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Director: Jason Reitman Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass Running Time: 96 minutes


When Diablo Cody is in a reflective mood, Jason Reitman tends to benefit. Though it will always be a divisive film based on its subject matter and the ‘hamburger phone’ of it all, Juno‘s rooting in the real life experiences of Cody as a teenager and the stories of adoptees and pregnant teens in her life gave it a laudable emotional honesty. The writer-director pair came back together for the underseen Young Adult, a darkly funny and deeply insightful look at arrested development, and the toll taken on the popular girl when she isn’t popular anymore, with a fantastic lead performance from Charlize Theron. Nearly seven years on, the now-trio have convened again for an honest look at parenthood in Tully. The result is raw, sly and very well done.

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Director: Ron Howard Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Thandie Newron, Jon Favreau, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo Running Time: 135 minutes


As we settle into the reality of Star Wars as a tentpole Disney franchise, with a new film every single year and a television series in the works, it’s understandable that Kathleen Kennedy and co. would want to solidify the appeal of the spinoff films by featuring one of the property’s most popular characters. Once Solo: A Stars Wars Story finishes cleaning up at the box-office, they can start to plot a whole line of films to put the spotlight on your favourite characters from across the Galaxy. Lando Calrissean? Why not, says Kathleen Kennedy, that Donald Glover is so hot right now. Boba Fett? Maybe, if it will finally shut you fans up about him. That one lad in A New Hope that looks like the devil? Okay, maybe not him. Han Solo though, ‘everyone’s favourite’ from the original trilogy, was supposed to be the safe bet, and the exec’s adamant desire to keep it that way was partly what led them to axe original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, apparently too madcap and wacky in their ambitions for the film. They were replaced with the experienced, steady hand of Ron Howard, who reshot almost everything and presented a friendly face behind a marketing campaign nervously encouraging the somewhat sceptical viewing public that yes, they do need to know Han Solo’s origins. What Howard, veteran screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and the rest deliver is indeed the safe bet, in a film that’s far too middle of the road to be essential viewing. What we have here is one square unit of Star Wars movie, mostly milquetoast with a few rough edges born from the inelegant ‘creative differences’ and perhaps a meeting too many in the boardroom. If you’re looking for any noteworthy insights into Han Solo as a character, you’re not likely to get them here. If you’re looking to know where he got his apparently iconic blaster though, this is the film for you (somebody hands it to him).

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Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo Starring: Everybody. Running Time: 149 minutes


Ten years ago now, there was an idea. To bring together a group of remarkable characters and see if they could become something more. There was a time, unbelievable as it is now, that having a ‘shared universe’ of various franchises seemed like a massive risk rather than the movie studio holy grail. A time when people wondered how the first Avengers film was possibly going to manage a story with six superheroes. Infinity War has twenty. Plus sidekicks and supporting cast members, absentee Avengers, love interests, a few surprise appearances, the army of an entire country, and a new mass of villains. And Stan Lee. The Universe has grown and grown, developing an enormous, enamoured audience along with it. Marvel know they have most every blockbuster-loving film fan in the palm of their hands at this point, so to keep them captivated, what’s the best thing they can do at this point? Make a fist. Or snap their fingers.

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Director: John Krasinski Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe Running Time: 95 minutes


If asked to pick out the director of the next hit horror movie, Jim from The Office doesn’t spring first to mind, particularly considering John Krasinski’s previous directing credits have been a pair of sub-Sundance, sub-Braffian comedy-dramas. Then again, one half of a sketch show comedy troupe making his first film similarly wouldn’t have been pegged for horror greatness, and with Get Out, Jordan Peele subverted that expectation to the tune of $255 million at the box office, a win at the Oscars and the world at his feet. A pleasant surprise, A Quiet Place is smart-scary with a heart, a film built around a simple and effectively-used idea that demands to be seen in a packed cinema.

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Director: Lynne Ramsay Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Judith Roberts Running Time: 90 minutes


He has a unique set of skills, but Joe, the driven murder machine of Lynne Ramsay’s stunning thriller You Were Never Really Here, is far from the typical one-man rampage and the film has much more than cheap kill thrills on its mind. Taking a standard grim and gritty action film plot and considering it with depth, melancholy and  honesty, this a film that prompts the question, once you’ve been ‘Taken’, can you ever really come back? And can the heroes tragic backstory truly push him forward or has it long-since pushed him over the edge, not a source of inspiration but a devastating destruction?

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Director: Andrew Haigh Starring: Charlie Plummer, Steve Buscemi, Travis Fimmel, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn Runtime: 121 Minutes

Lean On Pete is one of those rare films that values authenticity over sentimentality. No Hollywood sheen tints the lens. No overstated points on rural America’s current economic climate are made. No faux sense of understanding for the countryside’s cuts and bruises is offered up. Instead, Lean On Pete uses an understated approach, opting for honest storytelling over cheap mawkishness. The characters that occupy this land and the stories they tell are important to the filmmakers, yet nothing is ever overly dramatic or artificial.

It is here that we are introduced to Charley Thompson (Plummer); a young boy who traverses the blistering Oregon deserts to find his last known relative living thousands of miles away. Accompanying Charley on his journey is Lean On Pete, a failing racehorse who Charley forms a great bond with after securing a summer job in a local stables. Although it seems like a simple story on the outside, Lean On Pete is told with wonderful tenderness, compassion and sincerity, making for one of the most devastatingly beautiful movies of 2018.

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Established in 1999 by Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey and Paul Young, Kilkenny-based studio Cartoon Saloon has released exactly 3 feature length films. All 3 have received Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature Film.

If you get the chance to see The Breadwinner, a poignant and uplifting exploration of a young girl’s life growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan, you’re likely to understand why.

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Director: David Freyne Starring: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor Running Time: 96 minutes

The Cured picks up where most zombie movies end. Society has reintroduced some degree of normality. Hordes of ravenous undead have stopped terrorising the streets. People are beginning to feel safe in their own homes again. However, as communities begin rebuilding themselves, once infected citizens, now cured of their insatiable appetites, are re-introduced back onto the streets, much to the outrage and disdain of the masses. It is in this setting – the aftermath of the bloodshed – that The Cured chooses to tell its story, a story less concerned with jumping out from behind corners to scare you than it is with burrowing deep within your conscious and challenging you.

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Director: Lance Daly Starring: Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddy Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Jim Broadbent Running Time: 96 minutes


For an event that had such a profound impact on the course of Irish history, the great tragedy and injustice from which Ireland’s entire subsequent history as a nation sprang forth from, it’s surprising that the Famine hasn’t found its story told on cinema screens, particularly Irish ones, more often. Director Lance Daly takes that task on in Black 47, last week’s Opening Gala of the 2018 Dublin International Film Festival. His approach is perhaps unexpected considering the subject matter, the film being a roaring rampage of revenge, internalising the anger and injustice of the Famine into one man’s quest for vengeance. Prestigous? No. But undoubtedly compelling.

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Director: Faith Akin Starring: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Samia Chancrin Running Time: 106 minutes

In The Fade has a lot to offer its audience: a strong central performance from Diane Kruger, a moving story and compelling characters. Yet the film still lacks the power to stay with you once the credits roll. While easy to chew on throughout its reasonable runtime, director Faith Akin’s recent feature leaves you craving something a little more substantial.

The film, which won best foreign language feature at this year’s Golden Globes, tells the story of Katja (Diane Kruger), a German woman confronted with the tragic death of her husband and son following a terrorist attack. When suspects are discovered and brought to court, Katja battles with her need to exact revenge on the people who took her world from her. Should she leave the judicial system to their ways? Or, should she take matters into her own hands?

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