Six of the best films to see in cinemas this weekend

New this weekend: The Irishman, Luce, Meeting Gorbachev

Gangster squad: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Ray Romano in The Irishman

Gangster squad: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Ray Romano in The Irishman

 

THE IRISHMAN ★★★★★
Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale, Aleksa Palladino, Domenick Lombardozzi, Kathrine Narducci, Ray Romano. 16 cert, lim release, 209 min
When it was announced that Scorsese was to reunite with De Niro and Pesci (and belatedly invite Pacino into the Family) for a tale of postwar gangsterism, premature comparisons were, not unreasonably, drawn with Casino and Goodfellas. The master’s study of hitman Frank Sheehan is, however, in a very different mood: subdued, unhurried, wintery. The digital de-aging is occasionally a distraction, but the gorgeous performance and rigorous period detail are (ahem) to die for. Pacino is a standout as union boss Jimmy Hoffa. Full review DC

LUCE ★★★★☆
Directed by Julius Onah. Starring Kelvin Harrison Jr, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Norbert Leo Butz, Brian Bradley. 15A cert, gen release, 110 min

Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Naomi Watts in Luce
Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Naomi Watts in Luce

At 17, Luce (Harrison) is a dashing high schooler, as admired on the track as he is on the debate team. Luce’s charms are challenged by his prickly African-American history teacher, Mrs. Wilson (Spencer), who calls on Luce’s caucasion parents (Watts, and Roth) after he writes an essay on the Pan-African activist Frantz Fanon. Mrs Wilson is equally alarmed by a bag of illegal fireworks she has found in Luce’s locker. The boy, we learn, was adopted from war-torn Eritrea, where he was a child soldier. His parents have seen him through years of therapy and rehab. Is Mrs Wilson, knowing Luce’s personal history, simply projecting? Is she being overly hard on him because he’s African-American? Or is something genuinely sinister going on? A provocative film to mull over. TB

MEETING GORBACHEV ★★★☆☆
Directed by Werner Herzog. Featuring Mikhail Gorbachev, Werner Herzog, George Shultz, James Baker. PG cert, lim release, 91 min

Werner Herzog and Mikhail Gorbachev in Meeting Gorbachev
Werner Herzog and Mikhail Gorbachev in Meeting Gorbachev

Werner Herzog doesn’t half like Mikhail Gorbachev. He explains that most Germans have “overwhelming approval for you personally. We love you.” Dispelling any suspicion that he is among the dissenters, Werner adds: “I love you.” The unrelenting adulation is a problem. More than a few interesting lines of inquiry are not followed to satisfactory conclusion. But Meeting Gorbachev remains a fascinating study of a remarkable man: from life on a small farm to one of the 20th century’s key political forces. DC

MONOS ★★★★★
Directed by Alejandro Landes. Starring Sofia Buenaventura, Moises Arias, Julianne Nicholson, Moises Arias, Deiby Rueda, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillon. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 103 min

Monos
Monos

Lord of the Flies is an obvious reference for this nervy, thrilling tale of child guerilla soldiers. But there’s also something Aguirre, the Wrath of God in Colombian director Landes’ surreal, wildly beautiful third feature. The near feral teenage commandos, known only by their nicknames (Dog, Bigfoot, Rambo, Swede, Smurf, Boom Boom), take their orders from The Messenger (Salazar), who represents a mysterious paramilitary called The Organisation. When two of the Monos, Lady (Quintero) and Wolf (Giraldo), are tasked with watching over an American prisoner (Nicholson) and a cow called Shakira, a series of events implodes their rough society. Easily one of the best films of 2019. Full review TB

THE AERONAUTS ★★★★☆
Directed by Tom Harper. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Courtenay, Himesh Patel, Anne Reid, Vincent Perez. 12A cert, gen release, 100 min

Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts
Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts

James Glaisher (Redmayne) was the daring meteorologist who, in 1862, broke the world record for altitude when his balloon ascended to 35,000 feet. In old-fashioned, matinee style, Harper’s film builds a grand romantic adventure - Jones is super as his fictional companion - around the story’s central spine. You can get the facts from Wikipedia; The Aeronauts devises irresistible new legends. Lovely Victoriana. Great chemistry between the leads. At least one heart-stopping moment of tension. Well worth your time. Full review DC

SORRY WE MISSED YOU ★★★★☆
Directed by Ken Loach. Starring Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor, Ross Brewster. 15A cert, lim release, 101 min

Kris Hitchen and Katie Proctor in Sorry We Missed You
Kris Hitchen and Katie Proctor in Sorry We Missed You

A middle-aged man signs on as a “self-employed” driver for a delivery firm. His life falls apart. Collaborating again with writer Paul Laverty, Loach does an excellent job of explaining how “the gig economy,” relieves employers of moral and legal responsibilities. The research feels spot-on, but the heart-breaking performances are what really drive the film. Hitchin and Honeywood are great as mum and dad. Stone and Proctor are next-level as the children. Loach is still at the top of his game. Full review DC

Other ★★★★★ and ★★★★☆  films out and about: Brittany Runs a Marathon, A Bump Along the Way, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, The Farewell, Hustlers, Joker, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Lost Lives, The Peanut Butter Falcon, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

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