Repertory Rundown

Repertory Rundown: What to Watch in London This Week, From Bogdanovich to Buster Keaton

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


Paper Moon (1973)

When and where? 13 June, The Prince Charles Cinema

Peter Bogdanovich fired out banger after banger in his early career, from Targets to The Last Picture Show and What’s Up, Doc?, but Paper Moon is my personal favourite: the ultimate odd-couple road trip movie about a hard-talking, cig-smoking gamine and the sleazy bible-salesman – horrid man, beautiful face – who may or may not be her father. The performances may be a marvel, but it’s the sheer mastery behind the camera that’s palpably felt here; László Kovács’ black-and-white deep focus photography, luxuriously mounted in extended takes, or Polly Platt’s incredible production design, populating the barren Midwestern landscape with intricate details that transport us to this sad slice of thwarted American dreams. The lamentable real-life relationship between father-daughter stars, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, adds a whole new perspective, too: let’s just say he wasn’t too happy when his 10-year-old daughter won an Oscar for the project, when he wasn’t even nominated. Steph Green


Nostalgia for the Light (2010)

When and where? 13 & 15 June, ICA

Patricio Guzmán has spent his career chronicling the political and social history of his native Chile, capturing first-hand the ascension of socialist Salvador Allende in 1970 and then the coup by US-backed fascist forces led by General Pinochet. Though he continued to work in his years of exile, the last fifteen or so years have seen a run of films which have allowed international audiences to rediscover his work, the first of those being the incredible Nostalgia for the Light. This essayistic masterpiece travels to the Atacama Desert, the driest non-polar desert on Earth; the clearness and dryness of the air here, combined with lack of human habitation, makes it perfect for observatories. That dryness also allows for impeccable preservation of artefacts in the ground – which can include Incan civilisation or Pinochet’s victims. Guzmán uses this fact to dissect the darkness of Chile’s recent and colonial pasts, contrasting that with the awe and wonderment that comes from gazing at the vast galaxies above, ramming home how futile and worthless this violence really is. Fedor Tot


Lost in Translation (2003)

When and where? 14 and 15 June, Bussey Building and BFI

Bill Murray should have won the Oscar for his brilliant turn as jaded film star Bob Harris in Lost in Translation, who finds an unlikely connection with twenty-something Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in Sofia Coppola's hazy almost-romance. He's magnetic in the most understated way, putting his trademark hangdog expression and cynical charm to perfect use alongside Coppola's soft-focus cinematography and a soundtrack of dream pop gems. Opposite him Johansson (just 17 at the time) is wise beyond her years, the two adrift in Tokyo as their relationship brilliantly outmanoeuvres any labels of the romantic or the platonic, dropping us somewhere satisfyingly in the middle. Lost in Translation also works wonders as a bonafide cinematic travelogue, pulling us around the Japanese capital, to lunch spots, arcades, karaoke, and on board a high-speed train to Kyoto; a portrait of alienation and ennui that perfectly captures how it feels to be at sea in both life and a foreign land. But funny. Tom Barnard


D.E.B.S (2004)

When and where? 15 June, The Castle Cinema

One for the “be gay, do crime” canon, D.E.B.S (which stands for Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength) is getting a big screen treatment for Pride Month – and for a certain generation, it’s a true cult classic of camp and kooky proportions. A sort of manic, Sapphic Spy Kids, Angela Robinson’s unapologetically noughties comedy sees a team of teenage crime fighters get recruited to take down an evil villainess (Jordana Brewster). Unluckily for them, she’s so cool and hot that they all fall in love with her. It’s obviously a bad film, let me be clear: but it’s easy to love a box-office bomb should have been a shelved Disney movie, because it normalizes queerness entirely; who could really bemoan a digital-era spoof about young gay spies in little plaid skirts with Holland Taylor and shoddy CGI? Steph Green


Twentieth Century (1934)

When and where? 16 June, BFI Southbank (also 22 June)

“It's the story of the biggest ham on earth and you're the biggest ham I know,” said director Howard Hawks to star John Barrymore to convince him to sign onto Twentieth Century, or at least so goes the story. Yet it’s a then up-and-coming Carole Lombard that steals the show as the diva roped into a stage play with her former lover, now the proverbial ham of the stage; her comic timing and screen presence is simply overwhelming. The fast-paced screwball comedy was already a popular form with audiences at the time, yet Hawks – then yet to really try comedy in his still emerging career – found a way to inject amphetamines into it. For this writer, as impressive as the record-breaking verbal sparring of Hawks’ His Girl Friday is (also screening at the BFI), it’s a bit of an overdose. Twentieth Century is nearly as rapid-fire with its dialogue, but the high here… just right! Fedor Tot

Apocalypse Now: Final Cut (1979)

Where and where? 16 & 19 June, Prince Charles Cinema

“Exterminate… with extreme prejudice.” And so it is with this order that Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) charters a boat and sets out to assassinate the rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), gone AWOL at the height of the Vietnam War. Loosely based on Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, the making of Francis Ford Coppola's nightmarish war film is now as legendary as the final product (“My film isn't about Vietnam… it is Vietnam”), a chaotic hell of fire and fury whose unruly production is up there on the screen for everyone to see, packed with some of the most visually spectacular and thrilling set-pieces ever put to celluloid. But helicopter assaults and tiger encounters aside, Apocalypse Now is also a macabre mood piece of the highest order: a horror film about man's darkest side that twists and turns down a river of blood towards one of the great filmic finales, made all the more disturbing by Carmine Coppola's eerie score and Brando's breathy, shadow-heavy turn as the maddest of men. The Final Cut bridges the gap between Coppola's previous versions – an act of tinkering that adds rather than diminishes. Tom Barnard


The Long Goodbye (1973)

When and where? 16 & 18 June, Prince Charles Cinema (also 27 June, 35mm)

Robert Altman and Elliott Gould’s take on the Phillip Marlowe character – the iconic noir detective written by Raymond Chandler and given silver screen immortality by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep – is a complete left-turn from Bogart’s iteration (this despite the two films sharing a screenwriter in Leigh Brackett). He’s a man out of time, at odds with the hippie-fied, acid-infused LA of the early ‘70s (Altman often suggested that the opening scene where Marlowe wakes up is actually the character awakening from a 30-year slumber). Gould plays Marlowe as a man so cool he could light a cigarette on the seabed, but the film’s MVP is arguably cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. His hazy look, derived from post-flashing the film (exposing the film strip to a uniform light after the initial shoot) to previously unheard of levels, gives the film the feel of a bad trip. An undeniable influence on The Big Lebowski and Inherent Vice. Fedor Tot


Sherlock Jr. (1924)

When and where? 17 June, The Prince Charles Cinema

In what many consider to be Buster Keaton’s finest – maybe even most romantic – film, his sweet and hapless protagonist falls asleep while working as a film projectionist and finds himself transplanted into an exciting detective plot, populated with characters in real life he is trying to impress. Full of dreams and love and drama, is this five-reel, 45-minute-long film proof alone of the power of cinema? It wouldn’t be enough to say Sherlock Jr. stands the test of time; it makes most 21st century films look embarrassingly amateur. With his unique brand of blank-faced slapstick and those incredible stunts, this silent clown had a face made to be blown up on the big screen: those soulful eyes and wind-farm limbs still regaling audiences a century on. Grasp the meta opportunity to watch this film-within-a-film about cinema, in a cinema, with a willing crowd, and you’ll be richly rewarded. Steph Green


Stalker (1979)

When and where? 18 June, Close-Up Cinema

Andrei Tarkovsky's unknowable evocation of a post-Soviet no-man's land bridges the gap between pulp thrills and arthouse seriousness to brilliantly mesmerising effect: this high-minded anti-adventure follows a Professor and a Writer, guided by the titular “Stalker,” as they venture into a contaminated zone where it's rumoured there lies a room that will grant one's deepest desires. Imbued with the anxiety of the nuclear age, the movie is as slow-going as it is riveting, like a philosopher's riff on Apocalypse Now (interesting to note these masterpieces both came out during the same year). Stalker's eerie atmosphere and rusty aesthetic is one of a kind, but what really takes you is the film's succession of masterful long-takes, deployed one after the after, the kind you imagine Emmanuel Lubezki lays awake at night and dreams about. “I wanted it to be as if the whole film had been made in a single shot,” said Tarkovsky of his intentions. He pulls it off – and in the process delivers one of the 20th century's most awesome cinematic visions. Tom Barnard

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