Six of the best films to see in cinemas this weekend

New this weekend: Knives Out, The Two Popes, The Nightingale, The Biggest Little Farm

Daniel Craig in Knives Out

Daniel Craig in Knives Out

 

KNIVES OUT ****
Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer. 12A cert, gen release, 130 min

Johnson brings a starry cast together for a delightful pastiche of the big-house whodunnit. The director knows the trick here is to pile the revelations on so rapidly that audiences have no time to notice the thinness of the structure. Revealing genuine affection for genre, decorating the action with brown wood, he makes no concessions to safety in his vigorous hammering of the accelerator. It’s over before you have time to question the logic. Great fun. Full review DC

THE TWO POPES ****
Directed by Fernando Meirelles. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce, Juan Minujín. 12A cert, gen release, 126 min

Anthony Hopkins and and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes
Anthony Hopkins and and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes

Hopkins and Pryce are magnificent as Pope Benedict and Pope Francis in a talky but gripping fictionalisation of the succession from one to the other. The German is rigid, dogmatic and, if not exactly humourless, uncomfortable with levity. “When I try to be myself people don’t seem to like me very much,” he says wearily. Francis is warm and empathetic. The Two Popes does gloss over tricky material, but the semi-real relationship is so delightful it’s near impossible to object. DC

THE NIGHTINGALE ****
Directed by Jennifer Kent. Starring Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman. 18 cert, gen release, 136 min

Aisling Franciosi and Baykali Ganambarr in The Nightingale
Aisling Franciosi and Baykali Ganambarr in The Nightingale

During the Van Diemen’s Land’s Black War, a young Irish convict woman (Franciosi, hugely impressive) hunts a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, dead set on revenge for a sickening act of violence against her family. Along the way she joins with an Aboriginal tracker (Ganambarr) with his own traumatic backstory. Together they snarl their way across an unruly landscape until they come to realise they have one thing in common: “I hate the feckin’ English!” Kent’s eagerly awaited follow-up to The Babadook is not, generically speaking, a horror film. And yet it is far more gruelling and nightmarish than its predecessor. Indeed, it’s as nasty a post-colonial revenge fantasy as a historical genocide demands. Full review TB

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM ****
Directed by John Chester. PG cert, lim release, 91 min

John Chester in The Biggest Little Farm
John Chester in The Biggest Little Farm

Concerned for their bored and soulful-looking rescue dog, John, a wildlife film-maker, and Molly, a traditional foods chef, swap city life for a rundown orchard. Over eight years, under the guidance of a soil whisperer they create an entirely organic farm that looks like a storybook, complete with chickens, sheep, ducks, cattle, pigs. peaches, cherries, and bees. A documentary variation on A Year in Province or We Bought a Zoo, The Biggest Little Farm was the subject of a four-way bidding war (ultimate winner: Neon) and has gone on to be a sleeper hit in the US. It’s easy to see the appeal. TB

BLUE STORY ****
Directed by Rapman. Starring Stephen Odubala, Micheal Ward, Karla-Simone Spence, Rohan Nedd, Kadeem Ramsay, Khali Best, Junior Afolabi Salokun, Eric Kofi Abrefa , Andre Dwayne, Hannah Lee. 16 cert, gen release, 92 min

Stephen Odubala and Micheal Ward in Blue Story
Stephen Odubala and Micheal Ward in Blue Story

YouTube star Rapman (aka Andrew Onwubolu) makes a sensational directorial debut with this moving, urgent, energetic drama inspired by south London’s postcode gang rivalries. Inspired by events from Rapman’s childhood, Blue Story follows teenagers Timmy (Odubola, the director’s son, making an auspicious debut of his own) and Marco (Top Boy’s Ward), who are as close as brothers but, crucially, hail from different postcodes. Comparisons to John Singleton’s seminal Boyz N the Hood are warranted, but Rapman’s intermittent appearances as a one-man Greek Chorus make for a unique viewing experience. The fresh young stars are excellent. They might be chatting about Stormzy and Game of Thrones, but the denouement is nothing short of Shakespearean. More than one star is born with Blue Story. Full review TB

MARRIAGE STORY *****
Directed by Noah Baumbach. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever. 15A cert, lim release, 136 min

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story

Charlie (Driver), a theatre director, and Nicole (Johansson), an actor, are hacking their way through a particularly bloody divorce. He has remained in Brooklyn; she has moved to Los Angeles. They start out playing nice, but when lawyers get involved the gloves come off. Baumbach’s best film yet combines his taste for insidious comedy and upper-class Boho angst to endlessly diverting effect. The dialogue sparkles. The actors play skilfully off one another. Humour colours every bitter moment. An absolute marvel that should not be missed. Full review DC

Other ***** and **** films out and about: The Irishman, Joker, Judy & Punch, Le Mans ’66, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Sorry We Missed You

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