It's a bumper week with Christian Bale, Clint Eastwood, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez all back in cinemas in very different movies.
Second Act **1/2
Second Act tells the story of Maya (Jennifer Lopez), a woman overlooked for a job promotion despite her years of experience and employment within the company due to her lack of college education. When her best friend's (Leah Remini) son gets wind of this, he takes it on himself to give her a second chance at the career she always dreamed of and creates a fake online persona, complete with falsified education records, for her.
Of course, she is called for interview in a well-known company and lands the job. But it's not plain sailing once she's in there, and she has to battle with her conscience at many crossroads.
The film tries to be all things to all viewers by stuffing in a few too many subplots and twists in the tale, and it relies very heavily on JLo's likeability to make it all work. At times it does, but for the most part it's just far too soapy. Read our full review here.
The Mule ***
The Mule is an accomplished portrait of an elderly man attempting to make amends for being a largely absent husband and father after taking up the unlikely role of a drug runner for the Mexican cartel in his twilight years.
Clint Eastwood stars in and directs this eminently watchable, frequently humorous and at times moving film that one could surmise has autobiographical elements. At 88-years-old, the screen legend is more wizened and frail than we've seen him before but is as compelling a leading star as ever.
Loosely based on a true story, Eastwood plays Earl Stone, a curmudgeonly 90-year-old war veteran and former award-winning horticulturalist who has fallen onto hard times when his flower business falls foul of the "damn internet". Read our full review here.
Cellar Door ***1/2
Writer and director Viko Nikci's mystery/thriller Cellar Door is a uniquely challenging but ultimately rewarding cinematic experience that is worth your attention span.
Northern Irish actress Karen Hassan is remarkable as our unreliable narrator Aidie, a tortured but determined young woman struggling to make sense of her past - revisiting the same memories as she tries to piece together what has happened to her.
It is sometimes hard to tell if Aidie or the audience are getting closer to or further away from the truth as the film progresses. Read our full review here.
One of 2019's great mysteries is how Vice was on the ballot for Best Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. Humour in a biopic of former US Vice President Dick Cheney? Seriously?
Turns out such misgivings aren't confined to just a minority of one - even director Adam McKay had his doubts.
So, there's a chance that you won't laugh once during Vice's 120 minutes, but you're guaranteed to spend two hours marvelling at Christian Bale's performance. Read our full review here.
Should the Oscars expand the number of nominees in the acting categories, as has been done with Best Picture?
The latest missed-the-cut performance to make the case for is Nicole Kidman in police thriller Destroyer. It really would be a crime if this was her only collaboration with Girlfight director Karyn Kusama.
Looking and moving like the living dead, Kidman has transformed into one of the great female anti-heroes as Erin Bell, a Los Angeles homicide detective at the bottom of the bottle. Read our full review here.
Escape Room **
If you're looking for a version of Saw suitable for a younger audience, you've come to the right place. But, has anyone ever wanted that?
Every character is a cliché with one characteristic that defines their whole being, and any suggestion of nuance is railroaded by heavy-handed nods to an event in their past that has led them to where they are today; competing to win $10,000 if they can make it through the Escape Room.
The sets are impressive and it seems that the only real imagination and effort went into how these rooms can work to attack and intimidate the players, because it feels as though scripting and character development were a definite afterthought. Read our full review here.
Mary Queen of Scots ****
This week's Brexit film sees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie face off in a scene that has been described by first-time feature director Josie Rourke as "a kind of Renaissance version of Heat".
Now, it's in no way as iconic as De Niro and Pacino's encounter, but it's certainly more memorable than much of the guff we've heard in recent months/years and shows two of the best of their generation matching each other word for word as their characters try to hang on to power.
Essentially two stories playing out in parallel with the central duo only meeting for the finale, Mary Queen of Scots sees the widowed young monarch (Ronan) arriving on the shores of her kingdom and drawing the line about what she will and won't do in her dealings with first cousin once removed Queen Elizabeth I (Robbie). Read our full review here.
Monsters and Men ***1/2
Issues of racism, police brutality and taking a knee are at the forefront of Monsters and Men, as we gain insight into the lives of three men from the same neighbourhood on journeys to reckon with the injustices and inequalities they face on a daily basis.
The focus of the film shifts from one character to the next, and their paths never cross, though each is differently impacted by the shooting of a black man by the police.
The structure works well, but the script could be better and we only see glimmers of real insight into what the characters are really thinking. Read our full review here.
Beautiful Boy ****
"There are moments that I look at him, this kid that I raised, who I thought I knew inside and out and I wonder who he is."
Steve Carell gets into the headspace of parents everywhere with his cry for help in Beautiful Boy - the true story of the devastation addiction visits on both a father and son, based on the memoirs of David and Nic Sheff.
Nic (Timothée Chalamet) turns 17 with what appears to be the brightest of futures, only to become hooked on crystal meth. As his journalist father David (Carell) scrambles to 'save' him and learn as much as he can about addiction the film moves back and forth through their lives together. We see the sweetest moments, the darkest of nights and a number of new dawns, never losing sight of the fact that this could happen to anyone. Read our full review here.
Having enjoyed a career rebirth with The Visit and Split, director M Night Shyamalan manages to once again put a brick through his own shop window with Glass. This sequel to Split and Unbreakable is the weakest of the triptych and may require superhero levels of patience from even the most devoted fans of the genre.
Picking up after that brilliant epilogue to Split, Glass brings Samuel L Jackson's titular villain, James McAvoy's deeply disturbed Kevin Wendell Crumb and Bruce Willis' poncho-wearing vigilante David Dunn face to face for the first time.
The setting is a psychiatric hospital where mass murderer Elijah Price - aka Mr Glass - has been a patient since the events in Unbreakable. Serial killer Crumb arrives after he and Unbreakable's Dunn are caught fighting it out on the streets of Philadelphia. Assessing them all is Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who specialises in treating people with superhero delusions. Read our full review here.