Every week, we round up the best film events happening outside London’s multiplexes, from major international film festivals to classic seasons at the BFI, from double bills and all-nighters to one-off screenings and in person Q&As with stars, filmmakers or experts. London also has a thriving DIY film club scene in pubs, restaurants, galleries and pop-up venues, and in the summer months you’ll find a wealth of outdoor screenings in parks and gardens across the city.
But I’m a Cheerleader!
The BFI always lines up the best Valentine flicks: alongside trad choices like ‘Top Hat’ and ‘The Lady Eve’, check out this delightful girl-girl comedy. Imagine John Waters directing a teen take on ‘Cool Hand Luke’ and you’ve got a rough idea of this pray-the-gay-away satire, in which Natasha Lyonne’s pom-pom princess is sent away to re-education camp when her parents and friends suspect she’s a little that-way-inclined. The cast is flawless – Michelle Williams, Melanie Lynskey, Julie Delpy and RuPaul butching it up as a camp counsellor in a ‘straight is great’ t-shirt – and the use of colour is eye-frazzling.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT.
Sun Feb 14, 4pm. £8.35 - £11.75 concs.
Another perfect Valentine’s movie. The story is set in a mid-sized town over a 48-hour period. Easygoing, open-hearted lifeguard Russell meets outspoken, sharp-tongued Glen, an aspiring artist, at a club on a Friday night. Over the following couple of days, they hang out, talk, have sex, eat, party and possibly fall in love. More or less a two-hander shot in chronological sequence, the result is an elegant and affecting miniature, the slow-burning intensity of its central relationship expressed through potent performances and marshalled through smart framing and lean editing.
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP.
Sun Feb 14, 9pm. £11, £8.50 concs.
Who Killed Teddy Bear?
Over the Valentine’s weekend the Barbican will be screening four subversive takes on the nature of love under the title My Twisted Valentine. On Saturday, catch Wong Kar-Wai’s mysterious, futuristic ‘2046’ followed by avant-garde gay oddity ‘Normal Love’. Sunday afternoon brings oh-so-French romantic awkwardness in ‘The Mother and the Whore’, before exploitation film club Cigarette Burns round things off with ‘Who Killed Teddy Bear?’, a sick and sleazy tale of obsession from 1965.
Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS.
Sun Feb 14, 6.15pm. £9.50, £8.50 concs.
This near-perfect romcom gave an unknown actress called Audrey Hepburn her ‘hello world’ moment in 1953 – making her an overnight star at 24. Hepburn sparkles as Princess Ann, an elfin European aristo bored to tears of ambassador’s receptions and majors with walrus moustaches. One night, during a state visit to Rome, she slips out of the palace to slum it with commoners – and falls into the clutches of an American reporter, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck).
Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent St, W1B 2UW.
Sun Feb 14, 2pm. £11, £10 concs.
Before Sunrise + Before Sunset
The first two in the swoonsome trilogy of films following the tentative romance of American student Jesse and French sophisticate Céline. What's magical about Richard Linklater's entrancing trio is the way he and his actors manage to convey the emotional truths that underlie all the talk as the potential lovers test each other's opinions and commitment, ultimately deciding to share their lives together. Funny, poignant and perceptive.
Rio, 107 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB.
Sun Feb 14, 2.15pm. £11, £9 concs.
'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' + 'Lars and the Real Girl'
Two days before Valentine’s, here’s the chance to tackle big questions about the nature of love with a double bill of complicated relationship dramas. In ‘Eternal Sunshine’, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play lovers who go to extreme lengths to deal with the breakup of their relationship. ‘Lars and the Real Girl', meanwhile, stars Ryan Gosling in a story about a man and his sex-doll played not for snide laughter but as a touching fable on the restorative powers of human affection.
House of Vans, 228-232 Station Approach Rd, SE1 8SW.
Fri Feb 12, 5pm. FREE.
Science Fiction Theatre: ‘Moon’
Ethics professor Tony Milligan will explore some of the issues raised by Duncan Jones’s chilly sci-fi drama, particularly the question of whether we ought to mine the moon. Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell, a nervous lone astronaut on the moon where, at some point in the near future, a corporation is mining Helium-3, now the source of most global energy. Jones’s film creates a credible theatre in which to stage a meditative play on isolation and identity, the edges of which are curiously blurred.
The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Rd, E8 3AS.
Mon Feb 15, 8pm. £5.
‘Casino’ in the casino
Hit the card tables then watch Scorsese’s stylish gangster flick. There's something inherently fascinating about his subject – the way Las Vegas, and the organised criminals who run it, have changed over the last couple of decades. The film charts the experiences of Sam 'Ace' Rothstein (Robert De Niro), a gambler the Mob places in charge of the Tangiers casino, and his disastrous dealings with his ex-hooker wife Ginger (Sharon Stone) and with an uncontrollably volatile mobster Nicky (Joe Pesci).
Hippodrome Casino, Cranbourn St, WC2H 7JH.
Sat Feb 13, 2.30pm. £15.
The last completed feature of ill-fated Japenese animator Satoshi Kon (lost to cancer at 46) exemplifies his uniqueness and his foibles, since the supernova of weirdness bursting from the characters’ imaginations is something to behold: fridges on the march, giant robots at large, a psycho-cutie Japanese doll. While the plot itself makes very little sense, Kon’s depiction of flexible reality inside others’ dreams parallels Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’, and his mind-fuck cavalcade truly has to be seen to be believed.
Deptford Cinema, 39 Deptford Broadway, SE8 4PQ.
Wed Feb 10, 7pm. £5, £3.50 concs.
‘Cannibal Holocaust’ + ‘The Green Inferno’
A pair of gruesome cannibal flicks, one a classic that invented the found footage genre, the other the latest from ‘Hostel’ director Eli Roth. In ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, a young film crew vanishes in the Colombian rainforest while shooting an anthropology documentary. Their footage reveals the horrible truth behind their disappearance. Despite poor dubbing, this is a more interesting and unusual film than its schlock-horror title and subject matter might suggest: it’s uniquely unpleasant and deserving of its huge cult status.
Picturehouse Central, 20-24 Shaftesbury Ave, W1D 7DH.
Sat Feb 13, 8pm. £18, £15 concs.