Tara Brady and Don­ald Clarke

re­view the cur­rent cinema re­leases

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

AMER­I­CAN SNIPER ★★ 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 – will Kyle shoot that kid with the ex­plo­sive de­vice? – are in­ex­pli­ca­bly flat. A dud. 15A cert, gen

re­lease, 132 min TB

AN­NIE ★★ Di­rected by Will Gluck. Star­ring Jamie Foxx, Qu­ven­zhané Wal­lis, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz Mostly ter­ri­ble updating of the mu­si­cal about an or­phan (de­cent Wal­lis) plucked from poverty by a mil­lion­aire. This An­nie re­ally doesn’t want to be An­nie: it wants to be cool. Ac­quired in 2011 as a ve­hi­cle for Wil­low Smith, it feels like a be­lated, half-hearted post­script to Jay-Z’s 1998 hit

Hard Knock Life. PG cert, gen re­lease, 118 min TB





Di­rected by Stephen Ki­jak Is this some kind of sci-fi doc­u­men­tary? Twenty years of the Back­street Boys? Get up the yard. Ex­cept it’s worse than that. This be­hind-the-scenes chron­i­cle was shot as the Florida quin­tet marked that an­niver­sary with a new record­ing. So it’s been 22 years since those blended har­monies first hit the air­waves. Death, where is thy sting? Sur­pris­ingly, the film is ac­tu­ally very well put to­gether. The boys talk ar­tic­u­lately. Nos­tal­gia bub­bles through. 15A, lim re­lease, 109 min TB

BIG HERO 6 ★★★★ 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 TB BIRD­MAN OR (THE UN­EX­PECTED VIRTUE OF IG­NO­RANCE) ★★★★

Di­rected by Ale­jan­dro González Iñár­ritu.Keaton, Zach Star­ring Gal­i­fi­anakis,Michael 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 DC

BLACK­HAT ★★★ Di­rected by Michael Mann. Star­ring Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Vi­ola Davis A con­victed hacker (Hemsworth) is sprung from jail to help the au­thor­i­ties thwart a dig­i­tal mas­ter crim­i­nal. The phrase used by Lucy Law­less on The Simp­sons for de­flect­ing per­nick­ety fan­boy ques­tions (“When­ever you no­tice some­thing like that, a wiz­ard did it”) springs to mind ev­ery two or three min­utes dur­ing Black­hat’s over­stretched du­ra­tion. The shoot-’em-up se­quences are crunch­ingly vi­o­lent and hand­somely done. But this re­ally is a very silly story. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 133 min TB

THE BOY NEXT DOOR ★ Di­rected by Rob Co­hen. Star­ring Jen­nifer Lopez, Ryan Guz­man J-Lo is back in the sort of breath­tak­ingly abysmal thriller that, a decade ago, sul­lied a promis­ing dra­matic ca­reer. This puz­zling atroc­ity casts Lopez as an English teacher deal­ing badly with a young stalker next door. It is un­fair to take shots at such a soft tar­get. Lopez is not a bad actress, and she has rare old-school movie-star charisma. But her eye for ap­palling scripts is some­thing to be­hold. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 91 min DC

CAKE ★★★

Di­rected by Daniel Barnz.

Star­ring Jen­nifer Anis­ton, Anna Ken­drick, Felic­ity Huff­man,

Wil­liam H Macy When Claire (Anis­ton) is asked to share her thoughts and feel­ings about Nina (Ken­drick), who has lately com­mit­ted sui­cide, the en­sur­ing piti­less tirade sees her chronic pain sup­port group ask her to leave for­ever. This, we re­alise, is some­thing of a pat­tern with Claire. Anis­ton does make us care about her prickly, dam­aged char­ac­ter. There’s enough go­ing on to hold our in­ter­est, even if it doesn’t quite con­geal into any­thing as fin­ished as the tit­u­lar desert. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 102 min DC

CATCH ME DADDY ★★★★★ Di­rected by Daniel Wolfe. Star­ring Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Gary Lewis Deeply pe­cu­liar, bril­liantly at­mo­spheric Bri­tish thriller con­cern­ing – it seems – an “hon­our killing” in North York­shire. Tak­ing a cue from the windswept land­scape and the ev­ery­day po­etry of Ir­ish cine­matog­ra­pher Rob­bie Ryan, the film finds a mon­strous beauty in grim de­tails: a bird of prey feast­ing on squawk­ing new­born flesh, the hum of car­a­van gen­er­a­tors, the pitch­fork- tended fires on the hori­zon. The per­for­mances are all com­pelling, and Ahmed is a rev­e­la­tion. Club, IFI, Dublin, 112 min TB



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★★★★★ Di­rected by Peter Strick­land. Star­ring Sidse Ba­bett Knud­sen, Chiara D’Anna Cap­ti­vat­ing trib­ute to 1970s Ital­ian erot­ica that gains a sin­is­ter en­ergy all its

own. Two women play out sado­masochis­tic games in a time­less, beau­ti­fully lit nowhere. Strick­land’s fol­low-up to Ber­be­rian

Sound Stu­dio is a wholly suc­cess­ful work of high ex­ot­ica. Nic Know­land’s sooth­ing cin­e­matog­ra­phy sum­mons nos­tal­gia for an era most view­ers won’t clearly re­mem­ber. D’Anna and Knud­sen main­tain a fan­tas­tic hau­teur. Both lin­gerie and per­fume are men­tioned in the cred­its. The ac­cept­able al­ter­na­tive to that other spanky film. 18 cert, Light House, Dublin, 104 min DC

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY ★★ Di­rected by Sam Tay­lorJohn­son. Star­ring Dakota

John­son, Jamie Dornan Dull stu­dent gets in­volved with dull spanky in­dus­tri­al­ist in dull ver­sion of ghastly book. You have to hand it to them. 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 SpongeBobS­quarePants. It’s well enough acted and Seamus McGar­vey’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy is dec­o­ra­tive. But the two hours crawl by. 18 cert, gen re­lease, 125 min DC

FO­CUS ★★ Di­rected by Glenn Fi­carra, John Re­qua. Star­ring Will Smith, Mar­got Rob­bie, Ro­drigo San­toro, Gerald McRaney, BD Wong 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 as a smooth 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 DC



Di­rected by Morten Tyl­dum.

Star­ring Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Keira Knight­ley, Matthew Goode Fast-paced, lu­cid drama fol­low­ing Alan Tur­ing’s ef­forts to break the Ger­man’s Enigma ci­pher dur­ing the sec­ond World War, and his sub­se­quent shame­ful per­se­cu­tion for ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. The film does in­dulge in a tad too much spo­ken ex­po­si­tion, but Cum­ber­batch is ter­rific as Tur­ing. The film makes in­ter­est­ing points about how a man who couldn’t quite get to grips with ev­ery­day so­ci­ety might well de­velop a spe­cial tal­ent for break­ing codes. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 124 min DC

IN­HER­ENT VICE ★★★★ Di­rected by Paul Thomas An­der­son. Star­ring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wil­son, Reese Wither­spoon,

Beni­cio del Toro Adap­ta­tion of Thomas Pyn­chon’s labyrinthi­ne de­tec­tive novel is set at the roach end of the 1960s. New­son’s nar­ra­tor pre­serves the book’s climb­ing, in­tri­cate sen­tences. Phoenix (stoned PI) and Brolin (bul­let-headed cop) make for mag­i­cal ide­o­log­i­cal head-butting. Work­ing with regular DOP Robert El­swit, 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, gen re­lease, 148 min TB

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

Nine, 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 DC

IT FOL­LOWS ★★★★★ 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 DC

JUPITER AS­CEND­ING ★★★ Di­rected by Andy Wa­chowski, Lana Wa­chowski. Star­ring Chan­ning Ta­tum, Mila Ku­nis, Ed­die Red­mayne, Sean Bean, Terry Gil­liam Lu­di­crous space opera that, for all its vul­gar­ity, of­fers a few guilty plea­sures. Be­tween messy pix­e­lated chase scenes and res­cues and di­nosaur men, there are longueurs to ri­val the dullest bits of The Ma­trix se­quels, all culled from other movies. A lengthy Brazil se­quence comes re­plete with a Terry Gil­liam cameo. Sit tight and there’s an ac­tual Hawk­man dive. But you wouldn’t call it dull. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 127 min TB




See re­view, page 10 KINGS­MAN: THE SE­CRET SER­VICE ★★ Di­rected by Matthew Vaughn. Star­ring Colin Firth, Sa­muel L Jack­son, Mark Strong, Taron Eger­ton, 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 DC KU­MIKO THE FOR­TUNE HUNTER ★★★★ Di­rected by David Zell­ner. Star­ring Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Kat­sube Strange, beau­ti­ful US film con­cern­ing a Ja­panese woman who trav­els to the Dako­tas af­ter de­vel­op­ing an ob­ses­sion with the Coens’ Fargo. It’s a cold film that gains depth from the fiercely en­gaged per­for­mance by Kikuchi. Much in

Ku­miko seems de­lib­er­ately un­real. But the char­ac­ter’s un­shak­able sor­row – and pos­si­ble men­tal ill­ness – is tan­gi­ble through­out. A very im­pres­sive,

very sin­gu­lar piece of work. Watch out for the best rab­bit in re­cent cinema. Club, QFT, Belfast; Light House, Dublin, 104 min DC

LOVE IS STRANGE ★★★★ Di­rected by Ira Sachs. Star­ring Al­fred Molina, John Lith­gow, Marisa Tomei, Char­lie Ta­han Molina and Lith­gow play two nice old geezers who, fol­low­ing their mar­riage, lose their apart­ment and are forced to live apart. Lith­gow and Molina are su­perbly un­der­stated as the be­lea­guered new­ly­weds. The younger cast and char­ac­ters, par­tic­u­larly Ta­han’s sulky teen and Tomei’s brittle host­ess, prove just as good as their vet­eran col­leagues. Mak­ing great use of its New York lo­ca­tions, this is a gen­tle film in­fused with the hu­man­ism of Ozu. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 94 min TB


★★★★★ Di­rected by JC Chan­dor. Star­ring Os­car Isaac, Jes­sica Chas­tain, David Oyelowo, Al­bert

Brooks Isaac plays an am­bi­tious busi­ness­man – de­liv­er­ing heat­ing oil of all things – who, in New York of the early 1980s, strug­gles to re­sist the slide into crim­i­nal­ity all around. Chas­tain is a less mur­der­ous Lady Mac­beth. Oyelowo is the hov­er­ing dis­trict at­tor­ney. This bril­liant film is re­mark­able for what it is not: A thriller with lit­tle vi­o­lence. A pe­riod piece that doesn’t fetishise the era. A film that es­chews melo­drama for the in­tri­ca­cies of busi­ness. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 124 min DC

PADDING­TON ★★★★ 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. The

plot is com­mend­ably sim­ple: Padding­ton is pur­sued by a wicked Cruella de Vil-style taxi­der­mist (Kid­man), who, ini­tially, is in ca­hoots with nosy neigh­bour Mr Curry (Ca­pa­lidi). 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 TB

PA­TRICK’S DAY ★★★★ Di­rected by Terry McMa­hon. Star­ring Moe Dun­ford, Kerry

Fox, Catherine Walker A young schiz­o­phrenic (elec­tric Dun­ford) falls for a sui­ci­dal flight at­ten­dant on the na­tional hol­i­day. But his over­pro­tec­tive mother (Fox) is hav­ing none of it. McMa­hon’s fol­low up to the prob­lem­atic Char­lie Casanova is a mov­ing, orig­i­nal tri­umph. Shot in loom­ing close-ups, edited with great grace,

Pa­trick’s Day looks like the work of no other do­mes­tic film-maker. Oc­ca­sion­ally over- writ­ten, but the ex­cess is part of the ap­peal. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 102 min DC

PROJECT AL­MANAC ★★ Di­rected by Dean Is­raelite. Star­ring Jonny We­ston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evan­ge­lista, Ginny Gard­ner There’s a de­cent rip-off of Looper and Primer lurk­ing within this de­but fea­ture from young Dean Is­raelite. A bunch of teens find a time ma­chine and, af­ter muck­ing up the uni­verse via the But­ter­fly Ef­fect, are re­quired to rush around time mak­ing it bet­ter. There are a few good jokes, and the ac­tors are charm­ing. But the found-footage pre­sen­ta­tion kills it stone dead. Enough of that, al­ready. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 106 min DC THE SEC­OND BEST MARIGOLD HO­TEL ★★ Di­rected by John Mad­den. Star­ring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Pa­tel,

Celia Im­rie, Pene­lope Wil­ton, Ron­ald Pickup, Richard Gere, David Strathairn Well, they re­ally are tempt­ing fate with that ti­tle. Are they not? 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 DC

SELMA ★★★★ Di­rected by Ava Du­Ver­nay. Star­ring David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkin­son, Car­men EjogO, 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 DC


★★★★ Di­rected by Richard Goleszowsk­i, Mark Bur­ton. Voices of Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes 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 Film 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



See re­view, page 11 THE THE­ORY OF EV­ERY­THING ★★★★ 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 TB

THE WED­DING RINGER ★★ Di­rected by Jeremy Gare­lick. Star­ring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Ka­ley Cuoco-Sweet­ingCloris 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 DC

WHIPLASH ★★★★ Di­rected by Damien Chazelle. Star­ring Miles Teller, JK Sim­mons Teller plays a young jazz drum­mer hon­ing his para­did­dles at a re­spected con­ser­va­tory. He rapidly falls un­der the ma­lign shadow of a de­mented men­tor, played by Os­car-win­ning JK Sim­mons. We’ve seen this re­la­tion­ship be­fore: the hard-ass ca­jol­ing the young tal­ent to make the best of him­self. But Whiplash pushes the ob­ses­sions and the psy­choses to the limit. This is jazz drum­ming as form of war­fare. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 106 min DC




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WILD ★★★ Di­rected by Jean-Marc Vallée. Star­ring Reese Wither­spoon, Laura Dern Beau­ti­fully made, well-acted adap­ta­tion of Ch­eryl Strayed’s mem­oir con­cern­ing her hike along the Pa­cific Crest Trail. The scenery is gor­geous and Nick Hornby does a de­cent job of re­shap­ing Strayed’s saga (she was for­merly a heroin user) into a work­able screen­play. But there is more than enough self-ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion, in­ner dis­cov­ery and all that baloney. Su­per-cyn­ics may want to cover their ears dur­ing the trib­ute to Gerry Garcia. 15A cert, gen rlease, 115 min DC

Ghost lus­tre Maika Mon­roe in It Fol­lows, out now on gen­eral re­lease

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