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: Matías Oviedo and Demian Hernández in Too Late to Die Young

New this week: Matías Oviedo and Demian Hernández in Too Late to Die Young

 

AMAZING GRACE ★★★★★
Directed by Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack. Featuring Aretha Franklin, James Cleveland, CL Franklin
Brilliant documentary on the recording of the late Aretha Franklin’s 1972 gospel classic Amazing Grace. The release was delayed initially by a technical error and then as a result of legal action from Ms Franklin. Its eventual arrival provides the authors of online listicles a permanent starting point when considering the 10 greatest concert films of all time. The music is transcendent. The editing is perfectly paced. The congregation offer a vital snapshot of a time and place. A masterpiece of its type. G cert, lim release, 87 min DC

ALADDIN ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Guy Ritchie. Starring Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad

New this week: Mena Massoud and Will Smith in Aladdin
New this week: Mena Massoud and Will Smith in Aladdin

The ongoing campaign to make flesh of all Disney’s most popular animations hits a speedbump with Ritchie’s deeply peculiar take on a 1990s classic. The two romantic leads (Massoud and Scott) are charming and the best songs survive unharmed. But the ambience is that of an Arabian-themed family restaurant combined with an underdeveloped episode of Assassin’s Creed. The least said about Smith as the Genie the soonest mended. That is one flat singing voice. PG cert, gen release, 128 min DC

AVENGERS: ENDGAME ★★★☆☆
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Bautista, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karen Gillan, Dana Gurira, Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Redford, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Rene Russo, Tilda Swinton
All your favourite Marvel superheroes are back to raise half the universe from the dead. Avengers: Endgame is the same length as Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev and that director didn’t expect you to sit through the end credits in the hope of seeing Nick Fury. Fair enough. Marvel has been churning out these vehicles since 2008 and even the unconvinced must admit that they are masterpieces in the art of logistics. Everyone gets a crack at the zippy dialogue. Surprises. Twists. (And some tedium.) 12 cert, gen release, 181 min DC

BEATS ★★★★☆
Directed by Brian Welsh. Starring Cristian Ortega, Lorn Macdonald, Laura Fraser, Brian Ferguson, Ross Mann, Gemma McElhinney, Amy Manson, Rachel Jackson, Neil Leiper, Kevin Mains
This Scottish drama opens with a clause from one of Britain’s most bizarre laws. Introduced by the Tories in 1994, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill took aim at the UK rave scene by banning music events “wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”. That clause has direct consequences for best friends Jonno (Ortega) and Spanner (Macdonald), who will soon be separated but not before one last blowout at a rave announced by a pirate radio DJ (Mann). Working from Kieran Hurley’s successful 2012 one-man play, Beats can feel overstretched. But it does a terrific job of replicating the rave scene adjacent to the Cool Britannia scene. 18 cert, QFT, Belfast, 101 min TB

BIRDS OF PASSAGE/PÁJAROS DE VERANO ★★★★★
Directed by Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra. Starring Carmiña Martínez, Jose Acosta, Jhon Narváez, Natalia Reyes, Jose Vicente Cots, Juan Martínez, Greider Meza
Breathtaking folk thriller that tells the story of an indigenous Colombian family’s destructive engagement with the drugs industry over several decades. Though not at home to sentimental notions of lost Edenic idylls, Guerra and Gallego take its characters from humble isolation to extremes of wealth and corruption. It’s the oldest story in the world: be careful what you wish for. But it has rarely been told with such imagination. Awash with magic, violence and family rivalry, Birds of Passage is one of a kind. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 125 min DC

BOOKSMART ★★★★☆
Directed by Olivia Wilde. Starring Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, Austin Crute, Eduardo Franco, Noah Galvin, Skyler Gisondo

New this week: Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart
New this week: Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart

Super party-party comedy featuring Dever and Feldstein as a pair of high achieving students who, as they leave high school, make up for lost time by partying like they’ve never partied before. The result is a cavalcade of mayhem that somehow manages to argue for decency in an awful world. It is the sense of discovery that sets it apart. That and its warmth, generosity and openness of spirit. A delight. 16 cert, gen release, 102 min DC

THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA ★★★☆☆
Directed by Michael Chaves. Starring Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez
Expect jump scares, not surprises. This efficient, routine haunting film from the Conjurverse is set in 1973. Cardellini stars as Anna, a social worker and widow struggling to juggle her work and motherhood while mourning the death of her police officer husband. After a truancy case involving Patricia (Velásquez) goes horribly wrong, Anna unwittingly unleashes the mythological Mexican spook La Llorona upon her own kids. Things go predictably bump in the night. 16 cert, gen release, 94 min TB

THE DIG ★★★★☆
Directed by Andy Tohill, Ryan Tohill. Starring Moe Dunford, Emily Taaffe, Francis Magee, Lorcan Cranitch, Katherine Devlin, Aimee Brett
Following a spell in jail for his involvement with the killing of a young woman, Ronan Callahan (Dunford) rides into town to encounter near-complete hostility. Sean McKenna (Cranitch), the victim’s brother, has taken to digging up the bog in search of the still-missing body. This being an Ulster western, the searchers stay in pretty much one place and pursue their hunt through a Sisyphean process that, involving piles of earth, would suit the characters in a Samuel Beckett play. Powerful, rough, odd. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin (Mon only), 97 min DC

A DOG’S JOURNEY ★★★☆☆
Directed by Gail Mancuso. Starring Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Kathryn Prescott, Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, Emma Volk
This sequel to the family-friendly reincarnation dramedy A Dog’s Purpose makes life a little easier for its canine protagonist, Bailey. As A Dog’s Journey opens, Ethan (Quaid) and Bailey have been joined by Ethan’s wife, Hannah (Helgenberger), her quarrelsome widowed daughter-in-law, Gloria (Gilpin), and a toddler granddaughter, CJ. When Gloria storms off in a huff, taking CJ with her, Ethan tells a dying Bailey to find the girl and look after her. A Dog’s Journey sticks rigidly to that premise. The format allows for many partings and doggy death scenes. Manipulative? Absolutely. Effective? Hell, yes. PG cert, gen release, 118 min TB

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

EIGHTH GRADE ★★★★★
Directed by Bo Burnham. Starring Elsie Fisher, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger, Imani Lewis, Luke Prael, Catherine Oliviere, Josh Hamilton
Enormously engaging study of a young girl (Fisher, brilliant) preparing for the jump into the US high school system. There isn’t an enormous amount of plot. Kayla finds herself at a birthday party for one of the cool girls and ends up slinking away in appalled shame. She makes friends with a nice older girl (yes, they do exist in this world) when visiting her new high school. And so on. There is much awkwardness here, but also a great deal of hope and warmth. Essential. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin, 93 min DC

EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Joe Berlinger. Starring Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Angela Sarafyan, James Hetfield, Jeffrey Donovan, Dylan Baker
The folk behind this study of serial killer Ted Bundy work so hard at avoiding offence that they have little energy left to add anything of interest. Efron is chillingly smooth as the famously charismatic psychopath. Collins is conflicted as his fiancee. The procedural details are interesting, but this feels very much like high-end television. Set beside something like David Fincher’s contemporaneous Mindhunters, it seemsthin and unimaginative. Still, it is an achievement to exhibit such restraint with this material. 16 cert, lim release, 110 min DC

FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY ★★★★☆
Directed by Carmel Winters. Starring Hazel Doupe, Dara Devaney, Johnny Collins, Hilda Fay, Lalor Roddy
This award-winning drama concerns a young Traveller girl who, a huge fan of Mohammad Ali, trains herself into state of pugilistic excellence in the early 1970s. Float Like a Butterfly is essentially a road movie using boxing as a tonal ingredient, a mode of feminist expression and a potential escape route. Already an experienced actor at just 17, Doupe immerses herself fully in a role that requires intelligence to be balanced with raw determination. Authentic, funny, moving. 15A cert, lim release, 101 min DC

HIGH LIFE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Claire Denis. Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth, Lars Eidinger, Agata Buzek, Claire Tran, Ewan Mitchell, Gloria Obianyo
Told in jumbled form, Denis’s latest concerns a party of young people – and some of Binoche’s age – arguing on a spaceship headed for a black hole. The script, initially conceived by Nick Laird and Zadie Smith, now credited to the director and Jean-Pol Fargeau, is packed with further backstory, but so haphazard is the telling that those details are scarcely worth disentangling. It’s often fascinating, occasionally upsetting and consistently confusing. 18 cert, Triskel, Cork; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 113 min DC

THE HUSTLE ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Chris Addison. Starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Dean Norris, Ingrid Oliver, Tim Blake Nelson
The whimsical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, in which a debonnaire con artist (Michael Caine) competes with a gauche American huckster (Steve Martin), is itself a remake of 1964’s Bedtime Story. So it’s hard to see how four credited screenwriters working from a successful blueprint turned in the script for this crude, half-arsed sex comedy. The best scenes are (diminished) carbon copies of the original. Wilson is left with far too much to do and not enough material to work with, in every scene. Hathaway’s English accent is so appalling it drowns out all other considerations.. 15A cert, gen release, 94 min TB

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM ★★★★☆
Directed by Chad Stahelski. Starring Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Halle Berry, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Anjelica Huston
“After the first death there are no others,” Dylan Thomas wrote. Yeah, you obviously didn’t live long enough to see the John Wick films, boyo. The third film in the cycle finds our hero excommunicated and on the run. The films are certainly silly and a bit vulgar, but they are masterpieces of martial choreography. We have yet to see a genuinely brilliant video game adaptation, but the Wick films do amazing work with that world’s extravagant aesthetic. And Reeves is still a delight. 16 cert, gen release, 130 min DC

LONG SHOT ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Jonathan Levine. Starring Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård
What could have been the hippest comedy of 2008 is a gender-swapped Pretty Woman (yes, there’s an extended dance scene set to Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love), featuring a male journalist in the prostitute role. Insert your own punchline. Sadly, it isn’t 2008 and Long Shot’s upcycling of the central Knocked Up plank – successful career gal falls for loser stoner – feels dated, despite new unholstering with 2016 election fanfic. At one point in the film, Seth Rogen talks about nostalgia and pop cultures references: “Jimmy Fallon has made a career out of it.” That’s a bit rich coming from a script that trades entirely upon, well, nostalgia and pop culture references. 16 cert, gen release, 125 min TB

MEMOIR OF WAR/LA DOULEUR ★★☆☆☆*
Directed by Emmanuel Finkiel. Starring Mélanie Thierry, Benoît Magimel, Benjamin Biolay

New this week: Mélanie Thierry in Memoir of War/La Douleur
New this week: Mélanie Thierry in Memoir of War

Interminably dull adaptation of Marguerite Duras’s semi-autobiographical book La Douleur is a film about waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Set against the last days of the German occupation of France, this overextended Stella Artois commercial stars Thierry (in a committed performance despite unlovely material) as Marguerite, a writer desperately awaiting news of her husband. Mostly, she paces and pouts and ponders around her well-appointed apartment and delivers vast, stagnate chunks of voiceover. Club, IFI, 126 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
Kids hang, get up to no good, and ask wildly inappropriate questions in 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 theolder, 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 crackle and seeth. Drugs are taken. Heads are cracked. House parties are low-key wild. Super Nintendo controllers are used inappropriately. 16 cert, Triskel, Cork, 85 min TB

PAW PATROL: MIGHTY PUPS ★☆☆☆☆
Directed by Charles E Bastien. Voices of Chance Hurstfield, Kallan Holley
In a series of lectures at the Collège de France in the 1970s, Michel Foucault outlined a “secret history of the police”, a force that paid greater attention to regulating the marketplace than arresting criminals. The central task of the police, according to classical Foucauldian analysis, has also been to foil the possibility of revolution, the possibility of transgressing the order of capital: “For the bourgeoisie the main danger against which it had to be protected, that which had to be avoided at all costs, was armed uprising, was the armed people, was workers taking to the streets in assault against the government.” Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups, the first theatrical reiteration from the popular animated franchise, is the latest shadowy attempt to normalise state-sponsored thuggery. G cert, gen release, 70 min TB

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU ★★★☆☆
Directed by Rob Letterman. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere. Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy
Lapsed 21-year-old Pokémon trainer Tim (Smith) gets a call from faraway Ryme City, where humans and free-range Pokémon co-exist. The news is not good: Tim’s long-estranged police detective father and his Pikachu partner have been killed in an accident. There Tim is accosted by an eager junior reporter (Newton), who suggests there’s more to the accident than meets the eye. He also meets a Pikachu voiced by Reynolds. Imagine a fun, PG version of Deadpool that you didn’t want to kick in the head every second. The verbose pre-Raichu turns out to be a terrific innovation in a film that links back to the Mewtwo plot (not a spoiler; it’s in the trailer) of the original 1998 feature. If only the human characters were so engaging. PG cert, gen release, 104 min TB

ROCKETMAN ★★★★☆
Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones, Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven Mackintosh

New this week: Taron Egerton in Rocketman
New this week: Taron Egerton in Rocketman

Hugely entertaining biopic of Elton John. The tunes are sung as part of elaborate dance numbers that spring spontaneously from the situation. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting breaks out when young Elton entertains potentially riotous punters at the pub in Pinner. And so on. Egerton is great in the lead. Madden is creepy as Elton’s manager and lover. But will you escape without having to endure Princess Diana’s funeral? No spoilers here. 15A cert, gen release, 121 min DC

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 ★★★☆☆
Directed by Chris Renaud. Voices of Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Harrison Ford

New this week: The Secret Life of Pets 2
New this week: The Secret Life of Pets 2

Max (Oswalt), a nervy Jack Russell, spent all of 2016’s The Secret Life of Pets adjusting to life with Duke (Stonestreet), a Snuffleupagus-sized mutt adopted from the pound by Max’s human companion, Katie. In this colourful sequel, he takes rather less time warming to Katie’s new husband and son, a toddler who reduces Max to a mess of parental anxieties. And then there’s a family holiday. And then there’s a cat lady. And then a tiger needs rescuing from an evil Russian circus. These disparate subplots see the gang driving cars, hijacking a train, and (probably) gearing up to debate Slavoj Žižek. Though agreeably zany, it’s a sloppy affair, and Illumination’s weakest film since 2011’s Hop. G cert, gen release, 86 min TB

TOLKIEN ★★★☆☆
Directed by Dome Karukoski. Starring Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson
By Saruman, there’s a lot of motivation and inspiration in this study of JRR Tolkien (Hoult) as a young man. We begin in a hilly shire, from which John Ronald Reuel is soon dispatched to a terrifying version of Birmingham: dark piles illuminated by fiery mills. It’s Mordor. So is the first World War. There is too much of that trite foreshadowing, but, as events progress, the characters develop lives of their own. Ultimately rather moving, 12A cert, gen release, 111 min DC

TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG/TARDE PARA MORIR JOVEN ★★★☆☆
Directed by Dominga Sotomayor. Starring Demian Hernández, Antar Machado, Magdalena Tótoro,Matías Oviedo, Andrés Aliaga
Sotomayor’s third feature is a balmy semi-autobiographical coming-of-age set in 1990, at a moment when Chile was recovering from the reign of Pinochet. These larger socio-political developments have little bearing of the lives of the artists, musicians, children, and dogs who live in the far-flung ecological community of Peñalolén. Lucas (Machado), an aspiring teen musician, is in love with 16-year-old Sofia (Hernández), the gamene, precocious heroine. She, however, is more interested in chain-smoking, listening to Mazzy Star and flirting with the older Ignacio (Oviedo). It takes some time for the unhurried, summery shots to coalesce into a narrative as the camera drifts across a gauzy landscape, gamboling kids, and outdoor get-togethers. Club, IFI, Dublin, 110 min TB

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

WOMAN AT WAR ★★★★☆
Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson. Starring Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Magnús Trygvason Eliasen, Ómar Guðjónsson, Jóhann Sigurðarson
This Icelandic film opens with an act of sabotage, as the impressively jumpered 50-year-old heroine Halla (Geirharðsdóttir) uses a bow and arrow to take down a rural powerline. In her village no one suspects that the mild-mannered, t’ai chi practising choir mistress is spearheading a one-woman campaign against Iceland’s expanding aluminium industry. When Halla learns that she is in line to adopt a Ukrainian orphan (Hilska), she has to choose between her dream of having a child and her determination to save the world. As a comedy about the environment and an action film centred on a middle-aged woman, this curiosity is full of surprises. 12 cert, IFI, Dublin, 101 min TB

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