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: Jordanne Jones in Metal Heart

New this week: Jordanne Jones in Metal Heart

 

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

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, Light House, Dublin (Sun only), 87 min DC

APOLLO 11 ★★★★★
Directed by Todd Douglas Miller

New this week: Apollo 11
New this week: Apollo 11

Yes, you do need another doc on the moon landing. Miller incorporates newly discovered 70mm footage into a film that tells the story from lift-off to splashdown with a careering energy that no previous documentarian has managed. Clocking in at a tidy 90 minutes, laid out in ruthlessly linear fashion, the film plays like one deep breath nervously exhaled. It’s also eye-wateringly beautiful to behold. There is little new information, but that scarcely matters. A classic. Club, lim release, 90 min DC

BALLOON ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Michael Herbig. Starring Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch, David Kross, Alicia von Rittberg, Thomas Kretschmann
Balloon concerns the Strelzyks and the Wetzels, two families who built a hot air balloon from cloths in a cellar in Thuringia, East Germany, and flew it across the border into Bavaria in September 1979. Their journey was optioned by Disney and filmed Night Crossing in 1982. Whatever that film’s flaws, it was, at least, current. This misconceived cold war drama fails to find any contemporary relevance or parallels, and, as many German critics have noted, couldn’t have arrived at more insulting moment, given the growing post-reunification disparity between the former East and West Germany. Certain plot devices – the Stasi’s security chief living beside the Strelzyk family and a romance between the eldest son and the Stasi’s daughter – might have been deemed too sitcom for Leave It to Mrs O’Brien. Club, QFT, Belfast (Fri/Tues only), 125 min TB

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
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

BRIGHTBURN ★★★☆☆
Directed by David Yarovesky. Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Emmie Hunter, Becky Wahlstrom
A couple adopt the alien humanoid who lands on their Kansas farm. But he has powers. The film-makers are not pointing just towards the generic traditions of the superhero, but also specifically towards the origin story of Superman. The conceit works brilliantly until, in the closing 20 minutes, Brightburn clatters disappointingly into a fatal uncertainty. Playing very much like a horror film, it gets at the parents’ terrible self-deceptions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t know how to end. 16 cert, gen release, 90 min DC

CHILD’S PLAY ★★★☆☆
Directed by Lars Klevberg. Starring Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, voice of Mark Hamill
Tolerable reboot of the 1980s scary-doll horror that spawned an increasingly comical franchise. The new version of Chucky, brand-named as Buddi, is an electronic plaything that connects to the other devices in a home’s “internet of things”. It seems likely that Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri will inspire many more horror films, but kudos to this venerable series for getting in there first. It’s funny, unpretentious and – released on the same day – an outrageous troll on Toy Story 4. 16 cert, gen release, 90 min DC

DIEGO MARADONA ★★★★☆
Directed by Asif Kapadia. Featuring Diego Maradona
Hugely impressive documentary on the legendary footballer from the man who brought us Senna and Amy. As in those films, the images are all drawn from archival footage – the football often filmed muddily at pitch level – with sparse fresh interviews rendered only as audio. Taking Maradona’s time at SSC Napoli as its spine, the picture passes in a dizzying rush that (appropriately, considering the subject) showcases Kapadia’s most stylish edits to date. Essential stuff. 15A cert, lim release, 130 min DC

GLORIA BELL ★★★★☆
Directed by Sebastián Lelio. Starring Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Holland Taylor, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rita Wilson, Chris Mulkey
A successful remake of Lelio’s Chilean film concerning a divorcee coping indifferently with bad family and worse boyfriends. Gloria still exhibits more tolerance than most of her associates deserve. She still enjoys dancing and singing along to the power-pop ballads of her young adulthood. Her eventual meltdown is less a fist-in-the-air moment than a quiet-smile-of-satisfaction moment. Moore’s celebrity perhaps gets in the way, but this is still a very satisfactory transfer. 15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 102 min DC

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Michael Dougherty. Starring Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Charles Dance, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Zhang Ziyi, Bradley Whitford, O’Shea Jackson Jr, David Strathairn
“This is the single greatest disaster in human history!” Steady on there, newsreader. It’s not quite that bad, but there is a sense that this franchise is already in the throes of a severe identity crisis. Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla was too sedate. Kong: Skull Island was a very enjoyable postmodern romp. The new film is a chaotic amalgam of Saturday morning cartoon and low-end 1970s disaster movie. Attack of the dialogue from hell! 12A cert, gen release, 132 min DC

IN FABRIC ★★★★☆
Directed by Peter Strickland. Starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill, Gwendoline Christie, Fatma Mohamed, Julian Barratt

New this week: Fatma Mohamed and Mariane Jean-Baptiste in In Fabric
New this week: Fatma Mohamed and Mariane Jean-Baptiste in In Fabric

There are hints of the occult about Dentley & Soper, the department store at the centre of this unnerving portmanteau, with its hypnotic television advertisements and in it’s witchy, imposing staff. It comes to pass that hard-working, newly divorced Sheila (Jean-Baptiste) acquires a cursed frock. The second, less convincing story sees an unfortunate repairman (Bill) stuck with the dress as a prank at his bachelor party, before passing it on to his fiancee (Squires). Anthology films typically feature three stories, leaving In Fabric with either too few or too many. In common with Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy, the film is styled after the vibrant giallo films of the 1970s, notably those of Dario Argento and Mario Bava. Unlike Strickland’s previous work, however, it always feels like homage rather than art in its own right. A fabulous, spooky thing just the same. 18 cert, gen release, 118 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

LATE NIGHT ★★★☆☆
Directed by Nisha Ganatra. Starring Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Reid Scott, Amy Ryan
Late Night is loosely inspired by Kaling’s experience of being the only woman – and the only person of colour – in a writing room. Said room is a group of lads struggling to come up with new material for Katherine Newbury (Thompson). The icy TV chat show host, characterised by journalists as “Your Least Favorite Aunt”, is struggling with falling ratings and little or no capacity for the common touch. Upon learning that this season will be her last, a desperate Katherine barks an order to “Just hire a woman”. Enter Molly Patel (Kaling), a fan-girl with no experience but plenty of enthusiasm and cupcakes for all. Kaling’s zippy, big-hearted screenplay finds humour in the diversity hire experience. 15A cert, gen release, 102 min TB

MA ★★★☆☆
Directed by Tate Taylor. Starring Octavia Spencer, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Juliette Lewis, Skyler Joy, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, Andrew Matthew Welch, Missi Pyle
Spencer plays slightly against type as a maniac who befriends teenagers in a fitful horror film from the director of The Help. The weirdly starry cast unexpected class to a picture that might once have been released in SCARO-VISION. The occasional pretentions to meaning are a tad misguided. More should have been made of Spencer’s warm side. But there is still plenty of fun to be had. At least two Stephen King plots are creatively re-invented. 16 cert, gen release, 99 minDC

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL ★★☆☆☆
Directed by F Gary Gray. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall
Largely terrible fourth episode of the sequence that casts Thompson (sardonic, amusing) and Hemsworth (wasted) as replacements for Will Smith and the other guy. From the off-the-peg urban locations to the generic title that treats the word “international” as instant coffee manufacturers once treated the word “continental”, Men in Black 4 (5? 8? 165?) is so perfunctory that, even before it’s over, the film has taken on the quality of a late sequel you’re not sure ever happened. Dull, confused, boring. 12A cert, gen release, 114 min DC

METAL HEART ★★★★☆
Directed by Hugh O’Conor. Starring Jordanne Jones, Leah McNamara, Moe Dunford, Seán Doyle, Aaron Heffernan
Two very different sisters – Jones the goth, McNamara the polished Heather – have adventures when their dad leaves them alone for the summer in middle-class Dublin. The temptation to reduce McNamara to an empty shell or oversell Jones’ maverick status is resisted. “Just because you’re miserable doesn’t mean you’re interesting,” one barks. “Just because you’re superficial doesn’t mean you’re nice,” the other retorts. A generous, witty feature debut from actor O’Conor. 15A cert, lim release, 89 min DC

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 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

PRISONERS OF THE MOON ★★★☆☆
Directed by Johnny Gogan. Starring Jim Norton, Cathy Belton, Garrick Hagon, Alan Devine, Matt Addis, Marty Rea, Eli Rosenbaum, Michael Neufeld

New this week: Jim Norton and Cathy Belton in Prisoners of the Moon
New this week: Jim Norton and Cathy Belton in Prisoners of the Moon

Gogan offers an alternative commemoration of the moon landing with this odd combination of documentary and historical recreation. Unfortunately, the oil doesn’t quite mix with the water. The wider study of Arthur Rudolph, a former Nazi who worked in the US space programme, is genuinely fascinating. The lengthy recreation of an immigration hearing from late in his life is much less successful. Nobody seems comfortable with the text. Everybody seems very Irish. 12A cert, lim release, 75 min DC

THE QUEEN’S CORGI ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Ben Stassen and Vincent Kesteloot. Voices of Julie Walters, Tom Courtney, Sheridan Smith, Ray Winstone, Jack Whitehall, Matt Lucas

New this week: The Queen’s Corgi
New this week: The Queen’s Corgi

Rex (voiced by Whitehall), a present from Queen Elizabeth’s apparently doting husband, rises through Buckingham Palace’s canine ranks to become the sovereign’s spoiled and favourite Corgi. Any welcome similarities with Yorgos Lantimos’s depiction of the court of Queen Anne come to an end when a jealous doggie rival (Lucas) attempts to drown the pampered pooch beyond the palace walls. Rex is rescued and brought to a pound where, in the manner of Rose in Titanic, he is reinvigorated by contact with the lower orders, in particular a slinky Saluki (Smith). Elsewhere, the cutesypie Royals are joined by comical versions of the Trumps. Even the most fanatical supporter of the British monarchy will struggle to find cause for Union Jack waving. PG cert, gen release, 85 min TB

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

SUNSET/NAPSZÁLLTA ★★★★★
Directed by László Nemes, Starring Juli Jakab, Vlad Ivanov, Marcin Czarnik, Evelin Dobos, Judit Bárdos
Nemes reunites with Son of Saul co-writer Clara Royer for this sumptuous account of the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In 1913 Budapest, Írisz (Jakab) makes her way to the ritzy hat shop that still bears her family name. Her name immediately startles all those who hear it. Her parents perished in a fire on the site of the shop when Irisz was still an infant. There are rumours that she may have a brother, who may have started the blaze and who may have viciously murdered a count. Characters shift disconcertingly from benevolent to inscrutable to downright menacing from scene to scene. There are odd, archaic rituals with occultish undertones. A strange coda set in the trenches suggests that Sunset is a parable about class struggle, but the deliciously enigmatic screenplay lends itself to multiple readings. A splendid artwork to be admired and puzzled over, featuring fantastic feats of millinery. 15A cert, Triskel, Cork, 142 minTB

SUPPORT THE GIRLS ★★★★★
Directed by Andrew Bujalski. Starring Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, James LeGros, AJ Michalka, Dylan Gelula, Shayna McHayle, Lea DeLaria, Jana Kramer, Brooklyn Decker

New this week: Regina Hall and Haley Lu Richardson (centre) in Support the Girls
New this week: Regina Hall and Haley Lu Richardson (centre) in Support the Girls

Writer-director Bujalski has a knack for making entertaining, character-driven adventures in unlikely places. His sixth feature strikes a familiar baggy, frantic tone before it sneaks up with warmth and biting social satire. Lisa (Hall) is the beleaguered manager of low-rent roadside Hooters knock-off, Double Whammies. It’s a terrible job under a mean-spirited, incompetent and racist boss (LeGros). But Lisa takes her duties and her co-workers seriously, rushing to kick out a rude biker, arranging last minute childcare for a young single mother (McHayle aka Junglepussy), and ensuring the uniforms don’t reveal too much. Support the Girls can feel like a daytime, gender-swapped riposte to the cinematic meltdowns of Good Time or After Hours. Deep, thoughtful characterisations, right down to the smallest roles, make for something richer than nervous energy. 15 cert, QFT, Belfast; IFI, Dublin, 91 min TB

TOY STORY 4 ★★★☆☆
Directed by Josh Cooley. Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves
Inevitable, wallet-pinching sequel to a series that seemed completed w wen it reached trilogy status. This time round the toys are on a road trip. Toy Story 4 is better than such late add-ons are normally allowed to be. The jokes are nippy and subversive. The inevitable middle-act chaos is less haphazard than that in Finding Dory. Some long-standing annoyances have been addressed. Bo Beep gets her story. Woody’s status as a narc and a class traitor is undermined. G cert, gen release, 100 min DC

X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Simon Kinberg. Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Jessica Chastain, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee
The largely terrible 12th episode in the X-Men cycle finds Turner playing a version of Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey, who goes bonkers after having her powers hugely increased in outer space. Turner delivers all her lines as if trying to make sense to Siri while a pneumatic drill hammers nearby. You might reasonably conclude that the plot had been scribbled down on the back of a menu after a long, drunken lunch. If this is truly the last, we wish the franchise good riddance. 12A cert, gen release, 114 min DC

YESTERDAY ★★★★☆
Directed by Danny Boyle. Starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon

New this week: Himesh Patel in Yesterday
New this week: Himesh Patel in Yesterday

Yesterday, a musical fairy tale penned by Richard Curtis and directed with verve by Boyle, begins with a classic sci-fi “what if?” Jack (Patel), is a charming singer-songwriter struggling to find an audience in his native Clacton-on-Sea, despite the best efforts of his hard-crushing schoolteacher chum and part-time manager (James). Following a disastrous appearance at a music festival, Jack is on the verge of packing away his guitar for good when, following a mysterious worldwide blackout, he realises that he is now the only person who can remember The Beatles. One demo later and he’s on tour with Ed Sheeran (who proves a good sport) and under the thumb of a steely American agent (McKinnon, going full panto villain). Patel has a wide-eyed charisma, James, although underused, is a delight, and the earnestly covered music ensures this is a magical mystery tour worth boarding. 12A cert, gen release, 116 min TB

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