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

New this weekend: The Call of the Wild, Little Joe, Midnight Traveler, Greed

Frozen two: Harrison Ford and Buck in The Call of the Wild

Frozen two: Harrison Ford and Buck in The Call of the Wild

 

THE CALL OF THE WILD ★★★★☆
Directed by Chris Sanders. Starring Harrison Ford, Omar Sy, Cara Gee, Karen Gillan, Dan Stevens, Bradley Whitford, Colin Woodell, Scott MacDonald. PG cert, gen release, 100 min
A pampered St Bernard-Scotch Collie mix named Buck winds up in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. Jack London’s 1903 novel underscored his socialist beliefs: Buck is a worker who takes pride in his job pulling the sled, but who is repeatedly exploited by a series of masters. Eventually he moves beyond the system of greed and gold and beyond the “rule of fang and club”. The cartoonish Buck, with the assistance of motion capture master Terry Notary, moves like a Silver Age Disney character: bounding and crashing behind big, expressive eyes. There are thrilling set-pieces. Interactions with the cruel Mercedes (Gillen) and Hal (Stevens) are minimised, though Hal’s decision to go after Buck and John Thornton is not the smartest move, given that the latter is Indiana Jones. Full review TB

LITTLE JOE ★★★★☆
Directed by Jessica Hausner . Starring Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kit Connor, Kerry Fox, David Wilmot. 12A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 105 min

Emily Beecham in Little Joe
Emily Beecham in Little Joe

Hausner’s terrific metaphysical puzzler concerns the development of a genetically engineered plant – the Little Joe of the title – that will, it is hoped, soothe those nearby with its blissful odour. Beecham is the scientist most responsible for its development. Whishaw, a softly spoken nerd, and Fox, an older researcher with mental health issues, are also there to coax the brightly coloured flora into existence. An eminently strange, beautiful-looking film that gets under the skin. Full review DC

MIDNIGHT TRAVELER ★★★★☆
Directed by Hassan Fazili. Triskel, Cork, 87 min

Midnight Traveler
The Fazili family in Midnight Traveler, exclusively at Triskel, Cork

A sense of urgency and uncertainty underpins Fazili’s prize-winning documentary. Shot on three Samsung mobile phones over three years as the director and his family flee from one place to another, Midnight Traveler begins with the news that Fazili, his wife and their two daughters have been denied asylum in Tajikistan and are to be deported back to Afghanistan. A bullet-stopping pile of newspaper clippings reveal that the couple once operated Kabul’s Art Cafe, where men and women could congregate – until a mullah called for a boycott. After Fazili makes a film about a Taliban commander, the jihadists put out a call for his death. On the move, the film feels like a verite thriller, with poignant family moments even in the darkest depths of the ongoing refugee crisis. TB

GREED ★★★☆☆
Directed by Michael Winterbottom. Starring Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Isla Fisher, Sophie Cookson, Shirley Henderson, Ollie Locke. 16 cert, gen release, 104 min

Steve Coogan in Greed
Steve Coogan in Greed

Coogan plays a clothing magnate celebrating his 60th birthday in an angry comedy that just about passes the time. The satire is so exhaustingly on-the-nose throughout one wonders why Winterbottom didn’t just hand out leaflets at the tube station. He comes close in the closing credits with a series of messages that press home shocking facts about corporate abuse without injecting any more friction into the conversation. But Coogan is amusing throughout and the arguments on wealth inequality are worth making. Full review DC

JIHAD JANE ★★★★☆
Directed by Ciaran Cassidy. Featuring Coleen LaRose, Jamie Paulin Ramirez, Lars Vilks. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin 94 min

Jihad Jane
Jihad Jane

Jihad Jane makes for a head-spinning story. In March 2010, US authorities announced terrorism charges against Colleen LaRose, a blonde, white 50-year-old American who called herself Jihad Jane. The radicalised La Rose was proclaimed the new face of terror, but it got weirder. LaRose, who had been a carer to her elderly mother and her partner’s elderly father, had somehow wound up in Waterford as part of a conspiracy that involved a Colorado woman and a Maryland teenager with Asperger’s. LaRose makes for great company, regardless of her views and a horrifying childhood. She emerges from prison cradling an armful of hand-knit stuffed animals. The film leaves you wondering what she might have been in kinder circumstances. Full review TB

THE LOST BOYS ★★★★☆
Directed by Joel Schumacher. Starring Corey Feldman, Jami Gertz, Corey Haim, Edward Herrmann, Barnard Hughes, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast (Wed only); Light House, Dublin (Fri/Sat only) , 98 min

Original poster art for The Lost Boys (1987)
Original poster art for The Lost Boys (1987)

It’s a strange thing returning to The Lost Boys 33 years after it stormed the box office. Two unnoticed sequels and a cancelled 2018 TV spin-off confirm the film’s uniquely contemporaneous charms. Richard Donner’s original plan was to cast Goonies-aged teenagers as vampires, echoing the Peter Pan allusion of the title. But he left the project for Lethal Weapon, making way for Schumacher, who added such distinctly Schumacherian flourishes as Muscly, Oiled, Gyrating Saxophonist In Skintight Purple Pants (Tim Cappello). And turning the vampires into leather-clad bikers led by Sutherland. A fine vintage cheese reissued for Valentine’s Day. Full review TB

Other ★★★★☆  and ★★★★★  films out and about: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A Hidden Life, Jojo Rabbit, The Lighthouse, 1917, Parasite, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Weathering with You

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