All the movies worth catching in the capital, from an achingly personal Spanish drama to a kids' horror classic...
Out and about this week? Fancy a film but can’t make your mind up what to see? Look no further: we’ve assembled the best of what’s on in London and gathered them here to make choosing a great movie as easy as possible. Whether it’s a horror film about a young woman’s relentless battle against a horde of alligators or a documentary about some very misunderstood satanists, WeLoveCinema has you well and truly covered…
Pain and Glory
Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film is his most personal yet, a vivid, imitate, semi-autobiographical portrait of a Madrid-based filmmaker named Salvador Mallo who, crippled with pain, is experiencing something akin to a mid-life crisis. As played by Antonio Banderas in a career-best performance, Pain and Glory exists as a series of episodes that draw heavily upon the director’s own experiences; as Mallo reflects on the choices that lead him to his current state, including a battle with drugs, the film unfolds with a truly naked quality. Visually stunning, beautifully acted (it also stars Almodóvar regular Penelope Cruz as Mallo’s mother), and packed with details to appease long-time fans and newcomers alike, it’s Almodóvar’s best in years.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino recently said that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his love letter to the end of Hollywood’s Golden Era, could be his last film. If so, it’s a hell of a picture to go out on. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a failing actor, and Brad Pitt as his faithful stuntman, the film plays out as a series of interconnected vignettes, Pulp Fiction-style, against a backdrop of fake television shows, star cameos (hello, Al Pacino), and hippie confrontations. Quasi-historical, à la Inglourious Basterds, Hollywood also features Margot Robbie as actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered by Charles Manson’s followers in 1969 (also here). Brilliantly funny, surprisingly personal and – by the end – deeply melancholy, it’s QT’s best film in close to a decade.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Dora the Explorer made her name as a immensely popular cartoon on kids’ channel Nickelodeon, and now – somewhat belatedly? – she’s arrived in fully-fledged human form, played by Isabela Moner, in this live-action caper. Most surprising about Dora and the Lost City of Gold isn’t that the previously tiny Dora is now aged sixteen, but the fact the film is both watchable and works entirely independently of the original show (props to director James Bobin of Muppets movie fame). The story, which starts with Dora trying to get her head round high school in LA before shifting to the perilous jungles of Peru, is basically an affable stream of set-pieces, funny interactions, and goofy gags: good, old-fashioned fun, then, rarely afforded.
Get Dora and the Lost City of Gold showtimes in London.
Blinded By the Light
Basically Bend it Like Beckham, albeit with Bruce instead of Beckham, Blinded By the Light – based on a memoir by Sarfraz Manzoor – is a inspired coming-of-age tale set in (ahem) Luton, chronicling a young Pakistani man’s obsession with everything Springsteen. The Bend it Like Beckham comparison is especially apt – the director of that film, Gurinder Chadha, also helms this one, and she does so with the same compassion and acute observation of British-Asian life, this time against a backdrop of Thatcherite England (a brilliant juxtaposition against the hopeful, freewheeling songs of Bruce Springsteen). Fans of the Boss will be delighted with the deep dive into his musical legacy – even if the film does hit the occasional bum note.
Get Blinded by the Light showtimes in London.
Talk about an intriguing title. Hail Satan?, a new documentary from filmmaker Penny Lane, sets its sights on the Satanic Temple with a brilliant casualness, as implied by the curious question mark of its title. The name of the group – founded in 2013 – might seem somewhat at odds with the folk found here, though: despite their tendency towards wearing black, they’re actually a pretty liberal bunch. We watch as the members – led by Lucien Greaves – attend meetings and rally for (yep) equal rights, often resulting in some fascinating run-ins with the public. Short and sweet, it’s a documentary designed to upend preconceived notions and highlight a group whose hellish name has given them a far scarier reputation than deserved.
Get Hail Satan? showtimes in London.
Anyone who thought we’d exhausted the whole “teenagers trying to make it to an awesome party” premise perfected in Superbad and re-perfected in recent Olivia Wilde-directed comedy Booksmart is in for a treat: Good Boys – produced by Seth Rogen – reprises the foul-mouthed-cum-heartfelt combo of its predecessors, but ages down its protagonists to create something that – despite its familiar tropes – winds up feeling fresh. Jacob Trembley, Brady Noon, and Kenneth L. Williams are our three best friends who do everything together, desperate to find their way into their first “Kissing Party.” Despite their young age (they’re twelve), this isn’t aimed at kids, though (one of the big marketing jokes was that the actors weren’t old enough to see the film), resulting in a filthy, inventive slice of nostalgic fun.
Get Good Boys showtimes in London.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, based on the now classic children’s book series, comes over like a mash-up between Goosebumps and Stranger Things, albeit with a lot more zit-popping. Straddling the line between PG-13 horror and something a little edgier, this Guillermo del Toro-produced yarn (he also co-wrote the script) clings to an episodic structure as a group of unwitting teens unleash a slew of ghouls and monsters in small town America and must deal with the consequences. The film doesn’t exactly break boundaries in its approach to horror, but it does feel crafted with the same levels of love and care that Guillermo del Toro films so often do – even if ultimately it’s a little too reliant on repetitive jump scares.
With the certain-to-be-terrifying sequel looming on the horizon, now’s your chance to revisit It on the big screen all over again – this time with added footage not seen in the original. It initially appeared like it might just be another in a long line of passable Stephen King adaptations, of course; in fact it turned out to be one of the best ever, a truly frightening horror yarn that channelled Stranger Things to give us something rich and evocative. The story, adapted from King’s 1000 page-plus tome, takes place in 80s America and follows a group of kids who find themselves facing off against the cosmic evil of a shapeshifting clown named Pennywise. There’s a reason it’s the highest-grossing horror movie ever, you know.
Get It showtimes in London.
We should be pleased that, despite all the large-scale superhero films and blockbusters, somebody is still financing a film about a woman trapped in a basement, fighting off alligators. That’s the deliciously simple premise of Crawl, the latest film from underrated horror maestro Alexandre Aja, who gifted us with the self-aware fun of Piranha 3D and returns to the water here for a slice of unashamed B-movie schlock that may or may not be a global warming parable. Kaya Scodelario (Effie off Skins, remember?) stars as Hayley Keller, a swim team champ caught in a hurricane-induced flood that has her and her dad (Barry Pepper) battling the prehistoric reptiles in their droves. It’s an unpretentious, primal delight with lots of bite.
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