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

Doggerel: Milo Ventimiglia in The Art of Racing in the Rain, opening today

Doggerel: Milo Ventimiglia in The Art of Racing in the Rain, opening today


Directed by Thurop Van Orman. Voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Nicki Minaj, Awkwafina, Sterling K Brown, Eugenio Derbez, Danny McBride, Peter Dinklage
Red (Sudeikis), the franchise’s heavily eyebrowed avian hero, is suspicious when his former porcine adversaries the Bad Piggies request a truce, but the showering of icy boulders suggests that pig and bird-kind have a common foe. Enter Zeta (Jones), the megalomaniac purple queen of hitherto undiscovered Eagle Island. Zeta is apparently determined to take over both Pig and Bird Islands, and has a particular beef with the Lebowski-alike Mighty Eagle (Dinklage). Nobody expected The Angry Birds Movie (2016) to become the third highest-grossing film of all time based on a video game. The second film is not as entertaining, but it has some great voice talent, it breezes brightly along, and it has a nice anti-Thatcher message: “There is no such thing as the individual; there is only society.” We’re paraphrasing. G cert, gen release, 97 min TB

Directed by Sophie Hyde. Starring Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Fra Fee, Dermot Murphy, Amy Molloy, Kwaku Fortune, Olwen Fouere, Pat Shortt
Erwin Schrödinger first outlined the concept of the multiverse in Dublin in 1952. Perhaps the makers of Animals had this in mind when they set their film in some preposterous version of the capital, wherein folk who can’t hold down barista jobs live in vast Georgian houses, or perform sean-nós in salons surrounded by objects d’art; they dress in finest silks and never run out of money, just as well given all the booze they swill down. A parallel dimension might also account for English actor Grainger’s approximation(?) of a Dublin(?) accent, Happily, the drama has enough energy to compensate for the many implausibilities. Adapted by Emma Jane Unsworth from her 2014 novel, Animals stars Grainger and Shawkat as best friends and flatmates carousing and making mistakes across Dublin. 16 cert, lim release, 109 min TB

Directed by Gary Dauberman. Starring Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Stop the Ghost Train – I want to get off. The third Annabelle film is thin gruel that seems to know as much. The film, which was co-written by the wildly talented James Wan, attempts to offset its many limitations by briefly drafting in the big guns. Thus, Farmiga and Wilson essay The Conjuring’s Ed and Lorraine Warren for all of two short scenes, entrusting their haunted artefact room where the eponymous doll lurks menacingly to their secretly psychic daughter (Grace), her teenage babysitter (Iseman) and a troubled best friend (Sarife). What could possibly go wrong? Too much. Watching this often feels like being part of a focus group to ascertain the next spin-off monster franchise. 15A cert, gen release, 106 min TB

APOLLO 11 ★★★★★
Directed by Todd Douglas Miller
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. G cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 90 min DC

Directed by Simon Curtis. Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan, Gary Cole, voice of Kevin Costner
When people use the phrase “critic-proof movie” they usually mean The Lion King making a gazillion dollars despite poor reviews. Well, those folks haven’t watched The Art of Racing in the Rain. The terminal illness subplot is poor, And it’s all one giant advert for Ferrari. Even the title is horrible. But it has a dying dog. It doesn’t matter that the dog is voiced by Kevin Costner at his most folksy and that much of his incessant voiceover is comprised of – wait for it – life lessons gleaned from watching Formula One racing. Think dumber fortune cookies for gear-heads; think screwier Dianetics; think: “that which you manifest is before you”. PG cert, gen release, 109 min TB

Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Starring Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura

New this week: Viveik Kalra and Nell Williams in Blinded by the Light
New this week: Viveik Kalra and Nell Williams in Blinded by the Light

A young man from a Pakistani family finds salvation in the music of Bruce Springsteen. Based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir, Blinded by the Light is sentimental, implausible and laboured. It is also among the most irresistibly entertaining films of the summer. Chadha makes the best of an excellent cast: Kalra breaks through as the hero; Ghir is charming as his dad. What does most to banish cynicism, however, is the film’s effective communication of the feeling that one song can change the world. 12A cert, gen release, 117 min DC

Directed by Lila Avilés. Starring Gabriela Cartol, Teresa Sánchez
Avilés’ remarkable, rigorously researched debut concerns itself with the day to day rigours of working in a luxury Mexico City hotel. One of the film’s lesser pleasures is the detail it offers on how Eve’s job is done. The film is, however, most remarkable for its gentle teasing out of workplace relationships. This is not the worst job in the world, but its pressures clearly wear away at the soul. A gripping and oddly beautiful gem. Club, IFI, Dublin, 102 min DC

Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Carol Kane, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi
Jarmusch tackles the zombie movie in an amusing comedy about a midwestern town that goes all weird thanks to a shift in the Earth’s poles. There are few variations on the familiar conventions. What Jarmusch does bring is an awareness of contemporary panics and neuroses. He can deny (and he has) that The Dead Don’t Die is an “anti-Trump movie”, but the prevailing sense that something has gone profoundly wrong in the republic is very much of our time. 16 cert, gen release, 105 min DC

Directed by Spike Lee. Starring Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, John Savage, Samuel L Jackson, Martin Lawrence
Lee’s era-defining film gets a 30th anniversary rerelease. Hanging round a Bed-Stuy neighbourhood on the hottest day of the year, the picture takes us through the simmering discontents that lead eventually to something like a riot. Come for the politics, stay for the irresistible energy. Ernest Dickerson’s glaring cinematography. Public Enemy’s rising shriek. The beautifully detailed street life. It somehow failed to get nominated for best picture in the year that Driving Miss Daisy won. 18 cert, lim release, 120 min DC

Directed by David Leitch. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis
Deranged, overheated spin-off from the Fast franchise finds Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Statham) attempting to disable a “programmable bio-weapon of Biblical proportions”. There is not nearly enough of automotive mayhem and what we do get rarely reaches the heights of top episodes such as Fast Five or Furious 7. A chase through London was clearly filmed in Glasgow. A late Samoan pile-up relies too heavily on the physically implausible. They need to get back to basics. 12A cert, gen release, 136 min DC

GAZA ★★★★☆
Directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell

New this week: Gaza
New this week: Gaza

This beautifully shot documentary is careful with the details. Opening credits tells us that Gaza is a narrow strip of coastline bordered by Israel and Egypt, home to nearly two million Palestinians. The Islamic resistance movement Hamas has governed Gaza since 2007. Since then Israel has imposed a blockade and completely sealed its borders. Filmed between the Israeli war in 2014 nd the border protests in 2018; the movie’s very existence is enough for some to dismiss it as propaganda or “manipulative and disingenuous”. That’s a shame, as Gaza studiously avoids direct political engagement, Final scenes bring us up to May 2018 and some of the bloodiest clashes in Gaza’s history leaving 60 dead protesters and 2,500 injured. It’s a tragic ending for an already sorrowful, moving film 12A cert, gen release, 92 min TB

Directed by Isabella Eklöf. Starring Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer

New this week: Victoria Carmen Sonne and Lai Yde in Holiday
New this week: Victoria Carmen Sonne and Lai Yde in Holiday

Top Austrian miserabilist Ulrich Siedl doesn’t do sexy seaside films, but if he did it might look like this thrilling, provocative tale of coercion, performative femininity, and sunshine. Sacha (Sonne), the ornamental girlfriend of a violent criminal kingpin named Michael (Yde), arrives at the port city of Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera. As a plaything, Sacha has little to do but sunbathe, float in the pool at Michael’s luxurious villa, and wander around the shops. The moment Sacha begins a flirtation with Thomas (Römer), tragedy seems inevitable. The terror unfolds in long, sunny shots that keep us guessing to her thoughts and motivations. Danish writer-director Eklöf, who co-wrote Border (another of this year’s best films), has arrived with a bang. Club, Triskel, Cork; IFI, Dublin, 93 min TB

Directed by Dominic Brigstocke. Starring Sebastian Croft, Emilia Jones, Nick Frost, Craig Roberts, Kim Cattrall, Kate Nash, Rupert Graves, Alex Macqueen, Derek Jacobi, Lee Mack, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ella Smith
The Pythonesque sketches, silly songs and goofy energy of TV’s Horrible Histories makes a seamless transition to the big screen. Brainy Roman teen Atti (Croft) accidentally upsets the bratty Emperor Nero (Roberts) and is exiled to Britain. There he is captured by Orla (Jones), a plucky Celt who hopes to join the revolt led by Boudica (Nash). Before we get to the crucial Battle of Watling Street, we meet a wistful Roman commander (Mack), a game Cattrall as Agrippa, and Jacobi hilariously reprising his star-making turn from I, Claudius. The songs are a bit ramshackle and the scatalogical jokes may well date from the period depicted, but there’s an infectious sense of fun. PG cert, gen release, 92 min TB

Directed by Jon Favreau. Voices of Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, James Earl Jones, John Kani, Alfre Woodard, JD McCrary, Seth Rogan, Shahadi Wright Joseph
Pseudo-live action version of the 1994 animation concerning a young lion (voiced by McCrary and then Glover), his dead dad (Jones) and his jerk of an uncle (Ejiofor). This Lion King is certainly a remarkable technical achievement. Scrunch your eyes and you could be watching a half-interesting nature documentary. Yet nobody has done anything worth doing to character or story. It’s as if, 50 years ago, Nasa invested all that money in developing the world’s shiniest technology and used it to repeat the Mayflower’s voyage to Plymouth Rock. PG cert, gen release, 118 min DC

Directed by Nick Broomfield. Featuring Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Ron Cornelius, Helle Goldman
In 1960, struggling Leonard Cohen relocated to the Greek island of Hydra, a haven for artists, the plant-waterers and cat-minders of artists, and free love. There he met Marianne Ihlen, the ex-wife of novelist Axel Jensen and the mother of a young son. She became Cohen’s lover, the maker of his sandwiches, and the stunning blonde who sat at his feet while he dropped acid and banged out an incomprehensible novel. Who would ever be a muse? That’s the question underpinning Broomfield’s romantic, angry, funny, sorrowful new film, which contextualises Cohen’s carelessness and Ihlen’s passivity within contemporaneous social and cultural climate. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast, 102 min TB

Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter
Dani (Pugh) is already struggling with a seriously ill bipolar sister and her indifferent boyfriend Christian (Reynor), when a horrifying murder-suicide claims the lives of her entire family. Feeling guilty, Christian reluctantly invites Dani to join him and his friends on a trip to the remote Swedish commune where one of them was raised. Upon arriving, the friends are given hallucinogens and asked to take part in a nine-day ritual held once every 90 years. Fans of The Wicker Man or will know that no good can come of this sojourn. Following on from last year’s Hereditary. Aster’s trippy second feature confirms him as the most fascinating genre auteur around. 16 cert, gen release, 147 min TB

OLDBOY ★★★★★
Directed by Park Chan-Wook. Starring Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jung
The scenario remains as striking as it was on release in 2003. In a construction that Samuel Beckett would have savoured (if not enjoyed, exactly) Choi Min-sik plays a middle-aged man who, imprisoned mysteriously for 15 years, sets out for revenge when he is equally mysteriously released. Runner-up at Cannes in 2004, Park’s extraordinary South Korean thriller stands as one of the most influential films of the decade. It rips. It rumbles. It chills. 18 cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sat only), 120 min DC

ONLY YOU ★★★★☆
Directed by Harry Wootliff. Starring Laia Costa, Josh O’Connor, Peter Wight, Lisa McGrillis, Stuart Martin, Bobby Rainsbury
Elena (Costa) and Tom (O’Connor) have a meet-cute moment while competing for a late-night taxi in Glasgow on New Year’s Eve. But after some drunken fumbling and clumsy mansplaining of Elvis Costello’s I Want You, they end up in a relationship. There’s a small catch:: she’s actually 35 to his 26, and soon the relationship is a battle against infertility. Writer-director Wootliff’s sensual, heartful, and carefully observed drama is produced by Tristan Goligher (45 Years, Weekend) so it’s not surprising that Only You is powered along by the same romantic realism that defines Andrew Haigh’s work. 15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 118 min TB

Directed by Ron Howard. Featuring Luciano Pavarotti, Bono, Harvey Goldsmith, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras
Tolerable documentary on the legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Recordings were remastered. Video was restored. More than 53 interviews were conducted. Yet we end up with few revelations and few unexpected analyses. The film undoubtedly has a purpose. With its impeccable audio and visuals, it will play well to fans who, were the tenor still with us, would enjoy live relays of his performances. But this is by-the-numbers stuff. Bono is good value, mind. 12A cert, lim release, 114 min DC

Directed by Ritesh Batra. Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar, Akash Sinha, Shreedhar Dubey, Sanjay Kumar Sonu
Following on from two successful Anglophone pictures (The Sense of an Ending and Our Souls at Night) director Batra returns to India for this enchanting, low-key romance that replicates the wistful longing of Brief Encounter. Rafi (Siddiqu) hails from a far-flung northern village but is eking out a living photographing sightseers at the Gateway of India. One morning, he captures the image of soulful-looking Miloni (Malhotra), a twentysomething student. They are very different people. She’s privileged, light-skinned, Gujarati-speaking and Hindu; he’s poor, dark-skinned, Urdu-speaking and Muslim. Batra finds a quietude and intimacy against Mumbai’s teeming streets. The chemistry between the leads makes the film as plausible as it is magic. 15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 109 min TB

Directed by Lino DiSalvo. Voices of Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Bateman, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson, Meghan Trainor, Daniel Radcliffe

New this week: Playmobil: The Movie
New this week: Playmobil: The Movie

We begin with Anya Taylor-Joy singing a stupid “we can do anything” song while a startled child actor looks nervously off-camera for assistance. Then the siblings’ parents die and they are dispatched to a kingdom inhabited by the eponymous German toys. You what now? This shameless riposte to The Lego Movie somehow manages to be even sillier, dumber and more boring than it sounds. The songs alone cause death to lose a little of its sting. G cert, gen release, 99 min DC

Directed by Ben Stassen and Vincent Kesteloot. Voices of Julie Walters, Tom Courtney, Sheridan Smith, Ray Winstone, Jack Whitehall, Matt Lucas
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. But then 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

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

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. G cert, gen release, 86 min TB

Directed by Jon Watts Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal
You have to feel for the film-makers. Arriving after the much-loved Spider-Man: Homecoming and its buzzier, Oscar-winning animated cousin, Spider-Man: Into the Multiverse, the eighth Spider-Man film since the turn of the millennium is already facing something of a Sisyphean task. The final official film in Marvel Phase Three feels awfully minor after the grandiloquence of Avengers: Endgame. But Far from Home’s lack of narrative sophistication is often offset by its splendid cast. Holland’s Spider-Man maybe the most charming screen incarnation to date. The British-born actor has restored the fun that was leeched out of the franchise during the po-faced Andrew Garfield years. Zendaya, who does more with MJ than anyone might have reasonably thought possible, is never less than magical. 12A cert, gen release, 129 min TB

Directed by Ry Russo-Young. Starring Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, John Leguizamo, Jake Choi, Keong Sim, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Cathy Shim, Miriam A. Hyman

New this week: Charles Melton and Yara Shahidi in The Sun Is Also a Star
New this week: Charles Melton and Yara Shahidi in The Sun Is Also a Star

The fast-rising Yara Shahidi plays Natasha, a young physics student fighting to keep her family in the country. While wandering about New York in a distraught daze, she bumps into a handsome Korean-American named Daniel (Melton). They end up spending what may be Natasha’s last day in the US enjoying the loveliest commercial the New York Tourism Board never made. It’s too glossy, it’s too contrived. But the stars make it work and the locations are to die for. 12A cert, gen release, 100 min DC

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

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