Monday, 28 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 226: Fri Aug 15

Brief Encounter (Lean, 1945): Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm


This is a special screening of David Lean's movie accompanied by live music from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The centrepiece of a three-week series of films screened in Royal Festival Hall, Brief Encounter is shown with a newly commissioned orchestral soundtrack by Southbank Centre's Resident Orchestra for three nights only on the 15th, 22nd and 29th August.
This performance is introduced by actor Lucy Fleming (daughter of Celia Johnson) and a complete performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 precedes the screening. Full details here.

The BFI Film Classics collection includes this film - it is written by Richard Dyer and I can thoroughly recommend it. Details here

Time Out review:
Nighttime; a railway station in Britain, circa WWII. An express train races through the smoky darkness, Rachmaninoff’s second Piano Concerto rages, and a man and a woman—their intimate tête-à-tête interrupted by a prissy acquaintance—silently say farewell, his hand lightly gripping her shoulder in lieu of a kiss. What led devoted housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) to this point? The memories flood in after she arrives home to her husband and two children: that speck of grit that flew in her eye all those months before, which brought Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) to her aid and led to an impulsive, mostly chaste affair. A love, of course, that couldn’t last.
David Lean’s classic weepie, adapted from a Noël Coward play (Still Life), is sheer perfection—the gold standard of tragic romances whose influence can still be seen to this day. (Andrew Haigh’s recent indie Weekend gave the basic template a queer twist, and plenty have interpreted Coward’s story as a coded gay romance.) Johnson and Howard’s repressed passion could fuel an English tank battalion, and the shadowy black-and-white cinematography—a love story drenched in noirish tones—looks especially gorgeous in this new 4K restoration. But it’s not all tears and anguish: Lean and Coward leaven the film’s inevitably upsetting outcome with a few pointedly satirical asides, the best of which is a movie-within-the-movie (Flames of Passion) that does all the emoting Brief Encounter’s prim-and-proper protagonists can’t.
Keith Uhlich

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 225: Thu Aug 14

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (Demy, 1967): BFI Southbank, 6pm


Geoff Andrew introduces this marvellous Jacques Demy musical in the Gotta Dance, Gotta Dance! season. The film also screens on 11th and 16th August. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One might argue for Lola (1960), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), or the lesser-known Une Chambre en Ville (1982) as Jacques Demy's greatest feature. But his most ambitious is this 1967 big-budget musical shot exclusively on location, a tale of various dreamers searching for and usually missing their ideal mates, who are usually only blocks away. The score is Michel Legrand's finest, with various jazz elements, lyrics in alexandrines by Demy, and intricately structured reprises that match the poetic, crisscrossing plot. Demy pays tribute to the American musical yet mixes in accoutrements of French poetic realism: dreams and reality coexist more strangely and stubbornly than in most other musicals. The results may be quintessentially French, but the energy and optimism are clearly inspired by America, and Gene Kelly's appearances are sublime.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 224: Wed Aug 13

20,000 Days on Earth (Forsyth & Pollard, 2014): Somerset House, 9pm


Here's the UK premiere of the award-winning documentary about musician & writer Nick Cave, which garnered rave reviews at Sundance this year.

Time Out review:
‘This is my 20,000th day on Earth,’ says Australian rock musician and writer Nick Cave as we see him waking up in a luxurious bed and baring his chest in the mirror. What are we watching? Is this ‘At Home with Nick Cave – The Royalties Years’? Far from it. Like much in this smart and deliriously strange film, the opening scene embraces a familiar tic of the music doc (here, the pretence of intimacy) but manages both to reject and rework it in inspiring ways. Put it this way: we don’t then see Cave take a crap or boil an egg. The film preserves his public face, even reinforces it, while also managing to offer a no-nonsense and revealing take on living and working as an artist.
The idea is that we spend one day on Earth with Nick Cave, from dawn til dusk, via family, friends, a recording session and a gig, but it’s just a conceit, a neat device, and much of the film plays out more like drama. It’s all a performance – but artifice co-exists with honesty.

There’s a sense of intimacy, but not the sort that pretends we’ve managed to breach the defences of someone’s life. There’s a shot of Cave watching a film with his young twin boys, eating pizza – the cuteness is exploded when we realise they’re watching ‘Scarface’. It’s a typically playful moment. Cave talks of his wife, Susie, and we hear an exciting monologue as he explains with moving hyperbole how he felt when he first laid eyes on her. But we only see her as a reflection in a window. The film conceals as much as it reveals, and its beauty is that it pretends to do nothing else. It embraces a mystery and protects it, and it’s thrilling to behold.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the review.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 223: Tue Aug 12

To Catch A Thief (Hitchcock, 1955): BFI Southbank, on extended run . . .


This Hitchcock classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. See here for details.

Chicago Reader review of To Catch A Thief:
'Cary Grant is a retired cat burglar on the Riviera and Grace Kelly is the spoiled American rich girl who seems to have the perpetual hots for him, in Alfred Hitchcock's fluffy 1955 exercise in light comedy, minimal mystery, and good-natured eroticism (the fireworks scene is a classic). Jessie Royce Landis (North by Northwest) is delightful as Kelly's clearheaded mother (she and Grant were born the same year, by the way), and John Williams gives expert support as usual.'
Dan Druker

Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 222: Mon Aug 11

The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.50pm


This is part of the Passport to Cinema season and also screens on August 17. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Sam Peckinpah's notorious western depicted an outlaw gang, made obsolete by encroaching civilization, in its last burst of violent, ambiguous glory. By 1969, when the film was made, the western was experiencing its last burst as well, and in retrospect Peckinpah's film seems a eulogy for the genre (there is even a dispassionate audience—Robert Ryan's watchful Pinkerton man—built into the film). The on-screen carnage established a new level in American movies, but few of the films that followed in its wake could duplicate Peckinpah's depth of feeling.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 221: Sun Aug 10

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks, 1953): Somerset House, 9pm


Each summer, The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court hosts London's most beautiful open-air cinema, the Film4 Summer Screen. The series features a range of films, all showing on a state-of-the-art screen with full surround sound. Full details of the season at Somerset House can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
Howard Hawks's grand, brassy 1953 musical about two girls from Little Rock—Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell—gone gold digging in Paris. The male sex is represented by a bespectacled nerd (Tommy Noonan), a dirty old man (Charles Coburn), and a 12-year-old voyeur (the unforgettable George "Foghorn" Winslow), all of whom deserve what they get. The opening shot—Russell and Monroe in sequins standing against a screaming red drape—is enough to knock you out of your seat, and the audacity barely lets up from there, as Russell romances the entire U.S. Olympic team to the tune of "Ain't There Anyone Here for Love?" and Hawks keeps topping perversity with perversity. A landmark encounter in the battle of the sexes.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 220: Sat Aug 9

Written on the Wind (Sirk, 1956): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


This is part of the Eye-Popping Colour season at the Barbican. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the most remarkable and unaccountable films ever made in Hollywood, Douglas Sirk's 1957 masterpiece turns a lurid, melodramatic script into a screaming Brechtian essay on the shared impotence of American family and business life. Sirk's highly imaginative use of color—to accent, undermine, and sometimes even nullify the drama—remains years ahead of contemporary technique. The degree of stylization is high and impeccable: one is made to understand the characters as icons as well as psychologically complex creations. With Dorothy Malone (in the performance of her career), Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, and Rock Hudson.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.