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

New this week: BlacKkKlansman, Alpha, The King, The Spy Who Dumped Me

Black is beautiful, baby: John David Washington and Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman

Black is beautiful, baby: John David Washington and Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman

 

BLACKKKLANSMAN ★★★★
Directed by Spike Lee. Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Jasper Pääkkönen, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold, Michael Joseph Buscemi. 16 cert, general release, 135 min
Coming off as a spicy mix of 1970s cop show, blaxsploitation thriller, civil rights jeremiad and didactic documentary, Lee’s latest circles around the true story of a black cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. With one swift movement, the sharp John David Washington (son of Denzel) shakes off his family history and carves out a place just for himself. The collision of styles is exhilarating. Terence Blanchard’s soundtrack is a blast. What’s not to like? Spike’s best in decades. Full review DC

ALPHA ★★★★
Directed by Albert Hughes. Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chuck, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhanness, Jens Hultén, Leonor Varela. 12A cert, general release, 96 min

A tremendous all-ages action picture with a dash of Jack London-brand adventuring and a smidgeon of William Goldman’s The Inheritors, Alpha is an absorbing origins story for the domestication of the dog. Keda (the magnetic Smit-McPhee), is left for dead during a bison hunt. Having befriended an equally injured wolf, boy and proto-dog undertake a perilous journey toward home, defined by many electrifying set pieces. TB

THE KING ★★★
Directed by Eugene Jarecki. Featuring James Carville, Greil Marcus, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris, Immortal Technique, Van Jones, Alec Baldwin, Ethan Hawke, The Handsome Family, Mike Myers Dan Rather. Club, limited release, 107 min

Less than an hour into Jarecki’s sprawling documentary, the director turns to the chief of his road crew. “What do you think I’m doing with this movie?” asks Jarecki, the award-winning film-maker behind Freakonomics, Why We Fight and The Trials of Henry Kissinger. The chief doesn’t know any more than we do. Jarecki crams musicians (M Ward, John Hiatt, The Handsome Family) into the back seat of the Elvis Rolls Royce and lets them play while he tears about Tupelo, Memphis, Nashville. It’s really a film about America and Donald Trump. Random, but never dull. TB

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME ★★★
Directed by Susanna Fogel. Starring Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson, Ivanna Sakhno, Fred Melamed, Jane Curtin. 15A cert, general release, 117 min

We really, really don’t need another spy spoof (still less another whose title alludes to the 10th Bond film). But, for its first hour, The Spy Who Dumped Me suggests that there might be some petrol left in this tank. Before spinning into chaos, Fogel’s sharply scripted film makes good, contrasting use of its two leads: Kunis is exasperated; McKinnon contains her tendencies to excess. Then, alas, it falls apart like a clown car. Full review DC

THE HEIRESSES/LAS HEREDERAS ★★★★
Directed by Marcelo Martinessi. Starring Ana Brun, Margarita Irún, Anna Ivanova, Nilda Gonzalez, María Martins, Alicia Guerra,Yverá Zayas. Club, IFI, Dublin, 98 min

Chela (Brun) and Chiquita (Irún) are two wealthy older lesbians living a life that is very much fur coat and no knickers. Now that Chela’s inheritance has dwindled, the women are slowly selling bits and pieces from their elegant home. When Chiquita is sent to debtors’ jail, Chela starts to drive her elderly neighbour to her weekly card game. This brings in a small income and allows her to befriend other women, including the ridiculously racy Angy (Ivanova), a bisexual with considerable flirtation skills. This Paraguayan award-winner is a welcome new entry into the same subgenre as Gloria and Aquarius. Full review TB

THE GUARDIANS/LES GARDIENNES ★★★★
Directed by Xavier Beauvois. Starring Nathalie Baye, Laura Smet, Iris Bry, Cyril Descours, Nicolas Giraud, Olivier Rabourdin. Club, IFI, Dublin, 134 min

Working from a 1924 novel by Ernest Pérochon, Beauvois (Of Gods and Men) and editor/cowriter Marie-Julie Maille have crafted a historical chronicle of the women left behind in rural France during the first World War. A romance between a returning soldier and a farmhand adds drama to an immaculate and tasteful picture. Under the bucolic gaze of cinematographer Caroline Champetier (Holy Motors), there’s not a single frame of this historical drama that might not hang in a gallery collection titled “After Monet”. Full review TB

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