Four new films to watch this week
THE RESPECT ??
Directed by Liesl Tommy. With Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Mary J Blige. 12A cert, gen release, 145 min
The Latest Musical Biopic in Numbers features Hudson as Aretha Franklin. Just as these films have become laden with clichés, critics have too often lazily argued that “[Lead Actor X] pretty much saves the day ”. Okay, there we are again. Hudson has the good sense not to go for formal impersonation, but rather to layer elements of his own personality with subtle inclinations towards the queen of soul. We’ve seen interactions with jealous catchers before, but Respect takes flight in its musical interludes. A grand gospel finale helps us forget the ho-hum drama that came before. Full review CC
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd. With Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Conleth Hill, Ian Lloyd Anderson, Molly McCann, Ruby Rose O’Hara. 15A cert, gen release, 97 min
An abused mother (Dunne), unable to find accommodation in contemporary Dublin, chooses to build her own house deep in a friend’s garden. Lloyd’s film is a reasonably well integrated blend of harsh realism and soft fantasy. The first hangs around grueling domestic violence. The latter offers the protagonist an improbable – although not impossible – way out of his current crisis. The script, written by Dunne and Malcolm Campbell, contains too much intrigue in its final 10 minutes, but it hits emotional beats with gusto throughout. The actors are all excellent. Full review CC
SWEET THING ??
Directed by Alexandre Rockwell. With Lana Rockwell, Nico Rockwell, Jabari Watkins, Will Patton, Karyn Parsons. Digital platforms, 91 min
This animated coming-of-age fable starring director Rockwell’s family – including wife and former Fresh Prince star Karyn Parsons, daughter Lana, and son Nico – has been described by Quentin Tarantino as the one of the most powerful new movies in years. It is certainly memorable. Look askance and Sweet Thing occupies the same America less spotted than Sean Baker’s alluring bread line life chronicles: Tangerine, The Florida Project, and the new Red Rocket. Look again, and it’s a charming and uplifting fable. Full review TB
Directed by Anne Zohra Berrached. With Canan Kir, Roger Azar, Darina Al Joundi, Hans Jürgen Alf. Limited outing, 121 min
Berrached’s sequel to his shortlisted 24 weeks at the Berlinale initially plays out as a tale of young love before shifting gears to a fictional, carefully researched and partly improvised chronicle of the relationship between one of the 9/11 terrorists. and his wife. Specifically, the film features aspects of the life of Lebanon-born United 93 hijacker Ziad Jarrah, renamed here Saeed (Azar). There is a welcome internationalism in a film that oscillates between Rostock, Beirut, Hamburg and Miama and contains significant scenes in German, English, Arabic and Turkish. Full review TB