Thursday 23 May 2019

Cinema: Avengers: Infinity War

Cert: 12A; Now showing

Avengers: Infinity War - it's for the kids
Avengers: Infinity War - it's for the kids
Niza Jay Ncoyini in The Wound

Marvel fans rejoice! Superhero fans rejoice! For here are two and a half hours of every Marvel superhero that has appeared on film, together facing a turbo baddie (and an unrecognisable Nidge) with tremendous amounts of ass-whooping, mega-effects, not a little emotional impact and some real laughs.

The plot, put simply, sees Thanos (Josh Brolin) become the most powerful enemy the world has ever known. On a cosmos wide quest to collect all six Infinity Stones which will give him power over everything from reality to time, his next collection point is Earth where Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the keeper of a stone. Thanos puts Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) in charge of capturing Strange who has already called upon the help of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) who ends up with the help of Spiderman (Tom Holland). The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is having trouble performing so calls on Capt America (Chris Evans) who brings Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and there's an issue because Vision (Paul Bettany), currently shacked up with Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) has another Infinity Stone in his head. Meanwhile Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Bradley Cooper's voice.) Then they go to Wakanda where the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) rows in. Geddit? It's non stop, great fun and doesn't feel too long.

If you're thinking of bringing kids there is a lot of fighting, no gore, there are a couple of bad words, and a couple of potentially upsetting scenes of people in pain. But it is overall suitable for kids I believe. ★★★★ Aine O'Connor

The Delinquent Season

Cert: 15A; Now showing

Mark O'Rowe has said that he prefers to direct the first versions of his plays so that he can see how it all works when the actors and their vision of his roles come together.

He has written screenplays (including Intermission) but The Delinquent Season marks his debut as film director. Set in South Dublin it looks at the dynamics between two couples when lines get crossed.

Jim (Cillian Murphy) is a writer and stay-at-home dad, married to Danielle (Eva Birthistle). They have a dinner party friendship with Yvonne (Catherine Walker) and Chris (Andrew Scott), a man who, clearly stressed, behaves oddly then hits his wife who leaves to stay with Danielle and Jim. Yvonne and Jim begin an affair, the dynamics of which make up most of the film.

Infidelity is something we are shown as very black and white, the film segues a bit too simply into the affair and might have felt richer had it explored in more detail the emotional circumstances of that segue - it just looks too easy. However it does deal well with how the affair becomes addictive, what it answers for the parties that they would risk so much and how a secret love affair simultaneously feels real but offers an escape from the reality it can also destroy. There is occasionally a staginess to the screenplay but the characters are real and familiar, the performances are full on, and it is engaging right the way through.

★★★ Aine O'Connor

Beast

Cert: 15A; Now showing

Moll (Killarney actress Jessie Buckley) is held captive in a gilded cage. The 27-year-old is closely watched over by her overbearing mother (Geraldine James) at home on Jersey. Some glimmer of trauma marks this fairytale-like heroine. Everything turns on its head when she accidentally crosses paths with Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a slightly lupine community outsider with whom Moll embarks on a heated love affair. 

At the same time, people are going missing and bodies are being found, all victims of a serial killer whom everyone is speculating over. Pascal emerges as a suspect in the police investigation, tarnishing Moll by association. Moll stands by her man, rebelling against her family's frowns and suspicious that Pascal is being preyed upon by a local police detective (Trystan Gravelle) who has never disguised his long-held affections for Moll.

Michael Pearce both writes and directs in his feature debut, and in doing so announces himself as a filmmaker of real verve. There is a slippery, sensory quality to things that makes for mesmeric viewing at times, as if the island is operating in a parallel universe. At the heart of this effect is Buckley, who evokes both the little-girl-lost and something more predatory. Gunnar Oskarsson's sound design deserves credit too.

Beast might be guilty of prioritising ambience over plot, with a sag in the second-act stalling momentum. A promising debut all the same. ★★★★ Hilary A White

The Old Dark House

Cert: Club. Exclusive to IFI

Between 1931 and 1935, James Whale was the biggest name in horror thanks to Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein.

A fourth film in that litany was this gothic romp that fared far less well critically and commercially.

Though lost for many years, it turned up in a Universal archive and has been lovingly restored for a new generation to appreciate the conventions that it put in place, ones liberally bandied about by legions of generic horrors ever since.

For starters, there's the "dark and stormy night". We find a small group of travellers lost in the wilds of Wales. They come across an ominous house and knock on the door. Answering the door are the eerie siblings Horace (Ernest Thesiger) and Rebecca (Eva Moore) Femm and their brutish butler (Boris Karloff, who would play the iconic monster in Whale's Frankenstein). Refuge is granted. What could possibly go wrong?

Made in the infamous "pre-code" era, this laces its quaint menace with some wry humour.

For vintage atmospherics, this is a wonderful curio. ★★★★ Hilary A White

The Wound (Inxeba)

Club Cert; Now showing IFI

John Trengrove's film looks at conflicts inherent in a society where there is only one way to be a man.

Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini) is a teenager in the Xhosi tribe in South Africa who lives a westernised life in Jo'burg. His father, concerned that Kwanda is "too soft", has submitted him for the initiation rite Ukwaluka where his personal mentor is Xolani (Nakhane Toure). Sad and underachieving Xolani understands that Kwanda might be gay, but, although Xolani attends the yearly ceremony purely to see his forbidden paramour, the hyper macho Vija (Bongile Mantsai) there is little understanding between mentor and initiate. It's a fascinating, well-acted look at a rarely explored ritual and the conflict between old and new beliefs and values. ★★★★ Aine O'Connor

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