Six of the best films to see in cinemas this weekend

New this weekend: Pain and Glory, Never Grow Old, Hail Satan?, Crawl

Contemplating creativity: Antonio Banderas and Nora Navas in Pain and Glory

Contemplating creativity: Antonio Banderas and Nora Navas in Pain and Glory

 

PAIN AND GLORY/DOLOR Y GLORIA ★★★★★
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Starring Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, Penélope Cruz. 16 cert, gen release, 113 min
Banderas is hypnotically captivating as a blocked film director in an exquisite, autumnal drama that escapes 8½ comparisons to breathe fresh Almodóvar air. The dextrous flitting between past and present and between trauma and comedy is, no doubt, the result of meticulous paring, but, on screen, it flows as smoothly as the most linear of narratives. Cruz spreads warmth as the protagonist’s mother in flashbacks. The images gleam. A great later work from an original for the ages. DC Full review

NEVER GROW OLD ★★★★☆
Directed by Ivan Kavanagh. Starring Emile Hirsch, John Cusack, Deborah Francois, Danny Webb. 16 cert, lim release, 100 min

John Cusack in Never Grow Old
John Cusack in Never Grow Old

Hirsch plays an Irish carpenter who, in the mid-19th century, has settled down in a town on the route to California. Cusack plays Dutch Albert, the sinister hoodlum with plans to turn this God-fearing locale – a little too God-fearing at first – into a den of lubricious iniquity. Impressive western, shot in Connemara, from the director of The Canal. Impressively filthy, studded with convincing violence, the picture moves at a steady pace towards a satisfactorily violent denouement. A commendable oddity. DC Full review

HAIL SATAN? ★★★★☆
Directed by Penny Lane. Featuring Lucien Greaves, Jex Blackmore, Chalice Blythe, Nicholas Crowe. Club, lim release, 95 min

Hail Satan?
Hail Satan?

Thank God for Satan. In 2013, two Harvard chums made headlines for a press conference at the Florida state capitol. Billing themselves as the Satanic Temple, they heaped praise on governor Rick Scott for signing a Bill to permit student-led “inspirational messages” at school events, which they welcomed for “allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school”. That act of prankster activism (prankstivism?) became a blueprint for what has become one of the fastest growing religions in America. We say religion, but the Satanic Temple praises neither gods nor devils. This devilishly entertaining documentary chronicles the growth of the Satanic Temple as it blossoms from a small group of outsiders into an international movement. Satan hasn’t looked this appealing since John Milton’s romantic write-up in Paradise Lost. TB Full review

CRAWL ★★★★☆
Directed by Alexandre Aja. Starring Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper. 15A cert, gen release, 88 min

Kaya Scodelario in Crawl
Kaya Scodelario in Crawl

Aspiring swimmer Haley (Scodelario) heads into a Category 5 Floridian hurricane in search of her (kind of) estranged father Dave (Pepper). Acting against government advice and common sense, she returns to her former family home, where she finds her mauled father in the crawl space beneath the house. And he’s not alone. Can Haley and Dave survive both the rising waters and ravenous alligators? There may be better films released this year, but few will be as flat-out enjoyable. DC Full review here

ONCE UPON A TIME IN . . . HOLLYWOOD ★★★★☆
Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Scoot McNairy, Luke Perry, Al Pacino, Lena Dunham, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Damian Lewis. 18 cert, gen release, 161 min

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood

An actor and his stunt double have adventures in LA. Tarantino’s ninth film is really about the end of various eras, and, looming throughout, the Manson murders could hardly offer a more definitive full stop to one version of the late 1960s. But that’s all the killings are here: a closing parenthesis to the director’s massive aside on the pop culture of his childhood. It’s rambling and occasionally dubious, but the dialogue zings and the period detail bings. No one else is doing anything like this. DC Full review/trailer

TRANSIT ★★★★★
Directed by Christian Petzold. Starring Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese, Lilien Batman, Maryam Zaree, Barbara Auer, Matthias Brandt, Sebastian Hülk. 12A cert, IFI, Dublin, 102 min

Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski in Transit
Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski in Transit

A strange young man takes on another’s identity while trying to escape Marseilles in a time of occupation. Petzold transfers Anna Seghers’s source novel, set during the second World War, into something like the present day. This is both stranger and less strange than it sounds: we could be in a plausible alternative present where the right has taken over. Austere and occasionally confusing, the film remains as fascinating as earlier Petzold films as Yella, Jerichow, Barbara and Phoenix. DC Full review

Other ★★★★★ and ★★★★☆  films out and about: Apollo 11, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Gaza, Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, Midsommar, Photograph, Yesterday. All current films reviewed here.

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