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

New this week: The Last Movie, Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, Mug

High lonesome: Dennis Hopper in The Last Movie (1971)

High lonesome: Dennis Hopper in The Last Movie (1971)

 

THE LAST MOVIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Dennis Hopper. Starring Dennis Hopper, Stella Garcia, Don Gordon, Julie Adams, Sylvia Miles, Tomas Milian, Peter Fonda, Henry Jaglom, Samuel Fuller, Kris Kristofferson, Russ Tamblyn, Michelle Phillips, Dean Stockwell, Rod Cameron, John Phillip Law, James Mitchum. Club, limited release, 108 min
Hopper’s follow-up to Easy Rider was a famous catastrophe. The director and star returned from Peru with a chaotic meta-western that pointed a smug (if unsteady) finger at western decadence. This 1971 release has rarely been revived, but it deserves attention for novelty value alone. Brassed up with very of-their-time solar flares, swelling with ambitions and possibilities, it reflects an openness to the wildest experiment in American cinema that slunk back underground shortly afterwards. DC

BUMBLEBEE ★★★★☆
Directed by Travis Knight. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Angela Bassett. 12A cert, general release, 109 min. Opens December 24th

Good grief. After a decade of ear-splitting rubbish, Michael Bay’s Tranformers sequence has (without Bay at the helm) delivered a glorious entertainment. Travis Knight’s shamelessly Spielbergian film casts Steinfeld as a rebellious teen in 1987 who encounters autobot Bumblebee in the form of a VW Beetle. She belatedly allows humanity into the series and – after the horrid objectification of female bodies in earlier episodes – hollows out some welcome feminist space. Fun for all. It’s like Knight and Bay! Full review DC

MARY POPPINS RETURNS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Salah, Joel Dawson, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke. G cert, general release, 130 min

Some reviews have claimed that the revisiting of Mary Poppins is “practically perfect in every way”. It’s not. It’s not terrible either. One might reasonably call it astonishingly adequate in every regard. Blunt is well-cast, if a bit too flinty, and throws herself into the role with abandon. Taking the Dick Van Dyke chair, Miranda can’t decide whether to do proper Cockney or comically heightened Cockney. The songs are tolerable. There’s no story to speak of. But, yes, it’s fine. Full review/trailer DC

MUG ★★★★☆
Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska. Starring Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Robert Talarczyk, Malgorzata Gorol, Agniezska Podsiadlik, Roman Gancarczyk. 15A cert, limited release, 91 min

Jacek (the brilliant Kosciukiewicz) is already a heavy-metal outsider in small-town Poland when a horrible accident during the erection of the world’s biggest Jesus statue leaves him requiring the country’s first face transplant. His girlfriend (Gorol) dumps him and his own mother can’t stand to look at him. Only his stern, loyal sister (Podsiadlik) continues to love him unconditionally. The unholy relations between Catholicism, ethno-nationalism, and rightist sentiment hang around the margins of Szumowska’s clever, affecting film. TB

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, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 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

Other ★★★★☆ and ★★★★★ movies out and about: Bohemian Rhapsody, The Camino Voyage, Creed II, Khrustalyov My Car, The Old Man & the Gun, Rosie, Shoplifters, Sorry to Bother You, A Star Is Born, Three Identical Strangers, The Wild Pear Tree

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.