Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 255: Mon Sep 12

No1: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (Cimino, 1974): Picturehouse Central, 7pm


This 35mm screening is part of an Edgar Wright Presents season. Details here.

Observer review:
An Ivy League graduate who became a successful director of commercials, Michael Cimino secured world fame for the expansive The Deer Hunter and enduring notoriety for the epic western Heaven's Gate. But his big break came in 1973 after co-writing two screenplays, the off-beat sci-fi Silent Running and Magnum Force, a sequel to Dirty Harry. His next script was not only acquired by Clint Eastwood as a vehicle for himself but also persuaded the star to let him direct it.

Inspired by Captain Lightfoot, a 1955 Douglas Sirk picture about 19th-century Irish highwaymen, it's a knowing, fast-moving combination of road movie and heist thriller, a bromance as we'd now call it, with homoerotic and homophobic undertones. It's set entirely in the beautiful, thinly populated "big sky country" of Idaho and Montana. On the soundtrack there's twanging country music by Dee Barton, who wrote the score for Eastwood's Play Misty for Me and High Plains Drifter.

Clint Eastwood plays Thunderbolt, a criminal hiding out as a country parson who meets Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges), a cheerful drifter half his age, while escaping from two old associates (a brutal George Kennedy and a dim Geoffrey Lewis) pursuing him to recover stolen loot. After chases and threats, male bonding and acrimony, the two pairs join forces for a carefully planned bank robbery in which Lightfoot dresses in drag to fool a guard. Gradually an initially light-hearted movie becomes dark, seriously violent, heavily ironic and finally tragic. Familiar character actors from the early 70s appear briefly along the road (Dub Taylor, the revivalist preacher in The Wild Bunch; Bill McKinney, the redneck rapist in Deliverance; Burton Gilliam, the racist, farting foreman in Blazing Saddles). Kennedy and Lewis are memorably unpredictable heavies.

But, above all, the film turns on the Eastwood-Bridges relationship. Eastwood confidently draws on his tender, vulnerable side. After his adult debut in The Last Picture Show (1971), Bridges continues to refine and define his role as the optimistic small-town all-American boy, retaining a cheerful, bewildered innocence even as he grows older. In Thunderbolt and Lightfoot he won his second Oscar nomination and was still working out painful variations on this similar character when he won an Oscar as the grizzled country singer in Crazy Heart in 2010.
Philip French 

Here is Edgar Wright's take on the movie 

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No2: Velvet Goldmine (Haynes, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm screening is part of the 'Women's Contribution to Film' season at the Prince Charles. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
This witty, evocative re-creation of the heady days of glam rock is loosely structured on the lines of a Citizen Kane-style flashback narrative, with a journalist (Christian Bale) sent back from New York to Britain to investigate, ten years on, the disappearance of Bowie-like star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) after an on-stage assassination is revealed to have been a publicity stunt. Partly a film à clef which retranslates real-life events and personalities into a dazzling fiction, partly an unsentimental celebration of an era of (potential) pan-sexual liberation (complete with unexpected but fitting tribute to Oscar Wilde), and partly a typically Todd Haynesian study of transgression, identity and the gulf between private and public image, it's superbly shot, edited and performed, and exhilaratingly inventive throughout.
Geoff Andrew

Here are the opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 254: Sun Sep 11

Nightbirds (Milligan, 1970): Genesis Cinema, 7pm


Genesis Cinema introduction:
While living rough on the streets of London's East End, a young man, Dink encounters the mysterious Dee and they begin a relationship. When tenderness gives way to cruelty they become consumed by darkness. Roz and Kim are back at Genesis Cinema on 11th September to discuss 1970's 'Nightbirds' and the East London films on the Scala map. Dink (Berwick Kaler) and Dee (Julie Shaw) fall into bed (and sort of in love too), living perpetually near to homelessness on Whitechapel's streets. One of the many overlooked films rediscovered and championed as part of the British Film Institute's Flipside series, 'Nightbirds' depicts an East London of peeling paint, still falling apart after the Blitz, seen from rooftops and doorways. This is part of our Scalarama 2016 programme.

Nicolas Winding Refn was partly responsible for this re-release. Read his article on the film here.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 253: Sat Sep 10

The Big Sky (Hawks, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.20pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Kirk Douglas season at BFI Southbank and is also being shown on September 13th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Though this sublime 1952 black-and-white masterpiece by Howard Hawks is usually accorded a low place in the Hawks canon, it's a particular favorite of mine—mysterious, beautiful, and even utopian in some of its sexual and cultural aspects. Adapted (apparently rather loosely) by Dudley Nichols from part of A.B. Guthrie's novel, this adventure stars Kirk Douglas and Dewey Martin as Kentucky drifters who join an epic trek up the Missouri River, along with the latter's uncle (Arthur Hunnicutt), an Indian princess (Elizabeth Threatt), and a good many Frenchmen. The poetic feeling for the wilderness is matched by the camaraderie, yet there's also a tragic undertone to this odyssey that seems quintessentially Hawksian—a sense of a small human oasis in the center of a vast metaphysical void.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 252: Fri Sep 9

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Roeg, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.35pm



The re-release of this Nicolas Roeg film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank (details here) and also at a number of other cinemas across London.

Time Out review: 
'Nicholas Roeg's hugely ambitious and imaginative film transforms a straightforward science fiction story (novel, Walter Tevis) into a rich kaleidoscope of contemporary America. Newton (David Bowie), an alien whose understanding of the world comes from monitoring TV stations, arrives on earth, builds the largest corporate empire in the States to further his mission, but becomes increasingly frustrated by human emotions. What follows is as much a love story as sci-fi: like other films of Roeg's, this explores private and public behaviour. Newton/Bowie becomes involved in an almost pulp-like romance with Candy Clark, played out to the hits of middle America, that culminates with his 'fall' from innocence. Roeg, often using a dazzling technical skill, jettisons narrative in favour of thematic juxtapositions, working best when exploring the clichés of social and cultural ritual. Less successful is the 'explicit' sex Roeg now seems obliged to offer; but visually a treat throughout.'
Chris Peachment


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 251: Thu Sep 8

Metropolis (Lang, 1927): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.55pm


This film screens as part of BFI Southbank's Big Screen Classics season and is also being shown on September 13th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Fritz Lang's 1927 silent epic about class struggle in a city of the 21st century still has a lot of popular currency, but it's never been a critics' favorite. This 124-minute version is the longest since the German premiere, and the unobtrusive use of intertitles to fill in the blanks makes it more coherent. The restoration clarifies the relationships among the hero (Gustav Fröhlich); his late mother, who died giving birth to him; his father, the ruler of Metropolis (Alfred Abel); and the father's bitter romantic rival (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), an inventor who creates a robot in the mother's image. Later the robot is upgraded to impersonate the hero's heartthrob (Brigitte Helm), a radical preacher who helps organize the city's exploited workers. The film looks fabulous, and Gottfried Huppertz's original score is another worthy addition.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 250: Wed Sep 7

Pusher (Winding Refn, 1996): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm


This 35mm screening is part of a Nicolas Winding Refn selectrospective at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Everybody in Copenhagen loves Frank, who sells heroin and gives away charm. Business hums along—with evenings free for hypermacho bonding that both evokes and transcends Tarantino in every line and gesture—until Frank trusts someone he shouldn't. This disturbing, insightful drama about the relationship between ethics and luck insists that we identify with Frank even when we'd prefer to distance ourselves. And it has lots of humor and even irony, though these aren't its main objectives. Jens Dahl wrote the screenplay with director Nicolas Winding Refn; with Kim Bodnia, Zlatko Buric, Laura Drasbaek, Slavko Labovic, and Mads Mikkelsen.
Lisa Alspector

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 249: Tue Sep 6

Ace In The Hole (Wilder, 1951): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This screening is part of the Kirk Douglas season at BFI Southbank and is also being shown on September 10th. Full details here.

"I've seen some hard-boiled eggs in my time but you're 20 minutes," someone says to central character Chuck Tatum, played by Kirk Douglas. You'll know you could add another 20 great lines to that once you've seen this jet-black film, even by Billy Wilder standards.

Chicago Reader review:
Billy Wilder being bitter, without Billy Wilder being funny. This 1951 film, about a cynical reporter who seizes on the plight of a man trapped in a mine shaft to promote his career, is cold, lurid, and fascinating, propelled by the same combination of moral outrage and sneaky admiration that animates the paperback novels of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain. Kirk Douglas stars, and his psychotic charm is perfect for the part; Jan Sterling is unforgettable as the victim's hard-bitten wife, who's willing to go along with Douglas's scheme.
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.