Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 347: Sun Dec 13

A Christmas Story (Clark, 1983): Underground Film Club, 4pm

Those people at the excellent Rooftop Film Club have gone underground, literally! They have taken residence in the Waterloo Vaults and programmed a crowd-pleasing season of movies in the lead up to Christmas. It's a similar set-up to the Rooftop venture but there's a bigger screen and it's guaranteed to be warm. Plus you can play crazy golf. I went on the launch night and was impressed with the food, the service ... and the choice of movie ... Tangerine!

You can find out the full schedule of films here but be sure to book. These events are popular and often sell out. Tonight's screening is a quirky, popular holiday hit from the director behind Black Christmas and the excellent Murder By Decree. All in all, highly recommended.

Chicago Reader review:
As a follow-up to his excoriated Porky's and Porky's II, director Bob Clark teamed with nostalgic humorist Jean Shepherd for this squeaky clean and often quite funny 1983 yuletide comedy, adapted from Shepherd's novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. The bespectacled young hero (Peter Billingsley) lives with his parents and younger brother in northeast Indiana and craves a BB gun for Christmas; the old man (Darren McGavin in one of his best roles) wins a newspaper contest and insists on displaying his prize—a table lamp shaped like a woman's leg in fishnet stockings. Shepherd provides the voice-over of the grown hero narrating, and his prominence on the sound track forces Clark to focus on visual humor, resulting in some wild Our Gang-style slapstick.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 346: Sat Dec 12

Looking for Mr Goodbar (Brooks, 1977): Art House Crouch End, 1pm

Introduced By... is a new season at Art House Crouch End where the cinema invite a special guest to choose a film that they introduce and discuss with the audience following the screening. For December they welcome the return of Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw to introduce this rarely seen and fascinating 70s movie.

Peter Bradshaw wrote about the film in an article he wrote for the Guardian recently to coincide with the release of Gaspar Noe's film Love. Here is an extract:
Diane Keaton plays a teacher: here, specifically a teacher of hearing-impaired children, a touch that accentuates her utterly respectable, in fact, laudable life. She gets involved in casual sex with men she meets in seedy bars. It ends in shocking violence. It is as if female sexuality is always a natural fit for the erotic thriller or crime thriller genre, and undoubtedly, Goodbar pathologises female sexuality to some extent, indicating that for a woman to have an interest in recreational sex is symptomatic of damage, and essentially tragic in origin and destiny. The film has been occasionally reviled and dismissed, but is arguably ripe for rediscovery as a confrontational exploitation classic from the Martin Scorsese/Paul Schrader 70s. It is not available on DVD, though I am soon introducing a special screening in London. 

Here (and above) are the opening credits.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 345: Fri Dec 11

The Collection (Apted, 1976): BFI Southbank, Studio, 8.40pm

Here is a rare chance to catch a Laurence Olivier Presents TV production of a great Harold Pinter play from 1976. This is screened in the BFI Love season and can also be seen on 19th December. You can find the full details here.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Olivier selected Pinter’s award-winning drama – a forensic examination of sexual jealousy – for his series of TV plays for Granada. He’s perfectly cast as the ageing lover riddled with insecurity as his boyfriend receives a series of strange visits from a man who is himself convinced that the boyfriend is seeing his wife.
Marcus Prince

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 344: Thu Dec 10

7th Heaven (Borzage, 1927): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 7.30pm

This is part of the BFI Love season and here is James Bell's introduction to tonight's special screening of a silent film classic:
Sonic Cinema has teamed up with the formidable talents of British musical powerhouses KT Tunstall, Mara Carlyle and composer Max de Wardener to present a brand new BFI-commissioned score to Borzage’s classic. Perhaps the most sublimely lyrical of all the silent-era romances, this tale of transformational love sees Charles Farrell’s sewage worker and Janet Gaynor’s street waif rise above poverty and war to be together. Martin Scorsese’s observation that Borzage’s films unfold in ‘lover’s time’ was never more apt, and the tender emotions Borzage captures build to an unforgettable, transcendental climax.
Chicago Reader review:
Frank Borzage won an Academy Award for his direction of this 1927 romance, and it remains the best known of his silent films. Janet Gaynor (who also won an Oscar) is a Parisian waif taken in by free spirit Charles Farrell; their love deepens as the clouds of World War I gather and Farrell is drafted and sent to the front. With its theme of sheltering love and its justly celebrated ending (perhaps the most serious assault on realism in the American cinema), the film is quintessential Borzage, though it seems rather simple in comparison to the masterworks that came later (including the semisequel Street Angel).
Dave Kehr

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 343: Wed Dec 9

A Star is Born (Cukor, 1954): Regent Street Cinema, 2pm

Welcome to the reason this blog exists. In December 2010 I watched this film, a movie I went to see when restored and re-released in cinemas in 1983, on television. I thought afterwards how much I would love to see this movie on the big screen again and that prompted an idea to write a daily blog picking a film to see in London. The purpose of starting the blog was to highlight to film lovers the best movies on the capital's repertory cinema circuit.

What writing the blog has also done is reinvigorate my moviegoing. The act of putting this small contribution to the London film scene together has resulted in encouraging me to go and see more movies. I hope the blog has had that impact on others too. This brilliant restoration of one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time is part of the Classic Matinees season at Regent Street Cinema and this is the first screening in London of A Star is Born since I started Capital Celluloid on January 1, 2011. It goes without saying that the movie comes highly recommended. Many believe Judy Garland gave her greatest performance in this film and one critic has called Mason's the best supporting performance by a male actor in modern Hollywood. Try and get to see A Star is Born where it should be seen - in a cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Even in this incomplete restoration George Cukor's 1954 musical remake of the 1937 Hollywood drama is devastating. Judy Garland plays a young singer discovered by aging, alcoholic star Norman Maine (James Mason), who helps her to fame as "Vicki Lester" even as his career slips. Garland gives a deeply affecting performance--halting, volatile, unsure of herself early on and unsure of Norman later--and her musical numbers are superb. Yet the film's core is its two-character scenes, in which small shifts in posture subtly articulate the drama's essence. Cukor gives his preoccupation with self-image a surprisingly anti-Hollywood spin: despite the many industry-oriented group scenes, the characters seem fully authentic only when they're alone with each other. The scenes of Lester acting seem tainted with artifice, and her a cappella performance of her current hit for Norman on their wedding night further separates the public from the private. Later, reenacting the production number shot that day, she uses a food cart for a dolly and a chair for a harp; Cukor's initial long take heightens the intimacy between her and Norman, just as the household props implicitly critique studio artificiality. All that matters, Cukor implies, is what people can try to become for each other. The film was badly mangled when Warner Brothers cut a half hour shortly after its release; this 1983 35-millimeter restoration replaces some footage, offering stills when only the sound track could be found. Fortunately these slide shows are confined to early scenes, giving some sense of what was lost. 
Fred Camper 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

If you want to read an excellent account of the film, its making and the background to the 1983 restoration I can recommend Ronald Haver's book A Star is Born. Full details here.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 342: Tue Dec 8

Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

An excellent chance to see one of Alfred Hitchcock's most perfectly realised films, screening tonight as part of the BFI Love season. The movie is also being shown on 28 & 29 December. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'The Hitchcock classic of 1946, with Cary Grant as a charming and unscrupulous government agent and Ingrid Bergman as a woman of low repute whom he morally blackmails into marrying a Nazi leader (Claude Rains, in a performance that makes a sad little boy of him). The virtuoso sequences—the long kiss, the crane shot into the door key—are justly famous, yet the film's real brilliance is in its subtle and detailed portrayal of infinitely perverse relationships. The concluding shot transforms Rains from villain to victim with a disturbingly cool, tragic force.'
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 341: Mon Dec 7

Doctor Zhivago (Lean, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.30pm

This film is re-released as part of the BFI Love season and runs from November 27 to December 30. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
David Lean's 1965 adaptation of Pasternak's romance of the Russian Revolution is intelligent and handsomely mounted, though it doesn't use its length to build to a particularly complex emotional effect. It's a thin, snaky epic with more breadth than body, rather like watching an entire Masterpiece Theatre chapter play in a single sitting. Omar Sharif doesn't have the dimensionality an epic lead requires, but Julie Christie shines brightly in support. With Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Rita Tushingham, Ralph Richardson, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine Chaplin, and Siobhan McKenna; photographed by Frederick A. Young.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.