Hacksaw Ridge (15)

four stars

Dir: Mel Gibson

With: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughan

Runtime: 139 minutes

WIDELY hailed as a comeback for Mel Gibson (yes, another one), Hacksaw Ridge garnered six Oscar nominations this week, including best director and best actor for Andrew Garfield. This tale of American heroism, based on a true story, could indeed be Gibson’s ticket back from the wilderness. Garfield plays Desmond Doss, whose religious beliefs led him to serve in the US Army but would not allow him to kill. Doss’s battle to be accepted as a Conscientious Objector combat medic was long and hard, and Garfield shows every emotional (and physical) wound. But it was on the battlefield that Doss showed he was made of the right stuff and then some. Be warned: the scenes on Okinawa are as tough-going as those in Saving Private Ryan.

Denial (12A)

three stars

Dir: Mick Jackson

With: Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall

Runtime: 110 minutes

RACHEL Weisz plays Deborah Lipstadt, the American historian who accused David Irving of Holocaust denial only for him to sue her and her publishers, Penguin Books. The resulting libel trial is set out in Mick Jackson’s drama, and what a riveting piece of cinema it makes. Weisz is a wired bundle of energy as the straight-talking Lipstadt, while Timothy Spall does a fine job of making the flesh creep as Irving. David Hare’s screenplay is creaky in parts, but when the action turns to the courtroom, where the exchanges are based on transcripts, the piece comes into its own.