Oscars & Offers

EVERYMAN: A MOVIE OF THE WEEK SPECIAL 

It's the little details that get us giddy about the Mailbox's glorious new Everyman Cinema. From the one red chair in a sea of black and white (above) - the designers' nod to Schindler's List - to the skulking Paddington plucked from London's citywide bear exhibition, via the retro US letterboxes flown over to pay tribute to their host's postal past. Complete with bigger touches like a cocktail bar, burger bar, sofa seating and foot rests, something tells us that you could watch an absolute turkey and still have a top-notch night. It just so happens, however, that there's some Oscar winners in amongst this week's movie schedule. Here's our pick of the bunch, all reviewed, all for you. Because we're good like that.  
STILL ALICE
Academy Award winner Julianne Moore is sensational as a linguistics professor struck with the living hell of early-onset Alzheimer’s, struggling to maintain her dignity and preserve her family. This may sound like treacly Oscar-bait, but co-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s unsentimental direction keeps tear-jerking at bay. Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart do solid work as Moore’s husband and daughter – Stewart especially is a revelation to Twilight-sceptics – and the closing scenes skilfully avoid naffness and can be filed confidently next to Haneke’s Amour in their depiction of the cruelest of diseases. (Starts Friday)
BIRDMAN
“Is that the one with the weird trailer? With the voices talking to Michael Keaton?” While the obscure marketing might not have convinced you to see Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman, its four Oscars (including Best Director and Best Picture) should provide ample incentive. Keaton delivers a career-reviving performance as the beleaguered Riggan, a former superhero actor (coincidence?) taking one final shot at the big time with a questionable Broadway production. An intelligent, fascinating satire, it thoroughly deserves its post-awards hype. (Sat & Sun only)
BIG HERO SIX
Meet Baymax: the best friend you wish you had. Disney has struck gold, or rather rubber, with this huge inflatable robot, who acts as nurse, bodyguard, hug machine and vengeful weapon to an orphaned child called Hiro - and, to the audience, is a source of tears, laughter and melted hearts. Set in the staggeringly beautiful environs of San Fransokyo (you work it out), this animation kicks off a more junior Marvel franchise, but parents be warned: it’s a PG (not a U) for a reason.

(Sat & Sun only)
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Rarely has a film’s title set it up so invitingly for a mocking review. We'll eschew the gift, but this is a clear step down from its predecessor. However, there’s enough for existing fans, as Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel – all at their comfy, watchable best - return to Jaipur and the pensioner-filled eponymous hotel; plus there’s ‘added Richard Gere’ for the ladies. The Everyman should prepare for customers expecting an organ player, an intermission and Pathé News. 
(Times)
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
If Eddie Redmayne winning an Oscar for his role as Stephen Hawking in this well-constructed biopic wasn’t achievement enough, doing so after people had seen his utterly bizarre ham sandwich of a performance in Jupiter Ascending was on a par with discovering gravity. More a love story than a physics lesson, the film itself doesn’t kick down any creative barriers, but it's well worth watching for Redmayne and Felicity Jones as Hawking’s now ex-wife, Jane Wilde. (Today only)
SHAUN THE SHEEP
The success of The Artist failed to ignite an explosion of silent films, but Aardman Animations has embraced the genre with this joyful extension of its hugely successful CBBC show, in which Shaun and pals set off to the Big City to find the Farmer, who’s whacked his head and now thinks he’s a celebrity hairdresser. Voiced only in grunts (humans and pigs) and bleats (sheep), it provides slapstick Buster Keaton would’ve marvelled at. A ‘shear’ delight (Ithankewe).

(Sat & Sun only)
FOCUS
This film has taken stick for basically ‘not being The Sting’, which is a bit like laying into any mafia film for ‘not being The Godfather’. It doesn’t get near those levels, because The Sting’s the best con movie of all time, but Focus, which stars the unfeasibly attractive pairing of Will Smith and Margot Robbie as a couple of bluffing and swindling hustlers, is still colourful, easy on the mind and extremely entertaining. In précis; if you liked BBC’s Hustle, you’ll love this.

(Sat & Sun only)

CATS ROAMING 
CONSPICUOUSLY


Pop-up hero, Two Cats Roaming Kitchen is staging a well-organised siege and we’re getting ourselves into a texture filled frenzy over the menu already. For five beautiful days (from March 18 to 22), the team are taking over Millennium Point’s newest resident, 6/8 Kafe, for their longest pop-up series to date. Expect anything from a floral take on soft shell crab, to belly pork with a buttermilk dressing, to a new-fangled approach to oats. And uniformly stunning plates of food - Two Cats is getting a name for itself as a food artist as well as an innovator. From what we hear, this will be their last big event before summer, so probably best secure a seat while you can. Tickets, at £35, are available here.

TOP HAT:
IT'S BACK


If, like us, you struggle to find the occasion to polish up your favourite cane or adorn your well set curls with that just because tiara, help is at hand. Irving Berlin’s West End dance musical Top Hat is gliding on to the stage at the Hippodrome and opening night (March 10) is being marked with black ties, tiaras and two glasses of the sparkly stuff for £15 (tickets are extra). On stage, think glamour, allure and more than a hint of 1930s bling in this bright and breezy dazzler. Together with all the finger-drumming classics you’d expect, there’s a thunderous measure of tap in forms we didn’t even know existed. Showing until March 21, tickets start at £19, rising to £45. Ruddy good clean fun.
HOT TUB CINEMA IS DIGBETH-BOUND

Come to think of it, the one glaring omission from the Everyman cinema was the distinct lack of a hot tub. Fortunately your jacuzzi-based movie viewing demands can be satiated by the Hot Tub Cinema that lands in Digbeth warehouse venue, Boxxed, April 10 to 14. The bizarre cinematic experience provides twenty hot tubs for 120 guests, complete with a licensed bar, tub side waiter service and well loved classics shown on a giant screen. Take your pick from Ghostbusters, Grease, The Lion King, Dirty Dancing and Back to the Future. Hot Tub Cinema’s Founder, Asher Charman said: “If you can find a better night out in Birmingham, this year, I'll eat my speedos.” Might hold him to that. Prices start at £25 for a single ticket and the surely more tempting £150 for a full tub of six. They go on sale here, tomorrow (Friday 6th March) at midday.
Venue: Pure Bar and Kitchen, 30 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5TJ; purebarandkitchen.com
ChoiceBraised pork shoulder roll and fries (£11) Chooser: The Manager

Reports of pulled pork's death have been greatly exaggerated. Rumour has it this is one of the dishes that bagged the chef his job at Pure and little surprise - it's superb. The bun is an integral player in any meat-filled masterpiece and this robust, brioche top and tailer kept generous amounts of the good stuff safely inside, resolutely refusing to become limp against the smoky slathering of stunning sauce. Speaking of which, the sauce is a showstopper. Made with Fritz Kola and a Welsh smoked stout called Dirty Stop Out, it's a sweet, heavenly match for the 16 hour slow cooked, dry rubbed meat. Fresh, crunchy house coleslaw (we refuse to call it 'slaw) provides texture while fresh fries fill any gap left by the centrepiece sandwich. Wash down with the Alaskan smoked porter and leave happy. Or stay. Probably best to just stay...
(NB - This dish is from Pure's specials board and is not served daily. It features once a week and they announce when on Twitter.)
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"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world."
– Jean-Luc Godard
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen, Andrew Dickens, David Cornish
IMAGES: Jack Spicer Adams
ADDRESS: I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 211, 43 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5LS


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