By Ashley Clark
If you live near south London’s best cinema, it’s a good time to be a fan of vampires, famed ‘Baggy’ musicians and/or Benjamin Britten.
The veteran Irish director Neil Jordan returns this week with Byzantium, an odd and mostly enjoyable contemporary tale which combines the sensual imagery of his superb 1984 Angela Carter adaptation The Company of Wolves with the overt theatricality of his foptastic box-office success Interview With The Vampire a decade later. Set in a glum English coastal town, it centres on two mysterious, refuge-seeking women, Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton). When Eleanor reveals their dark secret – that they’re actually 200 year-old vampires – to a local man, it’s not long before their past catches up on them with vicious and violent consequences. It’s no classic, but definitely worth a watch.
The other big new release is Shane Meadows’ love letter to Madchester baggy legends The Stone Roses, Made of Stone (although it’s not out until Wednesday 5 June, mind). Drawing on a host of previously unseen archive footage, it paints an acute and detailed portrait of the band and their cultural impact in the lead up to their huge reunion concerts in 2012 (their first for 16 years). It’s an absolute ‘must’ for fans of the band, and an absolute ‘probably’ for fans of solid documentary filmmaking. Also on a musical note (parp!) there are a handful of screenings of Benjamin Britten: Peace and Conflict, a part-doc, part-narrative biography eulogy to the legendary late composer.
That’s pretty much it for new releases, but there’s plenty of films continuing their runs that you might want to catch. If you’re feeling masochistic, The Hangover Part III is lingering like a nostril-busting fart in a broken lift. Much more fragrant is Jeff Nichols’ terrific Mud, which extends Matthew McConaughey’s wholly unexpected purple patch (think Killer Joe, Magic Mike – maybe he can black-up and play rapper Killer Mike next). There’s Baz Luhrmann’s divisive – and characteristically gaudy – The Great Gatsby, featuring an ace turn from a rejuvenated Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role. You can still catch JJ Abrams’ expansive Star Trek Into Darkness and Derek Cianfrance’s terribly maudlin The Place Beyond The Pines – the film equivalent of an innocent chicken who’s been so brutally overstuffed its eyes pop out.
For the kids, you might fancy animated ecological adventure Epic. Though it doesn’t quite attain the status hinted at by its title (I used this joke last week but it’s still gold, right?), but is an enjoyable watch nonetheless, and certainly recommended for younger ones. As with last week, you can catch a pair of re-releases from Studio Ghibli, the legendary Japanese animators. Both My Neighbour Totoro and Grave Of The Fireflies are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and while they couldn’t be more divergent in tone (the former magically uplifting, the latter crushingly sad), they are both pretty much unmissable. So, erm, don’t, OK?
In anticipation of Zack Snyder’s upcoming big budget reboot Man Of Steel, there are a couple of late weekend screenings of Richard Donner’s 1977 Superman, starring the late, great Christopher Reeve in the lead role. The best rep of the week, meanwhile, is a must for those with some time on their hands at midday Monday: Billy Wilder’s caustic romance The Apartment. Finally, the Picturehouses’ ongoing Discover Tuesdays strand showcasing arthouse and indie fare continues with Sarah Gavron’s excellent doc Village At The End of the World, about Niaqornat, a remote Inuit hamlet in northern Greenland with just 59 inhabitants. It would be great meta-happening if more than 59 people showed up to see it, so get on it – independent cinema needs you!
All films showing at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton Oval. Book tickets here.