Wednesday, June 8, 2016

London Screenings

London must be a paradise for cinemaniacs. There are so many great films playing (in cinemas and on rooftops) every day that one gets easily overwhelmed. Being in England for only a few days, I nevertheless grabbed the opportunity to see two very different films that I highly recommend to anyone near the city for different reasons:

Every patron matters

Practically by chance and out of curiosity, I went to a very small, very independently produced first time feature called CHICKEN, simply because there was a Q&A by its London based director Joe Stephenson.

The film has already finished its festival circuit, where it drew the attention of audiences and people like Sir Ian McKellen, and is now practically self-distributed because its opening weekend got eclipsed by the latest X-MEN movie. So like in the good old days of independent movies, Stephenson books the film on a screening per screening basis around town and country, often with a Q&A, because he is a strong believer in the cinema experience as opposed to DVD/VOD.
Yasmin Paige

Scott Chambers and Joe Stephenson
CHICKEN is an adaptation of a play that feels so natural that you would not even think of its theater origins if you were not told. It might not have a high concept or even a star (well, Yasmin Paige should be well-known for her part in SUBMARINE, but that has not happened so far), but for a first time effort it is extremely focused and consistently gaining momentum. In fact, the film is completely built around Scott Chambers tour de force performance that really carries the small scale coming-of-age drama.

Besides, Joe Stephenson is a great interviewee. In the screening at the Prince Charles Cinema last Wednesday, he even managed to win the audience over without a proper interviewer. But what's more, try to catch a cinema screening because every single patron really matters to these filmmakers!

Next screening: Thursday, June 9, 9:00 pm, Genesis Cinema Whitechappel
Further screenings here.

Like most of us have never seen it before

And then there was VERTIGO. A film that anyone with an interest in cinematography, editing patterns, and especially color and music has to see at least once in a theater, and one of my all-time favorites. So why see it again in a place that offers culture and entertainment in abundance? Because the Prince Charles Cinema at Leicester Square is currently showing it in 70mm! Except for a few scratches and such (that were adverted up front) the print itself as well as the projection were perfect.
And it is true, you absolutely positively have to see it in 70mm, accept no substitutes! The characteristic Technicolor reds, greens, skin tones and deep blacks were there, and most of all: the rear-projections and special process shots looked awesome, i.e. much more invisible than on digital or 35mm versions. Besides, the PCC members are a great audience which adds a lot to the movie-going experience.

And if you are near London, make sure to check out their schedule. Who would want to miss out on a special screening of THE IRON GIANT - SIGNATURE EDITION followed by Hitchcock's THE BIRDS?

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