Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 245: Sun Sep 4

Loulou (Pialat, 1980): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on Tuesday September 6th, is part of the Isabelle Huppert season at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Maurice Pialat’s 1980 film is a study in erotic revolution; in it, sex becomes a force that shatters not only class allegiances and social patterns but even the order represented by traditional narrative structure. Isabelle Huppert is a model middle-class wife who leaves her possessive husband (Guy Marchand) for street tough Gerard Depardieu; he lives off her money, but Pialat artfully blurs the line between exploiter and exploited—it’s hard to say who is using whom. The film, shot largely in handheld long takes, addresses the question of possession—of how much our society, and even the stories we tell, depends on the notion of one person’s “right” to another. It’s one of the most original French films of the period, and, I think, a great one.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 244: Sat Sep 3

Army (Kinoshita, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 11.50am

This 35mm presentation, also being screened on September 9th, is part of the Kinuyo Tanaka season at BFi Southbank. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
In this story of a family who have, for three generations, sent their sons to the Imperial Army, Tanaka plays the mother of the next young man in line. The complexity of her performance, particularly in the acclaimed final scene, contributes to the film’s ambiguous relationship to militarism. Director Kinoshita would later write the screenplay for Tanaka’s directorial debut, Love Letter.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 243: Fri Sep 2

The Big Doll House (Hill, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.15pm

This film (also being screened on September 10th) is part of the Pam Grier season at BFI Southbank. Details here.

BFI introduction:
The first of three deliberately campy, women-in-prison sexploitation pictures is set on a tropical Pacific Island. At the raggedy Prison del Inferno, 150 scantily clad, beautiful young women live as inmates. They are overseen by the sadistic female warden, Lucian. When a group of them try to escape, they use guns, attitude and sexuality to free themselves. The film proved to be the breakthrough for Grier.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 242: Thu Sep 1

An Engineer's Assistant (Tsuchimoto, 1963) & On The Road (Tsuchimoto, 1964):
ICA Cinema, 6.45pm

This is the opening night at the ICA of a retrospective devoted to the great Japanese documentary filmmaker Noriaki Tsuchimoto (full details here). Both films are screened from 35mm.

ICA introduction:
Alongside other documentary filmmakers of his generation, Tsuchimoto started by making public relations and educational films. Working within the conventions of corporate filmmaking, he was nonetheless able to bring his own voice, innovation and politics into the films. In 1962, Japanese National Railways imposed intensified labour schedules as a response to railway congestion due to the transport of materials and deployment of the Shinkansen fast train in preparation for the 1964 Olympic Games. In May of that same year, a train crash killed 160 people. In order to wipe away the bad impression caused by this accident, the JNR commissioned An Engineer’s Assistant. Shot with great craft and skill, this PR exercise depicts the hard work these men were undertaking to keep the trains running on time, thus providing a critical analysis of the poor labour conditions they were subjected to.

On the Road: A Document was originally commissioned by the traffic division of Japan’s police administration, but Tsuchimoto used this opportunity to collaborate with the taxi drivers’ unions. A riveting and original city symphony centred on a taxi driver, this is ultimately a portrait of labor conditions, traffic, and the unhealthy living conditions in Tokyo in a moment of urban renewal. The film was later recognised as one of the great documentaries made about this rapidly shifting society. In its dynamic and inventive attention to detail and sound, the film was not what the sponsors anticipated, and it was never publicly released.

Here (and above) is the On The Road trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 241: Wed Aug 31

The Decameron (Pasolini, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10pm

This film is part of a Pier Paolo Pasolini season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1971 film of ten tales from the Boccaccio classic represents the first part of his celebrated “trilogy of life,” which also includes the less enjoyable The Canterbury Tales and the more enjoyable (though equally questionable) Arabian Nights. Working with an Italian classic, he seems less inclined to transform his material, though what emerges is entertaining, if only in a mild way—rather like Playboy‘s “Ribald Tales.”
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 240: Tue Aug 30

Fox and His Friends (Fassbinder, 1975): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.05pm

This film is showing as part of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder season at Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1975 melodrama by Rainer Werner Fassbinder is one of his better middle-period films. A fairgrounds worker (Fassbinder) who wins a small fortune in a state lottery is exploited and eventually destroyed by his effete bourgeois lover (Karlheinz Boehm) and the lover's stuck-up friends. Very sharp about class and milieu, the film is limited only by Fassbinder's characteristic enjoyment of the hero-victim's pain. At one point the camera is even stationed on a floor a moment before the hapless hero slips and falls, in sadistic anticipation of his mishap. As with much of Fassbinder's work, his cruelty complicates rather than negates his mordant, on-target social analysis. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 239: Mon Aug 29

Distant Thunder (Ray, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 2.40pm

This 4K presentation is part of the Satyajit Ray season at BFI Southbank (details here).

BFI review:
Ray had been planning to make a film about the Bengal famine of 1943 to 1944 for some years when he finally returned to the village landscapes he’d left behind with Three Daughters. A man-made catastrophe exacerbated by war and natural disasters, the famine decimated rural agriculture, leading to the death of some five million people. Adapted by Ray from the contemporaneous novel by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee, Distant Thunder examines the causes of the cataclysm. Shooting in vibrant colour, Ray fielded accusations that he’d glamourised or aestheticised the famine, and while it’s true that cinematographer Soumendu Roy captures the lushness of the natural world in vibrant detail, its disharmony with man speaks to the film’s bitter critical ironies. Although Distant Thunder took the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, otherwise it seems Ray couldn’t win. Local critics found it insufficiently anguished, while western writers saw only unsubtle melodrama. It’s a powerful examination of human failure, but charges of universality do Ray – and his subject – a disservice. “From the first moment of any Ray film,” read The Times review, “the spectator forgets the racial and cultural difference of the characters and sees only human beings.” As biographer Andrew Robinson has noted, however, that’s a misleading charge, however well-intentioned, for such an explicit – and specific – examination of caste tensions.
Matthew Thrift

Here (and above) is the trailer.