Tara Brady and Don­ald Clarke re­view the cur­rent cinema re­leases

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | FILM -

AMER­I­CAN SNIPER ★★ Di­rected by Clint East­wood. Star­ring Bradley Cooper, Si­enna Miller With 160 con­firmed kills dur­ing the Iraq War, Chris Kyle (Cooper) earned the nick­name the Devil of Ra­madi and was her­alded as the most pro­lific sniper in US mil­i­tary his­tory. East­wood’s film is in­ter­est­ing only be­cause it’s so damned baf­fling. The great man’s un­showy, laid-back di­rec­tion, of­ten an as­set, en­sures that even the tens­est dra­matic mo­ments – will Kyle shoot that kid with the ex­plo­sive de­vice? – are in­ex­pli­ca­bly flat. A dud. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 132 min TB

BIG HERO 6 ★★★★ Di­rected by Don Hall and Chris Wil­liams. Voices of Scott Ad­sit, Ryan Pot­ter, Da­mon Wayans Jr, James Cromwell Set in a per­fect amal­gam of two great cities that goes by the name of San Fran­sokyo, Big Hero Six con­cerns the sad but promis­ing life of a bright teenager named Hiro who, fol­low­ing a tragedy, makes friends with a big spongy robot. The first half of Dis­ney’s lat­est is a de­light – a sweet vari­a­tion on The Iron Gi­ant. Then it turns into a stan­dard su­per­hero flick. Still rather lovely. PG cert, gen re­lease, 108 min TB

BIRD­MAN OR (THE UN­EX­PECTED VIRTUE OF IG­NO­RANCE) ★★★★ Di­rected by Ale­jan­dro González Iñár­ritu. Star­ring Michael Keaton, Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis, Ed­ward Nor­ton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts Keaton plays a washed-up ac­tor who, years af­ter achiev­ing fame as the su­per­hero Bird­man, is stag­ing a Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Ray­mond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Giv­ing the illusion of tak­ing place in one mas­sive shot, Iñár­ritu’s Os­car­win­ning film is a tech­ni­cal marvel stuffed with fine per­for­mances. It’s also some­what empty and more than a lit­tle fond of it­self. Es­sen­tial all the same. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 119 min DC

THE BOY NEXT DOOR ★ Di­rected by Rob Co­hen. Star­ring Jen­nifer Lopez, Ryan Guz­man J-Lo is back in the sort of breath­tak­ingly abysmal thriller that, a decade ago, sul­lied a promis­ing dra­matic ca­reer. This puz­zling atroc­ity casts Lopez as an English teacher deal­ing badly with a young stalker next door. It is un­fair to take shots at such a soft tar­get. Lopez is not a bad actress, and she has rare old-school movie-star charisma. But her eye for ap­palling scripts is some­thing to be­hold. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 91 min DC

CAKE ★★★ Di­rected by Daniel Barnz.

Star­ring Jen­nifer Anis­ton, Anna Ken­drick, Felic­ity Huff­man, Wil­liam H Macy When Claire (Anis­ton) is asked to share her thoughts and feel­ings about Nina (Ken­drick), who has lately com­mit­ted sui­cide, the en­sur­ing piti­less tirade sees her chronic pain sup­port group ask her to leave for­ever. This, we re­alise, is some­thing of a pat­tern with Claire. Anis­ton does make us care about her prickly, dam­aged char­ac­ter. There’s enough go­ing on to hold our in­ter­est, even if it doesn’t quite con­geal into any­thing as fin­ished as the tit­u­lar desert. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 102 min DC

CHAP­PIE ★ Di­rected by Neil Blomkamp. Star­ring Sharlto Co­p­ley, Dev Pa­tel, Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser, Sigour­ney Weaver, Hugh Jackman Blomkamp fol­lows up the bril­liant Dis­trict 9 and the un­der­val­ued Ely­sium with a grade-Z stinker of the most em­bar­rass­ing stripe. Be­gin­ning as a vir­tual re­tread of Robocop, the film in­tro­duces us to a young man (Pa­tel) who seeks to in­stil ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence into a crime-fight­ing drone. Ninja and Yo-Landi from rape-rave group Die Ant­wo­ord are ap­palling as ver­sions of them­selves. The sub­plots are a mess. The tit­u­lar robot ap­pears mod­elled on Jar Jar Binks. Aw­ful, truly aw­ful. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 120 min DC

CHRISTINA NOBLE: IN A HOUSE THAT CEASED TO BE ★★★★ Di­rected by Ciarín Scott It’s hard to imag­ine that we will, this year, see a more mov­ing film than Ciarín Scott’s doc­u­men­tary on the in­domitable, proudly ec­cen­tric Christina Noble. Scott cer­tainly has a peach of a sub­ject – known for her ef­forts to help street chil­dren in Viet­nam – but it can’t be de­nied that she makes the very best of the fe­cund ma­te­rial. The cam­paigner’s rages about the Catholic Church’s role in Ir­ish life are pos­i­tively brac­ing. Club, IFI, Dublin, 91 min DC

DREAM­CATCHER ★★★★ Di­rected by Kim Longinotto Ms Longinotto, cre­ator of mov­ing doc­u­men­taries on fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion and di­vorce in Iran, has fo­cused her at­ten­tion on an ex­tra­or­di­nary woman named Brenda My­ers-Pow­ell. This ac­tivist works to pro­tect the sex work­ers of Chicago with a de­gree of good hu­mour that seems pos­i­tively su­per­nat­u­ral. There is im­pres­sive re­silience on dis­play here. We are re­minded of un­happy truths about the US way of jus­tice. But we also get to savour that na­tion’s stir­ring be­lief in rein­ven­tion. Club, QFT, Belfast (Tues/Wed only), 138 min DC

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (1967) ★★★★ Di­rected by John Sch­lesinger. Star­ring Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch, Alan Bates This 1967 film may be set at the time of Hardy’s book, but it smacks of the Swing­ing Six­ties: look here, its Julie Christie’s freshly ironed hair; look there, its groovy side­burns. But th­ese psy­che­delic touches are what makes Far from the Madding Crowd one the best English lit­er­ary adap­ta­tions ever. Nearly 50 years later, the per­for­mances are as fresh and cool as when the cast was shop­ping on Carn­aby Street. Far out. Club, IFI, Dublin (Sat/Sun only), 168 min TB

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY ★★ Di­rected by Sam Tay­lor-John­son. Star­ring Dakota John­son, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mum­ford, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Mar­cia Gay Harden Dull stu­dent gets in­volved with dull spanky in­dus­tri­al­ist in dull ver­sion of ghastly book. You have to hand it to them. This may still be a pic­ture about a man who likes to beat up women, but the mak­ers have worked so hard at detox­i­fy­ing the re­la­tion­ship that it seems scarcely more in­ap­pro­pri­ate than the one be­tween Squid­ward and Sponge-BobSquarePants. It’s well enough acted and Seamus McGar­vey’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy is dec­o­ra­tive. But the two hours crawl by. 18 cert, gen re­lease, 125 min DC

FO­CUS ★★ Di­rected by Glenn Fi­carra, John Re­qua. Star­ring Will Smith, Mar­got Rob­bie, Gerald McRaney Smith and Rob­bie trade quips in an at­tempt at that most tricky of gen­res: the hus­tle movie. You can hone the dia­logue to per­fec­tion. But, if the plot doesn’t tick like as a smooth Swiss watch, then you may as well not bother re­mov­ing the lens cap. Fo­cus ticks like a cheap car­riage clock that’s been run over al­most as of­ten as its been flung down the stairs. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 105 min DC

GOOD­BYE TO LAN­GUAGE ★★★★ Di­rected by Jean-Luc Go­dard. Star­ring Héloïse Godet, Kamel Ab­deli, Richard Che­val­lier, Zoé

Bruneau “A mar­ried woman and a sin­gle man meet. They love, they ar­gue, fists fly. A dog strays be­tween town and coun­try,” Go­dard be­gins his pre­dictably un­help­ful syn­op­sis. The lat­est episode in the same mono­logue JLG has been car­ry­ing on for 30 years is among the most re­ward­ing. Sure, there is no plot to speak off and the tone is hec­tor­ing. But the use of 3D is as­ton­ish­ing, and there is some­thing a lit­tle like a story. Club, Light House, Dublin, 69 min DC

NEW RE­LEASE THE GUN­MAN ★★ See re­view, page 10 NEW RE­LEASE HOME ★★★ See re­view, page 11

THE IMI­TA­TION GAME ★★★★ Di­rected by Morten Tyl­dum. Star­ring Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Keira Knight­ley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance Fast-paced, lu­cid drama fol­low­ing Alan Tur­ing’s ef­forts to break the Ger­man’s Enigma ci­pher dur­ing the sec­ond World War, and his sub­se­quent shame­ful per­se­cu­tion for ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. The film does in­dulge in a tad too much spo­ken ex­po­si­tion, but Cum­ber­batch is ter­rific as Tur­ing. The film makes in­ter­est­ing points about how a man who couldn’t quite get to grips with ev­ery­day so­ci­ety might well de­velop a spe­cial tal­ent for break­ing codes. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 124 min DC

IN­HER­ENT VICE ★★★★ Di­rected by Paul Thomas An­der­son. Star­ring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wil­son, Kather­ine Water­ston, Reese Wither­spoon, Beni­cio del Toro, Martin Short, Jena Malone, Joanna New­som Adap­ta­tion of Thomas Pyn­chon’s labyrinthine de­tec­tive novel is set at the roach end of the 1960s. New­son’s nar­ra­tor pre­serves the book’s climb­ing, in­tri­cate sen­tences. Phoenix (stoned PI) and Brolin (bul­let-headed cop) make for mag­i­cal ide­o­log­i­cal head-butting. Work­ing with regular DOP Robert El­swit, An­der­son finds gloom in Cal­i­for­nia’s sun­shine and re­cidi­vism in its fu­tur­is­tic de­signs. It’s hard to tell how this will play in the non-Pyn­chon com­mu­nity. But for the con­verted or the plain cu­ri­ous, it’s some­thing to see. 16 cert, Light House, Dublin, 148 min TB

NEW RE­LEASE IN­SUR­GENT ★★ See re­view, page 11

INTO THE WOODS ★★★ Di­rected by Rob rMar­shall. Star­ring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Cor­den, Anna Ken­drick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ull­man, Johnny Depp Ef­fi­cient adap­ta­tion of Stephen Sond­heim’s mu­si­cal con­cern­ing myths and fairy tales. Some of it is very well sung. Most of it is well acted. But, as we might ex­pect from the direc­tor of Chicago and Nine, this ver­sion never quite takes flight. Fa­tally stranded be­tween stage and screen, it seems un­com­fort­able in its own skin. The act­ing is mixed. Streep is too huge as the witch. Cor­den is like­able as the baker. Blunt is gen­uinely ter­rific as his wife. PG cert, gen re­lease, 125 min DC

IT FOL­LOWS ★★★★★ Di­rected by David Robert Mitchell. Star­ring Maika Mon­roe Stunning hor­ror film fo­cus­ing on an en­tity that, for rea­sons ob­scure, plods men­ac­ingly af­ter the last per­son to have sex with some­body sim­i­larly in­fected. Plenty of bad hor­ror films have wasted po­ten­tially promis­ing sce­nar­ios. But the fas­ci­nat­ing tex­ture of It Fol­lows sets it apart from the mucky, blood-soaked pack. Can­nily framed in 1970s am­bi­ence, scored bril­liantly by Disas­ter­piece, the film is both deeply ref­er­en­tial and en­tirely orig­i­nal. 16 cert, lim re­lease, 100 min DC

KILL THE MES­SEN­GER ★★★ Di­rected by Michael Cuesta. Star­ring Jeremy Ren­ner, Rose­marie De­Witt, Ray Liotta, Tim Blake Nel­son, Barry Pep­per, Michael Sheen The con­tin­u­ing enigma that is Jeremy Ren­ner – tal­ented, but trag­i­cally short of charisma – stars as Gary Webb, jour­nal­ist for the mid-rank­ing Jose Mer­cury News who, in the San 1990s, un­cov­ered the CIA’s ap­par­ent in­volve­ment in im­port­ing co­caine dur­ing the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion. As cov­ers of the Pres­i­dent’s Men go, Kill the All Mes­sen­ger is ef­fi­cient enough, but it lacks con­vic­tion in ar­gu­ing its own case. De­Witt is wasted in a naggy wife role. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 118 min DC

KINGS­MAN: SER­VICE THE SE­CRET ★★ Di­rected by Matthew Vaughn. Star­ring Colin Firth, Sa­muel L Jack­son, Mark Strong, Taron Eger­ton, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill A work­ing-class lad (Eger­ton) gets in­ducted into a pri­vate es­pi­onage mob by a toff in a posh suit (Firth). The team be­hind Kick Ass re­unite for a film that ex­ceeds even that unlovely en­ter­tain­ment in its vul­gar­ity, empty flash and taste for ex­ces­sive set-pieces. Though com­pe­tently acted and lushly up­hol­stered, this child­ish film is peren­ni­ally let down by bold-type irony: so blud­geon­ing that it ceases to merit the de­scrip­tion. Enough with es­pi­onage par­o­dies. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 129 min DC

NEW MOMMY RE­LEASE ★★★★★ See re­view, page 9

PADDING­TON ★★★★ Di­rected by Paul King. Star­ring Hugh Bon­neville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Wal­ters, Jim Broad­bent, Peter Ca­paldi, Ni­cole Kid­man,

voice of Ben Whishaw This adap­ta­tion of Michael Bond’s fa­mous sto­ries about a friendly bear is an ab­so­lute de­light. The plot is com­mend­ably sim­ple: Padding­ton is pur­sued by a wicked Cruella de Vil-style taxi­der­mist (Kid­man), who, ini­tially, is in ca­hoots with nosy neigh­bour Mr Curry (Ca­pa­lidi). Fans of Harry Pot­ter’s brand of English­ness will find plenty to savour. But the film equally seeks to cel­e­brate in­clu­siv­ity. Smaller peo­ple, in par­tic­u­lar, will love the may­hem. G cert, gen re­lease, 95 min TB

RUN ALL NIGHT ★★★ Di­rected by Jaume Col­let-Serra. Star­ring Liam Nee­son, Joel Kin­na­man, Com­mon, Ed Har­ris, Nick Nolte Over one night in New York City, our Liam must evade the at­ten­tions of vi­o­lent hood­lums. As with all the most Neesony Nee­son films, Run All Night (ap­palling ti­tle, in­ci­den­tally) is a re­venge thriller. The amaz­ing re­ver­sal here is that, for once, Liam is the avenged rather than the avenger. It’s ac­tu­ally not at all bad. The Ir­ish mafia at­mos­phere is well-main­tained. There’s one great car chase. Our man is as gruffly charis­matic as ever. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 114 min DC

THE SEC­OND BEST MARIGOLD HO­TEL ★★ Di­rected by John Mad­den. Star­ring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Pa­tel, Celia Im­rie, Pene­lope Wil­ton, Ron­ald Pickup, Richard Gere, David Strathairn Well, they re­ally are tempt­ing fate with that ti­tle. Are they not? One half ex­pects the poster to carry a tagline such as “will do well enough” or “if you’ve noth­ing bet­ter to do with your af­ter­noon”. Any­way, the sec­ond film in the grey-pound cy­cles re­unites the lik­able stars for di­min­ish­ing re­turns. Bizarrely, the plot, for long sec­tions, plays like the Ho­tel In­spec­tors episode of Fawlty Tow­ers with Gere in the Bernard Crib­bins role. PG cert, gen re­lease, 122 min DC

NEW RE­LEASE A SEC­OND CHANCE/ EN CHANCE TIL ★★★ See re­view, page 10

SELMA ★★★★ Di­rected by Ava Du­Ver­nay. Star­ring David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkin­son, Car­men EjogO, Tim Roth, Oprah Win­frey, Gio­vanni Ribisi, Wen­dell Pierce Am­bi­tious at­tempt to cap­ture the spirit of Martin Luther King’s march from Selma, Alabama in 1965. This is a film fu­elled by im­pres­sive reser­voirs of right­eous anger. The cam­era is al­lowed to in­dulge in some bravura shots. Ha­giog­ra­phy is dodged. Proper fear is sum­moned up. The film’s old-fash­ioned emo­tional surge ac­cen­tu­ates the ab­sur­dity of it tak­ing half a cen­tury for Hol­ly­wood to prop­erly ad­dress King’s le­gacy. Oyelowo is elec­tric in the lead. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 128 min DC

SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE ★★★★ Di­rected by Richard Goleszowski, Mark Bur­ton. Voices of Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes Should we lower the bah when dis­cussing the lat­est stop-mo­tion fea­ture from Aard­man An­i­ma­tion? It’s not that we would ever sus­pect the stu­dio of woolly think­ing or do­ing any­thing on the sheep. But Shaun the Sheep Movie is a spin-off from a spin-off. Ewe do won­der . . . Oh for­get all that. You don’t need to be told that Aard­man’s lat­est is a de­light from be­gin­ning to end. G cert, gen re­lease, 85 min TB

STILL ALICE ★★★ Di­rected by Richard Glatzer, Wash West­more­land. Star­ring Ju­lianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Ste­wart, Kate Bos­worth, Hunter Par­rish There is much to rec­om­mend this study of a mid­dle-aged woman’s decline from Alzheimer’s, but it will al­ways be known as the Film For Which Ju­lianne Moore Fi­nally Won Her Os­car. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to its cen­tral per­for­mance. The story is thin. At times it plays like a doc­u­men­tary. Mak­ing the hero­ine a lin­guist feels just a lit­tle bit on the nose (the first word she for­gets is “lex­i­con”). Enor­mously mov­ing for all that. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 101 min TB

SUITE FRANÇAISE ★★ Di­rected by Saul Dibb. Star­ring Michelle Wil­liams, Kristin Scott Thomas, Matthias Schoe­naerts, Sam Ri­ley, Lam­bert Wil­son, Ruth Wil­son, Mar­got Rob­bie Ev­ery sec­ond World War cliché is here: the un­hap­pily mar­ried young hero­ine (Wil­liams), her dra­co­nian mother-in-law (Scott Thomas), the dash­ing Ger­man com­poser turned of­fi­cer (Schoe­naerts) who takes up res­i­dence in their wellap­pointed home and em­barks on a ditzy love af­fair with the mis­er­able fe­male lead. Irène Némirovsky’s ad­mired novel has not got the adap­ta­tion it de­served. In­deed, to de­scribe the cen­tral ro­mance as Mills and Boon cheap­ens that imprint’s worth. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 107 min TB

NEW RE­LEASE THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA ★★★★ See re­view, pages 10-11

THE THE­ORY OF EV­ERY­THING ★★★★ Di­rected by James Marsh. Star­ring Ed­die Red­mayne, Felic­ity Jones, Char­lie Cox, Emily Wat­son, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis, Chris­tian McKay Mov­ing film re­counts Prof Stephen Hawk­ing’s first mar­riage as if it were a su­per­hero ge­n­e­sis story. While Os­car win­ner Red­mayne is daz­zling as the physi­cist strug­gling with mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease, the movie be­longs to Jones. Hawk­ing’s con­di­tion is ad­dressed mainly in terms of how it af­fects his mar­riage. Ms Jones con­veys the chang­ing mar­i­tal chem­istry – care, de­pen­dence, re­sent­ment, ex­as­per­a­tion – in small, del­i­cate mo­tions. This is not a brief his­tory of time, but a brief his­tory of love. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 123 min TB

THE WED­DING RINGER ★★ Di­rected by Jeremy Gare­lick. Star­ring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Ka­ley Cuoco-Sweet­ing, Cloris Leach­man Gad is a loser who, some­how or other, gets en­gaged to some­body above his sta­tion and, friend­less, hires Hart to be his best man. The two leads in­ter­act to­gether quite well. The odd de­cent set-piece is un­leashed. What a shame the film-mak­ers have de­vel­oped only an hour’s worth of proper comic busi­ness. There is a con­stant sense that the tal­ent is mug­ging to fill up min­utes. Play foot­ball! Set fire to Cloris Leach­man! Oh, please. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 101 min DC

WHIPLASH ★★★★ Di­rected by Damien Chazelle. Star­ring Miles Teller, JK Sim­mons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser A ded­i­cated Teller plays a young jazz drum­mer hon­ing his para­did­dles at a re­spected con­ser­va­tory in New York City. He rapidly falls un­der the ma­lign shadow of a de­mented men­tor, played by Os­car-win­ning JK Sim­mons. We’ve seen this re­la­tion­ship be­fore: the hard-ass ca­jol­ing the young tal­ent to make the best of him­self. But Whiplash pushes the ob­ses­sions and the psy­choses to the limit. This is jazz drum­ming as form of war­fare. 15A cert, lim re­lease, 106 min DC

WHITE GOD ★★★★ Di­rected by Kornél Mun­druczó. Star­ring Zsofia Psotta, Sandor Zsoter, Lili Manori, Las­zlo Galffi, Sz­abolcs Thuroczy, Lili Hor­vath, Er­win Nagy If you know any­thing about Mun­druczó’s ex­tra­or­di­nary sixth fea­ture (win­ner of Un Cer­tain Re­gard at Cannes 2014) you will know that it is the film in which dogs take over Bu­dapest. But it ac­tu­ally starts out as a rel­a­tively sober piece con­cern­ing a girl and her much-loved dog: think Dis­ney only darker. The shift into apoca­lypse is sur­pris­ing, but not jar­ring. Through­out White God we are aware of pun­gent satire at our el­bow. Fas­ci­nat­ing stuff. Club, QFT, Belfast, 117 min TB

X+Y ★★★ Di­rected by Mor­gan Matthews. Star­ring Asa But­ter­field, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Ed­die Marsan, Jo Yang Loosely in­spired by the life of math­e­mat­i­cal prodigy Daniel Lightwing, Matthews’s movie strives to find the warm heart un­der the cold sur­face of a hu­man cal­cu­la­tor with Asperger syn­drome. Fo­cus­ing on a Bri­tish team in the maths Olympiad, this nicely shot, beau­ti­fully per­formed and well-told story feels just a bit too in­ti­mate, a bit too telly to be (as is clearly its aim) Billy El­liot with sums. But But­ter­field does good work at ap­prox­i­mat­ing the high­func­tion­ing end of the autis­tic spec­trum. 12A cert, lim re­lease, 111 min TB

Gruff jus­tice

Run All Night, out now on gen­eral re­lease

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