Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 249: Thursday September 8

The Flesh Eaters (Curtis, 1964): Roxy Bar and Screen, 7pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films and events at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

The Duke Mitchell Film Club makes their Roxy debut with a tribute to the Scala cinema, playing the groundbreaking sci-fi horror B-movie, THE FLESH EATERS, one of the earliest gore movies ever filmed. Along with the Duke’s regular features including a special Scala-themed Trailer Trash, short films, a quiz and some great music. 

Here is a review from website eatmybrains.com


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 248: Wednesday September 7

Flaming Creatures (Smith, 1962): ICA Cinema, 8pm
Plus interview with avant garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas

The ICA presents a fortnight of films, events and symposia dedicated to the legendary artist, filmmaker and actor, Jack Smith (1932-1989).

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films and events at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Time Out review:

'One of the legendary maudit films, Smith's extravaganza of underground pleasure(ing)s doesn't quite stand up to its chequered fame. Shot in murky black-and-white, it visibly belongs to the early '60s, but nevertheless appears to originate from some arcane time pocket of the '20s, populated by vampy drag queens and draggy vampires, guests at a boisterous but strangely innocent orgy orchestrated with pulpy pop ditties and flapper anthems. Admittedly, it now comes across as an archive piece, and proves that boredom has always been a factor in the avant-garde's articulation of perverse desire. But as a missing link between prehistoric cine-camp and the dazed excesses of Warhol and the infinitely more trenchant George Kuchar, it is of academic interest at the very least.'


Watch the amazing trailer here.

Capital Celluloid - Day 247: Tuesday September 6

Kill List (Wheatley, 2011): Londonwide in various venues

It's a quiet night on the repertory front in town so here's a rare Capital Celluloid recommendation for a new movie. Ben Wheatley's violent hitman horror film is the most talked about movie of the moment and is well worth seeking out in its current run.

Here is the five-star Time Out review:

'Ben Wheatley’s self-funded debut feature ‘Down Terrace’ was an odd beast. It was hard to tell how much of the wordy, ultraviolent gangster comedy’s undeniable power was intentional and how much was derived from its micro-budgeted on-a-wing-and-a-prayer production. Well, here’s the answer: on the strength of ‘Kill List’, Wheatley might be the most idiosyncratic and exciting filmmaker the UK has produced since Shane Meadows.

Much of ‘Kill List’ will be familiar to anyone who caught ‘Down Terrace’ during its brief run last year: the semi-improvised dialogue and naturalistic performances, the close, documentary-style photography and the deep-seated sense of suburban moral decay. But it’s altogether more confident: where the earlier film leavened the darker moments with slapstick and satire, ‘Kill List’ is an unrelentingly grim ride into the bleakest imaginable terrain, its only humour black beyond belief.


For the first 45 minutes, this seems like a fairly standard killer-for-hire set-up. The editing and the audio palette are unusual and unsettling, the performances noticeably superior and the mood unrelentingly claustrophobic, but the plot seems to follow a predictable template. Then something happens – no clues except to say that it involves a hammer – and ‘Kill List’ takes a sharp left-turn into no man’s land.

There will be some who find the resulting series of increasingly brutal and dreamlike events hard to process, and a number of plot points remain unexplained even as the credits roll. But allow the film to take hold and its power is inescapable: the effect is like placing your head in a vice and waiting as it inexorably closes.

It’s hard to remember a British movie as nerve-shreddingly effective since ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ in 2004. Like that film, ‘Kill List’ may not make the impact it deserves upon initial release. But this is a grower, a film which lingers long in the memory: look for it on ‘Best of British’ lists for a long time to come.
'
Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer.

LATE ENTRY:


Bedazzled (Donen,1967): Ryan's Bar, Stoke Newington, 9.30pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films and events at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Chicago Reader review: 

'Long before he became the male Sandy Duncan, Dudley Moore was half—with Peter Cook—of a brilliant comedy duo. Stanley Donen found the perfect format for their talents in this 1967 reshuffling of Faust: Moore is a cook in a fast-food joint granted seven wishes by the devilish Mr. Spiggott (Cook) in exchange for his insignificant soul. The film is bright, inventive, and pointed—one of the finest and funniest comedies of the 60s. With Raquel Welch and Eleanor Bron.' Dave Kehr

There are numerous hilarious scenes. Here is Peter Cook as Drimble Wedge (and The Vegetations)

Capital Celluloid - Day 246: Monday September 5

Pandora's Box (Pabst, 1928): BFI Southbank NFT2, 6.10pm
This is screening as part of the Passport to Cinema season and will be introduced by Nathalie Morris

This is based on two Frank Wedekind plays and is one of the great silent works of Weimar Germany, most notable for a startling performance by Louise Brooks.

Here is an extract from the excellent Silent London blog which gives some background to this memorable movie:

'If you haven’t seen Pandora’s Box (1929) before, I’m actually a little jealous of you. This film and its notorious leading lady are so irrepressibly gorgeous that your first viewing really should be a big-screen experience – and this is the perfect opportunity.

By the end of the 1920s Louise Brooks had had her fill of Hollywood, and Hollywood had pretty much had its fill of her. Lucky, then, that she caught the eye of German director GW Pabst and moved to swinging Weimar Berlin to take the lead role in Pandora’s Box. Brooks plays Lulu, a hedonistic dancer who pursues her own pleasure at the expense of bourgeois morality, or pretty much anyone’s morality, come to mention it. 

The role has come to define Brooks and rightly so. Who hasn’t, when watching Brooks shake her iconic bob, thought: “That girl could get away with murder”? Pandora’s Box puts that theory to the test like no other movie, and Brooks’s sensual performance radiates here – even as events take a series of sinister turns and the film transforms from a backstage comedy, to a thriller, to something approaching horror.'

Here is the Chicago Reader review:

'G.W. Pabst's 1928 portrayal of eroticism and despair, a seductive and craftily constructed vehicle. Louise Brooks is magnificent as Lulu the seductress, who, as Lotte Eisner describes her, is “endowed with an animal beauty, but lacking all moral sense, and doing evil unconsciously.” One of the classic films of the German silent era.' 109 min.

Capital Celluloid - Day 245: Sunday September 4

Black Sunday (Bava, 1960) & Horror Hospital (Balch, 1973):
Roxy Bar & Screen, Borough, London Bridge, 3pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films and events at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

The event is organised by the Classic Horror Campaign, a pressure group aiming to bring back regular screenings of horror films to terrestrial television. Here is their Facebook page.

Here is the Time Out review of Black Sunday:

'A classic horror film (from a story by Gogol) involving Barbara Steele as a resurrected witch who was burned to death in a small medieval town and seeks revenge on her persecutors. The exquisitely realised expressionist images of cruelty and sexual suggestion shocked audiences in the early '60s, and occasioned a long-standing ban by the British censor.' David Pirie 

Here is the trailer. 

Here is the Time Out review of Horror Hospital:

'Anticipating the day of the video nasty, Balch - who had collaborated with William Burroughs on Towers Open Fire and The Cut-Ups - here twisted the conventional elements of the horror movie to a new level of grotesquerie. The plot concerns a mad Pavlovian doctor, whose body is a hulk of third-degree burnt tissue, boring holes in young persons' brains in an attempt to master their minds. The object is somehow to persuade beautiful ladies to fuck him, appearances notwithstanding; but despite turning into mindless zombies, they are still resistant to his charms. Hence much frustration vented by scything heads off with a Boadicea chariot of a Rolls-Royce, Cocteau-like biker henchmen given to beating people up, and mutant dwarves chopping skulls with hatchets or burning flesh with cigarettes. All of which takes place in a charming castle masquerading as a health farm. Cliché after cliché is ruthlessly hammed into a telling stomach-gripper: one for sophisticates of undergrowth horror of the Chas Addams variety.' John Du Cane

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 244: Saturday September 3

I Want To Start A Film Club: Roxy Bar & Screen, Borough, London Bridge, 3-5.30pm.

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films and events at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

One of the important aspects of the Scala Forever season is the attempt to create a legacy and this will be one of the ways, by giving people the information and tools to create their own film club.

Here's the Roxy Bar and Screen's introduction to the day: Perplexed by your multiplex? Feeling half hearted by art house? Do you dream of running your own cinema? Roxy Bar and Screen hosts a special panel about how to start a film club or society with a day of discussions and workshops. Discussions will be split into three parts: choosing and finding the films, searching and selecting your venue and accessing funds, and most importantly recruiting and maintaining an audience. Members of the Scala Forever team will be joined by panellists from various film clubs including Midnight Movies and Cigarette Burns Cinema to answer your questions whilst representatives from Film London will detail their latest round of funding. Free entry but booking essential, reserve a place by emailing bookings@roxybarandscreen.com

You can read my Guardian article on the rise of film clubs here.

If there's a film you want to catch here's today's choice:

Zabriskie Point (Antonioni, 1970): Rio Cinema, 11.15pm

Here is the Chicago Reader review:

'Though Michelangelo Antonioni's only American film was very poorly received when it was released in 1969, time has been much kinder to it than to, say, La Notte, which was made a decade earlier. Antonioni's nonrealistic approach to American counterculture myths and his loose and slow approach to narrative may still put some people off—along with the uneven dialogue (credited to Fred Gardner, Sam Shepard, Tonino Guerra, Clare Peploe, and the director)—but his beautiful handling of 'Scope compositions and moods has many lingering aftereffects, and the grand and beautiful apocalyptic finale is downright spectacular. With Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, and Rod Taylor.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the famous explosive finale.

Capital Celluloid - Day 243: Friday September 2

Days of Heaven (Malick, 1978): BFI Southbank, 2.30; 6.30 & 8.45pm.
The film continues at the cinema on an extended run as part of the Terrence Malick season through till October 12

Here is the Time Out review:

'Asking a colleague how anyone could encapsulate the exquisite, earthy poetry of Terrence Malick’s cinema in a mere 180 words, he responded: ‘It’s easy! “Blah, blah, magic hour. Blah, blah, voiceover. Blah, blah, the awesome power of nature. Hyperbolic sign off”.’ Fans of the director’s small but perfectly formed oeuvre will know that these are all indeed typical Malick motifs. But fans will also know that they were put to their most sublimely sensuous and conveniently approachable use in ‘Days of Heaven’, his peach-hued masterwork from 1978 which opens ahead of the BFI’s full Malick retrospective. Richard Gere and Brooke Adams take time out from life to frolic in the swaying wheatfields of the Texas Panhandle, hawkishly overseen by Sam Shephard’s tragic Jay Gatsby figure who eventually lets his suspicions get the better of him. Theirs is a tale of almost biblical profundity: a furtive love allowed to bloom momentarily in this glowing, golden paradise before commerce, responsibility, law and violence put a heartbreaking end to their innocent bliss. Visually and thematically, it’s still one of the most beautiful films ever made.' David Jenkins

Take a look at the wonderful opening credits.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 242: Thursday September 1

Kiss Me Deadly 6.20pm (Aldrich, 1955) & Pulp Fiction 8.40pm (Tarantino, 1994):
Prince Charles Cinema

Continuing the season of films that influenced Quentin Tarantino, here's a fascinating Hollywood film noir coupled with the director's hugely enjoyable crime thriller from the mid-1990s.

Chicago Reader review of Kiss Me Deadly:

'The end of the world, starring Ralph Meeker (at his sleaziest) as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (at his most neolithic). Robert Aldrich's 1955 film is in some ways the apotheosis of film noir—it's certainly one of the most extreme examples of the genre, brimming with barely suppressed hysteria and set in a world totally without moral order. Even the credits run upside down. This independently produced low-budget film was a shining example for the New Wave directors—Truffaut, Godard, et al—who found it proof positive that commercial films could accommodate the quirkiest and most personal of visions.'
Dave Kehr

Here is the opening with the amazing credits. The ending is one of Hollywood's greatest.

Time Out review of Pulp Fiction:


'A sprawling, discursive fresco: three stories bookended by a prologue and epilogue. In the first story, a mobster (John Travolta) is charged with looking after the irresponsible wife (Uma Thurman) of his vengeful boss. In the second, a washed-up boxer (Willis) tries to trick the Mob by failing to throw a fight. And in the third, two hitmen (Travolta and Jackson) carry out a job, only to call on the services of a 'cleaner' (Harvey Keitel) when it gets messier than planned. It's the way Tarantino embellishes and, finally, interlinks these old chestnuts that makes the film alternately exhilarating and frustrating. There's plenty of sharp, sassy, profane dialogue, and there are plenty of acute, funny references to pop culture, though the talk sometimes delays the action, and the references sometimes seem self-consciously arch. And there are, too, the sudden lurches between humour and violence - shocking, but without moral depth. What writer/director Tarantino lacks, as yet, is the maturity to invest his work with anything that
might provoke a heartfelt emotional response to his characters. Very entertaining, none the less.' 
Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 241: Wednesday August 31

FilmBar70 Sci-Fi Double-Bill:
The Final Programme (Fuest, 1973) & Zardoz (Boorman, 1974): Roxy Bar & Screen, 7pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Time Out review of The Final programme:

'Read Michael Moorcock's novel first and you might make sense of this garbled sci-fi fantasy about scientists trying to breed a self-reproducing hermaphrodite as the end of the world approaches. Concentrating as always on giving his work a chic gloss, Fuest (acting as his own set designer) simply lets things drift from muddle to muddle while a few moments of black comedy surface.' Tom Milne

Here is the trailer.


Time Out review of Zardoz:

'A bizarre futurist fantasy which seems to have substituted itself when Boorman's plans to film Tolkien's Lord of the Rings fell through. Zardoz (joke ref: Wizard of Oz) is a vast, Blakean bust of a bearded Zeus which roams the air spewing arms and ammunition to its Exterminators on earth so that they may enforce the law: 'The gun is good, the penis is evil'. Liberated by the memory of a rape committed in the course of his liberties, one of these Exterminators (Connery) enters the godhead, kills the magician manipulating it, and finds he has penetrated the Vortex, a world of sterilised stasis established to preserve the sum of man's knowledge. At which point, poised to take off from its make love not war springboard, perhaps to explore the dichotomy between physical and spiritual forces, the script gradually falls apart into a mess of philosophical pottage under the whimsically pretentious Tolkien influence. But visually the film remains a sparkling display of fireworks, brilliantly shot and directed.'
Tom Milne 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 240: Tuesday August 30

Toby Dammit (Fellini, 1969) & Baba Yaga (Farina, 1973):
Ryan's Bar, Stoke Newington Church Street, 6pm - 12am (Films start 7pm)

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Ryan's Bar introduction: 

We present a special double bill of Italian Gothic Psychedelia. First off, Toby Dammit, the haunting, bizarre story segment from the portmentau horror film Spirits of the Dead (1969), directed by the great Federico Fellini and based on the short story Never Bet the Devil Your Head, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Here is an extract.

Then as the main feature we have Baba Yaga (Corrado Farina, 1969). This is a rarely seen Euro-Sleaze-Horror classic, based on the cult comic strip by Guido Crepax, the plot being about a modern day witch who puts an evil spell on the main character - but this isn't important - what is are the luxuriant visuals, the abstract, meta-textual sequences, the groovy soundtrack and the psycho-sexual stylings - think Daughters of Darkness meets Suspiria and you are half-way there!


Here is an extract.

Before and after the film James DC will be spinning strange retro-electronica music and other-worldly film soundtracks, accompanied by insane B-movie film trailers.

Capital Celluloid - Day 239: Monday August 29

The Terminator (Cameron, 1984) & Duel (Spielberg, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.25pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Chicago Reader review of The Terminator:

'James Cameron's resourceful low-budget thriller (1984) recalls the canny exploitation work of the old New World Pictures. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an automated hit man of the future sent back to present-day Los Angeles to eliminate the future mother (Linda Hamilton) of a rebel leader; her only hope is a bashful guerrilla fighter (Michael Biehn) who has followed Schwarzenegger back through time. Cameron's direction of the ensuing chase owes a lot to George Miller and John Carpenter (not to mention Chuck Jones), yet the characterization of the violence has something agonizingly original about it: Schwarzenegger is presented as a lumbering slab of dumb, destructive strength-the image is more geological than human-and Cameron plays his crushing weightiness against the strangely light, almost graceful violence of the gunplay directed against him. The results have the air of a demented ballet.'






'Spielberg's first film, superbly scripted by Richard Matheson, made for TV but booking its own place on the big screen: an absolute cracker about a salesman driving along the highway who gradually realises that the huge petrol tanker playfully snapping at his heels - apparently driverless - has more sinister designs. There are no explanations and no motivations, except perhaps for a hint of allegory in the script (the motorist's name is Mann) and an intriguing visual suggestion that this is the old, old battle between the shining, prancing, vulnerable knight and the impervious, lumbering dragon. Simply a rivetingly murderous game of cat and mouse that keeps you on the edge of your seat.


Capital Celluloid - Day 238: Sunday August 28

"The Scala's programmes offered the cult alongside the classic with unique cutting edge movies that broke the boundaries of accepted style, subject and taste. The Rio's tribute brings together three such masterpieces." Peter Howden, Rio Cinema.

Rio Cinema Triple Bill:
Glen Or Glenda (Wood, 1953); Un Chant D'Amour (Genet, 1950) & Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle (Anger, 1947-72), Rio Cinema, 1.30pm

Chicago Reader review of Glen Or Glenda:

'Ever since screenwriter David Newman wrote it up for a Film Comment article on his “Guilty Pleasures,” this grungy exploitation film from 1953 has been a staple of the underground screening circuits. The director, Edward D. Wood, was himself a transvestite (he boasted of wearing women's underwear throughout his hitch in World War II), and apparently he meant his film as a heartfelt appeal for understanding. But what emerges, after a cackling Bela Lugosi has been intercut with the slim plotline, is something rather more bizarre. Wood's later Plan 9 From Outer Space is, if anything, even weirder—the man had a definite genius for imaginative miscalculation.' 67 min.



Rio introduction to Un Chant D'Amour: The gay French writer Jean Genet made just one excursion into filmmaking with this poetic evocation of  prison life and homosexual desire. The cast was drawn from the author's friends, lovers and passing strangers.

Here is an extract.


Rio introduction to Kenneth Anger shorts: The world of Kenneth Anger is a spell-binding ritualistic mix of fantasy, surrealism, mythology, magic, decadence, homoeroticism and the occult. THE MAGICK LANTERN CYCLE, the short films he made between 1947 (FIREWORKS) and 1972 (LUCIFER RISING) are a dazzling and unique kaleidescope  of imagery, sound and sensuality.

Here is the trailer for the Kenneth Anger collection.



Capital Celluloid - Day 237: Saturday August 27

French Cancan (Renoir, 1955): BFI Southbank, Studio 4pm

This is running in an extended showing from 8 to 31 August.

Time Out review:

'Ah, London, city of cultural plenty! What’s it to be then – take in Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s ‘At the Theatre’ among the impressionists at the National Gallery, or catch ‘French Cancan’, his son Jean’s glowing cinematic tribute to the stage, digitally restored and on screen at the BFI Southbank? Given the family tradition, you feel uncannily in touch with the Paris of the Naughty Nineties even though the film was made in 1955. Its story of high-kicking, knicker-flashing antics at the Moulin Rouge eschews strict historical accuracy, yet somehow it’s more ineffably authentic than the John Huston or Baz Luhrmann model.

Renoir’s studio confection in succulent colour runs along Hollywoodian puttin’-on-a-show lines, with veteran Jean Gabin the canny impresario juggling fractious backers, ferociously jealous belly-dancer María Félix, and the laundry-girl (Françoise Arnoul) he’s grooming for stardom. The dance can be choreographed but the human heart’s not so malleable, especially when caught ’twixt romance and success.

Conventional enough – yet Renoir’s seasoned wisdom always imbues his characters with a flawed, rounded humanity, even as the plot’s bustling its way towards giddy lift-off in the finale. Along the way, there’s an Edith Piaf cameo and an early sighting of the great Michel Piccoli. Renoir’s affectionate, unsentimental estimation is that such backstage dramas are part and parcel of the spectacle under lights – art and the making of art are to be equally enjoyed, endured and lived. Go on, treat yourself.'
Trevor Johnston

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid - Day 236: Friday August 26

Film4 Frightfest screening
The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry (Agudo, 2010): Empire Leicester Square 9.15pm
(NB: Also screening on Sunday August 28)

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Here's the Film4 Frightfest introduction to this Spanish documentary:
'Often called the Spanish Lon Chaney, genre icon Paul Naschy was the only horror film actor to portray Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein, Fu Manchu, the Hunchback, the Witchfinder General, Rasputin and, in his greatest creation, the werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky. Director Angel Agudo’s informative documentary on the champion weightlifter turned brawny Iberian national treasure is a heartfelt celebration of the man born Jacinto Molina Alvarez. From his devastating experiences during the Spanish Civil War moulding his future to his work for Profilmes, the Hammer of Madrid, and his classic chiller legacy, including HELL’S CREATURES, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB and BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL, the full Naschy is here. Hosted by Mick Garris, with observations by John Landis and Joe Dante, anecdotes from his family and friends and reminiscences by co-star Caroline Munro, this moving testament features amazing archive footage and wonderful clips from his Euro horror career.'

Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 235: Thursday August 25

Shameless Films Double-Bill
The Frightened Woman (Schivazappa, 1969) & Don't Torture A Duckling (Fulci, 1972)
Roxy Bar & Screen 7pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Here is the Roxy introduction to the evening's entertainment: The battle of the sexes has never been more stylish or stylised than in Piero Schivazappa’s pop-art fantasia The Frightened Woman. When a high-powered misogynist kidnaps a beautiful underling to subject to a course of degradation, he finds that the force of the feminine proves more powerful than he could possibly perceive… Featuring uber vixen Dagmar Lassander in her finest role, ‘The Frightened Woman’ presents a kinky feast for the eyes, ears and mind, and exudes an intoxicating euro-vibe of the funkiest, sexiest order.

With its very first image of the motorway cutting through the countryside like a scythe, Lucio Fulci’s sweeping giallo tackles the effect rampant modernisation has on rural mentality. A large-canvas, slow-burning epic, ‘Don’t Torture a Duckling’ immediately dispels the notion that Fulci is simply a blood and guts merchant. And when the blood and guts do surface, they are with tempered with one of the most heart-rending scenes in cinema. An outstanding achievement from one of the masters of Italian cinema.

Here is a fan's trailer for Don't Torture A Duckling, a movie which reportedly was a major influence on Quentin Tarantino.

Capital Celluloid - Day 234: Wednesday August 24

Cigarette Burns Cinema's The Dead Will Rise Double-Bill
The Beyond (Fulci, 1981) & Dead & Buried (Sherman, 1981): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

This looks a great horror double-bill. Lucio Fulci is a renowned Italian film director and Gary Sherman is best known for the cult film Death Line.

Time Out review of Dead & Buried:

'Establishing shots of a bleak, colourless Atlantic seaboard fishing town, and the presence of Alien scriptwriter Dan O'Bannon on the credits, combine to make one expect a more adult-aimed variation on Carpenter's The Fog. Unfortunately a series of progressively grisly murders intervenes, suggesting a mere overtime-earner for the chaps at SFX; but after some irritating meanderings, the film picks up momentum and, via a splendidly staged confrontation in a Mabuse-style lab, progresses to a 'surprise' climax which, even if anticipated, must still rank a close second to the false ending of Carrie. Gruesome almost to a fault, but not quite, it emerges as an efficient shocker.' Giovanni Dadomo


Here is the trailer for The Beyond.

Capital Celluloid - Day 233: Tuesday August 23

Russ Meyer Double-Bill
Mondo Topless (Meyer, 1966) & Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (Meyer, 1970):
Roxy Bar & Screen, 7pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

This is a FilmBar70 production. FilmBar70 loves to share the joys of wrongfully obscure trash/class world cinema from the 'golden age' of exploitation and you can find out more about that film club here.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Time out review:


'With his first movie for a major studio, Meyer simply did what he'd been doing for years, only bigger and better. That's to say, he turned the homely story of an all-girl rock band's rise to fame under their transsexual manager into a delirious comedy melodrama, soused in self- parody but spiked with dope, sex and thrills.' Tony Rayns

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 232: Monday August 22

Eden Lake (Watkins, 2008) & This Is My Land (Rivers, 2006): Roxy Bar & Screen, 7.30pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

This is a production from Passenger Films, a new film enterprise, made up of researchers and film fans, which brings hot topics from cultural geography to the film-going communities of London. You can read about this innovative film club here.

The Roxy introduction to tonight's screening: "If you go down to the woods today . . . . as part of the Scala Forever season, Passenger Films is tackling backwoods cinema, with this screening of 'Eden Lake' (a violent ordeal set in a chav-infested quarry in a British forest, described by The Guardian as 'relentlessly upsetting') and Ben Rivers' short film 'This is My Land' (a hand-processed portrait of Jake Williams, who lives alone and self-sufficiently within miles of forest in Aberdeenshire, Scotland). We will also be showing an extract from the 2003 live episode of 'Most Haunted!', in which the TV crew get lost in Epping Forest in search of Dick Turpin's ghost and have to be rescued by park rangers.

Speakers will include Carl Griffin, who works on the link between forestry and spaces of dissidence, Owain Jones, author of 'Tree Cultures: the Place of Trees and Trees in Their Place', and Judith Tsouvalis, author of 'A Critical Geography of Britain's State Forests'. We'll be talking about the idyllic and the feral connotations of the British woodland on screen. Ben Rivers is hoping to come and introduce his film, and Stella Hockenhull is hoping to come and introduce 'Eden Lake', having written about it in her recent book, 'Sublime Landscapes in Contemporary British Horror: The Last Great Wilderness and Eden Lake'."

Time Out review of Eden Lake:

'This fierce, thought-provoking ‘survival horror’ movie from ‘My Little Eye’ co-writer James Watkins sounds like a tabloid headline: Lovers’ Lakeside Hoody Horror. The romantic peace of Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender’s remote idyll is shattered by a gang of kids with a loud beat-box and a boisterous Rottweiler. Verbal confrontations escalate into knife-wielding violence, then the couple are hunted and tortured in the surrounding woods.

This is not, however, a Daily Mail rant about feral chavs. Instead, Watkins uses stomach-knotting tension and tongue-slicing horror to explore the complex dynamics of anti-social violence. We identify with the victims throughout, but Watkins also depicts the complex peer-group pressures within the gang  and the pain and confusion behind its leader’s eyes. The film’s one major fault is that Reilly’s character repeatedly acts in ways that serve the plot, but which run contrary to rational human behaviour. By contrast, the shattering downbeat ending is well earned and genuinely shocking.'
Nigel Floyd

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 231: Sunday August 21

After Hours (Scorsese, 1985) & Seconds (Frankenheimer, 1966):
Roxy Bar & Screen, 7pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Here is the Roxy's introduction to the evening: "This great double-bill, chosen by broadcaster and novelist Danny Leigh, who will be introducing the evening, is loosely linked by the theme of double-lives. In 1985’s After Hours (from Martin Scorsese looking like he’s having some fun) a New York ordinary-Joe office worker sets off into the night in pursuit of a ‘strange’ date and gets sucked into the dark underbelly of the city. Made nearly 20 years earlier in 1966, Seconds (from John Frankenheimer and starring Rock Hudson) tells of a middle-aged banker tempted to fake his death and start again. This is the stuff that waking nightmares are made of."

Time Out review of After Hours: 

'A quiet New York computer programmer (Dunne) travels downtown to SoHo for a vaguely arranged date. Losing his taxi fare en route is only the first of the night's many increasingly menacing situations, with neurotic New Yorkers all apparently determined to prevent his returning home alive. Scorsese's screwball comedy is perhaps his most frightening picture to date as Dunne slowly but inexorably sinks into a whirlpool of mad and murderous emotions; but a tight and witty script and perfectly tuned performances, perilously balanced between normality and insanity, keep the laughs flowing, while the direction is as polished and energetic as ever. Only the nagging undercurrents of misogyny leave a sour taste in what is otherwise inventive film-making of the first order.' Geoff Andrew 

Here is the trailer. 

Chicago Reader review of Seconds: 

'An aging millionaire is surgically transformed into Rock Hudson and given a new life by a secret organization. While this 1966 SF thriller is detailing the transformation, it's genuinely creepy and suspenseful, thanks largely to the black-and-white cinematography of James Wong Howe, which blends expressionist lighting with the realist overtones of handheld shooting.' 

Here is Saul Bass's great title sequence.

Capital Celluloid - Day 230: Saturday August 20

Zombie All-Nighter presented by FilmBar70:
Zombie Flesh Eaters (Fulci, 1979); Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1978); Return of the Dead (Ossorio, 1973); I Walked With A Zombie (Tourneur, 1943); Nightmare City (Lenzi, 1980):
Roxy Bar & Screen, 11pm-6am
 
This is the first all-nighter of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

You can find details and previews of all the films here but this is the Chicago Reader review for I Walked With A Zombie:

'This elegant little 1943 film by Jacques Tourneur, a tale of voodoo and devil worship in the West Indies, is one of the most poetic works to emerge from the Val Lewton unit at RKO in the 40s; it transcends the conventions of the horror genre and remains one of Lewton-Tourneur's most compelling studies in light and darkness. Not to be missed. With Frances Dee, Tom Conway, and Edith Barrett. 69 min.' Don Druker

Here is a short scene from the movie.

Capital Celluloid - Day 229: Friday August 19

'Cape Fear (Scorsese, 1991): Ritzy Cinema, Brixton

This underrated Martin Scorsese movie is screening as part of the Revenge is Sweet season at the Ritzy and will be shown in a magnificent 35mm print.

Here is Kim Newman's Empire review:

'By 1991, Martin Scorsese was the most distinctive and talented film-maker working at the peak of his powers but had still never quite had the mega-hit which would give him the Hollywood clout to go along with his abilities. As a payback to Universal for supporting his tricky Last Temptation of Christ project, Scorsese unashamedly applied himself to a big-scale quickie thriller, built on the skeleton of the well-remembered 1962 suspense thriller.  The first hour presents a quietly scary logic as Max (Robert de Niro), barely breaking the law, reduces Sam's (Nick Nolte) life to shreds.  However Scorsese abandons subtlety with an all‑stops‑out gothic finale in a swamp that finally answers the question of what a Friday The 13th movie would look like starring and directed by Academy Award nominee. Despite provocative debate on legal and family ethics, it's just a horror picture, but it is at least a damn good horror picture.'

Here is the great Saul Bass title sequence, complete with Elmer Bernstein score.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 228: Thursday August 18

Kind Hearts & Coronets (Hamer, 1949): Regal Picturehouse, Henley 6pm

This is pretty special. It's the world premiere of the digitally restored version of this classic British comedy. It's a See Films Differently production. And the celebrated director Terence Davies, who ranks Hamer's movie as one of his all-time favourites, will be on hand to talk about it after the screening.

Time Out review:

'The gentle English art of murder in Ealing's blackest comedy, with Dennis Price in perfect form as the ignoble Louis, killing off a complete family tree (played by Alec Guinness throughout) in order to take the cherished d'Ascoyne family title. Disarmingly cool and callous in its literary sophistication, admirably low key in its discreet caricatures of the haute bourgeoisie, impeccable in its period detail (Edwardian), it's a brilliantly cynical film without a hint of middle-class guilt or bitterness.' Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 227: Wednesday August 17

The Servant (Losey, 1963): BFI Southbank, NFT1 6pm

Screening as part of the Dirk Bogarde season

BFI introduction:

'A 'mean and shabby man' was Dirk Bogarde's reading of the eponymous Barrett, who manipulates his master (James Fox) to the point of destruction in the devilishly dark rendering by Harold Pinter and Joseph Losey of the Robin Maugham story. This was the film that first brought Bogarde acclaim in Europe. The fact that he found the character so easy to play detracts not a whit from his electrifying, Mephistophelian performance.'

Here is the brilliant trailer. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 226: Tuesday August 16

Taxi Zum Klo (Ripploh, 1980) & Westler (Speck, 1985): Shortwave Cinema, 7.30pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Scala Forever introduction:
Taxi Zum Klo was a Scala institution that often led to as much excitement off screen as on it. Berlin based director Frank turned the camera on his own life, his lovers, his fantasies and his trips to the toilets. Westler is another German tale about Felix who falls in love with Thomas. Just one problem: The Berlin Wall divides them. A groundbreaking classic that risked it all.

Time Out review of Taxi Zum Klo:

‘Do you want to come cruising with me? Good.’ So begins Frank Riploh’s astonishing queer Berlin odyssey, largely unseen since its creation 31 years ago. Growing out of an autobiographical multimedia show created by voraciously experimental Riploh, it follows his self-named character as he juggles work as a teacher, socialising with colleagues and neighbours, his compulsive sexual adventures and a fledgling relationship with a more domestically inclined lover. Can a roast dinner compete with a moustachioed stable boy? It’s largely shot in vivid, naturalistic style, the content ranging from banal to explicit – sometimes, as when our hero marks homework in a gay cottage, both – and sometimes punctured with glimpses of creepy paedophilia information films or Nazi-era porn. Riploh’s compelling character dominates: at once liberated and narcissistic, good-natured and wilful, his complexities suit a film whose strong current of humour belies a serious engagement with the general, perhaps intractable problem of whether our impulses toward intimacy and unaccountability can ever be reconciled.' 
Ben Walters


Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid - Day 225: Monday August 15

Morgiana (Herz, 1973) & Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jires, 1970):
Roxy Bar & Screen, 7pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

Time Out review of Morgiana:

'Delirious gothic fairtytale with Janzurova playing both the roles of 'good' and 'bad' sister in this adaptation of Alexander Grin's Edwardian-set novel. Tom Hutchinson has callled it "living Aubrey Beardsley, which captures the perfectly the ornate costume and set design, but not the hallucinatory Hammer-like atmospherics and the drenched color. Often shot from the point of view of the cat (Morgiana), the film is an elegant, beautifully executed, post-60s essay on sex and repression.' 
Wally Hammond

Here is the rather wonderful opening.

Time out review of Valeris and Her Week of Wonders: 

'Shot in the lyrical Elvira Madigan mode, this celebrates the 'first stirrings of adolescence' of a beautiful young girl in a vaguely-defined Transylvanian townscape sometime in the last century. A student of folklore and mythology could perhaps detect a logical thread in the continuous sequence of vampires, devils, black magic, ritual and dance that the film presents, but for most people it will be a simpler and undemanding pleasure to sit back and be agreeably surprised as the images unfold. There is no clearly-defined story; the film's logic is that of the subconscious, its images those of the Gothic fairytale and the psychiatrist's couch, and its overall effect is stunning.'

Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 224: Sunday August 14

Female Trouble (Waters, 1974) & Desperate Living (Waters, 1977):
Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 7.30pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

There are other great films on today in the season, including a Marx Brothers double-bill at the Riverside,  The Goonies from Nomad Cinema, Dr Strangelove at the Prince Charles and a Grindhouse pairing (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Death Proof) at the Ritzy. All you need to know is here.

Chicago Reader review of Female Trouble:

'This 1975 feature is the best of John Waters's movies prior to Hairspray and his ultimate concerto for the 300-pound transvestite Divine, whose character will do literally anything—including commit mass murder—to become famous. As in all of Waters's early outrages, the technique is cheerfully ramshackle, but Divine's rage and energy make it vibrate like a sustained aria, with a few metaphors about the beauty of crime borrowed from Jean Genet. With Edith Massey and Mink Stole, as well as some doubling on the part of Divine that allows the star to have sexual congress with himself, giving birth to . . . guess who?'



Chicago Reader review of Desperate Living:

'In his first feature without Divine, John Waters finds himself without a moral center. This 1977 prepunk midnight shocker and scabrous fairy tale is full of deviant sexuality, violent excess, and plenty of other Waters regulars, including Liz Renay, Mary Vivian Pearce, Susan Lowe, Mink Stole as a murderous housewife, and Edith Massey as the Queen of the Underworld; there's also the hefty Jean Hill, who murders one hapless victim by sitting on his face.' 91 min.



Capital Celluloid - Day 223: Saturday August 13

King Kong (Cooper/Schoedack, 1933): Roxy Bar & Screen, London Bridge, 7pm

Tonight is the start of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

The team at the Roxy explain the reasoning behind the opening night choice: "So it seemed only right to start off with the very first picture screened at The Scala (programmed as it was in a nod to the venue's previous life as a 'primatorium'!!).  Step forward King Kong, the original of course, co-directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack and with the groundbreaking special effects from Willis O'Brien. Following the screening there will be the launch party for the season, with DJs and a special live VJ / DJ set from Screenjunkie.  If you've seen him here before you'll know to expect an outstanding live mix of films, promos and visuals!"

Additionally Gareth Edwards, Brit-director of the recent hit Monsters, will be on hand to introduce the film and talk about his work.

Time Out review:


'If this glorious pile of horror-fantasy hokum has lost none of its power to move, excite and sadden, it is in no small measure due to the remarkable technical achievements of Willis O'Brien's animation work, and the superbly matched score of Max Steiner. The masterstroke was, of course, to delay the great ape's entrance by a shipboard sequence of such humorous banality and risible dialogue that Kong can emerge unchallenged as the most fully realised character in the film. Thankfully Wray is not required to act, merely to scream; but what a perfect victim she makes. The throbbing heart of the film lies in the creation of the semi-human simian himself, an immortal tribute to the Hollywood dream factory's ability to fashion a symbol that can express all the contradictory erotic, ecstatic, destructive, pathetic and cathartic buried impulses of 'civilised' man.' Wally Hammond

Here is an extract. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 222: Friday August 12

Slap Shot (George Roy Hill, 1977): Films on Fridges, Stour Road, E3 2NT. 9pm

The Films on Fridges project was inspired by the disappearance of East London's 'Fridge Mountain' - an enormous pile of discarded fridges which previously occupied the London 2012 Olympic site. Towering nearly 20 feet tall, the largest 'Fridge Mountain' in all of Europe became a bizzare sculpture in the East London landscape.

Films on Fridges resurrects this industrial icon in the form of a playful and interactive outdoor pop-up cinema. In celebration of the upcoming Olympics, the cinema will screen films athletic in nature.

To learn more about the Hackney Fridge Mountain, and the band St Etienne, whose film 'What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day' will be screened in partnership with the Floating Cinema, check out this article from the Guardian here.

Chicago Reader review:


'George Roy Hill's usual spit-and-polish direction makes a fairly funny film out of the story of a bankrupt minor-league hockey team saved from the brink when the coach (Paul Newman) discovers the drawing power of unbridled violence. The film strains a bit, getting some of its biggest laughs out of the savagery it's trying to condemn, but Nancy Dowd's script embodies the best (worst?) of jock talk, and the supporting cast contributes some fine caricatures (1977).

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 221: Thursday August 11

The Strange World of Gurney Slade (Newley, 1960): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm

BFI introduction: 'Finally, 50 years after its original transmission, one of the great lost comedies of British television is to get a full DVD release.The Strange World of Gurney Slade was a groundbreaking surreal comedy that baffled the public but was almost universally praised by the critics of the time. One episode surfaced in the 1990s as part of C4's TV Heaven strand and a further episode screened at BFI Southbank a couple of years back as part of the Flipside's Anthony Newley special, but otherwise the series has remained unseen since its repeat run in 1963. After the TV Heaven screening Gurney Slade was described as a cross between Monty Python and The Prisoner, and it certainly did blend zany humour with the tale of an everyman railing against the insanities of everyday life, but of course it predated both series by some years.

In the show, Slade retreats from the real world into a fantasy land of his own making, in which we hear his inner monologue and find him conjuring up romantic encounters with pretty girls and holding deep conversations with inanimate objects. Contemporary audiences just didn't get the show, but it had a small, loyal following including the young David Bowie, who later went on record to call the show 'tremendous'. Newley's co-creators in the production were scriptwriters Sid Green and Dick Hills (later to work with Morecambe and Wise) and together they crafted a winning mix of Goon-ish flights of fantasy, thoughtful satire and Slade's weird, philosophical rambling. We will screen two episodes, supported by related material - not all of which will be available on the forthcoming DVD release.'

Here is the opening.

Capital Celluloid - Day 220: Wednesday August 10

The Third Man (Reed, 1949): Nomad Cinema, Battersea Park, 8.45pm

Going to the cinema does not have to entail driving to the out-of-town multiplex or even to any sort of picture house at all these days. There are plenty of pubs and clubs putting on films while the pop-up cinema phenomenon is becoming far more prevalent in the movie listings. The Nomad Cinema, run by the people at the excellent Lexi Cinema in Kensal Green, is the most adventurous of the pop-up brigade and tonight's screening of The Third Man in Battersea Park is typically innovative of the Nomad and Lexi partnership.

Time Out review:

'A considerably more harmonious collaborative effort than Allied powersharing, ‘The Third Man’ remains among the most consummate of British thrillers: Reed and Greene’s sardonic vision of smiling corruption is deliciously realised with superb location work, a roster of seasoned Viennese performers and the raised eyebrow of Anton Karas’ jaunty zither score.

Although his screen time is famously scanty, Orson Welles’ Harry haunts each scene: everywhere and invisible, he’s a smirking Cheshire cat of a villain, a superb case study in shameless charisma as poisonous contagion. Audiences, like many of the characters, have tended to fall for his charms, fondly recalling the privilege of being taken into his confidence rather than the rotten core it conceals. The film, however, is less charitable, pursuing the performer backstage into the sewers, sick bowels of the city he lords it over. Playing American heroics against British pragmatism, elements of noir against horror (the empty grave, the burning torches), ‘The Third Man’ is suffused with irony yet ultimately serious-minded: without personal responsibility, it says, there is no hope for civilisation – however charming the smirk.
' Ben Walters


Here is the famous scene introducing Orson Welles as Harry Lime.

Capital Celluloid - Day 219: Tuesday August 9

Ecstacy of the Angels (Koji, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm

The Japanese Art Theatre Guild's 50th anniversary is being celebrated in a retrospective at BFI Southbank. Here is an excellent article from Sight & Sound on underground cinema in the country during the 60s and 70s.

BFI introduction: Extreme-left politics and sex collide in Art Theatre Guild of Japan's most controversial feature, where pink cinema's enfants terribles Wakamatsu Koji and Adachi Masao depict Tokyo as a bomb-zone at the boiling point of social agitation. Intimately linked with real-life activism, actual revolutionaries participated in production and the film pierced the zeitgeist by anticipating the bombing of police stations. Riveting intensity blackens the screen in a tale of betrayal and paranoia between extremist organisations.

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid - Day 218: Monday August 8

Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, 1954): BFI Southbank, NFT2 6.10pm

This is screening as part of the BFI's Passport to Cinema season and will be introduced by Richard Combs. The film is also being shown at BFI Southbank on Sunday 7 August and Sunday 14 August.

Chicago Reader review:

'This is one of the greats, and I'm too much in awe of it to say much more than: See it—as often as you can. Kenji Mizoguchi's 1954 film is the story of a family torn apart by political upheavals in 11th-century Japan—the children sold into slavery, the mother made a courtesan, the father lost. Mizoguchi looks out on utter devastation, but gathers the threads of his narrative—the visual and aural motifs, the sublime camera movements—to weave a final image of affirmation, transcendence, eternity. With Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, and Masao Shimizu; photographed by Kazuo Miyagawa. In Japanese with subtitles.' 125 min.

Capital Celluloid - Day 217: Sunday August 7

2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968): Royal Observatory, Greenwich Park, 9pm

Going to the cinema does not have to entail driving to the out-of-town multiplex or even to any sort of picture house at all these days. There are plenty of pubs and clubs putting on films while the pop-up cinema phenomenon is becoming far more prevalent in the movie listings. The Nomad Cinema, run by the people at the excellent Lexi Cinema in Kensal Green, is the most adventurous of the pop-up brigade and tonight's screening of 2001 at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park is typically innovative of the Nomad and Lexi partnership.

Chicago Reader review:

'Seeing this 1968 masterpiece in 70-millimeter, digitally restored and with remastered sound, provides an ideal opportunity to rediscover this mind-blowing myth of origin as it was meant to be seen and heard, an experience no video setup, no matter how elaborate, could ever begin to approach. The film remains threatening to contemporary studiothink in many important ways: Its special effects are used so seamlessly as part of an overall artistic strategy that, as critic Annette Michelson has pointed out, they don't even register as such. Dialogue plays a minimal role, yet the plot encompasses the history of mankind (a province of SF visionary Olaf Stapledon, who inspired Kubrick's cowriter, Arthur C. Clarke). And, like its flagrantly underrated companion piece, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, it meditates at length on the complex relationship between humanity and technology—not only the human qualities that we ascribe to machines but also the programming we knowingly or unknowingly submit to. The film's projections of the cold war and antiquated product placements may look quaint now, but the poetry is as hard-edged and full of wonder as ever.' 139 min.


Here is a thrilling extract/
 

Capital Celluloid - Day 216: Saturday August 6

Gremlins (Dante, 1984); Troll Hunter (Ovredal, 2010) and Tremors (Underwood, 1989)
Somerset House Monster Triple Bill: Film 4 Summer Screen, 9.15pm

Outdoor screenings are dominating the repertory scene in London right now and this is one of the best of this summer's line-ups, a triple bill of cult monster movies.

Chicago Reader Gremlins review:


'E.T. with the lid off (1984). At the center of this horror comedy is a tidy family parable of the kind so dear to the heart of producer Steven Spielberg: the cute little whatzits who turn into marauding monsters when they pass through puberty (here gooily envisioned as “the larval stage”) are clearly metaphors for children, and the teenager (Zach Galligan) whose lapse of responsibility unleashes the onslaught is a stand-in for the immature parents of the 80s (Poltergeist). But Spielberg's finger wagging is overwhelmed by Joe Dante's roaring, undisciplined direction, which (sometimes through sheer sloppiness) pushes the imagery to unforeseen, untidy, and ultimately disturbing extremes. Dante is perhaps the first filmmaker since Frank Tashlin to base his style on the formal free-for-all of animated cartoons; he is also utterly heartless. With Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, and more movie-buff in-jokes than Carter has pills.'
All is not well in Perfection, Nevada, a remote desert town. Itinerant cowpokes Val (Bacon) and Earl (Ward) are all set to up sticks when they happen across a corpse perched incongruously atop a telegraph pole...and then another, apparently swallowed up by the earth. Huge, carnivorous, worm-like creatures, capable of tunnelling at incredible speeds in response to seismic vibrations, are literally undermining Perfection. With a tip of the hat towards its '50s forefathers, this canny genre entry exploits its novel subterranean threat to the max, the ingenious situations being orchestrated with considerable skill by first-time director Underwood. Bacon and Ward project a wonderful low-key rapport, based initially on jokey ignorance before giving way to terse apprehension. It's great to hear authentic B movie talk again, especially when the cast takes it upon itself to name the monsters, only to come up with 'graboids' by default, and to debate their probable origin: 'One thing's for sure...them ain't local boys'. This is what a monster movie is supposed to be like, and it's terrific.

Capital Celluloid - Day 215: Friday August 5

Point Blank (Boorman, 1967): Ritzy Cinema,  9pm

John Boorman has made many fascinating movies but this story of an Alcatraz prisoner's escape and revenge on the crooks that double-crossed him is probably his finest.

Chicago Reader review:

'Boorman's modernist, noirish thriller (1967) is still his best and funniest effort (despite the well-phrased demurrals of filmmaker Thom Andersen regarding its cavalier treatment of Los Angeles). Lee Marvin, betrayed by his wife and best friend, finds revenge when he emerges from prison. He recovers stolen money and fights his way to the top of a multiconglomerate—only to find absurdity and chaos. Boorman's treatment of cold violence and colder technology has lots of irony and visual flash—the way objects are often substituted for people is especially brilliant, while the influence of pop art makes for some lively 'Scope compositions—and the Resnais-like experiments with time and editing are still fresh and inventive. The accompanying cast (and iconography) includes Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, and Carroll O'Connor; an appropriate alternate title might be “Tarzan Versus IBM,” a working title Jean-Luc Godard had for his Alphaville.' 92 min.