Thursday, 20 July 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 217: Mon Aug 7

When You Read This Letter  (Melville, 1953): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm


This 35mm screening, also being shown on August 14th, is part of the Jean-Pierre Melville season at BFI Southbank. You can find full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Sex, religion, and blackmail feed the cauldron of this early thriller (1953) from Jean-Pierre Melville, the French cinema’s preeminent misanthrope. A young novitiate (Juliette Greco) is called home to watch over her younger sister (Irene Galter) after their parents are killed in a car accident, and when the sister is raped by a handsome drifter (Philippe Lemaire), the former nun comes after him packing more than a rosary. The atmosphere is so thick with lust and vengeance that any Catholic reading of the story is impossible; here the Church is just another shadowy institution, where people hide from their own evil.
JR Jones


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 216: Sun Aug 6

The Getaway (Peckinpah, 1972): Regent Street Cinema, 8.15pm


This excellent Sam Peckinpah film is being screened on a double-bill with Bullitt, also starring Steve McQueen. Details here.

Time Out review:
An evident precursor to The Driver (Walter Hill scripted both, this one from Jim Thompson's novel). The major strength of The Getaway rests solidly on Steve McQueen's central role, a cold tense core of pragmatic violence. Hounded by furies (two mobs, police, a hostile landscape), he responds with a lethal control, blasting his way through shootouts that teeter on madness to the loot, the girl, and Sam Peckinpah's mythic land of Mexico. Survival, purification, and the attainment of grace are achieved only by an extreme commitment to the Peckinpah existential ideal of action - a man is what he does. Peckinpah's own control of the escalating frenzy is masterly; this is one of his coldest films, but a great thriller.
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 215: Sat Aug 5

Boudu Saved From Drowning (Renoir, 1932): BFI Southbank, Studio, 3.30pm


This film, part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on August 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean Renoir's effortless 1932 masterpiece is as informal, beguiling, and subversive as its eponymous hero, a tramp who is saved from suicide by a Parisian bookseller and ends up taking over his benefactor's home, wife, and mistress. Michel Simon's Boudu is one of the great creations of the cinema: he's not a sentimental, Chaplinesque vagabond, but a smelly, loutish big-city bum; all he's got going for him is his unshakable faith in his perfect personal freedom. The bookseller thinks of himself as a free spirit and a dedicated humanitarian; he wants to be both Boudu's brother and his benefactor, but the tramp resists all of his approaches. He won't be trapped in any roles; like the water of the river from which he comes (and to which he returns), his only duty is to keep moving. Shot largely on location along the quays of Paris, the film features several early experiments with deep focus and nonnaturalistic sound, though its chief stylistic feature is Renoir's incomparable way of gently shifting moods, from the farcical to the lyrical to the tragic and back again.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 214: Fri Aug 4

The Swimmer (Perry, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.30pm


This film, screening in the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on August 12th, 18th and 25th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The only John Cheever story ever adapted to the big screen, this drama follows the eccentric journey of a suburban New York man who appears at the house of some old friends and resolves to take a dip in each of the backyard swimming pools that lead across the county back to his stately home. It's an unlikely movie property, but this 1968 feature imposes a dramatic shape on the story while preserving Cheever's characteristic sense of suburban rot. Burt Lancaster plays the title character, whose encounters with his upper-class neighbors (among them Kim Hunter and Joan Rivers) grow increasingly weird and disturbing as he approaches a cruel homecoming. A resounding commercial flop, this has since been recognized as a signature 60s film, prescient in its view of American self-deception. Frank Perry directed a screenplay by his wife, Eleanor, though the studio brought in Sydney Pollack for extensive reshoots.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 213: Thu Aug 3

The Killing of Sister George (Aldrich, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.05pm


This 35mm screening (also being shown on August 5th) is part of the Gross Indecency season at BFI Southbank. Here are the full details of the season which runs through July and August.

Time Out review:
Although one can't deny the entertainment value of Robert Aldrich's adaptation of Frank Marcus's play about an ageing lesbian actress whose life falls apart as she loses first her job in a TV soap series and then her young lover, it could never be described as either realistic or sensitive. Rather, with its grotesque stereotyping and tour de force bitchiness and hysteria, it's like yet another instalment in the What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? saga. Cynical, objectionable, and fun, distinguished by Beryl Reid's marvellously energetic performance. 
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the opening of the movie.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 212: Wed Aug 2

The Conversation (Coppola, 1974): Curzon Soho, 6.20pm


Enthusiasms and NoDirectionHome present Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, with Walter Murch Q&A, hosted by Matt Harlock (director of American: The Bill Hicks Story and founder of NoDirectionHome). Murch is one of the pivotal figures of New Hollywood, working variously as a first sound designer and later as film editor on, among many others, THX 1138, American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now and all three Godfather films. An innovator in sound, he began experimenting with tape recording as a child and, before studying film in the 1960s, worked in radio. His closest collaboration has been with Francis Ford Coppola, from 1969’s The Rain People up to 2009’s Tetro.

Chicago Reader review: 
Gene Hackman excels in Francis Ford Coppola's tasteful, incisive 1974 study of the awakening of conscience in an “electronic surveillance technician.” Coppola manages to turn an expert thriller into a portrayal of the conflict between ritual and responsibility without ever letting the levels of tension subside or the complicated plot get muddled. Fine support from Allen Garfield as an alternately amiable and desperately envious colleague, plus a superb soundtrack (vital to the action) by Walter Murch—all this and a fine, melancholy piano score by David Shire. 
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 211: Tue Aug 1

Key Largo (Huston, 1948): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank. Here are the details of the season. Key Largo is also being screened on August 19th. Details here.

Time Out review:
Reworking of a Maxwell Anderson play about a gangster under threat of deportation who holes up with his henchmen in a semi-derelict hotel on an island off Florida, holding the occupants at gunpoint and remaining blind to the menace posed by a coming hurricane. The debt to The Petrified Forest is obvious, but instead of wallowing in world-weary pseudo-philosophy, Key Largo has altogether sharper things to say about post-war disillusionment, corruption in politics, and the fact that the old freebooting ways of the gangster were about to change into something more sinisterly complex. John Huston skilfully breaks up the action (basically one set and one continuous scene), working subtle variations on his groupings with the aid of superb deep-focus camera-work by Karl Freund. And although the characters are basically stereotypes, they are lent the gift of life by a superlative cast: Edward G Robinson as the truculent Little Caesar, Humphrey Bogart as an embittered ex-Army officer, Lauren Bacall as the innocent who loves him, and above all Claire Trevor as the gangster's disillusioned, drink-sodden moll.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.