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

New this weekend: Just Mercy, Waves, A Hidden Life, Bombshell

The wronged man: Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy

The wronged man: Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy

 

JUST MERCY ★★★★☆
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. Starring Michael B Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, Brie Larson. 12A cert, gen release, 137 min
Just Mercy is a splendidly old-fashioned legal drama with a real world Atticus Finch at its centre. Comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird are apt and obvious. Upon arriving in Monroeville, Alabama, every white resident seems to ask the hotshot lawyer “from up North” (Jordan): “Have y’all been to the Harper Lee Museum?” There is much muttering when he takes the case of an African-American man (Jamie Foxx) wrongfully imprisoned for the 1986 murder of a white woman and sentenced to death. A gripping, dazzlingly acted and – yes – important drama unfolds. TB

WAVES ★★★★☆
Directed by Trey Edward Shults. Starring Kelvin Harrison Jr, Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sterling K Brown. 15A cert, gen release, 137 min

Kelvin Harrison Jr and Alexa Demie in Waves
Kelvin Harrison Jr and Alexa Demie in Waves

There are obvious comparisons between Waves and the similarly giddy and sneakily powerful teen soap Euphoria. Shults’s compellng third feature begins with Tyler (Harrison Jr), an over-achieving high school wrestler with a pushy dad and pregnant girlfriend. The heady atmospherics and soapy plot hooks coalesce into a fever dream and a tragedy. Suddenly the film changes gear. The second half concerns Tyler’s unassuming younger sister Emily (Taylor) and a blossoming romance with a classmate (Hedges). It’s a softer, emotional reckoning, one that is as cathartic and peaceable as the opening is euphoric and dangerous. Full review TB

A HIDDEN LIFE ★★★★☆
Directed by Terrence Malick. Starring August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon, Tobias Moretti, Bruno Ganz, Matthias Schoenaerts, Karin Neuhäuser, Ulrich Matthes, Michael Nyqvist. 12A cert, gen release, 174 min

August Diehl and Valerie Pachner in A Hidden Life
August Diehl and Valerie Pachner in A Hidden Life

Malick returns to form (if not his very best form) with this study of the Austrian martyr Franz Jägerstätter. Diehl brings dignity to the farmer who refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the Nazis in a film that showcases the director’s favourite techniques. Dialogue is as often voiceover as it is conversation. Scored to surging chords, the movie is alternately inside and outside the consciousness. It’s beautiful throughout, although the argument becomes repetive in the last hour. Full review DC

BOMBSHELL ★★★☆☆
Directed by Jay Roach. Starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Rob Delaney, Mark Duplass, Malcolm McDowell. 15A cert, gen release, 108 min

Nicole Kidman in Bombshell
Nicole Kidman in Bombshell

Entertaining if lightweight examination of the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News. Bombshell stands up for the likes of Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson who, as played by Theron and Kidman, come across as intelligent professionals hemmed in by institutional prejudice. The film itself is not so smart. It would be overstating the case to argue that Bombshell doesn’t have an idea in its pretty little head, but we can certainly argue for one more irony in that title. Full review DC

UNCUT GEMS ★★★★★
Directed by Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie. Starring Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian. 16 cert, lim release, 135 min

Kevin Garnett, LaKeith Stanfield and Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems
Kevin Garnett, LaKeith Stanfield and Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems

The Safdies follow up Good Time with a grim, blackly comic thriller concerning a cash-strapped jeweller trying to flog a rare jewel before the bookies string him up. Sandler uses his talent to irritate for good in a film that never soothes when it can grate. Darius Khondji’s camera apes the spotty fuzz of aged 16mm. And the sheer noise of the thing? All this invites such total immersion in New York’s Diamond District that the picture takes on an anthropological flavour. Astonishing. Full review DC

1917 ★★★★☆
Directed by Sam Mendes. Starring George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch. 15A cert, gen release, 119 min

Andrew Scott and Richard Madden in 1917
Andrew Scott and Richard Madden in 1917

Mendes composes his tale of the first World War – concerning a young corporal delivering a message through disputed territory – in what looks like one single shot. The result is a slice of prestige British film-making that nimbly avoids accusations of heritage cosiness. Distinguished actors turn up in smallish parts, but each has a worthwhile contribution to make. The script admits no puffing about patriotic sacrifice. It ends with emotional release and a beautifully neat closing of the circle. Full review DC

Other ★★★★☆ and ★★★★★ star films out and about: Amanda, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out

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