This week's film reviews!
THE AERONAUTS (PG)
Inspired by a true story, The Aeronauts takes flight with a heavy cargo of dramatic licence to chart a high-altitude expedition, which pushes two emotionally driven souls to the upper limits of human endurance.
Director Tom Harper's visually stunning odyssey is loosely tethered to Richard Holmes's 2013 book Falling Upwards: How We Took To The Air, which pays tribute to brave pioneers of the ballooning community. Scriptwriter Jack Thorne focuses on one notable entry - the record-breaking 1862 ascent of James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell - and replaces one of the men with a fictional female adventurer. Harper repeatedly smacks our gobs with vertiginous thrills and spills including a knuckle-whitening encounter with a raging storm that spins a balloon wildly out of control. However, characters are emotionally malnourished despite the best efforts of Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne to recapture their Oscar-winning on-screen chemistry from The Theory Of Everything.
THE IRISHMAN (15)
Martin Scorsese's exhaustive and exhausting return to the criminal underworld with GoodFellas leading men Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci transplants the toxic masculinity from New York to the mean streets of Philadelphia.
Stephen Zaillian, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Schindler's List, confidently plunders Charles Brandt's true-crime book I Heard You Paint Houses to recount an epic tale of brotherhood, which culminates in the disappearance of labour union leader Jimmy Hoffa in July 1975.De Niro snags the melodic voiceover here, delivering expertly polished one-liners - "Usually three people can keep a secret only when two of them are dead" - with his trademark growl.
Al Pacino scorches every frame as bullying Hoffa, who refuses to cede control of the Teamsters - "This is my union!" - and pays a sickeningly high price for his hubris.
Scorsese's long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker overcharges our patience with a running time - three-and- a-half hours - that feels almost as bloated as some of the titular heavy's lifeless victims.
Rating: Four stars