Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

I Origins

  • Rated as: 3/5

Persuasive sci-fi tech talk, soulful romance and an earnest stab at metaphysics combine in American director Mike Cahill's polished second feature (after 2011's similarly themed 'Another Earth'). Perhaps the film's first major achievement, though, is turning Michael Pitt ('Last Days') into a believably brilliant medical student with a thing for eyes. Molecular biologist Ian (Pitt) likes to take digital photos of dilating pupils. When he meets foxy Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) at a New York costume party, her red-flecked irises turn him on and he can't help but ask for a snap. Their affair begins in earnest, while Ian's workaholic lab assistant, Karen (Brit Marling), does the drudge work. (read more)

Love Is Strange

  • Rated as: 5/5

New York-based filmmaker Ira Sachs ('Keep the Lights On') creates a special kind of urbanity: softer and more inclusive than Woody Allen's, openly gay but family-focused, alive to the city's tensions and lulls. His latest movie also features a Chopin piano score, adding an exquisite sense of proportion to what, in the hands of most other directors, might have felt like a cautionary tale about the perils of gay marriage. Instead, 'Love Is Strange' emerges as a total triumph for Sachs and his co-leads, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, who turn in career-topping work. (read more)

Filth

  • Rated as: 4/5

There’s in-yer-face cinema, and then there’s in-yer-face, down-yer-throat and throw-it-back-up-all-over-the-pavement cinema. This punky adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel ‘Filth’ is a glossary of grimness, a dictionary of darkness. But it also dishes up humour that’s blacker than a winter’s night in the Highlands and unpolished anarchy that’s true to Welsh’s out-there, frighteningly frank prose. Best of all, it features a possessed, full-on turn from James McAvoy that threatens to turn upside down the worldview of anyone who knows him only as Mr Tumnus the faun in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. For one thing, Tumnus never went wild on drugs in Hamburg with a straightlaced pal from a Masonic lodge. (read more)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  • Rated as: 3/5

This adaptation of a popular 1970s children’s book is brisk and buoyant, if slapdash – a series of well-executed vignettes that you wish added up to more. The basic premise remains: 12-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) has a terrible day at home and school while the rest of his family have a great one. But before the life lesson (that everyone has bad days) can be learned, Alexander makes an early birthday wish: let my parents and siblings know just how awful things can get. (read more)

A Walk Among the Tombstones

  • Rated as: 2/5

It’s the end of the old millennium. New York is a pusher’s paradise, Y2K fever is sweeping the globe and all crumpled crimefighters have a young black sidekick who says things like ‘word’ and ‘dope’. But something’s amiss. If it really is 1999, shouldn’t Liam Neeson be making better movies? Adapted from Lawrence Block’s thriller and presumably pitched as the first in a franchise centred around his Matt Scudder character, this is a dour, exploitative crime story. Neeson plays ex-cop-turned-private-dick Scudder, whose investigation into the brutal murder of a drug dealer’s wife leads to a series of grisly discoveries. (read more)

The BoxTrolls

  • Rated as: 3/5

It’s no surprise that this digitally animated adventure from the producers of Edward Gorey-esque kids’ fairytales ‘Coraline’ and ‘ParaNorman’ is an ooky, spooky affair. But the sheer stomach-churning weirdness of ‘The Boxtrolls’ is still a shock. In the medieval town of Cheesebridge, the citizens have been whipped into a panic over the subterranean Boxtrolls, little blue-skinned monsters who emerge from the sewers to swipe anything not bolted down. But one boy knows the truth – the Boxtrolls are a kind and cowardly race, the victims of a smear campaign by the cruel Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley, or, more accurately, by Don Logan from ‘Sexy Beast’). (read more)

Serena

  • Rated as: 2/5

It’s third time unlucky for Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The Hollywood A-team is back with a C+ movie. ‘Serena’ isn’t terrible, but it’s no ‘American Hustle’ or ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. To be fair to J-Coop, they act their socks off. And this must have looked like a winner on paper: an intense drama about a couple who bully and murder their way to the top of the lumber industry in 1930s Colorado, adapted from a bestseller and directed by Oscar winner Susanne Bier. But, somehow, ‘Serena’ has turned out about as intense as queuing for the self-checkout tills in Sainsbury’s. (read more)

Dracula Untold

  • Rated as: 1/5

‘Game of Thrones’: so much to answer for. With its mittel-European medieval setting, royal hostage-taking and epic mountain landscapes, this atrocious effects-heavy actioner has far more in common with the work of George RR Martin than Bram Stoker’s classic horror story. It even lifts a large chunk of its cast from the hugely popular HBO TV series. (read more)

More film reviews

Recommended films

Interstellar

  • Rated as: 5/5

20,000 Days on Earth

  • Rated as: 5/5

Gone Girl

  • Rated as: 5/5

Filth

  • Rated as: 4/5