The Week In Screenings Part XXVIII

Tuesday, October 4 2011
The Week In Screenings Part XXVIII

It’s been another busy week for our regular screening correspondent Alex Kidd, taking in everything from Shakespeare to little seen Turkish exploitation flicks. Here’s his latest dispatch from the front line of London’s screening rooms and cinemas…

After a rain-soaked disastrous Monday which saw me attempt to go watch two films but managing to see neither, things didn’t start for me until Tuesday this week, but once things got going it turned out to be a good one.

So a much drier Tuesday night found me in the Cineworld Haymarket, the main screen of which is one of my favourite places to see a film, to watch Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut which sees him taking on the mighty Shakespeare both behind and in front of the camera. Shot for the most part in Serbia this is a modern day setting for a classic tale, one that retains the original dialogue but bases the film visually in the present day. Fiennes is Coriolanus, a warring champion of Rome, who finds himself out manoeuvred in the political world, cast out from Rome he aligns himself with his once sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) and together the pair plan on marching on Rome to topple its power.

 It took me a little while to engage with Coriolanus, but once the story really gets going I found myself drawn into this unique retelling of the classic, Fiennes does a great job on both sides of the camera, bringing an assured look to the film while also being a fascinating presence in the central role. Strong support comes from Gerard Butler whose character is the exact opposite of Coriolanus himself, also among the strong cast are Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave and James Nesbitt.

Wednesday and it’s my favourite time of the month, the next Duke Mitchell Film Club, the film night I co-run in Kings Cross once a month. This time around our theme was Turkish Grindhouse and we’d come up with a fantastic twist for this night. Evrim, who I run the night with, is from Turkey so grew up watching all these amazing Turkish films, but a lot of them had never been subtitled into English, so we decided it would be amazing to subtitle everything ourselves! Well it was actually Evrim who did all the hard work, but it turned out to be an amazing idea and one that played to a packed house. Our main film for the night was the mind-blowing Death Warrior, a bizarre cut and paste film that seems to be cobbled together from numerous other thrillers, its mixture of Turkish Ninjas, police fights and Evil Dead inspired camera movements combine to produce a film that makes no sense, but is a huge amount of fun to watch. Also during the night we had a batch of vintage Turkish trailers, all subbed by Evrim again, along with his introduction to Turkish TV, which brought the house down it was so funny. Our idea to subtitled everything ourselves seemed to capture people’s imagination as we had a really packed house, so much so that we had to bring in extra seats for everyone.

The same night that we were doing our Turkish Grindhouse Night, the Raindance Film Festival was kicking off in the heart of the West End, I’ve been attending Raindance for several years now and I’m always impressed with the films they discover and how they provide an international platform for films we might never see any other way. This year due to the amount of other things happening right now I’ve been forced to cut back on the amount of films I was planning on watching, previously I’ve tried to attend films all day, which was great, but sadly this year I’m having to cherry pick my selections. With our night clashing with the opening event the first film I watched was Savage, a Swedish crime drama with more emphasis on the characters than the actual crime itself this was a great start to the festival. Focusing on four young characters all living in a small town and all desperate to be somewhere else, we follow their story over a few days as their slowly drawn together via fate and circumstance, until things take a turn into a very dark area. It’s a well made and easy to watch film that features a series of naturalist performances from the leads, while also doing a great job of capturing the listless feelings of growing up in a small town.

Next up for Raindance was Werewolves Across America, a lo-fi documentary looking at the DIY music touring scene in America, focusing mostly on the enigmatic musician Viking Moses, whose bluesy folk rock music sees him repeatedly touring the USA playing to anywhere that will have him, music venues, community centres, from rooms, church halls, anywhere really. We follow him on tour at what seems like a crossroads point for him: starting to have doubts about why he continues to do this, playing shows to only a handful of people and questioning is all this worth it? It’s a very insightful documentary that feels as DIY as the music it represents, alternating its shooting formats between grainy home video and slick professional footage this mismatch of styles works perfectly with the unique music and personalities it represents.

In what was turning out to be a very busy week for me my last screening was the Sunday lunchtime showing of the 80s classic Teen Wolf as the Prince Charles cinema. It was a friend’s birthday out and I was going to be watching this for the first time on many years, I rarely go back and re-watch anything, as I’m always looking for something new to see, but sometimes it’s great fun to dig something up for the past and as I’d not seen this since back in the 80s it was the perfect time to revisit Teen Wolf. It’s actually quite different from how I remembered it, what really stands out is how little fuss anyone makes of Michael J. Fox turning into a Werewolf, it’s accepted really quickly and has the opposite effect that it normally would, instead of him becoming the outcast it actually makes him  far more popular. Teen Wolf really stands the test of time, it’s a fun film that delivered its message with a fast pace, whilst also featuring some fantastic 80s fashions. It’s interesting that the film is so well remembered that it’s also been recently transferred into a new TV show, more than 25 years after it was first released.