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.
Science Fiction Theatre: ‘Brainstorm’
Another overlooked sci-fi classic from one of our favourite film clubs. ‘Brainstorm’ has a fascinating and ambitious premise – the invention of a helmet-like device that enables people to experience other people's experiences. The drama, somewhat inevitably, comes from the battle between the mad-but-decent scientist, played by Christopher Walken, who wants the device to be used for the benefit of all mankind, and the mysterious men in dark suits who want to keep it under wraps for the military.
The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Rd, E8 3AS.
Mon Oct 19, 8pm. £5, £3.50 concs.
South Norwood and Thornton Heath Free Film Festival: 'Whip It' + roller derby
Another fine free event in London’s deep south – watch Drew Barrymore’s wondrous debut film, followed by some real-life roller rink action. With her seductive and lightly anarchic directorial comedy, Barrymore tells a familiar tale of an underdog’s rise to sporting eminence on the Austin roller-derby scene. The sport itself makes little sense to the casual onlooker (it’s female-only, full-contact and involves charging around an oval-shaped roller rink on skates and looking mean), but the film is elevated by the sincerity of its tone and the richness and variety of its ensemble cast.
Stanley Halls, 12 South Norwood Hill, SE25 6AB.
Sat Oct 17, 12pm. FREE.
‘Three Days of the Condor’ + James Grady Q&A
Author James Grady makes a rare public appearance to answer questions following a screening of the 1975 conspiracy thriller adapted from his novel and starring Robert Redford as a man beset by mysteries. Set in the world of CIA power games and scientific hardware, the film is dominated by intriguing Borges-like riddles. Thanks to an intelligent script, the action rarely falters, and at its best the film offers an intriguing slice of neo-Hitchcock.
Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent St, W1B 2UW.
Wed Oct 14, 7pm. £11, £10 concs.
FeedMeFilms: ‘The Big Lebowski’
Watching ‘The Big Lebowski’ in a bowling alley is a great place to start. Chucking in cocktails, pizza, beer and themed snacks timed to the film – not to mention 90 minutes of bowling fun – makes this event damn near unmissable. If you don’t know it, the film is a comic update of the world crystallised by Raymond Chandler, charting the disastrous involvement of laidback dopehead Jeff 'the Dude' Lebowski in a kidnapping case involving the wife of his millionaire namesake.
Rowans Tenpin Bowl, 10 Stroud Green Rd, N4 2DF.
Thu Oct 15, 6.30pm. £40.
Research scientist and film fan J Doyle Farmer introduces a screening of Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpiece of slow science fiction, and explains what the film can tell us about the human fascination with decay and the environment. In the film, the mysterious Stalker leads two men, the Writer and the Professor, across the Zone – a forbidden territory deep inside a police state – towards the Room, which can lay bare the devices and desires of your heart. As always, Tarkovsky conjures images like you've never seen before.
Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS.
Tue Oct 13, 7pm. £9.50, £8.50 concs.
A rare chance to catch this masterclass in clammy terror on an original 70mm film print. Like many future horror classics, John Carpenter’s film was hated on first release, dismissed as an ‘Alien’ clone more interested in pushing the boundaries of SFX than in character or tension. It’s hard to imagine now: with the benefit of hindsight (and, more importantly, repeat viewings), ‘The Thing’ has emerged as one of our most potent modern terrors, combining the icy-cold chill of suspicion and uncertainty with those magnificently imaginative, pre-CG effects blowouts.
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP.
Sat Oct 17, 8.45pm. £12.50, £10 concs.
BFI Love: 'Love Story'
The BFI’s new three-month season exploring all aspects of screen romance opens with the Marmite-movie weepie that spawned the infamous tagline ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry’. This mating of love and leukaemia brought a box-office bonanza. 'What can you say about the girl you loved, and she died?' muses Ryan O'Neal before looking back to his days of clichéd happiness with Ali MacGraw. Depending on your perspective it’s either a turgid, trauma-ridden tale of Harvard students falling in lerv, or a three-hankie classic.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT.
Mon Oct 19, 8.45pm. £8.35–£11.75.
It’s quite fitting that the central character of ‘Rebecca’ goes unnamed. After dashing, aloof Laurence Olivier makes a none-too-romantic proposal (‘I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool’), she decamps to his Cornwall pile, the infamous Manderley. Here, under the constant scrutiny of his family, staff and spaniel Jasper, she is expected to slot into the hole left by his first wife Rebecca, whose memory smothers the place like a dust-sheet – yet gives succour to Judith Anderson’s vulture-like housekeeper Mrs Danvers, whose creepy devotion to her late mistress understandably petrifies the young woman.
Stratford East Picturehouse, Salway Rd, E15 1BX.
Sun Oct 18, 3.30pm. £9.50, £8.50 concs.
Kinema and Kocktails: ‘The Conformist’
Bernardo Bertolucci’s beautiful, idea-laden and thrilling film noir opens with a Paris hotel sign flashing on a man with a fedora, a gun and a naked woman. But this late-’30s-set adaptation of Albert Moravia’s novel examining Italy’s fascist past was no exercise in black-and-white nostalgia. The noir elements – the complex flash-back structure and the out-of-kilter ‘Third Man’-style camera angles framing its anti-hero, volunteer assassin Jean-Louis Trintignant – are a mere frame, pencil drawings on which cinematographer Vittorio Storaro paints his Freudian washes of blue and red.
Cellar Door, Zero Aldwych, WC2E 7DN.
Sun Oct 18, 2pm. £12.
Classic Cinema Club: ‘The Blues Brothers’
Soul-stirring celebration or crass cultural exploitation? Truth is, ‘The Blues Brothers’ is a bit of both, lending exposure to rhythm and blues legends who might otherwise have faded into silence while at the same time treating black culture as a colourful pantomime backdrop for the antics of two white comedians. Still, the film retains a huge nostalgic kick, thanks in large part to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s easy rapport, a smattering of daft, shaggy humour and some truly iconic musical sequences.
Questor’s Theatre, 12 Mattock Lane, W5 5BQ.
Sat Oct 17, 7.30pm. £10, £7 concs.