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

BIG GAME ★★★★

Di­rected by Jal­mari He­lander. Star­ring Sa­muel L Jack­son, Onni Tom­mila, Ray Stevenson, 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

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

THE CON­NEC­TION/ LA FRENCH ★★★

Di­rected by Cé­dric Jimenez. Star­ring Jean Du­jardin, Gilles Lel­louche, Cé­line Sal­lette, Guil­laume Gouix, Benoît Mag­imel, Bruno Tode­s­chini “Loosely based on real events”, The Con­nec­tion is a pre­quel to The

French Con­nec­tion. This showy chron­i­cle of the rise and fall of a Mar­seilles drug car­tel dur­ing the 1970s pitches ea­ger, newly ap­pointed mag­is­trate Pierre Michel (Os­car win­ner Du­jardin) against the Cor­si­can mob boss Gaë­tan Zampa (Lel­louche) and his heroin-run­ning em­pire. “Heroin is the scourge of our streets,” we are told. But no, the scourge of th­ese streets is a de­bil­i­tat­ing case of Scors­esisms. Still, there are worse things. 15A cert, lim re­lease, 135 min TB

DANNY COLLINS ★★★

Di­rected by Dan Fo­gel­man. Star­ring Al Pa­cino, An­nette Ben­ing, Bobby Can­navale, Jen­nifer Gar­ner, Christo­pher Plummer, Kata­rina Cas, Giselle

Eisen­berg There is much to com­plain about in screen­writer Fo­gel­man’s di­rec­to­rial de­but. Pa­cino plays an aging singer seek­ing rein­ven­tion on a trip back to New Jer­sey. We touch on I’m

Alan Partridge as he chats up the staff in an or­di­nary ho­tel. Re­demp­tion seem at hand, as it al­ways does in such things. For once, Pa­cino saves the pic­ture from mawk­ish­ness with an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally low-key per­for­mance. In­deed, the en­tire cast is on top form. A pleas­ant sur­prise. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 106 min DC

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, Clara Wet­ter­gre, Vin­cent Wet­ter­gren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius 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

GIRL­HOOD/LA BANDE DE FILLES ★★★★

Di­rected by Cé­line Sci­amma. Star­ring Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lind­say Karamoh, Mar­ié­tou Touré, Idrissa Di­a­baté, Sim­ina Soumare, Cyril Mendy

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, Light House, Dublin, 113 min DC

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT ★★★★

Di­rected by Ana Lily Amir­pour Star­ring Arash Marandi, Sheila

Vand, Do­minic Rains Hyp­notic Amer­i­can indie con­cern­ing a fe­male vam­pire (Vand) who stalks an Ira­nian town in­fected with mono­chrome cool from 1950s Amer­ica. The film has things to say about misog­yny in both cul­tures, but is most no­table for its achingly hip style. You might ar­gue that it strives too hard for un­dead and undy­ing cool – ex­pect rock stars to ref­er­ence it for years to come. How­ever, that naïve pas­sion for recre­ational ex­is­ten­tial­ism is part of the film’s pe­cu­liar charm. Club, Light House, Dublin, 99 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, Light House, Dublin, 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) help flesh out a gen­uinely in­ter­est­ing con­cept. The an­i­ma­tion is work­man­like. G cert, gen re­lease, 93 min DC

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

★★★★

Di­rected by Ge­orge Miller. Star­ring Tom Hardy, Char­l­ize Theron, Ni­cholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Hunt­ing­ton- White­ley, Ri­ley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee The much de­layed fourth film in the Mad Max cy­cle turns out to be a com­plete tri­umph. The vi­o­lence is or­ches­trated with great imag­i­na­tion and the an­thro­po­log­i­cal vari­a­tions are left tan­ta­lis­ingly half-ex­plained. Here is the real sur­prise. Mad Max: Fury Road be­longs al­most en­tirely to Theron’s road war­rior. This is partly be­cause it is mainly Fu­riosa’s story (Hardy’s Max ar­rives to help out like David Car­ra­dine in Kung Fu) and partly be­cause the actress eats the op­por­tu­nity alive. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 120 min DC

MANUP ★★★

Di­rected by Ben Palmer. Star­ring Lake Bell, Simon Pegg, Ophe­lia Lovi­bond, Olivia Wil­liams, Rory Kin­n­ear, Sharon Hor­gan, Stephen Camp­bell

Moore Ques­tion: When is a bro­mance not a bro­mance? An­swer: When one of the bros is a girl. No, wait. What­ever way you look at it, Man Up is still a bro­mance: Jack (Pegg) and Nancy (Bell) meet, they down shots, they go bowl­ing, they down pints, they be­come best buds. At its best,

Man Up is a Bri­tish-ac­cented take on Nora Ephron’s brand of spit­balling. Sad to say, the me­chan­ics of the movie are a bit screwy. De­cent enough. 15A, gen re­lease, 87 min TB

MOOMINS ON THE RIVIERA/ MUUMIT RIVIERALLA ★★★

Di­rected by Xavier Pi­card. Voices of Rus­sell Tovey, Nathaniel Parker, Tracy Ann Oberman, Stephanie Winiecki,

Ruth Gibson De­cent an­i­mated ver­sion of a French adventure for the adorable Finnish troll things. There are quib­bles: Snork­maiden is rather brat­tier than in the books, and Lit­tle My is down­right scary. And this es­capade is per­haps not the Moomins’ finest hour: it has none of the post­war dark­ness that hangs over The Moomins and the Great Flood or the com­pelling in­tro­spec­tion of Moomin­land Mid­win­ter. Still, mi­nor Moomins are bet­ter than no Moomins at all. Warmly rec­om­mended. Gen cert, gen re­lease, 77 min TB

THE NEW GIRL­FRIEND/UNE NOU­VELLE AMIE ★★★

Di­rected by François Ozon. Star­ring Ro­main Duris, Anaïs De­moustier, Raphaël

Per­son­naz, Isild Le Besco When Claire (De­moustier) drops in on David (Duris), the wid­ower of her re­cently de­ceased best friend, she is shocked to find David in woman’s cloth­ing. “Pervert,” she cries. But this is a film by Ozon, a film-maker who has spent 17 years ex­plor­ing re­la­tion­ships, sex­ual iden­tity and love in all its strange dis­place­ments. We can trust that Ozon’s adap­ta­tion of a short story by Ruth Ren­dell will not end so judg­men­tally. A bit hard to get hold of, but grip­ping. Club, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 107 min TB

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

PITCH PER­FECT 2 ★★★

Di­rected by El­iz­a­beth Banks. Star­ring Anna Ken­drick, Jayson Sanchez, Rebel Wil­son, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, Brit­tany

Snow The a cap­pella singers are back to re­store their sul­lied name. No­body would con­fuse Pitch Per­fect 2 with a master­piece of au­ral har­mony. In­deed, El­iz­a­beth Banks’s se­quel to an agree­able 2012 hit is a chaotic mess. For all that, it turns out to one of the fun­ni­est films we’ve seen this year. Banks, mak­ing her de­but as direc­tor, and re­turn­ing writer Kay Can­non do a su­per job of ex­ploit­ing their char­ac­ters’ key comic traits. PG cert, gen re­lease, 114 min DC

POLTERGEIST ★★★

Di­rected by Gil Ke­nan Star­ring. Star­ring Sam Rock­well, Rose­marie De­Witt, Kyle Catlett,

Jared Har­ris Un­nec­es­sary, but not ir­re­deemably ap­palling, re­make of the Tobe Hooper (re­ally Steven Spiel­berg) clas­sic con­cern­ing a ghost in the telly. “There’s noth­ing to be afraid of,” mom (De­Witt) tells sen­si­tive young­ster, Grif­fin (Catlett). Well, that’s all right then. So there’s no need to feed the an­ti­quated clown dolls with the ma­ni­a­cal laugh that roam around the bed­room at right? Like many such re­makes, it’s ac­tu­ally quite ef­fi­cient, but soul­less. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 93 min TB

A ROYAL NIGHT OUT ★★

Di­rected by Ju­lian Jar­rold. Star­ring Sarah Gadon, Emily Wat­son, Ru­pert Everett, Jack

Reynor, Bel Powley A Royal Night Out imag­ines that, on the last night of the war in Europe, sen­si­ble Princess El­iz­a­beth (Gadon) and dim-wit­ted Princess Mar­garet (Powley) es­cape a party at the Ritz and launch them­selves into West End lowlife. It’s not a ter­ri­ble idea for a film. But Royal Night Out is dragged down by shal­low stag­ing, hugely broad char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and some un­evenly matched strug­gles be­tween ac­tor and ac­cent. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 97 min DC

SAN AN­DREAS ★★

Di­rected by Brad Pey­ton. Star­ring Dwayne John­son, Carla Gug­ino, Alexan­dra Dad­dario, Ioan Gruf­fudd, Archie Pan­jabi, Paul Gia­matti, Kylie Minogue Ca­cophonous dis­as­ter movie in­volv­ing the de­struc­tion of Cal­i­for­nia by earth­quake. John­son is charm­ing as a he­li­copter pi­lot con­cerned about the plight of his daugh­ter and es­tranged wife. What was it Stalin said? “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of mil­lions is a statis­tic.” The main prob­lem is the ab­surd lack of pac­ing. We begin with the de­struc­tion of the Hoover Dam and work up from there. 12A cert, gen

re­lease, 114 min DC

TIM­BUKTU ★★★★

Di­rected by Abderrahmane Sissako. Star­ring Abel Jafri, Hichem Ya­coubi, Pino

Des­per­ado, Ket­tly Noël Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ists have taken over the Malian city and are press­ing home a se­ries of rigid cul­tural re­stric­tions. Foot­ball is banned, mu­sic for­bid­den. Fol­low­ing an ac­ci­dent with a cow, one wan­der­ing fam­ily is drawn into the mad­ness. Sissako’s drama has ter­ri­ble things to say, but it con­ceals them within a nar­ra­tive that swells with ten­sion and hu­mour. Maybe the fam­ily are a lit­tle too idealised, but that’s a small thing. 12A cert, QFT, Belfast; IFI/Light House, Dublin, 96 min DC

TO­MOR­ROW­LAND ★★★

Di­rected by Brad Bird. Star­ring Ge­orge Clooney, Hugh Lau­rie, Britt Robert­son, Raf­fey Cas­sidy, Tim McGraw, Kee­gan-Michael

Key Tol­er­a­ble, mud­dled sci­encefic­tion adventure with a plot that de­fies easy sum­mary. The trou­ble with To­mor­row­land, de­spite its alt. uni­verse ge­nioc­racy, is that it doesn’t re­ally know (or care) any­thing about science at all. We’re in­tro­duced to a class of tick­ing dooms­day doohickey that can­not be stopped by things like “science” or “in­tel­lect”. In­stead we’re told the Earth can be saved by pos­i­tive think­ing. Yay! Po­lar ice caps melt­ing? Send a cheer­leader! Nat­u­ral dis­as­ter? Try some woolly think­ing! 12A cert, gen re­lease, 130 min TB

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-Scar-from- 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

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

Bon fel­las

The Con­nec­tion/La French,

out now on limited re­lease

Hoo-ya! Al Pa­cino in Danny Collins. out now on gen­eral re­lease

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