Six of the best films to see in cinemas this weekend

New this weekend: Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney in Ma, Thunder Road and Sunset

A major new talent: Jim Cummings in Thunder Road A major new talent: Jim Cummings in Thunder Road

A major new talent: Jim Cummings in Thunder Road A major new talent: Jim Cummings in Thunder Road

 

THUNDER ROAD ★★★★☆
Directed by Jim Cummings. Starring Jim Cummings, Kendal Farr, Nican Robinson, Macon Blair, Jocelyn DeBoer, Chelsea Edmundson, Ammie Leonards, Bill Wise. Cert 15A, limited release, 90mins

Stand aside, potentially embarrassing radio interview; here’s comes the most mortifying oration of the decade. Thunder Road’s overture is one unbroken, scarlet-making shot in which Jim Arnaud (played by Austin-based writer-director Cummings) gives a rambling eulogy at his mom’s funeral, a speech characterised by choked sobs, an interpretative dance (without music), and tangents about getting bit by a disabled kid and school and coping with dyslexia. It doesn’t get any better for this teary cop struggling with grief and anger issues. He’s going through a messy uncoupling from his wife Rosalind (Jocelyn DeBoer) and a custody battle for his awkward pre-teen daughter Crystal (Kendal Farr). This prickly, goofy film, powered along the unpredictability of its protagonist, announces Cummings as major new talent. Full review TB

SUNSET (Napszállta) ★★★★★
Directed by László Nemes, Starring Juli Jakab, Vlad Ivanov, Marcin Czarnik, Evelin Dobos, Judit Bárdos, Cert 15A, limited release, 142mins

Juli Jakab in Sunset
Juli Jakab in Sunset

László Nemes reunites with Son of Saul co-writer Clara Royer for this sumptuous, sibylline account of the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It’s 1913, Budapest, Írisz (Juli Jakab) makes her way to the ritzy hat shop that still bears her family name: Leiter. She has designs to show to the current owner, Oszkár Brill (Vlad Ivanov). Her name immediately startles all those who hear it. Her parents perished in a fire on the site of the shop when Irisz was still an infant. There are rumours that she may have a brother, who may have started the blaze and who may have viciously murdered a count. From Brill to the skulking stable hand, characters shift disconcertingly from benevolent to inscrutable to downright menacing from scene to scene. There are odd, archaic rituals with occultish undertones. A strange coda set in the trenches of the first world war suggests Sunset is a parable about class struggle, but the deliciously enigmatic screenplay lends itself to multiple readings. A splendid artwork to be admired and puzzled over, featuring fantastic feats of millinery. Full review TB

MA 3 ★★★☆☆
Directed by Tate Taylor. Starring Octavia Spencer, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Juliette Lewis, Skyler Joy, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, Andrew Matthew Welch, Missi Pyle. 16 cert, gen release, 99 min

Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis and Octavia Spencer in Ma
Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis and Octavia Spencer in Ma

Spencer plays slightly against type as a maniac who befriends teenagers in a fitful horror film from the director of The Help. The weirdly starry cast unexpected class to a picture that might once have been released in SCARO-VISION. The occasional pretentions to meaning are a tad misguided. More should have been made of Spencer’s warm side. But there is still plenty of fun to be had. At least two Stephen King plots are creatively re-invented. Full review DC

BOOKSMART ★★★★☆
Directed by Olivia Wilde. Starring Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, Austin Crute, Eduardo Franco, Noah Galvin, Skyler Gisondo. 16 cert, gen release, 102 min

Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy in Booksmart. Photograph: Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures
Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy in Booksmart. Photograph: Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures

Super party-party comedy featuring Dever and Feldstein as a pair of high achieving students who, as they leave high school, make up for lost time by partying like they’ve never partied before. The result is a cavalcade of mayhem that somehow manages to argue for decency in an awful world. It is the sense of discovery that sets it apart. That and its warmth, generosity and openness of spirit A delight. Full review DC

ROCKETMAN ★★★★☆
Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones, Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven Mackintosh. 15A cert, gen release, 121 min

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman. Photograph: Paramount
Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman. Photograph: Paramount

Hugely entertaining biopic of Elton John. The tunes are sung as part of elaborate dance numbers that spring spontaneously from the situation. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting breaks out when young Elton entertains potentially riotous punters at the pub in Pinner. And so on. Egerton is great in the lead. Madden is creepy as Elton’s manager and lover. But will you escape without having to endure Princess Diana’s funeral? No spoilers here. Full review DC

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM ★★★★☆
Directed by Chad Stahelski. Starring Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Halle Berry, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Anjelica Huston. 16 cert, gen release, 130 min

A thousand people get shot, but nobody is ever hurt
Keanu Reeves: still a delight

“After the first death there are no others,” Dylan Thomas wrote. Yeah, you obviously didn’t live long enough to see the John Wick films, boyo. The third film in the cycle finds our hero excommunicated and on the run. The films are certainly silly and a bit vulgar, but they are masterpieces of martial choreography. We have yet to see a genuinely brilliant video game adaptation, but the Wick films do amazing work with that world’s extravagant aesthetic. And Reeves is still a delight. Full review DC

Other ★★★★★ and ★★★★☆ films out and about: Birds of Passage/Pájaros de Verano, Amazing Grace, Beats, The Dig, Eighth Grade, Float Like a Butterfly, Wild Rose, Woman at War

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