Repertory Rundown

Repertory Rundown: What to Watch in London This Week, From Fellini to Fritz Lang

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


Amacord (1973)

When and where? 21 March, The Prince Charles Cinema (also 31 March)

Many directors have trafficked in nostalgia, but few have given it such multicoloured, bittersweet, melancholic wistfulness as Federico Fellini did in Amarcord. It traces a year in Fellini’s birthplace of Rimini, a small regional coastal city in the 1930s, as our young protagonist contends with fascist teachings at school, the pageants and festivities of regional life, and the stirrings of adolescent horniness. As far as Fellini’s filmography goes, it represents something of a complete circle: his critical breakthrough, 1953's I Vitelloni, was also set in Rimini but clearly marked by the naturalism and structures of Italian neorealism. Twenty years later, Fellini had emerged as an artist rather more interested in an elevated hyperreality, in the strange muddiness of remembrances of long ago, and the way we gratuitously add these little fantastical details to our memories to make them seem more colourful and romantic than they ever were at the time. Fedor Tot


Straw Dogs (1971)

When and where? 21, 24, 26 March, The Prince Charles Cinema (also 30 March)

Sam Peckinpah's brutal back-country thriller (horror?) is the very definition of a movie whose reputation precedes it. Banned in the UK for years, it now stands as a blunt, complex evocation of man's animalistic underside, brought to the forefront by an uncharacteristically unhinged performance courtesy of Dustin Hoffman. Keen to shed his good-boy image post-Graduate, he plays mathematician David Sumner, a polite American ultimately pushed “too far” after he relocates to dreary Cornwall with his beautiful wife, Amy (Susan George). The locals, cast as near-inbred, make an increasingly volatile protest at their arrival, pushing mild mannered David towards a bloody revolt that makes murky work of the usual catharsis we associate with the revenge flick. The subtext – marital breakdown, cultural differences – has made the movie a subject of debate for decades, yet Straw Dogs' dread-filled atmosphere is arguably its greatest flex: few films have captured the restless banality of the English countryside with such uneasy authenticity. Tom Barnard


They Live (1988)

When and where? 23 March, Genesis Cinema

Come for the biting satire about secret alien forces trying to keep us in line. Stay for the six-minute long alley way brawl that goes from exhilarating, to exhausting, and then all the way back to exhilarating again. John Carpenter's once divisive but now-adored cult favourite, They Live, is one for the smart-stupid canon; relentlessly enjoyable when viewed on its own often cheesy terms, but rife with deeper social and political commentary about the ways that higher powers seek to control us, made at the height of Carpenter's disillusion with the Reagan administration. Former wrestler Roddy Piper is the nobody who stumbles on a pair of special sunglasses that expose the world for what it really is: a series of hidden prompts and secret messages, invisible to the naked eye. Best ingested along with a beer or two, followed by a giddy discussion in the pub that goes on until closing time. Tom Barnard


Before Sunset (2004)

When and where? 23 March, The Prince Charles Cinema (35mm)

The chances are that if you have found yourself browsing for repertory screenings on a specialist film site, you’re already well aware of the genius, the emotional heft, the sheer searing simplicity of Linklater’s walk-and-talk Before trilogy. Far be it for me to suggest that this is any kind of hidden gem: it sparkles in plain view. But boy, can it never be overstated that Before Sunset is a seismic, tiny masterpiece of the Yearning Canon, an achingly romantic snapshot of missed opportunity, true love and the uncontested power of intellectual foreplay. It’s perhaps the finest film we have about how relationships are simultaneously the most rewarding and the most violent things that can happen to us as humans. Reaction shots that punch you in the gut. Gazes that make you want to throw it all away for love. The happenstances that change your life. But the deceptive simplicity of the screenplay is the film’s lasting triumph, the conversational ease belying an ocean’s worth of thorny undercurrents. The final lines brandish your heart like a hot iron. Steph Green


Ran (1985)

When and where? From 24 March, Picturehouse Cinemas

It’s been a while since I first watched Ran early one Sunday morning on a too-small TV, gradually joined by a hungover flatmate and then her bashful one-night stand, the three of us an unlikely trio glued to this near-three-hour epic that, thankfully, I can now rightfully see on a far larger screen. A bloody, epic reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s King Lear transposed to Sengoku-period Japan, directed by one of the finest cinematic visionaries of all time, is just as good as it sounds. It operates on its own axis of chaos and apocalyptic destruction, drawing upon facets of traditional Noh theatre and the sense of violent chaos that seemed entirely permissible in post-Hiroshima Japan to create images that sear into your mind. Everything lands like a spear through the chest: the awe-inspiring use of colour, the Mahler-esque score, the epic battle scenes that may well be cinema’s finest. Steph Green

Late Spring (1949)

When and where? 25 March, The Garden Cinema

The final shot of Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring remains perhaps one of the most devastating codas in film history. The image is simply of one of the two protagonists, Shukichi (Chishū Ryū), returning home after the wedding of his daughter Noriko (Setsuko Hara), sitting down to peel an apple, struggling, then dropping his head slightly. The single image speaks to the entirety of the film, a definite full stop to Late Spring’s dissection of post-war gender and family roles, where devotion, loyalty and love intersect in the tiniest of actions. There are many aspects to Ozu’s enduring brilliance, and this detailing is one of them – it is part of what allowed him to make so many films with essentially interchangeable plots and yet avoid repeating himself – these small moments of storytelling that throw sharp relief into how these individuals reflect on their lives. Late Spring is full of them, and is rightly considered one of his best as a result. Fedor Tot


No Country for Old Men (2007)

When and where? 25 March, Everyman Screen on the Green (35mm)

A complete about-turn for the Coens after the middling comedy of their remake of The Ladykillers, No Country for Old Men landed as a stark, chilling and arguably note-perfect adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's acclaimed novel – beating Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood in the battle for Best Picture back in 2008. Josh Brolin is former Vietnam vet Llewelyn Moss, who happens upon a sack of money and is pursued by a relentless, unstoppable wall of evil (with a bad haircut) in Javier Bardem's hitman Anton Chigurh, a casting coup. The film moves with such a quiet, ominous efficiency, finding sudden, meticulous, heart-pounding set-pieces among the cheap motels and dusty roads of 80s Texas. Tommy Lee Jones gives weary, career-best support as the “last man” lamenting an increasingly violent world. But it's Bardem's hitman who dominates the picture – a villain of such iconic standing that cinema has failed to carve out a more memorable assassin in the 16 years since. Has it really been 16 years? The movie lingers with such clarity that we might have seen it only yesterday. Tom Barnard


Shorts: Kenneth Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle (1947 – 1981)

When and where? 26 March, Close-Up Film Centre

Still kicking around at a sprightly 96-years-young, no doubt thanks to a demonic pact with the underworld, Kenneth Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle – comprising nine short films made between 1947 and 1981 – remains one of the touchstones of American 20th century independent and experimental cinema. The first of the cycle, Fireworks, was one of the first films in the US to depict male-on-male sex (long before homosexuality was legal in the USA), and it remains a psychosexual fever dream of fantasy and desire. Later films such as Scorpio Rising (1963) and its sister mini-film Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965) fused such desires with burgeoning biker and automobile culture, pop music, and Satanism. From here, you’ll find a direct link to such late ‘60s/early ‘70s totems as 1970s's Performance and the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky. In this heady brew of countercultural phantasmagoria lies a truly thrilling collection of films by one of American cinema’s strangest individuals. Fedor Tot


M (1931)

When and where? 26 March, The Castle Cinema (16mm)

For any fan of the murder mystery or the thriller genre as a whole, ticking Fritz Lang’s M off your watchlist is a must. Every serial killer flick owes its chills to this interminably creepy story of a citywide manhunt of a murderer, which is still genuinely disturbing to this day – not just because this bug-eyed, wormlike killer preys on young children, but because of the cinematic language itself. Lang’s shadowy German expressionism coupled with the menace of implied off-screen violence brings in the sensationalist factor, while the killer’s alarming banality and humanity only makes it all the more chilling. Only made a few years on from the advent of talkies, M boasts one of the best uses of sound in a motion picture – the terrifying whistle leitmotif, yes, but also the use of silence, too. The culminative scene – in which the killer is tried by a rabid kangaroo court – is not only remarkable thanks to Peter Lorre’s astonishing commitment, but because of how ahead of its time it was in its thesis regarding mob mentality, and the city of Berlin itself as a grotesque hinterland ripe for the rise of societal turmoil. Steph Green

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