Six of the best films to see at the cinema this weekend

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has everyone talking but there are better movies to see

The official trailer for the highly anticipated 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' has been released. Video: Lucasfilm Ltd.

 

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI ★★★
Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Laura Dern, Benecio del Toro. 12A cert, general release, 151 min

Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (the late Carrie Fisher, above) and others from the original trilogy are here to help guide the new characters through a hurricane of fan service. The latest adventure will stuff a Star Wars-shaped hole for those who need such a thing. But it’s barely a film. Not until the final, tolerably cathartic denouement does it become clear what this stodgy mass is actually about. Put simply, The Last Jedi is lodged several parsecs up its own black hole. 12A cert, gen release, 151 min Review/Trailer DC

FERDINAND ★★★
Directed by Carlos Saldanha. Voices of John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Daveed Diggs, Gina Rodriguez, David Tennant. G cert, general release, 106 min
 

The Story of Ferdinand – a cute fable about a bull who would rather sniff flowers than fight matadors – was a big deal in wartime. Released on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, it was banned in Spain until after Franco’s death. Blue Sky’s animated version embellishes the original narrative with various tried and tested family film subplots, including the little girl he wants to get back home (Lassie Come Home), the death of a parent (Bambi) and same-species bullies (Dumbo). It’s actually pretty charming. Review TB

MOUNTAIN ★★★★
Directed by Jennifer Peedom. Narrated by Willem Dafoe. Club, IFI, Dublin 74 min

Crafted from some 2,000 hours of footage shot in 15 countries – not to mention such astonishing documents as the recently restored Epic of Everest (1924) – Jennifer Peedom’s film is not short on breathtaking spectacle. Making terrific use of the archive of the appropriately named Canadian production house Sherpas Cinema, Mountain provides a marvellous compendium of the craziest extreme sports on the planet. Willem Dafoe’s voiceover doesn’t quite match, but it makes for good eye candy. Review TB

STRONGER ★★★★
Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown, Frankie Shaw. 15A cert, general release, 119 min

Jeff Bauman was the young man who, after losing both legs beneath the knee in the Boston Marathon bombing, helped identify the culprit from his hospital bed. Inevitably there was talk of a “Hollywood movie”. But they always say that. The film actually exists and it’s a very powerful study of PTSD. Jake Gyllenhaal is superb as an ordinary guy who begins to struggle under the pressure to be “Boston strong”.Review/Trailer DC

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL ★★★★
Directed by Takashi Miike. Starring Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi. 16 cert, general release, 141 min

Takashi’s 100th film follows the cursed warrior Manji (Kimura), a dying ronin who is made ageless by the sacred bloodworms of an 800-year-old witch. Fifty years after this vampiric interaction, and Manji, still grieving the loss of his sister, is approached by a young girl who wishes to hire the deathless depressive as her bodyguard and handy assassin. The director is as sharp as ever, and the film is the undisputed corpse pile-up of the year. Review TB

BETTER WATCH OUT ★★★
Directed by Chris Peckover. Starring Levi Miller, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Patrick Warburton, Virginia Madsen 16 cert, general release, 89 min

Cunning Christmas horror seemingly traps 12-year-old Lukas (Miller) and his 17-year-old babysitter, Ashley (The Visit’s DeJonge) in a home invasion movie, only to transform into a pleasingly zeitgeisty dissection of male entitlement. The film was originally called Safe Neighbourhood; a better title might have been It Came from Friendzone. While it’s no Christmas Evil (the grandaddy of Santa slasher flicks), it definitely makes our naughty list. Review TB

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