Cert: 18; Now showing
I haven't read any of HP Lovecraft's horror fiction so came at this adaptation of his short story with no real preconceptions.
Richard Stanley's film (co-written with Scarlett Amaris) certainly ticks the boxes for what is also called weird horror and perhaps more importantly, those who know Lovecraft's work have been largely impressed. Although enjoyment might be coloured too by how you feel about Nicolas Cage when he goes all B-movie OTT.
Nathan Gardner (the quiet, understated version of Nicolas Cage) has moved his family to rural Massachusetts for a better life. They're in his late father's home but he doesn't want to become his angry father, he wants to rear alpacas and be gentle.
His wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) works in finance from home while she recovers from cancer, their daughter (Madeleine Arthur) has turned to Wiccanism to alleviate rural boredom, their eldest son (Brendan Meyer) mostly gets stoned and their youngest (Julian Hilliard) floats about.
When a meteorite lands in their garden they are slow to notice strange goings on, but once they do it takes everyone else a long time to believe them. And by then everything is changing colour/color and Nicolas Cage has moved on to B-movie OTT, playing a character who behaves not unlike Trump. The histrionics are not out of place in the film, it is simply worth flagging because they wind some people up. However, they crank up as the story goes from quiet life to hysterical, dangerous, gory, basically from run-of-the-mill alpacas to inside-out alpacas.
There are messages about the environment, the media and there are lots of laughs, it is quite genre-defying in ways.
Lovecraft was a racist and the casting of black actor Elliot Knight to play Ward as voice-of-reason hydrologist, and actor of Asian heritage, Tommy Chong, as the hermit Ezra in the woods who works out what is going on before the white people do, has been hailed as significant. The pacing of the film felt off to me in that some parts felt too long.
I didn't get too invested in any of the characters so it was more of a visual experience than an emotional one.
★★★ Aine O'Connor
Club Cert; Now showing IFI
The idea of being a nun in 1760 sounds like a supremely repressed iteration of womanhood - but one of the main characters in the very wonderful Portrait of a Lady of Fire sees it differently.
Following her sister's death, Heloise (Adele Haenel) is removed from a convent to take her sister's place in a marriage and regards that impending contract as far more repressive than the one she had with God. At least in the convent they were all equals.
This is just one of the interesting ideas threaded through Celine Sciamma's beautiful, thoughtful, atmospheric Gothic drama. One of the ideas that Heloise shares with Marianne (Noemie Merlant), the woman who has been commissioned to paint the portrait that will precede the bride to Milan. It is a film about womanhood, sisterhood, love, marriage and being seen and heard. And it is wonderful. ★★★★ Aine O'Connor
Cert: 15A; Now showing
The 2014 Swedish co-production Force Majeure is tough source material to remake - because it was just so good - and this American sort-of version suffers in comparison.
However, if you didn't see the original, or wished it was in English and lighter, there is plenty to enjoy in this marriage- based drama.
This version sees Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Pete (Will Ferrell) take their sons to ski in Austria. Pete is grieving his father and more interested in his phone than in his family - but the real issue arises when they face an avalanche and Pete saves himself, and his phone, and not Billie and the kids.
Dreyfus is great, Ferrell would have been better playing it less for laughs because tonally it is all over the place.
There are good ideas in the film - but they tend to blur the main one which makes it feel messy.
More dramedy than comedy it will be more enjoyable to those who haven't seen Force Majeure.
★★★ Aine O'Connor
Cert: 12A; Now showing
Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller's flawless 2014 drama, told of Du Pont corporation heir John Du Pont, who died in jail for the murder of wrestling coach David Schultz in 1996. Schultz was portrayed in that film by Mark Ruffalo, who now turns up again as an ordinary man being preyed upon by the Du Pont brand.
Todd Haynes's film beats with a loud socially conscious heart and is good value for it. It tells of the terrifying impunity that Du Pont acted with when it emerged that the waters near its chemical industrial plant in West Virginia were hazardously polluted.
Robert Bilott (Ruffalo) is poacher-turned-gamekeeper as the corporate defence lawyer who takes on the company after seeing the livestock losses incurred by a grizzled local farmer (Bill Camp). After filing a suit, Robert begins a long process of digging into Du Pont's shady practices and the toll taken on not only the local community but much further afield.
While worthy and important, Dark Waters is a functional, by-numbers legal drama that is illuminating without setting your world alight. Ruffalo keeps it tight as the determined everyman, but Anne Hathaway (above, as hand-wringing wife Sarah) employs her customary "more-is-more" approach to tedious effect.
★★★★ Hilary A White
Cert: 16; Now showing
HG Wells's The Invisible Man has been the inspiration for many adaptations since it first appeared in 1897. This latest one is courtesy of Leigh (Saw, Insidious) Whannell and takes the idea up to date by incorporating it with domestic and emotional abuse. With appealing leads and nods to other films from Wait Until Dark to Predator, it is an enjoyable psychological thriller.
After Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss, below) finally decides to leave her wealthy, controlling, abusive scientist boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) she lives with her friend, police officer James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter (Storm Reid). Her terror that Adrian will track her down leaves her housebound until she learns of Adrian's death, he has even left her a substantial amount of money. But when odd things begin to happen she becomes convinced that her ex has faked his death.
The film opens with great suspense and mostly manages to maintain that. It feels like since The Handmaid's Tale both haunted and hellbent are Moss's stock-in-trade and she does them very well. The baddie's super strength, and clicky Predator noise, distracted me a bit at one point but overall this is a successful addition to the Invisible Man family.
★★★★ Aine O'Connor