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. Bechdel Test Film Club: Reclaim the Romcom
Our favourite feminist film club presents a free all-dayer complete with two films that buck the usual romcom trend by focusing on female characters, plus a discussion on whether the romantic comedy genre is inherently conservative and chauvinistic. First up, ‘Obvious Child’, Gillian Robespierre’s raunchily revolutionary New York comedy in which abortion is sympathetically presented as a sensible option. That’ll be followed by ‘The Philadelphia Story’, an evergreen farce centring on a socialite wedding threatened by scandal, with Katherine Hepburn as the ice maiden recently divorced from irresponsible millionaire Cary Grant.
Genesis Cinema, 93–95 Mile End Rd, E1 4UJ. Sun Feb 8, 1.30pm. FREE
2. Katherine Hepburn Season: ‘A Woman Rebels’
More Hepburn, as the BFI continues its tribute to one of old Hollywood’s most groundbreaking and glamorous actresses. This interesting proto-feminist movie stars Hepburn as the Victorian miss saddled with a stern father, despite which she manages to get herself pregnant in a headily romantic affair with Van Heflin. Twenty years later, she has become a leading campaigner for women’s rights. With all its faults this is strong stuff, held together by Hepburn’s superb performance.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT. Sat Feb 7, 8.40pm. ￡8.15–￡11.50.
3. ‘The Ascent’ + Kevin MacDonald Q&A
‘Touching the Void’ director Macdonald introduces this extraordinary, gruelling account of the partisans’ fight against the Nazis in German-occupied Belorussia. ‘The Ascent’reflects the Russian obsession with the horrors of the war, but unusually is both steeped in religious symbolism and ready to acknowledge the existence of the less than great Russian collaborators. A remarkable piece of work, not least for being filmed in black-and-white against a vast, bleak expanse of snow.
Ritzy Picturehouse, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW2 1JG. Sun Feb 8, 2pm. ￡15, ￡13 concs.
4. Borowczyk Double Bill: ‘Goto, Island of Love’ + ‘La Bete’
A terrific double bill of mind-expanding films from Polish director Walerian Borowczyk. ‘Goto’ is a simple fable of the destructive force of passion: on a mythical island, the beautiful wife of the weak ruler Goto III is shown to be unfaithful by his chief fly-catcher, Grozo. But Grozo’s own infatuation for her leads to tragedy. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tale ‘La Bete’, meanwhile, is an all-out assault on social conventions and repressed desires, and an outrageously ironic blend of French farce and surrealist poetry.
Rio, 107 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB. Sun Feb 8, 1pm. ￡10, ￡8 concs.
5. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Shakespearian actress and ‘Celebrity Masterchef’ winner Sophie Thompson introduces one of her favourite comedies as part of the Phoenix’s programme of Friday late shows. When their flight is grounded by snow, suave advertising exec Neal Page (Steve Martin) finds himself stuck with travelling salesman Del Griffith (John Candy), the human equivalent of a Double Whopper. Sympathy, initially with the exec, shifts to the salesman, who is revealed as a vulnerable and lonely misfit, while his companion proves an intolerant bully and foul-tempered snob.
The Phoenix Artist Club, 1 Phoenix St, WC2H 8BU. Fri Feb 6, 11.30pm. ￡9.50, ￡7 concs.
For the full list, go to Time Out’s film events page.