Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 213: Thu Aug 1

Do The Right Thing (Lee, 1989): Barbican Cinema, 7pm


This special event opens with live poetry from Anita Barton-Williams, followed by a screening of the film and the creation and presentation of a unique mural, painted by street artist Triplezed on the evening, inspired by views on Spike Lee’s film submitted by the audience. Screens with: Melting (US 1965 Dir Thom Andersen 6 min) a short film, from the director of Los Angeles Plays Itself, showing the disintegration of a strawberry sundae.

Chicago Reader review:
With the possible exception of his cable miniseries When the Levees Broke, this 1989 feature is still Spike Lee's best work, chronicling a very hot day on a single block of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, when a series of minor encounters and incidents lead to an explosion of racial violence at an Italian-owned pizzeria. Sharp and knowing, though not always strictly realistic, it manages to give all the characters their due. Bill Lee's wall-to-wall score eventually loses some of its effectiveness, and a few elements (such as the patriarchal roles played by the local drunk and a disc jockey) seem more fanciful than believable. But overall this is a powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick—funky, entertaining, packed with insight, and political in the best, most responsible sense.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 212: Wed Jul 31

Beau Travail (Denis, 1999): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Claire Denis season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A gorgeous mirage of a movie (1999), Claire Denis' reverie about the French foreign legion in eastern Africa, suggested by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Foretopman, benefits especially from having been choreographed (by Bernardo Montet, who also plays one of the legionnaires). Combined with Denis' superb eye for settings, Agnes Godard's cinematography, and the director's decision to treat major and minor elements as equally important, this turns some of the military maneuvers and exercises into thrilling pieces of filmmaking that surpass even Full Metal Jacket and converts some sequences in a disco into vibrant punctuations. The story, which drifts by in memory fragments, is told from the perspective of a solitary former sergeant (Denis Lavant, star of The Lovers on the Bridge) now living in Marseilles and recalling his hatred for a popular recruit (Gregoire Colin) that led to the sergeant's discharge; the fact that his superior is named after the hero of Jean-Luc Godard's Le petit soldat and played by the same actor almost 40 years later (Michel Subor) adds a suggestive thread, as do the passages from Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd. Most of all, Denis, who spent part of her childhood in Djibouti, captures the poetry and atmosphere—and, more subtly, the women—of Africa like few filmmakers before her. A masterpiece. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 211: Tue Jul 30

The Intruder (Denis, 2004): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Claire Denis season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
Louis Trebor (Michel Subor) lives with his dogs in the forest, deep in the Jura mountains close to the Swiss border. A recluse, he seldom sees his grown son (Grégoire Colin), sleeps – occasionally – with a pharmacist from a nearby town, and lusts without success after a local dog-breeder (Béatrice Dalle). That he’s not the warmest of men is clear from how he treats an unwelcome visitor to his home. Still, in his own self-centred way this sexagenarian loves life – so much so that after a minor heart attack, he uses his (possibly ill-gotten) savings to fly to Korea for a somewhat shady transplant: the start of an odyssey of sorts. Be advised that this partial synopsis of Claire Denis’ latest impressionist cinepoem is tentative indeed. Little is spelled out in the elliptical, taciturn narrative; mostly we see faces in wordless close-up, long shots of land- and seascapes and obscure figures flitting through trees in the dark, all rapturously shot by Agnès Godard and mesmerically cut to a meticulous track that includes minimalist music by the Tindersticks’ Stuart A Staples. The ‘story’ is evanescent to the point of becoming a pipe-dream, albeit one grounded in corporeal matter; it’s also remarkably rich in resonance. That’s due to Denis’ unusually open-minded approach to inspiration and creation. Initially working loosely from Jean-Luc Nancy’s eponymous essay on his heart transplant (hence the themes of invasion, rejection and solitude) but also conceiving the movie as a ‘portrait’ of Subor (which in turn, through a few clips from the 1960s film ‘Le Reflux’, ties in with a decision to have Trebor sail to a South Seas paradise), she also inserts a purgatorial Pusan into his journey, presumably to facilitate the film’s funding. Potentially chaotic, this method somehow results in a haunting, enigmatic meditation on life, death, our fragile sense of identity and the wages of solipsism.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 210: Mon Jul 29

35 Shots of Rum (Denis, 2008): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


This 35mm presentation, which also screens on July 16th, is part of the Claire Denis season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A handsome black widower (Alex Descas) and his lovely college-age daughter (Mati Diop) inhabit a self-contained world of tranquil domesticity and affection in a gray suburban high-rise outside of Paris. A goodhearted but insecure woman down the hall (Nicole Dogué) lives in the abject hope of winning the widower's heart, and a sweetly melancholic young man upstairs (Grégoire Colin) harbors similar feelings for the young woman. It's a given that the father-daughter bubble must eventually burst, but the smart writer-director Claire Denis (Beau Travail) has other, subtler things on her mind than Electra-complex melodrama. This 2008 feature is beautiful but very quietly so, and definitely not for the ADHD set.
Cliff Doerksen

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 209: Sun Jul 28

This is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm


Time Out review:
Since the antics of so many heavy metal bands already teeter on the edge of self-parody, it would have been no surprise if this spoof 'rockumentary' about a comeback tour by a has-been English rock group had turned out to be a one-joke movie. In the event, Reiner's brilliantly inventive script and smart visuals avoid all the obvious pitfalls, making this one of the funniest ever films about the music business. Filmed in cinéma vérité style, it follows the group from venue to venue, observing the trials and tribulations of life on the road, personal tensions within the group, and problems with expanding egos. Interviews with the group fill in the details of their chequered musical career: they have trouble keeping their drummers, one of whom choked on vomit (somebody else's), while another spontaneously combusted on stage. Most importantly of all, the musical numbers acutely mimic the crashing drums, thudding bass lines, whining lead guitar solos, and juvenile, sexist lyrics of heavy rock.

Here (and above) is the trailer.




Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 208: Sat Jul 27

No Fear, No Die (Denis, 1990): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm 


This 35mm presentation, which is also being screened on July 13th, is part of the Claire Denis season at Close-Up Cinema. Full details here.

Harvard Film Archive review:
In sharp contrast to the lush, exquisitely composed Chocolat, Denis' second film uses its rough edge handheld camera to explore the claustrophobic and fraught world of two black immigrant friends raising fighting cocks in a gritty Parisian suburb. A precursor to Beau Travail's study of uneasy male camaraderie No Fear, No Die carefully observes the subtly shifting dynamic between the two men – wonderfully played by Denis’ favorite actors, Alex Descas and Isaach de Bankolé – and the rituals and cruelties that define their world. 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 207: Fri Jul 26

Laura (Preminger, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm


This film, part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on July 13th, 18th and 22nd. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Otto Preminger's directorial debut (1944), not counting the five previous B films he refused to acknowledge and an earlier feature made in Austria. It reveals a coldly objective temperament and a masterful narrative sense, which combine to turn this standard 40s melodrama into something as haunting as its famous theme. Less a crime film than a study in levels of obsession, Laura is one of those classic works that leave their subject matter behind and live on the strength of their seductive style. With Dana Andrews as the detective, Gene Tierney as the lady in the portrait, and Clifton Webb as the epicene litterateur.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.