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: Issa Rae and Marsai Martin in Little

New this week: Issa Rae and Marsai Martin in Little

 

AT ETERNITY’S GATE ★★★★☆
Directed by Julian Schnabel. Starring Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup
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, QFT, Belfast (Sat only); IFI, Dublin, 111 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

DON’T GO ★★☆☆☆
Directed by David Gleeson. Starring Stephen Dorff, Melissa George, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Simon Delaney, Charlotte Bradley, Luke Griffin

New this week: Melissa George and Stephen Dorff in Don’t Go
New this week: Melissa George and Stephen Dorff in Don’t Go

Dorff and George play an American couple who – after losing a child – locate to a picturesque part of the Irish west and begin seeing ghosts. Can you tell what it is yet? The film never attains the spooky resonance of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. The supernatural bits looks like bad Malick translated via Chinese whispers into middle-brow festival fodder. The everyday stuff has a whiff of 1990s peat briquette commercials. Delaney, however, is good as a bluff priest. 15A cert, lim release, 91 min DC

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

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

HAPPY AS LAZZARO/LAZZARO FELICE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Alice Rohrwacher. Starring Nicoletta Braschi, Adriano Tardiolo, Sergi López, Alba Rohrwacher, Luca Chikovani
Saintly, tousle-haired youth Lazzaro (Tardiolo) lives in an isolated hamlet where he is generally treated like the village idiot. He represents the bottom rung of an already lowly social class: the people around him are sharecroppers toiling on a tobacco farm run by the tyrannical “Queen of Cigarettes”, Marquise Alfonsino de Luna (Braschi). The estate’s callow scion Tancredi (Georgian YouTube star Luca Chikovani) ensnares the amiable Lazzaro in a phony kidnapping plot. Those with a low threshold for magic realism will not be amused by Rohrwacher’s third narrative feature. Although markedly less wispy than her award-winning The Wonders, Happy as Lazzaro, like its elusive protagonist, is dreamy, lightly comic, and unfailingly nice. 12 cert, IFI, Dublin, 130 min TB

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 KEEPER ★★★☆☆
Directed by Marcus H Rosenmüller. Starring David Kross, Freya Mavor, Dervla Kirwan, John Henshaw, Harry Melling, Dave Johns
It is astonishing that we are only now seeing a biopic of Bert Trautmann (Kross), the former German prisoner of war who became a legendary goalkeeper for Manchester City. This was the same man who played the last 17 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup final with a broken neck. There is some clunky stuff here (spinning newspapers, laboured metaphors), but this is a delightful slab of Hovis-commercial film-making that efficiently orders the vital elements in Trautmann’s story. 15A cert, lim release, 119 min DC

LAST BREATH ★★★☆☆
Directed by Richard da Costa, Alex Parkinson
This diverting documentary concerns a dive that went disastrously wrong for a crew working in the North Sea. An IT failure sent their vessel into a spin and left one diver, Chris Lemons, dangerously stranded at the end of straining lifeline. The problem is that the entire incident lasted barely half an hour and was mostly taken up with rebooting the system manually steering the submersible. Though the divers are good talkers and the blend of dive-cam footage and dramatic recreations is effective, Last Breath still feels a little stretched. Club, lim release, 85 min DC

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

THE LIMIT OF ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Alan Mulligan. Starring Laurence O’Fuarain, Sarah Carroll, Sonya O’Donoghue, Ally Ni Chairain, David Murray, Gail Fitzpatrick, Kevin McCormack
Messy, low-budget film concerning an Irish banker who hatches a complex (not to say ludicrous) scheme aimed at spreading some of the wealth. A former tax consultant who quit the rat race, director and writer Mulligan has the most admirable intentions. His anger at the banks is justified. His desire for a moral upending is commendable. Unfortunately, the threadbare plot makes little sense and the characters’ motivations are too often incomprehensible. 15A cert, lim release, 93 min DC

LITTLE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Tina Gordon. Starring Regina Hall, Marsai Martin, Issa Rae, Justin Hartley, Tone Bell, Rachel Dratch
Yet another entry to the sub-genre of body-swap comedies that sees a grown-up inhabit a child’s body (or vice versa). Little works through most of the familiar cliches.. Once again, the protagonist takes an awfully long time to accept the unlikely evidence of her own eyes. But a stunning juvenile performance lifts the film above the pack. Hall is under-used as a bossy CEO, but Martin is just brilliant as the kid she becomes. Messy but fun (and a little transgressive). 12A cert, gen release, 109 min DC

THE MAN WHO WANTED TO FLY ★★★★☆
Directed by Frank Shouldice. Featuring Bobby Coote, Ernie Coote
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, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 86 min TB

MID90S ★★★★☆
Directed by Jonah Hill. Starring Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Na-Kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin, Alexa Demie, Katherine Waterston

New this week: Jonah Hill’s mid90s
New this week: Jonah Hill’s mid90s

Kids hang, get up to no good, and ask wildly inappropriate questions ( “Would you rape your parents if you had to?”, “Don’t thank me; that’s gay”) in mid90s, Jonah Hill’s promising debut as a writer-director. Stevie (The Killing of a Sacred Deer’s Suljic) is a 13-year-old in 1990s LA who falls in with the older, cooler kids he meets at a skate shop. Hill’s clever, observational dialogue flags how arbitrary teen social standing can be. For all their chilling, the shifting group dynamics between the charismatic Ray (Smith), the sweary Fuckshit (Prenatt), and Ruben (Galicia) – as filmed by Fourth Grade (McLaughlin) – crackle and seeth. Drugs are taken. Heads are cracked. House parties are low-key wild. Super Nintendo controllers are used inappropriately. 16 cert, gen release, 85 min TB

MISSING LINK ★★★★☆
Directed by Chris Butler. Voices of Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, David Walliams, Timothy Olyphant, Matt Lucas, Amrita Acharia, Zach Galifianakis
Daredevil explorere Sir Lionel Frost (Jackman) longs to be recognised for his feats but has, thus far, failed to impress the snoots at the club. When an expedition to photograph the Loch Ness monster goes wrong, Sir Lionel heads westwards in search of Bigfoot. When he finally meets the lonely sasquatch (Galifianakis), he hatches a plan to travel to Shangri-La, where, in theory, the loveable creature can finally be among his own kind. Director Butler, cowriter of Kubo and the Two Strings and codirector of ParaNorman, has fun with British colonialism. A vertiginous sequence on an ice-bridge is as nail-biting than any live action (or CGI) scene you care to mention. There are good jokes, a playful sensibility, and a genuine sense of jeopardy. PG cert, gen release, 94 min TB

OUT OF INNOCENCE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Danny Hiller. Starring Fiona Shaw, Alun Armstrong, Fionnuala Flaherty, Ruth McCabe, Mark Wooding, Esther Randall, Berníe Ní Shúilleabháin

New this week: Fiona Shaw and Judith Roddy in Out of Innocence
New this week: Fiona Shaw and Judith Roddy in Out of Innocence

In April 1984, the body of a newborn baby is found dead on a beach near Cahersiveen in Co Kerry. A subsequent criminal investigation focuses on a young woman who lives more than 75km away from where the corpse was discovered. Out of Innocence attempts to make sense of the events around the Kerry Babies case. It’s not an easy task. There are occasonal narrative lapses: there’s simply no way to convey the treatment of the family – even with changed names – without getting into a tricky legal area. Thus, the family matriarch, played by Shaw, inexplicably nods along to any suggestion, regardless of how ludicrous it might be. The bad old days have seldom looked grimmer. 15A cert, gen release, 110 min TB

PET SEMATARY ★★★★☆
Directed by Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer. Starring Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Obssa Ahme
Dr Louis Creed (Clarke) and his family, including winsome daughter Elle (Laurence) relocate to a small town in Maine amd into a home that backs onto ancient tribal lands where the barrier between life and death is permeable. The family are soon plagued by horrible visions. And that’s before Louis and kindly neighbour (Lithgow) decide that they’d rather not tell Ellie that her beloved cat has been killed on the dangerous Chekovian road out front, opting instead for the titular graveyard that brings animals back as evil shadows of themselves. This superior horror often resembles Mary Lambert’s 1989 adaptation, but it has more than a few nasty surprises. 16 cert, gen release, 101 min TB

SHAZAM! ★★★☆☆
Directed by David F Sandberg . Starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand
The latest DC romp concerns a teenager (Angel) in overcast Philadelphia who somehow or other gains the ability to transform into an adult superhero with Batman’s jaw and a circus strongman’s leotard. Feels like a family film from the dying years of the first Bush administration. The jokes have a good-nature roughness to their edges. But Shazam! doesn’t seem quite comfortable in its own universe and outstays it welcome some time before the bish-bash ending. 12A cert, gen release, 131 min DC

THE SISTERS BROTHERS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Jacques Audiard. Starring John C Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rebecca Root, Rutger Hauer, Carol Kane
Adapted from Patrick deWitt’s novel by Audiard and his screenwriting partner Thomas Bidegain, The Sisters Brothers concerns two fraternal bounty hunters. Eli Sisters (Reilly) and his younger brother Charlie (Phoenix) work for a crime boss known only as the Commodore (Hauer). Their latest assignment is to hunt down a chemist, the Hermann Kermit Warm (Ahmed), a mission that is complicated by a tracker (Gyllenhaal) who has a significant head start. The film is often fun but hovers unconvincingly between tones. – a scene in which Reilly tries tooth powder for the first time could have featured in Holmes and Watson. Still, there’s some terrific back and forth between Reilly and Phoenix. 15A cert, gen release, 122 min TB

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, QFT, Belfast (Fri only); IFI/Light House, Dublin, 127min TB

WILD ROSE ★★★★☆
Directed by Tom Harper. Starring Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo, Jamie Sives, Ashley Shelton, James Harkness, Gemma McElhinney, Daniel Campbell

New this week: Jessie Buckley and Julie Walters in Wild Rose
New this week: Jessie Buckley and Julie Walters in Wild Rose

Kerry’s own Jessie Buckley plays a Glaswegian ex-con who dreams of making it to Nashville. Some films build themselves so determinedly around a central performance that you can’t imagine them existing without their star. Buckley triumphs in all areas: she can do comedy; she can do sass; she can sing. She and a fine supporting cast are so strong that the film’s missteps (an awkward subplot involving posh Okonedo, a silly celebrity cameo) are easily overlooked. A literal crowd-pleaser. It will greatly please crowds. 15A cert, gen release, 100 min DC

WONDER PARK ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Dylan Brown. Voices of Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, John Oliver, Mila Kunis, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong

New this week: Wonder Park
New this week: Wonder Park

June (voiced by Denski), is a creative eight-year-old who makes a miniature amusement park from bendy straws alongside her doting mother (Garner) and a treasured stuffed monkey toy named Peanut. Wonder Park, as the imaginary fairground is called, is staffed by a narcoleptic bear, naughty beavers, and a sassy warthog (Kunis). When June’s mother announces that she is sick, the distraught little girl bins Wonder Park and fusses over with her bumbling dad (Broderick). She is sent to math camp, only to run away from an appallingly supervised school bus and into into the forest where – hang on a minute – she wanders into the real Wonder Land now beset by darkness and chimpanzombies. Huh? PG cert, gen release, 85 min TB

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