Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is taking over the multiplexes this weekend, but if that's all a bit too singalong for you, Hotel Artemis and The Apparition are also opening.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again ***
As with the first Mamma Mia! movie, it's the ABBA songs that are the real stars in this prequel/sequel.
We didn't know where to look while viewing this toppling (Muriel's) wedding cake of a movie. Hugh Skinner playing air guitar on a baguette to Waterloo in a Parisian brasserie, or maybe Diamante diva Cher doing a near operatic 'duet' of Fernando with Andy Garcia (who plays a twinkly-eyed silver fox hotel manager)?
Or maybe the sight and sound of suave old devil Pierce Brosnan hitting peak Nordic melancholia on a Greek island as he half sings/half talks a snippet of S.O.S. during one of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again's sad counterpoints to the mostly non-stop euphoric fun and double entendres? Read our full review here.
Hotel Artemis ***
Screenwriter Drew Pearce makes his directorial debut with Hotel Artemis, a solidly enjoyable if a bit scattered action thriller which sees Jodie Foster returning to the big screen for the first time since 2013's sci-fi Elysium.
Hotel Artemis is also set in a dystopian future, with the action taking place in a crime-torn Los Angeles in the not-too-distant year of 2028. A riot is spreading across the city, sparked by mass protests due to the privatisation of water companies.
While the city falls apart around them, a group of criminals hole up in the Artemis Hotel. Although ramshackle in appearance, with hints of faded grandeur thanks to the stylish Art Deco-tinged interiors, they've paid top dollar to stay at this heavily-fortified, members only establishment. Read our full review here.
The Apparition ***
Xavier Giannoli's The Apparition tells the tale of a young French woman (Galatéa Bellugi) who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary. A former war reporter (Vincent Lindon) with baggage of his own is recruited by the Vatican to lift the veil on the incident.
The movie doesn't coerce viewers into accepting a belief but it tries to be more ambitious than it actually is. By the time the final rosary comes around, it loses track of its ideas and ends up going astray down an anecdotal path, where bewildering circumstances are never fully resolved.
Those looking for a neat ending tied up with facts and evidence may be disappointed, as the plot stays mum (or in this case nun) on the anomalies and coincidences throughout. Viewers may find themselves praying to Saint Anthony in the hopes of finding the lost script. Read our full review here.
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.