Repertory Rundown

Repertory Rundown: What to Watch in London This Week, From Cairo Station to John Cassavetes

From classics to cult favourites, our team highlight some of the best one-off screenings and re-releases showing this week in the capital

Each week our critics hand-pick a selection of special screenings – classic, cult, and everything in between – showing across London's wide range of repertory cinemas, and make the case as to why they're worth catching on the big screen.

Contributors: Tom Barnard, Steph Green, Fedor Tot


Under the Skin (2013)

When and where? 26 June, BFI Southbank

There is no way to really describe the the inherent strangeness of watching Scarlett Johansson walk past a Primark, but that is testament to the singular appeal of Jonathan Glazer's 2013 masterpiece Under the Skin. Set in Scotland, the actress – looking to do something stripped down after a slew of CG-addled blockbusters – plays an alien creature who stalks the desolate landscapes and beaten towns in an ominous black van. Her aim is to pick up lonely men and devour them in a frightening liminal abyss. What, and why? Glazer's movie gives no easy answers, his lo-fi endeavour inhabiting a truly singular space between the abstract and hyper-realistic. With a nightmarish score by Mica Levi and an ending of haunting, screeching despair, Under the Skin asks questions about human connection and the nature of “foreignness” in ways you've never seen before. Tom Barnard


Blow-Up (1966)

When and where? 27, 28 and 29 June, Ciné Lumière

“Accidentally witnessing a murder and becoming obsessed with solving a crime” happens to be my favourite sub-genre of film – but combine that with sleazy mod aesthetics, Veruschka in a beaded slip, a dollop of surrealism and soda-pop cinematography, and we truly have a winner. Following a photographer in the Swinging Sixties who becomes convinced he’s captured a murder taking place in London's Maryon Park, Antonioni’s first English-language film follows this protagonist on a psychedelic trip deep into his own psyche. Soundtracked to the ineffable cool of Herbie Hancock’s jazz score, this slice of pure avant-garde pulp is as dangerous and flirty as a gust of wind up a mini-skirt. Its power lies within its own rambling relationship with reality; pair it with The Conversation and Blow Out for the perfect trilogy of cinephilic voyeurism. Steph Green


Memories of Murder (2003)

When and where? 29 June, Prince Charles Cinema

As devastating as it is funny, Memories of Murder is proof that Korean filmmaker's Bong Joon-ho's talent for blending humour and high stakes drama was in full flow as far back as 2003 (just ask Quentin Tarantino, who once named this as one of his 20 favourite movies ever made). Based on the true story of South Korea’s first serial killer, it follows three detectives as they set out to investigate the murders of five women and are continually run aground, limited by the lack of technology and a case they're totally unprepared for. It's an anti-thriller that reinvented what the serial killer movie could be, switching the focus onto the turmoil experienced by those charged with what is essentially an impossible task. Bong delivers it with such precision and grace that despite the big laughs, the final, soul-searching scene lands with an earth-shattering degree of poignancy. Tom Barnard


Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)

When and where? 29 June, BFI Southbank

Jumping from 207th place in 2012 to 12th place in the 2022 iteration of Sight & Sound’s “Greatest Films of All Time” poll, few can dismiss the staying power of Agnès Varda’s New Wave classic. Much has been written on the film’s mise-en-abyme – the actress playing an actress, who then watches an actress in a silent film – with endless imagery relating to mirrors shattering the meaning further out of focus. But above all, it's just so cool: that Gallic ease in delivering style and ennui. Through an existential looking glass, Corinne Marchand’s titular Cléo spends an afternoon in a state of anxiety ahead of a doctor’s appointment that will confirm if she has cancer – and all around her, something seems to be very off in the Parisian streets. We see Marchand – costumed like the very caricature of a starlet, drowning in elaborate feathers – shed her fripperies, arriving at something powerful and meditative. Varda tempers two versions of reality here – that of superstition in opposition to medical science, fortune tellers versus hospitals – giving both equal validity in this woman’s insular life. Steph Green


Opening Night (1977)

When and where? 30 June, The Prince Charles Cinema (also 26 July)

Many rightfully defer to A Woman Under the Influence when recommending a Gena Rowlands-directed-by-John-Cassavetes flick, but if that film didn’t exist, maybe people would be calling Opening Night one of the finest acting performances of the 70s instead. It’s one of those meta, jaw-agape viewing experiences, scene after scene of pure acting prowess laced with horror. Rowlands plays Myrtle Gordon, a middle-aged alcoholic actress, who begins to behave in an increasingly erratic fashion in the lead-up to the opening night of her latest Broadway play after a young fan darts in front of her car one night and is killed. Here, the drape of the stage’s red curtain may well be the portal to hell – the heavy expectation, the sting of lights, the unbearable eye of the audience, the sense of unpredictability that can feel as exciting as it does terrifying. In analysing the personal cost of inhabiting the psyche of another person night after night, Myrtle – and Rowland – rip themselves apart and stitch themselves together in a whiskey stupor, all for our viewing pleasure. A discomfiting masterpiece. Steph Green

Police Story 3: Supercop

When and where? 30 June, Prince Charles Cinema (also 19 & 31 July)

The third part of Jackie Chan’s Police Story trilogy is also the first not directed by Jackie himself (Stanley Tong took over), which might partly explain why he is upstaged by Michelle Yeoh, who throws herself onto a moving car and drives a motorbike onto a speeding train. It’s frankly unhealthy to watch, even for the notably insane standards of Hong Kong stuntwork, but the result is a supreme action film, in which each hit lands with thunder, each set-piece delivers a satisfying pay-off, and the film’s quieter moments (often revolving around Maggie Cheung as Jackie’s girlfriend) form a humorous respite from the heart-stopping spectacle. Thrilling, brilliant action filmmaking, of the kind that really does make you say “they don’t make them like this anymore!” The appearance of green screens and CGI really were a tragic step back for cinema. Fedor Tot


Treasure Planet (2000)

When and where? 1 and 2 July, The Garden Cinema

Landing awkwardly in the period following Disney's Renaissance, Treasure Planet was seen as a bit of a dud back in its day – lambasted for sticking with a classic animation style during the new wave of digital counterparts. True, it's no match for the titans like Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin (nor even Hercules, for that matter), but this reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic pirate adventure Treasure Island – in space! – has a lot going for it, namely the gorgeous, interplanetary visuals, which locate an inspired middle ground between the futuristic and the retro. In the hands of Disney vets John Musker met Ron Clements, it's one of the the studio's most relentlessly energetic movies (and that's saying something), with a real freewheeling spirit and optimism that makes it feel like something of an unsung entry when viewed today. Kids will love it. Tom Barnard


Rope (1948)

When and where? 2 July, The Garden Cinema (also 7 & 16 July)

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope is famed as his “one-take” film, notwithstanding the fact that film reels of the time only allowed 10 minutes of shooting time maximum, the cuts disguised with blackouts into an object or someone’s back. But there are a number of unmasked cuts through the film – four to be exact. So why is the objective lie that it is a “one-take” film in all but name so often repeated? Perhaps it’s because Hitchcock was such a master of misdirection and suspense-setting that we the viewer barely notice the “hard” cuts that do turn up, so smooth and unnoticeable they appear to the naked eye. It’s also testament to the spell great cinema has over us, seemingly disarming our critical faculties when we come across it. And beyond the excellent formal technique? A story rife with homoeroticism, Nietzschean morality, and a coterie of great performances: the authoritative James Stewart, the paranoid Farley Granger, and the sleazy John Dall. Fedor Tot


Cairo Station (1958)

When and where? 2 July, Ciné Lumière (also 4 July)

The SAFAR Film Festival, celebrating Arabic filmmaking, returns to London and the wider UK from the 29th June to the 9th July. Though SAFAR is predominantly focused on contemporary films, this year’s selection includes a retrospective of the works of the legendary Youssef Chahine, the Egyptian firebrand whose works criss-crossed across genres and styles. For a great introduction to his films, look no further than Cairo Station, a tumultuous, sexually explicit noir in which union politics and social exclusion collide. Chahine himself plays Qinawi, a lame newspaper salesman in the titular station, lusting after Hannumma (Hind Rostom, a major sex symbol of Egyptian cinema), despite the fact that she’s already involved with union organiser and luggage porter Abu (Farid Shawqi). Cairo Station uses the furious bustle of its central terminus as a catalyst for the barely repressed action that drives the plot, teaming with expressionistic imagery and gendered dynamics. A masterpiece. Fedor Tot

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