Avengers: Endgame will be the be-all and end-all of multiplex action this weekend, but if saving the world isn't your thing, there are plenty of other options.
Avengers: Endgame *****
There will be no spoilers in this review.
Endgame picks up in the aftermath of Infinity War and we see how those who are left behind struggle to cope with half of the world's population disappearing before their eyes.
The remaining Avengers are all dealing with their loss in their own ways, but when someone (we're afraid to say anything too detailed) has an idea of how they might be able to undo Thanos' actions, they come together to give it their best shot, and they will only have one. Read our full review here.
Eighth Grade *****
Add this to the 2019 Oscars gripe list: Eighth Grade writer-director Bo Burnham (below) and star Elsie Fisher should have been nominated. This is as great a little story about endings and beginnings as you're ever going to see, taking everyone back to their younger selves to find the humour in poignancy and vice versa.
As she completes her last few days in middle school, Kayla (Fisher) finds the to-do list pressure is on like never before: to be cool, attractive, funny and have all the answers ahead of high school in September. But while she's dispensing the advice in her YouTube videos - "getting a lot of views" - Kayla feels she has no one to turn to herself with 'just' dad (Josh Hamilton) at home and no friends outside her room.
By rights they should fit climbing holds in every cinema showing Eighth Grade because the audience will be up the walls with embarrassment and worry as Kayla tries to get a grip on young adulthood - and viewers remember all the times they dangled by fingertips. Read our full review here.
Rike (Susanne Wolff) is the highly-skilled yachtswoman and paramedic who finds herself at the centre of a tense refugee drama in the open seas in Wolfgang Fischer's compelling and disturbing Styx.
Fischer's deliberately functional drama builds the tension incrementally from a low base until you are stone-cold riveted. Rike is a Cologne paramedic, established by a rather non-sequitur-style opening scene which details the aftermath of a car crash where we see her attending to the critically-injured driver.
The action then cuts to Gibraltar, with its vast Rock over-towering the airport and the football pitch, filmed in brilliant panoramic shots. Barbary apes clamber up and down, one of them wanders through a quiet street. Read our full review here.
The Dig ***
Moe Dunford sure has it tough in this stark debut feature from twin brothers Andy and Ryan Tohill. At various points in The Dig, the Waterford actor is whacked across the head with a spade and beaten up by thugs and left bleeding in the street.
Then he falls down a well and, possibly worst of all, gets gunged by a broken shower in a freezing-cold abandoned house out on the bog.
The whole time, you feel like the very earth is about to swallow Dunford up as he toils in Sisyphean agony, digging holes out on that vast and grimly beautiful bog somewhere in Ireland. Read our full review here.
Ash is Purest White *****
In Ash is Purest White, the imperious Qiao (played by Zhao Tao) and her edgy lover Bin (Liao Fan) are a Bonnie and Clyde couple, inextricably tied together despite fallings-out and prison spells.
Jobs are threatened in a city known for its vast mining enterprise while capitalists are fulminated against in a broadcast by Qiao's father. He is a diehard Communist, shouting, in vain it seems, into a radio microphone attached to a factory loudspeaker. But it's the love story between the two hardened lovers that captivates from start to finish in this marvellous film. Read our full review here.
Donbass is in effect a series of 13 fictional snapshots, with a screenplay from writer-director Sergei Loznitsa, based around real amateur footage from the beleaguered area in Eastern Ukraine.
Co-produced with French, Dutch and Romanian companies, the film was made with the support of the Creative Europe Programme (Media of the EU) and it was winner of the Cannes Un Certain Regard Best Director award in 2018.
Since 2014, the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine has been a battleground between pro-Russian separatists, nominally Putin supporters, and nationalists inclined to the West. World War II, Stalin's reign of terror and famine are still alive in people's memories and lace the voiced insults and the meaningful silences alike. There is some black comedy - fake news inevitably rears its head - and the fictional scenarios in Donbass are based on real events which have actually been filmed in Ukraine. The snapshots, or set-pieces, get murkier and more sordid as the film progresses. Read our full review here.
Director Neil Jordan has a stab at psychodrama in his new film, Greta, which is saved - and only just about - by the presence of French veteran Isabelle Huppert.
If you are the type of cinema fan who happens to like sudden loud noises on the soundtrack and unexpected appearances from malign presences - and that malign presence is Isabelle Huppert - then this one is for you. The screenplay was co-written by the director with Ray Wright on whose original idea the movie is based. Wright's credits include remakes of Pulse and The Crazies.
Greta (Isabelle Huppert) is the piano teacher who leaves her handbag on the New York subway train. It's a seemingly treasured personal belonging - the stress is on 'seemingly' - which is found shortly afterwards by the young waitress Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz). Read our full review here.
Dragged Across Concrete ***1/2
For anyone whose month-by-month moan is the lack of 18s films in cinemas, here's an opportunity to put the soapbox away. Seats for Dragged Across Concrete come with grit embedded.
Director S Craig Zahler's biggest film to date sees the return of his Brawl in Cell Block 99 star Vince Vaughn and the controversy-generating casting of Mel Gibson. As a racist cop. The man behind the lens accepts that some people won't want to see the film as a result. There's plenty to chew on for those that do, not least a two-minute scene of Zahler's leading men eating sandwiches.
The sandwiches are part of an off-the-books stakeout that sees two suspended detectives (Gibson and Vaughn) engaging in quite the bit of free enterprise. Also trying to make ends meet is a recently released prisoner (Tory Kittles) who wants to go straight but finds that family circumstances dictate signing up for one last score. Ah yes. Read our full review here.
Red Joan ***1/2
It's been more than 20 years since theatre director Trevor Nunn helmed a movie and Red Joan is a pretty decent shot at a spy tale, based on a novel that was itself inspired by a true story that's straight out of Deighton or le Carré.
Judi Dench heads the cast as Joan Stanley, a retired public servant who is arrested by MI5 under suspicion of spying back in the 1940s. And although she's pretty much tight-lipped under questioning, a series of surreptitious flashbacks unravels her past.
Sophie Cookson plays the younger Joan, a rather shy student studying physics at Cambridge, who is seduced by fellow students more outgoing and radical than her, particularly Leo Galich (Tom Hughes), a Communist zealot. Read our full review here.
Paolo Sorrentino's latest film, Loro, plays fast and loose, painting the Berlusconi years in garish shades of outlandish mayhem and crazed decadence.
High-handed interference in the Italian judiciary, alleged serpentine trails of corruption, and 'bunga bunga' sex parties have all become a kind of shorthand to sum up the Silvio Berlusconi era of Italian politics.
'Bunga bunga' made the news recently once again with the death of the Moroccan-born model, Imane Fadil, a key witness in the trial in which Berlusconi faces charges of bribing models, escorts and actresses to lie about the alleged parties. Read our full review here.