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: Michelle Dockery, Geraldine James, Simon Jones and Matthew Goode in Downton Abbey

New this week: Michelle Dockery, Geraldine James, Simon Jones and Matthew Goode in Downton Abbey


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 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

BAIT ★★★★★
Directed by Mark Jenkin. Starring Edward Rowe, Simon Shepherd, Mary Woodvine, Giles King, Isaac Woodvine, Chloe Endean, Georgia Ellery. Club, QFT, Belfast; (Sat/Sun/Wed only), 89 min
Cinema can still be magic and light! Jenkin achieved a degree of prominence among film anoraks with his 2015 exposé of Cornwall’s housing crisis, shot on a clockwork Bolex cine-camera on monochrome 16mm and developed in a coffee solution. The promising auteur brings the same evocative and ghostly methodology to his extraordinary debut. There is heft behind the phantasmagoria and a story that is certain to resonate with many Irish fishing communities. Martin (Rowe, glowering magnificently) and Steven (King) are bickering brothers in a Cornish fishing village. Martin continues to eek out a living by selling fish and lobster door-to-door; Steven uses their late father’s boat to ferry tourists along the coast. It doesn’t help that the family home has been sold to well-heeled interlopers (Shepherd and Woodvine) as a weekend getaway. A romance between the couple’s daughter (Ellery) and Martin’s apprentice (Woodvine) adds to a sour atmosphere. There are battles concerning everything from parking spots to lobster pots, between the tourists and the traditionalists, disputes that gradually escalate from clipped exchanges to violence. TB

Directed by Lila Avilés. Starring Gabriela Cartol, Teresa Sánchez. Club, Triskel, Cork, 102 min
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. 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 Michael Engler. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton. PG cert, gen release, 122 min
Big-screen adaptation of the late TV series concerning Yorkshire nobs and their underlings. The team have picked up an idea from the most famous episode of forerunner Upstairs Downstairs, when the Bellamy family was visited by Edward VII. Now George V and Queen Mary are dropping in on the Crawley household. The ensuing chaos triggers a clatter of interweaving subplots that allow most surviving characters a neat story arc. It’s very cosy, but perfectly in tune with the series’ values. Dame Maggie steals it. DC

Directed by Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman. Starring Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, Will Forte, Claudia O’Doherty, Jamie Beaming, Terri Chandler, Risteard Cooper. 15A cert, gen release, 94 min

New this week: Will Forte and Maeve Higgins in Extra Ordinary
New this week: Will Forte and Maeve Higgins in Extra Ordinary

A driving instructor with psychic powers (Higgins) romances a client in rural Ireland. You couldn’t accuse Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman of selling us short on knockabout content. Extra Ordinary packs a staggering amount of material into its busy 94 minutes. It’s an intimate romp about everyday people, but, unusually for a film set in rural Ireland, it also opens portals to eternal damnation. You don’t see that every day. American import Forte is good value as a pompous rock star. DC

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

FOR SAMA ★★★★☆
Directed by Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts. Featuring Waad al-Kateab, Hamza al-Kateab. Club, lim release, 94 min

New this week: For Sama
New this week: For Sama

Stunning documentary concerning the life of a young woman, her doctor husband and their young child in an increasingly ravaged Aleppo. Waad al-Kateab began For Sama as a sort of video diary – a record in case she didn’t make it out alive. It was picked up as citizen journalism and then transformed into a film that allows moments of beauty among its parade of horrors. Nothing cuts through the propaganda more incisively than human stories. DC

GAZA ★★★★☆
Directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin (Sun/Tues only), 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 Lorene Scafaria. Starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Cardi B, Mercedes Ruehl. 16 cert, gen release, 110 min

New this week: Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers
New this week: Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers

So here come words we weren’t expecting to write: give Jenniffer Lopez the freaking Oscar for Best Supporting Actress now. The trailer for the tremendously entertaining Hustlers makes it look like a hen party extravaganza. But the film, in which dtrippers skim their Wall Street clientele using a heady mix of feminine wiles and MDMA, has far more wit and emotional heft. It’s a sturdy crime caper with an unexpectedly big heart and two tremendous performances: Wu works every acting muscle. Lopez, who is alternately maternal, sisterly, steeley and warm, reminds you that she has more old-school star wattage than Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Brad and Leo can muster together. TB

Directed by Andrea Di Stefano. Starring Rosamund Pike, Joel Kinnaman, Clive Owen, Common, Anda de Armas. 16 cert, gen release, 113 min
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 Andy Muschietti. Starring James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Jay Ryan, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard. 16 cert, gen release, 169 min
The sequel to the fairground-scare-ground hit picks up 27 years later, when the now grown-up Losers’ Club are summoned back to Derry to once again stand against supernatural child-killer Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Skarsgård). By the time the Losers reassemble for an appallingly staged sequence in a Chinese restaurant – characterised by a lazy consumption montage and unscary monsters – It: Chapter Two has already squandered any goodwill amassed by its predecessor. With silly creatures and three jump-scares in a purgatorial running time, it falls back on embarrassing attempts at humour. Juice Newton’s Angel of the Morning strikes up as black goop oozes. Worst of all, Jack Nicholson is copied and pasted in for a “Here’s Johnny!” punchline as Chastain’s character cowers in a cubicle. You’ll sink too. 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. 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, Triskel, Cork, 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 Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Bruce Dern. 15A cert, gen release, 96 min
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 Quentin Tarantino. Starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Scoot McNairy, Luke Perry, Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russell, Margaret Qualley, 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 Camilla Strøm Henriksen. Starring Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin, Maria Bonnevie, Sverrir Gudnason, Casper Falck-Løvås. Club, IFI, Dublin, 85 min

New this week: Maria Bonnevie and Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin in Phoenix
New this week: Maria Bonnevie and Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin in Phoenix

Newcomer Thedin gives an affecting, nuanced performance as Jill, the put-upon teen at the heart of this delicate, powerful mental health drama. On the eve of her 14th birthday, Jill tiptoes into the darkened family apartment and around her unstable mother (Bonnevie). It falls to Jill to tend to her younger brother (Falck-Løvås). Then their estranged father (Gudnason), a jazz trumpeter whose white suit and furniture signals his unsuitability for family life, visits, allowing Jill a brief respite from being the primary caregiver, But the viewer is already aware than even this break is built on a lie. There are nods towards Pan’s Labyrinth as Jill’s woes manifest themselves in fleetingly glimpsed monstrous forms. Mostly, Phoenix prefers grim, powerful realism to the supernatural. TB

Directed by André Øvredal. Starring Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Dean Norris. 15A cert, gen release, 107 min
This agreeable (and 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 Joanna Hogg. Starring Honor Swinton-Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Jack McMullen, Frankie Wilson. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 120 min
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

Directed by Stephen Clarke Dunne. Starring Dani Byrne, Nic Furlong, Christina Ryan, John Billy Kennerk, Karina Thompson, Steve Harris. 18 cert, lim release, 105 min
No-budget Irish comedy concerning the comings and going in a Dublin sex shop. The characters arrange themselves in rigid rows and, to an almost constantly static camera, barking out lines that would in too many cases have better remained unsaid. Other actors yell from the back of the set to make themselves heard. The fact that the film exists at all is something of a miracle. But Thank You Come Again (that title!) is of value largely as a brave oddity. 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

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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