A homegrown treat is among the highlights opening this week.
Never Grow Old ****
Black as pitch and filmed in Galway, Never Grow Old is a convincing thriller set in 1849 in an American settlement ruled over by psychopathic thug Christopher 'Dutch' Albert, played with consummate, unadulterated evil by John Cusack.
Will Patrick Tate, the Irish emigrant, played by Emile Hirsch, muster the courage to confront Dutch?
Ivan Kavanagh's masterful movie is the pure drop in terms of mesmerising period horror. Read our full review here.
Pain and Glory ****
Pedro Almodóvar's 21st feature, Pain and Glory (Dolor y Gloria) is rich with reflective passages and profound encounters, mediated through brilliant cinematography and enhanced by a shimmering score.
It is Almodóvar's most autobiographical film.
The protagonist Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) is a film-maker and writer whose creativity has effectively dried up. His greatest success was the film Sabor (Taste), a classic released 30 years ago which yet holds legendary status for his fans. Read our full review here.
Angel Has Fallen **
If you've seen Olympus and London fall earlier in the trilogy, you'll know what to expect, and you're either here for it or you're not.
Protecting presidents is Secret Service Agent Mike Banning's (Gerard Butler) bread and butter, but this time around he becomes enemy number one after being framed for an assassination attempt on President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman).
There are shootouts, car chases, big action set-pieces, a dodgy script, some hammy acting, and not a single real twist in the whole adventure. Read our full review here.
Piranha 3D director Alexandre Aja really didn't have much to do to make this a fun little shocker in the grand and absurd tradition of Snakes on a Plane.
The set up is simple but even though it's "based on a true story" and master of the macabre Sam Raimi produces, Crawl lacks tension, scares, and, most crucially for this breed of genre movie, laughs.
In short order, daughter and dad find themselves cornered in a flooded basement as monstrous alligators circle. Read our full review here.
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood ****
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino's ninth, and reportedly penultimate, film is a slightly meandering but endlessly entertaining road trip through Los Angeles in 1969.
The famed filmmaker's passion and verve for movie-making beam out of the screen as he takes an unashamedly nostalgic but studied look at the final moments of Hollywood's golden age.
It starts out as something of a buddy movie between fading TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double-turned-gofer Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) but takes unexpected directions as it merges with the true-life story of the Manson cult. Read our full review here.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold ****
Turning animated TV shows into live-action is a tricky business, but Nickelodeon has certainly delivered here as this Dora the Explorer adaptation is a hoot from start to finish.
Dora and three other schoolkids get kidnapped by gold thieves, who want Dora to lead them to a lost Inca city they aim to plunder.
Eva Longoria and Michael Peña play Dora's parents; Benicio del Toro voices baddie Swiper the Fox - but Isabela Moner gets it pitch perfect as the irrepressible Dora in this fast-paced and fun adventure that will entertain all but the hopelessly cynical. Read our full review here.
Noirish, elemental and stark, Transit has the feel of a Kafkaesque chamber piece, set in a Marseille under siege and impending occupation.
Being the evocative-sounding port city that it is, a border citadel in a sense between Europe and Africa, Marseille is the perfect location for this darkly-hewn drama, based on the novel of the same name by Anna Seghers.
Published in 1944, Seghers' book was set in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942, but writer-director Christian Petzold has adapted her story for a contemporary period. The temporal shift means the film glints with certain topical resonances, and immigration and the rise of the far-right in Europe are somewhere in the weave. Read our full review here.
Good Boys **
The makers of this crude comedy evidently think there's endless humour to be mined from watching tweens dropping f-bombs every few seconds and unsuspectingly messing around with their parents' sex toys. There isn't.
Good Boys, from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express) and writer-director Gene Stupnitsky (The Office, Bad Teacher), follows a trio of 12-year-old best friends - Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) - as they navigate the tricky period on the cusp of becoming full-blown teenagers.
Max is the first to start showing interest in girls. The object of his affections is one of his schoolmates Brixlee (Millie Davis), and he jumps at the chance to attend a popular kid's spin-the-bottle party in the hope of getting closer to her. Ever the good pal, he also manages to wangle invites for his besties. Read our full review here.