Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene

Film

Mad Max: Fury Road

Max is an enduring hero: he knows when to drive off into the sunset. This time, he leaves a generation of blockbuster cinema choking on his dust.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Film

Suite Française

This is a handsome and intelligent adaptation of the writings of Irène Némirovsky – the Russian-born French writer who died in Auschwitz and whose two unpublished novellas emerged in 2004 as one book, ‘Suite Française’. In her late thirties at the time of writing, Némirovsky fictionalised the lives of people around her in German-occupied France.Taking the novel’s lead, Saul Dibb’s nuanced, compelling film offers an intriguing close-up portrait of Bussy, a northern French village forced to host a garrison of Nazi soldiers. At the film’s heart is a sort-of romance between timid Lucile (Michelle Williams), and a cultured, piano-playing Nazi officer, Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts). But more lasting than the film’s romantic angle is the snapshot that Dibb (‘Bullet Boy’, ‘The Duchess’) offers of a class-ridden society under the spotlight of occupation.The themes of collaboration, compassion and betrayal run through the film, and characters who initially seem to be one thing, like Lucile’s hard-hearted mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas), emerge as more complex. Even the film’s portrayal of the Nazi soldiers is satisfyingly complicated. Also refreshing is a sense that we’re thrown into the middle of the uncertainty of war; ‘Suite Française’ works hard to free itself from the benefit of hindsight. The film is not without its problems – Michelle Williams is an elusive lead, and a wide array of characters come at the expense of depth – but it’s a knotty, thoughtful piece of work nonethe

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Film

Song of the Sea

It really doesn’t matter that Song of the Sea tells a story as thin as the line of a pencil or that this tribute to the wistful magic of Irish folklore is so transparently indebted to the films of Hayao Miyazaki that its most crucial moments feel like they were made in Japan. What matters is that Tomm Moore has followed up 2009’s The Secret of Kells with another heartfelt and gorgeously rendered work of 2-D animation, its every blue-gray blotch of watercolor a defiant rejoinder to the rounded plastic sameness that dominates contemporary cartoons. Modernizing an ancient myth with a visual approach that splits the difference between cute and Cubism, Song of the Sea tells the tale of a widowed lighthouse keeper (voiced by the perfectly tender Brendan Gleeson) who decides that the blustery Irish coast is no place to raise his precocious 10-year-old son, Ben (David Rawle), and his curiously mute daughter, Saoirse, who may or may not be half-seal. The kids are shipped to Dublin, and the brunt of the film chronicles their enchanted journey back home, the odyssey unraveling into an exquisitely painted mess when the siblings are waylaid by an old owl witch with a broken heart (Fionnula Flanagan).  No matter how frayed the storytelling becomes, the animation is always suffused with a gentle melancholy; Song of the Sea isn’t just pretty, it’s genuinely transporting. If Moore’s film is so busy ladling on the sweet ethereal frosting of its world that Ben and Saoirse feel less like chara

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Read more
Film

Avengers: Age of Ultron

‘Age of Ultron’ has a definite mid-season feel to it, telling a compelling but never game-changing story

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Film

The Water Diviner

Russell Crowe shows his squishy side as the director (and star) of this soft-hearted war melodrama

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Film

The Captive

Often only a light breeze has to blow through a thriller for it to be called wintry – but this movie from the once-celebrated, now patchy Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan (‘The Sweet Hereafter’, ‘Chloe’) deserves the label. Yes, ‘The Captive’ is full of snow and ice, winter coats, grey skies and thick boots, but its subject is also as bleak as a 3am February walk along the side of an Ontario highway. It tells of the aftermath of a kidnapping: a Canadian girl, Cassandra, is snatched from the back seat of a pick-up truck parked outside a roadside diner by her dad Matthew (Ryan Reynolds). Several years later, Matthew and his estranged, fragile wife Tina (Mireille Enos) are still living a waking nightmare, and the cops who first investigated the case, hot-headed Jeffrey (Scott Speedman) and cooler, more empathetic Nicole (Rosario Dawson), find themselves drawn back into the investigation after new evidence emerges. Meanwhile, from the beginning of this moody, maudlin tale, we’re also watching an unpleasant, nervy middle-aged man called Mika (Kevin Durand), who sports a villainous moustache and a poor Brando impression, and who pipes opera through his classy chalet-style home and whose role only becomes clear as time passes. Egoyan’s direction is compelling, confident and mysterious, playing with our sense of dread and the unknown, only drip-feeding us information for a good chunk of his film. For a long while, we experience various plot strands and time periods in fractured fashi

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Film

The Wedding Ringer

The plot’s old, the title’s borrowed and the jokes are blue – but there’s nothing remotely new in this wearying bromantic comedy. Slicing and dicing the plots of ‘Hitch’, ‘I Love You, Man’ and ‘The Hangover’, it stars US comic Kevin Hart as Jimmy, a wisecracking entrepreneur who makes a living hiring himself out as best man to friendless dorks like Doug (Josh Gad). It’s not long before the pair begin to bond, but the course of man-love doesn’t run smooth: old ladies are hilariously set on fire, gay men hilariously camp it up and hapless guys get hilariously blown by dogs (seriously). But while there are few social groupings ‘The Wedding Ringer’ won’t go out of its way to offend, women come under the greatest fire, proving themselves (yet again!) to be nagging harridans, up-for-it whores or, if they’re lucky, reliable motherly types. It’s all very slick and competent, and there is one genuinely funny joke about ‘The Goonies’. But this is seriously outdated.

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Film

Walking on Sunshine

Welcome to Magic FM the movie. This girls’-night-out film is so ruthlessly calculated to deliver a-million-percent-feelgood vibes that I half expected fun monitors on the front row to be armed with Boris’s new water cannon and spraying pinot grigio at the audience. Like ‘Mamma Mia!’, it’s a musical where everyone bursts into song (’80s hits) and starts dancing in a way that doesn’t seem to freak out passers-by. The storyline is simple – why get in the way of songs? – two sisters on holiday in Italy fall in love with the same man. (read more)

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Film

Woman In Gold

A powerful true-life tale becomes the stuff of workaday drama in ‘Woman in Gold’. A dusky lady looks quizzically out from a mosaic of gold leaf in the Klimt canvas dubbed ‘Austria’s Mona Lisa’. But for elderly LA resident Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), it’s a portrait of her Aunt Adele, and a painful reminder of the lives, home and property wrenched from her Jewish family during the Nazi annexation of Austria. In the late 1990s, changes in Austrian law allowed the handing back of looted treasures to their owners. So Mirren’s crotchety but indefatigable Maria and a junior lawyer (Ryan Reynolds) begin an against-the-odds battle against Vienna’s state-run Belvedere Gallery.Mirren and Reynolds offer a capable comic odd couple, while legal processes are reduced to a string of neat soundbites. Maria’s return to Vienna prompts ungainly flashbacks, chocolate-boxy when recreating the family’s gilded home life, powerful in depicting Austria’s embrace of the Nazi ideology. Mirren’s performance movingly evokes the travails and rewards of seeking an accommodation with a nightmare past. Yet the clunky, often superficial movie around her tames the anger and anguish of memory in favour of a well-meaning but pat, feelgood ‘prestige’ product.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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More film reviews

Original-language cinemas

Cinemas

Cinemes Texas

This cinema in Gràcia has four screens and shows a variety of films. The big draw for the locals is the subtitles are in Catalan. The big draw for everyone else is the films are in their original language, and some Catalan films even have English subtitles. And everyone is happy about the low price of €2 or €3. This is likely due to the films showing here slightly later than their premiere release date.

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Cinemas

Phenomena

The Phenomena cinema, which holds 415 film fans and has one of the biggest screens in all of Catalonia, boasts a latest-generation 4k projector, as well as 35 mm and 70 mm projectors as well as the best sound systems, including DTS, SDDS and the multidimensional Dolby Atmos. The cinema project, led by Nacho Cerdà, carries the philosophy that has characterized the Phenomena Experience screenings for the last four years: a programme that features cycles dedicated to big-name directors, kids' sessions, Grindhouse, re-releases, films that were before never released in Barcelona, the legendary double feature, and other surprises. It's a varied programme where you can enjoy classics of the silver screen as well as contemporary films that will show in dubbed versions and in their original language with Spanish subtitles.

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Cinemas

Balmes Multicines

Cinema with 12 screens (two in 3D) specialising in commercial films in their original language with subtitles in Spanish.

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Cinemas

Cinemes Maldà

In its latest incarnation, the well-loved Cinema Maldà is now showing indie and arthouse films. Cinema in original version with subtitles.

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Cinemas

Verdi HD

The five-screen Verdi and Verdi Park, its four-screen annexe on the next street, have transformed this corner of Gràcia with a diverse programme of independent, mainly European and Asian cinema. At peak times, chaos reigns; arrive early and make sure you don't confuse the line to enter for the line to buy tickets.

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Cinemas

Cinemes Méliès

This small, two-screen cinema is the nearest that Barcelona comes to an arthouse theatre, with an idiosyncratic roster of accessible classics alongside more recent films that aren't quite commercial enough for general release. This is the place to bone up on your Wilder, Antonioni, Hitchcock and others, with up to eight films per week.

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Cinemas

Renoir Floridablanca

Renoir-Floridablanca screens up to eight independent, offbeat American, British and Spanish films in original version per day, though note that programming tends towards the worthy.

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Cinemas

Verdi Park HD

The five-screen Verdi and Verdi Park, its four-screen annexe on the next street, have transformed this corner of Gràcia with a diverse programme of independent, mainly European and Asian cinema. At peak times, chaos reigns; arrive early and make sure you don't confuse the line to enter for the line to buy tickets.

Read more
Cinemas

Filmoteca de Catalunya

The government-funded Filmoteca is a little dry for some tastes, offering comprehensive seasons of cinema's more recondite auteurs alongside better-known classics. Overlapping cycles last two or three weeks, with each film screened at least twice at different times. Books of 10 and 50 tickets bring down the price per film to a negligible amount. The 'Filmo' also runs an excellent library of film-related books, videos and magazines.

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Cinemas

Yelmo Cines Icaria

This vast multiplex has all the atmosphere of the near-empty mall that surrounds it. But what it lacks in charm, it makes up for in choice, with 15 screens offering blockbusters plus mainstream foreign and Spanish releases. Weekends are seat-specific, so queues tend to be slow-moving; it's worth booking your seat online before you go.

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Our favourites

Film

Mad Max: Fury Road

The fourth instalment of George Miller’s punky post-apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’ saga feels like a tornado tearing through a tea party. In an age of weightless movie spectacles, here’s a movie that feels like it was made by kidnapping $150 million of studio money, fleeing with it to the Namibian desert, and sending footage back to Hollywood like the amputated body parts of a ransomed hostage.It’s been 30 years since we last watched Mel Gibson’s Max Rockatansky drift into the horizon in ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’, but the Road Warrior hasn’t aged a day. He’s been transformed from a reluctantly charismatic Gibson into a terse Tom Hardy. Yet much has changed in the wasteland that Max wanders. While previous episodes were set amid the rubble of a ruined world, the colourful hyper-saturated landscapes of this new movie locate the story closer to the dawn of a new civilization than the twilight of an old one. Things begin inside the mountain stronghold ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), an inbred monster who lords over a society that guzzles its citizens like fuel. Women are drained for their breast milk, girls are farmed for their wombs, and men like Max are used as vehicle ornaments called ‘bloodbags’. Unsurprisingly, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Joe’s one-armed lieutenant, is ready for a change. When she drives off with his prized concubines, the warlord unleashes a suicidal eight-cylinder army on their trail. Pretty much the entire film is a screaming death race down

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Read more
Film

Song of the Sea

It really doesn’t matter that Song of the Sea tells a story as thin as the line of a pencil or that this tribute to the wistful magic of Irish folklore is so transparently indebted to the films of Hayao Miyazaki that its most crucial moments feel like they were made in Japan. What matters is that Tomm Moore has followed up 2009’s The Secret of Kells with another heartfelt and gorgeously rendered work of 2-D animation, its every blue-gray blotch of watercolor a defiant rejoinder to the rounded plastic sameness that dominates contemporary cartoons. Modernizing an ancient myth with a visual approach that splits the difference between cute and Cubism, Song of the Sea tells the tale of a widowed lighthouse keeper (voiced by the perfectly tender Brendan Gleeson) who decides that the blustery Irish coast is no place to raise his precocious 10-year-old son, Ben (David Rawle), and his curiously mute daughter, Saoirse, who may or may not be half-seal. The kids are shipped to Dublin, and the brunt of the film chronicles their enchanted journey back home, the odyssey unraveling into an exquisitely painted mess when the siblings are waylaid by an old owl witch with a broken heart (Fionnula Flanagan).  No matter how frayed the storytelling becomes, the animation is always suffused with a gentle melancholy; Song of the Sea isn’t just pretty, it’s genuinely transporting. If Moore’s film is so busy ladling on the sweet ethereal frosting of its world that Ben and Saoirse feel less like chara

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Read more
Film

Inherent Vice

Ever since 'Boogie Nights', the untamable Paul Thomas Anderson ('There Will Be Blood', 'The Master') has thrilled us with the mania of self-made men – porn stars, game-show hosts, oil prospectors and cultists. Now, for a change, the director grabs you by the nose: 'Inherent Vice', Anderson's sexy, swirling latest (based on Thomas Pynchon's exquisite stoner mystery set at the dawn of the '70s), is a wondrously fragrant movie, emanating sweat, the stink of pot clouds and the press of hairy bodies. It's a film you sink into, like a haze on the road, even as it jerks you along with spikes of humour. 'Go back to the beach, you smell like a patchouli fart,' growls Josh Brolin's flat-topped LA detective, Bigfoot Bjornsen, to our dazed hero, Doc (Joaquin Phoenix), an unlikely private eye, but one you can't help rooting for. We're in a semifictional California, sort of like the real thing but scented with hallucinogenic behaviour, weird restaurant menus and Manson-era paranoia. (Maybe that's not so altered at all.) 'Inherent Vice' is the first time that Pynchon's elaborately dense prose has made it to the screen, and for good reason. Finally, with this novel, a recognisable thrust could be seen: an us-versus-them hippie fantasia decked out in the trappings of noir. Anderson doesn't so much adapt the novel as hawk it up on the screen proudly, in faithful chunks. (His screenplay is said to have received the author's blessing.) And the movie he's ended up with is astounding: literary, l

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Film

Shaun the Sheep the Movie

Only Aardman – the British creators of Wallace & Gromit, Morph and other lovable, mouldable characters – could find an irresistible movie in industrial amounts of clay and a story of an amnesiac farmer and his flock at loose in the big city. Much of the beauty of this big-hearted, stop-motion-animated caper (a spin-off of the insanely successful kids TV series) is the entire absence of decipherable language (instead imagine grunts, mumbles, bleats and screams) as Shaun the Sheep tries to engineer a day off from Mossy Bottom Farm and instead causes the often-bewildered farmer to bang his head and wander off into the metropolis (which looks a lot like Bristol, where Aardman has its HQ). Amid the chaos, it’s sometimes hard to work out exactly which sheep is Shaun, but that doesn’t matter when there are great slapstick scenes in a hospital, a hair salon, a fancy restaurant and an ominous animal pound. Maybe an hour would have been enough, but even the slower patches have charm to burn.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Read more
More recommended films