Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 43: Thu Feb 12

The Honeymoon Killers (Kastle, 1969): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm


This is part of the My Twisted Valentine season at the Barbican. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Leonard Kastle, a composer who turned filmmaker for this single feature (1970), brings a spare dignity and genuine depth of characterization to his exploitation subject—the series of murders committed by Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck in the late 40s. Fernandez (Tony LoBianco) is a third-rate gigolo who seems deeply in love with the dominating Beck (Shirley Stoler, the concentration camp guard of Seven Beauties); together they seduce and kill elderly, lonely women.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 42: Wed Feb 11

Croupier (Hodges, 1988):
Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Sq, WC1H OPD, 2.30pm


This is a screening organised by the London Screen Study Collection, created at Birkbeck College to promote public awareness of and research into London's screen history. You can find all the details of the current season, titled In And Out of the Tube, here. 

Time Out review:
It's pitiful that no British distributor had the imagination to give Mike Hodges' 1997 film a proper release. An interior thriller set in the seductive nocturnal world of London's casinos and after-hours drinking clubs, it's every bit as compelling as the fashionable Get Carter. Jack (Clive Owen) wants to be a writer, but it's only when he falls back on his old skills as a croupier and accepts a job at the Golden Lion that the novel starts to write itself. A wideboy colleague suggests a theme ('I wanna fuck over the world'); and a beautiful gambler (Kingston) initiates a plot when she propositions him outside the casino. Only the central character presents problems: Jack's girlfriend Marion (McKee) is horrified that the fictional 'Jake' is such a callous operator. Croupier is as much about writing as it is about gambling. It bills itself, quite properly, as 'a film by Mike Hodges and Paul Mayersberg'- the man who wrote The Man Who Fell to Earth. Almost every exchange of dialogue is punctuated with Jack's internal commentary: 'In life there is a choice: be a gambler or a croupier,' he muses. 'I was hooked on watching punters lose.' Not since Casino has a film leaned so heavily on voice-over, but in many ways Mayersberg and Hodges use it more inventively than Scorsese, not only to draw parallels between the dealer (who must never gamble) and the author (who also looks down on his subjects), but as an integral element in an unravelling game of karma, conscience and duplicity. Superbly played - Owen has never been better - and directed with a mature, imperturbable calm, this is cinema worth seeking out.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the opening sequence.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 41: Tue Feb 10

Blue Valentine (Cianfrance, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema 8.45pm


This film is part of the Bloodies & Broken Hearts season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling tear up the screen as mismatched lovers, shown in alternating sequences as a giddy young couple forging a much-compromised emotional bond on their earliest dates and then years later as bitterly divided spouses with a young daughter. They're just getting by on his wages as a boozy house painter and hers as a nurse, and his close, intuitive relationship with the little girl seems to be the only glue holding it all together. In a desperate move, husband and wife retreat for a romantic evening alone in a crummy hotel with theme rooms; theirs is the "future room," a garish space-age pad, and—wouldn’t you know it?—the future arrives. The performances are so gripping that the movie works despite its diagrammatic structure, which focuses on ironic rhymes between past and present and omits the entirety of the couple’s marriage.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 40: Mon Feb 9

Rome, Open City (Rossellini, 1945): BFI Soutbabnk, NFT1, 6.10pm


This film screens as part of the Passport to Cinema season at the BFI and tonight is introduced by screenwriter, director and producer Mamoun Hassan. There are more screening on 15th and 17th February and you can find all the details here.

I haven't seen this since my post-graduate days at Derby Lonsdale College in the mid-1980s but found it a real eye-opener at the time and wouldn't disagree with this ecstatic review in Chicago Reader. Director Roberto Rossellini was a pioneer and this film, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes, brought the attention of the world to the development of the hugely influential neorealism era in Italian cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Roberto Rossellini's 1946 story of a group of workers and a priest in 1943-'44 Rome, declared an “open city” by the Nazis, was begun only two months after the liberation. Its realistic treatment of everyday Italian life heralded the postwar renaissance of the Italian cinema and the development of neorealism; the film astonished audiences around the world and remains a masterpiece. With Anna Magnani, Aldo Fabrizi, and Maria Michi.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 39: Sun Feb 8

The Beast (Borowczyk, 1975): Rio Cinema, 2.45pm


This screens in a Walerian Borowczyk double-bill with Goto, Island of Love.  

Time Out review:
Once upon a time, in the 18th century, a beast lived in the woods of an aristocratic estate. And this beast, possessed of a giant phallus and an insatiable lust, set upon the beautiful young lady of the house. But the lady was of an even greater sexual appetite, and laid the beast to eternal rest. Two centuries later, the tale of the beast would return in the dreams of an American heiress contracted to carry the male descendant of the same crumbling aristocratic family... Borowczyk's all-out assault on social conventions and repressed desires, an outrageously ironic blend of French farce and surrealist poetry, can be seen as signposting both the peak of his sexual fables (Blanche, Immoral Tales) and his subsequent decline into ephemeral soft porn. Its shameless shuffling of equine couplings, pederastic priests and priapic black manservants earns it nul points for political correctness. But seen from its own amoral perspective, aided by Borowczyk's remarkable sense of framing and rhythm, La BĂȘte is that rare achievement, a truly erotic film.

Here and above is a extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 38: Sat Feb 7

Merrily We Go To Hell (Arzner, 1932): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


This is part of the Hollywood Pre Code Films season at the Cinema Museum. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The death throes of the Jazz Age, as filmed by the only female director of 1930s Hollywood, Dorothy Arzner. Sylvia Sidney is a socialite, Fredric March the alcoholic journalist she falls in love with. This 1932 picture is very highly regarded in some quarters, including Arzner's—she felt it was her best work. With Adrienne Allen, Kent Taylor, and Cary Grant.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 37: Fri Feb 6

Darkman (Raimi, 1990): Prince Charles Cinema, 11.30pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Late Night at the Prince Charles season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Writer-director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead and its sequels) hit the big time with this 1990 fantasy-thriller about a scientist (Liam Neeson) disfigured by villains who transforms himself into a grisly avenger, unable to feel pain and getting angrier by the minute. Raimi's flair for jazzy visual effects and extravagant action sequences, combined with direction that's full of punch and energy, makes this the best pop roller-coaster ride around. Unlike Tim Burton's Batman, this shows a sensibility that really likes and understands comic books (although echoes of such film classics as Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame aren't far behind, and be prepared for a fair amount of nastiness and gore). Frances McDormand plays the hero's dour girlfriend, and Raimi collaborated with Chuck Pfarrer, Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin, and Joshua Goldin on the script. With Colin Friels and Larry Drake.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.