Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

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)

22 Jump Street

  • Rated as: 3/5

No one, not even its creators, was prepared for the runaway success of the 2012 reboot of ’80s cop-kitsch TV series ‘21 Jump Street’. Instead of a cheapo cash-in, here was a charming, smartly self-mocking romp fronted by the most likeable and unlikely comedy double act in recent memory – Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. This follow-up scores cynical laughs from the idea that it could never match up to the gleeful surprise factor of the original. And it doesn’t – but that’s kind of okay. ‘I want you to do exactly what you did last time,’ barks the Chief of Police to undercover goons Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) – and it’s a maxim the movie takes to heart. (read more)

Step Up 5: All In

  • Rated as: 3/5

‘Why does there always have to be a huge great dance-off?’ muses one character just before a huge great dance-off. Why? Because that's the ‘Step Up’ way. Operating in a universe of physical illogicality as fantastical as any Busby Berkeley musical, the ‘Step Up’ series is an impeccably choreographed law unto itself. More predictable than a Bond movie, the good guys will always triumph via the medium of dance, after the requisite set-backs, and that’s just fine, because no-one watches a ‘Step Up’ movie for the suspenseful plot – the devil is in the details. In the case of ‘Step Up 5: All In’, the devil in question is Alexxa Brava, a dodgy Vegas pop diva offering impoverished dance troupes a coveted three year Caesar’s Palace residency. (read more)

Belle

  • Rated as: 3/5

Sometimes you find yourself wishing for an alternative version of the film unfolding before your eyes. ‘Belle’ is a good-looking and exceedingly polite film where perhaps a more complex one with less good manners would have been better. It’s the story of a mixed-race girl, Dido Belle (played first by Lauren Julien-Box, then Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who was brought up by an aristocratic family in Hampstead’s Kenwood House in the late 1700s. Dido was the daughter of a high-born naval officer and a black woman about whom very little is known. (read more)

Khumba

  • Rated as: 3/5

This South African family animation tells of a little zebra who, born with few stripes, is ostracised by the herd, accused of being a bad omen. ‘No stripes, no rain’, bellows an elder as the last drops evaporate from their trusty watering hole. When Khumba (voiced by Jake T Austin) chances on a map locating a utopian lake, he grabs the chance to prove his worth and heads out into the wild blue yonder – and a date with one-eyed killer leopard Phango (Liam Neeson). ‘Khumba’ nods to South Africa’s ‘rainbow nation’ with its range of characters of differing backgrounds (the dim Afrikaaner springboks are a highlight). It’s formulaic, but also largely entertaining, quite touching, occasionally amusing and competently animated. Just enough, in other words, to keep restless kiddies from wandering off into the veld.

Mr Morgan's Last Love

  • Rated as: 2/5

This sentimental Michael Caine drama is so dull that doctors could prescribe it to treat insomnia. What the hell, they could probably use it to medically induce a coma. Barely even bothering with the accent, Caine is Matthew Morgan, a retired American philosophy professor living in Paris. A cantankerous old fart, he refuses to speak French, but remains in Paris because that’s where he lived with his wife, who died three years earlier. Matthew gets a new lease of life – don’t they always – when he meets a young dance teacher, Pauline (Clémence Poésy), on the bus. This is a May-to-September romance without any actual romance. Does Michael fancy Pauline? (Who wouldn’t, she’s Clémence Poésy?). But the story is too tasteful and shy to go there.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

  • Rated as: 3/5

In 2013 Michael Bay tried to make a real movie: the underrated ‘Pain & Gain’, a Miami crime comedy with actual performances and a satirical bite. He was mocked. So it feels like Bay has returned to his normal beat – big robots, explosions and tush shots – with a vengeance and a chip on his shoulder. It’s as if he’s saying: fine, here’s what you expect from me. Choke on it. For this fourth film in the series, Bay deadens our senses with spectacle, but it’s impossible for a director this committed to creating visual fireworks not to pull off a megablast once in a while. (read more)

Short Term 12

  • Rated as: 3/5

American critics fell hard for this thoughtful US indie about the staff of a foster care home for troubled teens: the film’s Rotten Tomatoes page is littered with words like ‘exceptional’ and  ‘devastating’. Another adjective that comes up a lot is ‘authentic’, so maybe it’s a matter of cultural disconnect (the Americans do tend to wear their emotions a little more openly than the rest us). But viewers on this side of the pond might feel more manipulated than convinced by this weighty but overwrought melodrama. In one thing, however, we’re all agreed: up-and-comer Brie Larson is enormously enjoyable in the central role of Grace, the care worker who finds her attachment to the centre and its occupants overshadowing her personal life. (read more)

More film reviews

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