Each week, we round up the most exciting film events happening in London over the coming week, from pop-ups and one-offs to regular film clubs, outdoor screenings and festivals. Here’s this week’s top five…
1. The Thief of Bagdad
We literally can’t imagine a better way to spend the Sunday after Christmas than sinking into a comfy cinema seat and soaking up this sprawling family adventure.A delightful hocus-pocus of colour, dashing adventure and special effects, this epic for grown-up kids is basically ‘Star Wars’ meets ‘The Arabian Nights’ with its plot of an all-seeing eye stolen from a Tibetan temple. Magical and classically entertaining, it was made fitfully in Britain during the blitz by a team of directors spearheaded by the remarkable Michael Powell. Phoenix Cinema, 52 High Rd, N2 9PJ. Sun Dec 28, 2pm. £9.50, £7 concs.
2. Back to the Future Trilogy
From the Wild West to the glitzy near future, this wisecracking time travel saga has all you could need for a brain-off post-Christmas slump. Director Robert Zemeckis takes obvious pleasure in solving not just the technical but also the emotional problems of time travel: how to avoid incest, how to unite your parents in order that you will be born, how to return to the future when both the car and the professor have blown a fuse, and above all how to avoid tampering with history. If this all sounds schematic, it shouldn’t: the movies have all the benign good nature of Frank Capra. Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP. Sat Dec 27, 4.15pm. £15, £12.50 concs.
3. Eric Rohmer Season: Le Signe du Lion
French writer-director Eric Rohmer passed away in 2010 at the age of 90, leaving behind one of the most remarkable, insightful back-catalogues in French – and indeed world – cinema.This, his first feature, is not so much a moral tale as a cautionary anecdote in which an impoverished American musician living in Paris runs himself into debt on the strength of an inheritance he doesn’t inherit. It’s also a precise, poetic documentary on Paris, with the city turning into a stone prison that gradually crushes resistance until the musician suffers total moral and physical disintegration. BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT. Thu Jan 1, 5.50pm. £8.15-£11.25.
4. Harold and Maude
ICA members get first dibs on this special screening, but let’s hope they’re all off on their hols so the rest of us can get a look-in.The hippy era was full of movies that attempted to confront square society, to shock viewers into some undefined form of action. How many of them are still effective today? But ‘Harold and Maude’, the gentle flipside of the revolutionary dream, is every bit as charming, affecting and surprising as it must have been on its first release: the idea of a teenage boy shacking up with a batty old woman is still a challenge to social norms. ICA, Nash House, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH. Sun Dec 28, 1pm. £5, members free.
5. ET The Extra-Terrestrial
If you’ve got kids, don’t miss this chance to see Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece on the big screen. The legend goes that, on the set of ‘Close Encounters’, François Truffaut suggested to Spielberg that his next movie should be something personal and honest, ‘a little film about kids’. When the Frenchman found out that said family flick would also involve a stranded alien, he laughed out loud. Minute in scale, intimate in tone, ‘ET’ is one of the finest films ever made about how kids think and how families fit together. Ritzy Picturehouse, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW2 1JG. Sun Dec 28, 1pm. £12.60.
For the full list, go to Time Out’s film events page.