Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

Wish I Was Here

  • Rated as: 2/5

No matter where Zach Braff gets his money from – Kickstarter (as in this case), Hollywood or the piggy bank – he still only knows how to make one kind of movie: cutesy, faux ironic, desperately emo and aggressively indie. In the case of 2004’s ‘Garden State’, early to the trend, he got away with it. But his shtick now seems fossilised, especially in the context of so many superior filmmakers (from Judd Apatow to Richard Linklater) mining the setup of anxious parenting for real insights. ‘Wish I Was Here’ has a too-familiar LA family in crisis: the glibly failing actor dad (Zach Braff), the long-suffering wife with her own dreams on hold (Kate Hudson), the precocious kids who’d benefit from a little personal attention. (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). (read more)

Jersey Boys

  • Rated as: 3/5

Imagine ‘Goodfellas’ without much in the way of stakes, and you’ll get Clint Eastwood’s pleasingly square and forgettable adaptation of the award-winning jukebox musical, which charts the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Like the stage show, the story is told through the eyes of each of the band members – Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) and Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) – each talking directly to camera. It’s a half-arsed gimmick that Eastwood and his screenwriters deploy haphazardly (Valli doesn’t even get his turn until the dewy-eyed final scene). (read more)

Before The Winter Chill

  • Rated as: 2/5

French writer-director Philippe Claudel had an arthouse hit in 2008 with ‘I’ve Loved You So Long’, a thoughtful thriller starring Kristin Scott Thomas. Here, Claudel reunites with his leading lady for a similarly family-centred mystery that keeps facts close to its chest. Scott Thomas is Lucie, a wealthy, self-contained Frenchwoman living in a modernist suburban home. But she’s not the main player: centrestage is Lucie’s ill-at-ease husband Paul (Daniel Auteuil), a neurosurgeon whose already raw nerves are further frayed when a young student, Lou (Leïla Bekhti), enters his life claiming to be an old patient and brandishing unexplained affection. (read more)

Hercules

  • Rated as: 2/5

Strap on your swordbelt, buckle your sandals and oil up your rippling six-pack, because here comes yet another interminable, CGI-drenched mythic mish-mash with far more money than brain cells. Dwayne Johnson (we’re no longer allowed to call him The Rock) plays the title character who – in this loose adaptation of Steve Moore’s comic book series – is a mercenary warrior who uses inflated tales of his divine parentage and epic labours to psych out his enemies. (read more)

Deliver Us from Evil

  • Rated as: 2/5

In his two previous horror films, ‘Sinister’ and ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’, director Scott Derrickson displayed more flair for supernatural spectacle and jump scares than for narrative logic or exploring underlying themes. His latest, based on ex-NYPD cop turned paranormal investigator Ralph Sarchie’s 2001 memoir, suffers from the same weaknesses. Eric Bana plays Sarchie, a lapsed Catholic with a murky past, an adrenaline-junkie partner and an uncanny ‘radar’ for abuse cases involving wives, children and pets. (read more)

What If?

  • Rated as: 3/5

It’s easy to joke about Daniel Radcliffe (not in a mean way, more like teasing a little brother). But we’ll have to stop now, because Harry Potter is all grown-up and he can act. He’s lovely in this hipster-ish romcom, playing a medical school dropout who falls in love with a girl (Zoe Kazan) at a house party in Toronto. She leaves it too late, waiting till he’s walking her home, to tell him her relationship status: ‘My boyfriend will be wondering what happened to me.’ As her friend says later, she’s ‘mind-cheating’. The rest of the film is a will-they-won’t-they (what do you think?) update of ‘When Harry Met Sally’. (read more)

Locke

  • Rated as: 4/5

British screenwriter Steven Knight has always shown a keen eye for real life, with his London-set scripts for ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ and ‘Eastern Promises’. But he’s often tended to lay on the plot a bit thick – not least in his recent debut as a director, 2013’s ‘Hummingbird’, which gave us Jason Statham as a homeless vigilante on the rampage in Soho. It was hardly Ken Loach. But with ‘Locke’, his second feature, Knight delivers a story that could hardly be more taut. For its entire running time the only character on screen is Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a Welsh building-site manager driving across England in an attempt to juggle several fragile pieces of his work and home lives. (read more)

More film reviews

Recommended films

Boyhood

  • Rated as: 5/5

Begin Again

  • Rated as: 4/5

Locke

  • Rated as: 4/5

Chef

  • Rated as: 4/5