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: Judi Dench in All Is True

New this week: Judi Dench in All Is True


Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Kathryn Wilder, Lydia Wilson, Hadley Fraser, Jack Colgrave Hirst, John Dagleish. 12A cert, gen release, 100 min
Charming, tender study of Shakespeare’s final days starring a big-nosed Branagh as the great man and Dench as his long-suffering wife. Written by Ben Elton, the film sits in odd relation to the author’s Shakespeare sitcom Upstart Crow. Branagh’s direction is not always subtle, but for the most part this is a balanced drama concerning the perils of unfettered contemplation in later life. As Shakespeare digs his garden, he fails to process accumulated regrets or push away ancient sorrows. DC

Directed by Robert Rodriguez. Starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Lana Condor, Idara Victor, Eiza Gonzalez, Jeff Fahey, Casper Van Dien. 12A cert, gen release, 121 min

New this week: Keean Johnson and Rosa Salazar in Alita: Battle Angel
New this week: Keean Johnson and Rosa Salazar in Alita: Battle Angel

Awful adaptation of some comic about a broken robot who is turned into a heroine by an eccentric scientist. Why bother with speculative fiction if your speculations are so deadeningly unsurprising? You’ll find more startling dystopias in the average Ken Loach film. After enduring two hours of this twaddle, we learn that we have been watching an origin story for a character that creators James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez expect to resurface throughout the coming decade. Good luck with that. DC

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

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 Oscar-nominated Malek interpreting Mercury as a geomagnetic storm. A kind of magic. TB

Directed by Joel Edgerton. Starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Joe Alwyn, Xavier Dolan, Troye Sivan, Cherry Jones, Flea, Russell Crowe. 15A cert, gen release, 115 min

New this week: Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased
New this week: Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

The sophomore feature from actor-turned-director Edgerton is an effective, starry adaptation of Garrard Conley’s gay conversion memoir. It’s beautifully crafted and acted, with particularly impressive work from the magnetic Hedges and Kidman, who conveys the internal conflict of mother realising that she will have to choose between her faith and her son with a series of blinks and tiny movements. But one can’t help but yearn for more of the genre punch that characterised Edgerton’s 2015 directorial debut, The Gift. TB

Directed by Lee Chang-dong. Starring Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong Seo, Steven Yeun. 16 cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 148 min
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

Directed by Dónal Ó Céilleachair. Starring Danny Sheehy, Liam Holden, Brendan Begley, Breandán Moriarty, Glen Hansard. PG cert, QFT, Belfast (Sun only), 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

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
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

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

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

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

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

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

Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin. Featuring Alex Honnold. PG cert, PG cert, QFT, Belfast (Sat/Mon 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

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

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
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

Directed by Barry Jenkins. Starring KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal. 15A cert, gen release, 119 min

New this week: KiKi Layne and Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk
New this week: KiKi Layne and Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk

Jenkins’s wonderful follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s novel concerning a New York couple caught up in the malign jumble of legal evasions and societal dishonesties that worked to constrain African-Americans in the 1960s. Layne is the young pregnant woman fighting to stay aloft when her partner (James) is wrongly convicted of rape. The massed harmony of lighting, music and set dressing sets Beale Street apart. Both beautiful and angry. DC

Directed by Dennis Hopper. Starring Dennis Hopper, Stella Garcia, Don Gordon, Julie Adams, Sylvia Miles, Tomas Milian, Peter Fonda, Henry Jaglom, Samuel Fuller, Kris Kristofferson, Russ Tamblyn, Michelle Phillips, Dean Stockwell, Rod Cameron, John Phillip Law, James Mitchum. Club, Triskel, Cork (Fri only), 108 min
Hopper’s follow-up to Easy Rider was a famous catastrophe. The director and star returned from Peru with a chaotic meta-western that pointed a smug (if unsteady) finger at western decadence. This 1971 release has rarely been revived, but it deserves attention for novelty value alone. Brassed up with very of-their-time solar flares, swelling with ambitions and possibilities, it reflects an openness to the wildest experiment in American cinema that slunk back underground shortly afterwards. DC

Directed by Mike Mitchell. Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Maya Rudolph. G cert, gen release, 107 min

New this week: The Lego Movie 2
New this week: Lucy (voice of Elizabeth Banks) and Emmet (Chris Pratt) in The Lego Movie 2

“Everything is not awesome,” sing the Lego Movie collective at a late, crucial juncture in this serviceable sequel. Set five years after the 2014 original, the fourth Lego movie sees the jolly borough of Bricksburg transformed into the Apocalypseburg and under siege from alien Duplo invaders. It falls to everyman master builder Emmet (Pratt), his far more capable chum Lucy (Banks) and a collective that includes Batman (Will Arnett) to take on the marauders. It lacks the snap and crackle of both its predecessor and The Lego Batman Movie, but there are some good jokes and a winning self-awareness. TB

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

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

1985 ★★★★☆
Directed by Yen Tan. Starring Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen, Michael Chiklis, Aidan Langford, Jamie Chung. Club, QFT, Belfast; Triskel, Cork, 85 min

New this week: Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis in 1985
New this week: Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis in 1985

This lovely, heartbreaking drama follows Adrian (Smith), a young New Yorker, who returns to his small Texas hometown to visit with his family for Christmas. His doting mother (Madsen) fusses while his brusque veteran father (Chiklis) harrumphs. Adrian, we come to realise, has returned home to tell his family that he has Aids. They are religious, conservative and do not even know that he is gay. Writer-director Yen Tan offers no easy solutions, relying instead on a stellar cast and small details. Madsen and Chiklis have seldom been better and, thanks to Smith, the viewer feels every beat of Adrian’s broken heart. TB

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 (Fri only); Light House, Dublin, 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

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

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

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

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
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


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.
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.