Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

Planes

  • Rated as: 3/5

This simple, amiable Disney animation is a spin-off from Pixar’s ‘Cars’ films and, like them, features no humans at all – just talking planes with big eyes and grins, as well as the odd truck and train. It’s an endearing enough David-and-Goliath tale, aimed squarely at younger kids, as smalltown, crop-dusting plane Dusty (Dane Cook) leaves behind the day job to enter a global aerial race that takes him from the US to Iceland, from India to Mexico. Dusty is assisted by some longtime mechanical buddies and coached by a retired warplane. His fellow contestants include Bulldog (John Cleese), a Brit with a stiff upper nose cone, and Ripslinger, a sly American who can’t bear the thought of being beaten by Dusty. ‘Planes’ isn’t a Pixar film, even if it’s related to one (Disney bought Pixar in 2006), and there’s nothing groundbreaking about the animation or script. That said, the characters and story still offer low-key charms.

Friends with Kids

  • Rated as: 3/5

Jon Hamm often gets a grilling about not having kids (what, with his genes!). This spiky NY relationship comedy is written and directed by his girlfriend of 14 years, Jennifer Westfeldt. And it’s safe to assume its sharp comments on what kids can do to marriage – and friendships – come from years of observation. Westfeldt stars as Julie, a singleton who feels cut off from her gang. They’ve all decamped to Brooklyn to have kids and become mean, angry people with no lives. That leaves Julie and friend Jason (Adam Scott) sipping cocktails in Manhattan. The pair cook up a plan: babies are fine, but marriage, no thanks. (read more)

Now Is Good

  • Rated as: 2/5

Forgetting to bring tissues to this weepie is the definition of schoolgirl error. Schoolgirls, you see, will be hauling industrial crates of Kleenex into cinemas. They’ll be blubbing gleefully as Dakota Fanning, starring as Tessa, a 17-year-old Brighton girl dying prettily of leukaemia, stares into the eyes of her hot neighbour (Jeremy Irvine). Yes, it’s as mawkishly manipulative as all that. Yes, I was reaching for the sleeve of my cardie. The film is based on a teen novel by Jenny Downham, and director Ol Parker has administered a sugar-coated pill to it. He wrote ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and this is likewise hellbent on inspiring a rush of wind-beneath-my-wings, life-affirming feeling. But it’s decently acted. Fanning does an impeccable English accent as Tessa, who was diagnosed with leukaemia at 13. (read more)

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

  • Rated as: 2/5

The title isn’t the only rambling, unwieldy thing about this lightweight absurdist comedy, an adaptation of a 2009 novel and already a hit in Sweden – from where its humour singularly fails to travel. We meet jovial pyromaniac Allan Karlsson (Swedish comic Robert Gustafsson) as he escapes from an old folk’s home on his 100th birthday and innocently becomes caught up in a crime caper involving a suitcase of cash, some tattooed heavies, a frozen body and an elephant. (read more)

The Railway Man

  • Rated as: 3/5

Colin Firth cements his reputation as the go-to man for repressed, buttoned-up masculinity with another performance of feeling and depth, playing a former soldier traumatised by World War II. What a shame then that the rest of the film is less stiff-upper-lip, more just stiff. It’s based on an acclaimed memoir by Eric Lomax, who was captured by the Japanese, tortured and put to work on the notorious Burma railway in his early twenties. After decades suffering what we’d now call post-traumatic stress, he met and forgave the Japanese officer responsible. In Firth’s every grimace and flinch you feel the torment of Lomax’s private world, but emotionally ‘The Railway Man’ feels trimmed and tidied up. (read more)

Only Lovers Left Alive

  • Rated as: 3/5

Jim Jarmusch's smacked-out vampire movie 'Only Lovers Left Alive' starts with a close-up of a seven-inch single spinning on a turntable. Which is apt, as this slim, dreamy film demands that you kick back and slip into its slow, deadpan groove if it's not going to drive you completely mad. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are Adam and Eve, a married vampire couple of many centuries standing. He's depressed and surrounded by records and guitars in a Gothic house in Detroit; she's living in a flat in Tangier. They've seen it all and met everyone – the English civil war, Franz Schubert – and life's taken on a fin-de-siècle, morose air. Jarmusch's film looks beautiful and has a groovy nighttime air to it, especially when Adam and Eve drive about the ruins of Detroit at night in Adam's white Jaguar XJS. (read more)

The Two Faces of January

  • Rated as: 4/5

The sight of a sweaty, drunken Viggo Mortensen – his suit crumpling in solidarity with the worry lines on his face – is increasingly horrific in this pleasingly old-fashioned, unhysterical 1960s-set thriller. It’s the directing debut of the screenwriter Hossein Amini (‘The Wings of the Dove’, ‘Drive’), and it has an unhurried, louche air about it that gives way to claustrophobia as it starts to get its clammy hands around your neck. An adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 novel – and not entirely different in tone and spirit to ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ – the film whips us back to a sunny, simpler southern Europe of Americans abroad, gentle cons and near-nostalgic film plots that turn on passports, news print and unwelcome private detectives. (read more)

Omar

  • Rated as: 3/5

Chronicling the Palestinian experience without finger-pointing, director Hany Abu-Assad has made docs (‘Ford Transit’) and humanist dramas (‘Paradise Now’). Now he tackles a traditional thriller, and the result feels as if he’s shooting off a clip full of blanks. Omar (Adam Bakri) is an ordinary kid on the West Bank, hanging out with his buddies and making eyes at his best friend’s sister. When he gets caught up in some real-world violence, however, he finds himself being used as a pawn by his pals, and as a stool pigeon by Israeli intelligence.Bakri has charisma to burn, but the complexity of Abu-Assad’s previous movies is traded in here for weak thrills. You’ve got to hope his need to make an episode of ‘24’ is out of his system, and that he can now get back to doing what he does best.

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