Thursday, 25 October 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 312: Wed Nov 7

The Shining (Kubrick, 1980): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.15pm

This Stanley Kubrick classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank and screens from Wednesday 31 October to Friday 30 November. I am including tonight's screening because the film is preceded by a discussion with director Ben Wheatley, critics Michel Ciment and Kim Newman and Kubrick's longstanding collaborator Jan Harlan entitled The Shining: Horror's Greatest Achievement? The event is chaired by producer Tanya Seghatchian and you can find more details here.

If you want to read an intelligent discussion on the movie, and a good introduction to tonight's discussion here is one by long-time fan Jonathan Romney in the Independent on Sunday.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 311: Tue Nov 6

Even Dwarfs Started Small (Herzog, 1970): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

This film shows as part of the excellent Step Into The Dark season to celebrate the opening of brand new screens at the Barbican Cinema. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Werner Herzog's second feature (1970) is a frightening, obscene, and brilliant study of what happens when rebels (however justified) aren't worthy of the rebellion they start. Twenty-seven dwarfs, incarcerated in a “reformatory” grotesquely constructed to accommodate average-size inmates and presided over by a fatuous dwarf director who should know better but doesn't, stage a protest that quickly degenerates into aimless, pitifully malicious bouts of random violence. Not a vicious denial of the legitimacy of revolt (as too many critics have charged) but a bitter lament over the disservice revolutionaries do their revolutions.' Don Druker 

Here is the beginning.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 309: Mon Nov 5

The Green Ray (Rohmer, 1986): 71A Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4QS, 6.30pm

MUBI Mondays sees the Little White Lies magazine's team selecting a classic film from a repertoire that's already been expertly curated by the programmers at MUBI, and screening it simultaneously with a live web broadcast.

For the fourth MUBI Monday Little White Lies are screening Eric Rohmer's lilting, semi-improvised masterpiece from 1986, The Green Ray, about a Parisian secretary who can't decide where to go on holiday, but ends up embarking on a poetic, metaphysical odyssey. The evening begins at 6.30pm with the screening starting at 7.00, following an illustrated introduction to the film by LWLies reviews editor, David Jenkins. Refreshments will be available on the night.

Time Out review:
'It's July, and Delphine (Rivière), a young Parisian secretary, is suddenly at a loss regarding her holiday; a friend has just backed out of a trip to Greece, her other companions have boyfriends, and Delphine can't bear spending August in Paris. She also hopes to find a dream lover, but receives only the unwelcome attentions of pushy predators, until... There's a whiff of fairytale to this particular slice of realism à la Rohmer, but what's perhaps most remarkable is that the film was almost completely improvised; though not so as you'd know it. It's as flawlessly constructed, shot and performed as ever, with France's greatest living director effortlessly evoking the morose moods of holidaying alone among crowds, and revelling in the particulars of place, weather and time of day. Deceptively simple, the film oozes honesty and spontaneity; the word, quite bluntly, is masterpiece.'Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 308: Sun Nov 4

The Woman in the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964): Barbican Cinema, 7pm
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s choice in the Barbican's brilliant Seven Deadly Sins season is Teshigahra’s landmark in Japanese cinema and a seriously sinister example of Sloth.
The Barbican season, details of which can be found here, promises to be quite an attraction.

Chicago Reader review:
'Japanese New Wave director Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1964 allegory on the meaning of freedom and the discovery of identity. An office worker (Eiji Okada) on an entomological holiday spends the night with a widow (Kyoko Kishida), whose shack at the bottom of a sand pit becomes his prison. Gradually he learns to love her and to help her in her endless task of shoveling sand, which the local villagers use to protect themselves from the elements. A bizarre film, distinguished not so much by Kobo Abe's rather obvious screenplay as by Teshigahara's arresting visual style of extreme depth of focus, immaculate detail, and graceful eroticism.'
Dan Druker

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 307: Sat Nov 3

To Thieve and Drive in LA film marathon: Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

The Driver (Hill, 1978)
Thief (Mann, 1988)
To Live & Die in L.A. (Friedkin, 1985) &
Drive (Winding Refn, 2011)

What a line-up - this is film programming at its very best.

Chicago Reader review of The Driver:
'An audacious, skillful film noir (1978) by Walter Hill, so highly stylized that it's guaranteed to alienate 90 percent of its audience. There's no realism, no psychology, and very little plot in Hill's story of a deadly game between a professional getaway driver (Ryan O'Neal) and a detective obsessed with catching him (Bruce Dern). There is, however, a great deal of technically sophisticated and very imaginative filmmaking. The cross-references here are Howard Hawks, Robert Bresson, and Jean-Pierre Melville: a strange, heady, and quite effective range of influences.'
Dave Kehr

Time Out review of Thief:
'A silently professional night-time jewel robbery, reduced to near-abstract essentials and paced by a Tangerine Dream score, sets the electric tone for Mann's fine follow-up to The Jericho Mile: a philosophical thriller filled with modernist cool. Caan's the thief, contradictorily building and risking a future mapped out as meticulously as any of his lucrative hi-tech jobs; testing his emotional and criminal independence to the limits; eventually recognising that he's either exercising or exorcising a death wish.'
Paul Taylor

Time Out review of To Live and Die in L.A:
'Dafoe is an LA supercrook, forging dollar bills for a city whose sole form of social intercourse resides in the getting, counting, and spending of large sums of money. This is a city (photographed by Robby Müllerwith the same luminosity he brought to Paris, Texas) where everyone is on the take, and that includes the two FBI agents (Petersen and Pankow) who are out to break Dafoe by any means. It all goes horribly wrong when they decide to pull their own heist in order to secure the necessary funds to stay in hot pursuit. Friedkin plays it as brutal and cynical as he ever did with The French Connection; and this time the car chase takes place on a six-lane freeway at the height of the rush hour, going against the traffic. Today, the play-dirty antics of Popeye Doyle probably look rather dated; God knows what state we will have to get into before all this looks tame.'
Chris Peachment

Time Out review of Drive:
'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 BrooksRon 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 for The Driver

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 306: Fri Nov 2

The Weight (Jeon Kyu-hwan, 2012): ICA Cinema, 9.15pm
This film, which has garnered quite a reputation following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, screens as part of the Korean Film Festival. Details of the latter festival can be found here.

Here is the ICA introduction to tonight's filmJung is a mortician at the morgue who has to heavily rely on medicine for his severe tuberculosis and arthritis. Despite his illness, Jung finds cleansing and dressing the dead a noble and even beautiful act. For him, his life at the morgue is both a reality and a fantasy while the corpses are his models and friends for his paintings, his sole living pleasure.

The Weight was the winner of the Queer Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival. 
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 305: Thu Nov 1

Crash (Cronenberg, 1996): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm
This is screening as part of BFI Southbank's excellent Uncut season. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'David Cronenberg wrote and directed this 1996 film, a masterful minimalist adaptation of J.G. Ballard's 1973 neo-futurist novel about sex and car crashes, and like the book it's audacious and intense—though ultimately somewhat monotonous in spite of its singularity. James Spader meets Holly Hunter via a car collision, and they and Spader's wife (Deborah Kara Unger) become acquainted with a kind of car-crash guru (Elias Koteas) and his own set of friends (including Rosanna Arquette). Sex and driving are all that this movie and its characters are interested in, but the lyrical, poetic, and melancholic undertones are potent, the performances adept and sexy, the sounds and images indelible. If you want something that's both different and accomplished, even if you can't be sure what it is, don't miss this.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 304: Wed Oct 31

Suspiria (Argento, 1976): Phoenix Cinema, 9pm
Halloween is one of the best nights of the year for movie-going. You can read about all the great films on in the capital tonight here at the Scala Beyond website but Dario Argento's flick is my pick.

Time Out review:
'From his stylish, atmosphere-laden opening - young American ballet student arriving in Europe during a storm - Argento relentlessly assaults his audience: his own rock score (all dissonance and heavy-breathing) blasts out in stereo, while Jessica Harper gets threatened by location, cast, weather and camera. Thunderstorms and extraordinarily grotesque murders pile up as Argento happily abandons plot mechanics to provide a bravura display of his technical skill. With his sharp eye for the bizarre and for vulgar over-decoration, it's always fascinating to watch; the thrills and spills are so classy and fast that the movie becomes in effect what horror movies seemed like when you were too young to get in to see them. Don't think, just panic.'

If you want to read a longer discussion of the film's merits I can certainly recommend this essay by Tribune critic Neil Young.  

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 303: Tue Oct 30

Park Row (Fuller, 1952): 71 Leonard St, London, EC2A, 7pm
Here's a fascinating evening, a screening of the best film there is on journalism plus a discussion of the current issues surrounding the Leveson report

Here's the introduction to the evening: With the Leveson report on press abuses about to drop, TCOLondon (The Church of London) have teamed up with Media Reform activists and Eureka! films to present Samuel Fuller's seminal 1952 journalism film Park Row on Tuesday, October 30 at 71a.

Presented by former Daily Star reporter-turned-comedian Richard Peppiatt, Park Row is an exhilarating tribute to the ideals of a free press amid the rise of tabloid journalism in America. Come along, watch the film, have a few drinks and meet some of the people cranking up the heat on government to make our media more democratic and accountable. 

Park Row is the first in a series of screenings hosted by TCOLondon & the Media Reform Coalition. Doors open at 6.30pm and the film starts at 7pm, following an introduction by Richard Peppiatt.

Chicago Reader review:
'This neglected Samuel Fuller feature from 1952, a giddy look at New York journalism in the 1880s, was his personal favorite—he financed it himself and lost every penny. A principled cigar smoker (Gene Evans) becomes the hard-hitting editor of a new Manhattan daily, where he competes with his former employer (Mary Welch) in a grudge match loaded with sexual undertones; meanwhile a man jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge trying to become famous, the Statue of Liberty is given to the U.S. by France, and a newspaper drive raises money for its pedestal. Enthusiasm flows into every nook and cranny of this cozy movie: when violence breaks out in the cramped-looking set of the title street, the camera weaves in and out of the buildings as through a sports arena, in a single take. “Park Row” is repeated incessantly like a crazy mantra, and the overall fervor of this vest-pocket Citizen Kane makes journalism sound like the most exciting activity in the world.'
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is Telegraph film critic Tim Robey's feature on the movie.

"Park Row is one of the greatest love letters in the history of film, and it's a love letter to journalism." - Quentin Tarantino

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 302: Mon Oct 29

The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
What better way to start Halloween week . . .

Chicago Reader review:
'“Doubtless this tale of spirit possession in Georgetown packs a punch, but so does wood alcohol,” wrote Reader critic Don Druker in an earlier review of this. I wouldn't be quite so dismissive: as a key visual source for Mel Gibson's depiction of evil in The Passion of the Christ, as well as an early indication of how seriously pulp can be taken when religious faith is involved, this 1973 horror thriller is highly instructive as well as unnerving. William Friedkin, directing William Peter Blatty's adaptation of his own novel, aims for the jugular, privileging sensation over sense and such showbiz standbys as vomit and obscenity over plodding exposition.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 301: Sun Oct 28

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941) & Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958): Rio Cinema, 12.30pm

The two greatest films of all time (as voted for in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll) make a perfect double-bill at the Rio, which has given us some outstanding pairings on a Sunday afternoon of late.

Chicago Reader review of Citizen Kane:
'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 trailer

===============================================

Chicago Reader review of Vertigo:
'One of the landmarks—not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art. Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film extends the theme of Rear Window—the relationship of creator and creation—into the realm of love and sexuality, focusing on an isolated, inspired romantic (James Stewart) who pursues the spirit of a woman (the powerfully carnal Kim Novak). The film's dynamics of chase, capture, and escape parallel the artist's struggle with his work; the enraptured gaze of the Stewart character before the phantom he has created parallels the spectator's position in front of the movie screen. The famous motif of the fall is presented in horizontal rather than vertical space, so that it becomes not a satanic fall from grace, but a modernist fall into the image, into the artwork—a total absorption of the creator by his creation, which in the end is shown as synonymous with death. But a thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema.'
Dave Kehr 

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 300: Sat Oct 27

Elena (Zvyagintsev, 2011): Curzon Soho & Curzon Richmond, Various times - all week

It's rare for a new release to feature here but this one, which garnered plenty of praise at last year's London Film Festival, should be caught on its belated first run in the capital.

Time Out review:

'The corrupting power of money runs through the veins of this superb Russian film like formaldehyde flowing through a corpse. The story has an eerie, powerful simplicity: a well-meaning former nurse from a modest background, Elena (Nadezhda Markina), lives with her wealthy husband, Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov), in a luxury, modern home. Her penniless son from her first marriage, Sergei (Aleksey Rozin), wants money for his son’s schooling, but Vladimir is uninterested: he controls their finances with a calm, iron will. His own virtually estranged and difficult daughter, Katerina (Elena Lyadova), from his earlier marriage is a drain on his emotions already. When Vladimir falls ill, and questions of inheritance arise, Elena must act to secure her future.

This is a bleak, mysterious tale, resolutely local and contained in its surface interests. But you can’t help wondering what director Andrey Zvyagintsev (this is his third film after 2003’s stunning ‘The Return’ and 2007’s less satisfying ‘The Banishment’) might be saying about the state of Russia and, specifically, the transition from the Soviet era. The parallels are tempting: an unhappy but controlled situation turns to anarchy; plans for the future are too late and hijacked for personal gain; and, by the film’s final frame, the devil we once knew somehow inspires nostalgia. This is smart, gripping cinema.' Dave Calhoun

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 299: Fri Oct 26

It Always Rains on Sunday (Hamer, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 2.30, 6.10 & 8.30
This film, part of the Dark Ealing season, is on an extended run until Sun Nov 22. Details here.

Director Robert Hamer is one of the unsung heroes of British cinema. His best-known film is Kind Hearts and Coronets, the blackest of jet-black comedies, but this noirish East end thriller is thoroughly deserving of attention too. Echoes of the work of Carne, Renoir and Lang have been detected in this fatalistic tale of Googie Withers and the ex-boyfriend convict who comes back into her life.

Chicago Reader review:
'Rooted in the film noir of the 40s but anticipating the kitchen sink realism of the 50s, this superlative British drama (1947) transpires in the dingy Bethnal Green neighborhood of east London, where it probably rains Monday through Saturday as well. A former barmaid (Googie Withers) grimly keeps up her end of a loveless working-class marriage, barely concealing her jealousy toward her attractive young stepdaughters. When her former lover (John McCallum) breaks out of Dartmoor Prison and shows up at her doorstep, she can't help but take him in. Robert Hamer, best known for directing Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), shows a fluency with noir's shadowy visual vocabulary, but what really links this to the genre is its sense of haunting regret and lost opportunity.'  JR Jones
Here is an extract. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 298: Thu Oct 25

PSYCHO v PSYCHO: Leicester Square Theatre, 9pm

So that's Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960) and Psycho (Van Sant, 1998) AT THE SAME TIME!

This is a wonderful idea from Cigarette Burns Cinema and here's all you need to know about the evening:

'Director Gus Van Sant was met with howls of derision upon the release of 1998’s PSYCHO, his shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary 1960 thriller PSYCHO. With only a couple of minor changes to the original, to make some scenes more explicit and to bring some of the topical references up-to-date, many critics were left asking – why?

Roger Ebert dismissed Van Sant’s film as “an attempt to re-create remembered passion…it demonstrates that a shot-by-shot remake is pointless; genius apparently resides between or beneath the shots, or in chemistry that cannot be timed or counted”. However, other critics argued that the film’s basics were so strong that the remake remains a powerful work in and of itself, with the New York Times claiming the 1998 film“remains the most structurally elegant and sneakily playful of thrillers…at least some things never change”.

Taking advantage of the unique screening arrangements of the Leicester Square Theatre, for the first time ever Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic PSYCHO will be shown simultaneously with Van Sant’s 1998 remake. This fascinating experiment provides a unique insight into the nature of directorial technique and the role of actors’ interpretation, while asking the question: can a story be told exactly the same way twice? Find out with us in October, while watching one of the best thrillers ever made on the big screen!'


Anton Bitel has written an essay for Little White Lies magazine exploring this seminal film ahead of tonight's special presentation.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 297: Wed Oct 24

The Passion of Anna (Bergman, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.30pm
This is part of the Philosophical Screens season at BFI Southbank and will be presented with the London Graduate School and the College International de Philosophie with an introductiomn and post-screening discussion. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Ingmar Bergman's 1970 film about the impossibility of purity and consistency in a world where to live is to contradict yourself. The passion of the title is not sexual, but the ability to live with the contradictions of life and to bear them without resignation. A tentative, plotless film that pulses with the rhythms of life rather than the rhythms of drama' Don Druker

Here is the superb trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 296: Tue Oct 23

Carrie (De Palma, 1976): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
A rare chance to see a Brian De Palma movie on the big screen, this is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Classic Film Season. More details here.

Time Out review:
She wasn’t the favourite to play ‘creepy Carrie’, but it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Sissy Spacek (looking like she’s stepped into the ‘70s from another time altogether) in the role. Stephen King got the idea for the novel, his first, in the girls’ locker room of a college where he was working as a caretaker. Teenage girls can be pure evil and it’s in a locker room that we meet Carrie, who’s just had her first period and is being told to ‘plug it up!’ by the mean girls. Carrie’s secret is that she has telekinetic powers, which are about to wreak an apocalypse at the school prom. As for the pig’s blood scene, it doesn’t matter how many times you watch it, you’re willing that bucket not to drop. Spacek gamely offered to be covered in real pig’s blood, but in the end was drenched with a mix of syrup and food colouring.' Cath Clarke

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 295: Mon Oct 22

Manhunter (Mann, 1986): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm
This is on a double-bill with Silence of the Lambs. Personally, I think this is the better film but you can compare and contrast yourselves tonight.

Time Out review:
'Michael Mann hits top form with this splendidly stylish and oppressive thriller adapted from Thomas Harris' Red Dragon. The plot is complex and ingenious: FBI forensics expert Will Graham (Peterson), blessed (and tormented) by an ability to fathom the workings of the criminal mind through psychic empathy, is brought back from voluntary retirement to track down a serial killer, the 'Tooth Fairy'. Focused on the anxiety and confusion of the hunter rather than his psychotic prey, the film functions both as a disturbing examination of voyeurism, and as an often almost unbearably grim suspenser. Mann creates a terrifying menacing atmosphere without resorting to graphic depiction of the seriously nasty killings: music, designer-expressionist 'Scope photography, and an imaginative use of locations, combine with shots of the aftermath of the massacres to evoke a world nightmarishly perceived by Graham's haunted sensibility. The performances, too, are superior, most memorably Cox's intellectually brilliant and malevolent asylum inmate. One of the most impressive American thrillers of the late '80s.'
Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 294: Sun Oct 21

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Resnais, 2012): Cine Lumiere, 4pm
This film is also being screened on October 17 at BFI Southbank at 6.30pm. Details here.

Denying that the film should be seen as a testament, director Alain Resnais said at a press conference in Cannes, "This film is unlike any other. If I'd thought of this film as a final statement, I'd never have had the courage or energy to do it."

I saw the film on Tuesday at a press screening and truly, you ain't seen nothing like this. Resnais continues, at the age of 90, to produce extraordinary work.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 12

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


Time Out review:
'Alain Resnais seems untouched by age, at least as far as his films are concerned. ‘Wild Grass’, his last film, was arguably more audacious, lighter and more evocative of the carefree spirit of youth than the work of many younger directors, and this latest is no less adventurous, notwithstanding its subject matter.

Because, to borrow a pun from an earlier Resnais title, the twin concerns of his formally inventive adaptation of Jean Anouilh’s ‘Eurydice’ are ‘amouret la mort’: love and death. But if the director has any anxieties about what lies beyond the grave, he certainly isn’t revealing them. Playful,witty, as unashamedly theatrical as it is cinematic, the movie begins with a fabulous array of French actors – ­ Sabine Azéma, Pierre Arditi, Michel Piccoli, Lambert Wilson, Anne Consigny, Mathieu Amalric and Hippolyte Girardot are probably the best known internationally –­ playingthemselves and being summoned by phone to the home of a recently deceased old playwright friend. There they are shown a video of drama students rehearsing the dead writer’ retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice ­ and as the actors, who have all themselves acted in the play at some point in their lives, watch the video, they start first to repeat the remembered lines, then to act out the parts with the other spectators, then to interact with the performers on screen. Then the house they are in becomes an ever-changing set.

There’s far more to it, of course; the movie isn’t just some shallow piece of clever formal flapdoodle. Like most of Resnais’s work, it concerns the constant, complex interplay between ‘reality’, memory, imagination and desire. Thanks to the choice of material, death also looms large, ­though not at all threateningly; the ghosts here are simply the feelings we have experienced. The film is touching, but more than that it’s wise, witty and thought-provoking.'
Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 293: Sat Oct 20

The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (Fiennes, 2012): Odeon West End 1, 6pm
This film also screens at VUE7 in Leicester Square on Sun 21 Oct at 8.45pm. Details here.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 11

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


London Film Festival introduction:  
'In keeping with good blockbuster logic, renegade philosopher and bionic cineaste Slavoj Žižek gets his own sequel in Sophie Fiennes’ engrossing follow-up to The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. Unleashing his voracious intellect on films from The Sound of Music to Full Metal Jacket, Žižek postulates on where and how cinema reinforces, and sometimes exposes, the tenets of prevailing ideologies. Leaping (literally) from the ‘trashcan of ideology’ in John Carpenter’s They Live – in which a drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to read the real messages beneath everyday signs – Žižek continues on an intellectual rampage via Jaws, Starbucks, Oratorio For Prague, The Dark Knight, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the London riots – until he reaches the monstrous heart of his dissertation in John Frankenheimer’s Seconds, a cult classic about a man whose fantasies can’t ultimately be satisfied because he ‘dreams the wrong dreams’. Reprising the technique of the previous film by locating Žižek in elaborately recreated scenes from the films he critiques (Titanic affording one of the film’s funniest visual gags), Fiennes takes this further by providing more real-world context through news footage and excerpts from propaganda films, resulting in a documentary essay as resonant as it is wilfully provocative.'

Here is the trailer. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 292: Fri Oct 19

Compliance (Zobel, 2012): Odeon West End 2, 3pm
This film also screens on Oct 18 at 8.30pm at this cinema and at Screen on the Green at 9pm on Satb Oct 20. Details here.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 10

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


Time Out review:
'In the early part of the last decade, over 70 phone calls were made to supermarkets and fast food restaurants across the US. The MO was always the same: the caller would claim to be a police officer, allege that an employee was guilty of theft, and request her colleagues to carry out a strip search. The manager on duty would comply. After all, this was a cop calling. But on at least one occasion – in the Mount Washington, Kentucky branch of McDonald’s in 2004 – the caller’s demands went much further. ‘Compliance’ dramatises these events in clear, clinical detail, painting a stark, devastating portrait of human susceptibility in the face of an unseen authority.

Compliance is a riveting, horrifying film, shot through with beautifully observed moments of unwelcome truth. It’s as much a critique of the enclosed systems of modern life – small towns, local authorities, dead-end jobs with meaningless heirarchies – as it is of sick individuals with cellphones.
Tom Huddleston 

Here is the trailer. 

PS there's also free screening tonight of 'London -The Modern Babylon' + Julien Temple Q&A. Starts at 6.30 and here are the details. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 291: Thu Oct 18

In The Fog (Loznitsa, 2012): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.15pm
This film also screens at Vue 5 in Leicester Square on Wed 17 at 6pm. Details here.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 9

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


Time Out review:
'Having made documentaries for more than a decade, in 2010 the Belarussian director Sergei Loznitsa attracted a lot of critical attention with his impressive first feature, ‘My Joy’, an unremittingly bleak look at contemporary Russia. With the likewise sombre but in other respects rather more conventional ‘In the Fog’, Loznitsa looks set to garner even more praise.

Set in Belarus in 1942, the film begins with a lengthy travelling shot (the first of only 70 or so shots in the movie), which ends with the Nazis hanging Belarussian resistance fighters. It then proceeds to chronicle what happens after two partisans arrive at the house of a comrade widely believed (since he alone was freed by the Nazis after a train was sabotaged) to have betrayed the executed men. He protests his innocence, but they are no more persuaded by his claims than his wife, and they take him through the forest, hoping to avoid discovery by the German forces patrolling the district.

Not unlike Nicholas Ray’s likewise philosophical ‘Bitter Victory’, ‘In the Fog’ is a war movie that foregrounds the emotions of individuals over the spectacle of battle, and uses metaphor and a calm mood of ethical enquiry rather than simplistic polemics arguing for or against military engagement. Loznitsa knows that war exists and won’t go away; rather than indulging in patriotic or pacifistic platitudes, he tries to show what it might do to our souls. And, in this writer’s opinion, he succeeds.'
Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 290: Wed Oct 17

Neighbouring Sounds (Filho, 2012): Vue 7, Leicester Square, 8.45pm
This startling new Brazilian film also screens at the Renoir Cinema on Oct 21 at 6.30pm. Details here.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 8

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


Time Out review:
'It’s difficult to remember a first feature as bullishly confident as this horror-tinged social melodrama from Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho. The opening credits alone make for a more riveting sequence than many filmmakers manage in their entire career: over a backdrop of clattering, building drums, we’re shown images  of Brazil’s divided past: rich and poor families struggling to survive and make their mark on a new frontier. Cut to a swooping tracking shot of a little girl on rollerskates, and we’re away. 

The film is set in the ocean-side middle-class suburb of Recife, where dwellings are split between well-off families and their servants. Most of the local houses and tower blocks are owned by Seu Francisco (WJ Solha) who, with his son, Joao (Gustavo Jahn), acts as a largely benevolent overlord in the neighbourhood. But when a series of burglaries set residents on edge, Francisco agrees to employ the services of security expert Cladoaldo (Irandhir Santos) and his gang of no-bullshit community patrolmen.

Essentially a bustling portrait of modern Brazil – with nods to past tragedies – ‘Neighbouring Sounds’ derives its power from Filho’s unusual directorial choices. Utilising techniques learned from horror movies – rumbling low-level noise, effective, unexpected shocks – he creates a sense of mounting dread and lurking evil. It doesn’t always work – the film promises a little more than it delivers, and at over two hours there are moments where it drags. But as a statement of intent, ‘Neighbouring Sounds’ is incredibly bold.'
Tom Huddleston


Here is the brilliant trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 289: Tue Oct 16

In The House (Ozon, 2012): Odeon West End 2, 3pm

This film also screens at Odeon West End 2 2 on Oct 14 at 3.15pm and at Cine Lumiere on Oct 21 at 6.30pm. Details here. 

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 7 
Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets

If, like me, you are a fan of director Francoise Ozon's work you will be ensuring you catch his latest movie, which has, as yet, no British release scheduled.

Time Out review:

'The prolific François Ozon follows unabashed crowdpleaser ‘Potiche’ with a social satire that’s no less fun, but delivers rather more substance in its sardonic portraiture and pointed self-awareness.

Germain (the ever-waspish Fabrice Luchini) is an old-fashioned teacher at a trendy secondary school who discovers a renewed purpose in the intriguing prose delivered by student Claude (effortlessly poised newcomer Ernst Umhauer). 

This mischievous outsider turns his fascination with a classmate’s seemingly ideal bourgeois household – and in particular Emmanuelle Seigner’s yummy maman – into a series of weekly writing exercises. Germain seizes upon the pages, but what does his eagerness to sharpen up the writing tell us about his own stalled creativity, his petty prejudices, and even his arid marriage to art gallery manager Jeanne (an impeccable Kristin Scott Thomas)?

Adapting a play by Juan Mayorga, Ozon treats Claude’s serial misadventures as a sort of suave Buñuelian soap opera, yet while we see the interloper’s increasingly daring incursions play out, we’re also treated to teacher’s ‘improved’ versions of events, and it’s soon a real tease distinguishing fact from fiction…if any of it’s ‘fact’ at all.

There’s fun to be had from the pomposity and pretensions of Luchini and Scott-Thomas, yet the surrounding frolics also hint at the hidden agendas behind the stories which fascinate us, and indeed how those stories play up to a distanced, even unhealthy curiosity about the lives of others. Plenty to ponder then, but you can also simply enjoy its gossipy fizz. A witty, naughty, insight-packed provocation which never takes it seriousness too seriously. '

Trevor Johnston

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 288: Mon Oct 15

The Central Park Five (Burns, McMahon, Burns, 2012): Vue5, Leicester Square, 6pm
This hard-hitting documentary also screens at the Renoir on Oct 20 at 4pm. Details here.


56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 6

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


The London Film Festival (LFF) is essentially a greatest hits package from the earlier film festivals during the year. Word-of-mouth from the screenings at Cannes and elsewhere suggests this could be the pick of the LFF documentary competition in 2012.

This is a film that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park, New York. After having spent between six and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime. The ramifications of this shocking story are still being felt to this day. Here is writer

London Film Festival review: 
'One night in April 1989, the body of a female jogger was found in Central Park. She had been beaten and raped, and was left barely alive. Within days, and after hours of intense interrogations, the NYPD charged five teenagers from Harlem after recording their confessions. Amid media furore and public outrage, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam faced rape charges. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, along with collaborators David McMahon and Sarah Burns, revisit a crime that shocked New York and a court case that highlighted the deep divides along lines of race and class that existed in the city. With revelatory archive footage and contributions from many involved in the trial, The Central Park Five stands as a significant and illuminating examination of both an appalling crime and of the American justice system.'
Michael Hayden

Here is the trailer.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 287: Sun Oct 14

Journey to Italy (Rossellini, 1954): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3pm
This is my personal highlight of the Festival, a masterpiece by celebrated Italian director Roberto Rossellini in a magnificent restoration.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 5

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


Chicago Reader review:
'Roberto Rossellini's finest fiction film and unmistakably one of the great achievements of the art. Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders play a long-married British couple grown restless and uncommunicative. On a trip to Italy to dispose of a piece of property, they find their boredom thrown into relief by the Mediterranean landscape—its vitality (Naples) and its desolation (Pompeii). But suddenly, in one of the moments that only Rossellini can film, something lights inside them, and their love is renewed as a bond of the spirit. A crucial work, truthful and mysterious.'








Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 286: Sat Oct 13

Nameless Gangster (Jongbin, 2012): Rich Mix Cinema, 3.30pm
This Korean gangland flick, heavily influenced by Martin Scorsese's work, has been a huge success in South Korea and comes here with a big reputation. The film also screens in the Festival on Fri Oct 11 in Vue Screen 5 at 8.45pm and Screen on the Green on Oct 14 at 6.15pm. Details here.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 4

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.


London Film Festival review:
'He’s not nameless, actually. His name is Choi Ikhyun, and he’s played by Choi Minsik (star of Old Boy). But director Yoon Jongbin argues that he might as well be anonymous, since he so completely reflects the social and political conditions around him. We first encounter Choi as a corrupt customs office in Busan in 1982 and then observe his brains-and-brawn alliance with a local thug. They muscle in on nightclub-protection racketeering, but that’s a mere prelude to their dream of the big money which comes from running a casino. It’s only when they’re basking in success that the thieves begin to fall out... Yoon leaves his indie-film origins far behind in this powerhouse entertainment, the highest-grossing film of the year to date in Korea. It has obvious debts to Coppola and Scorsese, but the sardonic, satirical tone is all Yoon’s own. Whirlwind fun.'
Tony Rayns 


Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 285: Fri Oct 12

Bonjour Tristesse (Preminger, 1958): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm
Otto Preminger's marvellous example of Hollywood cinema's golden age has been wonderfully restored and can be seen tonight and also on Saturday October 13 at Hackney Picturehouse

I wrote a feature about the film and its star, Jean Seberg, for the Guardian and will help introduce the film before the screening tonight.

56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 3

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Chicago Reader review:
'Jean-Luc Godard conceived Jean Seberg's character in Breathless as an extension of her role in this 1958 Otto Preminger film: the restless teenage daughter of a bored, decaying playboy (David Niven), she tries to undermine what might be her father's last chance for happiness, a romance with an Englishwoman (Deborah Kerr). Arguably, this is Preminger's masterpiece: working with a soapy script by Arthur Laurents (by way of Francoise Sagan's novel), Preminger turns the melodrama into a meditation on motives and their ultimate unknowability. Long takes and balanced 'Scope compositions are used to bind the characters together; Preminger uses the wide screen not to expand the spectacle, but to narrow and intensify the drama. With Mylene Demongeot, Geoffrey Horne, and Juliette Greco; photographed in Technicolor (apart from a black-and-white prologue and epilogue), mainly on the Riviera, by Georges Perinal.'
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 284: Thu Oct 11

Peter Kubelka: The Essence of Cinema - ICA Cinema, 6pm
 
56th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (10-21 October 2012) DAY 2

Every day (from October 10 to October 21) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

One of the joys of the Festival is the excellent Experimenta strand and here's a rare opportunity to see a complete retrospective of the works of influential Austrian avant-garde film maker Peter Kubelka.
 

If you want an introduction to his work I can thoroughly recommend an article by Michael Brooke in the November edition of Sight & Sound, out now. Brooke writes: "All [Kubelka's work] are screening in Festival retrospective but Kubelka's fourth film Arnulf Rainer (1960) is getting most attention. Named after its backer, it is one of the purest works of cinema imaginable, stripping the medium to its essentials: clear and black frames, white noise and silence. From these primitive building blocks, Kubelka created a coruscating viewing experience, offering action (flickering at varying rhythms and speeds), suspense (one or more elements sustained for long enough to create keen anticiaption of their eventual interruption) and constant interplay between the sudiovisual elements (sometimes in perfect synch, sometimes decidedly not). It fascinates both as a projected experience and as a physical art-object."

The Kubelka films being screened tonight are: 
Mosaik Im Vertrauen (Mosaic in Confidence) (1955)
Adebar
(1957)

Schwechater
(1958)

Arnulf Rainer
(1960)

Unsere Afrikareise
(Our Trip to Africa) (1965)
 

Pause! (1977) 
Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth) (2003)

The Kubelka season at the Festival also includes a lecture by film maker and a live performance of his new work Monument Film at the NFT on Sunday 21 October plus a documentary called Fragments of Kubelka at the ICA on 13 October.

Here is Arnulf Rainer. (Play at maximum volume)