Browse our selection of the best things to do in Birmingham this weekend, so there's no excuse to let your downtime go to waste. Whether you're mad for music, theatre is your bag or you want to catch an art exhibition, you'll find it all right here.
If you're looking for things to do in Birmingham beyond this weekend, plan ahead with our round-up of things to do this month.
Things to do in Birmingham this weekend
Films showing this weekend
Take a few seconds to think back over Wes Anderson’s films and imagine how a stop-motion animated version of Roald Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ might look and sound if directed by this Euro-leaning, Texan caricaturist. Would it, like ‘The Life Aquatic…’ and ‘Rushmore’, offer a hyper-realistic uniform of sets and costumes? Would it, like ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ and ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, explore an eccentric family, with a father figure looming large and relatives at loggerheads? Would the soundtrack include the Rolling Stones? Would there be a role for Bill Murray? Jason Schwartzman? Owen Wilson? Would it be hip? Would the comedy have a gentlemanly sophistication and even be wilfully exclusive? Would it trade in emotions but feel distancing at times? Of course, as anyone familiar with Anderson’s films will know, the answer to all these questions is yes. So it turns out: this is an animation, but it’s also a Wes Anderson movie. The difference is that it’s light on its feet compared to the heavy machinery of ‘The Life Aquatic…’ or the ponderous comedy of ‘The Darjeeling Limited’. It’s also a kids’ film, which allows Anderson and his gang – is there another director so collegiate? – to have fun. Anderson himself voices a fey estate agent, and the film has the pace of a caper. What remains to be seen is how audiences, especially children, will react to the jolty, bristling look of stop-motion animation in the age of CGI and digital 3D. The loving, handmade, purist look of the fil
Director : Marcel Carné This film ranked #3 in Time Out's list of the 100 greatest French films. Click here to see the full list. In Marcel Carné’s rich, literary romance from 1945 ('France's answer to "Gone with the Wind'!"), four men tussle for the affections of one woman, the conflicted, sphinx-like Garence (Carné regular Arletty), an ice maiden in the league of Marlene Dietrich who, in nearly every shot, has her eyes masked by a beam of light. Such ethereal, delicately cinematic touches add to a film which is content to let a dazzling, witty script (by Jacques Prévert), sumptuous set design and exceptional performers lend the fiction its lifeblood.
However cynical a pose you try to maintain, Paddington Bear will find the chinks in your armour. Voiced with perfect innocence by Ben Whishaw and gorgeously animated by Framestore, this profoundly likeable bear consistently toes the line of maximum charm without slipping into schmaltz. Miraculously, that’s also as true of this sequel as it was of his first big-screen outing, as the film goes bigger and darker without losing focus on the small acts of kindness that make its ursine hero great.As we rejoin Paddington and his adoptive family, the Browns, our hero is searching for the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s (voiced by Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday. He finds just the ticket in Mr Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) antique shop: a unique pop-up book. But while Paddington is saving up for it, a nefarious rival steals the book and frames Paddington for the crime. It’s no great spoiler to reveal that the baddie is Hugh Grant’s faded actor Phoenix Buchanan, a flamboyant weirdo who’s calibrated his levels of high camp to within reach of the summit of Everest. The plot has a whodunnit-and-how-do-we-prove-it element here that is a little more complex than last time, but crucially director Paul King and his co-writer Simon Farnaby once again show a perfect feel for Paddington’s humour, strengths and effect on the world. The bear’s guileless politeness even enables him to win over Brendan Gleeson’s Knuckles McGinty, the terrifying bully who rules Portobello Prison with an iron ladle. T
A sweet, deeply personal portrayal of female adolescence that’s more attuned to the bonds between girlfriends than casual flings with boys, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s beautiful 'Lady Bird' flutters with the attractively loose rhythms of youth. Anchored by an expressive mother-daughter story in which unconditional love and enmity often seem one and the same, and elevated by an entrancing Saoirse Ronan (easily among the best and most intimate actors of her generation), Gerwig’s accomplished second directorial effort makes you wish she’d spend more time behind the camera. With her keen ear for female familiarity (she co-wrote 'Frances Ha' and 'Mistress America'), Gerwig sets 'Lady Bird' during that exhilarating, confusing period known as high school senior year, when childhood-defining friendships start slipping away, hormones begin calling the shots and a better existence seems to await elsewhere. We follow the rebellious, opinionated Christine 'Lady Bird' McPherson (Ronan, vanishing inside her funky, disorderly character) as she completes her final year of Catholic school in 2002. This is right after 9/11, during the Iraq War (often referenced in the background) and before cell phones got smart, further complicating teenagers’ lives. 'Lady Bird' spends her days quarreling with her equally strong-willed mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf, invincible), slacking off with her good-natured best friend, Julie (a pitch-perfect Beanie Feldstein), and dreaming of a liberal East Coast
For all their global dominance, everybody wants these superhero movies to be better: funnier, smarter, more inclusive, more super. A huge step in the right direction, ‘Black Panther’ is that dream come true. Proudly African – even if its Africa comes in the form of the fictional country of Wakanda, a powerhouse of secret technologies – Marvel’s latest is, from top to bottom, a conscious reversal of racial paradigms. Handsomely mounted by ‘Creed’ director Ryan Coogler and starring an enviable slate of black actors that makes cameoing comics godhead Stan Lee almost seem lost, the film is provocative and satisfying in ways that are long overdue, like its ornate, culturally dense production design and the deeper subtexts of honor, compassion and destiny. Wakanda’s young king, T’Challa (a dignified Chadwick Boseman, well-seasoned after playing onscreen versions of James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall), recognizes that the world outside his peaceful realm is a divisive place. Still, even as his own armor-clad excursions as Black Panther set up an internal tension between isolationism and responsibility (yes, this is the rare blockbuster with something on its mind), tensions within Wakanda—fomented by exile-turned-rebel Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, on fire)—threaten to bring him down. In their script, Coogler and Joe Robert Cole take inspiration from the Black Panther’s 50-year history on the page, including a dazzling current run by author Ta-Nehisi Coates, an
Reliably, director Guillermo del Toro’s mind goes to squishy, sexual places. He’s a true voluptuary, not just the guy behind those bony creatures from 'Pan’s Labyrinth' but also, per last year’s Crimson Peak', a believer in grand, melodramatic flourishes. Del Toro’s latest, the tremblingly romantic 'The Shape of Water', should be an orgasmic flood for his fans, who want their fantasies served with a side of adultness. If you can imagine an aggressively adorable (and somewhat effortful) version of 'Amélie' in which our hero sleeps with 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon', then you'll totally be feeling this. It’s 1962 and Elisa (Sally Hawkins, delivering a flow of enraptured expressions) is a mute loner who works – somewhat improbably – in a secret government facility in Baltimore. (Go with it.) Even though Del Toro hammers you over the head with every green-hued retro detail, try to stay focused on Elisa. She loves watching musicals on her tiny TV, and she adores her closeted gay neighbour, an illustrator named Giles (Richard Jenkins, also the film’s narrator). Basically, though, her life is empty, until a metal tank is wheeled into her office, containing an organism that could be a 'god,' a merman or an alien. Made of sinewy muscles and quivering scales (he’s performed, balletically, by del Toro regular Doug Jones), it turns out this 'asset' is actually Elisa’s Romeo, and – as she starts to flirt with the mystery man, feeding him hard-boiled eggs and pressing up against th
Hitchcock used to say that if one of his movies was working, you could follow it with the sound off. By the same measure, he’d have approved of this taciturn Chilean character piece. It’s a quietly devastating story of prejudice that often seems to be powered solely via the infinitesimal registers of its lead, startling newcomer (and the country’s first transgender actress) Daniela Vega. You barely need to refer to the subtitles to know what’s going on: it’s written all over her face. Vega plays Marina Vidal, a trans lounge singer seeing a much older man, printing proprietor Orlando (Francisco Reyes). Their rapport suggests a long-term relationship full of easy certainties and shared realities. But when she sings ‘Your love is like yesterday’s newspaper’ as he watches on at her club, it’s weirdly prophetic. Before the day is out, he’s lying dead on a hospital slab, felled by chest pains and badly bruised by a subsequent fall. Little does she know, but she’ll soon be stripped of her stake in their life together by his grasping, disapproving family – right down to their beloved dog. Before all that, the cues of a traditional thriller are toyed with in an opening that if not actively Hitchcockian, is at least Hitchcock-ish. A gruff female detective quizzes Marina about Orlando’s death, suspicions raised by her flight from the hospital, as Matthew Herbert’s score helps amp up the brooding atmosphere. Will she have Orlando’s death pinned on her? And what’s in that mysterious loc
With this impressionistic and often daringly enigmatic thriller taken from a short novel by Jonathan Ames, British fimmaker Lynne Ramsay (‘Ratcatcher’, ‘Morvern Callar’) is back on top form with a vengeance – quite literally, though that emotion is not hers but part of the story. ‘You Were Never Really Here’ centres on burly, big-bearded, taciturn hitman Joe (Joaquin Phoenix in determinedly unglamorous mode), whom we encounter in the opening scene already carrying out a contract – though we never find out who’s the victim or what it’s all about. In fact, Ramsay’s film gives mere visual and aural hints as to Joe’s backstory, motives and character. The briefest of flashbacks suggest he’s been in the military and the police, and that as a child he suffered a brutal father. But apart from seeing him carry out his work – his preferred weapon a hammer – all we know about Joe is that he lives with and cares for his elderly mother. Still, we do witness his dealings with a contractor, who lines up a job for him: to discover the whereabouts of and return to her politician father an underage girl abducted into sex slavery. All this may bring to mind ‘Taxi Driver’, but Ramsay’s film is very different. Not wanting to distract us with the precise details of the storyline, or those of the world Joe inhabits, she focuses instead on his inner life. She uses Phoenix’s subtly expressive face and body language, a complex soundtrack, an elastic editing style and Thomas Townend’s wonderful cinem
If you have a problem with fart gags and scatological slapstick... why are you reading a review for a movie called ‘Captain Underpants’? Adapted from the hugely popular series of knockabout kids’ books by American author Dav Pilkey, this hectic cartoon aims for broad laughs with its story of two prank-loving boys who semi-accidentally hypnotise their cruel principal into believing he’s a Y-fronts-wearing superhero. Thanks to a feverishly fast-paced script by Nicholas Stoller, the man behind ‘The Muppets’ reboot, it also sneaks in some actual satire and a touch of heart among all the giant toilets and pre-pubescent sniggering. George (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) have been friends for ever, hiding out in George’s treehouse sketching comic books about their invented action hero, Captain Underpants. But when the evil Mr Krupp (Ed Helms) threatens to separate them for life, George whips out his cereal-box hypnotism ring and goes to work. Soon, Krupp is rampaging around in his pants trying – without great success – to save the world. Crammed with shrieking kids, flying bog rolls and a villain called Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll), ‘Captain Underpants’ can definitely get a bit much. But just when your brain’s starting to ache, the film chucks in another subversive crack about America’s failing school system, or a genuinely hilarious sock-puppet-animated flashback. It’s been an absolutely disastrous summer for kids’ movies – here’s one that parents migh
As irresistible as the fresh carrots that grow in Mr. McGregor’s garden, Peter Rabbitgives Beatrix Potter’s classic a modern makeover, complete with intricate animation, cute quips for older audiences and a sweet-natured journey that has you rooting for a happy ending for all involved. Vying for gorgeous grounds and his human next-door neighbor (Rose Byrne), the audacious Peter Rabbit (confidently voiced by James Corden) goes head-to-head with sour Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), who unexpectedly inherits the beautiful property of his estranged late uncle. The only thing the finicky Londoner detests more than the English countryside is the “vermin” inhabiting the land, so naturally we’re braced for a duel. Peter’s shenanigans, though certainly adorable, could have been curtailed for the sake of pacing: One electrocuting gag is plenty. But the lovable supporting crew—Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Cotton-Tail (Daisy Ridley) and Benjamin (Colin Moody)—makes up for any overdone mischief. Some may cringe at director-cowriter Will Gluck’s modifications (a bunny that twerks, music from the likes of Vampire Weekend and the ubiquitous Rachel Platten), and the heart-wrenching backstory of Peter’s parents might not be appropriate for the smallest of bunnies. (Save this one for young rabbits who can handle more mature content.) It’s certainly a new spin, but those who make the leap will do so vigorously.