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: Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows, exclusively at the Triskel in Cork

New this week: Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows, exclusively at the Triskel in Cork

 

THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2 ★★★☆☆
Directed by Thurop Van Orman. Voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Nicki Minaj, Danny McBride, Peter Dinklage. G cert, gen release, 97 min
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. TB

ANIMALS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Sophie Hyde. Starring Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Fra Fee, Dermot Murphy, Amy Molloy, Kwaku Fortune, Olwen Fouere, Pat Shortt. 16 cert, lim release, 109 min
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. TB

ANNABELLE COMES HOME ★★☆☆☆
Directed by Gary Dauberman. Starring Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson. 15A cert, gen release, 106 min
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. TB

APOLLO 11 ★★★★★
Directed by Todd Douglas Miller. G cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri/Tues only), 90 min
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. DC

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN ★★★☆☆
Directed by Simon Curtis. Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan, Gary Cole, voice of Kevin Costner. PG cert, gen release, 109 min
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”. TB

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT ★★★☆☆
Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Starring Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura. 12A cert, gen release, 117 min
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. DC

DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD ★★★★☆
Directed by James Bobin. Starring Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Jeff Wahlberg, voices of Danny Trejo, Benicio Del Toro. PG cert, gen release, 102 min

New this week: Isabela Moner in Dora and the Lost City of Gold
New this week: Isabela Moner in Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Remember when Paramount announced a live action Dora the Explorer and we all made barrell-scraping gestures and memes? Remember when the first stills of Isabella Moner as Dora emerged to shrieks of “You ruined my childhood!”? Well, to paraphrase its pint-sized Latina heroine: “Haters no hating” – this all-ages action-adventure, fashioned after the hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is a delight. A starry cast, including Del Toro (who voices Swiper the Fox) and Trejo (Boots the Monkey), have a ball with big, broad performances. Except, of course, for Moner, who plays Dora dead straight, a turn as magical as it is astute. TB

FAST & FURIOUS: HOBBS & SHAW ★★☆☆☆
Directed by David Leitch. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis. 12A cert, gen release, 136 min
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. DC

GAZA ★★★★☆
Directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell. 12A cert, QFT, Belfast; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 92 min
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. TB

GOOD BOYS ★☆☆☆☆
Directed by Gene Stupnitsky. Starring Jacob Tremblay, Keith L Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Lil Rel Howery, Will Forte, Midori Francis. 16 cert, gen release, 90 min

New this week: Good Boys
New this week: Good Boys

Produced by Seth Rogen and others from the Superbad camp, Good Boys presents three youngsters with a mission to be completed before, yes, they attend a wild bash in the suburbs. In this instance, it’s a “kissing party” and they need a few tips before puckering up. Here’s something you didn’t know you needed, but might have guessed you were going to get anyway: a comedy about, but not for, though apparently by, half-brained 12-year-old boys. DC

HOLIDAY ★★★★★
Directed by Isabella Eklöf. Starring Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer. Club, IFI, Dublin, 93 min
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 releases), has arrived with a bang. TB

HORRIBLE HISTORIES: ROTTEN ROMANS ★★★☆☆
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. PG cert, gen release, 92 min
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. TB

THE LION KING ★★☆☆☆
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. PG cert, gen release, 118 min
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. DC

MARIANNE & LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE ★★★★☆
Directed by Nick Broomfield. Featuring Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Ron Cornelius, Helle Goldman. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast, Triskel, Cork; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 102 min
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. TB

MIDSOMMAR ★★★★★
Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter. 16 cert, gen release, 147 min
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 Josh (Harper) and Mark (Poulter) and Pelle (Blomgren) on a trip to the remote Swedish commune where Pelle was raised. Upon arriving in Halsingland where, in keeping with the title and geography, the sun never sets, 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. TB

ONCE UPON A TIME IN . . . HOLLYWOOD ★★★★☆
Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Damon Herriman, Austin Butler, Emile Hirsch, Scoot McNairy, Luke Perry, Al Pacino, Lena Dunham, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant. 18 cert, gen release, 161 min

New this week: Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood
New this week: Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood

An actor and his stunt double have adventures in LA. Tarantino’s ninth film is really about the end of various eras, and, looming throughout, the Manson murders could hardly offer a more definitive full stop to one version of the late 1960s. But that’s all the killings are here: a closing parenthesis to the director’s massive aside on the pop culture of his childhood. It’s rambling and occasionally dubious, but the dialogue zings and the period detail bings. No one else is doing anything like this. DC

PAVAROTTI ★★★☆☆
Directed by Ron Howard. Featuring Luciano Pavarotti, Bono, Harvey Goldsmith, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin, 114 min
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. DC

PENNY SLINGER: OUT OF THE SHADOWS ★★★★☆
Directed by Richard Kovitch. Featuring Penny Slinger. Club, Triskel, Cork, 94 min
The artist recalls drawing her first “really accomplished” picture in 1952, made when she was 4½. It was of her parents, both stark naked and both “completely sexually endowed”. The drawing “set the tone” says Slinger, who, as one of Britain’s most significant surrealist artists, has produced pornographic dolls houses, erotic wedding cakes, magic boxes, anotomical Venus variations, and mummified birds of prey. This compelling documentary portrait features extensive commentary from Slinger and interviews with art historians, curators and her various sexual and artistic collaborators, and intersects with Germaine Greer, Mick Jagger and fellow surrealists Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst. TB

PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE ★☆☆☆☆
Directed by Lino DiSalvo   Voices of Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Bateman, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson, Meghan Trainor, Daniel Radcliffe. G cert, gen release, 99 min
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. 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. G cert, gen release, 86 min
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. TB

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME ★★★☆☆
Directed by Jon Watts Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal. 12A cert, gen release, 129 min
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 thought possible, is never less than magical. TB

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR ★★★☆☆
Directed by Ry Russo-Young. Starring Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, John Leguizamo, Jake Choi, Keong Sim, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Cathy Shim, Miriam A Hyman. 12A cert, gen release, 100 min
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. 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. G cert, gen release, 100 min
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. DC

TRANSIT ★★★★★
Directed by Christian Petzold. Starring Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese, Lilien Batman, Maryam Zaree, Barbara Auer, Matthias Brandt, Sebastian Hülk. 12A cert, lim release, 102 min

New this week: Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski in Transit
New this week: Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski in Transit

A strange young man takes on another’s identity while trying to escape Marseilles in a time of occupation. Petzold transfers Anna Seghers’s source novel, set during the second World War, into something like the present day. This is both stranger and less strange than it sounds: we could be in a plausible alternative present where the right has taken over. Austere and occasionally confusing, the film remains as fascinating as earlier Petzold films such as Yella, Jerichow, Barbara and Phoenix. DC

UGLYDOLLS ★☆☆☆☆
Directed by Kelly Asbury. Voices of Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, Ice-T, Blake Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Emma Roberts, Jane Lynch, Wang Leehom, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, Lizzo, Nick Jonas, Pitbull. G cert, gen release, 87 min

New this week: UglyDolls
New this week: UglyDolls

This is less a movie than a contemplative space wherein the viewer – or more accurately the participant – explores the shifting dynamic between the eponymous plush toys and the hegemony of play. Moving through unexamined assumptions about The Self, The Body and Othering, UglyDolls creates a terrifying sense of confinement and operates as a profound yearning for escape that lingers far beyond the experience itself. The film’s relatively short chronology challenges and tilts traditional understandings and readings of the moment. Challenging. TB

YESTERDAY ★★★★☆
Directed by Danny Boyle. Starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon. 12A cert, gen release, 116 min
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. TB

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