Repertory Rundown

Repertory Rundown: What to Watch in London This Week, From Raimi to Rio Bravo

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


La Grande Bouffe

When and where? 17 April, The Prince Charles Cinema

The simplest way to describe La Grande Bouffe would be “Luis Buñuel with an eating disorder,” but this doesn’t quite strike at the film’s sheer disgust with itself in a way that Buñuel historically tended to avoid. The film’s director, Marco Ferreri, had his own troubled relationship with food, and so it makes sense that his most renowned film features Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret (a veritable Mt. Rushmore of ‘60-’70s European movie stardom) absolutely disgracing themselves as four friends who arrive at a chateau for a weekend feast, from which they simply eat… and then eat more… and then more… and more… until each one gradually kicks the bucket. Each one has his own neuroses (for example, Piccoli refuses to fart in public, leading to perhaps the greatest death scene in cinema history), in what becomes a blackly comic excavation of bourgeois excesses and the audience’s desire to simply keep going. Just make sure not to go on a full stomach. Fedor Tot


12 Angry Men (1957)

When and where? 19 April, The Castle Cinema (16mm) (also 27 April)

One room, twelve men, and a raging storm. There’s a powerful simplicity in Sidney Lumet’s outstanding, not-quite courtroom drama in which a group of jurors play verbal volleyball to try and ascertain the guilt or innocence of a teenager charged with murder. The premise could have fallen prey to its stagey teleplay roots, but instead it’s claustrophobically cinematic – as the men debate the angles of the case, you too find your allegiances thrillingly changing as each person has their voice heard. But what makes the whole thing oddly moving is its depiction of how it only takes one lone voice to turn the tide against lynch mob hysteria; how respect and facts and discussion can forge a path out of the murk and into something resembling clarity. As a young, budding cinephile, watching this made me starkly aware of all the possibilities of cinema to move, to shock, to emote: all in the language of visual economy. Steph Green


Bamako (2006)

When and where? 20 and 22 April, The Garden Cinema (also 1 May)

The Mauritania-born Malian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako has enjoyed a long and fruitful career as a leading light of African cinema, with his 2014 work Timbuktu scoring an Academy nomination for Best International Feature. That film depicted life in the titular city in the wake of its takeover by extremist Islamist groups, with a particular attention to the hypocrisies of the (new) ruling powers and the survival strategies of its citizens. Bamako showcases similar concerns, but this time with regards to an older ruling class in Africa – the West, or more specifically, the World Bank and the IMF, where residents of a courtyard block in the city are holding a trial with the two institutions in the dock. They’re accused, quite rightly, of imprisoning African countries in a never-ending cycle of debt that draws essential resources away from the continent and slows development. It’s exacting, angry political cinema, polemical but precise, and cinematically imaginative to boot. Fedor Tot


The Evil Dead (1981)

When and where? 20 April, Genesis Cinema

Ahead of the release of the latest chapter in the long-running franchise, remix/reboot Evil Dead Rise, here's a chance to catch the one that started it all. Much of the set-up of Sam Raimi's lo-fi cabin-set horror feels all-too-familiar in 2023: but this is the movie that essentially paved the way for so many of the cliches – a defining phenomenon which, in horror terms, landed like a cultural reset. While the series would lean further into the comedy as it went on, the original sits longer with the actual terror of it all: so Bruce Campbell's tormented hero, Ash, faces off against the Deadites, arisen from an ancient book, as his pals fall one-by-one in a series of gruesome, gnarly deaths. What Raimi does with almost no money speaks volumes about his kinetic inventiveness, his unique, cartoon-inspired style seemingly formed right out of the gate. But none of it works without Campbell's physicality; the madness coursing through his eyes, his limbs, his chin, would come to prove the franchise's unlikely secret weapon. Tom Barnard


Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

When and where? 21 April, Prince Charles Cinema (35mm)

Sam Peckinpah's dreamy lament for the genre that defined his career is a true original, in that no other western is quite doing what this one is trying – and sometimes failing – to do. It has appeared in various versions over the years, but this, the Director's Cut, comes closet to Peckinpah's true vision. In its story about the obsessive, years-long friendship (love affair?) turned rivalry between Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) and Pat Garrett (James Coburn), the man who would eventually shoot him dead, Peckinpah's highly revisionist take unravels as more of a series of inspired, violent set-pieces, all of which are caught in the otherworldly grip of Bob Dylan's melancholy score (the singer-songwriter also appears in a small role). Prone to the whims of time and memory, as characters are forced to face their comeuppance in a fast-fading frontier, it's a sad, strange, haunting work, made more interesting for its flaws and odd rhythms, and one whose reputation as an overlooked masterpiece is only increasing as the years go on. Tom Barnard

Babette's Feast (1987)

When and where? 21 April, The Cinema Museum (35mm)

I think preparing and serving somebody food is one of the highest expressions of love. It’s ingrained in me, really – coming from a Cypriot household mandates an almost subservient level of hospitality to your guest, and a huge amount of warmth and almost religious fulfilment to be gleaned from this act. Perhaps that’s why I love Babette’s Feast so much, a beautiful film about the sensory, tactile practice of cooking and serving an elaborate meal, and how even the coldest hearts can be won over with a damn good plate of food and a damn good glass of wine. Stéphane Audran stars as the titular Babette, who makes it her mission to make her loving – if overly stark and pious – neighbours appreciate the earthly pleasures of gustatory bliss in late 19th century Denmark. A perfectly chilled Veuve Clicquot Champagne is a balm for the soul, and boy does Babette know it. Steph Green


Rio Bravo (1959)

When and where? 20 April, BFI Southbank

A group of men sitting around, chatting and waiting, doesn't sound like the stuff of a truly great western. Yet Rio Bravo, Howard Hawks's 1959 classic, starring John Wayne, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan, masterfully brings entertainment value and builds tension through the promise of an inevitable showdown. But while we wait… how about some music? Deemed one of the greatest ever “hangout” movies by Quentin Tarantino, Rio Bravo squeezes all the iconography out of its leading trio by keeping them in close proximity and simply letting them bounce off one another: Wayne commands, Nelson sings, and Brennan (in arguably his best turn) provides the humour. As they prepare themselves for an outlaw gang's arrival, the pressure rises, allegiances buckle, and Angie Dickinson provides a different kind of heat. But in its ambling way, the movie is always sharp, witty, and expertly blocked and framed by a director who arguably never made a better western. Tom Barnard


The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)

When and where? 22 April, Close-Up Film Centre

Fassbinder once said: “Every decent director has only one subject, and finally only makes the same film over and over again. My subject is the exploitability of feelings, whoever might be the one exploiting them.” Pick out any one of his multiple masterpieces and you’ll see that in action. Whilst Bitter Tears might not have quite the same sheer emotive impact of Fear Eats the Soul, it is shot through with a sandpaper-like texture of self-loathing, infesting every frame of the film like a lingering virus, its central lesbian love triangle driven by lust, manipulation and fury. A recent gender-swapped remake by François Ozon highlighted the original text’s autobiographical qualities (aided by excellent mimicry from Denis Ménochet), but seemed to forget all the sheer drama that makes the original a classic – few other directors, after all, were ever so comfortable letting their worst tendencies run so free on screen. Fedor Tot


Strangers on a Train (1951)

When and where? 23 April, Rio Cinema

I don’t think Strangers on a Train is Hitchcock’s best film, but I think it contains one of the greatest sequences he ever directed. It happens near the end, at an amusement park, as a carousel whirls out of control and the two leads tussle for their lives; it’s just about the most thrilling thing Hitch has filmed, and that’s saying something. That's not to say the rest of the film isn’t pretty great, too – Farley Granger is perfect as the dumb stooge tricked by Robert Walker’s psychopathic Bruno, a truly chilling villain and captivating screen presence. Just because this is a film noir, that doesn’t mean we lose any of Hitch’s tongue-in-cheek playfulness, nor are the homoerotic undertones dialled down. Essentially, this film proves my thesis that you should always ignore strangers who try to speak to you on public transport. Steph Green

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