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
Join our wonderful non-fiction bookseller Farah for our Spanish and Latin American book group meeting. The group will be meeting once a month to discuss a specific book in Spanish. For this meeting, we will be reading One Hundred Years of Solitude ('Cien anos de soledad') by the renowned Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Films showing this week
That’s Manchester, Massachusetts, a small fishing community that’s the setting for this devastating tale of buried trauma from American director and playwright Kenneth Lonergan (‘You Can Count on Me’). Casey Affleck gives a complex, brooding central performance as Lee, a Boston handyman and caretaker – for all his quiet capability with a blocked toilet, you wouldn’t want to cross him. Affleck burns the screen in the early scenes, building up a portrait of a solitary existence: this is a man who is long past giving a shit about anything. Why? That remains a mystery – for now. While you sense that Lee is the kind of person who doesn’t need more bad news, it arrives in the form of a call telling him that a heart attack has killed his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler, superb in flashbacks). As Lee drives up to the wintry town of his youth to make funeral arrangements, we begin to see what makes him ache. Once in Manchester, he learns that he’s been made the legal guardian of Joe’s son, seen in happier days fishing off the back off the family’s boat. Today, Patrick (Lucas Hedges) is a typical gobby teenager, juggling two girlfriends, a pissed-off hockey coach and a rock band. But Lonergan’s film isn’t about rebounding as much as coping. That’s what makes ‘Manchester by the Sea’ so dark and courageous; it says that, for some people, there won’t be any moving on from grief. These sad people will walk into another day, perhaps with more openness and a nephew to bear the burden. For
When Martin Scorsese puts away his strutting cocks – his raging bulls, comedy kings and Wall Street wolves – the results can be astounding. This quieter, lesser-seen director is the one who gave us 'The Last Temptation of Christ' (1988), the exquisite period piece 'The Age of Innocence' (1993) and now 'Silence', a furiously alive and concentrated parable about faith under fire set in seventeenth-century Japan that ranks among the greatest achievements of spiritually minded cinema. Like much of Scorsese's work, 'Silence' is consumed with doubt, ego and sacrifice – this time, of black-robed Portuguese missionaries in a foreign land, one that ends up breaking them. But the refinement here is something else. Based on a 1966 novel by Shûsaku Endô, 'Silence' is a project Scorsese has obsessed with for close to 30 years, and you feel that: it looks and feels lean, with no wasted gestures, only inward agony. It’s his most mature movie, almost completely free of comic relief yet vibrating with passion and, provocatively, an apocalyptic sense of conviction burned to the ground. Two bearded Jesuits, idealistic Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield, wet-eyed and soulful) and his sturdy counterpart, Garrpe (Adam Driver), make up an 'army of two', heading to a Japan shrouded in smoke and mystery. It’s partly the terrain of Scorsese’s beloved Akira Kurosawa – epics like 'Ran' and 'Throne of Blood' – and partly a natural paradise. (Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto bathes the imagery in ashen grays an
‘Jackie’ starts with a face – more a mask than a face, puffy from crying and suffering a loss that few can imagine. It’s the face of Natalie Portman, playing 34-year-old Jacqueline Kennedy during the week after her husband’s 1963 assassination. Right from the beginning of Pablo Larraín’s near-experimental stunner, you can tell you’re in for a psychodrama of strange, hypnotic intimacy. And that's before you twig the orchestral smear heard on the soundtrack: a nauseating lurch of ‘Psycho’-esque strings provided by Mica Levi (‘Under the Skin’), who better than anyone captures the film’s theme of sudden, shocking change. ‘Jackie’ is a political period piece, something this Chilean filmmaker is especially good at (his ’80s-set Pinochet-era electoral comedy ‘No’ is better than a whole season of ‘Veep’). But more than any of Larraín’s movies, ‘Jackie’ is a deep dive into personal catastrophe. Bettering her work in ‘Black Swan’, Portman flutters like a sail in a brisk wind, supported by a director who often places his camera inches from her nose. Her Jackie is scattered, tense, wrecked and defiant in the face of those who would prefer she act in a certain way. The smart script, by Noah Oppenheim, is built of disconnected moments. We see Jackie on the plane flying out of Dallas, shell-shocked as Lyndon B Johnson takes his emergency oath of office. We watch her later that night, shedding the iconic pink suit and washing the blood and brains from her hair. Some of these scenes are h
Following the mildly disappointing Wallace and Gromit movie, rat-com ‘Flushed Away’ and the sweet but slight ‘Arthur Christmas’, a case could have been made that Aardman Animation were losing their mojo – that spark of madcap genius which made their early shorts so spectacular. Well, said spark is back with a vengeance in this deliriously entertaining tale of a pirate crew and their efforts to become internationally regarded scientific boffins.Hugh Grant voices The Pirate Captain, whose attempts to become Pirate of the Year are constantly thwarted because, well, he’s not very good at his job. But when kidnapped naturalist (and girl-shy nerd) Charles Darwin points out that the Captain’s beloved parrot Polly is in fact the last living dodo, the Captain and his merry crew – who, in keeping with screenwriter Gideon Defoe’s 2004 source novel, all have names like The Pirate with Gout and The Pirate with a Scarf – set sail for London to present their find to the Royal Society.Movies like the ‘Shrek’ series have largely devalued the idea of a film aimed at both children and parents, but ‘The Pirates!’ gets the balance spot on. Kids will be enthralled by all the action, slapstick and yo-ho-ho-ing while the olds will get a kick out of the intricate visual detail, sparkling wit (there’s not a single ‘avast behind’ gag) and wild historical inaccuracies: find me another movie in which Jane Austen chucks a beer mug at the Elephant Man. The result is a brilliant mish-mash of styles and genr
Sure, it’s a rush – but is that enough? ‘Goodfellas’ is often heralded as Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece, and there’s no ignoring the full-throttle intensity and bravura visual style that underpin the real-life tale of small-time gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he rises and falls through the ranks of the New York mob. It’s a film of perfect moments: Henry’s ‘As long as I can remember’ voiceover at the start; a breathtaking tracking shot through the back rooms of a nightclub; Joe Pesci’s unforgettable ‘How the fuck am I funny?’ routine. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that, rather like its characters, ‘Goodfellas’ lacks heart. This is a story of awful creeps and the women who love them, so it was never going to be a festival of feelgood. But the sinuous coldness of the camerawork, the viciousness of the violence and the depth of the degradation all make it easy to admire, but hard to really love. In ‘Mean Streets’ and even ‘Taxi Driver’, Scorsese made his loser heroes relatable. In ‘Goodfellas’, they’re just a bunch of well-dressed dirty rats.
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
Has JK Rowling been taking divination lessons at Hogwarts? With spooky clairvoyance, the first movie in her new five-film wizarding franchise opens with two factions in America at each other’s throats. No, not Republicans and Democrats. It’s 1926, and wizards and muggles (only in America they call them ‘no majs’) are on the brink of civil war. Oh, and in the non-magical world, a bully-boy heir to a fortune is wooing voters. Top of the class, JK! ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is basically a Harry Potter prequel (though you’ll get a detention for saying that). JK Rowling, writing her first film script, and longtime Harry Potter director David Yates have created an entirely new corner of the wizarding world. They strike a savvy balance between shiny new elements and recognisable ones for Potterheads. I’m not sure which is more adorable, Eddie Redmayne as eccentric magician Newt Scamander or the creatures he smuggles into the US in his battered and bottomless leather briefcase. Redmayne radiates a wet-eyed warm glow as stumbling, bashful Newt – an English wizard in New York. He’s perfect for Rowling’s world, where a kind heart is the most potent magical power of all. Like a hot young David Attenborough with a wand, Newt is a bit of an eco-warrior, arriving in the US on a conservation mission to release into the wild a creature he’s rescued from captivity. The cutest of his beasties is the naughty Niffler, a kleptomaniaccross between a platypus and a cuddly penguin, with its expressive sno
This breakaway Star Wars movie – set some time just before the first film – is a punchy standalone action tale about a spunky resistance group within the Rebel Alliance. This ragtag band of fighters, led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones, a complicated, not always endearing heroine, refreshingly), come together to lead an attack on the Empire – whose most visible military stooge is Orson Krennic, played with quiet menace and oily ambition by Ben Mendelsohn. It’s a scrappy, frenetic film, a bit irreverent, and it muddies ideas of good and evil, introducing unexpected shades of grey. It also kicks into touch a lot of the quasi-spiritual stuff you might expect: the Force is not especially strong here, and lo-fi battle skills turn out to be more important. Going back in time also proves a neat way of resurrecting the pleasures of the earlier films – not least the spiffing banter of battling X-Wing pilots, the Lego-like look of the Star Destroyers and the sight of Darth Vader at his most furious. The more you remember of the 1977 movie ‘Star Wars’, the more the story of ‘Rogue One’ makes sense. In that film, Princess Leia had in her possession plans for the Empire’s Death Star: plans that would help the Rebels to destroy it. Here, Jyn Erso receives a message from her father (Mads Mikkelsen), who she hasn’t seen for years: he’s been forced to work for the Empire as the chief engineer on the Death Star. But he’s built a flaw into this weaponised behemoth and wants his daughter to destro
Clever old Bridget. There’s been a hell of a lot criticism of her for crimes against feminism. But here she is, triumphantly returning in her forties, less of a twit, funnier, wittier, and – perhaps most importantly – happier with herself. And unlike the last film in the series, ‘The Edge of Reason’, you don’t need to knock back several large glasses of chardonnay for this film to make you laugh. ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ picks up a few years after her relationship with Mark Darcy went pear-shaped. (If you’ve read Helen Fielding’s novel ‘Mad About the Boy’ – the one that bumped off Darcy – ignore it. Pretend it doesn’t exist). Bridge is now 43 and single. But instead of crying into her cardigan about dying alone and being eaten by Alsatians, she has thrown herself into her brilliant career as a top TV news producer. (Honestly, she can even pronounce the names of obscure genocidal dictators). Her mates have all settled down and babied-up, so she’s got a new best friend, hard-partying millennial Miranda (Sarah Solemani from the British sitcom ‘Him and Her’). After declaring that she’s past her sexual sell-by date, Bridget has two drunken one-night stands and finds herself unexpectedly up the duff. Is the dad emotionally constipated Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)? Or sexy American billionaire Jack (Patrick Dempsey)? The script is a team effort by Dan Mazer (who’s worked with Sacha Baron Cohen), Helen Fielding and Emma Thompson, who writes herself a hilarious role as a sharp-tongued do
While 'Finding Dory' is crammed with the kind of visual pleasures we’ve come to expect from Pixar, the story doesn’t always reach the heights of invention upon which the animation giant has built its reputation. The film lacks the psychological probing of 'Inside Out', the existential ponderings of 'Wall-E', the gentle, stoic sadness of 'Up'. But it’s still a moving sequel to 2003’s 'Finding Nemo', following the adventures of Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), the adorably ditzy amnesiac tang fish, as she hunts for the Californian family she suddenly remembers losing. There’s a neat symmetry here: In 'Finding Nemo', a father, Marlin (Albert Brooks) looked for his lost son (Alexander Gould); now a grown-up daughter searches for her parents. The switch, though, has a resultant lack of urgency: there’s more dramatic tension when a child goes missing than when a parent is suddenly remembered by their adult offspring. Dory rediscovers her childhood home in a corner of the California Marine Life Institute, a place for oceanic study presided over by the disembodied, omniscient voice of Sigourney Weaver, playing herself (think of those museum-guide gadgets narrated by celebrities). Weaver brings a wonderfully surreal note that'll sail over the heads of younger viewers – she’s a welcome presence in a film that has less-than-the-usual number of gags pitched at older viewers. In keeping with the film’s subtle celebration of difference, Dory grew up in a place where damaged aquatic life i