Got your social diary sorted yet? We're here to help - there are tons of great things to do in Manchester this week. Have a look through our round-up of all the best events and films that Manchester has to offer. You'll find theatre, art, music and more in our list, so have a look and plan a week's worth of things to do in Manchester.
Things to do in Manchester this week
The Wanted's Tom Parker takes on the role of T-Birds heartthrob, Danny Zuko, in this ever-popular musical. Follow the highs and lows of friendships, enemies and romance in this 1950s-era tale, told through unforgettable classic numbers such as You're The One That I Want, Grease Lightin', We Go Together and Sandy. Directed by David Gilmore.
Films showing this week
Writer-director Anna Biller is clearly a fan of the powerful women in Russ Meyer’s sexploitation movies – films like ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’ (1965). Her work, including 2007’s ‘Viva’ and now the hugely entertaining ‘The Love Witch’, seems plucked from the same Playboy-era universe of huge hairdos, heavy make-up and voracious female appetites. But Meyer could never make a psychodrama as sophisticated as this. ‘The Love Witch’ is cloaked in a retro wardrobe and soundtrack (much of the music, by Ennio Morricone, is sourced from ’60s thrillers) but is loaded with irony and a fluid sense of identity. Samantha Robinson (looking like she’s stepped out of a centrefold) stars as Elaine, who drives up the California coast away from her failed marriage. But don’t call her disenchanted. If anything, Elaine’s got more magic than most, casting sexual spells over unlucky men. We also learn pretty quickly that she’s a serial killer. Elaine makes her way through a parade of male caricatures – a French literature professor, a frustrated married man, a lantern-jawed cop – but she’s always in control, toying with their sense of entitlement. Biller’s dialogue is intentionally stilted; she draws attention to the banal come-ons that once passed for romantic repartee, but also to the contortions that women had to strike in order to play the game. And nobody, it turns out, plays it better than Elaine does. But at what cost? ‘The Love Witch’ ends on a daring note of psychosis, launching the
The first miracle of Barry Jenkins’s exquisite coming-of-age drama ‘Moonlight’ – and this heartbreaker of a film is filled with miracles – happens around a kitchen table. We’ve already seen quiet, sullen Chiron (Alex Hibbert), a 10-year-old with frightened eyes, being chased by bullies. The two adults sitting around the table aren’t his parents (one of them is actually the drug dealer selling crack to Chiron’s addict mum), but somehow they know the exact words to say when the boy softly asks them, ‘Am I a faggot?’ Jenkins, an indie director whose first feature, ‘Medicine for Melancholy’ (2008), delved into a whole universe of African-American issues rarely explored onscreen, now goes even further, and with an uncommonly poetic voice. The barely-getting-by Miami of ‘Moonlight’ – a place of needle-strewn drug dens and cheapo diners – bears little resemblance to the one we usually see in the movies. But the film is more radical for articulating an internal sexual turbulence that doesn’t fit the stereotype. It’s not the one laid down by ‘Brokeback Mountain’ or other key gay stories but something new, seething with anxiety, similar to the vibe you feel in the tense, ticking beats of Frank Ocean. Chiron grows into a pinch-faced, haunted teenager (Ashton Sanders), the second portrayal of the character, who is played by three actors in the film. (Trevante Rhodes’s muscle-bound adult Chiron, hiding his pain behind a scary facade, is yet to come.) The script is based on Tarell McCran
Amid all the shifting mirrored surfaces and hazy ambiguities of Olivier Assayas's bewitching, brazenly unconventional ghost story, this much can be said with certainty: Kristen Stewart has become one hell of an actress. The former 'Twilight' star was easily the standout feature of Assayas's last film, the slightly stilted study of actors 'Clouds of Sils Maria', quietly yanking the rug from under the feet of Juliette Binoche. Here, Stewart doesn't need to steal the film from anyone: she's in virtually every crisp frame of it, holding the camera's woozy gaze with her own quizzical, secretive stare and knotted body language. Her performance is a galvanising human influence on the film, even as her character, introverted American-in-Paris Maureen, seems forever on the verge of voluntary evaporation. An haute couture clothes buyer and general dogsbody to an insufferable A-list celebrity – shades of 'Sils Maria', then, though Assayas is on a very different thematic path this time – practising medium Maureen is haunted, in all senses, by the recent death of her twin brother. Stalking his former abode at night seeking a final communication, she encounters a spirit or two – but whose? And are they following her, or are the insidiously instructive, anonymous texts that start invading her phone from another amorphous entity? As Maureen's already fragile composure begins to fray, it's hard to tell if she's plagued more by absence or uncanny presence: even her boss is barely visible to
The British explorer Percy Fawcett – driven crazy by his obsession to find a lost Amazonian city – vanished in the jungle in 1925. His story has everything you could possibly want in an adventure tale: treacherous colleagues, cannibals with bubbling pots, spears flying out of nowhere, shrunken heads, piranhas, even an opera troupe singing Mozart in the wild. But in the hands of ‘The Immigrant’ director James Gray (adapting David Grann’s thrilling 2009 book), it has something that most modern filmmakers would skim over in favour of action: a soulful sense of unresolved wanderlust, and an exquisitely developed tension between family responsibilities and the call of greatness over the horizon. Shot by mighty cinematographer Darius Khondji (‘Seven’), ‘The Lost City of Z’ feels like it comes out of that epic 1970s moment when filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola and Werner Herzog dived into the mud on their own personal tests of will. Gray works at a relaxed pace; this isn’t ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. Instead, he places the forward momentum wholly on leading actor Charlie Hunnam (producer Brad Pitt originally intended to star himself). His occasional coarseness is a perfect match for Fawcett’s early frustrations as a colonel officer from a modest background – or, as one snob puts it, has been ‘rather unfortunate in his choice of ancestors’. A Bolivian mapmaking job presents an opportunity for advancement and, with his bushy bearded aide Henry (Robert Pattinson), Fawcett leaves b
A man comes up a long, dusty road to a house on a hill. That could be the start of many horror films – in fact, it is – but none of them do what debuting writer-director Nicolas Pesce manages in his shocking ‘The Eyes of My Mother’. We quickly notice that the man in question is unwell: giggly, wide-eyed, armed with a huge pistol and the desire to flaunt it. But still, even he doesn’t know he’s just invaded a home where the slicing of flesh is a way of life. There’s a young girl living there, and she’s a fast learner. Excuse the vagueness, but some surprises are worth keeping. Shooting in ominous black and white (often from a distance), Pesce has crafted an exquisite creepshow that pays homage to the mightiest of fear films, Tobe Hooper’s relentless ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, while still having a coppery taste all its own. The movie skips through the years; sceptical viewers will wonder if such domestic brutality could go unnoticed for so long. But of course it can: ‘The Eyes of My Mother’ already feels unwittingly timely, a tale from the American heartland tinged with revenge, sex and suffering. If you can stomach the fear, go. Confident hands created this film, and its nightmare will linger for weeks.
All you really have to know about this surprising and emotive music doc is that you should see it. Anyone who enjoyed, say, ‘The Buena Vista Social Club’ or ‘Anvil: The Story of Anvil’, will surely go for this too. It tells the unlikely story of Sixto Rodriguez, a gifted but way-under-the-radar Detroit-based Hispanic singer-songwriter, and, like those other films, it enshrines a deeply moving idea that, in our cynical, superficial world, an authentic spirit will somehow, somewhere find its way to listeners’ hearts.It’s also the remarkably round-the-houses route of Rodriguez’s odyssey which makes ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ so intriguing. But, to be honest, the less you know about it, the richer your experience will be.Part of the strangeness of the Rodriguez story is that he was never a star in the first place. Director Malik Bendjelloul treats us to generous slices of his early ’70s albums ‘Cold Fact’ and ‘Coming from Reality’ (recorded in the old Lansdowne studios in Holland Park, fact fans). The quality of the material is so striking – phantasmagorical lyrics shape a folk-pop hybrid comparable to Cat Stevens and Nick Drake – that it’s hard to believe the records disappeared without trace after their initial US release. It gets even odder from there, since the filmmaker actually came across the Rodriguez phenomenon in South Africa, where his music had spread like wildfire among a white middle class resistant to the apartheid regime. By the mid-’90s – as the film recounts via
Whether or not you give a mouse dropping about 3D (and Disney has done a smashing job on the refit), what a treat it is to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ again. It was among the studio’s crop of early 1990s hits, but in look and feel harks back to the Disney glory days, delivering a rush of sunnily confident, cockle-warming innocence. ‘Be nice and nice things will happen’ is the message, as plucky heroine Belle dodges salivating wolves to rescue her dad from the Beast’s castle. It’s witty and charming, with glorious Busby Berkeley-style numbers. And for sheer inventiveness you can’t beat the talking objects in the castle: Mrs Pots, the cockney teapot and her chinaware brood; a stagecoach that scuttles like a spider; the footstool dog waggling his tassels. Magic.
The breakout star of 2014’s 'The Lego Movie' now gets his own action-packed, completely batshit superhero spinoff. The first Lego film was a real surprise: what could have been a lazy cash-in turned out to be sweet, funny and fiendishly original in the way it acknowledged and celebrated its own artificiality. And one of the film’s highlights was its take on Batman: a self-involved millionaire playboy who dresses in black body armour to fight crime and chase chicks. The inept egomaniac is a time-honoured comedy archetype – think Jack Sparrow, Daffy Duck or Donald Trump – but thanks to razor-sharp writing and Will Arnett’s snarling, impossible-to-hate vocal performance, this Batman felt fresh and fun. Happily, the same goes for his solo debut, a ferociously paced, wildly silly pastiche of those comic-book blockbusters we’re all getting a bit sick of. The plot may draw on another creaky comic cliché – Batman inadvertently adopts adorable orphan Robin (Michael Cera) and has no idea what to do with him – but ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ is so jam-packed with ideas, asides and barmy cameos (Lego Bane! Lego Marlon Brando! Lego gremlins!) that there’s barely time to notice. Some of it might go over kids’ heads – there’s a running gag about ‘Jerry Maguire’ that will bemuse anyone under 35 – but they will lap up the frenetic action and slapstick. Like its predecessor, ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ also manages to find an emotional centre among all this mayhem. Batman may be outwardly invincible
At the start of 'Elle', the final credit to appear in the darkness (over the sounds of fucking) tells us that we’re about to watch a Paul Verhoeven film. Really? Call it a delicious redundancy. 'Elle' might just be the most Verhoeveny film yet, due to its willingness to push buttons, explore transgressive territory and take constant delight in venturing where the vast majority of filmmakers would fear to tread even lightly. This is, after all, the man who gave us 'Basic Instinct' and 'Showgirls'. Adapted by David Birke from the novel by Philippe Djian, 'Elle' has an ace up its sleeve in the form of Isabelle Huppert, who gives a fierce (and impeccably dressed) performance as Michele, a video-game–company founder living in Paris. Those midcoital moans we heard? Michele is being raped in her living room by a ski-masked assailant. Already, her life’s been hard: she’s the daughter of a notorious mass murderer. Perhaps growing up despised by the media and the public is part of why she does not respond conventionally to her attacker but begins to seek him out, in a challenging story that will surely upset a lot of people (not that Verhoeven minds). 'Elle' is really at least three films at once: First, there’s the comedy of manners involving Michele’s adult son, mother, ex-husband and their respective other halves. A dinner party plays out exquisitely, with many tiny moments to cherish, not least Michele forgetting – or bitchily pretending to forget – the name of her Liza Minnelli–
The premise of this second feature from Kleber Mendonça Filho, the Brazilian writer-director of 'Neighboring Sounds', sounds like a recipe for sentimentality and hollow triumphalism. When Clara, a 65-year-old widow and retired music critic, refuses to sell the beloved beach apartment she’s lived in for most of her life, she finds herself under attack not only from a powerful property company but from former friends; even members of her own family question her judgment. Happily, Mendonça Filho avoids the pitfalls of feelgood cinema, creating a drama that’s credible, complex and very satisfying. Key to his successful sidestepping of cliché is the casting of Sonia Braga, whose evident strength, intelligence and vitality are essential to the character of the embattled but stubborn Clara. Despite having been stricken by breast cancer back in the 1980s (the setting for a brief prologue that reveals her attachment to the same apartment) and lost her husband, she has raised a family, made a name for herself as a writer and retained her enthusiasm for music in particular and life in general. Braga’s charismatic performance ensures that we never pity Clara but merely hope that she’ll manage to survive the increasingly aggressive tactics of the company determined to buy her out—or, perhaps, prove to her just how unsafe it can be for a person of her age to live alone in a run-down building almost anybody can walk into. As the story unfolds, it also expands; besides being a study of a w