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Preview: This week's alternative films

PUBLISHED: 09:24 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:21 01 July 2010

Simon Parkin

For the follow-up to Pi, his darkly brilliant debut, Darren Aronofsky chose to adapt Hubert Selby's 1968 novel, Requiem For A Dream, a dark, tough and meaty piece of work. Plus: Blow Up, XXY.

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM

Dir: Darren Aronofsky (2000)

With: Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly

For the follow-up to Pi, his darkly brilliant debut, Darren Aronofsky chose to adapt Hubert Selby's 1968 novel, a dark, tough and meaty piece of work. Harry Goldfarb (Leto) and Marion Silver (Connelly) are lovers in Brooklyn with dreams of setting up a small business. But they are also desperate heroin addicts, a compulsion that darkens their lives.

His mother, Sara Goldfarb (Burstyn), is addicted to television. One day she receives a call from her favourite show and learns that she has been selected to appear. When she can't fit into her best red dress, her doctor prescribes diet pills, to which she swiftly and painfully becomes addicted.

With its unflinching dissection of addiction, this is a different sort of horror film, psychologically disturbing and visually captivating. The last half hour of the film is among the most harrowing of any film ever made.

t Screens at Cinema City on June 20 (3pm), 0871 9025724, www.picturehouses.co.uk

BLOW UP

Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni (1966)

With: David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Jane Birkin

A film that has become synonymous with swinging London, being shown here as part of the season of 1960s related films timed to coincide with the Castle Museum exhibition Beatles to Bowie.

His controversial (at the time) first English-speaking film, sees Michelangelo Antonioni deliver a provocative cinematic mystery set in the seamy Mod culture of 60s London.

The film follows a well-known, fashion photographer (David Hemmings, channelling David Bailey) who captures evidence of a murder when he takes some innocent snapshots of a couple in the park. As he digs deeper and deeper into the photograph's actual negative in order to unravel the mystery, he also must contend with a seemingly dangerous woman (Vanessa Redgrave) who knows more than she is letting on. Atmospheric, tense, with a refreshing jolt of humour, Antonioni's stylish thriller influenced the work of many of cinema's most celebrated directors.

t Screens at Cinema City on June 21 (8.30pm), details as above

XXY

Dir: Lucia Puenzo (2007)

With: Ines Efron, Martin Piroyansky

Alex is not like other girls. She is a 15-year-old with a secret, one that no other can claim. Her parents keep her hidden away at a coastal town in amongst the dunes of the shoreline, buying time before they must decide on a life-threatening operation.

When old family friend and plastic surgeon Ramiro arrives with his teenage son Álvaro, Alex begins to realise that his visit could change her life forever.

As the parents wrestle with the complications that will arise as Alex reaches adulthood, Alex and Alvaro become close, their relationship causing tensions amongst the locals.

However, as the parents battle it out to instil a sense of open-mindedness amongst their society, it is the children who prove themselves to be flexible in understanding the sexual leanings and complexities of others. Puenzo's enigmatic feature is the latest in Cinema City's monthly celebration of gay cinema.

t Screens at Cinema City on June 20 (5.15pm), details as above

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