Rose Byrne, Steve Coogan, Harrison Ford and Tiffany Haddish are back in cinemas this weekend. Not all in the same film, but that does sound class...
Following star turns as music mogul Tony Wilson in 24-Hour Party People, legendary TV misfit Alan Partridge, and pornographer Paul Raymond in The Look of Love, Steve Coogan plays another rampant egotist in this helter skelter ride of a movie with his frequent collaborator Michael Winterbottom.
Coogan plays Sir Richard McCreadie, Rich for short and "Greedy McCreadie" to his many enemies. He's the son of Irish emigrants, who has risen through the ranks of the London rag trade to become the billionaire self-styled "king of the high street". All ultra bright veneers, perma tan and trophy wife, he has it all, except maybe human decency and a sense of his own limitations.
His gilded existence begins to crumble when the ghosts of his past come to circle and plot and he is forced to face a public inquiry into his flagrantly unethical business dealings. To save the McCreadie "brand" and to show off to his celebrity friends, he plans an extravagant party on a Greek island to mark his 60th birthday, based on his favourite movie Gladiator - complete with Roman amphitheatre. Read our full review here.
The Call of the Wild ****
This fascinating adaptation of Jack London's classic 1903 novel, set in Canadian Yukon territory in the 1890s, is a must-see.
Harrison Ford, at 77, is the perfect fit for John Thornton, the disenchanted loner who is lamenting the death of his young son and the subsequent end of his marriage. Thornton is living in a remote cabin, drinking too much whiskey and feeling desperately sorry for himself.
Ultimately, canine hero Buck and Thornton rescue each other from neglect and despair and look out for each other thereafter. But there are many turns on the snowy, tree-lined path and many twists in the tale. Thankfully the visual effects and animation technology do not ruin the organic, wholesome spirit of the film. Read our full review here.
Like a Boss *1/2
It wants to be a raunchy, slapstick satire about female empowerment and entrepreneurship, with a shiny message about the bonds of adult friendship, but Like a Boss is an overworked mess.
Mia and Mel (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) are inseparable BFFs 'living their best life' as CEOs of a small self-made beauty company in Atlanta. As their financial troubles surface (they are nearly $500,000 in debt), a too-good-to-be-true buyout arises in the form of cartoonish villain Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), putting their friendship to the test.
Writing partners Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly's promising screenplay demotes itself into vacuous territory early on, leaving director Miguel Arteta's (The Good Girl, Youth in Revolt) setup with no choice but to become another chaotic affair of Hollywood déjà vu. Read our full review here.
Jihad Jane *****
Ciarán Cassidy's fascinating film Jihad Jane hears the stories of two American women who were imprisoned following charges related to terrorist conspiracy in 2010. The documentary consists in large part of separate interviews conducted with Colleen R LaRose and her accomplice Jamie Paulin-Ramirez.
Independently of each other, through internet exchanges from their own homes in the US, LaRose and Ramirez became involved in Ali Charaf Damache's 2009 conspiracy to organise the killing of the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who had drawn a newspaper cartoon which caused offence to followers of Islam.
LaRose travelled to Ireland and arrived in Waterford, where Jamie Paulin-Ramirez was living with Ali Charaf Damache. The Algerian-born Irish citizen had been living in Ireland for about five years at that point. LaRose told Reuters in a 2012 interview that she was drawn to Damache by his promise to instruct her in how to live as a Muslim wife and how to assist others in jihad. Read our full review here.
It really is a pity that Emma. (the full stop is used as it's a 'period' drama) has ended up being released in the wake of two superior adaptations of much-loved 19th-Century novels: Greta Gerwig's modern twist on Little Women and Armando Iannucci's euphoric The Personal History of David Copperfield.
Coming along after those two is just rotten luck.
Up-and-coming actress Anya Taylor-Joy takes the lead role, and what you get here is a more rounded and less sympathetic Emma Woodhouse, a young woman who spends far too much of her time (and she has plenty of it) interfering in the love lives of others. Read our full review here.