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Director: James Franco, Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco Running Time: 105 minutes


To know exactly how The Disaster Artist approaches its subject, know this. The film opens with a slew of Hollywood celebrities earnestly describing their love of The Room, the titular disaster, and closes with praise for the phenomenon that the film and its artist, Tommy Wiseau have become. Captions and real footage show Wiseau in attendance at some of the many midnight screenings that have transformed his terrible film from being an LA inside joke to the central story of a genuine Oscar contender, a feel-good wrap-up of an unlikely success story. It’s hard not to see a bit of self-back-patting at the heart of this endeavour. King of the so-bad-its-good films, the appeal of The Room is that it’s a genuine attempt at creating art and exploring human emotions from a man who seemingly understands neither art nor human emotions, nor human anything for that matter. A film that is just off in every way imaginable, provoking equal parts hilarity, revulsion and perverse curiosity. The appeal of The Disaster Artist is The Room. James Franco’s love of the cult film comes through and is sure to get laughs from fellow fans, inspiring a few more along the way, as he takes on the Tommy persona impressively and recreates the best-worst scenes. However, there are depths to this bottom-of-the-barrel that he is not so interested in delving into, preferring a level of insight that never reaches much higher than sketch comedy.

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Director: George Clooney Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Noah Jupe Runtime: 105 minutes

Amongst the white picket fences and pristinely mowed lawns of 1950’s American suburbia, director George Clooney sets the scene for his new comedy noir, Suburbicon. Originally penned (and subsequently shelved) by the Coen Brothers in 1986, the movie found new life in the hands of Clooney and long-time writing partner Grant Heslov. After years on the shelf, the film has finally reached our screens with the same wicked sense of humour we have come to expect from the Coen Brothers throughout the years. Just like the titular town itself, there are a few cracks in the foundation of Suburbicon but not nearly enough to sink what is a watchable, surreal and funny film.

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Director: Armando Iannucci Starring: Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin Running Time: 107 minutes


For years with both The Thick of It and Veep, Armando Iannucci has brilliant and bitterly skewed the nature of politicians in the West, bumbling self-servingly from scandal to scandal, always better equipped at putting down each other than accomplishing anything on their own. Applying that style of satire to Soviet Russia seems like a recipe for great comedy, but the stakes are rather different in a political climate where no one is allowed to admit that scandals ever happened and putting down political rivals meant a few feet underground rather than a few creatively chosen swear words. Staging the aftermath of Josef Stalin’s death similarly to the events of an episode of one of those programmes results in a black comedy that’s frequently very funny, but the satire here has a somber note too. That the people in charge of a superpower could be as arrogant and incompetent as those shuffled off to The Thick of It‘s Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship has some fairly chilling implications. Thank Christ we don’t have to worry about anything like that these days.

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Director: Patrick Hughes Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Selma Hayek, Gary Oldman Running Time: 118 minutes


Movies won’t appreciate what they have in Samuel L. Jackson until he’s gone. Not the highest highs, the Djangos, but the long, long list of unmemorable, mediocre or outright awful productions that have been raised one bar higher by the sheer presence of Jackson and the level and legitimacy he brings to every performance. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a better film than many of those, but it’s many rougher edges are a lot easier to look past when Jackson is cackling hard at the latest inconvenience he’s caused Ryan Reynolds, the titular bodyguard to his titular hitman. Recalling many of the dumb but cheerful odd couple action movies of the 1980, here the at-odds pair’s chemistry is just strong enough to prop up a deeply misguided plot international intrigue, which aims to be something like a comedic episode of 24 but is more like an episode of Chuck if they were allowed to say motherfucker.

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Director: Michael Showalter Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant Producer: Judd Apatow Runtime: 124 minutes


The whole ‘Boy meets Girl’ shtick seems to have become a staple of Judd Apatow’s career. Usually concerning themselves with a funny American layabout and his/her sudden brush with romance, these films mix situational comedy with some dramatic elements in order to offer a modern spin on the ‘Rom-Com’ experience. However, while Apatow’s name is attached, this is very much Kumail Nanjiani’s film. As such, The Big Sick doesn’t just follow this formula, it improves on it as it demonstrates a high-standard of comedy mixed with some impressive writing to boot, making this Rom-Com one of the funniest and best films of the year.

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Director: Seth Gordon Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach Running Time: 119 minutes


After a near-totally negative reaction from critics to his latest film, Baywatch lead Dwayne Johnson took to Twitter to insist that “the fans’ love the movie” and that it was made for them anyway, not the critics. It is entirely possible that Baywatch fans wouldn’t set the bar too high. They did after all keep the television series on the air for 11(!) years, ogling heaving chests as inane plots about diamond smuggling surfers or other such sub-airport novel cheese sailed by mostly unnoticed. A few laughs, some beautiful people and a heavy dose of cheese would probably be enough, but Baywatch‘s biggest problem is how often it loses sight of its own stupidity, somehow buying into itself as though its stories about teamwork, overcoming selfishness and thwarting corrupt beachside property developers are actually compelling. Just like Dwayne Johnson tackles bad reviews with all the emojis, exclamation marks and critic-bashing of someone who unconvincingly insists that they aren’t mad at all, Baywatch isn’t as in on the joke as it wants you to believe it is.

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Director: Dax Shepard Starring: Dax Shepard, Michael Peña, Kristen Bell, Vincent D’Onofrio Running Time: 101 minutes


Dax Shepard, the star of such old Xtra-vision dust-gatherers as Without a PaddleEmployee of the Month and Let’s Go to Prison does not appear to be a fan of the television show CHiPs on which his new movie is based. Shepard is the writer, director and lead of CHiPs, but he’s no auteur working on a passion project, nor is he a bankable star in need of a vehicle. Actual fans of the cheesy late 70s/early 80s show appear to be less than enthused with this broad remake. It isn’t a guaranteed box office property. Look the executives who gave the greenlight to this sub-par comedy and ask them why they thought this film needed to exist at all, and what possible answer could they give, apart from a half hearted shrug of the shoulders and a “I dunno, 21 Jump Street?”

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Director: Anna Biller  Starring: Samantha Robinson, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Laura Waddell  Running Time: 120 minutes


Anna Biller’s much anticipated dreamy technicolour feature came to Dublin as part of ADIFF 2017. The Love Witch is a true love letter to the pulp novels and films of the 1960s, full of beautiful women led astray to do bad things. Our witch, Elaine, is just a lovesick lady looking for a man to please. Sometimes to death.

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Director: Chris McKay Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Ralph Fiennes Running Time: 104 minutes


If there’s one thing the last decade of films by Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder have made abundantly clear, it’s that Batman can be rather a miserable fellow. You might not have heard, but his parents were murdered by a criminal and he processed this tragedy via a lot of punching, gutteral yelling and, with the deftness that only Visionary Director Zack Snyder could muster, by branding deviant criminals with a bat-branding iron so that they can actually be murdered in prison. One of the brightest spots in the surprise hit The Lego Movie in 2014 was its willingness to lighten up the Dark Knight a bit, playing up his serious streak into something over the top, egotistical and adolescent for big laughs. Lego Batman was such a treat that he’s been given a spin-off movie of his very own, a fun kid-pleaser that also shows a pretty good understanding of how Lego Batman’s Lego mind works.

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Directors: Josh Gordon and Will Speck Starring: TJ Miller, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Anniston Running Time: 105 minutes


It is hard to muster much enthusiasm for the latest festive themed comedy, Office Christmas Party. With the stench of Bad Santa 2 still lingering, another trip to the dark side of Christmas does not seem so appealing. There is of course hope, with the film’s cast stacked to the rafters with reliable faces (Jason Bateman, Jenifer Aniston) and padded out with a seemingly endless list of recognizable comedy actors, Office Christmas Party, from the creative team behind Blades of Glory and The Hangover could at the very least deliver on the raunchy, rambunctious and wild antics promised in the trailer.  All the boxes are ticked in the 90 min run-time: drug use, profanity, alcohol, Christmas tree jousting…yet despite a game supporting cast and some enthusiastic direction, it all feels a bit aimless, safe and not particularly exceptional.

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