Six of the best films to see in cinemas this weekend

New this weekend: Teen drama-comedy Booksmart, and Elton John biopic Rocketman

Rocketman tells the story of Elton John's life, from his years as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music through to his arena selling tours and drug fuelled years. Video: Marv Films

 

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
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. 16 cert, gen release, 102 min DC

ROCKETMAN ★★★★☆
Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones, Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven Mackintosh

Taron Egerton in Rocketman
Taron Egerton in Rocketman

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. 15A cert, gen release, 121 min 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

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum
Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum

“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. 16 cert, gen release, 130 min Full review DC

BIRDS OF PASSAGE/PÁJAROS DE VERANO ★★★★★
Directed by Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra. Starring Carmiña Martínez, Jose Acosta, Jhon Narváez, Natalia Reyes, Jose Vicente Cots, Juan Martínez

Birds of Passage
Birds of Passage

Breathtaking folk thriller that tells the story of an indigenous Colombian family’s destructive engagement with the drugs industry over several decades. Though not at home to sentimental notions of lost Edenic idylls, Guerra and Gallego take its characters from humble isolation to extremes of wealth and corruption. It’s the oldest story in the world: be careful what you wish for. But it has rarely been told with such imagination. Awash with magic, violence and family rivalry, Birds of Passage is one of a kind. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 125 min Full review DC

BEATS ★★★★☆
Directed by Brian Welsh. Starring Cristian Ortega, Lorn Macdonald, Laura Fraser, Brian Ferguson, Ross Mann, Gemma McElhinney, Amy Manson, Rachel Jackson, Neil Leiper, Kevin Mains

Cristian Ortega and Lorn Macdonald in Beats
Cristian Ortega and Lorn Macdonald in Beats

This Scottish drama opens with a clause from one of Britain’s most bizarre laws. Introduced by the Tories in 1994, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill took aim at the UK rave scene by banning music events “wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”. That clause has direct consequences for best friends Jonno (Ortega) and Spanner (Macdonald), who will soon be separated but not before one last blowout at a rave announced by a pirate radio DJ (Mann). Working from Kieran Hurley’s successful 2012 one-man play, Beats can feel overstretched. But it does a terrific job of replicating the rave scene adjacent to the Cool Britannia scene. 18 cert, QFT Belfast, 101 min Full review TB

AMAZING GRACE ★★★★★
Directed by Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack. Featuring Aretha Franklin, James Cleveland, CL Franklin

Aretha Franklin in Amazing Grace
Aretha Franklin in Amazing Grace

Brilliant documentary on the recording of the late Aretha Franklin’s 1972 gospel classic Amazing Grace. The release was delayed initially by a technical error and then as a result of legal action from Ms Franklin. Its eventual arrival provides the authors of online listicles a permanent starting point when considering the 10 greatest concert films of all time. The music is transcendent. The editing is perfectly paced. The congregation offer a vital snapshot of a time and place. A masterpiece of its type. G cert, lim release, 87 min Full review/trailer DC

Other ★★★★★ and ★★★★☆ films out and about: The Dig, Eighth Grade, Float Like a Butterfly, mid90s, Wild Rose, Woman at War. All current films are reviewed here.

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