All the movies worth catching in the capital, from a seething satire set in 1975 to a horror sequel about a killer clown...
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 British classic back on the big screen for its 70th anniversary, or a hilarious comedy about a rather fabulous French swim team, WeLoveCinema has you well and truly covered…
This new film from Argentinian director Benjamín Naishtat, set in his native land in 1975, follows a lawyer named Claudio (played by actor Dario Grandinetti) who has turned a blind eye to the corruption of the terrifying regime that surrounds him in order to enjoy a peaceful life. Things change, however, when Claudio is attacked by a stranger, triggering a series of events that ultimately turn his life upside down. A dark thriller that will keep you well and truly hooked until it reaches its climax, Rojo is also a seething political satire about a particularly terrifying point in Argentine history in which anyone could disappear into thin air without a trace. Rojo means “red,” of course, and this is a film deserving of its angry title.
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.
Joanna Hogg's films have always been prized by a small amount of dedicated fans, but The Souvenir is so good she won't remain a secret for much longer. Set in the 1980s and based on Hogg's own time as a film school student in London, this is a deep and fascinating treasure box whose appeal cannot be explained in a single paragraph – still, we'll try. Starring Honor Swinton Byrne (daughter of Tilda, also here) and an arrogant, charismatic Tom Burke, the story – minimalist, melancholy, dreamy, and not at all for the impatient viewer – centres on a young woman's romance with a mysterious and troubled older man. As always the case with Hogg, she refuses to paint in black and white; you get back whatever it is you put in.
Director Mark Jenkin has given cinema lovers something truly unique with his latest, a film that cleverly explores present-day issues by way of a gloriously-rendered past. There's no getting around Bait's stunning retro look, of course: Jenkin filmed his Cornwall-set drama on 16mm monochrome stock and then processed it using coffee grounds. The result is a black-and-white delight that feels like it's been dug up on a beach somewhere, and yet Bait – with its story of fishermen being driven out by tourism – also feels about as contemporary as they come. There was a chance this could have ended up feeling like an extended gimmick, and yet the opposite's true: as a brilliant tale of divided Britain, it casts an 89 minute-long spell.
Get Bait showtimes in London.
The Third Man
Carol Reed's British masterpiece, The Third Man, takes place in post-war Vienna and follows the plight of an American, played by Joseph Cotton, who arrives in the country at the request of a friend who it turns out has vanished. Before long he's drawn into a strange and confusing conspiracy that takes him from the city's famous ferris wheel (where he encounters Orson Welles and his now infamous “Cuckoo Clock” speech) to its labyrinthian sewers. Restored in 4K and back on the big screen for its 70th anniversary, Reed's classic – written by novelist Graham Greene – is a triumph of post-war anxiety and a staple of film noir, boasting fantastic performances and a tightly-wound plot that keeps you guessing until the very end.
Get The Third Man showtimes in London.
It: Chapter Two
Expectations were high for the follow-up to Andrés Muschietti's It, a movie that – to everybody's surprise – went on to become the highest-grossing horror film ever when it jump-scared its way into theatres in 2017. Now the second (and final) chapter, also based on Stephen King's tome of a novel, has arrived – though this time the Losers' Club are all grown up and battling middle age instead of malevolent forces, before being lured back into a do-or-die confrontation with Pennywise the Clown. Starring Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy, It: Chapter Two is – at nearly three hours in length – in no hurry to tell its story, and yet this lumbering behemoth of a film manages to deliver a satisfying, funhouse-inspired finale.
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.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith executive produce this affable film about a Jamaican sprinter named Akeem – played by excellent newcomer Dale Elliot, making his debut here – who is forced to deal with his troublesome family as he tries to make a better life using his speedy talents. There's not getting around the fact that this is a story packed to the brim with cliches, and yet it's also hard to resist for exactly those reasons. Events finds emotional resonance in a plot-line about Akeem's mother, working illegally in the United States, whilst Sprinter offers a candid window into Jamaican life that few films bother to touch on. Fist-pumping stuff.
Get Sprinter showtimes in London.
The Shiny Shrimps
Have you heard? Films about awkward situations amongst male swim teams are officially in vogue. First there was Sink or Swim, and then there was the Rob Brydon-starring Swimming With Men. Now there's the brilliantly titled The Shiny Shrimps, an amusing comic caper that's sort-of inspired by true events. Sharing its DNA with camp classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, this fun and easy-going yarn hones in on a swimming champion – played by the aptly-named Nicolas Gob – who is sentenced to join an all-gay swim team after he's caught making homophobic remarks. Story-wise, there isn't much to The Shiny Shrimps, but it does do its best to wring ever bit of humour out of its admittedly delicious premise.
You've heard the album – now see the movie! Back in cinemas to celebrate its 35th anniversary, this unashamed vanity project – starring the late, great Prince – is best experienced on the biggest screen possible, preferably after a few beers. Prince dipped into the medium of film every now and again, of course, but it's Purple Rain that stands as his best cinematic achievement now the dust has settled. For all its flaws (of which there are many), you can't help but feel energised by the adventures of his alter ego, “The Kid,” as he fights his way to the top of the charts. Directed by Albert Magnoli, Purple Rain has dated immensely, and yet when Prince takes to the stage to deliver that classic number it's hard not to feel totally awed.
Get Purple Rain showtimes in London.