Friday, 17 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 115: Sat Apr 25

Film That Buys the Cinema (Cube Cinema, 2014): The Horse Hospital, 7.30pm


A social-cinema-art-docu feature film, The Film That Buys The Cinema was born out of a very pressing concern: to secure the future of an 108 seat, completely independent Microplex Cinema in Bristol, England. This part of its mission was achieved, now it has a life of its own as a fully fledged film being screened across the globe. The Film That Buys the Cinema is a 70-minute work comprised of uncut one-minute takes, each one shot by a bewildering list of contributors, each whom have a wildly different relationship with this unique art-bunker. It’s a viewing experience unlike most and most suitable at the Horse Hospital, a space that has long been an inspiration on the Cube.

BFI London Film Festival review:
An insistent stream of lurid, poetic and bizarre otherworldly episodes are brought into compelling hard collision here, like an old underground VHS mixtape or an exceedingly choice – and unpredictable – weave of unlikely YouTube hits. This beguiling film was made to raise funds for the Cube, a boldly independent micro-cinema in Bristol trying to buy its own freehold. Each minute was newly shot by one of its different allies or former special guests - the luminaries include: Ben Rivers, Jem Cohen, Emma Hedditch, Nicolas Roeg, Peter Strickland and Jennet Thomas plus cult musician Jandek. An entertaining and powerful manifestation of the world of the Cube and its outreach, this epic movie also provides a striking measure of how much rich, diverse creative talent there is around right now.
William Fowler

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 114: Fri Apr 24

Daughters of the Dust (Dash, 1991): Tate Modern, 7pm


This is part of the LA Rebellion: Creating a Black Cinema season at the Tate. Full details of the films, which are on till April 25, can be found here.

Here is the Tate introduction:
Daughters of the Dust is a landmark in independent film. An enchanting visual poem, it is an impressionistic history of the Gullah people, who at the turn of the century find themselves torn between their traditions and modernity. Descendants of slaves who lived in isolation on the tropical Sea Islands off the Southern U.S. coast, the Gullah people maintained strong connections to African cultural and linguistic traditions. Focusing on the extended Peazant family in summer of 1902, the film explores the spiritual conflicts between different generations of women as they debate the consequences of their relocation to the mainland. 

Chicago Reader review:
Julie Dash's first feature (1991), set in the islands along the south Atlantic coast of the U.S. sometime around 1900. A group of black women, carrying on ancient African traditions and beliefs as part of an extended family preparing to migrate north, confront the issue of what to bring with them and what to leave behind. Lyrically distended in its folkloric meditations, with striking use of slow and slurred motion in certain interludes, this doesn't make much use of drama or narrative, and the musical score and performances occasionally seem at war with the period ambience. But the resources of the beautiful locations are exploited to the utmost, and Dash can be credited with an original, daring, and sincere conception. With Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Adisa Anderson, Kaycee Moore, and Barbara-O.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 113: Thu Apr 23

Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman (Akerman, 1997): ICA Cinema, 6.40pm


This screening is part of the Chantal Akerman retrospective presented by A Nos Amours.

Tonight, two Chantal Akerman films from the late 1990s.

Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman (1996)
Commissioned as part of the series: Cinéma, de notre temps

The legendary series of film-maker portraits curated by Janine Bazin and André Labarthe offered Akerman a commission. She chose, entirely consistently with her projects to date, to make a study of herself as film-maker. Why not? She had turned film-making back on itself, and discovered a feminised and ‘other’ sensibility, another way of seeing the world and self.
Akerman delivers a monologue about her work and thinking. This is followed by a montage of clips from her work, including Jeanne Dielman, Saute ma Ville, Hotel Monterrey, Histoires d'Amerique, Toute une nuit, Portrait d'une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles, Les années 80 and so on.
Akerman closes with a simple statement of fact, without biographical adornment: "I was born in Brussels, that’s the truth."

Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman, dir. Chantal Akerman, 1996, 63 mins

Sud (South) (1999)
Inspired by a love of the literature of William Faulkner and James Baldwin, Akerman planned a meditation on the American South, modeled perhaps on her prior D’est. But, just as she began work, James Byrd, Jr. was murdered in Jasper, Texas. A black man, he has severely beaten by three white men, chained to their truck, and dragged three miles through a black neighborhood.
Akerman’s engagement is not news reportage. Jasper, the context for the crime, must be scrutinised. Patient interviews reveal the people and their attitudes. Byrd's funeral is a moment of deep feeling.
This is a film that finds an alternative to the forensic investigation of In Cold Blood. This is a film that evokes a terrain, the folds of a psychological condition, the cold heart of white supremacism and the extraordinary nobility of the black community under attack.
Perhaps it is Akerman’s sense of exclusion, stemming from her family’s experience of the Holocaust, that enables her to see in this way.

Akerman has written:
How does the southern silence become so heavy and so menacing so suddenly? How do the trees and the whole natural environment evoke so intensely death, blood, and the weight of history? How does the present call up the past? And how does this past, with a mere gesture or a simple regard, haunt and torment you as you wander along an empty cotton field, or a dusty country road?
Sud, dir. Chantal Akerman, 1999, 71 mins

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 112: Wed Apr 22

The Falling (Morley, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.15pm


A special preview screening of this much-anticipated film + a Q&A with director Carol Morley.

Here so the BFI introduction:
Young Lydia (Williams), emotionally abandoned by her agoraphobic mum (Peake), becomes fixated on her best friend Abbie (Pugh). When Lydia’s white magik-obsessed brother and Abbie sleep together, her fragile world begins to unravel and a mysterious delirium takes over the girl’s school that she attends. Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life) returns to themes of identity, female experience and human connection with this distinctive new film.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 111: Tue Apr 21

Penthesilea (Mulvey/Wollen, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm


This is part of the Cinema Born Again: Radical Film from the 70s season. This is preceded at 6.20pm in NFT1 by a discussion involving Laura Mulvey and a panel of fellow critics who will reflect on her groundbreaking essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.’

This is the BFI introduction:
Newsreel footage of the suffragette movement, manipulated and cut-up, forms just one sequence in which theorists Mulvey and Wollen consider the speculative archetype of the warrior Penthesilea and her manifestation in different media. A stylish 70s Wonder Woman comic plus the very film being made are also reflected upon, with the filmmakers resisting the idea of the authoritative statement.

Time Out review:
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's film opens with a mime performance of Kleist's play about the Queen of the Amazons, and then proceeds through a suite of four further sequences designed to tease out some of the main implications in this opening 'statement'. Feminist issues loom large, not surprisingly, but the film embraces many other things, from Kleist's bizarre personal history to the way an actor feels in assuming a role. It's constructed as an exploration of relationships, real or potential, rather than as an argument or a single line of thought: it's interested in the link that may exist between a Greek vase-painting of a warrior woman and the Suffragettes, or, more formally, between a specific sound and a specific image. As such, it's a kind of scrapbook with a polemic kick. And it's also something of a milestone in dragging the moribund British cinema into an era long inhabited by Godard and Straub.
Tony Rayns

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 110: Mon Apr 20

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Powell & Pressburger, 1943):
BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.50pm


This screening is in the Passport to Cinema season and includes an introduction by film scholar, writer and broadcaster Ian Christie.

Chicago Reader review:
It's almost impossible to define this 1943 masterpiece by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It was ostensibly based on a cartoon series that satirized the British military class, yet its attitude toward the main character is one of affection, respect, and sometimes awe; it was intended as a propaganda film, yet Churchill wanted to suppress it; it has the romantic sweep of a grand love story, yet none of the romantic relationships it presents is truly fulfilled, and the film's most lasting bond is one between the British colonel (Roger Livesey) and his Prussian counterpart (Anton Walbrook). Pressburger's screenplay covers 40 years in the colonel's life through a series of brilliantly constructed flashbacks, compressions, and ellipses; Powell's camera renders the winding plot through boldly deployed Technicolor hues and camera movements of exquisite design and expressivity. It stands as very possibly the finest film ever made in Britain. With Deborah Kerr, Roland Culver, and James McKechnie.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 109: Sun Apr 19

Force of Evil (Polonsky, 1948): Rio Cinema, 2pm


This great noir features in a typically fine Rio Cinema double-bill with the 1996 Thom Andersen/Noel Burch documentary Red Hollywood which featured on the blog recently and which you can read all about here.

Chicago Reader review:
Abraham Polonsky's superior 1949 melodrama about the numbers racket. A poetic, terse, beautifully exact, and highly personal re-creation of the American underworld, with an unpunctuated Joycean screenplay by Polonsky that is perhaps unique in the American cinema. This is film noir at its best. Beautifully acted by John Garfield, Thomas Gomez, and Beatrice Pearson.
Don Druker

Here (and above) you can see Mark Cousins introducing the film on the TV programme Moviedrome.