Tara Brady and Don­ald Clarke’s picks of the cur­rent film re­leases

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE -

rBLACKPANTHER

Direct­ed­byRyanCoogler.Star­ring Chad­wick­Bose­man,MichaelB Jor­dan,Lupi­taNy­ong’o,Danai Gurira,Mart­inFree­man

Marvel’s first out­ing with a black pro­tag­o­nist stars Bose­man as an African king who, from time to time, fights op­pres­sion as the lithe Black Pan­ther. Coogler has as much right to di­rect a so-so chil­dren’s film as the next chap, but a lit­tle more roughage would have been nice. It’s ef­fi­cient, fun and very well acted. But the ex­cess of CGI is suf­fo­cat­ing and the sur­face plot is im­pos­si­ble to care about. Just good enough. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 134 min DC

BLOCK­ERS

Direct­ed­byKayCan­non.Star­ring KathrynNew­ton,JohnCena,Les­lie Mann,IkeBar­in­holtz,GideonAd­lon, GeraldineViswanathan,Gra­ham Phillips

Three girls plan to lose their vir­gin­ity. Their par­ents plan to stop them. The film sets it­self apart from most high-school shag come­dies by fo­cus­ing un­crit­i­cally on fe­male sex­u­al­ity even as it rel­ishes the dads’ dis­com­fort with that topic. “Why is sex even bad?” some­one says, ca­su­ally en­cap­su­lat­ing the dilemma at the heart of so much Amer­i­can com­edy. The rou­tines are hit and miss but when they work they prop­erly tear the roof off. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 102 min DC

COCO★★★★

Direct­ed­byLeeUnkrichandA­drian

Molina.Star­ringAn­tho­nyGon­za­lez, GaelGar­cíaBer­nal,Ed­wardJames Ol­mos

The lat­est from Pixar risks telling chil­dren (and all oth­ers) a tale of the Mex­i­can Day of the Dead. On pa­per, the mythol­ogy scans as com­pli­cated and dark, but in the ca­pa­ble hands of Os­car-win­ner Unkrich and Pixar vet­eran Molina, Coco is ac­ces­si­ble for even the youngest. The an­i­ma­tion es­chews the tir­ing photo-re­al­ism of Cars 3 and The Good Di­nosaur in favour of the trans­port­ing car­ni­va­lesque, re­plete with a stage show by Frieda Kahlo and candy-coloured Xoloitzcuintli. Wel­come back. PG cert, gen re­lease, 105 min TB

AFANTASTICWOMAN/UNAMUJER FAN­TÁS­TICA

Direct­ed­bySe­bastiánLe­lio.Star­ring DanielaVega,Fran­cis­coReyes

This Chilean drama, whch won best for­eign lan­guage pic­ture at the Os­cars, de­tails the strug­gles of a trans woman to make a life for her­self fol­low­ing be­reave­ment. Which makes it sound heav­ier than it is. Yes, there are mo­ments of anger and frus­tra­tion, an ex­tended scream against lazy as­sump­tions and blink­ered big­otry. But it is also light, funny, wry and in­spir­ing. IThe charis­matic star Vega al­lows a vul­ner­a­bil­ity to peak through the cara­pace of con­fi­dence. She is in vir­tu­ally ev­ery scene, and she owns ev­ery one of them.15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 104 min DC

GAMENIGHT

Direct­ed­byJohnFran­cisDa­ley, JonathanGold­stein.Star­ringJa­son Bate­man,RachelMcA­dams,Kyle Chan­dler,SharonHor­gan

Even semi-amus­ing stu­dio come­dies are now so rare that, when a prop­erly funny one ar­rives, the temp­ta­tion is to have it stuffed and mounted. Game Night con­cerns in­sanely com­pet­i­tive yup­pies (Bate­man and McA­dams) who de­vote their evenings to gam­ing ex­er­cises in mid-brain one-up­man­ship. One event, a staged mur­der mys­tery party, goes quickly out of con­trol. The trick is to keep the di­a­logue so sharp and the re­la­tion­ships so cleanly de­fined that no­body both­ers to ques­tion the in­creas­ingly pre­pos­ter­ous plot turns. Di­rec­tors Da­ley and Goldstein fol­lowup their hi­lar­i­ous, un­fairly de­rided up­dat­ing of Na­tional Lam­poon’s Va­ca­tion with a crit­i­cal hit that shows were right about them all along. So there. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 100 min DC

NEWRELEASE GHOSTSTORIES

Direct­ed­byAndyNy­manandJeremy Dyson.Star­ringAndyNy­man,Martin Free­man,AlexLawther,Ni­cholas

Burns A prickly night­watch­man (White­house) hears ter­ri­ble things while guard­ing a derelict build­ing once used as an asy­lum for fe­male pa­tients. A nervy, bul­lied young man (Lawther) is in­volved in a hit-and-run in­ci­dent with a de­monic beast while driv­ing deep in a for­est. A wealthy high-flier from the fi­nan­cial sec­tor (Martin Free­man, ooz­ing smug) is ter­rorised by a pol­ter­geist just as his wife is go­ing into labour. This is a modern Dead of Night port­man­teau from Andy Ny­man (the co-cre­ator of Dar­ren Brown’s stage shows) and The League of Gen­tle­men’s Jeremy Dyson. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 98 min TB

NEWRELEASE THEHURRICANEHEIST

Direct­ed­byRobCo­hen.Star­ringToby Kebbell,Mag­gieGrace,Ryan Kwan­ten,Melis­saBolona,Ralph

Ine­son,BenCross With a nod to the com­par­a­tively mas­ter­ful high con­cepts of Snakes on a Plane and Shark­nado, Hur­ri­cane Heist fea­tures a hur­ri­cane and a heist. As the film opens, two boys wit­ness the death of their fa­ther in an Alabama cat­e­gory 5 storm. The old man dis­ap­pears just as the younger one fan­cies he sees a skull in the clouds. If only the rest of the film had got be­hind the skull mo­tif. In­stead we have to wait un­til the fi­nal scene – the storm in a race against trucks – for a dash of mit­i­gat­ing camp. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 103 min TB

I,TONYA

Direct­ed­byCraigGille­spie.Star­ring Mar­gotRob­bie,Se­bas­tianS­tan,

Al­li­son Jan­ney Sear­ing, po­lit­i­cally edgy study of the jour­ney that took Tonya Hard­ing (Rob­bie) from ice skat­ing star to the most re­viled woman in 1994 Amer­ica. The film’s sym­pa­thies lie with Hard­ing, roundly abused by her ruth­less mother and man­ager, LaVona (Jan­ney), and her vi­o­lent, shot­gun-wield­ing hus­band (Stan). The film’s treat­ment of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is oc­ca­sion­ally a lit­tle un­easy. But a fired-up Rob­bie and an in­can­des­cently hor­rid Jan­ney make it work. A blast. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 110 min TB

ISLEOFDOGS★★★★★ Direct­ed­byWesAn­der­son.Voic­e­sof BryanCranston,Ed­wardNor­ton,Bill Mur­ray,Jef­fGold­blum,BobBal­a­ban, Ku­nichiNo­mura,KenWatan­abe, Gre­taGer­wig,FrancesMcDor­mand, Fish­erStevens,Ni­jiroMu­rakami, Har­veyKei­tel,Scar­let­tJo­hans­son, Til­daSwin­ton,FMur­rayAbra­ham, YokoOno

In a fu­tur­is­tic Ja­pan, a thug­gish, to­tal­i­tar­ian Mayor Kobayashi - the de­scen­dant of a long line of cat fanciers - uses an out­break of snout fever to jus­tify the ban­ish­ment of all ca­nines. The pup­pers and dog­gos of Me­gasaki City are ac­cord­ingly rounded up and dumped on Trash Is­land. Here, the mutts scrap in mar­vel­lous cot­ton­wood dust-ups and strug­gle to sur­vive on mag­goty morsels. Wes An­der­son’s sec­ond stop-mo­tion film (af­ter Fan­tas­tic Mr Fox in 2009) doesn’t put a paw wrong. PG cert, gen re­lease, 101 min TB

JOUR­NEY­MAN

Direct­ed­byPad­dyCon­si­dine. Star­ringPad­dyCon­si­dine,Jodie Whit­taker,PaulPop­plewellMatty Bur­ton (Con­si­dine), a boxer at the end of his ca­reer, takes on the brash young op­po­nent in a fi­nal ti­tle fight. This is go­ing­to­beal­ife-chang­ing­fight, prom­ises the trash-talk­ing new­comer. He’s cor­rect, but not in the way Matty thinks: A head in­jury leaves him en­tirely de­pen­dent on his wife (Whit­taker) – and en­tirely changed. Thought­ful, ten­der-hearted drama piv­ots around the ac­tor/ direc­tor’s cen­tral per­for­mance, but that turn is never al­lowed to over­shadow ter­rific work by Whit­taker and Welsh. 15A cert, lim re­lease, 92 min TB

LADY­BIRD

Direct­ed­byGre­taGer­wig.Star­ring SaoirseRo­nan,Lau­rieMet­calf,Tracy Letts,Lu­casHedges,Ti­mothée Cha­la­met,BeanieFeld­stein,Stephen

McKin­ley Glo­ri­ously funny, sur­pris­ingly mov­ing comic-drama about the strug­gles be­tween a feisty teenager (Ro­nan, de­light­ful) and her ha­rassed mum (Met­calf, nu­anced) in mil­len­nial Sacra­mento. For some­body so often iden­ti­fied as the most fash­ion­able of cin­e­matic hip­sters, ac­tor-turned-direc­tor Ger­wig proves (not for the first time) to have an enor­mously gen­er­ous spirit. No­body is per­fect in the Lady Bird uni­verse. But no­body is fully ma­lign either. Lau­rie gets her mo­ment of cathar­sis. Ro­nan is even­tu­ally al­lowed the chance to breath. Es­sen­tial. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 94 min DC

NEWRELEASE MICHAELINSIDE

Direct­ed­byFrankBerry.Star­ring Dafhy­dF­lynn,MoeDun­ford,Lalor Roddy,Rob­bieWalsh,SteveBlount,

HazelDoupe Flynn is ter­rific as a young Dubliner who gets cast on the slip­pery slope when he’s banged up for a mi­nor of­fense. Dun­ford is charis­matic as the bully on the yard. Berry’s fol­low up to I Used to Live Here is tech­ni­cally as­sured: en­velop­ing score by Daragh O’Toole; oily, claus­tro­pho­bic cam­er­a­work from Tom Comer­ford; an as­ton­ish­ing lead per­for­mance by Flynn. But it the gen­er­ous hu­man­ism un­der­ly­ing the doc­u­men­tary re­al­ism that re­ally sets it apart. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 96 min DC

MID­NIGHT SUN★★

Direct­ed­byS­cot­tSpeer.Star­ring Bel­laThorne,Pa­trick­Sch­warzeneg­ger,RobRig­gle Largely ter­ri­ble

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MYLES ARONOWITZ/AMA­ZON STU­DIOS

Mil­li­cent Sim­monds in Won­der­struck.

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