Find out which movies are worth your popcorn money this week....
First Man ****1/2
In terms of cinema history - and most other forms of history, it must be said - we tend to paint people who accomplish great things as some kind of superheroes. Special people. Great men. Great women. Celebrities. The kind of person who doesn't have to endure the ordinary things the rest of experience in our normal lives, whatever 'normal' is supposed to be.
But Neil Armstrong wasn't that special, though what he achieved was truly remarkable. He was just another flawed human being trying to cope with all that life throws at us. He was also the First Man on the Moon, and therein lies this story. Read our full review here.
Mandy sure is something.
It took me a while to gather my thoughts after seeing Mandy; the only thing I knew straight away was that I had definitely not been bored. I can't remember the last time a film has had that effect on me – I had no words.
I was hooked from the opening titles, which show the expansive landscape of the world of the film, and through the intentionally dated and grainy introduction to Red (Cage) as he finishes up his working day as a lumberjack. Read our full review here.
The profoundly moving, painfully topical drama Rosie shines a light on Dublin’s homelessness crisis and how the system is failing families.
Roddy Doyle's pared back, effective script follows the titular Rosie (Sarah Greene), her partner John Paul (Moe Dunford) and their four young children, over the course of a chaotic day and a half.
They find themselves without a home when the landlord of the rented house they’ve lived in for seven years decides to sell the property. It’s a situation that’s sure to resonate with many people around the country. Read our full review here.
Bad Times at the El Royale ***
Welcome to the El Royale – where there are good times to be hand amongst the cinematic clichés.
It's the late 1960s and seven strangers converge on a storied, declining hotel on the border of California and Nevada. The ghosts of political dealings, illegal activity and scandal are in the air, and each guest brings their own trunk-load of secrets to check-in.
The guests all fill certain stereotypes – both in public and in private – and the all-star cast plays up to these conventions, largely to great effect.
Jeff Bridges brings steadfast excellence, with Jon Hamm countering this with a brash arrogance that is dynamic on screen. Read our full review here.
With laugh-out-loud moments and cracking songs, Smallfoot is great fun.
The film is a perspective-bending story of a Yeti named Migo (Tatum) who comes across a human – or Smallfoot as they're known – that crashes their plane into the mountain on which the Yeti's have their home.
When Migo tells his fellow Yeti's about his run-in he is shunned as nobody will believe that he could've met such a creature as it goes against the stones on which they base their knowledge and beliefs. Migo isn't quite as alone as he first thinks however, with a small group of outsiders who also believe in the Smallfoot taking him in and joining forces with him to try to prove that the Smallfoot does exist.
The concept is excellent and the execution equally so. Read our full review here.
The past comes to haunt in Hungary in August 1945 when the inhabitants of a claustrophobic, strangely haunted village are made to feel the disturbing after-effect of recent crimes.
August 12, 1945 and an elderly Orthodox Jewish man and a younger man who might be his son (played by Iván Angelusz and Marcell Nagy respectively) arrive at the railway station of a small village. They see to the transport into the village of their two large trunks which are duly loaded on to a horse-drawn carriage. The men have the option of travelling on board, but they opt to walk into the village. They are told that the walk takes an hour.
So the visitors have all the time in the world. What explains their desire to walk rather than be carried? The walking may be bound up with respect for the dead, or it may even be an element of a burial ritual. Read our full review here.
A Star Is Born ****1/2
Rewriting your Films of the Year is always a nice complaint to have. And sure enough, the tenth month of 2018 rolls into town with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga staking their claim for elbow room among the Top Ten. Long before December 31 they'll be in the top spot on many a person's list.
This is the best work Cooper has done as an actor since Silver Linings Playbook, and his directorial debut suggests the brightest of futures behind the lens. As for Gaga, well, she steals the show.
Their fight for love and glory sees troubles-by-the-tonne troubadour Jackson Maine (Cooper) getting another shot at life through a chance encounter with aspiring singer-songwriter Ally (Gaga). The attraction - physical and musical - is instant, with the butterflies even finding their way to the cinema seats. Read our full review here.
"Superhero fatigue" is a phrase frequently bandied around these days, for good reason, but Venom just about manages to stick its hideous head above the fray because it is, well, just plain weird.
The Marvel comic book character is one of Spider-Man’s most famous antagonists, but this movie presents a simple origins story distinct from his web-slinging foe.
Tom Hardy is on peak Tom Hardy form as Eddie Brock, a San Francisco-based investigative journalist who purports to stand up for the little guy, but who turns out to have some extremely questionable sleuthing ethics. Read our full review here.
Johnny English Strikes Again ***
With relations between Moscow and London being what they are and US tech giants going from heroes to zeroes in rapid succession, this seems a rather good time for the return of bungling British spy Johnny English in a new film which sees him grapple with a cyber mastermind and a beautiful Russian spy.
Of course, this kind of Bond send-up has been done to death, from Casino Royale way back in 1967 to Austin Powers’ more recent shagtastic adventures. But heeeere’s Johnny, the 00 - 7 of British Intelligence prat-falling back into traction-inducing action at the very time when silly questions about the "real-life" James Bond swirl like scraps of paper in the wind. Read our full review here.
There is an air of Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, of Lost in Translation and indeed Richard Linklater’s Before Triolgy about Columbus, a fine debut feature from the Japanese video essayist Kogonada.
The screenplay feels like an adapted novella, with its well-turned, smart dialogue, and its riffs on the Modernist architecture that can be famously seen at various points in the city. The young Korean translator Jin (John Cho) is in Columbus because his father, an esteemed Professor of Architecture is in a coma in a local hospital. The lecture which the academic had intended to give has been cancelled, the son has flown from Korea to be at his bedside. Read our full review here.
The Wife ****
Glenn Close is a simmering Vesuvius of contained rage in this elegant comedy-drama about deceit, pride and calculated loyalty. She plays Joan Castleman, the steely but gracious wife of man of letters Joseph Castleman, a writer who is that rarest of things - a novelist who is both commercially successful and critically adored.
Joseph (a fusty but conniving Jonathan Pryce) is about to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. When the couple first hear the news in an early morning phone call from Stockholm to their handsome lakeside home in Connecticut, they bounce up and down on their bed like children in giddy rapture. Theirs certainly looks like a blissfully contented marriage, even after all these years together.
But all is facade and artifice. Director Björn Runge and screenwriter Jane Anderson (adapting the book by Meg Wolitzer) reveal a story of conceit and the limits of loyalty, layer by stinging layer in what is a superbly paced and blackly humorous film. Read our full review here.
Night School **
In a Hollywood apartment or back office, you really hope someone is right this minute pounding the keys writing the perfect script for Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. A comedy-drama about a thirtysomething couple trying to start a family maybe? A rom-com about two clockwatchers in going-nowhere jobs? Two suggestions; the possibilities are endless.
Fact is, when it comes to chemistry, Hart and Haddish have more together than a Salter Science set under the Christmas tree back in the day. But Night School turns out to be a lesson in the razor-sharp delivery of blunt material.
This mix of sentiment, slapstick and sauce from Girls Trip director Malcolm D Lee often feels confused - we weren't expecting The Breakfast Club or Stand and Deliver, but it's no Back to School or Old School, either - and Haddish isn't in enough scenes. Read our full review here.