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: Patricia Clarkson in Out of Blue

New this week: Patricia Clarkson in Out of Blue

 

THE AFTERMATH ★★★☆☆
Directed by James Kent. Starring Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgård, Jason Clarke, Martin Compston, Flora Li Thiemann, Fionn O’Shea
Late 1945. Rachael Morgan (Knightley) and her husband Lewis (Clarke) arrive in Hamburg as part of the occupying forces. They end up sharing a mansion with an emotionally damaged architect named Stefan (Skarsgård) and his equally troubled daughter. Soon Stef and Rach are at it on the hall table. The Aftermatch is dramatically inert, but as Knitting Pattern Cinema goes it’s pretty enough. The leads are forever wearing ochre cardies while standing near complementary shades of mahogany. 15A cert, gen release, 108 min DC

AT ETERNITY’S GATE ★★★★☆
Directed by Julian Schnabel. Starring Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup

New this week: Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate
New this week: Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate

There are some of the usual visual correlatives in Schnabel’s Vincent Van Gogh biopic – the yellow room has rarely been yellower – but there is much more besides. Here is a film that makes a genuine effort to engage with the artist’s mental torments while putting forward fresh (albeit contentious) suggestions about his route to a bloody death. It’s an attractive piece of work as well as a thoughtful one. Dafoe excels as the painter. 12A cert, lim release, 111 min DC

BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY ★★★★☆
Directed by Steve Sullivan. Featuring Jon Ronson, John Cooper Clarke, Paula Sievey, Martin Sievey, Johnny Vegas, Ross Noble, John Thomson, Dave Arnold

New this week: Being Frank
New this week: Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story

A documentary on Frank Sidebottom, the macrocephalic alter ego of Chris Sievey, was always going to deal in oddities. The loose inspiration for Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Mr Sidebottom was an unshakable presence in English popular culture from 1984 until his creator’s death in 2010. Such venerable experts as Cooper Clarke, John Thomson and Ronson (co-writer of Frank) turn up for an engrossing study of the creative fecundity that gathered around Manchester in the post-punk years. Essential for fans. 15A cert, lim release, 105 min DC

BEN IS BACK ★★★☆☆
Directed by Peter Hedges. Starring Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B Vance
Holly (Roberts) arrives home on Christmas Eve to find her son Ben (Hedges), who has been in an addiction facility, lurking expectantly on their middle-class porch. Before the presents have been opened, mother and son are flung onto the streets in a desperate race against time. It’s contrived. It’s cynical. It’s packed with conspicuous research. But the strong performances and narrative momentum prove hard to resist. 15A cert, gen release, 103 min DC

BORDER/GRÄNS ★★★★★
Directed by Ali Abbasi. Starring Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén
Melander is mesmerising as Tina, an unusually perceptive customs officer at a Swedish seaport. Buried beneath Oscar-nominated makeup that renders her faintly Neanderthal, walking with a perennially slumped frame, Tina can literally smell evil from the travellers. The explanation for these mysteries unfolds in a dark tale that allows ancient myth to blend with dirty Swedish realism. Adapted from a tale by John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let the Right One in, Border shares that film’s intelligent menace. 16 cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sun only), 110 min DC

THE CAMINO VOYAGE ★★★★☆
Directed by Dónal Ó Céilleachair. Starring Danny Sheehy, Liam Holden, Brendan Begley, Breandán Moriarty, Glen Hansard
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. PG cert, Triskel, Cork, 97 min DC

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? ★★★★★
Directed by Marielle Heller. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Richard E Grant, Dolly Wells, Jane Curtin
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). 15A cert, gen release, 108 min DC

CAPERNAUM ★★★★★
Directed by Nadine Labaki. Starring Zain Alrafeea, Yordanos Shifera
The blurb tells us that Labaki’s film concerns a poor Lebanese child who sues his parents for bringing him into this awful world. Eugh? Don’t worry. That framing device is mere decoration on a stunningly effective neo-realist drama concerning a child set adrift in Dickensian poverty. The director’s skill in manipulating her hero’s progress through an endlessly dangerous city and in drawing a relaxed, sincere performance from young Zain Alrafeea establishes her as an impresario of some genius. Powerful melodrama. 15A cert, lFI, Dublin, 120 min DC

CAPTAIN MARVEL ★★★☆☆
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Annette Bening
It’s a shame the first episode in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a female protagonist isn’t just a little better. Larson does well enough in a role that would better suit an actor less wedded to underplayed naturalism. The 1990s nostalgia is played for laughs. Sadly, an amusing centre is squeezed into a wafer by a silly framing space operetta that tries the patience. 12A, gen release, 123 min DC

A DOG’S WAY HOME ★★★☆☆
Directed by Charles Martin Smith. Starring Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Edward James Olmos, voice of Bryce Dallas Howard
A simple variation on The Incredible Journey , 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. PG cert, gen release, 96 min TB

DUMBO ★★★☆☆
Directed by Tim Burton. Starring Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Roshan Seth

New this week: Nico Parker in Dumbo2019)
New this week: Nico Parker in Dumbo

The new Dumbo does hit many of the familiar beats. Had Tim Burton and his team cut Baby Mine they would have deserved any horsewhipping that came their way. But we should be grateful that, unlike the recent Beauty and the Beast, this is not a straight retread of the original. Burton makes good use of his cast: Farrell is sympathetic as a circus all-rounder; Green is glamorous. Unfortunately, Dumbo himself is stranded in the unhappy valley between anthropomorphism and verisimilitude. PG cert, gen release, 112 min DC

EVERYBODY KNOWS/TODOS LO SABEN ★★★☆☆
Directed by Asghar Farhadi. Starring Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín, Eduard Fernández
Cruz and Bardem, lovers years before, meet up at a wedding in Spain. Everything is picturesque until her daughter goes missing and every second guest is placed under suspicion. If Everybody Knows emerged as the first film from a promising Spanish director then we might reasonably find ourselves praising it to the horizon. But, coming from the director of A Separation and The Salesman, it feels a little underpowered. Good performances; pretty visuals. Second-level Farhadi is better than none. 15A cert, lim release, 133 min DC

THE FAVOURITE ★★★★★
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, Mark Gatiss
It is 1708. 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 (Oscar winner 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. 15A cert, gen release, 119 min DC

FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY ★★★☆☆
Directed by Stephen Merchant. Starring Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn. Dwayne Johnson
The Rock plus The Office and Extras co-creator Stephen Merchant sounds like an unlikely tag-team, but this cheery comedy inspired by the life of Saraya-Jade Bevis (aka Paige) who went from the less salubrious boroughs of Norwich to WWE Divas Champion at age 21, makes for a winning alchemy. It’s hard to argue with the results, however formulaic, and even when the material is thin, Pugh is there to, literally and figuratively, do the heavy lifting. 15A cert, gen release, 108 min DC

GREEN BOOK ★★★☆☆
Directed by Peter Farrelly. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Dimiter D Marinov
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. 12A cert, gen release, 130 min DC

THE HOLE IN THE GROUND ★★★☆☆
Directed by Lee Cronin. Starring Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey, James Cosmo
Cronin’s fine horror debut sends Kerslake into the woods with her young son. After an encounter with the (massive!) titular hole, he becomes weirdly altered. The director does throw too much at us too quickly. The weirdness needs a little more reality to set it into proper relief. His handling of the horror machinery is, however, masterful and Kerslake is as captivating as ever. A lot of weight is placed on her shoulders and she carries it without breaking a sigh (though she does scream a bit). 15A cert, gen release, 90 min DC

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD ★★★★☆
Directed by Dean DeBlois. Voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, Kristen Wiig, F Murray Abraham
When dragonslayer Grimmel (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. PG cert, gen release, 104 min TB

INSTANT FAMILY ★★★☆☆
Directed by Sean Anders. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro
A happily married couple fumble their way into foster care adoption by taking on three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl with predictably tumultuous and mostly amusing results. Poised indelicately between smaltz and 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. 12 cert, gen release, 118 min TB

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING ★★★☆☆
Directed by Joe Cornish. Starring Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Rebecca Ferguson, Patrick Stewart
Cornish’s retelling of the King Arthur myth in suburban London looks and feels like something the BBC might have broadcast on an 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. PG cert, gen release, 120 min DC

THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER ★★★★☆
Directed by Sara Colangelo. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Gael García Bernal
Lisa (Gyllenhaal, excellent) overhears one of her students, a precocious five-year-old (Sevak), recite a poem, which is, in turn, rapturously received at her adult poetry class when she passes it off as her own composition. That’s a cringe-making act of deception, but it’s merely an amuse-bouche for the spiralling, toe-curling obsession that follows. A fiendishly ambivalent film that segues from poetry appreciation and midlife crisis drama into thriller. 15A cert, Triskel, Cork, 97 min TB

THE LEGO MOVIE 2 ★★★☆☆
Directed by Mike Mitchell. Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Maya Rudolph
“Everything is not awesome,” sing the Lego Movie collective at a late, crucial juncture in this serviceable sequel. 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. G cert, gen release, 107 min TB

LORDS OF CHAOS ★★★★☆
Directed by Jonas Åkerlund. Starring Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira

New this week: Rory Culkin in Lords of Chaos
New this week: Rory Culkin in Lords of Chaos

Music video veteran Åkerlund’s account of the pandemonium that defined black metal in late 1980s Norway is, by turns, grisly, grim, and darkly hilarious. As narrated by black metal pioneer and guitarist Euronymous (Culkin), Lords of Chaos charts the turbulent relationship between Euronymous and the intense neo-Nazi bass player Varg Vikernes (Cohen). When Euronymous founds his band Mayhem various line-up changes ensue in the struggle to be the most metal of them all. Åkerlund accentuates the squabbling, misogynist clubhouse mentality of what became the “Black Circle”. The kids are not alright, but they are, nonetheless, just kids. 18 cert, lim release, 118 min TB

THE MAN WHO WANTED TO FLY ★★★★☆
Directed by Frank Shouldice. Featuring Bobby Coote, Ernie Coote

New this week: Bobby Coote in The Man Who Wanted to Fly
New this week: Bobby Coote in The Man Who Wanted to Fly

For 50 years and more, Bobby Coote has dreamed of flying. Shot over five years, this delightful documentary follows the Co Cavan octogenarian on his eventful journey to the clouds But this is not just Bobby’s story: His 80-something brother Ernie thinks Bobby is a genius yet believes that flying is best left to the birds. Bobby is helped toward his goal by friends and neighbours and flying experts at Newtownards. Working with cinematographer Dave Perry and a lovable cast of characters, director Shouldice has fashioned both a marvellous feel-good movie and a compelling portrait of life in rural Ireland. 12A cert, gen release, 86 min TB

MARY POPPINS RETURNS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke
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. G cert, gen release, 130 min DC

ON THE BASIS OF SEX ★★★☆☆
Directed by Mimi Leder. Starring Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates, Jack Reynor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Jones) is a first-year student at a male-dominated Harvard Law School. When her husband (Hammer), a second-year student, falls ill with cancer, she attends both his lectures and her own. No law firm will hire Ruth, 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 the screenplay that captures the sense of mischief and discovery that jollies along the recent RBG documentary. On the Basis of Sex is well-intentioned, cheesily enjoyable and rather uninspired. 12A cert, gen release, 120 min TB

OUT OF BLUE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Carol Morley. Starring Patricia Clarkson, Jacki Weaver, James Caan, Toby Jones, Mamie Gummer, Devyn Tyler, Yolonda Ross, Aaron Tveit, Jonathan Majors
Clarkson stars as a glum New Orleans police detective investigating the homicide of an astrophysicist (Gummer) who specialised in black holes. The victim was found shot to death in an observatory managed by a shifty Toby Jones. Other suspects include a colleague and lover (Majors), her menacing wealthy father (Caan) and her mad-as-a-balloon mother (Weaver). Loosely based on Martin Amis’s book Night Train, Out of Blue plays with temporal jumps and scientifically themed meditations on Schrödinger’s cat and dark matter. It doesn’t quite come together, but there are enough reliable, muscular performers to steal scenes and keep things interesting. 15A cert, lim release, 109 min TB

UNDER THE SILVER LAKE ★☆☆☆☆
Directed by David Robert Mitchell. Starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, Patrick Fischler, Grace Van Patten, Callie Hernandez
Mitchell’s follow-up to his brilliant horror It Follows could hardly be more disappointing. Garfield plays a loser who gets drawn into all sorts of surreal mayhem when he goes in search of a missing neighbour. What irritates most about this supposed phantasmagoria – aside from the icky, possibly ironic focus on exposed female flesh – is its deadeningly lifeless familiarity. Cults. Silly conspiracies. Much supposed transgression. Sure to find a cult following among cranks. 16 cert, Light House, Dublin (Sun/Wed only), 139 min DC

US ★★★★☆
Directed by Jordan Peele. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright-Joseph
Peele follows up the era-defining Get Out with a horror film about an African-American family meeting their doubles while on holiday. Us follows in a grand tradition of Doppelgänger horrors that stretches back to The Student of Prague more than 100 years ago. Michael Abels’s choral jabs increase the unease. Mike Gioulakis’s camera risks impenetrable levels of darkness. Nyong’o is stunning in twin roles. But the film does lack its predecessor’s satirical punch. 16 cert, gen release, 116 min DC

WHAT MEN WANT ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Adam Shankman. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Aldis Hodge, Richard Roundtree, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tracy Morgan, Erykah Badu
The likable Henson stars in a gender-swapped version of the Mel Gibson hit about a person who can read the other gender’s mind. The star falls over, swishes into rooms, dresses fabulously, provides carefully calibrated reaction shots, and is generally game. But there are too few actual jokes and the film has a disappointingly conventional denouement. Where’s the movie with the career-minded heroine who overhears the term “ball-breaker” and decides to break more balls? 16 cert, gen release, 117min TB

THE WHITE CROW ★★★★☆
Directed by Ralph Fiennes. Starring Oleg Ivanko, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Chulpan Khamatova, Ralph Fiennes
A young Rudolf Nureyev stares at The Raft of the Medusa byThéodore Géricault, picking out meaningful details. His swooning appreciation is matched by The White Crow’s appreciation of its subject, a metatextual case of Stendhal Syndrome. The White Crow recounts the confusion around Nureyev’s defection to the West in 1961, a snap, characteristically impetuous decision that had more to do with squabbling than politics. It moves between Nureyev’s provincial childhood in Ufa, his education in Leningrad, and his feted performances in Paris with the Kirov Ballet. Ukrainian soloist Ivenko, in his first acting role, is hardly a ringer for Nureyev, but he has the comportment, the eyelashes, the attitude, and Mike Eley’s camera understandably loves him. Fiennes’s circumspect turn is matched by his considered direction. 15A cert, lim release, 127min TB

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