As Michael Caine makes a welcome return to the big screen, I’ve been thinking back to the very first film I saw him in.
His breakthrough role in Zulu, perhaps, or bombing around the streets of Turin in The Italian Job? No, I’m afraid to say my earliest Michael Caine viewing experience was…Jaws: The Revenge.
What can I say? It was the 80s, and we were at the mercy of our village shop’s very narrow range of video rental options – but to be fair, his performance as cheeky (inevitably) cockney pilot Hoagie is hardly the worst thing in the franchise-sinking stinker.
And if nothing else, it gave us this all-timer of a quote from Caine when asked his opinion of the film: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
Catch the great man staging a care home breakout in The Great Escaper this week, while Helen Mirren stars in tense thriller Golda and a familiar face returns in The Exorcist: Believer.
The Great Escaper
Michael Caine stars alongside the late Glenda Jackson in this real-life drama about a World War II veteran who made headlines in 2014 when he made a ‘great escape’ from his care home.
Bernard Jordan (Caine) decides to slip out of the lodgings he shares with wife Rene (Jackson) in order to make the journey to Normandy to commemorate the D-Day Landings with his fellow veterans.
The 89-year-old’s surprise journey goes viral, capturing hearts and minds worldwide – but when he arrives at his destination, he must reckon with painful and long-repressed emotions from his experiences 70 years before.
The Exorcist: Believer
One of the scariest films of all time gets the legacy sequel treatment here, as original Exorcist star Ellen Burstyn returns for this latter-day follow-up to William Friedkin’s classic 1973 chiller.
The plot sees single dad and widower Victor (Leslie Odom Jr.) come face to face with a terrifying evil when his daughter and her friend are taken over by a demonic entity – causing him to seek the help of Chris MacNeil (Burstyn), mother of the original head-spinning devil child Regan.
Director David Gordon Green has form in this area as the man who helmed the recent trilogy of Halloween sequels – so it’s no surprise to learn that a further two films are planned if this one’s a hit. We can only hope that one of them will be a crossover with Russell Crowe’s character from The Pope’s Exorcist…
Helen Mirren stars as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in this tense thriller set during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The story follows Meir as she navigates the volatile conflict which threatens the complete destruction of her nation, facing off against a sceptical cabinet and engaging in a complex diplomatic dance with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Liev Schreiber).
The film was met with mixed reviews following its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, with Variety praising Mirren for bringing Meir to ‘flinty, vibrant life’ while the Guardian said the actor’s prosthetic nose and jowls made it look ‘as if she is playing the Queen doing an impression of Richard Nixon’.
As the nights draw in, what better way to spend the evening than watching a classic Hitchcock chiller in the cosy confines of Clements Hall?
The 1943 thriller sees bored teenager Charlie Newton (Teresa Wright) longing for excitement in her humdrum smalltown life – but when it arrives in the form of her charming uncle (Joseph Cotten), her initial delight slowly turns to fear as she becomes convinced he is hiding something…
The film shows at Clements Hall, South Bank on Fri 6th at 8pm (doors 7:30pm) — tickets are £4 (cash only), and SBCC advise that it’s best to book in advance by e-mailing [email protected].
Other new releases and previews
Stand-up comedian Patrick Kielty makes his acting debut as…a stand-up comedian, in Irish comedy-drama Ballywalter (City Screen, Tues 10th).
To be fair, it’s a bit more of a stretch than it sounds: Kielty plays Shane, a down-at-heel divorcee who’s trying his hand at stand-up with cringeworthy results – but a chance meeting with similarly floundering taxi driver Eileen (Seána Kerslake) sparks a connection which could prove life-changing for both, in director Prasanna Puwanarajah’s well-received debut feature.
On Weds 11th City Screen offer another chance to see the latest mini-opus from a director who’s been in the game a little longer, with a repeat screening of Strange Way of Life, the new short film from master filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.
The Spanish auteur’s queer Western stars Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal as two gunslingers reunited after twenty-five years – and this being an Almodóvar film, you can bet there’s a long-buried secret or ten just waiting to be unearthed.
Over at Vue, a couple decides to give their relationship a second chance in Polish romcom sequel Tesciowie 2 (Fri 6th, Sat 7th), while on Thurs 12th the BFI Presents strand has a preview of Cassius X: Becoming Ali, a documentary following boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s rise to fame.
Theatre buffs have plenty more opportunities to catch James Norton’s acclaimed turn in the stage adaptation of literary sensation A Little Life this week, with encore screenings of the harrowing drama showing at City Screen (Tues 10th), Everyman (Sat 7th) and Vue (Fri 6th, Sun 8th, Tues 10th and Weds 11th).
City Screen are also keeping the opera lovers happy with an encore screening of L’Elisir D’Amore on Tues 10th, plus An Evening with Jonas Kaufman on Thurs 12th, which sees the star tenor belt out the hits in the spectacular setting of the Arena di Verona – according to the blurb the setlist includes film classics, so keep your fingers crossed for a duet with Ryan Gosling on Barbie earworm I’m Just Ken…
Super pooper scoops at the ready as preview screenings of PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie continue at Cineworld, Everyman and Vue on Sat 7th and Sun 8th, ahead of the film’s general release next week.
Meanwhile, Disney’s centenary celebration season arrives at 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, the New Orleans-set romantic fantasy which marked a rare latter-day foray into traditional animation for the studio (from the team behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin to boot).
Hop along to City Screen (Kids’ Club screening on Sat 7th, tickets £3.30), Everyman (Toddler Club screenings on Fri 6th and Sat 7th, £6.10 child, £8.60 adult), Cineworld (Sat 7th, Sun 8th, £5.00) and Vue (Sat 7th, Sun 8th, £6.99 – £9.99).
Vue’s Mini Mornings selection this week is the all-conquering Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sat 7th, Sun 8th, £2.49) – they’ve also got screenings of Kung Fu Panda 3 on Sat 7th and Sun 8th at the standard ticket price (£6.99 – £9.99) – while Cineworld’s Movies For Juniors strand offers Pixar romcom Elemental and the live-action version of The Little Mermaid (both showing on Sat 7th and Sun 8th, £2.50).
David Byrne plays the hits and Kristen Wiig gets the shi…er, party started: old favourites back on the big screen
Same as it ever was…Widely regarded as one of the greatest concert films of all time, Talking Heads doc Stop Making Sense returns to the big screen this week, showing daily at City Screen and on Fri 6th and Sat 7th at Everyman.
Directed by the late Jonathan Demme (who would go on to scare us all senseless with The Silence of the Lambs a few years later), the film captures David Byrne and co. performing at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre in December 1983.
As the countdown to Halloween continues, there are spooky shenanigans aplenty to be had in Hocus Pocus, celebrating its 30th anniversary at Everyman (Sat 7th, Sun 8th) and Vue (Sat 7th, Sun 8th, Tues 10th) – while over at Cineworld, Pinhead’s still looking sharp in the original Hellraiser, back to haunt your nightmares on Mon 9th.
Cineworld are also celebrating Black History Month with a selection of screenings over the next few weeks, starting on Tues 10th with Spike Lee’s incendiary 1989 classic Do the Right Thing.
Meanwhile, City Screen’s Scorsese and De Niro season comes to a close on Sun 8th with 1991 thriller Cape Fear, a remake of the 1962 original which sees De Niro take the role of Max Cady, the violent rapist who plots a terrible revenge on the lawyer (Nick Nolte) who convicted him.
And finally, time to take the red pill again as Everyman’s Throwback screening hurls us back into The Matrix (Sun 8th, Tues 10th), while their Late Nights strand sees Kristen Wiig and pals get a slightly dicky tummy in modern comedy classic Bridesmaids, showing on Fri 6th – make sure you check the hygiene rating if you’re grabbing a kebab on the way home.