We've rounded up some of the best things to do in Manchester this weekend, so there's no excuse to let your downtime go to waste. Whether theatre is your bag, you're mad for music or you'd rather stroll around an art exhibition, you'll find it all in our list, plus much, much more.
If you're looking for things to do in Manchester beyond this weekend, take a look at our events calendar.
Things to do in Manchester this weekend
Films showing this weekend
The young writer-director Damien Chazelle has followed his Oscar-winning drama 'Whiplash' with another entirely novel film steeped in the world of music. His soaring, romantic, extremely stylish and endlessly inventive 'La La Land' is that rare beast: a grown-up movie musical that's not kitschy, a joke or a Bollywood film. Instead, it's a swooning, beautifully crafted ode to the likes of Jacques Demy's 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' and Stanley Donen's 'Singin' in the Rain' that plays out in the semi-dream world of Los Angeles and manages to condense the ups and downs of romantic love into a very Tinseltown toe-tapping fable. 'La La Land' boasts stars to fall in love with: Ryan Gosling is Seb, a brooding pianist and jazz purist who dreams of running his own nightclub, while Emma Stone plays Mia, a more sunny studio-lot barista and aspiring actor who dreams of putting on her own plays. The film follows them from winter to fall and back to winter as they meet, argue, flirt, fall in love and face a growing conflict between their personal passions and romantic hopes. There are tender and imaginative moments to die for: Stone mouthing along to a cover version of 'I Ran' at a pool party; the pair watching their legs discover the power of tap while sitting on a bench; the two of them flying into the stars and waltzing while visiting Griffith Observatory - a moment inspired by a trip to see 'Rebel Without a Cause'. There are songs, there are dances (and Gosling and Stone prove easy n
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
If you’re a fan of Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, don’t miss this staggeringly beautiful film by rising-star director Makoto Shinkai (who’s already being called ‘the new Miyazaki’). ‘Your Name’ – Japan’s highest grossing film of 2016 – is a sci-fi fantasy with an apocalyptic sting in its tail. It follows two teenagers who have never met. Mitsuha lives with her family in a sleepy village. Taki is a schoolboy in Tokyo. Both start having strange dreams in which they live for a day in each other’s bodies. Slowly it dawns on them, this is for real: they are actually swapping bodies, which throws up all sorts of sitcom-ish situations (when Taki wakes up as a girl he can’t stop touching his boobs). The two leave notes on their smartphones, but when they wake up the next morning, they can’t remember the other’s name. There have been a gazillion body-switch movies – ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘Big’ for starters – but director Shinkai says his main inspiration was a twelfth-century Japanese story about a brother and sister. Some of the comedy drags a bit, but I had a lump in my throat watching the exquisite animation, which turns nature into a string of miracles – water on a lake dazzling like liquid diamonds. The hyper-real cityscapes in the Tokyo bits are so convincing that the real-life settings have become tourist attractions. There is a streak of dystopian danger in the second half, as a natural disaster threatens Mitsuha’s town. By this time, Taki and Mitsuha know each other
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
If you’ve forgotten the agony and sheer hormone-soaked awfulness of being 16 years old, watch this teen comedy starring Hailee Steinfeld (the newbie Barden Bella in ‘Pitch Perfect 2’). Steinfeld is awkward Nadine, whose sarky put-downs and sharp edges mask a broken heart. Her dad died a few years ago and her only friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), has just starting dating Nadine’s popular older brother (Blake Jenner). Her response is mean-girl fury: ‘What if I gave your dad a hand job?’ Like most teenagers, Nadine is her own worst enemy. She gives Krista an ultimatum: him or me. You can see ghosts of teen movies past in ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ (specifically movies by Cameron Crowe and John Hughes). First-time director Kelly Fremon Craig, working from her own smart script (with a handful of try-hard wrong notes), reminds us how superior and cruel teenagers can be. Nadine thinks she understands the pathetic grown-ups around her, ridiculing her history teacher (Woody Harrelson, at his most Woody Harrelson-ish) for being a low-paid state employee. And this is a guy trying to help her. Steinfeld, though, has the knack of being able to play Nadine at peak asshole with huge sympathy, as she slowly learns that nobody’s got the secret to being happy – everyone feels alone and empty. As a memorable teen character, she’s almost up there with Cher from ‘Clueless’ or Ellen Page’s Juno. Watch and wince.
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
Or 'Pan's Labyrinth 2: The Oscar Years'. When Spanish filmmaker JA Bayona's debut 'The Orphanage' was released back in 2007, many proclaimed him the rightful heir to Guillermo del Toro: creepy and inventive, the film bore a notable debt to the Mexican maestro's chilly masterpiece of wartime horror, 'The Devil's Backbone'. Bayona's follow-up, the disaster movie 'The Impossible', may have quieted those voices temporarily, but expect them to rise again, full-throated, when 'A Monster Calls' arrives in cinemas. Adapted by author Patrick Ness from his dour, dreamlike not-quite-kids'-book about an imaginative boy who conjures a writhing, ent-like tree-monster to help him deal with his mother's worsening cancer, this ambitious, often awkward, intermittently striking fairytale-horror-cum-disease-drama feels like the movie Del Toro would produce if he was suddenly struck down with Oscar fever.13-year-old Connor (Lewis MacDougall) is finding life a struggle: his mother Lizzie (Felicity Jones) is dying by degrees, his grandma (a miscast Sigourney Weaver) is brittle and loveless and his dad (Toby Kebbell) only makes the trip back from America when it suits him. So when a 40-foot monster (granite-voiced by Liam Neeson) tears itself out of a nearby yew tree and comes rampaging into Connor's life, he's glad of the distraction. But why has the beast come? To steal him away? To save his mum? Or just to tell him a series of prettily animated fairy stories?It's hard to know who the audience mig
Bob is a handsome marmalade tomcat. You might have seen him around. His human is James Bowen, who was busking, selling The Big Issue and recovering from heroin addiction when he found Bob on his doorstep in 2007. Bob followed James on to the bus one morning and became part of his pitch outside Angel tube. ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ tells their story. Luke Treadaway gives a lovely, sensitive performance as James. Bob, feeling no other cat could do him justice – the diva – plays himself (with the help of some stunt doubles). The thing is, and there’s no way of saying this nicely, Bob’s acting is not exactly the cat’s meow. Aloof and borderline moody, he spends most of the film with the grumpy expression of the Queen opening parliament. Really? This? Again? There’s a telly-ish feel to much of ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’, an attempt to sanitise life on the streets. Some of the side plots are deeply unconvincing, such as James’s relationship with his kooky vegan neighbour. But it’s impossible to watch a film about a happy-ending story like James and Bob’s without a warm glow – a literary agent spotted them outside Angel and James’s memoir became an overnight bestseller. There are some nice touches too, like the lady with a Waitrose carrier bag who tries to buy Bob from James for her son. ‘How much for your kid?’ he snaps back.