Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

Turist

  • Rated as: 4/5

A Swedish family’s skiing trip seems to be going just fine: Apart from a little whining from the kids, all appear to be enjoying themselves. But on that second day, disaster strikes in Ruben Östlund’s remarkably assured and subtle comedy, a film with a delicious sense of unraveling domesticity. A “controlled avalanche” is what the brunchers think they’re witnessing, but when the rumble comes too close for comfort, the crowd panics. (read more)

Ex Machina

  • Rated as: 3/5

Stephen Hawking has warned us that the growing power of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Technology has not yet reached the point where a robot has passed the Turing Test – fooling people into believing they’re talking to a human. But screenwriter and novelist Alex Garland’s debut feature takes us to the very moment of technological birth. What might it look like? Pretty damn slinky as it happens. (read more)

The Book of Life

  • Rated as: 4/5

This lovingly ornate animation produced by Guillermo del Toro (‘Pacific Rim’) explores the strong links between Mexican culture and the deceased. It opens with a museum tour explaining Mexico’s annual Day of the Dead festival, then plunges into an afterlife where the departed thrive in the colourful Land of Remembrance or languish in the ashen Land of the Forgotten. It might be a bit complicated for very young kids. But there’s a love story by way of illustration, as a musician (Diego Luna) and a soldier (Channing Tatum) vie for the hand of a strong-willed señorita (Zoe Saldana). (read more)

Before I Go to Sleep

  • Rated as: 3/5

If there was as much injury-related memory loss in real life as in the movies, we’d all be walking around with pillows Sellotaped to our heads. This latest high-concept amnesia thriller stars Nicole Kidman as Christine, an English woman who can no longer store memories after a random attack. Every morning she’s back to square one, waking up in bed terrified, next to a man she’s never seen before. Turns out he’s her husband. (read more)

The Signal

  • Rated as: 2/5

We’ve seen this story before: Three college kids take a road trip. Two of them, handicapped Nic (Brenton Thwaites) and moody Haley (Olivia Cooke), are at a crossroads in their relationship, while the other, bespectacled nerd Jonah (Beau Knapp), is along for comic relief. It all feels irritatingly Sundance-ready, and of course The Signal had a Park City premiere. What sort of life lessons will our blandly fresh-faced trio learn on their journey across the American Southwest? Just when you think you’ve got the film’s derivative number, cowriter-director William Eubank throws some nutty wrenches into the works. (read more)

Red Army

  • Rated as: 4/5

The Soviet Union produced magnificent hockey players, even as its citizens starved and the Cold War wobbled toward a welcome if uncertain fizzle-out. Gabe Polsky’s 'Red Army' does an energising, often hilarious job of foregrounding the symbolism of these clean-cut men, shining examples of a superiority that, on the ice, was no mere bluff. Via bizarre footage and masculine choral music, we watch youngsters tumbling through arduous regimes, learning from a poetic and inspired coach and participating in the mythic showdown at Lake Placid’s 1980 Winter Games, at which the superhuman Russian squad fell, embarrassingly, to an upstart US team that eventually claimed gold. (read more)

Jupiter Ascending

  • Rated as: 3/5

You have to hand it to Lana and Andy Wachowski: they don’t do things by halves. Fresh from blending dystopian sci-fi, period drama, posh-boy cannibalism and just about everything else under the sun in the gloriously insane ‘Cloud Atlas’, they’ve taken a step backwards, forwards and skywards with this berserk space opera. ‘Jupiter Ascending’ weaves in the messianic elements of ‘The Matrix’, the punch-in-the-eye visual intensity of ‘Speed Racer’ and the fruity performances of ‘Cloud Atlas’ – not to mention random splashes of ‘Dune’, ‘Foundation’, ‘Flash Gordon’, ‘Barbarella’ and ‘Brazil’ – into one breathtaking, mindscrambling, what-the-hell-am-I-watching intergalactic fantasy. It could very well end their careers, but they’ll be going out with one hell of a bang. (read more)

Timbuktu

  • Rated as: 4/5

'Don’t kill him – wear him down.' Those are among the first words we hear in Abderrahmane Sissako’s devastating African drama 'Timbuktu', spoken by a gun-toting jihadist chasing down a fleeing gazelle. The scene sets a chilling tone that’s impossible to shake: terror, in this case, isn’t about killing the body, but the spirit. Wear an animal down and absolute control is assured. After this bloodcurdling opening, the film settles into a semi-relaxed groove as it sketches in the lives of a small community also under siege. (read more)

More film reviews

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Nightcrawler

  • Rated as: 5/5

Whiplash

  • Rated as: 4/5
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Birdman

  • Rated as: 5/5

The Babadook

  • Rated as: 5/5

Still Alice

  • Rated as: 5/5

Cold in July

  • Rated as: 4/5