SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (15, 112 mins)

Chicago-born rapper Boots Riley makes his feature film directorial debut with an audacious, wildly inventive and frequently uproarious satire about workplace culture, black exploitation and rampant capitalism.

It's fair to say that Sorry To Bother You won't be everyone's tipple and there are madcap moments in Riley's script when the wheels threaten to come off this runaway train of thoughts.

However, patience and gargantuan suspensions of disbelief reap rewards over almost two hours, which simultaneously bamboozle, delight and astound.

The writer-director has a penchant for visual gags in background detail like a rogue photocopier, which churns out reams of paper, creating a snowstorm of tumbling A4 around despairing employees.

Some visual flourishes are impossible to miss.

A stop-motion animated instruction video credited to Michel Dongry is a nod to inventive French director Michel Gondry and a flaccid pun on the male appendage, which features so prominently in the film's loopy final act.

Dialogue crackles, from a workplace protest that inspires one young woman to gush, "That scene was crazy, like Norma Rae!", to the Machiavellian CEO who perceives anyone who can analyse a problem and adapt as "a cunning raccoon".

The unlikely hero is Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), known to friends as Cash.

He lives in the garage of his uncle Sergio (Terry Crews) with activist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson).

Four months behind on the rent, Cash must find alternative accommodation unless he can raise the balance within two weeks.

He hopes a job as a telemarketer at RegalView alongside friend Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) will answer his prayers.

"We're not mapping the human genome here," deadpans Cash's manager (Robert Longstreet), who instructs him to follow the script and maybe - just maybe - he will be promoted to a Power Caller desk on the top floor.

Cash's tentative first efforts to engage customers are dispiriting failures until an experienced co-worker (Danny Glover) imparts sage words.

"You want to make some money here, read the script with your white voice," he whispers.

Sure enough, when Cash (now voiced by David Cross) erases all traces of Oakland from his patter, he secures his first sale... then another.

In record time, he is courting the attention of Mr X (Omari Hardwick), who manages the Power Caller team, and Steve Lift (Armie Hammer), CEO of futuristic employer WorryFree.

Sorry To Bother You plays with madness as Stanfield's everyman becomes complicit in modern-day slavery on a grotesque scale.

Hammer has a blast in a small supporting role while Thompson is poorly served as the film's female lead but she relishes her character's standout scene of performance art, which incorporates dialogue from the 1985 martial arts film The Last Dragon.

Writer-director Riley holds firm to his ambitious and outlandish vision, and occasionally draws blood with his barbs.


THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (12A, 93 mins)

Robert Redford makes his final screen appearance before retirement in David Lowery's gently paced crime caper - a (mostly) true story, which is also an unabashed valentine to the charismatic leading man.

Based on a 2003 article of the same title in The New Yorker magazine, The Old Man & The Gun possesses a simple, old-fashioned charm epitomised by the 82-year-old star at the film's emotionally molten centre.

Photographed in lustrous close-up, Redford beguiles us with each glance into camera as real-life bank robber Forrest Tucker, who ran rings around the authorities and escaped from San Quentin State Prison in a canoe.

Lowery pays homage to his star by lovingly re-appropriating footage from Redford's 1966 picture The Chase as one of these close brushes with the law.

"Looking sharp will take you a long, long way," coos Forrest at one point.

Redford could almost be reflecting on his own ascent into the pantheon of well-heeled Hollywood greats in such classics as Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, The Sting, All The President's Men and Out Of Africa.

In Lowery's picture, he discharges that star wattage one final time in swoonsome exchanges with fellow Oscar winner Sissy Spacey.

Dialogue between the couple is light and playful, kindling a smouldering on-screen partnership that casts a satisfying glow over every frame.

The film concentrates on events in 1981 when Forrest pulls off a series of bank robberies, often with ageing associates Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits).

"He had a gun... and also, he was sort of a gentleman," one Dallas bank employee confesses to police after Forrest casually 'withdraws' a large amount of bills from tellers' drawers.

During the getaway from one hold-up, Forrest evades police by stopping to help a stranded motorist called Jewel (Sissy Spacek).

Sparks of attraction fly over a cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, Texas detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) becomes fascinated by Forrest's far from illustrious career on the wrong side of the law and is secretly relieved that the old timer is always one step ahead of the police.

"I'm sorry you didn't catch him," commiserates John's wife Maureen (Tika Sumpter).

"I'm not," he responds tenderly.

The Old Man & The Gun is the cinematic equivalent of a warm hug: comforting, heartfelt and undeniably pleasurable in the moment.

Lowery's script stages a couple of tense robberies with aplomb but characterisation always takes priority, and there is a lovely scene of verbal to-and-fro between Forrest and John in the corridor of a roadside diner.

Redford remind us why he has been setting hearts aflutter on screen for more than 55 years and Affleck is an appealing sparring partner in a game of cat and mouse where everyone, including us, wins.


MORTAL ENGINES (12A, 128 mins)

Shortly after the digitally-rendered dust settles on an eye-popping action sequence which opens Mortal Engines, the thorny issue of Brexit ripples thousands of years into our desolate future.

"Going into Europe - biggest mistake we ever made," despairs the Mayor of London (Patrick Malahide) as he surveys a post-apocalyptic wasteland dotted with motorised cities mounted on caterpillar tracks.

Adapted from the novel of the same title by Philip Reeve, Christian Rivers' rollicking action adventure doesn't stoke that political fire any further but does make a few mis-steps over the course of two breathlessly enjoyable hours.

The script penned by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, engineers of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, idles in first gear for the initial 20 minutes and grinds through clunky interludes.

More than once, first-time director Rivers falls back on his Oscar-winning background as a visual effects supervisor and allows spectacle to trump substance, aided by an army of digital effects wizards and a vivid steampunk aesthetic.

By happy accident or cynical design, there are echoes of another fantastical saga during the picture's rousing climax - specifically, the thrilling Death Star trench run from A New Hope and a pivotal exchange from The Empire Strikes Back.

Mortal Engines is bolted together from the first book of a four-part odyssey set many centuries after the cataclysmic Sixty Minute War.

Survivors huddle on mobile metropolises fashioned from scavenged parts that "ingest" the resources of rival cities to feed roaring furnaces.

The largest of these behemoths is London, commanded by Mayor Magnus Crome (Patrick Malahide) with guidance from noted academic Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving).

Masked assassin Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) sneaks aboard London and attempts to assassinate Valentine in front of his daughter Katherine (Leila George).

Apprentice historian Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) intervenes before a fatal blow can be struck and, during the subsequent chase, he tumbles off a gangway and regains consciousness next to Hester in the wilderness.

The fugitives are forced to work together as they encounter famed pilot Anna Fang (Jihae) and a half-human, half-machine warrior called Shrike (Stephen Lang), whose past is inextricably entwined with the girl.

Mortal Engines is a solid opening chapter, which trades in gob-smacking set-pieces and product placement.

"The food of the ancients never goes off. It's indestructible," splutters Hester as she tucks into a popular branded snack cake, which survived the apocalypse.

Hilmar is an appealingly spunky heroine and verbal rat-a-tat with Sheehan's apprentice aviator allows the darling buds of romance to appear gradually in lands poisoned by humanity's greed.

Lang's moving performance sows the seeds of the film's most intriguing and emotionally rich on-screen relationship.

Shrike is unquestionably the most beautiful and heartbreakingly mortal engine on display.

He is the tormented ghost in the precision engineered machine.


TULIP FEVER (15, 105 mins)

Filmed in the summer of 2014 before lead actress Alicia Vikander deservedly won her Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl, director Justin Chadwick's lust-fuelled period romp has been wilting on a film studio shelf for more than three years.

Harvey Weinstein's involvement as a producer can't be blamed for the delay.

Tulip Fever is a turgid, lifeless adaptation of Deborah Moggach's novel, which fails to bloom on the big screen despite some half-hearted propagation from director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) and his starry international cast.

Not even Dame Judi Dench, pursing her lips beneath a wimple, can inject life into a plodding, water-logged narrative in which a lowly fisherman brandishes a basket of pungent goods and tantalises one potential customer by boasting, "I've got a nice thick eel," with a straight face.

Codswallop, more like.

Moggach's script, co-written by Tom Stoppard, is incapable of generating dramatic momentum and the multiple deceptions of the conclusion teeter precariously on the cusp of an unintentional comedy of errors.

Production design and costumes are impressive, captured in sweeping camera shots over and around a bustling quayside, and Danny Elfman's orchestral score plucks the heartstrings when the cast is unable to oblige.

Orphan Sophia (Vikander) is raised by the nuns of St Ursula in mid-17th century Amsterdam at a time when the most precious and widely traded commodity is tulip bulbs.

She reluctantly accepts a marriage proposal from wealthy merchant Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz), who will pay safe passage for Sophia's relatives to live in New Amsterdam in exchange for a male heir.

"Marriage is a safe harbour," explains the Abbess (Dame Judi Dench). "Love, honour and obey - it's for the best."

Sophia initially fails to excite her husband's "dozy little soldier" and her inability to fall pregnant necessitates a hurried visit to local quack Dr Sorgh (Tom Hollander).

Cornelis commissions local artist Jan van Loos (Dane DeHaan) to paint a portrait of his blissful union and the painter falls deliriously under the spell of virginal Sophie.

Meanwhile, housemaid Maria (Holliday Grainger) enjoys a lustful romance with local fisherman Willem (Jack O'Connell).

When Maria discovers she is pregnant out of wedlock, which would bring shame upon her family, Sophia hatches a cunning plan to solve both of their predicaments.

Tulip Fever is a bouquet of missed opportunities that should have been left on that shelf to moulder indefinitely.

A cornucopia of rumpy pumpy - almost every inch of Vikander is on softly lit display - can't distract from her curiously restrained performance.

By contrast, Waltz exposes the vulnerability and sadness of his "lucky old dog", enriching a potentially two-dimensional villain far 4/10