AT THE CINEMA: A weekly round-up of the latest films

editorial image

Grab the popcorn for the newest movies in your local cinema now. 

BLACKkKLANSMAN (15) 

Director Spike Lee's impassioned, conscience-pricking satire on corruption and bigotry is based on a memoir by retired Colorado Springs officer Ron Stallworth and walks a tightrope between fact and stranger-than-fiction, seizing every opportunity to echo battle cries of the 2016 US presidential election.

Thus, David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who is portrayed on screen by Topher Grace, proudly addresses a room of his ardent supporters and sincerely thanks them for putting America first.

"America will never elect somebody like David Duke president of the United States," scoffs detective Ron (John David Washington) to colleagues on the force.

Lee, who co-wrote the script, makes abundantly clear his thoughts on history repeating and he bookends his call-to-arms with sickening footage from Charlottesville of a car being driven at speed into counter-protesters, which left one woman dead and many other people injured.

Ron (Washington) is persuaded to join the local police force as part of a diversity drive. This doesn't include visibility because Ron is consigned to the records room, where he suffers abuse from fellow officers. 

Eventually, Ron compels Chief Bridges (Robert John Burke) and Sergeant Trapp (Ken Garito) to utilise him in the field and he goes undercover at a local rally organised by Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier), president of the black student union, who has invited civil rights leader Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins) to speak to the membership.

Back at headquarters, Ron responds to a newspaper advertisement for new members for the Ku Klux Klan and he impresses local chapter president Walter Breachway.

Ron foolishly gives his own name over the telephone so when the time comes to meet Walter in person, Detective Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) poses as Ron and spits out racist bile on cue to perpetrate the deception.

Walter's second-in-command Felix Kendrickson isn't convinced but his concerns are overruled. 

BlacKkKlansman nestles uncomfortable truths in an outlandish narrative, which pays tribute to "the Jackie Robinson of the Colorado Springs police force" as he outwits the KKK from the inside. Sometimes, restraint lands the heaviest blows. Released tomorrow. 

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (15)

Directed and co-written by Susanna Fogel, The Spy Who Dumped Me borrows a few crowd-pleasing moves from female-centric capers The Heat and Spy to ensnare two hopelessly unprepared gal pals in a sticky web of intrigue.

Leading lady Kate McKinnon shoots to kill with laser-targeted one-liners and physical comedy rooted in her character's circus training. She is an unstoppable force of nature - bizarrely bringing the house down with an aside about French novelist Honore de Balzac - and co-star Mila Kunis manages somehow to maintain a straight face. Plot is derivative and on-screen chemistry between Kunis and Sam Heughan never threatens to boil over. Released tomorrow.

THE CHILDREN ACT (12A)

Dame Emma Thompson delivers one of the most beautifully calibrated, heartrending performances of her career in The Children Act, adapted for the screen by Ian McEwan from his 2014 novel.

Donning the robes of a judge, who tranquilises her emotions when she presides over cases at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the two-time Oscar winner elegantly reveals chinks in her character's brandished armour as she decides whether a 17-year-old Jehovah's Witness (Fionn Whitehead) should be forced to accept a blood transfusion.

Despite her best efforts at cool detachment, guilt and regret eventually spill over as her deliberation reaches its summation.

For the opening hour, Richard Eyre's courtroom drama is a riveting character study.

Once the contentious central case is closed and the judge faces the ramifications of her carefully weighted words, the film unravels in a concluding act devoid of emotional heft. Released tomorrow.