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

New this weekend: Monsters and Men, Beautiful Boy, Mary Queen of Scots

The thin blue line: Anthony Ramos and John David Washington in Monsters and Men

The thin blue line: Anthony Ramos and John David Washington in Monsters and Men

 

MONSTERS AND MEN ★★★★☆
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. Starring John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Rob Morgan, Nicole Beharie, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Chante Adams. 15A cert, limited release, 95 min
Green’s thought-provoking debut feature concerns an incident in which an unarmed black man is shot dead by police on a Brooklyn street corner. There are obvious parallels with the Eric Garner case, but the writer-director isn’t interesting in a straight-up procedural. His film unfolds as a triptych, in which each segment chronicles a compromised, complex set of ethics and concerns. Dennis (BlacKKKlansman’s Washington) is a black police officer. Manny (Hamilton’s Ramos) is a former felon who records police brutality on his phone. Zee (Assassination Nation’s Harrison), a promising high school baseball star politicised by police harassment. A remarkably sure-footed first film. TB

BEAUTIFUL BOY ★★★☆☆
Directed by Felix Van Groeningen. Starring Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan. 15A cert, general release, 121 min

Nicholas (Chalamet) has been missing for a few days before he turns up, clearly at the tail end of a drug binge and unable to talk to his worried father, David (Carell). It’s the start of a predictable, maddening pattern and downward spiral. Upon each return, Nicholas looks further gone than before, until finally, he’s stealing from his own family to pay for his crystal meth habit. The dual protagonist structure allows for two tremendous performances that hang off nothing in particular. The film ends so abruptly, there’s nothing Van Groeningen – the brilliant Belgian director who reinvented the weepie with The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012) – can do to convince the viewer that this is a movie. Full review TB

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS ★★★☆☆
Directed by Josie Rourke. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce. 15A cert, generla release, 124 min

Perfectly adequate retelling of Queen Mary’s unhappy demise, featuring a determined Ronan as the Scotswoman and a wracked Robbie as her rival Elizabeth I. It’s a pretty unimaginative affair with too many baffling diversions from the facts. (Why does Mary, raised in France, speak with a Glaswegian accent?) Still, the pleasures of a classy production with classy performers are not to be wholly dismissed. It’s the best Sunday-night telly at the cinema this Friday. Full review/trailer DC

COLETTE ★★★★☆
Directed by Wash Westmoreland. Starring Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson, Denise Gough, Aiysha Hart. 15A cert, general release, 112 min

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Knightley) is a pigtailed teenager living in a corner of Burgundy who is not adverse to a roll in the hay with her parents’ slick and much older friend Willy (Henry Gauthier-Villars, played by West). It’s only after the naive country girl has married and moved to Paris with Willy that she and we come to realise that he’s a literary fraud. A womaniser, a bully, and gambler, Willy is reluctant to let the brink of poverty come between him and whoring, so he tells Colette to write a novel. She writes a bucolic tale recalling her rural childhood. He trashes it and demands a rewrite with a closer focus on the schoolgirls. The second draft is an overnight sensation, published under Gauthier-Villars’s name. It takes a while for Colette to emerge from his shadow, but she does so with gusto in this good looking cradle-to-grave biopic. Full review/trailer TB

THE FRONT RUNNER ★★★★☆
Directed by Jason Reitman. Starring Hugh Jackman, JK Simmons, Vera Farmiga, Alfred Molina, Sara Paxton, Mamoudou Athie. 15A cert, general release, 113 min

Composed of long, snaking takes and Altmanesque overlapping dialogue and soundtracks, The Front Runner parachutes the viewer into the cut and thrust of the 1984 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, just as Colorado senator Gary Hart is conceding to Walter Mondale. Hart has so much charisma, smarts and fabulous hair that they’ve had to draught in the Greatest Showman himself to play the role. Fast forward to 1987: Hart is the presumed front-runner in the Democratic race until he is caught entertaining a pretty blonde named Donna Rice (Paxton), whom he met on a yacht named Monkey Business. The historical details are impeccable but the events have been pointedly repurposed as a cautionary tale that leads all the way to Trump. Full review TB

STAN & OLLIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Jon S Baird. Starring John C Reilly, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Nina Arianda, Rufus Jones, Danny Huston. PG cert, general release, 97 min

Touching, funny drama following Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (Coogan and Reilly) as they tour the UK and Ireland in declining years. That’s pretty much it. There are few significant revelations. The comedy is as gentle as the original films. The sentimental turns are worked ruthlessly. Nothing much happens that you don’t expect to happen. Yet it works like a dream. The two lead roles could hardly be better cast and Arianda steal every scene as Laurel’s bolshie Russian wife. Full review/trailer DC

Other ★★★★☆ and ★★★★★ movies out and about: Bohemian Rhapsody, Bumblebee, The Camino Voyage, Creed II, The Favourite Free Solo, RBG, Shoplifters, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, A Star Is Born, Three Identical Strangers

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