It's another strong week for movie releases so there's plenty of choice if you're heading out to the cinema. Here's a pick of some of the best new and current releases.
They include Oscar contenders Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures, biopic The Founder about the man who turned McDonalds into a McGoldmine, Matt Damon's The Great Wall and Keanu Reeves' return as John Wick.
And remember: it's less than ten days till the Oscars!
Director: Barry Jenkins
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Trevante Rhodes
The description "coming-of-age drama" has been bandied around freely but the phrase doesn't come close to capturing what writer/director Barry Jenkins has achieved in this truly remarkable, endlessly moving film.
He paints an unflinching portrait of the black male experience in America through the story of Chiron, a deeply traumatised man struggling with his sexuality. It is told in three chapters in three equally astounding performances by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes. This is essential viewing. Click here for full review.
Director: Denzel Washington
Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson
Fences is less a film adaptation of the August Wilson play and more a chance for those that missed Denzel Washington and Viola Davis' Broadway run to see them work their magic together in these roles.
Choosing not to sprinkle some Hollywood over proceedings, it feels very much like a theatre experience, in the best possible way. Though, I will say that forgoing an intermission makes the feature that bit too drawn out.
Fences tells the story of Troy Maxson (Washington), a man living in 1950s Pittburgh with his wife Rose (Davis) and their son Cory (Adepo) while his extended family come and go. Click here for full review.
Watch our interview with Oscar nominee Viola Davis here:
Hidden Figures *****
Director: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner
Hidden Figures is a missing chapter from history that reminds us how far we've come as a society and how there are many walls that still need to come crumbling down.
Among all the men who restored America's confidence in the 1960s after NASA launched astronaut John Glenn into orbit, were three exceptional African-American women, who served as the brains during the space race.
Though at its core Hidden Figures is a character drama, it is a robust piece of storytelling and is as inspirational as it is powerful and completes its mission by landing a deeply touching and buoyant story. Click here for full review.
John Wick: Chapter 2 ***
Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne
You'd think that after making The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions - retrospective feeling: four-plus hours of 'Am I the one? Yes, you are the one' - Keanu Reeves would have his fill of follow-ups for the rest of his natural. But a box office hit, an iconic character and the career rebound that came from 'doing a Taken' and rediscovering his action hero smarts at 50 meant a John Wick sequel was as irresistible as it was inevitable.
Thankfully, it's better and less, eh, up itself than those Matrix misfires but, as is the norm in these matters, it's not as good as the original. Click here for full review.
The Founder ****
Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, BJ Novak, Laura Dern
A fascinating biopic of Ray Kroc, the man who turned McDonald's from local landmark into global phenomenon, was way ahead of his time and had a never-say-die attitude that they really should put on the school curriculum. He also left his heart in his desk when it came to getting what he wanted and making money.
After Birdman and Spotlight the 'Keatonaissance' continues here with his portrayal of the little guy who becomes Mr Big. Indeed, it's hard to think of any other actor who could imbue the character of Kroc with the same charm, clout and cunning. Despite a lack of meaty female roles, and an ending that is slightly undercooked, The Founder is still a good watch. Click here for full review.
The Great Wall *
Director: Zhang Yimou
Starring: Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Jing Tian, Willem Dafoe
Now 66, veteran Chinese director Zhang Yimou is the man responsible for the 1991 masterpiece Raise the Red Lantern, which was preceded by the equally strong Red Sorghum (1987) and Ju Dou (1990) and followed by the profoundly moving film, To Live (1994). All four films told intense human stories, replete with drama, colour and action, and all four were screened in Dublin, where they became talking points among discerning cinema fans.
"Them were the days," is all this reviewer can say at this point. Click here for full review.