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
Award-winning actor Dean Elliott writes and directs a 50th anniversary celebration of the well known musical duo. The cast are accompanied by a full live band and brass orchestra, performing all the hits including Mrs Robinson, Cecilia, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Homeward Bound. Featuring original photos and film footage. Not suitable for under 8s.
Ray Cooney's Olivier Award-winning comedy returns to the stage. Things go disastrously wrong at the Westminster Hotel when Richard Wiley, a Government Junior Minister, plans to spend the evening with Jane Worthington, one of the Opposition's typists. Starring Shaun Williamson, Sue Holderness, Andrew Hall, Susie Amy and James Holmes.
Films showing this week
Masterfully addressing the American racial divide – past and present – director Raoul Peck’s six-years-in-the-making documentary, ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ thrums with a sense of history repeating itself. It’s inspired by 30 pages from the writer and intellectual James Baldwin’s unfinished final book, ‘Remember This House’. Before his death in 1987, Baldwin intended to tell the story of being black in America through the lives – and deaths – of three of his friends, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers. Peck does a magnificent job of honouring Baldwin’s concept in the film, counterposing images from the civil rights movement with clips from today’s protests and police beatings. Bringing a sense of gravitas to Baldwin’s words is Samuel L Jackson, whose non-furious narration is his finest performance to date – his almost resigned delivery deepening the emotional frustration. We do actually hear from Baldwin too, in some calmly defiant footage from a late ’60s talkshow, as he drags on a cigarette and speaks truth to power. ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ joins a handful of recent documentaries exploring the history and legacy of slavery, along with evolving ideas of African-American identity – notably Ava DuVernay’s prison exposé ‘13th’ and Ezra Edelman’s eight-hour ‘OJ: Made in America’. But there hasn’t been as concise, targeted and rigorous an examination of the problems of being smart, outspoken and black, until now.
This delicate and thoughtful film – small in scale but brimming with the quiet passion of the title – imagines the life of the nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson, played with brittle, red-eyed intensity by ‘Sex and the City’ star Cynthia Dixon. It takes some commitment to adjust to the dialogue and manners of the era. But once you do, you’ll find that this is a film with endless wit, wordplay and wry observation hidden under its bonnet. Like Dickinson, it finds humour in pompousness, and it finds subtle ways – often through playing with light and time – of making us feel, strongly, how Dickinson ached with the joy and pain of her world. Written and directed by British filmmaker Terence Davies (‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’), ‘A Quiet Passion’ is set almost entirely within the Massachusetts home where Dickinson, who grew increasingly unwell and solitary in adulthood, was raised and lived until her death in 1886. We hear Dickinson’s poems, few of which were published in her lifetime, mostly in voiceover, while we witness the intensity of her relationship with her parents (Keith Carradine, Joanna Bacon) and siblings (Jennifer Ehle, Duncan Duff). The talk is pointed and careful in a household that savours the power and meaning of words, but it’s as much the imagery that makes this film such a painterly joy. A scene where we watch the Dickinson family, one by one, grow old in front of a photographer’s lens, is one for the ages. It’s rare to see a film that makes su
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
Style conquers soul in David Lynch’s celebrated 2001 Hollywood noir, a dusky, discursive thriller as glamorous and slippery as the city it celebrates. Famously, it was shot as a television pilot, following two women – dark, troubled Rita (Laura Harring) and bright-as-a-button Betty (Naomi Watts, remarkable) – as they navigate the glittering cinematic surface and the criminal underbelly of LA, encountering budding director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) en route. But the show never made it to air, so Lynch took the footage and built around it, adding a bruising anti-romantic climax and leaving plenty of threads hanging. Gleefully trashing traditional narrative, the result is peppered with moments of pure, neck-prickling sensation – the stark horror of the ‘creature behind Winkie’s’, the aching, inexplicable sadness of the Silencio nightclub. But unusually for Lynch, the emotional centre remains elusive: the relationship between Betty and Rita is remote, even prurient, while Adam’s scenes are amusing but lead nowhere. Visually it’s a wonder, lavishly stocked with deep shadows and crimson lips, while the mood of elegant despair is flawlessly maintained. But there’s not enough heart here to match the operatic, empathetic intensity of Lynch’s best work.
In the tradition of cringeworthy comedy characters like Alan Partridge and Steven Toast, the fictional actor Richard Thorncroft – star of this extremely funny Britcom – is a deluded has-been. Created by ‘Mighty Boosh’ actors Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, Thorncroft (played by Barratt) had a brush with celebrity in the ’80s as the star of the ‘Bergerac’-like TV detective show ‘Mindhorn’ set on the Isle of Man; Mindhorn’s bionic eye meant he could literally see the truth. Fame came crashing down when, pissed as a fart, he fell off a sofa on ‘Wogan’ while slagging off his co-star (Steve Coogan) and calling the Isle of Man ‘a shithole’. Fast forward 30 years, he’s living in a grotty flat in Walthamstow reduced to advertising a brand of man-Spanx. ‘Mindhorn’ definitely feels like a a half-hour sitcom episode stretched across 90 minutes. But Barratt and Farnaby have come up with a comedy action-thriller scenario that just about works, and the gags-per-minute ratio is through the roof. Thorncroft hasn’t had an audition in months when his agent calls with a request from the Isle of Man police. A psychotic ‘Mindhorn’ fan is on the loose and will only deal with Detective Mindhorn himself. Seizing the opportunity to grab a bit of publicity and raise his profile, Thorncroft signs up to play his famous character one last time. Thorncroft is a gem of comedy creation – played to perfection by Barratt. A rampant egomaniac, trapped in his own vanity, IRL he’d make your skin crawl. He wo
The true story of a long-forgotten Finnish featherweight’s crack at the world boxing title in the late 1960s is the jumping-off point for this unexpectedly lyrical drama about life’s innocent pleasures – and surely one of the year’s most charming arthouse treats. Captured in atmospheric 16mm black-and-white, Juho Kuosmanen’s film is a deceptively simple recreation of the run-up to the big bout. Jarkko Lahti is Olli Mäki, a wiry, modest 25-year-old country baker and fighter who struggles to cope with the hype whipped up by his ambitious manager. Really, he’d much prefer to be spending time with the new love he’s just met at a wedding. Thanks to Lahti’s instantly likeable performance, we’re soon rooting for him, and the movie slowly reveals itself as a parable about all that is lost when professionalism, greed and image-conscious PR muscle in on the purity of sport. With its loving recreation of the period, this is a must for vintage design fans. But what’s most remarkable is how the film somehow avoids the trap of twee nostalgia. Instead, it’s an authentic celebration of the timeless delights of country bike rides and skimming stones. Absolutely lovely.
It may have been a bleak period in human history, but the Second World War was a golden age for British cinema, as filmmakers discovered purpose and commitment in stories of resistance, fortitude and togetherness. 'An Education' director Lone Scherfig's witty, sophisticated and unexpectedly sober romcom pays tribute to those artists – writers, actors, directors, producers, even agents – and slips in a spry, timely investigation of women's roles in cinema for good measure. Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) comes to the attention of the Ministry of Information as a copywriter for newspaper cartoons. They're looking for someone to script a series of propaganda short films urging the women of Britain to work in factories and grow vegetables, and she's looking for a way to support her moody artist boyfriend Ellis (Jack Huston). But it's not long before Catrin is assisting writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) on an inspirational feature film script inspired by a pair of Southend sisters who stole their father's boat and headed to Dunkirk to assist in the evacuation. The story is largely bunk, the Ministry brass are always lurking and washed-up leading man Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) is forever sticking his oar in. But Catrin and Buckley get stuck in, transforming this simple fable into a rousing tribute to everyday British pluck. Like its film-within-a-film, 'Their Finest' might so easily have been sentimental hogwash, a jolly, stiff-upper-lipped love story set against the picturesque
This charming animated family movie about a teenage Polynesian girl fighting to save her Pacific island’s future feels like business as usual for Disney in many ways. There’s a strong young female lead, catchy show tunes, lush landscapes and talking animals – a hermit crab with a fondness for trinkets almost steals the film and a dim chicken offers light relief. But this tale from the directors of ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ also feels like progress. Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) is a young woman of colour set to take over from her father as the leader of an island community way back in the past (their beliefs are based around sea-travel and the island’s creation myth). When the plants on Moana’s island start to wither, the ocean chooses this 16-year-old to defy her father’s orders and set sail in search of a muscled demi-God Maui (Dwayne Johnson, self-mocking and funny), who can help her secure her people’s future. There’s not a prince or potential husband in sight; Moana’s future is entirely defined by her leadership and ability to fend off the mansplaining know-it-all Maui. As messages go, we’ll take them. The story is a fairly simple quest tale as Moana takes to the open water in uneasy cahoots with macho Maui. His animated tattoos are among the film’s visual highlights, alongside the azure waters lapping the sand. There are some belters on the soundtrack, a few of them courtesy of man-of-the-moment Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the Broadway sma
A prodigiously talented cast is drowned out by a cacophony of gunshots in ‘High-Rise’ director Ben Wheatley’s entertainingly absurd riff on a ‘Reservoir Dogs’-style crooks ’n’ quips caper. It's the kind of guns-blazing free-for-all that might be described as a 'bullet ballet'. But this is more like bullet fringe theatre: a bold, stagey, intentionally repetitive and borderline experimental attempt to strip the crime flick down to its absolute bare essentials: criminals, cursing, double-crosses and lots and lots (and lots and lots) of shooting. Set in Boston in 1978 (but shot, weirdly, in Brighton), the opening half-hour is a riot of cool tunes, hot threads, big hair and vintage motors, as IRA operative Chris (Cillian Murphy) cruises along to an arms deal hosted by brokers Justine (Brie Larson) and Ord (Armie Hammer). The seller is Vernon (Sharlto Copley), a touchy South African with a van full of Beretta machine guns. As the parties convene at a remote dockland warehouse, it turns out that they’ve each brought along at least three friends – the cast expands to include Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor and Jack Reynor (channelling Seth Rogen as a bearded stoner). But when it turns out two of these jokers have an existing beef, everything goes to hell very quickly. And stays there. The last hour of ‘Free Fire’ is one long, noisy and increasingly bonkers shootout, as treachery is uncovered and allegiances shift, and the characters get picked off one by one. Wheatley
This delightful animated feature from the studio behind the Minions movies takes a tired-sounding idea – a comedy set around a talent contest – and turns it into something winning and witty. ‘Sing’ is fast and frenetic, dashing from character to character, song to song. Our hero is a koala, Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), a throwback theatre owner-cum-producer down on his luck. With the help of his ageing female assistant, a lizard (voiced by the film’s writer-director Garth Jennings), Buster initiates a singing contest in an attempt to save his crumbling theatre. But a clerical error bumps the prize money up from $1000 to $100,000, and suddenly every singing beast in town is queueing at his door for a chance of winning the cash. There’s Johnny (Taron Egerton), a British gorilla uneasy with his father’s criminal lifestyle; Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), the harried porcine mother of 25 hungry piglets; Meena (Tori Kelly), an extremely shy elephant; Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a jilted porcupine; and Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a crooning, boastful mouse. Like the most effective TV talent shows, ‘Sing’ balances snapshots of each creature’s home life with their emergence into the spotlight of potential fame. The rush of familiar music – Queen, Elton John, Leonard Cohen – often sung by the voice actors themselves, can feel like listening to a karaoke jukebox in overdrive, but a welcome focus on relationships, emotions and other details of each character’s life stops this fee