It's a bumper weekend on the big screen.

Western Stars ***1/2

Given that being a proper rock star is all about acting, Bruce Springsteen hams it up something rotten in this beautifully-constructed monument to myth-making by director and long-time Boss collaborator Thom Zimny.

It's a concert movie with a difference. Having decided not to tour his recent and rather good album Western Stars, Bruce and Zimny assembled a thirty-piece orchestra and set up in a century-old barn on Springsteen's New Jersey farm and filmed the Boss as he played all 13 songs from the album, along with one well-chosen cover version.

Here is Bruce, in basic tailoring of black shirt, black jeans and black cowboy boots, singing in front of an invited audience of friends and what look like record company suits, as they sip brandy in the intimate surrounds of that beautiful barn. Soft lights glow (cinematographer Joe DeSalvo deserves a doff of a Stetson), and you can almost hear the horses below as they move about in their stables. A spiritual quality pervades everything. Read our full review here.

The Curious Works of Roger Doyle *****

Composer Roger Doyle has always been a maverick of musical sonorities in this country and he is more than content to be doing his own thing, as this fascinating, often moving new documentary reveals. 

Doyle was never going to be in the backing band for Brendan Shine or to be found asking Dickie Rock for a stint on tour. His métier was the experimental, it was the sidewinder tack.

Doyle composes endlessly - the output governed by what he has been working on the previous day, he says. His wife and son talk affectionately in the film about living in the same house as this driven composer of contemporary music. He gets up in the morning, longing to be up and at it. Read our full review here.

By the Grace of God ***1/2

Disquieting to watch, and based on real events, By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu) recreates the explosive fallout in France in 2015 and 2016 when abusers banded together to confront a French priest and question church silence about his crimes.

The relentless catalogue of abuse at the hands of Fr Bernard Preynat recalled by these now middle-aged men is not an easy watch. They were boy scouts in the 1980s and early 90s when the notorious priest in the French diocese of Lyon abused them.

The Anglophone world has had its share of fictional films and documentaries on the subject of clerical sex abuse and long may they continue, disquieting as they may be. A French film on the subject is something new, to this reviewer at least. Read our full review here.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco ***

San Francisco - a great city which, like so many great cities, is going through rapid change. The tide of gentrification is leaving out-priced natives behind as "blow ins" arrive to refurbish former crack dens and slum areas without any real sense of belonging for their new neighbourhoods.

One such disenfranchised native is Jimmie (Jimmie Fails), a young man who has spent most of his life couch-surfing and eking out a life in shelters. When we meet him, he's sharing a cramped tumbledown house with his best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors), and Mont's blind father (a lovely, understated performance from Danny Glover).

However, Jimmy has a big dream. He's fixated on a beautiful old house in the Filmore area of the city that looks like something from a Hopper painting crossed with a fairytale, "witch's hat" tower and all. Read our full review here.

Black and Blue ***

John Carpenter's Escape from New York is reworked as Escape from New Orleans for this cop-on-the-run thriller. Yann Demange's Belfast-set '71 was a better tribute to the American master, but if your guilty-as-charged pleasures include, say, Den of Thieves and The Purge: Anarchy, then 007 star Naomie Harris earns her stripes as rookie officer Alicia West.

Back home in New Orleans after 10 years in the Army, West's third week on the job sees her stumble on a murder as a cabal within the force ties up 'loose ends' in the midst of a corruption investigation. She has recorded the execution on her bodycam, but also lost her weapon at the scene. With her enemies closing in and every door in the area slammed shut, West may not live long enough to find out who's not on the take. 

Director Deon Taylor (Traffik, The Intruder) has carved out a career in hardboiled hijinks and with Heat and LA Confidential's Dante Spinotti as his cinematographer, Black and Blue unloads plenty of grit onscreen. Read our full review here.

The Addams Family **1/2

Back (from the dead) on the big screen after 26 years, The Addams Family have returned to put the frighteners on populism, and property porn. Their mission is admirable, the script less so.

Having been run out of more places than Jesse Pinkman, Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron) and the gang are looking for "somewhere horrible, somewhere corrupt, somewhere no one in their right mind would be caught dead in" to call home. 

New Jersey proves to die for. Read our full review here.

Terminator: Dark Fate *

There has been some nervy joshing and odd-looking attempts at bigging-up going on around the release of Terminator: Dark Fate. Methinks these film critics protest too much and maybe feel bad about being uncharitable to Terminator Genisys, the last outing for the series in 2015.

One UK news report has gathered a fistful of first reactions in efforts to declare it the best sequel since Terminator 2. "Easily among the year's most entertaining action films," cooed someone, while another describes it as "an on-the-edge-of-your-seat, popcorn-guzzling watch for old and new fans alike".

Hmm, it's not. It's one of the most turgid, mind-numbing exercises in so-called cinematic craft that one could ever expect to witness and hear, very loudly indeed, way louder than the crunching of popcorn. You could be a half-man half-machine and crunch monster rivets instead and no one would hear you in the unceasing torrent of noise. Read our full review here.

Countdown ***

If you fancy a horror film this Halloween that will make you jump a lot and laugh in equal measure, then Countdown is the movie for you.

The premise of the film, and the opening scenes, are weak, but there is something about Countdown that just works the more into it you go and the more you allow yourself to get wrapped up in this utterly ridiculous adventure.

So the plot: a bunch of high school kids at a party download the Countdown app which tells them how much longer they have to live and when one of the party finds out she has only a matter of hours left, things start to get weird and the very real nature of the app is revealed. I was eye-rolling hard at this stage.

Later we meet Quinn (Lail), a nurse who gets caught up in Countdown and then embarks on a mission to try to change her fate and survive the inevitable. This is when the film starts to get creepier. Read our full review here.

Still Showing:

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil ****

This is the most Disney film I've seen in years. And that's meant as a compliment, because a sizeable proportion of my favourite movie moments - in films such as The Jungle Book, Snow White, Pinocchio and Mary Poppins - come from that much-loved stable.

Okay, while I wouldn't be placing this sequel to 2014's Maleficent anywhere near my top five (or even ten) Disney offerings, it looks amazing and the story is a pretty straightforward and enjoyable tale with a topical twist.

This time around, Aurora (played once more by Elle Fanning) is living in the Moors with her godmother Maleficent (Angelina Jolie, again), and there remains a gulf between their fairy world and the neighbouring Ulstead, which is populated by humans. Read our full review here.

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon ***1/2

Shaun's back in an out of this world adventure.  

A mystery visitor crash-lands in Mossingham Forest, and makes her way to Mossy Bottom Farm, where she comes face-to-face with Shaun and the rest of the mischievous flock. 

Shaun, who himself is always pushing boundaries, especially with farm dog Bitzer, meets the intergalactic visitor, an adorable alien called Lu-la. He then gets a taste of his own medicine as they set off on a mission to help Lu-la get home before the Ministry for Alien Detection capture her. Read our full review here.


Zombieland: Double Tap ***

The red carpet in Sequel Heaven can stay in the lock-up - The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens and Paddington 2 will have to wait a bit longer to welcome some new company.

Ten years on from Zombieland - the film that got the casting, comedy and carnage so right - director Reuben Fleischer and his magnificently unlikely gang of Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin have reunited for this fun-but-bitty follow-up.

They still have the killer chemistry; they don't have the killer script. Read our full review here.

Dark Lies the Island ****

Here we go: yet another Irish film that shows us just what we're really like. Sure you'd have to laugh.

Over the many decades since Tinseltown started mangling Irish accents and making us out to be a bunch o' leprechaun-fearin' drunks, there's been a more recent, though steady stream of home-made movies pointing out the folly of Hollywood.

Irish people may not be away with the fairies but are pretty messed-up. Look at this lot, for example.

Formed from the fertile imagination of novelist, playwright and screenwriter Kevin Barry, and inspired by characters in his collections of short stories, this is a tale of unrelenting dysfunctionality. In other words, this story could be anybody's. Read our full review here.

Non-Fiction *****

Printed books versus e-books, love and infidelity behind the bookshelves, it's all rather topical in this charming, restrained comedy of manners featuring Juliette Binoche - and indeed everybody else - doing star turns in Olivier Assayas's engaging drama.

Assayas directed Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper (2016) while Binoche has worked very well with him before, as lead actress in his impressive 2014 release, Clouds of Sils Maria.

In this one, whose title in French is Doubles Vies, La Binoche plays the actress Selena. Her partner is Alain Danielson (Guillaume Canet), and they have one son. Alain is a seemingly canny book publisher with his eyes trained on the digital future, where he believes the real business lies. Printed, bound books are on the way out, or so he thinks, but it's not so simple, as he discovers mid-way through the film. Read our full review here.