While our Saturday Cinema Summary does an admirable job of rounding up the week's new releases, London's celluloid attractions run deeper than the local multiplex's offerings. From retrospectives of filmmaking greats, to cult classics introduced by obsessive cinephiles, each week we'll offer a preview of the forgotten films and rare screenings worthy of your attention.
Wednesday: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, the stark Romanian film that snatched the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year, was only recently released in Britain. Didn't catch the crowning achievement in Romania's recent cinematic renaissance? Get down to the Roxy on Borough High Street tonight, where a £3 ticket will garner you admission to a brilliantly acted slab of life under Ceausescu.
Friday: Missed There Will Be Blood at the cinema earlier this year? For shame. Fortunately, it's on at the Prince Charles in Leicester Square. Possibly the finest American film of the 21st century, it stars Daniel Day-Lewis as oil prospector Daniel Plainview, whose rise from small-timer to omnipotent baron is matched by a performance whose intensity would be hammy were it not so beguiling. This is the kind of epic that flourishes on the big screen - DVD will doubtless denude Blood of some of its impact, so don't miss it. Tickets are £5.00, and the film begins at 1pm.
Something for Friday evening? You could do worse than trek over to Hammersmith, where Riverside Studios have a double-bill of recent "rockumentaries", if such a term can cover films as diverse as I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' layered approach to the myth of Bob Dylan via a mosaic of different actors, and Scorcese's more prosaic Shine A Light, which follows the Rolling Stones on a 2006 New York performance. We'd have preferred to see the latter pitched against Godard's ever-baffling Stones flick, Sympathy For The Devil, but this should still be an interesting contrast. Tickets are £7.50 for the double bill, and the pair are repeated on Saturday too. The show begins at 6.00pm.
Saturday: Scientology is in the spotlight these days, not least in our own city, largely down to the efforts of Tom Cruise. Yet in 2000 when Battlefield Earth, a post-apocalyptic story inspired by founder L Rob Hubbard's science-fiction oeuvre, hit screens, Travolta was the celeb-Scientologist on most peoples' lips. A truly atrocious film, yet mesmerising to watch and hilariously funny at times, Travolta (who heavily bankrolled the project) attempted here to kill off what remained off his post-Pulp Fiction buzz, and almost succeeded. Quite how he convinced Forest Whitaker and Barry Pepper to come along for the ride is a mystery. The film is showing at 4.00pm at the Barbican as part of their Bad Film Club.
Sunday: A fine double bill today at Finchley's Phoenix Cinema, which is offering a David Lean duo to commemorate his centenary year: catch Great Expectations at 1.45, followed by Madeleine, at 4.15. £8 will get you a seat for both films.
Also on Sunday, the Roxy plays host to an evening of 'live' cinema (pictured above), featuring films from the Quay Brothers Jan Svankmejer, and a 'paper cinema' featuring paper marionettes. Those who caught Mask Of The Red Death will know what to expect.
Seasons, Festivals etc: The Barbican is showing a retrospective of maverick British director Alex Cox, including key movies like Repo Man and his new, John Ford-updating (and abysmally named) Searchers 2.0, which screens on Friday at 8.30 and is followed by a talk with Cox himself. Meanwhile, with the plight of Tibet in the news recently, and only likely to grow in interest as the Beijing Olympics approaches, the ICA has chosen an appropriate time for its season of films focusing on the Himalayan country, Through an Exile Lens: Thoughts and Imaginings of Tibet.
Image of Paper Cinema courtesy of Roxy Bar and Screen