Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

Cold in July

  • Rated as: 4/5

For reasons which passeth understanding, cinema has long overlooked Texas-born crime writer Joe R Lansdale. His books are lean, grimly comic and packed with the sort of sudden violence, boisterous anti-heroism and crackling dialogue that Hollywood producers claim to love, but somehow, short of the atypical ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’, his work has remained un-adapted – until now. ‘Cold in July’ is Lansdale in excelsis, a relentless tale of small-town treachery spiralling into bloody vengeance. And in the hands of ‘We Are What We Are’ director Jim Mickle, it’s become one of the year’s best indie thrillers. (read more)

Men, Women and Children

  • Rated as: 2/5

Say what you want about the snappy, almost too-polished films of Jason Reitman, they've never struck a tone of alarmism. Even when the crisis was unexpected pregnancy ('Juno'), economic freefall ('Up in the Air') or home invasion in the form of swarthy escaped convict Josh Brolin ('Labor Day'), there was always a cool-headed pragmatism on display, sometimes at the risk of seeming too glib. That can't be claimed anymore with the arrival of the ominous and panicky 'Men, Women and Children', the first Reitman film to make the 36-year-old director seem about 400 years old. An ensemble-acted shriek on the topic of Internet and social-media overconsumption, the Texas-set drama is adapted from a worrymaking novel by Chad Kultgen. (read more)

St. Vincent

  • Rated as: 3/5

Why not just call it St. Bill and get it over with? The most lovable curmudgeon in modern movies gets a valedictory lap (and, you suspect, another Oscar campaign) in Theodore Melfi’s crowd-pleasing yet dangerously sentimental wacky-neighbor dramedy. The film comes to gruff life whenever its star growls out a terse one-liner through his character’s alcoholic haze: Vincent (Murray) is an unkempt Sheepshead Bay loner, a Vietnam War vet who likes to toggle between the track or the bar. With the arrival of a new neighbor (Melissa McCarthy) and, more significantly, her wide-eyed son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), the movie’s entire trajectory is clear: from grumpy after-class babysitting to surrogate father-son bonding and lessons in bully defense. (read more)

Electrick Children

  • Rated as: 3/5

This is an intriguing if uneven US indie from a first-time filmmaker whose strong grasp of character and eye for visual composition could herald impressive things to come. Inspired by writer-director Rebecca Thomas’s own childhood in a Mormon community on the outskirts of Las Vegas, the film centres on Rachel (Julia Garner), the sheltered child of religious separatists who believes she’s been divinely impregnated the first time she hears rock ’n’ roll. Heading off to Sin City in search of the group responsible, she falls in with Clyde (Rory Culkin) and his feckless gang of skate-park thrash metallers, who teach her stark, often painful lessons about how the real world works. (read more)

Mommy

  • Rated as: 4/5

Cinema doesn't come much more exuberant, musical and raw than French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy'. It's the tale of a wild, gurning, loveable teen, Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), with severe, heavily medicated ADHD, and his love-hate relationship with his mother, Die (Anne Dorval), and their new neighbour, the meek, stuttering Kyla (Suzanne Clément), who moves in across the road with her husband and young daughter. Where others would find misery and pain (and this offers both) as Die struggles with the violent and wild Steve, Dolan finds joy and wild energy in the most unusual places. (read more)

Ouija

  • Rated as: 2/5

The biggest shock about ‘Ouija’, the latest board-game-to-movie adaptation, might be that Hasbro, which produces the game in the US, took so long to make it happen. The spirit-summoning toy has already been employed successfully in a number of great movies (‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’). What’s left for the dead to say? Not much, it turns out. (read more)

Cheap Thrills

  • Rated as: 4/5

There are satisfying echoes of Stephen King’s sly black humour in this deliciously nasty comedy thriller. It’s the story of recently sacked, about-to-be-evicted dad Craig (Pat Healy), who is seduced into depravity by the promise of financial redemption. Craig is drowning his sorrows in a bar when he meets an old school friend, Vince (Ethan Embry). Enter mystery couple Colin (David Koechner) and his trophy girlfriend Violet (Sara Paxton), who are willing to pay Craig and Vince to complete innocent bar room pranks. As the night wears on the pair perform a series of ever more humiliating tasks. (read more)

The Zero Theorem

  • Rated as: 3/5

Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Zero Theorem’ is a lo-fi, future-tech farce with an air of high-end cyber panto. The stars still come out for the director of ‘Brazil’, and a totally bald Christoph Waltz (‘Django Unchained’) features in every scene as Qohen Leth, an IT drone who’s lost his soul and maybe his mind. He’s working for a corporation called Mancom in a place and time that’s undefined but looks and feels like a fading but neon European everytown in the near future. When Leth is drafted to work on a notorious project to prove the zero theorem (basically, that everything equals nothing), he enters an even deeper isolation, working from a disused, burnt-out church that he calls home and further loosening his grip on reality. (read more)

More film reviews

Recommended films

Mommy

  • Rated as: 4/5

Interstellar

  • Rated as: 5/5

20,000 Days on Earth

  • Rated as: 5/5

Gone Girl

  • Rated as: 5/5