Monday, 27 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 249: Thu Sep 6

Q: The Winged Serpent (Cohen, 1982) & God Told Me To (Cohen, 1976):
Roxy Bar & Screen, London Bridge, 7pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

Welcome back to the much-missed Exploding Head Film Club.

The Exploding Head Film Club's introduction to tonight's entertainment: Larry Cohen’s work as a writer-director – from blaxploitation classics like ‘Hell Up in Harlem’ to his groundbreaking ’70s-’80s horror movies – combines the satirical wit of George Romero, the genre nous of John Carpenter and the madcap thrills of the Corman school. Tonight’s event pairs two Cohen classics, both shot on the sleaziest streets No-wave era New York had to offer. ‘Q’ (aka Q: The Winged Serpent, 1982) explores what happens when an Aztec God returns to wreak havoc on the city, and stars Cohen regular Michael Moriarty as a scat-singing hoodlum. ‘God Told Me To’ (1976) is Cohen’s masterpiece, a gender-bending religious freakout in which Jesus comes to Manhattan to commit a series of bloody murders. There’ll also be a prime selection of era-defining NYC sounds and an intro by Time Out film writer Tom Huddleston.

Time Out review of Q - The Winged Serpent:'A plumed serpent ('Whaddya mean? That fuckin' bird?') is nesting in the top of the Chrysler Building, from where it swoops and gobbles up hapless New Yorkers. Cop Carradine and robber Moriarty form an uneasy alliance to flush out the beast. This is the kind of movie that used to be indispensable to the market: an imaginative, popular, low-budget picture that makes the most and more of its limited resources, and in which people get on with the job instead of standing around talking about it. Cohen knows there isn't the time or money to question the logic of anything, so he keeps his assembly so fast and deft that we're prepared to swallow whatever he tells us; and his script has much droll fun with a plot that keeps losing things ('Maybe his head just got loose and fell off'). He also gets great performances from Carradine as the cop who treats it all as part of a day's work, and (especially) Moriarty as the jittery criminal whose 15 minutes of fame ('I'm just asking for a Nixon-like pardon') leave him wondering if on some days it's better just to stay home in bed. We have no hesitation in awarding Oscars all round.'Chris Peachment

Here is the opening scene


Time Out review of God Told Me To:
'A delirious mix of sci-fi, pseudo-religious fantasy and horror detective thriller, with Lo Bianco as the perfect existential anti-hero - a New York cop and closet Catholic, guiltily trapped between wife and mistress. His investigations into a bizarre spate of mass murders lead right to the top: Jesus Christ, no less, is provoking innocent citizens to go on a murderous rampage. The wonderfully insane plot - involving spaceships, genetics and police corruption - builds to an ambiguous climax: a 'gay' confrontation which suggests an outrageous alternative to anal intercourse. God Told Me To overflows with such perverse and subversive notions that no amount of shoddy editing and substandard camerawork can conceal the film's unusual qualities. Digging deep into the psyche of American manhood, it lays bare the guilt-ridden oppressions of a soulless society.'
Steve Woolley
Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 248: Wed Sep 5

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941): BFI Southbank, 8.30pm
This film is screening as part of the Sight & Sound Poll Winners season. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'What can you say about the movie that taught you what movies were? The first time I saw Kane I discovered the existence of the director; the next dozen or so times taught me what he did—with lights and camera angles, cutting and composition, texture and rhythm. Kane (1941) is no longer my favorite Orson Welles film (I'd take Ambersons, Falstaff, or Touch of Evil), but it is still the best place I know of to start thinking about Welles—or for that matter about movies in general.'
Dave Kehr

Here is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 247: Tue Sep 4

Rebecca (Hitchcock, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.20pm
This is part of the Alfred Hitchcock season and is also screening on Sept 2nd, 8th, 9th and 11th

Chicago Reader review:
'There are too many conflicting levels of authorship—between Alfred Hitchcock, Daphne du Maurier, and David O. Selznick—for this 1940 film to be a complete success, but through its first two-thirds it is as perfect a myth of adolescence as any of the Disney films, documenting the childlike, nameless heroine's initiation into the adult mysteries of sex, death, and identity, and the impossibility of reconciling these forces with family strictures. As a Hitchcock film, it is, with the closely related Suspicion, one of his rare studies from a female point of view, and it is surprisingly tender and compassionate; the same issues, treated from a male viewpoint, would return in Vertigo and Marnie (Laurence Olivier's Maxim becoming the Sean Connery character of the latter film).'
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 246: Mon Sep 3

The Fountainhead (Vidor, 1940) & The Stunt Man (Rush, 1980):
Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 7pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

Here is the Roxy introduction: Filmbar70 celebrates Hollywood’s overreaching, overblown and often misguided attempts to produce something ‘meaningful’. Cast in the shade of their artistic European cousins, those moguls of the 'dream factory' not content to produce mere ‘entertainment’ drove headlong into ‘prestige’ projects with reckless abandon, often creating something bizarre and endearing in the process. Vanity projects, socio/political tracts and unclassifiable artifacts all litter the cinematic history of this grand tradition, one that continues to this very day.

The Fountainhead (1949)
King Vidor's hilariously overwrought adaptation of Ayn Rand's unfilmable novel is a nigh on hysterical melodrama about architecture and the integrity of artistic vision without boundaries. When Gary Cooper isn't drilling away at rock faces he dreams of modernist architecture, as Patricia Neal's misanthropic journo gets hot and bothered by it all.
Here is the trailer

&
The Stunt Man (1980)
Director Richard Rush's parody of the 'auteur' in Hollywood, this long gestating prestige project was probably the last gasp of Hollywood's ‘70s 'golden era', and a bizarre oddity even for ‘Follywood’. Peter O'Toole hams it up with relish as a film director playing God to social outcast Steve Railsback.
Here is the trailer

Chicago Reader review of The Fountainhead:
'King Vidor turned Ayn Rand's preposterous “philosophical” novel into one of his finest and most personal films (1949), mainly by pushing the phallic imagery so hard that it surpasses Rand's rightist diatribes and even camp (“I wish I'd never seen your skyscraper!”), entering some uncharted dimension where melodrama and metaphysics exist side by side. The images have a dynamism, a spatial tension, that comes partly from Frank Lloyd Wright (whose life Rand appropriated for her novel) and partly from Eisenstein, yet the pattern of their deployment is Vidor's own: the emotions rise and fall in broad, operatic movements that are unmistakably sexual and irresistibly involving.'Dave Kehr

Chicago Reader review of The Stunt Man:
'Pretentious, overenergized, muddled, intellectually bogus, and very entertaining for it. Richard Rush's film concerns a cryptic fugitive (Steve Railsback) who finds refuge, of a sort, with a movie company led by a flamboyant, engagingly sadistic director (Peter O'Toole). Experienced as pure motion, the picture is a rush, barreling through highly charged action montages and baroque flights of rack focus, though dramatically it becomes disappointingly conventional in the last few reels. The theme is illusion and reality, but you're better off if you try to forget it.'
Dave Kehr

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 245: Sun Sep 2

Island of Lost Souls (Kenton, 1932) & Corruption (Hartford-Davis, 1968):
Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 4pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

Chicago Reader review of Island of Lost Souls:
'One of the best-kept secrets in rock criticism is that all of Devo's original act—from the “de-evolution” rap down to the chant of “Are we not men?”—was a straight cop from this 1933 adaptation of H.G. Wells's Island of Dr. Moreau. Charles Laughton, with an obscene caterpillar mustache, is the mad doctor working on the transformation of animals into (sub)human beings by means of sickening “surgical techniques”; Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams are two shipwreck survivors who, unsuspecting, wash up on his shore. It's a grand, hokey chiller, dripping with sex and sadism and photographed in dense, Sternbergian shadows by the great cinematographer Karl Struss. With Bela Lugosi as the leader of the pack, and Kathleen Burke as the unforgettably insinuating Leopard Woman.' Dave Kehr

Here is the Roxy introduction: The Classic Horror Campaign, Cyberschizoid, Scare Sarah and Filmbar70 return to The Roxy Bar & Screen. Once again we join forces with the Scala Beyond season to present our homage to the much loved cinema. Recapture those halcyon days of the old BBC2 Saturday night horror double bills in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere at one of London’s premiere boutique cinema venues.

Island of Lost Souls (1932)
An obsessed scientist conducts profane experiments in evolution, eventually establishing himself as the self-styled demigod to a race of mutated, half-human abominations.
Here is the trailer

&
Corruption (1968)
A respected surgeon disfigures his beautiful model wife in an accident and resolves to retore her beauty. He develops a technique which involves the use of fluid from the pituitary gland and embarks on a killing spree to obtain more of the fluid. As events spin more and more out of control, carnage ensues and the dead bodies start piling up…
Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 244: Sat Sep 1

The Hunger (Scott, 1983): ICA Cinema, 9pm
This film, which is also screening on Sept 2, as part of a Bowiefest weekend at the ICA (details here), was the late director Tony Scott's film debut.

Time Out review:
'Deneuve is the ageless, possibly final survivor of an ancient immortal race dependent on humans for both sustenance and companionship. Her superior blood allows her lovers a triple lifetime until they ultimately succumb to instant decline. Not all of this is apparent in the film, where style rules at the expense of coherence. But that style is often glorious, from a bloody sun sinking over a gothic hi-tech Manhattan skyline to living quarters that are sumptuous. Neat touches of grim humour also: Deneuve and Bowie manhunt in a disco as Bauhaus sing 'Bela Lugosi's Dead'; and Bowie rots away in a hospital waiting room where the 20 minutes wait becomes a subjective century of ageing. Visual sensualities will have a feast.'
Here is the trailer. 

There's also a great Hitchcock today in the director's full retrospective:

The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, 1938): BFI Southbank
This film, which is part of the Alfred Hitchock season, is also screening on Sept 2nd, 4th, 6th & 8th. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Alfred Hitchcock's masterful 1938 spy thriller, with Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave searching for kidnapped agent Dame May Whitty aboard a trans-European express train, pursued all the while by sinister Nazi agents. This is vintage Hitchcock, with the pacing and superb editing that marked not only his 30s style but eventually every film that had any aspirations whatever to achieving suspense and rhythm.'
Dan Druker

Here is the trailer.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 243: Fri Aug 31

Take Off (Weston, 1978) & Through The Looking Glass (Middleton, 1976):
The Horse Hospital, Bloomsbury 7.30pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

Gulp, Take Off as described on IMDB: 'Don Juan-like playboy doesn't get old, but his photographs do. One day he takes a couple to see adult movies. Hardcore version of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray. The Horse Hospital calls these two films "a couple of distinctive classics from renowned New York studio DistribPix demonstrating the diversity of Porno Chic-era hard-core." Through The Looking Glass is "a truly chilling tale of an incubus, played by porn degenerate Jamie Gillis, who emerges from an antique mirror."




Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 242: Thu Aug 30

Ruslan and Ludmilla (Ptushko, 1972): Horse Hospital, Bloomsbury, 7.30pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

Here is the Horse Hospital introduction: An otherworldly adaptation of Pushkin’s famous poem. Ruslan and Ludmilais arguably the greatest masterpiece of director and visual effects pioneer Aleksandr Ptushko, one of the great image makers and innovators in the world of fantasy filmmaking, sometimes referred to as “The Red Disney”. Running at 149mins over two parts, this epic Fairytale magically delivers surreal characters—a sorcerer midget with a fifty-foot beard, a demonic, hunchbacked witch—and spellbinding sets such as the midget’s glimmering crystalline castle, hell bound figures chained inside a cavern, and a decapitated giant’s head. Ptushko’s final film follows Ruslan’s adventures as he fights to bring back the beautiful princess Ludmila from the little, impish hands of the sorcerer Tchernomor. A wonderful opportunity to see this underrated, fantastical cinematic feat! A true visualisation of legend and myth, not to be missed!

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 241: Wed Aug 29

Showgirls (Verhoeven, 1995): The Book Club, Shoreditch 7.30pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

No excuse for posting this other than it is my No1 film guilty pleasure. The introduction by the Amy Grimehouse film club suggests this is going to be a lot of fun: A screening of Showgirls and the usual Grimehouse nastiness including pole-dancing demonstrations, so you too can be a bit slutty. The film: a young drifter, named Nomi, arrives in Las Vegas to become a dancer and soon sets about clawing and pushing her way to become the top of the Vegas showgirls.

Chicago Reader review:
'Director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas's fresh meat market—a sleazy Las Vegas porn show with clunky production numbers that resemble body-building exercises, backed by heaps of big studio money. The story, a low-rent version of All About Eve, charts the rise of one bimbo showgirl (Elizabeth Berkley) at the expense of another (Gina Gershon); alas, the only actor who seems comfortable is Kyle MacLachlan. It must be admitted that, as with Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers, which I also underrated initially, this 1995 movie has only improved with age—or maybe it's just that viewers like me are only now catching up with the ideological ramifications of the cartoonlike characters. In this case, the degree to which Las Vegas (and by implication Hollywood) is viewed as the ultimate capitalist machine is an essential part of the poisonous package.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 240: Tue Aug 28

No Blades of Grass (Wilde, 1970) & Threads (Jackson, 1984):
Roxy Bar & Screen, London Bridge, 7pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

Here is the Roxy Bar & Screen Introduction: Societies are sundered and man becomes animal in a double bill that celebrates Britain’s despairing take on the art of collapse. From the colonial crises of H. G. Wells to the transformed landscapes of J. G. Ballard, our parables have been saturated by the impending doom of imminent catastrophe. Filmbar70 presents two visions infused by the sensibility of the kitchen sink – the ‘70s eco plight of ‘No Blade of Grass’ and the ‘80s nuked nightmare of ‘Threads’, the most horrific vision of radioactive desolation put to screen. So, make yourself comfy and welcome to a world where the remnants of civilisation have been swept aside and man competes in the savage wasteland of his own making. Just keep telling yourself “this could never really happen…”
No Blade of Grass (1970)
A virus spreads across the globe, decimating our livestock and destroying our infrastructure in this adaptation of John Christopher’s novel. An earnest and often bleak vision of a Britain where the social codes of old have been abandoned to make way for brute force and chilling ruthlessness.
Here is the trailer
Threads (1984)
Push the button! Designed to scare the bejesus (and succeeding admirably!) out of an already paranoid nation, this British take on the war to end all wars unflinchingly shows the horrific results when the cold war gets very, very hot. Barry Hind’s terrifying vision builds from bland domesticity to a doomed future where the vestiges of humanity fade away in an irradiated wasteland. A truly mortifying and unforgettable experience.
Here is the opening

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 239: Mon Aug 27

Putney Swope (Downey, 1969): Alibi Film Club, Dalston 8pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

The Alibi film club introduction: Never before released in the UK, we invite you to a very rare screening of PUTNEY SWOPE Robert Downey, Sr’s 1969 counterculture comedy. PUTNEY SWOPE is an anarchic satire about the takeover of a Madison Ave ad agency by a group of militant Black Panther types. Pitched somewhere between the rata-tat-tat hysteria of the Marx Brothers and Lenny Bruce’s savage politicism. Shot in b&w but interspersed with a series of demented Technicolor adverts, the film lists amongst its highlights: a crazed Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear), two dwarfs playing the US President and his First Lady and a marketing campaign for a volatile Nazi car called “the Bormann Six”.

Chicago Reader review:
'Robert Downey Sr.'s low-budget, hit-or-miss dadaist (or gagaist) 1969 satire, about a group of blacks taking over a Madison Avenue ad agency, is a bit of a relic now, though a decidedly offbeat one. Only a fraction of the jokes ever worked, but the determined goofiness of some of the conceits (e.g., German midgets Pepi and Ruth Hermine as the U.S. president and first lady) and the interspersed parodic TV commercials (all of them in color, though the rest of the movie is in black and white) give one a better idea of the jaunty excesses of the late 60s than Hollywood movies of the same period. If you're in a silly enough mood, you might have a good time. With Arnold Johnson, Stanley Gottlieb, Allen Garfield, Antonio Fargas, and a fleeting bit by Mel Brooks.'
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 238: Sun Aug 26

City of the Dead (Moxey, 1960): Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road, N1 4BL 7pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

Here is the Howling at the Moon film club's Facebook page with more details.

Also known by its alternate title City of the Dead, this 1960 horror thriller makes the most of its low-budget, studio-bound limitations to offer an abundance of eerie atmosphere frequently compared to the chilling horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Christopher Lee stars as the seemingly benevolent Professor Driscoll, who sends his eager student Nan (Venetia Stevenson) to the town of Whitewood, Massachussetts to research local legends of witchcraft. As it turns out, the entire town is overrun by monklike zombies who perform gruesome nocturnal rituals in the local graveyards. Nan's bereaved boyfriend struggles to eliminate this monstrous brood--at the cost of his life! Heavy on mood and light on plot, this is vintage horror for die-hard fans--perfect as a Halloween perennial.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 237: Sat Aug 25

The Films of Philip Ridley: Misty Moon Gallery, Ladywell Tavern, 4pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

The Reflecting Skin (1990); The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) and Heartless (2009)

Time Out review of The Reflecting Skin:
Set amid the golden corn of the '50s Midwest, Ridley's directorial debut (he scripted The Krays) confronts 'the nightmare of childhood'. Virtually ignored by his neurotic mother and ineffectual father, eight-year-old Seth (Cooper) creates a world of his own, imagining that reclusive English-woman Dolphin Blue (Duncan) is a vampire, and that the foetus he finds in a barn is his dead friend transformed into an earth-bound angel. Reality begins to seep in when Seth's father is accused of murdering children who have gone missing in the area, and Seth's older brother (Mortensen) returns from the Pacific with tales of a bomb that explodes like a second sun. The complex, non-linear narrative is almost operatic in its visual and emotional excess, employing exaggerated camera angles, saturated colours and an ultra-loud soundtrack to create a heightened, sometimes dangerously portentous reality. Admirably ambitious but, one suspects, a little overripe for English sensibilities.
Nigel Floyd

Here is the trailer.


Time Out review of The Passion of Darkly Noon:
'Ridley's slow-burning fable builds to a shocking finale, part apocalyptic religious vision, part intellectual slasher movie. Darkly Noon (Fraser), sole survivor of a Waco-like siege, is given refuge by beautiful forest dweller Callie (Judd), whose lover Clay (Mortensen) later returns for a passionate reunion. Egged on by crazy hermit Roxy (Zabriskie), Darkly cranks himself up into a state of violent delirium. As the vengeful innocent wraps barbed wire around his chest, one recalls the disturbing weirdness of The Reflecting Skin and fears the worst.'
Nigel Floyd

Here is the trailer.

Time Out review of Hearltess:
'This fiercely imaginative ‘urban fairy tale’ from multitalented East End fabulist Philip Ridley, creator of ‘The Reflecting Skin’ and ‘The Passion of Darkly Noon’, juxtaposes familiar Bethnal Green settings, fairy tales, disturbing violence and bleak, surreal humour. Jamie (Jim Sturgess, below), a melancholy 25-year-old photographer with a heart-shaped port-wine birthmark on his face, starts to believe that the masked ‘hoodies’ prowling the streets are actual demons. His shy, tentative love for the fragile Tia (Clémence Poésy) offers a ray of hope, but his Faustian pact with the charismatic Papa B (Joseph Mawle) – the self-styled ‘patron saint of random violence’ – plunges Jamie into a frightening world of chaos. By showing us these bizarre events from Jamie’s point of view, Ridley forces us to share his hallucinatory vision of an apocalyptic world. The ever-brilliant Eddie Marsan contributes a darkly hilarious cameo as the enigmatic Weapons Man, and Ridley’s coup de grace is a quiet, emotionally charged ending  as surprising as it is bold.'
Nigel Floyd

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 236: Fri Aug 24

F For Fake (Welles, 1975): BFI Southbank, on extended run to September 20

Chicago Reader review:
'Orson Welles's underrated 1973 essay film—made from discarded documentary footage by Francois Reichenbach and new material from Welles—forms a kind of dialectic with Welles's never-completed It's All True. The main subjects are art forger Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, Welles himself, and the practice and meaning of deception. Despite some speculation that this film was Welles's indirect reply to Pauline Kael's bogus contention that he didn't write a word of Citizen Kane, his sly commentary—seconded by some of the trickiest editing anywhere—implies that authorship is a pretty dubious notion anyway, a function of the even more dubious art market and its team of “experts.” Alternately superficial and profound, the film also enlists the services of Oja Kodar, Welles's principal collaborator after the late 60s, as actor, erotic spectacle, and cowriter, and briefer appearances by many other Welles cohorts. Michel Legrand supplies the wonderful score.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the most impressive part of the film, Welles' paean to Chartres Cathedral.

Here are Welles's words: 'Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world and it’s without a signature: Chartres. A celebration to God’s glory and to the dignity of man. All that’s left most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked, poor, forked, radish. There aren’t any celebrations. Ours, the scientists keep telling us, is a universe, which is disposable. You know it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things, this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust, to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us, to accomplish. Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life. We’re going to die. “Be of good heart,” cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced – but what of it? Go on singing. Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much. (Church bells peal…)'

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 235: Thu Aug 23

Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda, 1962): Genesis Cinema, Mile End, 7pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website.

British director Carol Morley came to prominence with her BAFTA nominated documentary The Alcohol Years in 2000. Since then she has garnered critical acclaim for her debut feature film Edge, the first film produced by Genesis Entertainment, and Dreams Of A Life, a moving and compassionate documentary focussing on the tragic life of Londoner, Joyce Vincent.

Morley has chosen to screen CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 by Agnes Varda in the Auternative strand at the Genesis Cinema. A benchmark of the French New Wave, the film eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman’s life,  CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.

Chicago Reader review:
'Agnes Varda's 1961 New Wave feature—recounting two hours in the life of a French pop singer (Corinne Marchand) while she waits to learn from her doctor whether she's terminally ill—is arguably her best work, rivaled only by herVagabond (1985) and The Gleaners and I (2000). Beautifully shot and realized, this film offers an irreplaceable time capsule of Paris, and fans of Michel Legrand won't want to miss the extended sequence in which he visits the heroine and rehearses with her. The film's approximations of real time are exactly that—the total running time is 90 minutes—but innovative and thrilling nonetheless. Underrated when it came out and unjustly neglected since, it's not only the major French New Wave film made by a woman, but a key work of that exciting period—moving, lyrical, and mysterious.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

A quick clip here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 234: Wed Aug 22

King Kong v Godzilla (Honda, 1962) & Matango, Fungus of Terror (Honda, 1963):
Prince Charles Cinema, 7pm
This is screening as part of the Scala Beyond, a six-week season celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find more details here at the website. It is a Cigarette Burns film club presentation - details here.

Here is the introduction: Zipangu Fest and Cigarette Burns Cinema present a Triple Creature Double Feature in 35mm and full extra widescreen TohoScope! The UK’s favourite Japanese film festival bursts back into 2012 with a monstrous retro kaiju double bill collaboration with independent cult cinema exhibitor Cigarette Burns Cinema.

On Wednesday, 22nd August 2012, horror, sci-fi and kaiju fans can catch this unique screening of both King Kong vs. Godzilla and Matango, Fungus of Terror, both showing in their English language versions, at the Prince Charles Cinema in Central London. This double whammy from the legendary director Ishiro Honda, creator of Godzilla and the mastermind behind some of Japan’s most inventive and memorable apocalyptic visions, will be a unique opportunity to enjoy both films as they were meant to be seen, on 35mm and in full widescreen TohoScope, on the big screen.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) sees the world’s two most monumental movie monsters go head-to-head, slugging it out in their first ever colour widescreen outing. The film remains the most commercially successful of all the Godzilla films to date.

Matango, Fungus of Terror (1963), a hallucinogenic horror adapted from the 1907 short story “The Voice in the Night” by the English author William Hope Hodgson, follows a yacht full of privileged Tokyo-ites who are forced to face their primordial selves after they find themselves washed up on deserted tropical island festooned with clumps of deadly fungus.
Here is the trailer for King Kong v Godzilla

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 233: Tue Aug 21

The Killing (Kubrick, 1956): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
This superb Stanley Kubrick film is screening as part of the Prince Charles Cinema's classics season.

Chicago Reader review:
'Arguably Stanley Kubrick's most perfectly conceived and executed film, this 1956 noirish thriller utilizes an intricate overlapping time structure to depict the planning and execution of a plot to steal $2 million from a racetrack. Adapted by Kubrick from Lionel White's Clean Break, with an extraordinary gallery of B players: Sterling Hayden, Marie Windsor, J.C. Flippen, Elisha Cook Jr., Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Ted de Corsia, Joe Sawyer, and the unforgettable Timothy Carey. Orson Welles was so taken with this film that after seeing it he declared Kubrick could do no wrong; not to be missed.'Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 232: Mon Aug 20

Secret Agent (Hitchock, 1936): BFI Southbank, NFT, 9pm
This film, part of the Alfred Hitchcock season, is also screening at the BFI on 26 August.

Chicago Reader review:
'A rarely seen film by Alfred Hitchcock (1936), adapted from Somerset Maugham'sAshenden and starring John Gielgud, Madeleine Carroll, and Peter Lorre. Hitchcock thought the film had too many plot twists, and he was probably right, what with secret agent Gielgud assigned to kill a spy, only to assassinate an innocent tourist while the real villain slips away to lay his own plans. Still, the film has a fine cast and a fine look—shot in the Swiss Alps, much of it makes use of unusual white-on-white compositions.'
Dave Kehr

Here is the movie on YouTube.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 231: Sun Aug 19

North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959): BFI Southbank, NFT, 8.20pm
This is screening as part of the Alfred Hitchcock season and is also screening on August 24 & 27 and October 9.

Time Out review: 'Fifty years on, you could say that Hitchcock’s sleek, wry, paranoid thriller caught the zeitgeist perfectly: Cold War shadiness, secret agents of power, urbane modernism, the ant-like bustle of city life, and a hint of dread behind the sharp suits of affluence. Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill, the film’s sharply dressed ad exec who is sucked into a vortex of mistaken identity, certainly wouldn’t be out of place in ‘Mad Men’. But there’s nothing dated about this perfect storm of talent, from Hitchcock and Grant to writer Ernest Lehman (‘Sweet Smell of Success’), co-stars James Mason and Eva Marie Saint, composer Bernard Herrmann and even designer Saul Bass, whose opening-credits sequence still manages to send a shiver down the spine.

Hitchcock breezes through a tongue-in-cheek, nightmarish plot with a lightness of touch that’s equalled by a charming performance from Grant (below), who copes effortlessly with the script’s dash between claustrophobia and intrigue on one hand and romance and comedy on the other. The story is a pass-the-parcel of escalating threats, all of them interior fears turned inside-out: doubting mothers, untrustworthy lovers, vague government handlers, corrupt cops. Within minutes of the film’s opening, shady strangers in a hotel lobby mistake Thornhill for a ‘George Caplin’ and from there we sprint from country house to the United Nations, from the ticket hall of Grand Central Station to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Thornhill’s ignorance of his fate and complete lack of control offer Hitchcock a brilliant blank canvas on which to experiment with a story that would sound ludicrous on paper, yet it feels like anything’s possible in Lehman’s playful script. ‘I’m an advertising man, not a red herring,’ says Thornhill. He couldn’t be more mistaken.
' Dave Calhoun

Here is the trailer.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 230: Sat Aug 18

The Muppets Movie Marathon: Prince Charles Cinema, 11am

The Prince Charles are showing every film the Muppets have made. So that's The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Muppets Treasure Island, Muppets In Space & The Muppets. What are you waiting for?

Here is the trailer for the latest film, The Muppets. I've only seen it the three times so far.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 229: Fri Aug 17

Sabotage (Hitchcock, 1936): BFI Southbank, NFT, 8.40pm
This film, which is part of the BFI Hitchcock season, is also screening on Aug 20. This was one of my five picks for the Guardian of underrated Hitchcock films not to be missed this summer. You can read my thoughts on the quintet of movies via the web here and this is what I had to say about Sabotage:

'Darker in tone and more harrowing than its reputation allows, Sabotage is arguably the most underrated of Hitchcock's still undervalued British period. A loose adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel The Secret Agentabout a shadowy network of anarchists, the film deserves to be remembered for much more than Hitchcock famously regretting his decision to let the bomb go off at the end of one of the director's most celebrated and manipulative suspense sequences. The movie's central couple run a cinema, which Hitchcock uses to masterful effect in an intriguing and rich sequence contrasting Walt Disney on the screen with the heartbreak of the wife following the tragedy at the centre of the narrative. The scene involving the "murder" (or is it "willed suicide"?) of her husband foreshadows the most brutal and shocking killing in Hitchcock's canon 30 years later, that of the East German agent Gromek in Torn Curtain (1966).'

Here is the famous bus bomb scene (Warning: spoiler)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 228: Thu Aug 16

The Lodger (Hitchcock, 1926):
BFI Southbank & Curzon Mayfair as part of Genius of Hithcock season for an extended run

I went to see this at a preview screening and was impressed by all but the songs accompanying Nitin Sawhney's new score. I think Guy Lodge sums it up well in his Time Out review:

'Look into Ivor Novello’s haunted, kohl-rimmed eyes in Hitch’s most overtly Hitchcockian silent film –  his first of many ‘wrong man’ mysteries – and you can see generations of matinee idols coming full circle. Willowy and wounded-looking, Novello was the Robert Pattinson of his day, and his gracefully on-edge performance as a shy boarding-house tenant, suspected of a series of Jack the Ripper-style murders terrorising London, is as intriguing as the director’s resourceful formulation of suspense techniques that would later become his bread and butter. The money men forced Hitchcock into a tidier ending than he’d wanted, but there’s ambiguity aplenty in his leading man’s darting facial language – which we can now see clearly, thanks to the BFI’s pristine restoration. It’s never looked better, though I’m not sure the same can be said for how it sounds. Nitin Sawhney’s newly commissioned score is often playful, but marred by dreary, anachronistic songs – a tribute to Novello’s legacy as a balladeer perhaps, but an imposition on an otherwise glorious renewal.'Guy Lodge

Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 227: Wed Aug 15

W.R. — Mysteries of the Organism (Makaejev, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm

Here is the BFI introduction to the event: This surrealist, experimental art-house classic by Dušan Makavejev cross-pollinates a variety of different filmmaking materials and techniques: actuality, narrative, found footage and re-enactment. Its groundbreaking qualities are not limited to stylistics, however. It also explores the links between sexual politics and Communism via the theories of controversial psychologist Wilhelm Reich (also discussed in Adam Curtis’s The Century of the Self) and the fictional seduction of a Soviet ice-skater. Through montage, Makavejev boldly suggests that an emancipation of sexuality is required on top of any changes in politics and economics, if there is to be true revolution. The film was banned in the director’s native country.

Introduced by Maria Cruz, film programmer and visiting lecturer at Kingston University

Chicago Reader review: 'We may forget that the most radical rethinking of Marx and Freud found in European cinema of the late 60s and early 70s came from the east rather than the west. Indeed, it's hard to think of a headier mix of fiction and nonfiction, or sex and politics, than this brilliant 1971 Yugoslav feature by Dusan Makavejev, which juxtaposes a bold Serbian narrative shot in 35-millimeter with funky New York street theater and documentary shot in 16. The "WR" is controversial sexual theorist Wilhelm Reich and the "mysteries" involve Joseph Stalin as an erotic figure in propaganda movies, Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs "killing for peace" as he runs around New York City with a phony gun, and drag queen Jackie Curtis and plaster caster Nancy Godfrey pursuing their own versions of sexual freedom.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 226: Tue Aug 14

Frenzy (Hitchcock, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm
This movie. made late in Alfred Hitchcock's career, is also screening on Aug 31.


Chicago Reader review:
'This turned out to be Alfred Hitchcock's penultimate film (1972), though there's no sign of the serenity and settledness that generally mark the end of a career. Frenzy, instead, continues to question and probe, and there is a streak of sheer anger in it that seems shockingly alive. The plotting combines two of Hitchcock's favorite themes: the poisoned couple (Marnie, The Man Who Knew Too Much) and the lone man on the run (North by Northwest, Saboteur); its subjects are misogyny and domestic madness.'
Dave Kehr 

Here is the great trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 225: Mon Aug 13

La Ronde (Ophuls, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm
This is screening as part of the cinema's Passport to Cinema season.

Chicago Reader review:
'Max Ophuls's witty version (1950) of Arthur Schnitzler's play showing love as a bitterly comic merry-go-round. Going less for the darker feelings in Schnitzler than for the surface gloss, Ophuls displays dazzling technical virtuosity and a cinematic elegance we're not likely to see again. Anton Walbrook acts as master of ceremonies and narrator as one love affair intertwines with another and love's roundabout carries Simone Signoret, Danielle Darrieux, and Jean-Louis Barrault full circle. The movement toward Ophuls's baroque masterpiece Lola Montes is unmistakable.'
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Here is the opening (without subtitles)

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 224: Sun Aug 12

Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm
A chance to see one of Alfred Hitchcock's most perfectly realised films.

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

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 223: Sat Aug 11

Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (Meyer, 1970): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm
The Rio is regularly doing the best Saturday late shows in town right now. Here's another excellent choice.


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 2012 - Day 222: Fri Aug 10

Stage Fright (Hitchcock, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.50pm
This film, part of the Alfred Hitchcock season, is also screening at the BFI on 12 and 19 August.

Chicago Reader review:
'This 1950 Hitchcock film came between Under Capricorn and Strangers on a Train, and if it isn't the equal of those two sterling achievements, it's still an intriguing experiment. It's a murder mystery set in the stage world of London, and almost every scene features some sort of deception, from theatrical performance to bald-faced lying. Even the director, it turns out, isn't to be trusted. The issues aren't satisfactorily resolved, but Hitchcock seems to be exploring the ways in which various falsehoods—the falsehoods of acting, storytelling, and art in general—can lead to the truth, and the equally powerful ways in which they can betray it. There is also some very strange business involving a Cub Scout and a bloody doll, but that image, perhaps, is best left unexplored.'
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 221: Thu Aug 9

Sing along Xanadu (Greenwald, 1980): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

Read this Time Out review:
'An experience so vacuous it's almost frightening. Built around a threadbare Hollywood fairytale which has Olivia Newton-John (on roller-skates) playing a muse despatched by Zeus to help mortals realise their fantasies, it turns out in fact to be an unashamed show-case for Livvy's multifarious 'talents'. Alas, as the film grinds from one epic production routine to another, it becomes painfully clear that she can't deliver a line (the script, full of gnomic punchlines, is admittedly abysmal), hold a note (the Jeff Lynne/John Farrar songs are lowest common denominator), or step a pas de deux (despite the helping hand of Gene Kelly, who can still cut it on the dance floor). Not even Michael Beck, fresh out of The Warriors, can salvage the disaster.' Ian Birch

Now watch this extract and I defy you to tell me you don't want to go.


Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 220: Wed Aug 8

The Paradine Case (Hitchcock, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm
This film, which is part of the BFI Hitchcock season, is also screening on Aug 25. This was one of my five picks for the Guardian of underrated Hitchcock films not to be missed this summer. You can read my thoughts on the quintet of movies via the web here and this is what I had to say about The Paradine Case:

'Hitchcock's rough-cut of The Paradine Case, with which producer David Selznick tinkered extensively in post-production, was lost in a flood in the 1980s. That's a shame as its restoration would surely have revived interest in a film now almost wholly neglected but which has at its core themes the director was to return to with such devastating effect in Vertigo. In no other Hitchcock film, bar that 1958 masterpiece, is the central male character so undermined as he is here, with Gregory Peck as a barrister who ends up destroying the object of his obsession, the woman he is supposed to be defending on a charge of murder. Peck's wife's plea to him to win the case, despite her knowledge of his love for her rival, and her protestation that "if she dies you are lost to me forever" undercuts the notional happy ending here in a film darkened even moreby Charles Laughton's scene-stealing role as the grotesque judge, Lord Horfield.'

Here is an extract on YouTube.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 219: Tue Aug 7

The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, 1935): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm
This film, screening as part of the BFI's Hitchcock season, is also screening on 24 & 25 August.

The 39 Steps is my favourite Hitchock fim. I wrote about the movie here for the Guardian.


Chicago Reader review: 'As an artist, Alfred Hitchcock surpassed this early achievement many times in his career, but for sheer entertainment value it still stands in the forefront of his work. Robert Donat is the dapper young man who stumbles across a spy ring; Madeleine Carroll is the cool, luminous blond with whom he shares a pair of handcuffs. The ideas established in this 1935 feature lead in two different directions in Hitchcock's later work—toward the interpersonal themes of the “couple” films (Marnie, Frenzy, The Paradine Case) and the metaphysical adventures of the chase pictures (North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much)' Dave Kehr 

Here is an extract. Madeleine Carroll taking off her damp stockings.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 218: Mon Aug 6

Rockers (Bafaloukos, 1978): CAFE 1001, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, 6.30pm

The Berlin Film Society is celebrating fifty years of Jamaican Independence by hosting two exclusive screenings of the cult Jamaican classic, ‘ROCKERS’ (1978), in two different cities. Marking the Society’s first international venture outside of Germany, the Berlin FIlm Society is excited to present this unique film at CAFE 1001 in London on Jamaican Independence Day itself, Monday 6th August, followed by an after party featuring the front-runners of the British new-wave reggae revival, the 8-piece sensation, The Drop.

A cult classic, the film 'Rockers' is, for many, the best Jamaican film of all time, outdoing its well-known predecessor, the 1972 hit, 'The Harder They Come'. Originally envisioned as a documentary of Rastafarian culture in Kingston, Jamaica, the film evolved into a full-length feature telling the story of Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace as he tries to make it as a record distributor and musician. The film is a visually stunning slice of Jamaican culture, boasting a simplicity and authenticity that is rarely achieved in motion pictures. With a stellar cast of Reggae legends, a soundtrack that'll keep you jammin' for days, and a feel-good vibe, this film is a must.

Time Out review: 'A Trenchtown variant on Robin Hood, with dreadlocked drummer Horsemouth (Wallace) up against the local minor-league mafia. An excellent soundtrack (Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, etc), and an endearingly witty script which digresses through explanations of the Rasta faith and countless idiosyncratic solidarity rituals, make for a delightful piece of whimsy.'Frances Lass


Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 217: Sun Aug 5

Mildred Pierce (Curtiz, 1945): Riverside Studios Cinema, 2.15pm

Time Out review:
'James Cain's novel of the treacherous life in Southern California that sets house-wife-turned waitress-turned-successful restauranteur (Crawford) against her own daughter (Blyth) in competition for the love of playboy Zachary Scott, is brought fastidiously and bleakly to life by Michael Curtiz' direction, Ernest Haller's camerawork, and Anton Grot's magnificent sets. Told in flashback from the moment of Scott's murder, the film is a chilling demonstration of the fact that, in a patriarchal society, when a woman steps outside the home the end result may be disastrous.'Phil Hardy

Here is an extract.

The film is on a double-bill with Otto Preminger's Laura which I wrote about here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 216: Sat Aug 4

Young and Innocent (Hitchcock, 1937): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4pm

This early Alfred Hitchcock film, which is screening as part of the director's season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on August 18th and 22nd. This was one of my five picks for the Guardian of underrated Hitchcock films not to be missed this summer. You can read my thoughts on the quintet of movies via the web here and this is what I had to say about Young and Innocent:
'The attention devoted to The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes(1938) has ensured that Young and Innocent has remained the poor relation of Hitchcock's three 1930s comedy thrillers – but it's not hard to see why this hugely enjoyable film was reportedly Hitchcock's personal favourite among his 23 British movies. The class elements, so central to his best British films, abound in a double-chase story, involving an innocent man wrongly accused of strangling a famous actress and his involvement with the alluring daughter of the chief constable charged with recapturing him. There are plot points and directorial flourishes here that would resurface in his more mature masterpieces The Birds (1963) and North By Northwest (1959) while the birthday party sequence introduces us to Aunt Margaret, one of Hitchcock's formidable matriarchs. It's worth the price of admission alone to see on the big screen the most famous single piece of camerawork of Hitchcock's British output, the marvellous travelling crane shot which takes the audience the full length of a hotel ballroom and into the eyes of the man the protagonists are desperately searching for.'
Here is an extract.