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The best things to do and see (or watch) in Europe this week

'Doing well with these fine goods' (2022) by John Madu.
'Doing well with these fine goods' (2022) by John Madu. Copyright Opera Gallerty
Copyright Opera Gallerty
By Amber Louise Bryce
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'Sasquatch Sunset', 'The Sympathizer' and Primavera Sound in Barcelona. Here's what's hot in Europe this week.

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What's going on with 2024's box office?

This week, we looked into why big blockbuster releases like The Fall Guy and Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga have underperformed with cinema-goers (spoiler: streaming services and possible prequel fatigue have a lot to answer for).

It's a worrying trend, but still, the range of fantastic films shown at last week's Cannes festival prove cinema is far from dead! We all just need to go more - and if it's recommendations you need, it's recommendations we've got.

Exhibitions

Opera Gallery London: 'The Whole World Smiles with You' (UK)

'Still Got Your Back', (2023) by Adjei Tawiah
'Still Got Your Back', (2023) by Adjei TawiahOpera Gallery

An exploration of figurative Black art from the 1980s onwards, 'The Whole World Smiles with You' is a group exhibition at London's Opera Gallery that includes work from popular modern day artists like Jazz Grant, Anya Paintsil, Thelonious Stokes, Derrick Adams and many more. Curated by Alayo Akinkugbe, a historian who runs the popular @ablackhistoryofart Instagram account, the displays seek to challenge traditional Western ideas of Blackness by reinterpreting its (largely negative and stereotypical) portrayal in traditional European portraiture. Open until 26 June.  

Festivals

'Primavera Sound Barcelona' (Spain)

Pulp, Vampire Weekend, Lana Del Rey, SZA and The National are just some of the huge names in music making an appearance at this year's Primavera Sound in Barcelona, which began on Wednesday (29 May) and ends 2 June. One of the biggest festivals in Europe, it also marks the start of another musical summer garnished in glitter. If you've not managed to nab tickets to this particular event, check out our list of other fantastic European festivals - and stay tuned for more Primavera updates from Euronews Cultures' Jonny Walfisz, who's probably enjoying Beth Gibbons as this is written. We're not jealous at all.

Festival Ciné-Palestine (Marseille, France)

Now in its tenth edition, the Festival Ciné-Palestine opens in Marseille from 30 May, then moves to Paris on 7 June, finishing up in Ivry-sur-Seine on 16 June. It's a celebration of Palestinian filmmakers, showcasing the lost archives of those that have documented the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. This year, there's a total of 45 films that have been selected - none of which were made after the Hamas attack on 7 October. In an interview with AFP, one of the festival's organisers stressed the importance of showing the "perpetual Palestinian resistance". Find out more here.

Movies

'La Bête' ('The Beast')

Our Film of the Week is La Bête (The Beast), genre-bending and layered sci-fi tale from French conceptualist Bertrand Bonello (Nocturama, Zombi Child) that is a lot to take in. However, give this Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-riffing tale the required time, and you'll be rewarded to one of this year's most audacious movies.

It's already out in various European territories, but gets released in the UK and Ireland today. We can't recommend it enough. Read the full review.

'Sasquatch Sunset'

On paper, it sounds crazy. 90 minutes of watching hairy big foots (feets?) doing 'day in the life' style content, without the ten-step skincare routine. "They eat, sleep, fornicate, defecate, fight, play with turtles, sniff skunks, and gradually come into contact with things they don’t fully comprehend, like a red ‘X’ on a tree, or a concrete road that puzzles them to the point of distress (and urination)," wrote David Mouriquand, Euronews Culture's film critic, who saw the film earlier this year at the Berlinale.

But, with stunning visuals and a heartwarming message, it also ended up being one of the most memorable films of the festival - and a reminder of the joys of silent cinema and physical comedy. Read David's review in full here.

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'Jim Henson: Idea Man' (disney+)

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending," Jim Henson, the beloved American puppeteer and filmmaker, once said. Now, his life truly has been turned into a movie, with this newly streaming Disney+ documentary by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13). Documenting Henson's life through a series of show clips, interviews, bloopers, behind-the-scenes moments and home movies, it's a moving portrait of a life that was filled with so much kindness and creativity. There are also so many fascinating little facts in here, including the fact Henson grew a beard because of his acne scars, or first created Kermit the Frog by cutting up his mother’s green coat and adding ping-pong balls for eyes.

TV series

'The Sympathizer' (HBO)

It doesn't take much to sell HBO's new miniseries 'The Sympathizer'. A tale of espionage that's directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden), produced by A24 and stars Robert Downey in a variety of wacky roles, it comes freshly served with a lot of cool credentials. It's also based on a 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Set in the mid-70s, just before the fall of Saigon, it follows a half-Vietnamese, half-French pro-communist spy (Hoa Xuande) infiltrating the south-Vietnamese police before being exiled to LA. Offbeat, playful and clever, it's mostly just a pleasure to watch for the mesmerising visuals - nobody does transition shots like Chan-wook. Although he has, once again, ruined squid for us.

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'Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult' (Netflix)

Ah, another three-part Netflix documentary about a weird cult? Count us in. This time, it involves a group of young, impressionable TikTok dancers - and an LA-based church pastor that misled and groomed them under the guise of running a talent agency called 7M management. As with many of these types of documentaries, it seems to just keep getting weirder...And more worrisome.

Music

Eminem: 'Houdini'

Guess who's back? Back again? Not Slim Shady, that's for sure - Eminem's alter-ego is "dead" according to the rapper's upcoming album title: ‘The Death Of Slim Shady (Coup De Grâce)’, which is due to be released this summer. The first single dropped today, titled 'Houdini' (Dua Lipa is so side-eyeing right now). Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, teased the track on May 29 with a social media video featuring magician David Blaine biting into a wine glass and Mathers saying, "well for my last trick, I'm gonna make my career disappear."

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Arooj Aftab: 'Night Reign'

One of the most recent comments on the above YouTube video reads: "For Sensitive - Elegant People', which feels right. Although, we'd also add that Pakistani-American singer and songwriter Arooj Aftab's mesmerising music is for night owls and maladaptive daydreamers, her trance-inducing melodies capturing a specific feeling of nightfall: reality gently falling away, a warmth and drowsiness that spreads through your body like sipping whiskey. Her latest album, 'Night Reign', is a magical listen.

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