Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

Belle

  • Rated as: 3/5

Sometimes you find yourself wishing for an alternative version of the film unfolding before your eyes. ‘Belle’ is a good-looking and exceedingly polite film where perhaps a more complex one with less good manners would have been better. It’s the story of a mixed-race girl, Dido Belle (played first by Lauren Julien-Box, then Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who was brought up by an aristocratic family in Hampstead’s Kenwood House in the late 1700s. Dido was the daughter of a high-born naval officer and a black woman about whom very little is known. (read more)

Khumba

  • Rated as: 3/5

This South African family animation tells of a little zebra who, born with few stripes, is ostracised by the herd, accused of being a bad omen. ‘No stripes, no rain’, bellows an elder as the last drops evaporate from their trusty watering hole. When Khumba (voiced by Jake T Austin) chances on a map locating a utopian lake, he grabs the chance to prove his worth and heads out into the wild blue yonder – and a date with one-eyed killer leopard Phango (Liam Neeson). ‘Khumba’ nods to South Africa’s ‘rainbow nation’ with its range of characters of differing backgrounds (the dim Afrikaaner springboks are a highlight). It’s formulaic, but also largely entertaining, quite touching, occasionally amusing and competently animated. Just enough, in other words, to keep restless kiddies from wandering off into the veld.

Mr Morgan's Last Love

  • Rated as: 2/5

This sentimental Michael Caine drama is so dull that doctors could prescribe it to treat insomnia. What the hell, they could probably use it to medically induce a coma. Barely even bothering with the accent, Caine is Matthew Morgan, a retired American philosophy professor living in Paris. A cantankerous old fart, he refuses to speak French, but remains in Paris because that’s where he lived with his wife, who died three years earlier. Matthew gets a new lease of life – don’t they always – when he meets a young dance teacher, Pauline (Clémence Poésy), on the bus. This is a May-to-September romance without any actual romance. Does Michael fancy Pauline? (Who wouldn’t, she’s Clémence Poésy?). But the story is too tasteful and shy to go there.

A Thousand Times Good Night

  • Rated as: 3/5

This film from Norwegian photojournalist-turned-director Erik Poppe is supposedly personal, drawing heavily on experiences in his former job. So it’s odd that this tasteful, mildly diverting human interest tale feels so much like the work of another filmmaker – the Danish director Susanne Bier (‘In a Better World’), whose Nordic brand of wholemeal domestic melodrama permeates this story of a globe-trotting, risk-taking photographer (Juliette Binoche) torn between her dangerous professional impulses and her responsibilities to her justly worried, Dublin-based family. (read more)

Chef

  • Rated as: 4/5

Carl Casper (writer-director Jon Favreau) is stuck in a rut. Ten years into his plum post at a high-end LA restaurant, the onetime Miami food wunderkind has taken to passionless, crowd-baiting cooking, hamstrung by his seat-filling boss (Dustin Hoffman). When a big-time critic (Oliver Platt) brutally calls out his complacency, Carl’s angry reaction goes viral online, and the disgraced chef is told to pack his knives and go. At the cajoling of his ex-wife Inez (a subdued Sofía Vergara), Carl escapes his newfound internet notoriety, returning to Miami and his long-neglected young son, Percy (Emjay Anthony). Reinvigorated by his old stomping grounds, he ditches his fine-dining chef’s whites for a junky Cubano food truck, embarking on a road to domestic and culinary redemption. (read more)

22 Jump Street

  • Rated as: 3/5

No one, not even its creators, was prepared for the runaway success of the 2012 reboot of ’80s cop-kitsch TV series ‘21 Jump Street’. Instead of a cheapo cash-in, here was a charming, smartly self-mocking romp fronted by the most likeable and unlikely comedy double act in recent memory – Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. This follow-up scores cynical laughs from the idea that it could never match up to the gleeful surprise factor of the original. And it doesn’t – but that’s kind of okay. ‘I want you to do exactly what you did last time,’ barks the Chief of Police to undercover goons Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) – and it’s a maxim the movie takes to heart. (read more)

Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Rated as: 4/5

To misquote Forrest Gump’s mother, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is like a box of chocolates. Or rather, it’s like a vast, family-sized festive crate of chocolates, all wrapped in the shiniest packaging, all exploding with sweetness and surprises. Maybe there are a couple of flavours you don’t much care for, and after a while it all starts to get a bit dizzying, but you stuff yourself anyway, coming up bloated and satisfied on the other side. Based on one of Marvel Comics’ lesser known franchises, this is the tale of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), an earthling abducted as a boy who, a quarter of a century later, is working as a Han Solo-style outlaw-for-hire under the self-ordained nickname Star-Lord. (read more)

Lucy

Written and directed by Luc Besson, best known for the likes of 'Leon' and 'The Fifth Element', 'Lucy' stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman living in Taipei who is forced by the mob to work as a drug mule. But her life changes forever when the new narcotic she's carrying seeps into her system, turning her into a superhero with the power to move objects with her mind, absorb knowledge in an instant and be entirely resistant to pain. Morgan Freeman co-stars as  a specialist in the evolution and functions of the human brain, whom Lucy pursues in a bid to try and understand what has happened to her. If Besson’s lifelong habit of putting wily street-fighting women at the centre of his films is anything to go by, we’re expecting an ass-kicking action flick.

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