It's a big weekend for Domhnall Gleeson and director Lenny Abrahamson as The Little Stranger opens - it's the best new release on screens.

The Little Stranger ****

The Little Stranger is an alluring thriller that is beguiling right to the very end and is best served if you go in with no set genre in mind - it is not a simple ghost story.

Coming out of the awards whirlwind of Room, which saw Lenny Abrahamson pick up his first Oscar nomination, there is expectation on the director to follow up with something special, and he has as he continues his pattern of selecting projects that are unique and can truly capture an audience.

The Little Stranger sees Domhnall Gleeson take the lead as Faraday, a young doctor who becomes entwined with the once-wealthy Ayres family who reside in Hundreds Hall, a manor house that has enchanted him since childhood. Read our full review here.


A Simple Favour **1/2

From the outset, A Simple Favour appears to have it all, but by the midway point its overly convoluted plot sends it crashing down into daytime soap territory, and it never recovers.

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and Emily (Blake Lively) meet at the school gates when their young sons insist on having a play date together. Stephanie, a mummy vlogger, has no adult friends; and Emily, a PR executive working in the city, doesn't either - but for very different reasons.

Visually, it's all stunning - from the cinematography to the clothes - and the steady pace and sharp script work in the first half, but then A Simple Favour goes off a cliff. From worn-out twists that we've seen countless times before, to over-the-top revelations, all control is lost in the second half, as is patience for the paradigm shift. Read our full review here. 

John Paul II in Ireland: A Plea for Peace **

You could call it the Pope's butterfly effect. During his visit to Ireland in 1979, Pope John Paul II made a key speech in Drogheda, in which he made this appeal to the warring factions in Northern Ireland: "On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and return to the ways of peace."

This is the jump-off point for directors Marc Boudignon and David Naglieri in this short documentary, solemnly narrated by The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel. As Naglieri says, "The thesis is not that the Good Friday Agreement wouldn't have happened if he didn't come, but we're tracing the ripple effects of the Pope's visit."

The Pope had already lived through the evils of Nazism and had done much work in his native Poland against the tyranny of the then-USSR, so he was well used to the kind of forces of evil at large in Ireland by the time he kissed Irish soil in Dublin Airport in September 1979. In the weeks before his visit, Lord Mountbatten had been murdered and 18 British soldiers had lost their lives at Warrenpoint in IRA bomb attacks. Read our full review here. 

Mile 22 **

Mile 22 is a peculiar beast. Clocking in at just over the 90-minute mark, it's a slickly edited, propulsively paced, shamelessly entertaining action thriller.

But it's maybe just... a bit silly?

It's the fourth collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg (following Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day), and is their first not based on true events. Wahlberg's character heads up an elite team of undercover CIA agents who literally operate above the law. In fact, before they carry out any mission they sever all connections to the CIA or the government ("They are ghosts," John Malkovich's remote tactical commander helpfully explains). Read our full review here. 

The House with a Clock in Its Walls **

It has all the appearances of being a family Halloween dream, but director Eli Roth fails to keep The House with a Clock in Its Walls ticking over.

The film tells the story of Lewis, a 10-year-old who goes to live with an uncle he has never met before (Jack Black). The uncle happens to be a warlock and is trying to track down a mysterious magical clock that is on course to turn back the sands of time to ensure human beings never come into existence.

These kinds of adventures thrive on the ability to surprise your audience, or allow them to marvel at the magic in the world of the story, but there just isn't enough originality or wonder here to do either of those things. Read our full review here. 

Still Showing: 

King of Thieves *1/2

Put Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Ray Winstone and Paul Whitehouse together in a heist movie and what have you got? Five guys trying to outdo and hoodwink each other as nervy London criminals and not much more. File under Slight but Passable Amusement.

In a scenario based on the real robbery that took place in 2015, a gang of veteran wide boys get together to rob the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in Central London. 

The action is interspersed with referential nods back to London heist or crime movies of old. Movie 'train-spotters' will enjoy all this distraction and then wonder afterwards why they had to be distracted with such little teaser clips. Then they will truly know they have not seen a great film. Read our full review here.

Crazy Rich Asians ****

The surprise package of 2018 turns out to be worth the wait to unwrap it in Irish cinemas. Coming to the rom-com rescue not a moment too soon, Crazy Rich Asians is scientific in its date night desirability but in between its great one-liners, locations, outfits and food, Jon M Chu's film has plenty to say about race and class, with the kind of shade throwing that's worthy of an eclipse.

The meet-the-parent story sees Chinese-American Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) travel with boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to Singapore for his best friend's wedding. Rachel considers her credentials impeccable, but her Western ways put her on a collision course with the old ways and older money of Nick's family, as matriarch Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) runs the rule over her potentially future-daughter-in-law - and doesn't like what she sees one bit.

Chu's decision to ditch his jobbing director status from the likes of Now You See Me 2GI Joe: Retaliation and the Step Up movies for something more personal ranks as one of the great career moves. Crazy Rich Asians sashays across the screen with the cutest couple in quite some time, scene-stealing supremacy from rapper-turned-actor Awkwafina and so many interesting supporting characters to suggest a dynasty in the making. Read our full review here.

The Rider *****

The Rider is in the parlance 'a small film' but given the mesmeric performance from Brady Jandreau as Brady Blackburn, we are talking a contender for film of the year.

Brady is the horse trainer and legend of the rodeo circuit who we first meet taking stitches out of his own head with a knife. He has checked himself out of hospital and is back in the family's trailer park home on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in the grasslands of South Dakota.

Young Jandreau gives a towering performance - broody, watchful, charismatic. Ultimately, Chinese director Chloé Zhao makes sure that we too watch, absorbed by how Jandreau inhabits the role with such a sense of magnitude and breadth. Read our full review here.

A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot ****

Sinead O'Shea's gripping documentary - five years in the making - is so engrossed in the nuances and shadings of the life of one Derry family that there is leeway to make your own mind up. 

At the very least the viewer can see that all is not well in the North, 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. 

A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot is a film that deserves to be seen, because it charts a conflict which in some sense has mutated and which many would wish to ignore. Read our full review here.


Superfly **

Director X, the Canadian film and music video filmmaker at the helm of Superfly, has done everything in his power to enliven this glossy action-crime-thriller, but it remains a strangely hollow, laborious affair.

This remake of the 1972 blaxploitation movie Super Fly has moved the action from Harlem to present-day Atlanta, with fresh-faced singer and actor Trevor Jackson stepping into the shoes of Youngblood Priest, a powerful drug kingpin who has been working the streets since he was a child. 

The almost two-hour running time, of which you feel every minute crawl by, plays out like an extended gangster rap music video with about the same level of gravitas. Dollar bills rain, women are generally treated like accessories for their men, the cars are shiny and fast and the costumes are outrageously lavish. Read our full review here.

The Predator ***1/2

Having played a minor part in the original Predator movie back in 1987, Shane Black directs this latest version of a series that's been pretty much dead and buried since Predators in 2010.

This latest episode has been pretty hammered by the critics since its US release, but it rattles along, the jokes aren't so bad - at least it tries to be humorous rather than being unintentionally funny - and the cast is pretty good too.

If you're looking to be entertained for a couple of hours and don't mind the odd bit of cartoon-like violence, you could do a lot worse. Read our full review here.

Lucky ***1/2

Harry Dean Stanton's swansong as an actor is a wryly affectionate exercise that has some arresting moments but teeters towards sentimentality because of some dud notes in the screenplay. Still, it's worth it for keen acting all 'round.

Lucky recalls somewhat Werner Herzog's 1977 film Stroszek, which featured a decidedly odd bunch of characters wandering around small-town Wisconsin.

No one wanders much though in Lucky, except the eponymous hero who generally wanders to two places, the local diner and the local bar. He makes gnomic pronouncements on life and death among the assorted company which includes David Lynch doing a decent turn as a man lamenting the loss of his pet tortoise. Read our full review here.

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