Find out which movies are a must-see this week, and which are best avoided!
The Secret of Marrowbone ***
Spanish filmmaker Sergio Sánchez makes his directorial debut with this lateral take on the haunted house movie. It looks beautiful, boasts a strong young cast, artfully plays with genre clichés and mixes in a fraught family drama amid the terror. Sánchez also makes the daring move of blurring the timeline to wrong foot the audience, a device that may or not pay off in the end.
When an ailing mother returns to her childhood home in Maine with her four young children Jack (George MacKay), Jane (Mia Goth), Billy (Charlie Heaton) and Sam (Matthew Stagg) they all have a haunted look about them. They are escaping a terrible past in their native England and are determined to seek a new life in the new world...Read our full review here.
The Incredibles 2 ****
With superhero movie fatigue having well and truly set in, what a joy it is to have the Incredibles back again. A full 14 years after the first movie, super-brain director and writer Brad Bird has brought the Parr family back to life for an adventure that combines all the verve and fun of the triumphant, Oscar-winning original but also adds even more eye candy to make this a genuine wonder to behold.
We are back in the future-retroism of Bird’s early sixties America, a sleek atomic age of clean lines and graceful curves, but the writer-director also makes well-aimed points at more modern concerns, not least the central themes of how does the family dynamic respond under pressure and the pernicious impact of tech on our lives. Read our full review here.
First Reformed ****1/2
First Reformed is not for the faint hearted, but this raw, blistering, bleak and uncompromising drama raises important questions about faith and morality.
Written and helmed by acclaimed screenwriter and director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ), our central anti-hero is Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), a man of deteriorating mental and physical health following the death of his soldier son in Iraq and the subsequent breakdown of his marriage.
He seeks solace at the bottom of a whiskey bottle and writes down his darkest thoughts in a nightly journal that Hawke narrates throughout the film in increasingly gravelly tones. Read our full review here.
Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, One Day in September) delves into the world of the enigmatic Whitney Houston in an emotional and insightful documentary that focuses not on the tabloid side of her fame, but on her talent and achievements, and the experiences that made her who she was.
There have been Whitney documentaries before, most recently with Nick Broomfield's Whitney: Can I Be Me last year, but this is the first to be made with the authorisation of her estate. It makes a huge difference in figuring out who she really was beneath the façade to hear from her family and those closest to her, including her infamous ex-husband Bobby Brown.
Through extensive archive footage and interviews we are given more insight than ever before into her world as Macdonald (below) leads us on an investigation into why her life took such a tragic turn, and why she never received help when she needed it most, with shocking revelations brought to the fore. Read our full review here.
The First Purge ***
The promotional poster for The First Purge made its objectives known when it mocked US President Donald Trump's red 'MAGA' baseball cap, and when it comes to drawing inspiration for the politically-charged tale, this origin story makes it clear that the current administration has a huge part to play.
As with the other films in the series (The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year), studio Blumhouse's current feature touches on economic disparity and racial tensions in the United States.
The prequel is set primarily in the Park Hill Towers housing projects on the remote North Shore of Staten Island. It's here the government-sanctioned sociological experiment - a free-for-all night of murder- lures in its test subjects, with the promise of $5,000 given to anyone who participates in the 12-hour bloodbath. Read our full review here.
Dublin Oldschool ***1/2
Emmet Kirwan's heady pop culture cocktail brings viewers on a pulsating, drug-fuelled ride through the streets of Dublin - but the trip eventually loses its high.
Through an unsteady diet of dance music and hardcore sessions, Kirwan injects a dose of reality to a tale that's close to home. Loosely based on real events, Kirwan's big screen adaptation of his sell-out play centres on two estranged brothers who reconnect over their troubled past. It's awkward, brassy, and just like Dublin's finest characters, it's unapologetically funny.
Somewhere between all the yokes, raves and empty cans, Kirwan brings to life the moving tale of family breakdown and the grim truth of addiction. This isn't an examination of the Dublin drug culture from the outside looking in, it's one from the inside looking out. Read our full review here.
Sicario 2: Soldado ****1/2
Summer has dropped below freezing.
Three years on from inflicting cinematic shellshock with arguably the film of 2015, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin have returned as (delete depending on worldview) bad good guys/good bad guys Alejandro Gillick and Matt Graver in this just-as-tense-and-troubling sequel to Denis Villeneuve's Sicario.
Following a terrorist attack in the US, assassin Gillick and CIA agent Graver are dispatched to inflict maximum damage. "To see this thing through I'm going to have to get dirty," cautions Graver. "Dirty is exactly why you're here," comes the reply from the very top. The two horsemen of the apocalypse then mount up for Mexico, and you'll feel like you need a shower by the time they're finished. Read our full review here.
If all the drama and romance on RTÉ2 this weather have failed to have their way with you, then perhaps Adrift's Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin will. Would that every screen couple had quite so much chemistry as the Big Little Lies and Hunger Games stars.
In this true story of soulmates and survival, they play drifters who fall for each other and vow to circumnavigate the globe together - only to receive a very generous offer to take a yacht from Fiji to San Diego. They agree, and end up stuck in the middle of 1983's Hurricane Raymond.
Director Baltasar Kormákur has established himself as quite the champion of the human spirit with the real-life events of Everest and The Deep also on his CV. This fine addition deserved to have more wind in its sails in the US and changes tack without ever feeling like two films trying to be one. Read our full review here.
Leave No Trace ****
Directed by Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), who co-wrote with her frequent collaborator Anne Rossellini, Leave No Trace is a restrained, sensitive character study of a father and daughter who have chosen to live off the grid in a national park in Oregon.
Will (Ben Foster), a quietly but deeply traumatised war veteran, has chosen to bring up his 13-year-old daughter Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) separated from the rest of society. They, for the most part, live off the land in a state park, changing camp frequently and practicing military-style drills to remain undercover.
Theirs is a physically taxing but spiritually peaceful existence. They read books, play chess, catch rainwater to drink, forage for food and spark fires with a flint and steel... Read our review here.
Jeff Tomsic makes his directorial debut with Tag - the hilarious true story of a group of men who have been maintaining their friendship since high school through a yearly, epic game of tag.
The story formed the focus of a 2013 Wall Street Journal article entitled, "It takes planning, caution to avoid being 'it'", and the film follows journalist Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) as she attempts to understand the group and their hysterical game.
Ultimately, Tag shares a heartfelt story of friendship and midlife crises. The brotherhood of the high school group is evident through each man's support for their respective struggles with cancer, divorce, drugs, alcoholism, and mental health issues. Read our review here.
The Pug Nation will be mobbed up like never before thanks to Patrick, a pedigree chum with screen smarts and charisma galore. The search for the canine Chris Pratt is over, and he looks just as good in a waistcoat.
His big screen buddy, Beattie Edmondson, is no slouch when it comes to the laughs, either. She's in the acclaimed BBC sitcom Josh and is the daughter of Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson. She also contends that Patrick has given her the opportunity to work with her best male co-star to date, and following his lead (sorry) they get this sweet family comedy over the line - in more ways than one.
While Turner & Hooch won't have to schooch up and make room at the top table, Patrick is an easy watch and manages to work in a few dog lessons for humans about responsible pet ownership, looking after neighbours and avoiding the hamster wheel of 'compare and despair'. Read our full review here.