Tara Brady and Don­ald Clarke re­view the cur­rent cinema re­leases

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

AVENGERS: AGE OF UL­TRON ★★★ Di­rected by Joss Whe­don. Star­ring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruf­falo, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Chris Evans, Jeremy Ren­ner, Don Chea­dle, El­iz­a­beth Olsen, Aaron Tay­lor-John­son, Paul Bet­tany, Sa­muel L Jack­son, James

Spader, Julie Delpy The lat­est co­ag­u­la­tion of su­per­heroes find the gags wear­ing very thin. There is, of course, enough ac­tion to go around. Tol­er­ant afi­ciona­dos will savour the sup­pos­edly tan­ta­lis­ing in­di­ca­tors to fu­ture plot de­vel­op­ments. Jo­hans­son, Downey Jr and Ruf­falo all put shoul­ders to the wheel. But the Tulip Fever that is su­per­hero ma­nia must be close to break­ing. The pat­tern that goes “Bang, big­ger bang, RDJ quips” is par­tic­u­larly ex­haust­ing. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 141 min DC



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See re­view, page 11 CHILD 44 ★★ Di­rected by Daniel Espinosa. Star­ring Tom Hardy, Gary Old­man, Noomi Ra­pace, Joel Kin­na­man, Paddy Con­si­dine, Ja­son Clarke, Vin­cent Cas­sel, Charles Dance, Tara Fitzger­ald Hugely dis­ap­point­ing, sur­pris­ingly bor­ing adap­ta­tion of Tom Robb Smith’s novel con­cern­ing the hunt for a child mur­derer in Soviet Rus­sia dur­ing the 1950s. The ex­em­plary ac­tors all do what they do: Hardy’s vul­ner­a­ble mas­culin­ity swells at the brim; Old­man needs no sea­son­ing to make the scenery de­li­cious. The gloomy set-dress­ing is suf­fi­ciently dap­pled to sat­isfy An­drei Tarkovsky. But the story is a con­fus­ing bore that leads achingly slowly to a so­lu­tion as per­func­tory as it is im­plau­si­ble. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 137 min DC

CIN­DERELLA ★★★★ Di­rected by Ken­neth Branagh. Star­ring Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Mad­den, He­lena

Bon­ham Carter No­body is likely to con­fuse Branagh’s ir­re­sistible take on a familiar story with an art film. Still, in its lack of ex­per­i­ment, this Cin­derella does feel pos­i­tively ex­per­i­men­tal. It’s the vil­lains and the fan­tas­tic be­ings that liven up th­ese af­fairs. Blanchett en­gages with Lady Tre­maine, the no­to­ri­ous step­mother, in the same man­ner that Godzilla en­gaged with Tokyo. The leads are also lovely, but you know what they say about the devil’s tunes. G cert, gen re­lease, 105 min DC


HECK ★★★★★ Direc­tor Brett Morgen. Fea­tur­ing Kurt Cobain, Court­ney

Love, Krist Novoselic Ex­cel­lent doc­u­men­tary on the late Kurt Cobain from the man be­hind The

Kid Stays in the Pic­ture. What emerges is a stag­ger­ingly bril­liant por­trait of a stag­ger­ingly bril­liant artist. Us­ing an­i­ma­tions to both drama­tise au­dio record­ings and to bring Kurt’s ex­ten­sive cat­a­logues of doo­dles to life, Mon­tage of Heck has a won­der­ful hand­made feel, not un­like Jonathan Caou­ette’s 2003 auto-doc, Tar­na­tion. Full ac­cess to the ar­chives has been made the most of. Club, Light House, Dublin, 132 min TB DARK HORSE: THE IN­CRED­I­BLE TRUE STORY OF DREAM AL­LIANCE ★★★

Di­rected by Louise Or­mond The Dream Al­liance saga be­gins in 2000, when Jan Vokes, a bar­maid from south Wales, got talk­ing to a lo­cal tax ad­viser and rac­ing en­thu­si­ast, Howard Davies. Jan and her hus­band sub­se­quently hatched a plan to breed a race­horse. In or­der to fi­nance the ven­ture – what with the sperm prices – they sold shares to lo­cals.

Dark Horse is a nice look­ing pro­duc­tion, though it couldn’t look less like a the­atri­cal doc­u­men­tary if they had in­cluded com­mer­cial breaks ev­ery 20 min­utes. Club, QFT, Belfast (Tues/Wed only), 85 min TB

THE DUFF ★★★ Di­rected by Ari San­del. Star­ring Mae Whit­man, Bella

Thor­nel, Al­li­son Jan­ney “Duff” stands for “des­ig­nated ugly fat friend”. And The Duff is a so­ci­o­log­i­cally in­spired novel in the mould of

Mean Girls. San­del’s pic­ture re­ally, re­ally wants to be Mean

Girls or Clue­less when it grows up, and even if it’s not quite there, we ad­mire the in­ten­tion. Vet­er­ans, in­clud­ing Jan­ney and Ken Jeong, pro­vide lov­able cameos, though ul­ti­mately the film be­longs to its charm­ing lead. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 101 min TB

8 /12 ★★★★★ Di­rected by Fed­erico Fellini. Star­ring Mar­cello Mas­troianni, Clau­dia Car­di­nale, Anouk Aimée, San­dra Milo, Bar­bara

Steele For a film pur­port­ing to be about not be­ing able to make a film, 8 1/2 teems with ideas about Catholi­cism and fem­i­nin­ity. How can any woman live up to any billing in a so­ci­ety determined to po­larise an en­tire gen­der into vir­gins and whores? Is there any es­cape from Catholic guilt? This 1963 master­piece never fails to sur­prise. It makes ev­ery mus­cle in your body con­tract and pulse with stress be­fore al­low­ing us to float off like Guido’s open­ing day­dream. Club, IFI, Dublin (Sat/Mon only), 131 min TB THE FALL­ING ★★★★ Di­rected by Carol Mor­ley. Star­ring Maisie Wil­liams, Florence Pugh, Greta Scac­chi It is 1969 and hor­mones reign at an English girls’ school, where spiky Ly­dia (Wil­liams) and dreamy Ab­bie (re­mark­able new­comer Pugh) en­joy a hair-stroking, quasi-Sap­phic best-friend­ship. A tragedy fi­nally sep­a­rates the girls and Ly­dia faints. And then other girls faint. What is go­ing on here? Ly­dia’s trou­bled re­la­tion­ship with her hair­dresser mother (Peake) and un­set­tling home life bring kitchen- sink grit to the oth­er­world­li­ness and at­mo­spher­ics of a film that is firmly an­chored in its pe­riod. Spook­ily be­witch­ing. 16 cert, lim re­lease, 102 min TB

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD ★★★ Di­rected by Thomas Vin­ter­berg. Star­ring Carey Mul­li­gan, Matthias Schoe­naerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Stur­ridge, Juno

Tem­ple Per­fectly ad­e­quate, un­de­ni­ably beau­ti­ful ver­sion of the novel that made Thomas Hardy’s name and spawned one of the 1960s’ sig­na­ture films. Mul­li­gan is nu­anced as the landowner un­able to choose be­tween three very dif­fer­ent men. Schoe­naerts is a com­mend­able moral cen­tre. Sheen is con­vinc­ingly ma­ture. But Stur­ridge is an un­der­pow­ered dis­as­ter as the sup­pos­edly charis­matic sol­dier who sweeps her off her feet. He brings more of a trou­bling squall than an an­ni­hi­lat­ing hur­ri­cane. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 119 min DC

FAST AND FU­RI­OUS 7 ★★ Di­rected by James Wan. Star­ring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne John­son, Michelle Ro­driguez, Jor­dana Brew­ster, Tyrese Gibson, Ja­son Statham,

Kurt Rus­sell, Tony Jai The au­to­mo­tive fran­chise sur­vives the death of Walker to de­liver a slightly ho-hum sev­enth edi­tion. De­spite the lengthy and sen­ti­men­tal trib­ute to Walker in the closing scenes (mon­tage, ahoy) his ab­sence is not as keenly felt as for­mer direc­tor Justin Lin. His re­place­ment, Wan ( Saw,

The Con­jur­ing) may be a dab hand at things that go bump in the night, but ac­tion is not his strong point. A Tourette’s flurry of fast cuts. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 134 min TB FORCE MA­JEURE ★★★★★ Di­rected by Ruben Östlund. Star­ring Jo­hannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli Fol­low­ing an act of cow­ardice dur­ing an avalanche at a ski re­sort, To­mas (Bah Kuhnke) is forced to re-eval­u­ate his re­la­tion­ship with his fam­ily. There are end­less recriminations, icy looks, con­ver­sa­tions that go around and around to no end, and, most of all, the ex­cru­ci­at­ing sense of be­ing stuck in a room with mar­ried peo­ple who are, fig­u­ra­tively, tak­ing lumps out of each other. DOP Fredrik Wenzel’s sub­lime snows­capes pro­vide the cherry for a wicked con­fec­tion. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 120 min DC

GET HARD ★★★ Di­rected by Etan Co­hen. Star­ring Will Fer­rell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie, Ed­wina Find­ley,

Craig T Nel­son When a Waspy mas­ter of the uni­verse (Fer­rell) is charged with in­sider trad­ing and sen­tenced to 10 years in San Quentin, he en­lists the only black man he knows (Hart) to teach him how to sur­vive. A pleas­ing de­tour into the world of Boyz N the Hood al­lows for var­i­ous gangstare­lated shenani­gans led by rap­per TI. It’s a shame that Get Hard, a film that sets out to satirise stereo­types, has come un­der scru­tiny for its use of, well, stereo­types. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 100 min TB

GET UP AND GO ★★★ Di­rected by Bren­dan Grant. Star­ring Peter Coo­nan, Kil­lian Scott, Gemma-Leah Dev­ereux, Sara Lloyd-Gre­gory, Emma

El­iza Re­gan There are worse ways of spend­ing a mod­est bud­get than hav­ing your char­ac­ters walk and talk their way around a ma­jor city as some con­trived dead­line looms. Grant’s low-bud­get film po­si­tions two layabouts – rude Coo­nan and charm­ing Scott – in var­i­ous trendy Dublin lo­ca­tions, with mostly pleas­ing re­sults. The fe­male char­ac­ters are woe­fully writ­ten, but, like their male coun­ter­parts, very well played. As

With­nail & I retreads go, it will do well enough. 15A cert, lim re­lease, 98 min DC



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GLASS­LAND ★★★★ Di­rected by Ger­ard Bar­rett. Star­ring Jack Reynor, Will Poul­ter, Michael Smi­ley, Toni

Collette, Harry Na­gle Ex­cel­lent Ir­ish film from the direc­tor of

Pil­grim Hill con­cern­ing a young taxi driver (Reynor) deal­ing with an al­co­holic mum (Collette) in con­tem­po­rary Tal­laght. Shot on a mod­est bud­get, Glass­land is a mi­nor tech­ni­cal marvel. Piers McGrail’s smoky cin­e­matog­ra­phy makes some­thing oddly beau­ti­ful of the run­down vis­tas. The gifted edi­tor Nathan Nu­gent over­laps the shots with ur­gent re­straint. But it’s the per­for­mances that make it work. Poul­ter al­most steals it as the hero’s best pal. 15A cert, lim re­lease, 93 min DC

THE GOOD LIE ★★ Di­rected by Philippe Falardeau. Star­ring Reese Wither­spoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Em­manuel Jal, Corey Stoll, Kuoth Wiel, Femi Oguns, Sarah

Baker Oh, dear. Has any film been so weighed down by good in­ten­tions as this warm-hearted project con­cern­ing Su­danese refugees to the US in the early part of the cen­tury? This is the sort of achingly wor­thy film that, when shown to school­child­ren in civics class, causes the poor tykes to yearn for dou­ble maths. The im­mi­grants are pa­tro­n­ised. Wither­spoon plays the white saviour. It’s a Unesco ed­u­ca­tional re­source cast in the style of an un­re­con­structed 1970s sit­com. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 109 min DC




See re­view on Irish­times.com

HOME ★★★

Di­rected by Tim John­son. Voices of Jim Par­sons, Ri­hanna, Steve Martin, Jen­nifer Lopez

Home imag­ines an in­va­sion by an 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 DC


★★★★ Di­rected by Frank Berry. Star­ring Jor­danne Jones,

Dafhyd Flynn Berry, direc­tor of the fine Bal­ly­mun Lul­laby, uses non-pro­fes­sional ac­tors to de­liver a mov­ing drama based around the trou­bling topic of sui­cide clus­ters. The film fo­cuses on two young peo­ple kicked about by the spread­ing rip­ples. Dy­lan (Flynn) is in trou­ble at school af­ter be­ing hounded by bul­lies. Amy (Jones), living with her wid­owed dad, is pressed into ever-greater ado­les­cent com­plex­i­ties. Both ac­tors de­liver fine per­for­mances in a film that prof­its from a gen­tle touch. 15A cert, lim re­lease, 80 min DC

JOHN WICK ★★★★ Di­rected by Chad Sta­hel­ski. Star­ring Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Al­fie Allen, Adri­anne Pal­icki, Brid­get Moy­na­han, Willem Dafoe, Ian

McShane Reeves sets out to avenge his dog’s death in an un­stop­pable vec­tor of an ac­tion movie. There are whiffs of John Woo and Ringo Lam. Keanu’s tun­nel-vi­sion de­ter­mi­na­tion (“You killed my dog”) re­calls that of Lee Marvin (“I just want my money”) in John Boor­man’s Point Blank. But the most un­avoid­able in­flu­ences on John Wick are, surely, firstand sec­ond-per­son shooter video games. This is not meant as any sort of neg­a­tive crit­i­cism. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 101 min DC A LITLE CHAOS ★★ Di­rected by Alan Rick­man. Star­ring Kate Winslet, Alan Rick­man, Stan­ley Tucci, He­len McCrory, Matthias Schoe­naerts, Tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the his­tor­i­cal per­son­age of An­dré Le Nôtre – the prin­ci­pal gar­dener of King Louis XIV and the brains be­hind the gar­dens at Ver­sailles –

A Lit­tle Chaos casts the al­ways wel­come Schoe­naerts as the in­flu­en­tial land­scaper. He’s joined by Winslet as a wid­owed gar­dener tasked with designing a foun­tain. There is sex­ual ten­sion. Or rather, we’re told there is. Winslet and Schoe­naerts are ca­pa­ble ac­tors, but they gen­er­ate sur­pris­ingly lit­tle heat. Weak stuff. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 116 min TB PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 ★ Di­rected by Andy Fick­man. Star­ring Kevin James, Molly Shan­non, Neal McDonough, Daniella Alonso, David Hen­rie, Raini Ro­driguez Our hero finds

him­self thwart­ing crim­i­nals while at a con­ven­tion in Las Ve­gas. No sane con­sumer will ex­pect too much from a film called Paul Blart Mall Cop 2. If he or she emerges from the cinema with thumbs still op­pos­able and frontal lobes in­tact then it should be ac­counted a small victory. We’ll give it that. Oth­er­wise, the sec­ond film in the com­edy cy­cle lives down to all low­ered ex­pec­ta­tions. PG cert, gen re­lease, 93 min DC NEW RE­LEASE PHOENIX ★★★★ See re­view, page 10 A PI­GEON SAT ON A BRANCH RE­FLECT­ING ON EX­IS­TENCE ★★★★★ Di­rected by Roy An­der­s­son. Star­ring Hol­ger An­der­s­son, Nils West­blom, Char­lotta Lars­son, Vik­tor Gyl­len­berg, Lotti Torn­ros, Jonas Ger­holm, Ola Stens­son Girls blow bub­bles from an apart­ment win­dow. Peo­ple in a bus queue de­bate over what day of the week it is. Pith-hel­meted colo­nial troops lead African cap­tives into a gi­ant cop­per-horned drum that ro­tates and makes mu­sic once the peo­ple in­side are be­ing roasted alive. Amazingly, no­body asks “Is it about a bi­cy­cle?” The lat­est slice of so­cial­ist sur­re­al­ism from a Swedish mas­ter is his fun­ni­est, most mourn­ful yet. For­mally con­tained, no cam­era move­ments to speak of, but end­lessly fe­cund. 12A cert, lim re­lease, 100 min TB



See re­view, page 11 THE SEC­OND BEST MARIGOLD HO­TEL ★★ Di­rected by John Mad­den. Star­ring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Pa­tel, Celia Im­rie, Pene­lope Wil­ton, Ron­ald Pickup, Diana Hard­cas­tle, Tamsin Greig, Richard Gere, David Strathairn Well, they re­ally are tempt­ing fate with that ti­tle. One half ex­pects the poster to carry a tagline such as “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


★★★★ Di­rected by Richard Golesz

owski, 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 TB THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WA­TER

★★★★ Di­rected by Paul Tib­bitt, Mike Mitchell. Star­ring An­to­nio Ban­deras. Voices of Tom Kenny, Clancy Brown Ban­deras’s Burger Beard, a fast-food live-ac­tion pirate, se­cures the se­cret for­mula for Krabby Pat­ties and, to avert con­comi­tant apoca­lypse in Bikini Bot­tom, SpongeBob takes the wrongly ac­cused Plank­ton on a quest that brings them to a fu­ture ruled by Bub­ble the mag­i­cal dol­phin (voiced, pre­dictably bril­liantly, by Matt Berry). The lat­est out­ing for the res­i­dents of Bikini Bot­tom is as an­ar­chi­cally hi­lar­i­ous as ever. G cert, gen re­lease, 92 min TB NEW RE­LEASE SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD ★★★

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TWO BY TWO ★★★ Di­rected by Toby Genkel. Voices of Carla Becker, Ava Con­nolly, Lotta Doll, Alan Stan­ford Two by

Two brings us digitised beast­ies and a plot that will seem aw­fully familiar to any­one who has watched Ice Age. Hap­pily, it has enough charm to carry off a lit­tle deriva­tion. The an­i­ma­tion cap­tures such tricky things as fur and wa­ter very well. And the film com­pen­sates for Isn’t-that-Scar­from-The- Lion-King? deja vu with some gen­uinely orig­i­nal cre­ations, in­clud­ing a gi­ant par­a­site-in­hab­ited slug voiced by Paul Ty­lak. G cert, gen re­lease, 96 min TB UN­FRIENDED ★★★★ Di­rected by Le­van Gabri­adze. Star­ring Shel­ley Hen­nig, Moses Ja­cob Storm Six young peo­ple find them­selves in dan­ger one year af­ter their friend’s sui­cide. This hugely imag­i­na­tive, gen­uinely un­set­tling dis­sec­tion of cur­rent on­line dis­con­tents takes place en­tirely on the screen of one teenager’s lap­top: her mes­sag­ing pro­gramme, Instagram, Face­book, email and browser. It’s the sort of high con­cept that’s worth do­ing once and well. Rather as­ton­ish­ingly, the film-mak­ers pull off the dy­nam­ics and man­age to in­ject real moral weight into the hor­ror. One of a kind. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 82 min DC


★★★ Di­rected by Rus­sell Crowe. Star­ring Rus­sell Crowe, Olga

Kurylenko A be­reaved farmer searches for the re­mains of his sons fol­low­ing the car­nage at Gal­lipoli. Crowe’s di­rec­to­rial de­but does ex­actly what you prob­a­bly ex­pected. The Wa­ter Diviner is loud, brash, emo­tion­ally ma­nip­u­la­tive and oc­ca­sion­ally plain lu­di­crous. But it is also stuffed with un­com­pli­cated hu­man­ity and Satur­day-af­ter­noon good spir­its. Some ac­tors di­rect the film they feel they should di­rect. Crowe looks to have made the pic­ture he gen­uinely wanted to make. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 111 min DC


★★★★ Di­rected by Noah Baum­bach. Star­ring Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Adam Driver, Charles

Grodin, Amanda Seyfried A new, end­lessly con­fus­ing gen­er­a­tion gap is just one of the sub­jects skew­ered in the bril­liant com­edy from the direc­tor of Frances Ha. Watts and Stiller play mid­dleaged New York­ers who fall in with younger, hip­per Seyfried and Driver. In­evitably the older cou­ple end up look­ing ridicu­lous. The film is packed with hi­lar­i­ous one-lin­ers and man­ages an in­ter­est­ing take on the All About Eve nar­ra­tive. It’s a shame the fe­male char­ac­ters are so un­der­de­vel­oped. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 96 min DC

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