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: Aaron Taylor-Johnson in A Million Little Pieces

New this week: Aaron Taylor-Johnson in A Million Little Pieces


Directed by Ric Roman Waugh. Starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith. Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, Nick Nolte, Danny Huston. 15A cert, gen release, 121 min
Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Butler) is framed for an assassination attempt on the president (Freeman) because of an expensive conspiracy engineered by a former chum (Huston) and private military contractors. Much shooting ensues. Despite poor notices, xenophobic underpinnings and outrageous fear-mongering, the first two Fallen films grossed more than $376 million worldwide, along the way killing off many way-too-good-for-this-trash character actors (Angela Bassett! Noooo!). Following on from the eye-watering Islamophobia of London Has Fallen, Angel Has Fallen concerns the enemy within rather than pesky armed foreigners. That’s some cause to be cheerful. So too is the appearance of Nolte as a Unabomber-styled hermit. And that, alas, is where the fun ends. TB

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. G cert, gen release, 97 min
Red (Sudeikis), the 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 beef with the Lebowski-like 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

ANIARA ★★★★☆
Directed by Pella Kagerman, Hugo Lilja. Starring Emelie Jonsson, Bianca Cruzeiro, Arvin Kananian, Anneli Martini, Jennie Silfverhjelm, Peter Carlberg, Emma Broome, Jamil Drissi, Leon Jiber. 18 cert, gen release, 106 min

New this week: Aniara
New this week: Aniara

Aboard the Aniara, a spaceship taking passengers from the Earth to Mars., the job of Mimaroben (Jonsson) involves operating the a machine designed to recreate viewers’ cherished memories as virtual reality. The ship collides with debris, is thrown off-course and left without fuel reserves. By year four, there are horrific suicides and religious cults. This second film adaptation of Swedish poet Harry Martinson’s 1956 cycle of 103 cantos – Aniara has previously inspired a 1960 TV movie, a heavy metal album, and an opera – feels like the Rapture translated into elegant science fiction. TB

Directed by Sophie Hyde. Starring Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Fra Fee, Dermot Murphy, Amy Molloy, Kwaku Fortune, Olwen Fouere, Pat Shortt. 16 cert, Light House, Dublin (Fri only), 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

APOLLO 11 ★★★★★
Directed by Todd Douglas Miller. G cert, Light House, Dublin (Sun 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

Directed by Louis Clichy, Alexandre Astier. Voices of Ken Kramer, C Ernst Harth, John Innes, Mike Sheperd. PG cert, gen release, 86 min

New this week: Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion
New this week: Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion

Getafix slips into a late-life crisis and declares that he needs a successor to take over magic potion duties. He and his pals head out on a tour of Gaul that puts them the way of an evil Druid with Vincent Price’s delicious claret vowels. The animation is routine, the story haphazard and our favourite characters don’t get enough to do. (These Frenchmen are crazy!) But it’s Asterix. So it will just about do. DC

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

CRAWL ★★★★☆
Directed by Alexandre Aja. Starring Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper. 15A cert, gen release, 88 min
Aspiring swimmer Haley (Scodelario) heads into a Category 5 Floridian hurricane in search of her (kind of) estranged father Dave (Pepper). Acting against government advice and common sense, she returns to her former family home, where she finds her mauled father in the crawl space beneath the house. And he’s not alone. Can Haley and Dave survive both the rising waters and ravenous alligators? There may be better films released this year, but few will be as flat-out enjoyable. DC

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
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

Directed by Louis Garrel. Starring Laetitia Casta, Lily-Rose Depp, Joseph Engel, Louis Garrel. Club, Triskel, Cork, 75 min

New this week: Lily-Rose Depp in A Faithful Man
New this week: Lily-Rose Depp in A Faithful Man

“Got a sec?” Marianne (Casta) asks Abel (Garrel) as he is about to head out to work. She cooly tells him that she’s pregnant, that he’s not the father, that the father is a mutual friend, that she is marrying this mutual friend, and that Abel needs to move out before the wedding – in 10 days. Years pass, and the now widowed Marianne is pursued by Abel, despite claims from her eight-year-old son (Engel) that she poisoned his father. Abel, meanwhile, is pursued by his late friend’s younger sister (Depp), who, echoing the film’s opening romantic dismissal, calmly tells Marianne to get out of her damned way. This uneven but tremendously enjoyable film feels like a series of MacGuffins as it slyly shifts from fake murder-mystery to romantic-comedy to family melodrama. TB

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, 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

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
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

Directed by Penny Lane. Club, QFT, Belfast; Light House, Dublin, 95 min
Thank God for Satan. In 2013, two Harvard chums made headlines for a press conference at the Florida state capitol. Billing themselves as the Satanic Temple, they heaped praise on governor Rick Scott for signing a Bill to permit student-led “inspirational messages” at school events, which they welcomed for “allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school”. That act of prankster activism (prankstivism?) became a blueprint for what has become one of the fastest growing religions in America. We say religion, but the Satanic Temple praises neither gods nor devils. This devilishly entertaining documentary chronicles the growth of the Satanic Temple as it blossoms from a small group of outsiders into an international movement. Satan hasn’t looked this appealing since John Milton’s romantic write-up in Paradise Lost. TB

Directed by Andrea Di Stefano. Starring Rosamund Pike, Joel Kinnaman, Clive Owen, Common, Ana de Armas. 16 cert, gen release, 113 min

New this week: Clive Owen, Rosamund Pike and Joel Kinnaman in The Informer
New this week: Clive Owen, Rosamund Pike and Joel Kinnaman in The Informer

Actor and sometimes director Di Stefano’s drab film stars Kinnaman as a Polish-American hardman who – for reasons that get revealed weirdly late –has been pressed into acting as an FBI informant. Nice Fed Pikey is on his side. Tough Fed Clive is not. There are the seeds of some top-notch tension early on, but the film soon descends into a sludge of uninteresting cross and double-cross. Some of this plays out through action sequences. Quite a lot plays out in dull conversations. DC

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

Directed by Nick Broomfield. Featuring Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Ron Cornelius, Helle Goldman. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast, 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

Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter. 16 cert, Light House, Dublin (Sat only), 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

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Odessa Young, Giovanni Ribisi, Juliette Lewis, Charlie Hunnam. 16 cert, gen release, 113 min
In 2005, James Frey’s addiction memoir, an Oprah’s Book Club selection, spent 15 weeks at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list. The followoing year The Smoking Gun published an article called “A Million Little Lies”, detailing the fabrications in Frey’s account of his drug abuse, life and criminal record. Director Taylor-Johnson brings plenty of visual flair to the material: food decays on James’ plate as he looks at it; excrement runs down the walls; James’ efforts to take an inventory see younger versions of him wandering into the frame. But arriving after Ben Is Back and Beautiful Boy, this is an addiction memoir too far. TB

Directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Bruce Dern. 15A cert, gen release, 96 min

New this week: Matthias Schoenaerts in The Mustang
New this week: Matthias Schoenaerts in The Mustang

A prisoner (Schoenaerts) trains horses in the desolate deserts of Nevada. Boasting Robert Redford as executive producer (and you’d know it), The Mustang is a film about a rough diamond who gains some polish when asked to care for a needy animal. It’s a prison movie. It’s a horsey movie. The expected beats are struck with such commitment that it proves hard to resist. DC

Directed by Ivan Kavanagh. Starring Emile Hirsch, John Cusack, Deborah Francois, Danny Webb. 16 cert, lim release, 100 min
Hirsch plays an Irish carpenter who, in the mid-19th century, has settled down in a town on the route to California. Cusack plays Dutch Albert, the sinister hoodlum with plans to turn this God-fearing locale – a little too God-fearing at first – into a den of lubricious iniquity. Impressive western, shot in Connemara, from the director of The Canal. Impressively filthy, studded with convincing violence, the picture moves at a steady pace towards a satisfactorily violent denouement. A commendable oddity. DC

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
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

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Starring Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, Penélope Cruz. 16 cert, lim release, 113 min
Banderas is hypnotically captivating as a blocked film director in an exquisite, autumnal drama that escapes 8 ½ comparisons to breathe fresh Almodóvar air. The dextrous flitting between past and present and between trauma and comedy is, no doubt, the result of meticulous paring, but, on screen, it flows as smoothly as the most linear of narratives. Cruz spreads warmth as the protagonist’s mother in flashbacks. The images gleam. A great later work from an original for the ages. DC

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

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

Directed by André Øvredal. Starring Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Dean Norris. 15A cert, gen release, 107 min
This very agreeable (sometimes deliberately disagreeable) horror romp derives from a series of teenage shockers that emerged in the 1980s, but, under the sharp eye of producer Guillermo del Toro, the action has been dragged back to Halloween of 1968. The period ambience works well and the anthologised tales are spooky, but the framing story – a haunted house thing -– ends up taking over the movie. Solid for younger scare fans nonetheless. DC

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

Directed by Joanna Hogg. Starring Honor Swinton-Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Jack McMullen, Frankie Wilson. 15A cert, lim release, 120 min

New this week: Honor Swinton Byrne in The Souvenir
New this week: Honor Swinton-Byrne in The Souvenir

Striking, austere drama concerning the relationship between a young film student (Swinton-Byrne) and a well-off man (Burke) with an addiction issue. Set in the early 1980s, the picture is clearly autobiographical but, teased out by the cast from a rough outline, it takes on a bitter, brooding life of its own. Swinton-Byrne (daughter of Tilda) is convincingly fragile as the protagonist. Burke allows dark depths as her difficult lover. Hogg’s aesthetic is not always welcoming, but the raw honesty is daunting. DC

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 reasonably thought possible, is never less than magical. 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. 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

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
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

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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