There's plenty to see in the cinema this week and if you want a helping hand in deciding what to go to, here are all of our movie reviews in one place.
Director: Sam Mendes | Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes
Cert: 12A | Duration: 148 minutes
Even with all the treats in cinemas this year, for many of us 2015 has only ever really been about two films, the spy and the space opera, and with them has come the through-the-seasons hope that the best would be kept 'til last.
Well, there's no doubt that the trust-themed and death-driven SPECTRE has some superb stuff in it, but the definitive Bond movie to go with all the hype? No. For two reasons Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes' return to the director's chair isn't all that it should have been.
SPECTRE opens with an epic sequence that sets a new standard for the Bond prologue. With 007 (Daniel Craig) down Mexico way on the Day of the Dead, we get a brilliant tracking shot, a nod to Live and Let Die (there are plenty more classy tributes to other favourites to come), a hat on a bed, and a stunt to get even the sternest of set-piece scholars salivating. It's everything that... Read Harry Guerin's full review here
Mississippi Grind ****
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck | Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, Sienna Miller
Cert: 15A | Duration: 108 minutes
Mississippi Grind feels like an instant classic and if you're looking for yet another vibrant, glamorous film about gambling, driven by fancy montages of roulette tables and poker games, you've come to the wrong place because in this feature it's all about the characters.
Gerry (Mendelsohn) is a gambling addict who has racked up debt all over town and after meeting a mysterious stranger Curtis (Reynolds) decides to travel through Middle America, hitting all of the best gambling spots along the way, in the hopes of getting himself into the green once more. Curtis on the other hand isn't so easy to pin down as you wonder about his motivation throughout – he gambles on people rather than gambling with money.
Both Reynolds and Mendelsohn give compelling performances which carry you through the film as it never gets too bogged down in a plot. I feel this will be the wakeup call the world needs to realise... Read Sinead Brennan's full review here
The Lobster ****
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos | Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly
Cert: 15A | Duration: 118 minutes
Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps) brings his trademark deadpan tone to his first English language feature that offers a wildly imaginative and occasionally insightful take on modern dating.
Beautifully shot in the South-West of Ireland, Lanthimos and his long-time collaborator Efthymis Filippou explore the full spectrum of relationships and societal conventions about commitment. From the get-go subjective (and terrifying) questions are raised about love and relationships - Can we still be happy if we don't find 'The One'? Do we really want to die alone? Is two really better than one?
Set in a near-future where it’s illegal to be single and ‘loners’ are shipped off to a mysterious spa-like retreat... Read Laura Delaney's full review here.
Crimson Peak ***
Director: Guillermo del Toro | Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston
Cert: 15A | Duration: 118 minutes
Many scary movies don't really do it for me, I find they often lack a quality storyline in favour of trying to scare you for fear's sake, or I end up hiding behind my hands like the wimp that I am. Crimson Peak however, while it certainly made me jump, wasn't so scary that I couldn't watch, and the plot was intriguing enough to hook me in.
Some of the scariest moments of the film come as we meet our heroin Edith Cushing (Wasikowska), an intelligent, independent, aspiring horror writer who tells us very matter-of-factly that ghosts are real, and in her world, they are. We have our first ghostly encounter of the movie early on and it's a spine-tingling, truly terrifying one, but as the film progresses, they are never as scary again as we come to realise that it's the people in Crimson Peak that really deserve to be feared. The human horror is sometimes way more effective than the paranormal.... Read Sinead Brennan's full review here.
Director: Denis Villeneuve | Starring: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro
Cert: 15A | Duration: 121 minutes
We’re back in the familiar cinematic territory of the badlands of the Mexican/US border in Denis Villeneuve's masterful thriller about the US war on drugs. But even more so than Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy’s fatally flawed and deeply pretentious The Counsellor or the Coen’s No Country For Old Men, Sicario trades in an even darker and more disturbing world of brute force and moral ambivalence.
The screen fades up with a explanation of the title: Sicario is Mexican for hit man. In the blunt shock of the opening scene, a macabre discovery is made by an FBI drugs team in the wall linings of a Cartel safe house in Arizona. Before we can catch breath, there is another eruption of savagery. From there, we are in doubt that we are in a very, very bad place with some very bad people. The drip, drip sense of dread never stops... Read Alan Corr's full review here.
The Program ****
Director: Stephen Frears | Starring: Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Chris O'Dowd, Dustin Hoffman
Cert: 15A | Duration: 103 minutes
Lance Armstrong, while now disgraced and stripped of his record seven Tour de France wins, was once untouchable, a beacon of inspiration for people the world over. While the world wanted to believe in the story he told, journalist David Walsh, whose book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong serves as the basis for the film, always had questions and spent 13 years trying to make people see the truth – that Lance was using performance-enhancing drugs.
Like any film based on real events that you have lived through and watched unfold on the news, The Program is a trip down memory lane, but this one gives you a fresh perspective on the man that made headlines the world over and is a thoroughly thrilling watch.
We're first introduced to Armstrong as a man desperate to win, and you nearly feel sorry for him when he learns that his body just won't ever let that happen. When he turns to cheating and the darker sides of his personality start... Read Sinead Brennan's full review here.
The Martian *****
Director: Ridley Scott | Starring: Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain
Cert: 12A | Duration: 141 minutes
The Martian, without doubt, puts the emphasis on sci in sci-fi. But don't let that put you off. It's a witty, smart and engaging drama - think Castawaymeets Gravity – with a cheeky soundtrack to boot. Plus it stars the potato, what Irish person would not love that?
Set in the not so distant future a group of American astronauts (plus one German), including botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon), are on Mars collecting soil samples. However, what appears to be a calm day on the red planet soon turns treacherous when a dangerous storm rolls in. So dangerous in fact that Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) decides that they must abort their mission and leave Mars immediately.
But all does not go according to plan, Watney is missing, presumed dead, and the crew make the difficult decision to leave him behind on Mars... Read Suzanne Keane's full review here.