Tara Brady and Don­ald Clarke re­view the cur­rent cinema re­leases

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


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 are in­ex­pli­ca­bly flat. A dud. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 132 min


Di­rected by Don Hall and Chris Wil­liams. Voices of Scott Ad­sit, Ryan Pot­ter, Da­mon Wayans Jr, James Cromwell 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


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


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. Be­gin­ning as a 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 tit­u­lar robot ap­pears mod­elled on Jar Jar Binks. Truly aw­ful. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 120 min


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See re­view on Irish­times.com


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, form Julie Christie’s freshly ironed hair to the groovy side­burns. But th­ese 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, QFT, Belfast (Sun only), 168 min


Di­rected by Sam Tay­lorJ ohnson. Star­ring Dakota John­son, Jamie Dornan Dull stu­dent gets in­volved with dull spanky in­dus­tri­al­ist in dull ver­sion of ghastly book. 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 Bob Square Pants. It’s well enough acted, and Seamus McGar­vey’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy is dec­o­ra­tive. But the two hours crawl by. 18 cert, gen re­lease, 125 min


Di­rected by Glenn Fi­carra, John Re­qua. Star­ring Will Smith, Mar­got Rob­bie 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 a 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


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Di­rected by Jean-Luc Go­dard. Star­ring Héloïse Godet, Kamel Ab­deli “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’s 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 (Sun/Mon only), 69 min


Di­rected by Pierre Morel . Star­ring Sean Penn, Javier Bar­dem, Mark Ry­lance, Idris Elba, Ray Win­stone Penn is an aging, bulked-up as­sas­sin who, to­gether with a crack team of mer­ce­nar­ies, uses an NGO as a cover story to ef­fect po­lit­i­cal skul­dug­gery in the Congo. The Gun­man wants to be Taken with a brain and with­out Liam Nee­son. One would think that Pierre Morel, who di­rected that film, would re­alise such a ven­ture is like try­ing to make Frozen with­out princesses. But, no. Un­likely to be mis­taken for a John le Carré joint. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 115 min


Di­rected by Tim John­son. Voices of Jim Par­sons, Ri­hanna, Steve Martin, Jen­nifer Lopez Home imag­ines an in­va­sion by a drone­like alien species named the Boov. Ad­dicted to com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices, un­will­ing to connect on a phys­i­cal level, the Boov are, of course, us at our most anti-so­cial and wired in. Su­perb voice­work from Par­sons (weird in his pre­ci­sion) and Ri­hanna (sooth­ingly warm through­out) help flesh out a gen­uinely in­ter­est­ing con­cept. Sadly, the an­i­ma­tion is no bet­ter than work­man­like. G cert, gen re­lease, 93 min


Di­rected by Paul Thomas An­der­son. Star­ring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wil­son, Reese Wither­spoon Adap­ta­tion of Thomas Pyn­chon’s labyrinthine de­tec­tive novel is set at the roach end of the 1960s. Phoenix (stoned PI) and Brolin (bul­let-headed cop) make for mag­i­cal ide­o­log­i­cal head-butting. 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 (Sat/Tues only), 148 min


Di­rected by Robert Sch­wen­tke. Star­ring Shai­lene Wood­ley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Jai Court­ney, Kate Winslet, Ansel El­gort, Zoë Kravitz, Naomi Watts The tribe that is no tribe lights out for the ter­ri­tory. As a dis­til­la­tion of all that’s most or­di­nary about con­tem­po­rary YA sci-fi, this rou­tine se­quel to Diver­gent could hardly be bet­tered. Set free, ev­ery­one gets the op­por­tu­nity to mildly spike their hair, wear boot-cut jeans (hon­estly!), work on their abs and oth­er­wise be­have like a mid­dle-class In­di­ana high­school stu­dent, circa 1998. Wood­ley isn’t bad. Winslet has fun. But it’s a dead loss. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 118 min


Di­rected by Rob rMar­shall. Star­ring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Cor­den, Anna Ken­drick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp Ef­fi­cient adap­ta­tion of Stephen Sond­heim’s mu­si­cal con­cern­ing myths and fairy­tales. Some of it is very well sung. Most of it is well acted. But, as we might ex­pect from the direc­tor of Chicago, 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


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


Di­rected by Michael Cuesta. Star­ring Jeremy Ren­ner, Rose­marie De­Witt, Ray Liotta, Michael Sheen The con­tin­u­ing enigma that is Jeremy Ren­ner – tal­ented, but trag­i­cally short of charisma – stars as Gary Webb, jour­nal­ist for the mid-rank­ing San Jose Mer­cury News who, in the 1990s, un­cov­ered the CIA’s ap­par­ent in­volve­ment in im­port­ing co­caine dur­ing the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion. As cov­ers of All the Pres­i­dent’s Men go, Kill the 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


Di­rected by Matthew Vaughn. Star­ring Colin Firth, Sa­muel L Jack­son, 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

NEW RE­LEASE LIFE OF RI­LEY See re­view on Irish­times.com


Di­rected by Xavier Dolan. Star­ring Anne Dor­val, Suzanne Cle­ment A sort of apolo­gia for Dolan’s de­but, I Killed My Mother, Mommy de­tails the spiky re­la­tion­ship be­tween Steve (Pilon), a trou­bled teen with some vari­a­tion of ADHD, and his dis­or­gan­ised, charis­matic, of­ten fab­u­lous mum Die (Dor­val). Shot in a sin­gu­lar square ra­tio, the film is in­no­va­tive, movie and fired up with ir­re­press­ible en­ergy. Still only 26, the Québé­cois direc­tor is now among the most im­por­tant film-mak­ers of the age. Club, IFI, Dublin, 138 min


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. Padding­ton is pur­sued by a wicked Cruella de Vil-style taxi­der­mist (Kid­man). 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


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


Di­rected by John Mad­den. Star­ring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Pa­tel, Richard Gere, David Strathairn Well, they re­ally are tempt­ing fate with that ti­tle. 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


Di­rected by Su­sanne Bier. Star­ring Nikolaj Coster-Wal­dau, Ul­rich Thom­sen A po­lice­man ( Game of Throne’s Coster-Wal­dau) en­joys a per­fect life with his wife and new­born son in a house that may or may not have been pre­vi­ously used in an Ikea com­mer­cial. Across town, a vi­o­lent, heroin-ped­dling thug and his girl­friend also have a baby boy. What en­sues is a schematic nar­ra­tive pep­pered with moral quan­daries, as penned by regular Bier col­lab­o­ra­tor An­ders Thomas Jensen ( In a Bet­ter World, An­tichrist). Club, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 105 min


Di­rected by Ava Du­Ver­nay. Star­ring David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkin­son, Tim Roth, Oprah Win­frey 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


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Di­rected by Richard Goleszowski, Mark Bur­ton 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


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STILL ALICE Di­rected by Richard Glatzer, Wash West­more­land. Star­ring Ju­lianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Ste­wart 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


Di­rected by Saul Dibb. Star­ring Michelle Wil­liams, Kristin Scott Thomas, Matthias Schoe­naerts, Sam Ri­ley, Lam­bert Wil­son 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


Di­rected by Isao Taka­hata. Voices of Chloë Grace Moretz, James Caan, Lucy Liu, Mary Steen­bur­gen, Ge­orge Se­gal The lat­est from the direc­tor of Grave of the Fire­flies tells of an an­cient myth, con­cern­ing a woods­man who dis­cov­ers a mag­i­cal baby, with lu­cid­ity and sen­si­tiv­ity. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is, how­ever, most no­table for its ex­tra­or­di­nary vi­su­als. View­ers used to the bold lines and brash colours of Hayao Miyazaki’s films (Taka­hata also works un­der the Stu­dio Ghi­bli ban­ner) will be re­freshed by the more pain­terly work in this gor­geous film. PG cert, lim re­lease, 137 min


Di­rected by James Marsh. Star­ring Ed­die Red­mayne, Felic­ity Jones, Emily Wat­son 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


Di­rected by Mar­jane Sa­trapi . Star­ring Ryan Reynolds, Anna

Ken­drick, Gemma Arter­ton, Jacki Weaver A dis­turbed man talks to his dog and his cat. Work­ing from a clever and bleak script by Michael Perry, Sa­trapi utilises the same whim­si­cal flair she brought to Chicken with Plums to more un­set­tling ef­fect. But The Voices makes for an air­less ex­pe­ri­ence. The an­i­mal voices, all per­formed by Reynolds, sug­gest Look Who’s Talk­ing for Dex­ter fans. The film of­fers no light­ness, no re­lief, only grim psy­chopa­thy with flashes of DayGlo colours. 16 cert, lim re­lease, 103 min


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


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