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

New this week: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, Free Solo, Keepers of the Flame, Dead Souls

The agile arthropod: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

The agile arthropod: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

 

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE ★★★★☆
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman. Voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Cravitz, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine. PG cert, general release, 117 min
One alternative version of Spider-Man encounters many others in a dazzling animation from the team behind The Lego Movie. The candy-charged flash manages to accommodate soul and sincerity. The film’s embrace of diversity stretches beyond the social to the sub-atomic and the quantum mechanical (no, really). The structural innovation helps confirm – despite welcome advances in representation – how conservative most Marvel films are. Easily the best superhero movie of 2018. Full review DC

FREE SOLO ★★★★★
Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin. PG cert, general release, 99 min

Some way into the year’s most white knuckle film, rock climber Alex Honnold recalls that more than one ex-girlfriend has told him that he has a personality disorder. By then we’re deep into his two-year preparations to climb the sheer wall of El Capitan, a kilometre-high sheer granite impossibility in Yosemite National Park. If he manages it, he’ll be the first climber to scale the monolith free solo. That’s as in without ropes and safety equipment, as in one finger and toe at a time up a landmark that looks like it belongs in a Roadrunner cartoon. Personality disorder? The man is bonkers. Terrifying but magical. Full review/trailer TB

KEEPERS OF THE FLAME ★★★☆☆
Directed by Nuala O’Connor. Featuring Diarmaid Ferriter, Mary Black, Aiden Gillen, Joseph O’Connor, Olivia O’Leary. G cert, limited release, 89 min

The unpromising starting point is a dive into the Irish Military Service Pensions archive and a consideration of how payments were made, who gained and who lost out. Around that fulcrum, the documentary bends a comprehensive examination of the challenges that accompany commemoration. The reasonable, humane arguments are structured with the clarity you would expect from a professional historian such as Ferriter. It is, in the age of online fury, refreshing to hear contentious issues pondered in such measures tones. DC

DEAD SOULS ★★★★☆
Directed by Wang Bing. Club, IFI, Dublin, 495 min

Shot between 2005 and 2017, this momumental film visits more than 120 survivors of China's re-education camps. There are obvious parallels with Claude Lanzmann’s epic Holocaust chronicle Shoah, but the survivors of the Jiabiangou and Mingshui re-education camps are not victims of a systemic extermination policy, but convicted rightists, who, some 10 years after the revolution, are confined in the Gobi Desert facilities. The situation there is not as catastrophic as the Cultural Revolution. But between famine and ongoing skirmishes, many starve, shrink and die horrendously, both in the camp and beyond. Essential, if sobering work. TB

THE OLD MAN & THE GUN ★★★★☆
Directed by David Lowery. Starring Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Isiah Whitlock Jr, John David Washington, Tom Waits. 12A cert, general release, 92 min

Redford (allegedly in his last role) and Spacek are delightful as an ageing bank robber and the woman who offers him a belated shot at domesticity. Lowery’s film has the grace to treat its elder characters with respect. It does that by treating them like human beings: nuanced characters with the same needs as people their grandchildren’s age. Scored to great tunes by Scott Walker and The Kinks, it could hardly offer a more satisfactory swansong to an admired star. Full review DC

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU ★★★★★
Directed by Boots Riley. Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross. Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer. 16 cert, general release, 112 min

Stanfield is “Cash” Green, a flunking millennial reduced to living in his uncle’s garage and working a low-paid telemarketing position. Cash struggles at work until a veteran (Glover) advises him to use his white voice. As a “power caller”, Cash leaves behind the troubles of his friends and coworkers as they struggle to unionise against a rigged system. It’s only when he is invited to a party with a bonkers chief executive (Hammer) that he realises just how rigged. Busy, boundless and brilliant, this is the madcap Marxist adventure comedy you need to see right now. Full review TB

Other ★★★★☆ and ★★★★★ movies out and about: Bohemian Rhapsody, The Camino Voyage, Creed II, Disobedience, Roma, Rosie, Shoplifters, A Star Is Born, Three Identical Strangers, Widows

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