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

New this week: The Rider, Crazy Rich Asians, Lucky, A Mother Takes Her Son to Be Shot

Plains speaking: Brady Jandreau in The Rider

Plains speaking: Brady Jandreau in The Rider

 

THE RIDER ★★★★★
Directed by Chloé Zhao. Starring Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Lane Scott, Cat Clifford. 15A cert, limited release, 102 min
Brilliant naturalistic tale of a rodeo rider dealing with life after a serious blow to the head. Zhao addresses her concerns with the gentlest of cinematic grammars. She has vast plains and vaster skies at her disposal, but she uses them only as occasional punctuation. The plot is stripped to a bare skeleton. Brady Jandreau, playing a genuinely decent man, speaks in a near-murmur that communicates as much to horses as it does to human beings. Subtle, touching, powerful. Full review DC

CRAZY RICH ASIANS ★★★
Directed by Jon M Chu. Starring Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Gemma Chan. 12A cert, general release, 121 min

Rachel (Wu), a Chinese-American professor at NYU and a hugely likable clever-clogs, accompanies her suave boyfriend Nick (Golding), a Chinese businessman from Singapore, home for his best friend’s wedding. Only then does Rachel learn that Nick is the heir to a real-estate empire, a “crown prince” as the locals have it. Nick’s imperious mother (Yeoh) expects him to return to Singapore and marry a suitable – read rich -– local. A big-skirted Cinderella story that coasts along on the chemistry between Wu and Golding and is entirely resistant to attempts at Maoist analysis. Full review/trailer TB

LUCKY ★★★★
Directed by John Carroll Lynch. Starring Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr, Tom Skerritt, Barry Shabaka Henley, Beth Grant, Bertila Damas, Yvonne Huff. Club, limited release, 88 min

This quirky drama, in which the late Harry Dean Stanton contemplates the mortality of Harry Dean Stanton, is really something to see. A living wake populated by a fine cast of veteran character actors, Lucky follows the nonagenarian of the title as he goes about his final days. Every morning, he exercises, drinks milk, puts on his cowboy clothes, sets off on his rounds. This is no fluffy eulogy or hagiography. There are flashes of anger and malcontent throughout. Every day, Lucky stands before a mysterious pit-stop to shout out an expletive. There’s an ongoing battle concerning the enforcement of smoking regulations, a contest that ultimately provides the film with a marvellous visual coda. Full review TB

A MOTHER TAKES HER SON TO BE SHOT ★★★★
Directed by Sinead O’Shea. 15A cert, limited release, 87 min

The arresting title of this grim documentary helps explain what drew O’Shea towards the unresolved conflicts that stalk the Creggan estate on the outskirts of Derry. The director heard that one Majella O’Donnell had, indeed, made a “shooting appointment” with paramilitaries for her son. The resulting film is more a psycho-geographical study of the Creggan than a detective story, but it abounds with uncomfortable truths about how little has changed for some. DC

BLACK 47 ★★★★
Directed by Lance Daly. Starring Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Sarah Greene, Jim Broadbent. 15A cert, general release, 99 min

The first widely released feature to focus on the Great Famine is an unmistakable genre piece. It’s The Outlaw Josey Wales with fewer Comanches but more rain. Weaving is the weathered cop pursuing Frecheville’s bereaved avenger across the devastated west of Ireland. At times, the determination to include every historical detail causes the package to strain. But the grey pools of Declan Quinn’s cinematography and the evocative strains of Brian Byrne’s score keep the brain twitching in even the glummest moments. Full review/trailer DC

THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST ★★★★
Directed by Desiree Akhavan. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, John Gallagher, Jr, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Marin Ireland, Owen Campbell, Kerry Butler, Quinn Shephard, Emily Skeggs, Melanie Ehrlich, Jennifer Ehle. 16 cert, limited release, 91 min

This Sundance-winning drama, based on the book by Emily M Danforth, follows the titular Montana teen to a Christian conversion “therapy” camp after her lesbian relationship with her best friend is dramatically – excruciatingly – discovered at a homecoming dance. Moretz, Lane and Goodluck are outstanding. Taking cues from director Akhavan’s delicately poised, observational humour, Ashley Connor’s cinematography gleams from where there ought to be gloom. An effective, touching drama that also manages to engage with pressing social issues. Full review TB

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