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
‘Would you like me to tell you the story of right hand, left hand? The story of good and evil?’ It’s hard to think of a film which cuts so clear a line between innocence and depravity as 1955’s ‘The Night of the Hunter’, British actor Charles Laughton’s sole film as director. Robert Mitchum is the heart of absolute darkness as Reverend Harry Powell, a preacher and killer of women whose lust for gold leads him to little Pearl Harper (Sally Jane Bruce) and her older brother John (Billy Chapin), who are guardians of their jailed dad’s stolen loot. Driven by the starkness of German expressionism and shot by legendary Orson Welles collaborator Stanley Cortez, Laughton’s film makes the average film noir look like afterschool kids’ TV. Every shot is a masterclass in contrast, in looming blacks and piercing whites. It’s the most haunted and dreamlike of all American films, a gothic backwoods ramble with the Devil at its heels.
Not the movie the notorious ice-skating flameout Tonya Harding probably deserves – but happily (for us) the one she’s gotten – ‘I, Tonya’ is a dazzlingly complex and exuberant treatment of a disgraced figure. It flies along like ‘Goodfellas': Director Craig Gillespie never passes up the chance to needle-drop on classic rock (from Supertramp, ZZ Top, etc.) or break the fourth wall with an into-the-lens confession. But as with Martin Scorsese’s ‘I always wanted to be a gangster’ crime epic (or more aptly, Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Boogie Nights’), the combination of supercharged style with so tawdry a story creates an unshakable tension, the kind that has you laughing and cringing at the same time. Ultimately, ‘I, Tonya’ feels like a major reclamation, not of Harding’s reputation but of the sports biopic itself, fallen into clichés since ‘Raging Bull’. Setting the tone with a surly, confrontational stare and her fuming lit cigarette, Margot Robbie – making the most of this gift of a role – drops the film into the touchy realm of paranoia and class envy. She refuses to be judged in the film’s series of faux interviews, and even as Steven Rogers’s satisfying script sends us backward in time to the angelic young Tonya (Mckenna Grace from ‘Designated Survivor’) twirling on the ice, we’re never far from a scene in which money is the film’s not-so-secret subject. Her Oregonian mother, the raging LaVona (a revelatory Allison Janney, swearing up a storm), constantly browbeats her daught
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
There aren’t many writer-directors who could tell a story of small-town rape, murder, grief and guilt at the same time as taking you down all sorts of black-comic paths and having immense fun with the writing and acting along the way. But Martin McDonagh (‘In Bruges’, ‘Seven Psychopaths’) is one of them, and his bloody and ballsy third film, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, takes his work to a new level of versatility and surprise. It’s almost a year since Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand, on absolutely roaring form) lost her teen daughter to an unknown rapist and murderer. She’s angry, as well as distraught, and she pays for a series of disused billboards outside her town to carry huge posters asking why no one has been arrested yet. She points the finger at Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), simply because he’s the sheriff, and that makes her public enemy number one. Everyone takes against her, from her abusive and philandering former husband (John Hawkes) to a rash and racist hothead young cop, Dixon (Sam Rockwell, a blinding performance, brilliantly comic, but so much more). Even the priest sits her down for a chat. But she’s having none of it: she just becomes more determined to fight anyone who gets in her way. From there, ‘Three Billboards’ takes all sorts of unexpected turns, and what starts off looking like a story of a wronged mother fighting for justice becomes much more muddy, unusual and meandering. Sure, she’s shaking things up, but is she going t
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
Sure, Christopher Nolan’s 'Dunkirk' blew us away with its immersiveness. But if you prefer your WWII movies to have a little dialogue, some shapeliness and a bit of powerhouse acting, director Joe Wright’s tense profile of the rising prime minister Winston Churchill is the war film to beat. Wright, it’s worth remembering, has been on those gory French beaches before with 2007’s ''Atonement', capturing the whole of the British evacuation and its surrounding chaos in a legendary five-minute tracking shot. As if pulling a been-there-'Dunkirk'-that, he now shifts to the tense strategy sessions, bunker hand-wringing and political gamesmanship that fed into England’s finest hour. 'Darkest Hour' is a film of verbal ammunition, and its calibre is high.At first you won’t believe your eyes, seeing Gary Oldman – still, in some perverse way, the alive presence from 'Sid and Nancy' – buried under what must be pounds of prosthetic facial architecture. (The radical makeup work is by artist Kazuhiro Tsuji.) But your mind quickly gets you where you need to be, as we watch Oldman’s Churchill roughing up our expectations: crouching on his bedroom floor to capture a wayward cat, downing a breakfast of Scotch and cigars and mixing it up with his cowed, dutiful secretary Elizabeth (Lily James). The performance is a marvel, not merely leaping over what could have been a stunt, but deepening into a soulful portrayal of wartime leadership, tinged with ego, doubt and the demands of a terrible moment.C
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
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
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
The title of this supremely fresh, witty and thought-provoking new film by Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund ('Force Majeure') refers mainly to a new exhibit on display at a museum of contemporary art: a neon-bordered bit of brick flooring of some 16 square metres described by its creator as ‘a sanctuary of trust and caring’ where we all ‘share equal rights and obligations’. But the word might also refer to the city square Christian – the museum’s head curator – is crossing when he becomes the victim of a scam that relieves him of his wallet and phone. To recover them he’s reluctantly persuaded by an assistant to adopt a strategy which has unexpected consequences not only for himself but for colleagues and even complete strangers. Then there’s possibly a third meaning to the title, since the film is about different sorts of metaphorical space. As we follow the intelligent, pleasant, perfectly well-intentioned Christian (Claes Bang in a nicely judged performance) in his increasingly difficult dealings with the press – notably an American journalist played by Elisabeth Moss – the museum’s marketing department, sponsors, artists (one played by Dominic West), his daughters and the aforementioned strangers, the film explores the limits of responsibility, culpability, connectivity, even humanity. (There’s some fascinating stuff to do with primates, although it's best not to ruin that surprise.) It’s one thing for a well-off liberal to wax lyrical about equality, community, a