Repertory Rundown

Repertory Rundown: What to Watch in London This Week, From Douglas Sirk to Duel

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


Duel (1971)

When and where? 4 July, The Lord Palmerston (Tufnell Park Film Club)

He’s done dinosaurs, wars, aliens, musicals, biopics, the lot. But when I think of one of my favourite recent Spielberg discoveries, it has to be Duel – his debut film, made for television – that I was lucky to see on the big screen thanks to a retrospective at the most recent Berlin Film Festival. The premise is simple: a man is pursued for 90 minutes by a maniacal truck driver for no apparent reason. But boy, should you take the chance to see this with a crowd; there’s nothing quite like being rammed in the face by a demoniac truck while sitting front row, hooting and hollering at this increasingly bizarre cat-and-mouse chase. This pulpy thriller is funny, scary, and frankly has no right looking this good. By never seeing the man hell-bent on mowing down our hapless protagonist, and given the pared-down nature of the script, the truck itself becomes the antagonist. It’s all testament to Spielberg’s extraordinary skill, even at the nascence of his career; any attempt today, by a lesser filmmaker, would be a CGI mess. Steph Green


All That Heaven Allows (1955)

When and where? 4 July, BFI Southbank (also 13 July)

There’s something strange about the idea of watching All That Heaven Allows in July, given it’s the perfect autumn movie: all those falling leaves, knitted sweaters and New England delight. But Sirk is for all seasons, and his right-people-wrong-time melodrama possesses extraordinary emotional power. Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson star as an upper-class widow and younger gardener who fall in love, only to be rocked by a finger-wagging society. The sense of yearning, of being transformed by love, is powerful: but it’s the sense of pointless sacrifice, of selling yourself short to please the cruelty and caprices of others, that lands the biggest cinematic punch in the solar plexus. Set in a cracked snowglobe version of 1950s utopian America, this work is as powerful and moving as its later imitators: Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul and Haynes’ Far from Heaven. Steph Green


Team America: World Police (2004)

When and where? 4 July, The Prince Charles Cinema

Along with South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and The Book of Mormon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's other musical triumph lies in Team America: World Police, a ridiculous distillation of their home country's uber-patriotism that – in true South Park fashion – finds targets in absolutely everything and everyone, from Michael Bay to Kim Jong-il. The film, rendered in the puppet marionette style of Thunderbirds, is a smorgasbord of low-brow comedy and genuinely astute satire, as jobbing Broadway actor Gary Johnston is enlisted into the titular organisation to stop a generic global terrorist threat (the joke, of course, is that the team cause more damage than they prevent). But the songs, from catchy opener “Everyone Has AIDS,” to inspirational 80s riff “Montage,” had no right to be this good. Puppet sex! Matt Damon! It's utterly stupid, in the best possible sense. What better way to spend the Fourth of July, that most American of days? Tom Barnard


News from Home (1977)

When and where? 5 July, Prince Charles Cinema (also 24 July)

Chantal Akerman’s powerful cine-essay is comprised of two very simple ideas: long, sound-free shots of places in New York, often places of transit such as a bus, subway, or car; and Akerman reading out the letters sent to her by her mother in Belgium, telling her how her family is doing and asking how her daughter is finding it in New York. The footage, shot during Akerman’s sojourn in New York, is imbued with the peculiar loneliness familiar to any foreign transplant to the big city, whilst her mother’s letters are suffused with an almost overbearing protectiveness. Akerman’s relationship to the avant-garde Structural film movement is well documented, her early films firmly in that tradition. But her greatest works took that formal experimentation and suffused them with a deep melancholy and poetry that elevated her into the Greatest of All Time ranks. Fedor Tot

Boxcar Bertha (1972)

When and where? 5 July, Prince Charles Cinema (35mm) (also 13 July)

The story goes, so Scorsese says, that after screening Boxcar Bertha to his friend and mentor John Cassavetes, he turned to him and said “Marty, you’ve just spent a whole year of your life making a piece of shit.” The critique is supposedly what pushed Scorsese into forging ahead with Mean Streets, his third feature film and the one that firmly set him apart as a cut above the rest. But whilst Boxcar Bertha doesn’t stand up to Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, it is still a tough, grimy crime picture, redolent of a young filmmaker finding his feet with panache. A Bonnie and Clyde riff produced by Roger Corman starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine – and just like that watershed moment in New Hollywood a real-life story about Depression-era outlaws – Boxcar Bertha marks an essential learning step in Scorsese’s development, giving him the tools to play to the rafters via schlocky exploitation. His career since then has been an object lesson in how to fuse the populist with the personal, so it seems his schooling was worth it. Fedor Tot


Interstellar (2014)

When and where? 5 July, Everyman Screen on the Green (35mm)

In two weeks' time, Christopher Nolan will detonate arguably his biggest movie ever with the box office “bomb” that is Oppenheimer. Enough time to catch his pre-existing masterpiece, Interstellar, then, which landed in theatres back in 2014 as his most ambitious effort to date: a rip-roaring space adventure doubling as a poignant lament for a future made inhabitable by global warming, rendered beautifully melancholy by one of Hans Zimmer's best scores, it finds former NASA pilot-turned-crop farmer Cooper (a never better Matthew McConaughey) on a time-bending mission hinged on the ultimate sacrifice: seeing his kids grow up faster than he ever dreamed possible. Come for the glorious, Kubrick-esque visuals and scientifically-sound script, based on the work of physicist Kip Thorne. Stay for some of the most unexpectedly devastating scenes witnessed in a $150 million space movie – proof that Nolan, often derided as a cold filmmaker, can be anything but clinical if he so chooses. Tom Barnard


Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

When and where? 6 July, Rooftop Film Club Peckham

I never tire of rewatching this sweet and stupid rom-com, which sort of feels like a relic of its time – the kind of comedy that these days would flop at the box office and/or not exist. It sees Steve Carrell as a middle-aged man who has sleptwalk through the past few years of his life, much to the chagrin of wife Emily (Julianne Moore), who asks for a divorce, leading Carrell to lick his wounds in a bar frequented by ladykiller Jacob (Ryand Gosling). It’s the latter’s funniest role, it’s Emma Stone wielding her normal-girl charm to its best effect, it’s Carrell proving his equal footing in comedy and drama. Marisa Tomei! Kevin Bacon! They play Muse in the trailer! It’s 2011! Forget La La Land: Gosling and Stone’s chemistry here is electric, and every character somehow feels readily believable and sympathetic in and amongst all the chaos. Roger Ebert, like a sweet grandfather, said in his 2011 review that the film is full of “OMG! moments,” and he was right. Steph Green


Live and Let Die (1973)

When and where? 6 July, The Prince Charles Cinema

Most simply remember this Bond entry for its earworm of a theme song, a banger that had no right to be quite so good, courtesy of Paul McCartney and Wings. That undeniable hit aside, though, Live and Let Die is arguably the weirdest entry in the franchise, and – to my mind – the only one that suggests the existence of actual magic within the 007 universe. Live and Let Die was inspired by the success of 70s Blaxploitation movies, and was the first entry to star Roger Moore, who would emerge here as a far more quippy and campy incarnation of the character. The plot concerns drug smuggling in Harlem and the Caribbean, but with its voodoo obsession and an ending that appears to depict a full-on zombie resurrection, it's more Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom than classic Bond, packed with surreal moments and scenes of comic excess. Live and Let Die suggested the new, malleable nature of the franchise in ways that weren't topped until Bond jettisoned into space for Moonraker. Tom Barnard


The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)

When and where? 8 July, Close-Up Film Centre

Jack Nicholson’s persona as an actor has for the longest time been based around his capacity to go wild: that arched eyebrow, those maddening eyes, the wry smirk. It’s a legacy built around two films, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Shining, and then replicated and chewed into oblivion over time. But anyone paying close attention to his era-defining early roles will find an actor far more interested in interiority than scenery-chewing. Even Five Easy Pieces, with its famous diner scene, is more about the volatile headspace of its protagonist than Nicholson acting out. Director Bob Rafelson and Nicholson teamed up again two years later for The King of Marvin Gardens, an overlooked New Hollywood masterpiece about the desperation and hollowness that eats away those consumed by greed and financial insecurity, aided by more great performances from Ellen Burstyn and Bruce Dern. It is a better, more nuanced work than their better known and more abrasive earlier collaboration. Fedor Tot

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