Tara Brady and Don­ald Clarke re­view the cur­rent cinema re­leases

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | FILM - THE DUFF ★★★ Di­rected by Ari San­del.

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

BIG GAME ★★★★ Di­rected by Jal­mari He­lander. Star­ring Sa­muel L Jack­son, Onni Tom­mila, Ray Stevenson, Mehmet Kur­tu­lus, Ted Levine, Felic­ity Huff­man, Jim Broad­bent

Sur­pris­ingly amus­ing ac­tion thriller from the Finnish direc­tor of

Rare Ex­ports. Pres­i­dent Jack­son crashes in La­p­land and, with the help of a teenage hunter, seeks to evade the at­ten­tions of mean Ray Stevenson. It’s not en­tirely clear how much of Big Game is funny on pur­pose, but it hardly mat­ters when the ac­tion is so slick and the dia­logue so ripe. “Find the pres­i­dent, kill the sons of bitches who are af­ter him,” Broad­bent’s se­cu­rity hon­cho shrugs. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 90 min DC

THE CANAL ★★★★ Di­rected by Ivan Ka­vanagh. Star­ring Ru­pert Evans, An­to­nia Camp­bell-Hughes, Steve Oram, Calum Heath, Kelly Byrne

A film ar­chiv­ist feels that house is haunted. This dis­turb­ing hor­ror film from the enor­mously promis­ing direc­tor of The Fad­ing Light moves from Bergman in­ten­sity to genre scares. Odd, dis­jointed ed­its muddy the line be­tween fan­tasy and re­al­ity, half-glimpsed fig­ures dart around the edges of the frame, low-an­gle shots make for psy­cho­log­i­cal un­ease, and a dirty public lava­tory se­quence makes the viewer yearn for the com­par­a­tively san­i­tary con­di­tions of the Ed­in­burgh equiv­a­lent in Trainspot­ting. 16 cert, lim re­lease, 94 min TB CHILD 44 ★★ Di­rected by Daniel Espinosa. Star­ring Tom Hardy, Gary Old­man, Noomi Ra­pace, Paddy Con­si­dine, Vin­cent Cas­sel 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


See re­view, page 11 COBAIN: MON­TAGE OF HECK ★★★★★ Direc­tor Brett Morgen. Fea­tur­ing Kurt Cobain, Court­ney Love, Krist Novoselic

Ex­cel­lent doc­u­men­tary on the late Kurt Cobain. 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. Full ac­cess to the ar­chives has been made the most of. Club, Light House, Dublin, 132 min TB 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 (Sun/Tues/Wed only), 131 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, 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, Light House, Dublin, 120 min DC GET HARD ★★★ Di­rected by Etan Co­hen. Star­ring Will Fer­rell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie

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 gangsta-re­lated 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 GIRL­HOOD/LA BANDE DE FILLES ★★★★ Di­rected by Cé­line Sci­amma. Star­ring Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla

The in­can­des­cent Touré plays Marieme, a po­lite, clever girl living with her ag­gres­sive, posses­sive brother and al­most in­vis­i­ble, work-de­pleted mother on the out­skirts of Paris. Sci­amma’s study of im­mi­grant life is great on the glam­our of low-level delin­quency – Marieme is even­tu­ally drawn into a sort of gang – but loses its way in an es­ca­lat­ing fi­nal act. Still, this re­mains a grip­ping so­cial-re­al­ist drama stud­ded with stunning set-pieces. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 113 min DC 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

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. The an­i­ma­tion is no bet­ter than work­man­like. G cert, gen re­lease, 93 min DC

I USED TO LIVE HERE ★★★★ 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 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, 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




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See re­view on Irish­times.com PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 ★ Di­rected by Andy Fick­man. Star­ring Kevin James, Molly Shan­non

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

PHOENIX ★★★★ Di­rected by Chris­tian Pet­zold. Star­ring Nina Hoss, Ron­ald Zehrfeld

A sur­vivor of the Holo­caust, un­recog­nis­able af­ter fa­cial surgery, re­turns to Ber­lin and con­vinces her hus­band that she is a stranger. As in the films of Dou­glas Dirk, a pre­pos­ter­ous nar­ra­tive con­vul­sion is played with such con­vic­tion and sin­cer­ity that all reser­va­tions are swept to the wind. All other films seem, for a mo­ment, wa­tery by com­par­i­son. Hoss im­poses her­self on the drama with all the in­sis­tence of a less fab­u­lous Di­et­rich. She is one of the ac­tors of the age. Club, IFI, Dublin, 98 min DC

A PI­GEON SAT ON A BRANCH RE­FLECT­ING ON EX­IS­TENCE ★★★★★ Di­rected by Roy An­der­s­son. Star­ring Hol­ger An­der­s­son, Nils West­blo

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 cop­per­horned 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

NEW RE­LEASE PITCH PER­FECT 2 ★★★ See re­view, pages 10-11 ROSE­WA­TER ★★★ Di­rected by Jon Ste­wart. Star­ring Gael Gar­cía Bernal, Kim Bod­nia

In June 2009, Canadian-Ira­nian jour­nal­ist Maziar Ba­hari was ar­rested in the wake of the con­tested Ira­nian pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Ba­hari was held and forcibly in­ter­ro­gated for 118 days in Tehran’s Evin Pri­son. Jon Ste­wart’s di­rec­to­rial de­but lo­cates many in­ter­est­ing an­gles in the story, but there is a cer­tain wor­thi­ness to the de­liv­ery. By fo­cus­ing al­most en­tirely on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Maziar and his in­ter­roga­tor, Ste­wart soon mines dry hu­mour from Stock­holm Syn­drome and in­creas­ingly wild al­le­ga­tions. 15A cert, QFT, Belfast; IFI, Dublin, 103 min TB

NEW RE­LEASE A ROYAL NIGHT OUT ★★ See re­view, page 11 THE SEC­OND BEST MARIGOLD HO­TEL ★★ 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 “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

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. 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

SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD ★★★ Ehle Di­rected by Bharat Nal­luri. Star­ring Peter Firth, Kit Har­ing­ton, Jen­nifer

Har­ing­ton, star of Game of Thrones, leaves aside his sword to join the spies in this be­lated bigscreen take on a popular BBC TV se­ries. The film passes the time per­fectly tol­er­a­bly, but it is no more com­fort­able in this less in­ti­mate medium than were an­cient movie ver­sions of The Sweeney and Cal­lan. En­thu­si­asts for the genre will be de­lighted to hear that the phrase “What hap­pened in Ber­lin?” is both bel­lowed and whis­pered at regular in­ter­vals. Proper spy dia­logue. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 103 min DC

NEW RE­LEASE STILL ★★★ See re­view, page 10 TOP FIVE ★★★★ Di­rected by Chris Rock. Star­ring Chris Rock, Rosario Daw­son, Gabrielle Union, Cedric the En­ter­tainer, JB Smoove, Tracy Mor­gan, Kevin Hart

Just when you think that you’ve seen ev­ery­thing that stand-up, ac­tor, writer, direc­tor, pro­ducer and doc­u­men­tar­ian Chris Rock has to of­fer, he only goes and makes Chris Rock’s 8 1/2. The film’s semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal di­men­sion, with a nod to Louis CK and Curb Your En­thu­si­asm, of­fers lots of small plea­sures and a spot-on de­pic­tion of how film pro­mo­tion works: “Do it with 10 per cent more stank,” says one ra­dio en­gi­neer as the film’s hero records a sta­tion ID. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 102 min TB

NEW RE­LEASE THE TRIBE ★★★★★ See re­view, pages 10-11 TWO BY TWO ★★★ Di­rected by Toby Genkel. Voices of Carla Becker, Ava Con­nolly

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

THE WA­TER DIVINER ★★★ 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 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

WHILE WE’RE YOUNG ★★★★ 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

High and mighty Big Game,

out now on gen­eral re­lease

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