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

New this week: Tough-minded Tully is not what you expect when you’re expecting

The help: Mackenzie Davis and Charlize Theron in 'Tully'

The help: Mackenzie Davis and Charlize Theron in 'Tully'

 

TULLY ★★★★
Directed by Jason Reitman. Starring Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, Emily Haine, Elaine Tan. 15A cert, general release, 96 min
Reitman reunites with Theron and Diablo Cody, writer of his breakthrough Juno, for an ingenious (sometimes too ingenious) examination of the rigours of motherhood. Flat-out after the birth of her third child, Theron is gifted the services of a “night nanny” (Davis) to allow some sleep during the small hours. She suddenly realises how annihilated she has become. Not everybody will buy the jarring ending, but the film plays fair with its audience. All the bits fit together and Theron is terrific. Full review DC

LEAN ON PETE ★★★★
Directed by Andrew Haigh. Starring Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Travis Fimmel, Steve Zahn, Amy Seimetz, Justin Rain. 15A cert, general release, 127 min

Charley (Plummer), a motherless 15-year-old Portlandian, happens upon a local racetrack, hardboiled horse owner Dell (Buscemi), and his world-weary jockey, Bonnie (Sevigny). Bonnie repeatedly warns the boy not to get too attached to Lean on Pete, the ill-starred racehorse of the title. But it’s already too late. The spirit of Sam Shepard lives on in this unsentimental coming-of-age tale, an unvarnished fable that falls somewhere between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Grapes of Wrath. TB

MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER ★★★★
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Voices of Ruby Barnhill, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Teresa Gallagher, Ewen Bremner. PG cert, limited release, 104 min

Mary (Barnhill) is a red-headed klutz holidaying at her Great Aunt Charlotte’s estate. Finding a broomstick, she is whisked away to the Endor School for witches and warlocks, where the headmistress (Winslet) and a mad scientist (Broadbent) mistake her for their newest pupil. A sign reading: “Trespassers will be transformed” suggests this centre for alchemical excellence is not going to be as much fun as Hogwarts. The debut feature from Studio Ponoc was produced by Studio Ghibli veterans, including director Yonebayashi, and it shows. As transporting as any witch’s broomstick. TB

A CAMBODIAN SPRING ★★★★
Directed by Chris Kelly. 15A cert, limited release, 127 min

This documentary focuses on three people involved in a series of protests – based mainly around land ownership – that some have dubbed the “Cambodian Spring”. Venerable Sovath, a Buddhist monk, speaks persuasively about his wider social responsibilities and why he can’t “stay in the pagoda”. Toul Srey Pov and Tep Vanny make the case for displaced citizens. Kelly tells his complex story with great lucidity and works some startling images into the edit. Six worthwhile years in the making. DC

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ★★★
Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Sebastian Stan, Benecio del Toro, Paul Bettany, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Peter Dinklage. 12A cert, general release, 149 min

If Thanos (Brolin) will allow us to say so, the latest superhero chaos kicks off when that alien tyrant arrives on Earth in search of magic jewels that will allow him to dominate or destroy or redecorate the universe. Before long, everybody in Stan Lee’s phone book has rallied in resistance. Even Marvel sceptics might, if the film didn’t take its guff so seriously, accept the gang-show aesthetic and offer two cautious thumbs up. But it’s as up-itself as ever. Full review/trailer DC

BEAST ★★★★
Directed by Michael Pearce. Starring Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James, Trystan Gravelle, Oliver Maltman, Charley Palmer Rothwell. 15A cert, limited release, 107 min

Upstaged her own deathly birthday party, Moll (Buckley, terrific) slinks off to a local nightclub where a boozy evening is rounded off with an encounter with rugged Pascal (Flynn), a huntsman who lives off the land. Pearce’s film resurrects the psychological thriller with jolts of Hitchcockian intrigue and class snobbery. The insular Jersey setting amplifies both Moll’s isolation and rebellion and makes for strange colonial undercurrents and hints of such ley-line English horrors as The Wicker Man. Full review/trailer TB

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