Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 82: Mon Mar 23

No1: Girlhood (Sciamma, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm


This film (which also screens on 24 March) is part of the BFI Flare season. You can find full details here.

BFI introduction:
Céline Sciamma (Waterlilies and Tomboy) returns with this glorious coming of age drama about a quartet of young black girls growing up in the working class outskirts of Paris. Marieme is the eldest daughter of a single mother who works nights, leaving her with full responsibility for her younger sisters and an older brother so authoritarian that his behaviour borders on the abusive. At first a lonely, solitary figure among the young girls on her estate, Marieme is soon adopted by a sassy group, and the quartet find strength and power together in a community where rough boys dominate. Less overtly ‘L, B, or T’ than her previous work, Sciamma’s Girlhood is a nuanced examination of female friendship, gender dynamics and identity. Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ provides the backdrop to one of the year’s most electrifying, joyful scenes: ‘eye to eye, so alive, we’re like diamonds in the sky...’.
Tricia Tuttle

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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No2: The Untouchables (De Palma, 1987): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This film, being screened from 35mm, is part of the Prince Charles' De Palma Selectrospective. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Time-honoured mayhem in the Windy City, and if there are few set-ups you haven't seen in previous Prohibition movies, it's perhaps because De Palma and scriptwriter David Mamet have settled for the bankability of enduring myth. And boy, it works like the 12-bar blues. The director's pyrotechnical urge is held in check and trusts the tale; the script doesn't dally overmuch on deep psychology; the acting is a treat. Connery's world-weary and pragmatic cop, Malone, steals the show because he's the only point of human identification between the monstrously evil Al Capone (De Niro) and the unloveably upright Eliot Ness (Costner), and when he dies the film has a rocky time recovering. Costner looks like the kid who got a briefcase for Xmas and was pleased, but painfully learns under Malone's tutelage how to fight dirty. De Niro establishes his corner courtesy of a bloody finger in close-up, and unleashes uncontrollable rage to electrifying effect, most notably at the blood-boltered baseball-bat board meeting. The Odessa Steps set piece at the railway station could maybe do with one more angle to shuffle, and the battle at the border bridge diminishes the claustrophobic grip of the corrupt city, but the narrative thunders to its conclusion like a locomotive.
Brian Case

Here (and above) is the celebrated stairway shootout scene.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 81: Sun Mar 22

Hotel Du Nord (Carne, 1938): Cine Lumiere 2pm


This is part of the Sunday Classics season at the Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Time Out review:
A very likeable film, but for once denied a Jacques Prévert script, Marcel Carné's 'poetic realism' seems a trifle thin and hesitant in this populist yarn about a sleazy Parisian hotel and its inhabitants. While the sad young lovers (Annabella, Aumont) defy their jobless future in a suicide pact, Arletty and Jouvet run cynically away with the film as a pair of hardbitten rogues. But the real star is Trauner, whose studio sets - the mournful canal bank, the little iron bridge, the shabby rooms - are as amazingly evocative as Maurice Jaubert's score.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is an extract.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 80: Sat Mar 21

White Dog (Fuller, 1982): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm


We're talking personal top ten territory here, with a rare screening of the brilliant director Sam Fuller's late masterpiece.

Chicago Reader review:
Samuel Fuller's 1982 masterpiece about American racism—his last work shot in this country—focuses on the efforts of a black animal trainer (Paul Winfield) to deprogram a dog that has been trained to attack blacks. Very loosely adapted by Fuller and Curtis Hanson from a memoir by Romain Gary, and set in southern California on the fringes of the film industry, this heartbreakingly pessimistic yet tender story largely concentrates on tragic human fallibility from the vantage point of an animal; in this respect it's like Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar, and Fuller's brilliantly eclectic direction gives it a nearly comparable intensity. Through a series of grotesque misunderstandings, this unambiguously antiracist movie was yanked from U.S. distribution partly because of charges of racism made by individuals and organizations who had never seen it. But it's one of the key American films of the 80s. With Kristy McNichol, Burl Ives, Jameson Parker, and, in cameo roles, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, Christa Lang, and Fuller himself.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 79: Fri Mar 20

Ed Wood (Burton, 1994): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This film is part of the 'Class of 94' season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Tim Burton's charming black-and-white fantasy biopic about Edward D. Wood Jr. (Johnny Depp), a writer-director-actor at the lowest reaches of Z-budget filmmaking who won posthumous cult status by virtue of his eccentric personality (as a straight transvestite) and his very personal form of ineptitude. Such a project requires the historical imagination to re-create a time before camp had entered the mainstream sensibility as an attitude of affection; instead Burton and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski opt for a pie-eyed postmodernist fancy that in effect transports today's audience back into the 50s (derisive at a premiere of Bride of the Monster, respectful at a premiere of Plan 9, absurdly set in Hollywood's plush Pantages Theater). As a result Wood's singularly miserable and abject career, which ended in alcoholism and indigence, is magically transformed into the feel-good movie of 1994, budgeted for a cool $18 million and radiating tenderness (at least for the guys; nearly all the women are regarded as betrayers and spoilsports). Yet the movie still manages some remarkable achievements—in particular, a tour de force performance by Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi (whose friendship with Wood becomes the film's emotional center) and some glorious cinematography by Stefan Czapsky.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 78: Thu Mar 19

The Romance of Astrea & Celadon (Rohmer, 2007): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This film is as part of the Eric Rohmer season and also screens on 15 March. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
French filmmaker Eric Rohmer closed out his long and brilliant career with this charming, leisurely romantic comedy (2007), adapted from Honore d'Urfe's 17th-century novel L'Astree. The film revisits themes from Rohmer's earlier works but also continues his millennial experiment in fastidious costume drama, begun in 2001 with The Lady and the Duke. The fifth-century shepherd Celadon (Andy Gillet), accused of infidelity and spurned by his true love, Astrea (Stephanie Crayencour), plunges into the river to drown himself, but he's picked up downstream by a trio of lightly draped nymphs, who spirit him away to their community. Sharp ideas about love (from Celadon's brother and a clownish shepherd) and spiritual fidelity (from Celadon and a druid high priest) sustain the midsection of the movie before Rohmer wraps up with some foolishness involving Celadon in drag. Tales like these can often come off as flutey, but this one is elevated by its high intellectual tone, the luxuriant landscapes, and Rohmer's spare, unadorned style.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 77: Wed Mar 18

The Deep Blue Sea (Davies, 2011):
Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Sq, WC1H OPD, 2.30pm


This is a screening organised by the London Screen Study Collection, created at Birkbeck College to promote public awareness of and research into London's screen history. You can find all the details of the current season, titled In And Out of the Tube, here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rachel Weisz delivers a wrenching performance as a young Londoner driven to suicide by her sexless marriage to an aging judge and her doomed affair with a dashing former RAF pilot. Terence Rattigan based his 1952 play on his own unhappy experience being jilted by a younger man, yet The Deep Blue Sea has become a classic drama of female desire; the heroine's passion is so great it overwhelms her spouse (played here by Simon Russell Beale), her lover (Tom Hiddleston), and, very nearly, herself. It's an excellent property for director Terence Davies, whose painterly period dramas (The House of Mirth, The Long Day Closes) often center on big-hearted dreamers cramped by their colorless surroundings.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 76: Tue Mar 17

No1 Je Tu il Elle (Akerman, 1974):
Picturehouse cinemas across London. Details here.



'Comparable in force and originality to Godard or Fassbinder, Chantal Akerman is arguably the most important European director of her generation'. J Hoberman

Chicago Reader review of Je Tu il Elle:
Chantal Akerman directed and plays the lead in this early (1974) black-and-white feature that charts three successive stages of its heroine's love life. In the first part she lives like a hermit, eating only sugar, compulsively rearranging the furniture in her one-room flat, and apparently writing and rewriting a love letter; in part two she hitches a ride with a truck driver and eventually gives him a hand job; in part three she arrives at the home of her female lover, and they proceed to make frantic love. This is every bit as obsessive and as eerie as Akerman's later Jeanne Dielman and Toute une nuit, though not as striking on a visual level; as in all her best work, however, the minimalist structure is both potent and haunting.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here and above is an extract.


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No2: Life of Riley (Resnais, 2013): Cine Lumiere, 6.30pm


The last film from Alain Resnais runs at the Cine Lumiere from 13 March to 19 March and is also on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
At the Berlinale, weeks before he died, Alain Resnais’ final film won the nonagenarian a Silver Bear for opening new perspectives in cinema. A faithful yet mischievous adaptation of a play by his friend Alan Ayckbourn, it charts the responses of three couples – especially the women – to the news that their friend George Riley (never seen in the film) has just months to live. Stressing the theatrical artifice of a storyline which is itself about amateur dramatics and role-playing, Resnais elicits excellent performances from his cast, who speak French while inhabiting a surreal Yorkshire of the mind comprised of stylised sets, cartoons and roadscapes. A wise, witty, admirably airy look at life, love and death by one of film’s greatest modernists.
Geoff Andrew, Senior Film Programmer

Here (and above) is the trailer.