Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 338: Wednesday Dec 7

Christmas Evil (Jackson, 1980): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This Cigarette Burns screening will be introduced by renowned horror writer Kim Newman. Here are more details about the evening on the film club's website. 

Here is the Prince Charles Cinema introduction: Widely recognized as the best of the Christmas horror efforts, Christmas Evil is the story of a boy who loves Christmas. He is scarred as a boy when he learns that Santa is not real. Throughout the rest of his life, the toy-maker tries to make the Christmas spirit a reality. He becomes obsessed with the behavior of children and the quality of the toys he makes. When he is met with hypocrisy and cynicism, the resulting snap causes him to go on a yuletide killing spree to complete this dark comedic horror.

To date Cigarette Burns Cinema has screened Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik, Dario Argentos' Suspiria, Brit zombie biker classic Psychomania, X-mas slasher Black Christmas '74, melt movie monster Street Trash, super sexy vampire lesbian chiller Daughters of Darkness, Abel Ferrara's revenge classic Ms. 45, video nasty Shogun Assassin, Spanish thriller Who Can Kill A Child?, Arrow Films & Video's Slaughter High with Caroline Munro, Arnie epic, Conan the Barbarian, Summer smash Piranha 3D, Female Convict Scorpion All-Nighter, David Cronenberg's iconic Videodrome, Lucio Fulci's attempt at a haunted house flick House by the Cemetery all at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. That's an impressive pedigree.


Here is a promotional clip.

Capital Celluloid - Day 337: Tuesday Dec 6

Surviving Life (Svankmajer, 2010): ICA, Various times, ALL WEEK

Time Out review:

As with his 2005 film, ‘Lunacy’, Czech maestro Jan Svankmajer (‘Alice’, ‘Little Otik’) appears at the beginning of this ingenious psychoanalytical comedy to deliver a direct-to-camera statement. After admitting that the only reason this new film employs dotty paper-cut out animation was to save on actors’ fees (because, as he rightly points out, ‘photographs don’t eat’), he quotes German scientist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who says, ‘Only the fusion of dreams and reality can make up a complete human life.’

Svankmajer’s film is about an office drone who strikes up an affair with a gorgeous woman in red. They rendezvous in his dreams. He discovers a method of artificially stimulating his dreams so he can play out this extended fantasy. But the more time he spends in this dream world, the more the swarms of eccentric erotic symbols (smashed melons, broken eggs, a teddy bear with a giant phallus) start to take on life-altering meanings. Expounding on (and cheekily refuting) Freudian and Jungian dream logic while dazzling the eye with animation that falls somewhere between ‘South Park’, ‘The Yellow Submarine’ and Terry Gilliam’s work for the Pythons, this manages to be Svankmajer’s most poignant and  fully-formed feature to date. It retains all of his hallmarks, from the grotesque close-up photography to his fixations with food and sex. Its masterstroke, though, is the zestfully ironic way it harnesses the skewed workings of the subconscious, confirming Svankmajer as a master filmmaker and knocking films like ‘Inception’ and ‘The Matrix’ into a cocked hat. Just dreamy!' David Jenkins


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 336: Monday Dec 5

Scream (Craven, 1996) & Scream 2 (Craven, 1997): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.25pm

Time Out review of Scream:

'Wes Craven draws on a shared pop cultural heritage in horror flicks to fashion this bloody brand of post-modern comedy. 'So you like scary movies? Name the killer in Friday the 13th?' demands the anonymous caller of Barrymore's lone teen in the prologue. 'Hang up again and I'll gut you like a fish!' The killer describes his apparently irrational vendetta against the high school population of Woodsboro as a game, and in this he's surely speaking for screenwriter Kevin Williamson and director Craven, who kill off the clichés and all the wrong characters with panache. At times, it's too clever, but it's sure scary, with the jokes notching up the general level of hysteria. As a bonus, Craven throws in half a dozen of Hollywood's brightest hopefuls: Campbell in the central role of the teenager haunted by the murder of her mother; Arquette as a naive local deputy; Cox as a TV star; McGowan as the doomed best friend; and Ulrich as the evocatively named Billy Loomis. Intelligence, wit and sophistication - at last, a horror movie to shout about!' Tom Charity

Here is the trailer. 

Time Out review of Scream 2:

'This being the sequel, scriptwriter Kevin Williamson includes a scene in which film students discuss the fact that such movies never match the inventiveness of the original. Quite so. To be fair, by changing the location and concentrating on the haunted victims rather than the demonic killer(s), No 2 avoids a couple of obvious pitfalls. Two years after the Woodsboro murders, Sidney Prescott (Campbell) is a college student, piecing her life together with a new boyfriend, her old friend Randy (Kennedy) and a sympathetic roommate. But when a spectator is slashed to death during the local premiere of horror movie Stab - from a book on the Woodsboro incident by cynical TV reporter Gail Weathers (Cox) - the nightmare begins anew. Although returning characters such as ex-deputy Dewey (Arquette) have moved on, the film itself is stuck in a cycle of repetition, with slight variations. Compared to most contemporary horror fare, this is intelligent and frightening; compared to the original, it just doesn't cut it.' Nigel Floyd

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 335: Sunday Dec 4

Two-Lane Blacktop (Hellman, 1971):  Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, 1.40pm

A rare screening of Monte Hellman's seminal road movie and without a doubt the highlight of the week. Has one of the great endings in cinema.

Here's the Chicago Reader review that will only make you want to see it all the more: 

'This exciting existentialist road movie by Monte Hellman, with a swell script by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Corry and my favorite Warren Oates performance, looks even better now than it did in 1971, although it was pretty interesting back then as well. James Taylor and Dennis Wilson are the drivers of a supercharged '55 Chevy, and Oates is the owner of a new GTO (these nameless characters are in fact identified only by the cars they drive); they meet and agree to race from New Mexico to the east coast, though an assortment of side interests periodically distracts them, including various hitchhikers (among them Laurie Bird). (GTO hilariously assumes a new persona every time he picks up a new passenger, rather like the amorphous narrator in Wurlitzer's novel Nog.) The movie starts off as a narrative but gradually grows into something much more abstract—it's unsettling but also beautiful.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum



Here is the trailer.


Here is an interview Matthew Thrift conducted with the director about the movie.

Capital Celluloid - Day 334: Saturday Dec 3

The Purple Rose of Cairo (Allen, 1985): Riverside Studios, 2.30 & 7pm
This film is also being screened by Riverside on Friday Dec 2 at 7pm

Time Out review:

'During the Depression, downtrodden housewife Mia Farrow so inflames a film's leading man (an explorer-poet) that he climbs down from the screen, and entices her into a chaotic but charming love affair. Woody Allen's deft script investigates every nook and cranny of the couple's bizarre relationship, the irate Pirandellian reactions of the illusory characters left up on the screen, and the bewilderment of the actor whose movie persona has miraculously gone walkies. As the star-struck couple, Farrow and Jeff Daniels work wonders with fantastic emotions, while Allen's direction invests enough care, wit and warmth to make it genuinely moving.' Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 333: Friday Dec 2

Margaret (Lonergan, 2011): Panton St Odeon 1.45; 4.50 & 8pm ALL WEEK

This film is quietly being buried by the studio. There was just one late press screenings before its release today and it's getting as limited a release here as it did in America. Which is a crying shame as the movie, the follow up to Kenneth Lonergan's excellent You Can Count On Me, sounds well worth seeking out. If you want to read the fascinating background to the movie's travails check out Vadim Rizov's piece in January's Sight & Sound magazine.

Both Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian and Tim Robey in the Telegraph have given the film five-star reviews today.

Chicago Reader review:

'A spoiled Manhattan teenager (Anna Paquin) distracts a city bus driver (Mark Ruffalo) with her flirty behavior, causing him to run a red light and kill a pedestrian (Allison Janney). At her mother's urging, the girl tells police the light was green, but eventually an attack of conscience—from which she conveniently spares herself—impels her to launch a vendetta against the driver. This moving drama was shot in 2005 but tied up in court for years after writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me) failed to deliver a cut under 150 minutes, as his contract demanded. Released at long last and running 149 minutes, the movie shows obvious signs of having been hacked down to size (Matt Damon's fine performance as the girl's math teacher seems to have suffered particularly). But even in its truncated state, this is pretty gripping stuff; just think of it as an epic commercial for the director's cut DVD. Among the stellar cast are Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Kieran Culkin, Rosemarie DeWitt, Olivia Thirlby, and J. Smith-Cameron as the girl's mother.' J R Jones

Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 332: Thursday Dec 1

Russian Ark (Sokurov, 2002): BFI Southbank, 6.10pm

Time Out review:

'Despite the almost inevitable longueurs, not to mention mumbling melancholy offscreen comments that sometimes verge on the self-parodic, this is certainly a superior Sokurov feature, and not only for its extraordinarily virtuoso mise-en-scène. Digitally shot in a single continuous take, it wanders around St Petersburg's Hermitage, taking in the building, its furnishings and objets d'art, and a host of characters, historical and contemporary, both named (Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas, Alexandra, Anastasia) and anonymous, while pondering the Russian soul and its ambivalent relationship with Europe. As the unseen film-maker and a 19th century French diplomat guide us on our journey through space and time, it's hard not to be distracted by thoughts of how it was all choreographed, but a magnificent ball scene and the final poignant departure manage to work their magic.' Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 331: Wednesday Nov 30

Love Stories (Stuhr, 1997): Greenwich Picturehouse, 8.30pm
This is screening as part of the Poland on Screen Festival

Time Out review:

'Written, directed by and starring Jerzy Stuhr in four different roles, this morose comic fable interweaves the stories of four inhabitants of Krakow - a lecturer, an army officer, a priest and a drug smuggler - to mount a subtle exploration of the diverse roles played by love in contemporary life. It's a movie about fear, guilt, cowardice, responsibility, trust and betrayal, but despite occasional forays into allegorical fantasy, it mercifully never sermonises or descends into maudlin sentiment. Ingenious, insightful and finally rather touching. (Dedicated to Krzysztof Kieslowski, for whom Stuhr regularly acted.'
Geoff Andrew


Here is an extract

Capital Celluloid - Day 330: Tuesday Nov 29

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Ceylan, 2011): Rio Cinema, 8.30pm
This film is screening as part of the London Turkish Film Festival. More details on the season here.

The latest movie from an outstanding Turkish director was very well received at the recent London Film Festival and was at No6 in January Sight & Sound magazine's poll of best films of 2011. The movie was given a five-star review by Time Out magazine:

'Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceyan is unlikely to attract heaving crowds to his sixth film, ‘Once Upon A Time in Anatolia’, but since when was the 51-year-old director of ‘Uzak’, ‘Climates’ and ‘Three Monkeys’ in it for the multiplex? Ceylan is a sly and daring screen artist of the highest order and should draw wild praise with this new film for challenging both himself and us, the audience, with this lengthy, rigorous and masterly portrait of a night and day in the life of a murder investigation on his country’s Anatolian steppes.

It’s a mysterious and demanding work, and it marks a distinct progression in Ceylan’s career as he continues to gnaw at the boundaries of film storytelling with humour, grace, empathy and a dry, wry view of everyday life.' Dave Calhoun


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 329: Monday Nov 28

Pierrot Le Fou (Godard,1965): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm
This screening is part of the Passport to Cinema season and is introduced by the Independent on Sunday's excellent film critic Jonathan Romney.

When this film, which will surely come to be seen as one of Jean-Luc Godard's finest, was re-released in 1989 after many years out of circulation, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum had this to say in an article in Chicago Reader : "Looking at Pierrot Le Fou again almost a quarter of a century after it was made, 20 years after its initial U.S. release, is a bit like visiting another planet; it’s an explosion of color, sound, music, passion, violence, and wit that illustrates what used to be regarded as cinema."

It's impossible to give a swift synopsis for Pierrot Le Fou in which Jean Paul Belmondo, ostensibly escaping stifling domesticity, and Anna Karina, fleeing a group of gangsters, depart Paris for the south of France suffice to say that it is brimming with ideas and scenes of extraordinary complexity. My abiding memories of seeing this the first time was of the vitality and colour - I was reminded when viewing it again last year that this was also a caustic commentary by the director on his relationship with Karina. Still, a huge treat and a film you will not forget in a hurry.

If I had to pick one excerpt it would be this one in which fellow director Sam Fuller is asked what is the meaning of cinema: "Film is like a battleground", recounts the American filmmaker. "Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion."

Capital Celluloid - Day 328: Sunday Nov 27

E.T. the Extraterrestrial (Spielberg, 1982): Whiteleys Shopping Centre, Queensway, 3pm
This is past of Nomad Cinema's pop-up film events, taking place in Whiteleys shopping centre in a space vacated by Books Etc. You can find details of the season here.

Here are some details of the experience:
* The cinematic décor comes courtesy of an exhibition of vintage film posters from The Reel Picture Company.
* The Vestal Vodka pop-up bar will serve curated cocktails, wine, beer and popcorn, with ice cream available from the Oddono’s Gelati stall (only food and drink bought on site is allowed in the cinema).
* The most unusual cinema seating you’ll ever experience includes beanbags, inflatable wedges, directors chairs and garden benches, plus there’s tiered seating for the more traditional among you.

The film is introduced by Danny Leigh, a regular contributor to the Guardian and a co-presenter of the BBC Film 2011 programme.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 327: Saturday Nov 26

Twin Peaks Festival at the Riverside Studios: 10am (Saturday) - 12.30am (Sunday)

A marvellous day devoted to the brilliant David Lynch TV series with cast members, special screenings and all the doughnuts and cherry pies you can eat and coffee you can drink. The highlights are the screening of the alternative pilot of which I have a VHS copy, won at the time of the series' release in a Time Out competition, and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lynch's extraordinary 1992 movie which works as a prologue/epilogue. The pilot programme has an ending which defies description and made  a deep impact on me when I saw it months before the TV series started here in Britain.

Here is the full itinerary:

10.00am    -    Doors open to regular ticket holders
10.45am    -    Screening of Alternative Pilot (Cinema)
12.45pm    -    15 min break
13.00pm    -    Double R Club (Cinema)
13.30pm    -    David Lynch 'Crazy Clown Time' Promotion (Cinema)
14.00pm    -    Screening of episode 4. (Cinema)
14.45pm    -    30 min break
15.15pm    -    Screening of episode 14 (Cinema)
16.00pm    -    Double R Club
16.30pm    -    Screening of episode 28 (Cinema)
17.15pm    -    1 hr 15 min break for dinner
18.30pm    -    Coversation with the actors + Q&A (Cinema)
19.45pm    -    Signing session and social time (Diner)
21.00pm    -    Twin Peaks:Fire Walk With Me (Introduction by Al Strobel) (Cinema)
23.00pm    -    Quiz & Costume Contest (Cinema)

Here is the ending to the pilot programme.

Capital Celluloid - Day 326: Friday Nov 25

Turkish Passport (Burak Cem Arlie, 2011: Rio Cinema, 4pm
This film is screening as part of the London Turkish Film Festival. More details on the season here.

This production, winner of the best documentary at the Moondance International Film Festival, comes highly recommended.

Turkish Film Festival introduction: 'An untold story of hope, humanity and heroism during the Second World War, a time when Turkey was officially a neutral country. Using archive footage, dramatic reconstructions, documents and interviews with those who were there or their relatives, "Turkish Passport" reveals how Turkish diplomats such as Behiç Erkin, the ambassador to France, helped save hundreds of lives throughout Europe, by issuing passports to Jews even if they had no Turkish connections. An amazing tale, powerfully told.'

Here is the trailer.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 325: Thursday Nov 24

Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.50pm
With live score from Minima

Chicago Reader review:

'A masterpiece of the German silent cinema and easily the most effective version of Dracula on record. F.W. Murnau's 1922 film follows the Stoker novel fairly closely, although he neglected to purchase the screen rights—hence, the title change. But the key elements are all Murnau's own: the eerie intrusions of expressionist style on natural settings, the strong sexual subtext, and the daring use of fast-motion and negative photography.' Dave Kehr

Here is a trailer to give you the flavour. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 324: Wednesday Nov 23

Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky, 2000): Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, 9.30pm

The Underground Film Club at the Roundhouse is a new subterranean film experience from the creators of Hoxton's Rooftop Film Club which runs from 21 November to 18 December. You can find more details here.

Chicago Reader review:

'A staccato narrative parallels the experiences and hallucinations of a woman on drugs with those of her son and his friends. Her ambition is to be thin enough to be on TV; theirs is to become successful drug dealers. Neither of these goals is a far cry—metaphorically if not literally—from those many of us spend our lives pursuing, and this bleak vision directed by Darren Aronofsky (Pi) is pointless with good reason. The screenplay by Aronofsky and Hubert Selby Jr. was based on a 1978 novel by Selby.'
Lisa Alspector


Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 323: Tuesday Nov 22

Le Jour se leve (Carne, 1939):
Hampstead Film Society, Hampstead Town Hall Centre 213 Haverstock Hill NW3, 7pm

Time Out review:

'Possibly the best of the Carné-Prévert films, certainly their collaboration at its most classically pure, with Gabin a dead man from the outset as his honest foundry worker, hounded into jealousy and murder by a cynical seducer, holes up with a gun in an attic surrounded by police, remembering in flashback how it all started while he waits for the end. Fritz Lang might have given ineluctable fate a sharper edge (less poetry, more doom), but he couldn't have bettered the performances from Gabin, Berry, Arletty, and (as the subject of Gabin's romantic agony) Laurent. Remade in Hollywood as The Long Night in 1947.'
Tom Milne


Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid - Day 322: Monday Nov 21

The Damned (Losey, 1961) & Figures in a Landscape (Losey, 1970)
Roxy Bar and Screen, 7pm

This great Joseph Losey double-bill comes courtesy of FilmBar70 and you can find out more about the film club and tonight's screening here.


Time Out review of The Damned:

'Certainly the strangest Hammer film ever made, this combines apocalyptic sci-fi, teen rebellion, and portentous philosophising to awkward but riveting effect. Set, strangely but successfully, in Weymouth, it begins as a rather mundane romance, with Carey and Field threatened by local Teddy Boys, before spiralling into a dour mystery about a scientist's experiments with radioactive kids. The performances are universally weak, and Losey's clearly ambivalent attitude towards the demands of the genre ensures that the film is never exciting. But as an ambitious oddity, it exerts not a little fascination.' Geoff Andrew
Here is an extract.


FilmBar70 introduction for Figures in a Landscape:

Long neglected, Losey’s idiosyncratic and spectacular take on the chase movie is possibly the greatest example of the existential actioneer, combining elements of Tarkovsky, Beckett, Bresson, Antonioni, MacLean and McTiernan with equal aplomb. Two men (Robert Shaw and Malcolm MacDowell) flee across an unknown and rugged terrain, running from an unknown crime, constantly pursued and harassed by an unknown nemesis personified in the form of a black helicopter. With a screenplay by Shaw himself (that draws upon Pinter’s elliptical style), ‘Figures’ is oblique, exciting, strange and surprisingly funny. Featuring incredible cinematography that documents a truly sublime and vertiginous landscape, an intense performance by Shaw (that prefigures his character in ‘Jaws’) and stunt work (performed mainly by the two leads) that can be described as utterly insane, ‘Figures’ expertly fuses art and action to create a quintessentially ‘70s cinematic experience.
Here is an extract

Capital Celluloid - Day 321: Sunday Nov 20

Distant Voices, Still Lives (Davies, 1988): Genesis Cinema, 93-95 Mile End Road, 3.30pm

Genesis Cinema is running a fantastic six-part season of rarely screened auteur classics, providing you with an alternative film choice for a Sunday afternoon.

Time Out review:

'Superlatives are in short supply to describe the emotional power of Terence Davies’ fractured chronicle of the life of a working-class family in 1940s and ’50s Liverpool. Drawing on his own childhood, Davies turns his film on the pivot of a brutal patriarch’s death and his daughter’s subsequent marriage, so splitting his film into two episodes (which he filmed a year apart). The first, ‘Distant Voices’, is a set of difficult memories of childhood fear and wartime suffering that drift in and out of the wedding day, while its companion, ‘Still Lives’, portrays the life of a happier widow, her two daughters, a son and their friends who gather in pubs, sing and are beginning to suffer their own marriages. Pete Postlethwaite is Tommy Davies, the violent, damaged and taciturn father; Freda Dowie is Mrs Davies, his stoic wife and the suffering lynchpin of the family; and Angela Walsh is Eileen, the daughter whose marriage blows a gust of fresh air into the stale misery of her family but also threatens to follow the same tragic pattern as her parents.

Davies’ storytelling is a unique joy. Images evoke family photos and the struggle of recollection. Voices drift in and out, suggestive of family ghosts and inner demons. Chronology is poetic, and memories are filtered after the event like the film’s washed-out colour palette. The writer-director offers a terrifying tension between the public solidarity of pub sing-a-longs, marriage celebrations and mourning and the private horror of domestic abuse, depression and personal dreams sought and destroyed. The men are the most flawed, but the women, though the heroines of the piece, are compromised too: ‘Why did you marry him, mam?’ asks a daughter. ‘He was nice. He was a good dancer…’ It’s a heartbreaking work. Its cast are phenomenal; its songs flow through the film like blood; and Davies is unflinching in his hunt for truth and full of nothing but love and understanding for his characters. A masterpiece.' 

Dave Calhoun


Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid - Day 320: Saturday Nov 19

House by the Cemetery (Fulci, 1981): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

This is brought to you by the wonderful Cigarette Burns people - more details via their website.
And here is their own brilliant trailer.

Time Out review:

'Cut-price spaghetti gore cooked up from the not exactly brand-new narrative premise of a nice middle class family moving to a house in New England with a sinister sitting tenant, the nefarious Dr Freudstein. Bits of Amityville and The Shining, plus every other imaginable mad-scientist, screaming-in-the-cellar, haunted-house horror cliché, shamelessly ripped off, cut and stuck together into (literally) a hack-work of almost awesome incoherence.'


Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 319: Friday Nov 18

Monster Squad (Dekker, 1987): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

REintroducing…, a new season from the team at the Prince Charles Cinema, aims to bring back lost and forgotten cult films by hunting down the theatrical rights which have been in limbo for years and teaming them with up newly discovered 35mm prints, giving them a second lease of cinematic life. See the Attack From Planet B blog for more details.

Time Out review:

'More of a clever comic parody than a jokey pastiche, this lively kiddies' horror pic delivers frights and laughs which are rooted in a sure and sympathetic grasp of Monster Movie mythology. To take advantage of a confluence of evil that occurs only once every hundred years, Count Dracula (Regehr) flies to America, then summons the Wolfman, Gill-Man, Mummy and Frankenstein's monster. Alerted to Dracula's evil plan, The Monster Squad - a gang of pre-teen kids and their slightly older tough-guy pal - fashion stakes in woodwork class, melt down their parents' cutlery to make silver bullets, and give the monsters hell. Confirming the promise of his debut feature Night of the Creeps, Dekker plays around imaginatively with the genre while delivering several nice touches.' Nigel Floyd


Here is the trailer.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 319: Thursday Nov 17

Mother Joan of the Angels (Kawalerowicz, 1961): Gate Cinema, 6.30pm
This is screening as part of the Poland on Screen Festival

Gate Cinema introduction: Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz’s 1946 tale transposes the historical French narrative of the 'devils of Loudun' to an 18th-century Polish convent. The writer was less interested in exorcisms than the beginnings of forbidden feelings between Joan - the possessed mother superior - and Father Suryn, who arrived to heal her, and it is this perspective on the tragedy in Loudun (here: Ludyń) to which Kawalerowicz's adaptation is faithful. Composed entirely of austere, black-and-white shots, the geometric patterns of the convent's grates and crosses mercilessly separate the two unhappy, lonely people. Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes, the film was only beaten to the prestigious Palme d'Or by Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana.

Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 318: Wednesday Nov 16

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (Ritt, 1966) &
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
(Alfredson, 2011)
Riverside Studios, 6.15 & 8.35pm

Another inspired double-bill from Riverside Studios, screening the much-lauded recent John Le Carre adaptation with an earlier one from the 1960s.

Time Out review of The Spy Who Came In From the Cold:

'Without his customary good liberal message to hang on to, Ritt is forced to rely on pure professionalism, and as a result turns out one of his better films. John Le Carré's novel about betrayal and disillusionment in the world of East/West espionage is treated with intelligence and a disarming lack of sentimentality or moralising, while Burton gives one of his best screen performances as the spy out to get even with an East German counterpart. What finally impresses, however, is the sheer seediness of so much of the film, with characters, buildings, and landscapes lent convincingly grubby life by Oswald Morris' excellent monochrome camera-work.' Geoff Andrew

Here is an extract in which Richard Burton explains what spies are.

Time Out review of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: 

'Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (‘Let the Right One In’) blows a fresh air of continental style into Le Carré’s story without harming the 1970s British period feel of his source material. Naturally, some episodes from the book and TV series don’t make it into the film, but it’s remarkable how much remains, often secured by a sly glance here or quick image there. This spy story is all about the journey – the process – and the byways of the route, not the grand finale. This film’s superb cast, script and direction threaten to make that journey equally as thrilling as Le Carré’s book.' Dave Calhoun


Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 317: Tuesday Nov 15

Tropical Malady (Weerasethakul, 2004): Bethnal Working Mens' Club, 8pm

Chicago Reader review:

'The third work and second narrative feature of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Blissfully Yours), the prodigiously gifted Thai filmmaker who studied painting and filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute—a spellbinding, beautiful, enigmatic film with a mysterious, allusive two-part structure. The first section tracks the hesitant, playful relationship between a shy provincial ice cream truck driver (Sakda Kaewbuadee) and a dashing soldier (Banlop Lomnoi); the astonishing second section is set deep in the Thai jungle and includes an abstract, wordless pursuit of a ghost tiger. The two parts are linked by lyrical compositions and an almost painful sense of longing and regret. Viewers open to a new way of imagining film are sure to be enthralled by this singular young voice. In Thai with subtitles.'
Patrick McGavin



Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 316: Monday Nov 14

An American In Paris (Minnelli, 1951): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm
This screening is part of an extended run until November 20. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:

'While not nearly the musical it's cracked up to be, this 1951 film is absolutely required viewing for anyone who wants to see the studio system (MGM style) at its gaudiest, most Byzantine height. Art and technology have never been in closer harmony than in this Vincente Minnelli-directed rendition of George Gershwin's concert masterpiece. It features Gene Kelly (wearing his most tortured set of expressions), Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and an 18-minute ballet based on images from the French impressionists. Songs include “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” “I Got Rhythm,” and “S'Wonderful.”' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 315: Sunday Nov 13

The 400 Blows (Truffaut, 1959): Genesis Cinema, 93-95 Mile End Road, London E1, 3.30pm

Genesis Cinema is running a fantastic six-part season of rarely screened auteur classics, providing you with an alternative film choice for a Sunday afternoon.

Chicago Reader review:

'More conventional than Godard and more sentimental than Chabrol, Francois Truffaut spearheaded the breakthrough of the French New Wave with this highly autobiographical first feature (1959). Jean-Pierre Leaud is the wide-eyed boy who flees his battling parents only to find himself irrevocably alone. Distinguished by its intensity of feeling and freewheeling use of the wide-screen frame, the film ranks among Truffaut's best.' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 314: Saturday Nov 12

Elena (Zvyagintsev, 2011): Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly, 8.30pm
This is screening as part of the Russian Film Festival

Time Out review:

'Not as powerful as ‘The Return’ but better than ‘The Banishment’, Zvyagintsev’s latest is a fascinating study of family bonds, greed, temptation and the deadly allure of money. The titular protagonist is a former nurse in a second marriage to a rich businessman; her wastrel son wants more of the man’s financial help so that his son can buy a university place, but then Vladimir suffers a heart attack and threatens to leave most of his fortune to his hitherto estranged daughter. Torn between moral scruples, marital duty and maternal loyalty, Elena is forced to act. Sturdy performances, fine photography from Mikhail Krichman, good use of music by Philip Glass and a pleasingly terse script make for incisive, gripping drama.' Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 313: Friday Nov 11

Drive (Winding Refn, 2011): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm

Catch one of the best films of the year on it second-run at one of the best movie venues in London.

Time Out review:

'The truly great ‘LA noir’ movies – ‘Point Blank’, ‘The Driver’, ‘Straight Time’, ‘To Live and Die in LA’, ‘Heat’ – share common characteristics beyond the basic clichés of the crime genre. These are movies informed by the city in which they were made, a city constructed of gleaming surfaces – six-lane highways, vast industrial wastelands and endless suburban sprawl – and a place where crime is grubby and small-time, carried out by empty, hopeless loners in hock to dapper despots with unpredictable personalities. It’s in this world that we find the near-silent hero of ‘Drive’, Nicolas Winding Refn’s self-consciously slick, synth-scored throwback. Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed Driver, a mechanic and occasional getaway guy whose life is overturned when he meets Irene (Carey Mulligan), a struggling mum with a husband in the joint. As all the above implies, this is a film built on familiarity, in terms of narrative and style: neon lights flash, rubber tyres screech, Gosling broods, Mulligan swoons and a trio of wisecracking, overdressed character actors – Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman and Bryan Cranston – provide both levity and dramatic weight. But ‘Drive’ never drags: this is an entirely welcome riff on old material, a pulse-pounding, electronically enhanced cover version of a beloved standard. Sure, it’s shallow, but it’s also slickly compelling, beautifully crafted and so damn shiny.'
Tom Huddleston


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 312: Thursday Nov 10

Submarine (Ayoade, 2011): One Aldwych, 6.30pm

This was one of the highlights of the 2010 London Film Festival and garnered rave reviews, including this one in the Telegraph by David Gritten. He called it "the most refreshing, urgent and original debut the British film industry has seen in years."

Time Out review:

'This is a spirited and warm film debut from TV comic Richard Ayoade, best known as an actor on ‘The IT Crowd’ and a little less as a one-time writer and director of ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’ for Channel 4 – as well as a maker of music videos for the likes of the Arctic Monkeys. Ayoade’s background is in telly, but his film is proudly cinematic – so much so that its big-screen influences are almost its defining characteristics. The meat of the film – and its bittersweet, beating heart – is an awkward romance between Oliver and Jordana (Yasmin Paige), a guarded, knowing girl with a biting wit who wears a ‘Don’t Look Now’ red duffle coat, carries a similar dodgy fringe and whose own family problems are revealed as gradually as she gives herself over to Oliver. Their pairing is cutting and cute. The storytelling style which Ayoade lunges for with uncynical reverence and a cinephile’s passion (and maybe a little over randily at times – how many times can you evoke the final shot on the beach in ‘The 400 Blows’?) is a holy trinity of the French new wave, mannered American indies of the late ’90s and superior British domestic comedy. It’s a winning combination which sees sparks of imagination flying from most scenes.'  Dave Calhoun 

Here is the trailer.


 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 311: Wednesday Nov 9

Straw Dogs (Peckinpah, 1971): Barbican Cinema, 7pm

Following a screening of Sam Peckinpah's original 1971 Straw Dogs, the Barbican plan to welcome the film's star Susan George, and Katy Haber, the director's assistant on all of his films through the 1970s.

They will be in conversation with Stevie Simkin and Julian Petley, co-editors of 'Controversies', a new series of books looking at controversial films of the past 40 years.

Chicago Reader review:

'Released the same year as Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971), this Sam Peckinpah film touched off innumerable debates about violence in the movies. But the difference between Kubrick and Peckinpah is the difference between impersonal sadism and an individual morality strongly expressed; though doubtlessly reactionary, Straw Dogs has the heat of personal commitment and the authority of deep (if bitter) contemplation. It is also moviemaking of a very high order. Dustin Hoffman's performance, as the weak mathematician goaded into violence, is still his best. With Susan George, Peter Vaughan, and (unbilled) David Warner.' Dave Kehr


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 310: Tuesday Nov 8

Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm

This is screening as part of the BFI's Passport to Cinema series and is introduced by The Passenger's screenwriter Mark Peploe.

Chicago Reader review:

'Michelangelo Antonioni's sexy art-house hit of 1966, which played a substantial role in putting “swinging London” on the map, follows a day in the life of a young fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who discovers, after blowing up his photos of a couple glimpsed in a park, that he may have inadvertently uncovered a murder. Part erotic thriller (with significant glamorous roles played by Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Verushka, and Jane Birkin), part exotic travelogue (featuring a Yardbirds concert, antiwar demonstrations, street mimes, one exuberant orgy, and a certain amount of pot), this is so ravishing to look at (the colors all seem newly minted) and pleasurable to follow (the enigmas are usually more teasing than worrying) that you're likely to excuse the metaphysical pretensions—which become prevalent only at the very end—and go with the 60s flow, just as the original audiences did'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Bonus time: the famous Yardbirds scene

Capital Celluloid - Day 309: Monday Nov 7

Once Upon A Time In The West (Leone, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This is screening as part of the BFI's Passport to Cinema series and is introduced by Christopher Frayling who has written extensively on spaghetti westerns and the director Sergio Leone.

Chicago Reader review:

'Sergio Leone, famous for his spaghetti westerns shot in Spain, dared to invade John Ford's own Monument Valley for this 1969 epic. He brought back a masterpiece, a film that expands his baroque, cartoonish style into genuine grandeur, weaving dozens of thematic variations and narrative arabesques around a classical western foundation myth. It's very much a foreigner's film, drawing its elements not from historical reality but from the mythic base made universal by the movies. Moments of intense realism flow into passages of operatic extravagance; lowbrow burlesque exists side by side with the expression of the most refined shades of feeling. The film failed commercially and was savagely recut by its distributor, Paramount Pictures; copies from the European version may be as close as we'll ever get to the original. With Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, and Jason Robards; Bernardo Bertolucci contributed to the script. 165 min.'
Dave Kehr


So many scenes to choose from. Here is one.

Capital Celluloid - Day 308: Sunday Nov 6

The Leopard (Visconti, 1963): Chelsea Curzon, 11am

One of Scorsese's favourites and a bona fide classic. The bonus with this screening is that the Curzon is charging just £5. Bargain time in Chelsea.

Chicago Reader review:

'Novelist Giuseppe di Lampedusa was a conservative, and filmmaker Luchino Visconti was a communist. But both men were aristocrats, and when Visconti adapted the posthumously published Il Gattopardo to the screen in 1963, he created one of the movies' richest portrayals of fading aristocracy since Orson Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons. The 205-minute version that won the Palme d'Or at Cannes probably no longer exists, but this dazzling 183-minute restoration of Visconti's greatest feature is so superior to the dubbed and faded 161-minute version released in the U.S. that it feels complete. Burt Lancaster stars as Don Fabrizio, a gentlemanly landowner in mid-19th-century Palermo who realizes that the old world is dying. The painterly peripheral detail of Visconti's epic exteriors is surpassed only by the extended ball sequence in the last third, in which realistic details double as Fabrizio's stream of consciousness. With Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale. In Italian with subtitles.'
Jonathan Rosenabum


Here is Burt Lancaster introducing the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 307: Saturday Nov 5

Footnote (Cedar, 2011): Jewish Film Festival, Tricycle Cinema, 7pm

Screenings for this movie were sold out at last month's London Film Festival. Here's your chance to see one of the critical hits of this year's selection.

Time Out review:

'It concerns the intense rivalry between a father and son: Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba and Lior Ashkenazi), both professors in the Talmudic studies department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It begins – dramatically – with the worst day in the former’s life, when he has to attend a ceremony welcoming his son into the Academy, an honour he himself never received. Things improve for Eliezer when he hears that he’s finally going to be  given, after decades of disappointed waiting, the prestigious Israel Prize. It may, as a chapter heading tells us, be the best day of his life, but it’s also the start of a series of events that are not only morally complicated but, perhaps, infinitely sad. 


Clearly, this is a film that has been meticulously thought through on every level. So even though many found its orchestral score overly insistent and loud, its tone – reminiscent at times of the late symphonies of Shostakovich, some of which were themselves of course profoundly concerned with Jewish history and suffering – is entirely appropriate to this study of seemingly small-scale familial and academic conflict which nevertheless takes on, for all involved, the dimensions of an epic struggle between the old and the new, truth and falsehood, right and wrong.
Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer 

Capital Celluloid - Day 306: Friday Nov 4

Tabloid (Morris, 2010): Riverside Studios, 7pm

This documentary about the celebrated case of the manacled mormon was one of the hits of last year's London Film Festival. Here's a fascinating feature on the film by the Guardian's Peter Bradhsaw.

Time Out review:

'The British tabloids made quite a fuss of beauty queen Joyce McKinney back in 1977, when she crossed the Atlantic to abduct her estranged Mormon boyfriend and shackle him to a bed for sexual de-programming in a Devon cottage. It’s quite a tale, and the estimable Errol Morris’s fascination for the sheer peculiarity of the human psyche comes to the fore in this latest doc, playing bubbly/bonkers McKinney’s testimony against the red-top frenzy of the time. Another typical Morris investigation of the elusive nature of objective truth, as obsessive motives and religious agendas clash, it’s also a riot of strangeness, both funny and sad. A classy assemblage, though admittedly familiar in form, and if Morris is indeed marking time, this is too smart and enjoyable to cavil.' Trevor Johnston


Here is the trailer.