Art & Culture

Friday: 'Alien Quadrilogy' (18:20, Prince Charles Cinema) 'Red Road' (15:50, NFT3)
Friday presents London's cinema goers with a busy evening. Ridley Scott's 'Alien' is one of the few films ever made that not only combines genres but could be considered a classic in both fields individually. The attitude the characters exhibit to the technology and world that surrounds them is so pedestrian and ordinary that it adds to the cold isolation of deep space wonderfully. So often in Sci-Fi films, directors get lost in overly expressive set design and bore the audience with elongated discussion of technology that doesn't actually exist ('Star Trek' being the cheif culprit). But the atmosphere is so much more realistic if the characters treat these aspects as normal, as they do here. Because of this, the film's use of tension and suspense, reminiscent of the best horror films of the period, are a million times more effective. The problem with this event is, Cameron's later 'Aliens' and the following sequels, dilute this initial brilliance more and more with every revisit, so no one should be expected to sit through all four, especially in a row.

Over the river on the South Bank, as part as their 'Made In The UK' season, the BFI show Andrea Arnold's feature length debut, 'Red Road'. Arnold has gone on to great success with 'Fish Tank' and her recent adaptation of 'Wuthering Hieghts'. Fans of either of these should definately take this oppurtunity to see 'Red Road', a simularly cold and claustrophobic tale of a woman who uses her job as a CCTV observer to watch over the man who murdered her family. Whilst this may sound like the premise of a revenge thriller, the lack of music and emphasis on CCTV footage make this a very sterile visual experience, meaning the drama of the events evoke more emotion than formal aspects favoured by more mainstream thrillers, such as frenetic camerawork or choppy editing.

If you wanted to, you could probably leave work at Lunch, go see 'Red Road', leg it to Leicster Square afterwards for the first of the 'Alien Quardilogy and then it wouldn't even be that late by the time you got out. A perfect start to the weekend.

Saturday: 'Marathon Man' (23:30, Screen On The Green)
The Screen on The Green's classic film season is beginning to take up a residency on this page, as it's selections make it the place to be on a Saturday night. The Rio's season is similarly impressive, but this week, the Islington Cinema's selection is ever so slightly more well chosen than the Rio's 'Repo Man', especially as Picturehouse showed this in all their cinemas last tuesday.

Discussion of 'Marathon Man' usually focuses on one of two things; the meeting of Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman, representing the collossus of the old acting school sparring with one of the leading talents of New Hollywood, or the torture scene, which brings to life the worst nightmares of anyone squeemish about visiting the dentist. Both make riveting viewing, but the most refreshing thing for modern audiences is how well this film works as a thriller despite the fact it uses new of the methods we are used to in contemporary examples. There are almost no car chases, few shootouts, the editing is at the pace common of most seventies Hollywood films, there is little use of music. And yet the film holds the attention and is just as riveting as the Bourne Trilogy and the numerous other examples that have arrived in these films' wake. An old fashioned film, yes, but in the best possible way.

Monday:'Batman Day' (Various Times, Prince Charles)
This weeks double bill belongs to Christopher Nolan's recent Batman adaptions, presumably to prepare us all for this summer's third installment of the trilogy. This is a treat I suppose, but most of us have probably seen these films in the cinema already. We know how great they are and if you want to take this oppurtunity to see them again no one will blame you. But if it's nostalgic fun you're after, their will be far more to be had at the afternoon showing of the 1966 film based on the popular and unspeakably camp television series. Particularly brilliant set pieces involve a porpoise saving the lives of our caped crusaders by jumping in the way of an approaching torpedo (a porpoise the audience never actually sees, but Batman assures as that this is what happened in a conversation later on in the film, so that's just as good as seeing it isn't it?) and Batman attempting to disppose of gigantic (and lit!!!!!!!!!) bomb, only to be thwarted by mothers pushing prams and, oh yes, families of ducks.

Tuesday: 'Pulp Fiction' (8:30pm, Prince Charles)
Can a film be the ultimate late night movie even if its self counsciously trying it's hardest to do so? If Tarantino is aware of this, does this excuse the film or make it more enjoyable? If you want to care about theis questions you can but, as we all know, 'Pulp Fiction' is plenty enjoyable if your head is completely switched off and you allow yourself to be swept along with all the criss-crossing characters, stories and times of the day (even though, if you look closely, all the clocks are set to the same time throughout). I'm sure you've seen this film a million times, but, like all films, you haven't truly seen it until you've seen it in a cinema and it's dark outside.

By Laurence Turner