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: Capernaum

New this week: Capernaum


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
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 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
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 Dónal Ó Céilleachair. Starring Danny Sheehy, Liam Holden, Brendan Begley, Breandán Moriarty, Glen Hansard. PG cert, QFT, Belfast (Wed 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 Nadine Labaki. Starring Zain Alrafeea, Yordanos Shifera, Treasure Bankole, Cedra Izam. 15A cert, lim release, 120 min

Directed by Hans Petter Moland. Starring Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman, Laura Dern. 16 cert, gen release, 118 min

New this week: Liam Neeson in Cold Pursuit
New this week: Liam Neeson in Cold Pursuit


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 (Thurs 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 Christopher Landon. Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Ruby Modine. 15A cert, gen release, 100 min
Happy Death Day 2U
revisits and reworks the pleasing conceit of the original with mixed results. It starts promisingly, by kicking the Groundhog Day meets Scream mash-up that made the 2017 film so appealing into the lap of one the original film’s minor characters, Ryan (Vu), before switching back to the original heroine, Tree (Rothe). It’s clear that writer-director Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) wants to expand the universe; it’s just not clear that he should. TB

Directed by Sean Anders. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty. Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro. 12 cert, gen release, 118 min
A happily married couple (Wahlberg and Byrne) fumble their way into foster care adoption by taking on three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl (played by Moner, Wahlberg’s Transformers co-star), with predictably tumultuous and mostly amusing results. Poised indelicately between shameless smaltz and slappy slapstick, Instant Family may be blunt and messy, but it’s easily a career best for the director of Sex Drive and Horrible Bosses 2. TB

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
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 Joe Cornish. Starring Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Rebecca Ferguson, Patrick Stewart, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Angus Imrie. PG cert, gen release, 120 min
Cornish’s retelling of the King Arthur myth in suburban London looks and feels like something the BBC might have broadcast on a Tuesday afternoon in the mid-1980s. The juvenile actors are satisfactory without doing anything to trouble the scorers at Bafta. It engages with social issues, but remains firmly in the middle ground mapped out by Grange Hill and Blue Peter. The special effects are so-so. It’s grand, but how it came to cost $60 million is anybody’s guess. 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
“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

Directed by Mimi Leder. Starring Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates, Jack Reynor. 12A cert, gen release, 120 min

New this week: Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex
New this week: Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Jones) is a first-year student at a male-dominated Harvard Law School. When her husband Martin (Hammer), a second-year student, falls ill with cancer, she attends both his lectures and her own. No law firm will hire Ruth, even though she graduated top of her class, so she ends up in academia until her husband brings a tax code case to her attention. Might Section 214 of the Internal Revenue Code allow the future US supreme court judge to take on the entire damned system? There’s nothing in Daniel Stiepleman’s screenplay that captures the sense of mischief and discovery that jollies along the concurrent RBG documentary. On the Basis of Sex is well-intentioned, cheesily enjoyable and rather uninspired. TB

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. Starring Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Steven Berkoff, Ian Hendry, Jenny Runacre. Club, lim release, 126 min

New this week: Jack Nicholson in The Passenger (1975)
Rereleased this week: Jack Nicholson in The Passenger (1975)

Nicholson plays a jaded reporter making a documentary about post-colonial Africa, who exchanges his identity with that of a man he finds dead in a hotel room. This attempt to remedy an existential crisis allows him to start a romantic relationship with a younger woman (Schneider) but it does tie him to certain appointments made by the dead man, including a jaunt to Munich where he meets with guerilla representatives. It transpires that his new identity is that of an arms dealer. To further complicate matters, his wife and friends are looking for him. “That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” asks his girlfriend. But of course it isn’t; he’s now housing two existential crises in one body. Body swaps don’t get more nihilistic than this enigmatic 1975 classic. TB

Directed by Matthew Heineman. Starring Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander, Stanley Tucci, Greg Wise, Faye Marsay, Fady Elsayed. 15A cert, gen release, 110 min
Strongly acted biopic of the late war correspondent Marie Colvin from the director of Cartel Land. Pike creates a person who is at least the equal – and usually the superior – of the men around her, but who also remains separate, singular, at an angle. She moves with an assurance that never gives in to swagger. A veteran of conflict zones, Heineman makes a busy chaos of the action sequences. Unfortunately the script, rife with cliches, isn’t worthy of the talent interpreting it. 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, Light House, Dublin (Fri 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

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

Directed by Tim Wardle. 12A cert, Triskel, Cork (Fri-Mon), 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

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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