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.
Look Back in Anger: 'Cathy Come Home'
The Arthouse Cinema in Crouch End’s ‘Look Back in Anger’ season of important British films continues with Ken Loach’s history-making 1966 television drama about homelessness. Shot in doc-style, ‘Cathy Come Home’ is the story of a family forced out of their flat when the husband loses his job as a driver after an accident. Suddenly their bright and hopeful future vanishes when they’re evicted. As drama, this was so powerful it led to discussions in Parliament and new legislation to tackle homelessness in Britain. It was also fundamental in the launch of the homeless charity Shelter.
Arthouse Crouch End, 159A Tottenham Lane, N8 9BT.
Sun May 24, 2.30pm. £11.
Southern Gothic Season: 'The Apostle'
Robert Duvall’s superb second film as a writer-director has dropped out of sight recently, so this BFI screening is welcome indeed. The film charts the backroad to redemption travelled by preacher Sonny Dewey (Duvall), after he takes a drunken swipe with a baseball bat at his wife's lover. Fearing imprisonment, he ditches his car and his identity, and ends up in a poor, largely black Louisiana town, where he sets about building himself a new church and a new life. This is far more than a beautifully observed character study and an authentic, respectful portrait of the South; it's also a thrilling, uncommonly honest study of religious experience.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT.
Mon May 25, 3pm. £7.45–£8.20.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
A bank holiday treat for all you leather-fetish superhero nuts out there: Christopher Nolan’s none-more-moody Batman trilogy in its entirety. The first film sets the scene smartly, and the final instalment is a weirdly right-wing mess. But the meat in this bat sandwich is ‘The Dark Knight’ itself, which reduced to basics involves the wildly unpredictable Joker wreaking havoc on Gotham. This perverse clown’s keyword is chaos – crime without sense – and the surrounding film is fantastic on the action front, and always feels relevant even when its ideas are drowned out by clatter.
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP.
Mon May 25, 2.30pm. £17.50, £15 concs.
‘Black Narcissus’ + ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’
Prepare your eyeballs for some poppin’ with two of British writer-director team Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s most sumptuous masterpieces. ‘Black Narcissus’ explores desire, hysteria, temptation and sexuality in a remote convent high up in the Indian Himalayas. The story and acting are pure gothic melodrama, in a studio setting with beautiful backdrops and vivid colours. ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’, meanwhile, realised Powell’s lifelong dream of creating an entirely ‘composed’ film, blending music, art, design, movement and every cinematic trick at his disposal.
Rio, 107 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB.
Sun May 24, 1.30pm.
A superb and unique film from that master of the morbid, masochistic and macabre, Tod Browning. Set in a travelling circus – a milieu Browning knew and loved from his own experience – it depicts the revenge taken by a group of circus freaks on a beautiful trapeze artist and her strongman lover after they’ve tried to murder a midget for his fortune. The basic themes of the film are the strength in solidarity of the individually weak freaks, and the inner beauty of the physically malformed as compared to the greed and deceit of the physically resplendent. The film remained unseen in Britain until the '60s, but it has now achieved deserved recognition as a masterpiece.
Stratford East Picturehouse, Salway Rd, E15 1BX.
Sun May 24, 4pm. £9.50, £8.50 concs.
Tufnell Park Film Club: ‘Badlands’
This first, magnificent, outpouring of the sporadic genius of Terrence Malick still seems terrifically modern. That’s partly down to the career-best performances of Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as garbage-collector Kit and naive schoolgirl Holl, the misfit young couple who, like savage innocents, create a brief idyll and end up leaving a trail of blood through the unforgiving Montana badlands. A film of ‘visionary realism’, ‘Badlands’ is as psychologically precise as it is visually observant. But it also exudes a timeless, mythical and tragic quality that is all the more remarkable for the languorous ease with which its story unfolds.
The Lord Palmerston, 33 Dartmouth Park Hill, NW5 1HU.
Tue May 19, 8pm. £15 membership.
Haringey Independent Cinema: ‘Concerning Violence’
This documentary is a prickly, passionate call to arms. Director Göran Olsson weds extraordinary found footage – a Liberian miners’ strike, an early, hopeful interview with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe – to the words of Frantz Fanon, the post-colonial social theorist. Fanon’s 1961 text ‘The Wretched of the Earth’, an analysis of the dehumanising effects of colonisation, provides a framework for this doc’s nine sections. ‘Greater violence,’ Fanon contends, is the only way to confront the initial violence of an invading power. Ex-Fugee Lauryn Hill’s soulful readings take Fanon’s message to a personal place of fire.
Haringey Independent Cinema, West Green Learning Centre, Langham Rd, N15 3RB.
Thu May 21, 7pm. £4, £3 concs.
Deptford Film Club: ‘Awesome! I Fuckin’ Shot That!’
Concert films offer mixed pleasures. If you’re a fan, you’re frustrated not to be at the event. If you aren’t, there’s rarely much in the way of formal dynamism – that is, anything particularly filmic – to tide you over. As a concept, ‘Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!’ – a record of the Beastie Boys’ October 2004 homecoming gig at Madison Square Garden in NYC – is unusually ambitious and frequently intriguing. ‘Awesome’ saw 50 DV cameras dished out to fans scattered around the cavernous Garden and is compiled from the resulting 75 hours of footage.
Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Rd, SE14 6TY.
Fri May 22, 8.30pm. £10.
This beautifully shot Australian western is also a revenge drama of substantial horror – little surprise given that its writer is Nick Cave. Following his capture in a bravura opening shoot-out, outlaw Guy Pearce accepts Captain Ray Winstone’s proposition to hunt down his psychopathic elder brother in exchange for their runtish younger brother’s life. Setting out on this mission of treason and love, he finds a landscape of fierce beauty and lyrical bloodletting, including a grizzled bounty hunter (John Hurt) who fits right in with the rock.
Phoenix Cinema, 52 High Rd, N2 9PJ.
Thu May 21, 10.30am. £6.
Based on an American novel but set in small-town South of France, the plot of Francois Truffaut’s last film introduces Jean-Louis Trintignant as the owner of an estate agency and Fanny Ardant as his long-suffering secretary. Trintignant is first implicated in one murder. Then his wife is killed. While he’s on the run, it falls to Ardant to solve the crimes, with the neat role reversal allowing Truffaut both to cover familiar genre ground in an unfamiliar manner, and to reflect on the fragility of the male ego.
Ciné Lumière, 17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT.
Sun May 24, 2pm. £8, £6 concs.