberg, Clara Spera, Gloria Steinem. Club, QFT, Belfast (Thurs only), 97 min
There are a few moments of levity in this fond documentary portrait of the life and career of US supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She works out wearing a shirt that reads “Super Diva”, enjoys some banter with the late conservative justice Antonin Scalia, and is bemused by her nickname, the Notorious RBG. Mostly, as she herself notes, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a far more solemn, serious person than her place in pop culture might suggest: “I tend to be rather sober,” she says. A documentary as sober as its subject might have spent more time on the fascinating archival audio from some the cases Ginsburg argued, but this breezy primer is hard to argue with. TB

SECOND ACT ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Peter Segal. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, Milo Ventimiglia, Charlyne Yi. 12A cert, gen release, 104 min
When her godson invents a wildly embellished CV, hardworking Maya (Lopez) is plucked from the floor of a dollar store and thrust into the go-go corporate world of ill-defined biochemical giant. JLo watchers will recognise this plot from Maid in Manhattan, in which Lopez’ charlady poses as an uptown girl. The silly film’s hopelessly muddled script takes in a magic tree (yes, there is a magic tree), a family reunion, many gal pal sessions, a romantic subplot, and a competitive product launch in which Maya’s band of funny misfits take on the company’s A-listers led by Hudgens. Some moving moments, but one wishes Lopez was better served by the material. 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, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Zoë Cravitz, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine. PG cert, gen release, 117 min
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

STAN & OLLIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Jon S Baird. Starring John C Reilly, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Nina Arianda, Rufus Jones, Danny Huston. PG cert, gen release, 97 min
Touching, funny drama following Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (Coogan and Reilly) as they tour the UK and Ireland in declining years. That’s pretty much it. There are few significant revelations. The comedy is as gentle as the original films. The sentimental turns are worked ruthlessly. Nothing much happens that you don’t expect to happen. Yet it works like a dream. The two lead roles could hardly be better cast and Arianda steal every scene as Laurel’s bolshie Russian wife. DC

THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS ★★★★☆
Directed by Tim Wardle. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin (Sat only), 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. TB

THE UPSIDE ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Neil Berger. Starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Aja Naomi King, Golshifteh Farahani, Tate Donovan. 12A cert, gen release, 125 min
Useless remake of French smash The Intouchables (by one measure the highest-grossing domestic release ever in that country) starring Cranston as a quadriplegic millionaire and Hart as the irresponsible ex-con employed as his carer. The stars make a genuine effort and the ultimate message is more or less the right one, but the cliches and the stereotyping are too exhausting for words. Rich people like opera. Poor people are in touch with their emotions. And so on. DC

VICE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Adam McKay. Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Jesse Plemons, Lily Rabe, Tyler Perry, LisaGay Hamilton. 15A cert, gen release, 132 min
McKay brings the same class of ribald pastiche he used for The Big Short to an examination of Dick Cheney, vice-president under George W Bush (Rockwell). The problem with his approach here is that little of what’s being discussed is difficult to understand. We don’t need to be talked down to. But Vice is never boring. Bale’s performance offers a grand example of what Orson Welles used to call “king acting”, while Adams is solid as Lynne Cheney. At least 50 percent of the gags zing home. DC

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