Thursday, 31 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 45: Thu Feb 14

True Romance (Scott, 1993): Rio Cinema, 6pm
The Rio, who screened Harold and Maude last year, have won the award again in 2013 for the most original Valentine's Day choice.

Here is their introduction to the night's entertainment: After Harold and Maude, meet this year's star-crossed lovers, Clarence and Alabama. It's love at first sight when comic-book lover Christian Slater meets the beguiling Patricia Arquette, but life can get a whole lot more complicated, particularly when $5 million worth of mafia cocaine is involved. It's a wild, outrageous, irreverent, funny and, of course, romantic road movie with never a dull moment and it could only have been written by Quentin Tarantino. Along for the ride are Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Val Kilmer as the ghost of Elvis! It was made 20 years ago but thanks to Tony Scott's (R.I.P.) perfect direction of the mayhem and the monologues (Tarantino-style), True Romance is a love story for today and forever.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 44: Wed Feb 13

Punch-Drunk Love (Anderson, 2002): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film is screening as part of the Paul Thomas Anderson retrospective at the Prince Charles. All the details are here.

Jigsaw Lounge website review:
'Boogie Nights and Magnolia are two of the most thrillingly audacious American films of the nineties. Punch-Drunk Love is, nevertheless, a quantum leap forward in every respect: watching it blaze across the screen, you get some idea how those Parisians might have felt back in 1895 when the Lumiere brothers turned on their projector for the first time. The art-form has been redefined, and nothing will ever be quite the same again.

This is, to say the very least, not an easy film to describe, though strictly speaking it is an Adam Sandler comedy: he’s Barry Egan, a hapless, somewhat dweeby loner who runs a small business selling novelty sink-plungers in suburban Los Angeles. Emotionally stunted and prone to fits of depression and violence, Barry stumbles into a romance with Lena (Emily Watson), an English friend of one of his seven sisters. He buys large quantities of chocolate mousse when he realises a marketing error will allow him to accumulate millions of air miles for relatively little outlay. And he’s also being viciously persecuted by a Utah phone-sex company’s extortion racket…

All this may sound like a recipe for some kind of desperately zany weirdness and in other hands that’s probably what might have resulted. But Anderson’s mastery of word, sound and image transforms unpromising material into a stunning emotional experience that dazzles on every level. Cinema’s rules have evolved in fits and starts over these 108 years — it’s staggering to watch one man come along and so beautifully shatter them all.'
Neil Young


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 43: Tue Feb 12

Marfa Girl (Clark, 2012):
The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard Street, Hoxton
, EC2A 4RH, 7.30pm & 9.30pm


Here is The Book Club introduction to the event: The Book Club are excited to announce two exclusive free screenings of Larry Clark’s (director of Kids and Bully) new film, Marfa Girl. The film isn’t showing in any conventional cinemas and makes this screening at The Book Club especially special!

Set in the Texan town of Marfa, the film celebrates teenage sexuality and confusion in a similar vein to Clark’s earlier films. Focusing on 15-year-old Adam, the film explor
es the tension between the artistic community of the town, the Mexican border patrols and the Hispanic community and what happens when a sexually promiscuous young artist arrives in town.

The film has gathered numerous accolades, including ‘Best Film’ at the Rome Film festival. Get yourselves down to TBC to watch the new offering from one of the most important directors in independent cinema today, whilst swigging a couple of ciders.

To attend please send your name to info@wearetbc.com with the subject MARFA GIRL SCREENING along with the names of anyone you want to bring along (maximum 4). It's totally free but the space is limited so we need to run a list!


Here is an excerpt. 

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 42: Mon Feb 11

A Place in the Sun (Stevens, 1951): BFI Southbank, NFT3 6.20pm
This film, part of the Montgomery Clift season, is on an extended run at the BFI Southbank. Details here. I went to see this at a press screening and though overly schematic the film has, at its heart, two luminous performances from Clift and Elizabeth Taylor that hold the attention and linger long after the final shot.

BFI review:
'The winner of six Oscars (for direction, screenplay, cinematography, score, costumes and editing), it centres on George Eastman (Clift), a shy, slightly awkward Midwesterner who arrives in California hoping for a job in his uncle’s factory. He’s in luck, and though he secretly starts dating assembly-line worker Alice (Shelley Winters) against company rules, he’s soon promoted. That wins him a tentative foothold in the world of his wealthy relatives – where he meets and immediately falls for beautiful socialite Angela (Taylor)... Stevens’ eye for detail is evident in the deft delineation of social divisions and the meticulous characterisation, but what distinguishes the film is the way he homes in – with ravishing close-ups and lingering dissolves suggestive of inexorable destiny – on the rapt, languid, irresistible desire that drives the story. While all the performances are excellent, Taylor and Clift were never better – or lovelier – and their scenes together are memorable for their wounded beauty.'
Geoff Andrew

Andrew has written a more detailed feature, highlighting Hollywood's beautiful couples, here.

Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 41: Sun Feb 10

Les Demoiselles Des Rochefort (Demy, 1967): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

Chicago Reader review:
In choosing Jacques Demy's greatest feature, one might argue strongly for Lola (1960), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), or the lesser-known Une Chambre en Ville (1982). But Demy's most ambitious film and the one I cherish the most is this 1967 big-budget musical shot exclusively on location, a tale of various dreamers searching for and usually missing their ideal mates, who are usually only blocks away. The score is Michel Legrand's finest, with various jazz elements, lyrics in alexandrines by Demy, and intricately structured reprises that match the poetic, crisscrossing plot. Demy pays tribute to the American musical yet mixes in accoutrements of French poetic realism: dreams and reality coexist more strangely and stubbornly than in most other musicals. The results may be quintessentially French, but the energy and optimism are clearly inspired by America, and Gene Kelly's appearances are sublime.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 40: Sat Feb 9

Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstien, 1938): Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Here's the Barbican's introduction to what looks a pretty special screening:
The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s film events are always popular, and this presents one of the great collaborations of all time – Prokofiev’s coruscating score to Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky. It is said that the director was so impressed with the precision with which Prokofiev captured each mood, he encouraged him to write the music first for some parts. The epic tale of the medieval prince defeating the Teutonic knights on a frozen lake was particularly welcomed by the Soviet authorities in 1939, but it’s proved to be a timeless classic. The BBC Symphony Chorus provides the rich, rousing choruses while a mezzo-soprano soloist gives voice to the heart of the story in her poignant song as she searches for rival suitors on the field of the dead.

Chicago Reader review:
'Sergei Eisenstein turns the story of the great Russian prince into an abstract exercise in visual and aural counterpoint—it's more theory than movie. But Edouard Tisse's superb photography and Prokofiev's stirring score contribute to a rhythm that is well-nigh irresistible, culminating in the famous battle on the ice. Made in 1939, it was Eisenstein's first sound film—Stalin had sidelined him for a decade.'
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 39: Fri Feb 8

Vive Le Punk (Roger K Burton, 1993); We Are the Lambeth Boys (Reisz, 1959) PLUS
Dressing For Pleasure (Samson, 1977) at The Horse Hospital, Bloomsbury, 7.30pm

Here's the Horse Hospital's introduction to tonight's offerings:

1 Vive Le punk: Another chance to see this fascinating documentary of The Chamber of Pop Culture’s very first exhibition in 1993. The documentary features Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren talking in depth about their designs and is a valuable insight into how they broke all the rules of convention and inspired a generation. To the best of our knowledge this is the only time that they have been filmed together discussing their legacy. Here is an extract.

2 We Are The Lambeth Boys: The film takes a sympathetic approach to an aspect of working-class life largely neglected by commercial British cinema. Lambeth Boys attempts to deliver a positive portrait of the lives of ordinary teenagers, far from the usual violent ‘Teddy Boy’ stereotype. It is a naturalistic depiction of the members of a South London boys’ club, which was unusual in showing the leisure life of working-class teenagers as it was, with skiffle music and cigarettes, cricket, drawing and discussion groups. Lambeth Boys was shot over six weeks in the summer of 1958 in and around the Alford House, a youth club in the Oval area of South London. It follows a group of teenagers giving them space to express their frustrations and aspirations. Here is an extract.

3 Dressing For Pleasure: Here the subject of fetishism in clothing – rubber, latex, leather – is explored. Features SEX, the boutique run by Malcolm McLaren (manager of the Sex Pistols at the time) and Vivienne Westwood on the Kings Road, London. Central to the film is a magnificent studio set constructed mainly by Samson himself in the shape of the fetish magazine Atomage with actual turning pages and photographs which come to life. The film was banned at the time by London Weekend Television and has become one of those rare films more quoted than seen. Here is an extract.



Monday, 28 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 38: Thu Feb 7

Bitter Moon (Polanski, 1992): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.20pm
This is part of the Roman Polanski season at the BFI Southbank and also screens in NFT1 at 5.10pm on Sunday February 10th.

Chicago Reader review:
'It's a matter of some dispute whether Roman Polanski's letter to the darker side of the romantic impulse--a French-English production made in 1992--represents him at his best or worst (I'd say the former), but there's little question that this is his most emotionally complex movie to date. With its American, English, and French characters representing the three cultures Polanski has known since he left Poland, it's also quite possibly his most personal film--and certainly his most self-critical. The major focus of the plot, told in flashbacks, is the perverse relationship that develops in Paris between a failed, well-to-do American writer (Peter Coyote) who becomes crippled and a young French dancer (Emmanuelle Seigner); their encounter with a British couple (Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott-Thomas) on a luxury liner on the Black Sea forms the present-tense story. This uneasy combination of comedy and tragedy, frank pornography and caustic antipornography, sexual fun and games and mental cruelty doesn't allow the audience a comfortably detached viewpoint from which to judge the proceedings. Chances are you'll either love it or despise it.'
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 37: Wed Feb 6

Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust (Baba, 2007): ICA Cinema, 9pm

The Once Upon a Time in Japan season at the ICA examines the country’s past through the eyes of contemporary filmmakers such as Koreeda and Takashi Miike. Characterising a trend in recent Japanese cinema, this year’s programme showcases a series of works by both emerging and established filmmakers whose aim is to reinterpret, reinvent or relive moments of times past.

Through a variety of genres, styles and tones, from horror, drama, action to animation, this programme aims to give UK audiences the broadest and most colourful insight into Japan’s history than any of our past Japan film seasons, and explore how the past has been brought to life through the eyes of contemporary filmmakers.

Here is the ICA introduction to this evening's film:

With the Japanese economy on the blink of collapse with 80 trillion yen in debt, government bureaucrat Shimokawaji (Hiroshi Abe) conjures the crazy idea of going back in time to 1990 in an attempt to prevent Japan’s financial collapse. Luckily, Shimokawaji’s ex-lover Mariko (Hiroko Yakushimaru) has a created one of the most unusual time machines; a DeLorean-esque washing machine, transporting anyone who dons a wetsuit and climbs into the drum some twenty years back in time. Having lost Mariko somewhere in the past, Mariko’s daughter (Ryoko Hirosue), a ditzy bar hostess, spins back to 1990 to the height of the bubble economy, teaming up with a 17 years younger Shimokawaji to look for her mother and prevent Japan’s ‘bubble’ economy from bursting.
Yasuo Baba’s 2007 time-travel comedy is a hilarious satire of bubble-era Japan, filled with nostalgic gags, retro fashion and music, guaranteed to lift your spirits and cast away any recession blues!
Here is an extract.


Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 36: Tue Feb 5

The Blossoming of Etsuko Kamiya (Kuroki, 2006): ICA Cinema, 9pm

The Once Upon a Time in Japan season at the ICA examines the country’s past through the eyes of contemporary filmmakers such as Koreeda and Takashi Miike. Characterising a trend in recent Japanese cinema, this year’s programme showcases a series of works by both emerging and established filmmakers whose aim is to reinterpret, reinvent or relive moments of times past.
Through a variety of genres, styles and tones, from horror, drama, action to animation, this programme aims to give UK audiences the broadest and most colourful insight into Japan’s history than any of our past Japan film seasons, and explore how the past has been brought to life through the eyes of contemporary filmmakers.

Here is the ICA introduction to tonight's film: Etsuko Kamiya (Tomoyo Harada) is a country girl expecting to marry in the coming years. Despite her sibling’s efforts to find her a suitor in army engineer Nagayo (Masatoshi Nagase), Etsuko’s true love is left for Nagoya’s friend Akashi (Shunsuke Matsuoka), a young military man who has been conscripted to be a kamikaze pilot. A tragic yet quaint love story set in Kagoshima as the Second World War drew to a close, this film, based on a stage play by Masataka Matsuda, is Kazuo Kuroki’s final work before his death in 2006 and like many of Kuroki’s works, concerns the trauma and unalterable influence of the Second World War of those who lived through it.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 35: Mon Feb 4

Piranha (Joe Dante, 1978): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.35pm
Love the fact that this movie is on a double-bill with Jaws. Details here.

Chicago Reader:
'A rip-off of Jaws from Roger Corman's New World Pictures, with all the New World virtues intact: it's a fast, well-made, entertaining film with enough cheap thrills for the action trade and plenty of in-jokes for the cognoscenti. Bradford Dillman accidentally releases a tank full of mutant piranhas into a mountain stream, and as they swim downriver, they attack Keenan Wynn, a summer camp counseled by Paul Bartel (director of Eating Raoul and Death Race 2000), and a beach resort managed by New World stalwart Dick Miller. Director Joe Dante betrays hardly a trace of human values, but his cutting is the most evocatively Eisensteinian to be seen since Russ Meyer's Vixen.'
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 34: Sun Feb 3

Tess (Polanski, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 5.10pm
This film, part of the Roman Polanski season, is also screening on Feb 1st, 2nd, 8th, 17th and 24th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'This lushly photographed Franco-British production (1979) comes on like an overbudgeted episode of Masterpiece Theatre, but seen in the context of Roman Polanski's career it becomes something rich and strange, shaded into terror by the naturalistic absurdism that is the basis of Polanski's style. It's the familiar Polanski tale of an innocent adrift in a hostile, chaotic environment, though it is realized here with more subtlety and sympathy than he had managed in a decade. The film is remarkably faithful to the Thomas Hardy novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, upon which it is based, yet it has been totally transformed in spirit. With Nastassia Kinski, Leigh Lawson, and Peter Firth.'
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 33: Sat Feb 2

Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 4.20pm
What better way to celebrate Groundhog Day than watching Groundhog Day . . . What better way to celebrate Groundhog Day than watching Groundhog Day . . . What better way to celebrate Groundhog Day than watching Groundhog Day . . .

New Statesman film critic, Ryan Gilbey, has written a BFI Modern Classics monograph on Groundhog Day which I can highly recommend. Here is an extract from a feature he wrote for the Observer on the film:

'[Groundhog Day] has emerged as one of the most influential films in modern cinema - and not only on other movies. Tony Blair did not refer to Jurassic Park in his sombre speech about the Northern Ireland peace process. Dispatches during the search for weapons of mass distraction made no mention of Mrs Doubtfire . And the Archbishop of Canterbury neglected to name-check Indecent Proposal when delivering the 2002 Richard Dimbleby Lecture. But Groundhog Day was invoked on each of these occasions.

The title has become a way of encapsulating those feelings of futility, repetition and boredom that are a routine part of our lives. When Groundhog Day is referred to, it is not the 2 February celebration that comes to mind, but the story of a cynical TV weatherman, Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, who pitches up in Punxsutawney to cover the festivities. Next morning, he wakes to discover it's not the next morning at all: he is trapped in Groundhog Day. No matter what crimes he commits or how definitively he annihilates himself, he will be returned to his dismal bed-and-breakfast each morning at 5.59am  . . .'

Here all the Ned Ryerson scenes, here are all the Ned Ryerson scenes, here are all the Ned Ryerson scenes . . .


Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 32: Fri Feb 1

The Temptress (Niblo, 1926):
Classic Cinema Club, Ealing Town Hall,
New Broadway, W5 2BY, 7pm

This opens the Classic Cinema Club's Femmes Fatale season and is a rare chance to see Greta Garbo in only her second film role. More details here.


New York Times review:
'The Temptress is concerned with the beguiling beauty of a selfish siren, a sinuous creature whose conscience knows no guilt. In many respects this picture is a distinguished piece of work, wherein Fred Niblo, the director, keeps the audience on the qui vive. It is a photodrama in which the producers do not pander to popular appeal by portraying a happy ending.

Aside from the many lesser dramatic glimpses, there are two outstanding episodes in this feature. One occurs when M. Fontenoy, a French banker, gives a banquet in honor of Elena (Miss Garbo). At first one perceives the mentally tortured Fontenoy looking with fiery eyes upon Elena. Then Mr. Niblo draws back his camera to give the spectator a thorough conception of the great table and the number of guests. 

It is cleverly filmed, but Mr. Niblo might perhaps have foregone the scenes in which the feet of the men and women are shown under the festive board. The dramatic climax to this chapter comes when Fontenoy toasts Elena. Before his glass has touched his lips he excoriates her as a woman who has accepted his gifts of jewelry and discloses how she pretended that they came from her weak-minded husband. Fontenoy then empties his glass, in which he has dropped cyanide of potassium, and forthwith collapses.

Miss Garbo is not only remarkably well suited is the rôle, but with a minimum of gestures and an unusual restraint in her expressions, she makes every scene in which she appears a telling one. She is attractive and svelte of figure and gives an emphatically effective impersonation of Elena's heartlessness.'
Mordaunt Hall

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 31: Thu Jan 31

No (Larrain, 2012): Curzon Soho 6.20pm & Cine Lumiere 8.50pm
Actor and producer Gael García Bernal will be at both events for a post-screening discussion. The film will get a general release on Friday February 8.

Time Out review:
'The revolution may not be televised, but as Pablo Larraín’s sharp satire reminds us, that’s not to say a TV campaign can’t sell dissent to the masses. Several months before Chilé’s 1988 referendum—which gave the country’s citizens a chance to vote Augusto Pinochet out of office—both the pro– and anti–El Presidente camps were allotted broadcast time to hype their positions. Enter René (Gael García Bernal), a hotshot marketing pitchman who takes charges of the “No” spots, and who finds himself confronting both his country’s failings and his own. Larrain had made a name for himself as an art-house terrorist with past NYFF entries Tony Manero (2008) and Post Mortem (2010), but whimsy may actually be his stronger mode; the film’s cheesy ’80s commercials function as both parodies and a light-handed political commentary that still hits its marks. The decision to shoot in outdated U-matic video adds period verisimilitude, but the film’s optimism—that change is a possibility—couldn’t speak more to our current moment. Don’t miss this.'
David Fear

Here is the trailer.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 30: Wed Jan 30

Atoll K (Joannon, 1951): BFI Southbank, 6pm
This film was Laurel and Hardy's final screen appearance and is a Flipside screening.

I asked Will Fowler from The Flipside for the history and the ideas behind their screenings. He told me: "Our first Flipside was back in late 2006 when we screened the mondo-style documentary Primitive London. The drive for the slot is really to show films and TV programmes that are held in the BFI National Archive but rarely or indeed never shown in the cinemas at BFI Southbank.

"And these could be things that might not automatically be considered similar or comparable but that at some level do all sit in the margins of cinema and TV history- old Rupert Bear television episodes, the shocking horror film Corruption starring a rather blood thirsty Peter Cushing as well as genre pictures, 'curates eggs', the weird and wonderful.  

"I think our favourites tend to be things that sit on genre borders. We like to make our screenings enjoyable and accessible and invite the directors or actors but we don't mess around with the conventional cinematic viewing experience - there are no new soundtracks - we're also traditionalists!"

There's an excellent interview with Sam Dunn here which gives more background and you can get details of the titles on special offer via the BFI website here.

Here's their introduction to this night: Laurel and Hardy aficionados won’t want to miss this rare opportunity to see ‘the Boys’ in their final feature. This odd atomic-age comedy sees Stan and Ollie inherit a uranium-rich island that becomes a haven for lawless ruffians from every corner of the globe. Much maligned over the years, this troubled international co-production was plagued by disputes with the crew and ill-health for its stars; but it was a spirited attempt by the team to move in a new direction, and it remains fascinating viewing for fans. It screens here in a BFI archive print made from nitrate master materials. Plus Grand Hotel (aka Laurel and Hardy Visit Tynemouth, UK 1932, Dir JG Ratcliffe, 10min, silent): The team are rapturously received when they visit Tynemouth in 1932, and Stan clowns for the camera with his dad.

We are delighted to announce that this programme will now include previously unseen silent amateur footage of Stan and Ollie opening a Gymkhana at Eastwood Park, Giffnock, during their visit to Scotland in June 1947. We can also confirm that we’re going to screen the full length English version of the film which runs 98min, not 95min as listed in the BFI Southbank Guide.

Introduced by Glenn Mitchell, author of The Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia, and Archive curators Vic Pratt and William Fowler.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 29: Tue Jan 29

Romance (Breillat, 1999) & Impaled (Clark, 2006):
Screen Shadows Group, Unit 6, Bellenden Rd Business Centre, Peckham, SE15 4RF, 7pm

This looks fascinating, the latest in the Lessons in Heterosexuality season from the Screen Shadows Group.

Here is their introduction to the evening's entertainment: In previous sessions we’ve looked to the lifestyles and behaviours around heterosex, the invented culture that grew out of the procreative act. But now its time to return to the act itself – though crucially with a view to seeing how the heterosexual complex has stage-managed its performance.

We’ve already seen how film teaches lessons on various codes, etiquettes, rituals and behaviours associated with heterosexual life…now let's see how film teaches breeders how to “do it” for fun, when romance is dead and heterosex is a recreational right. The film as sex manual – and self-help book.

ROMANCE (1999) – Breillat
So-called “auteur of porn” Catherine Breillat spins a tale of sexual self-discovery – a bildungsroman of boning – as she charts one schoolteacher’s disillusionment with her supposedly perfect marriage, and her quest for fulfillment elsewhere (with sexy results). Delving into the kind of arthouse erotica of Cronenberg’s Crash or Egoyan’s Exotica, it shuns heteronormative myths of monogamous and fertile romance, and of female desire – meeting porn star Rocco Sifredi on its way to an explosive climax.

Chicago Reader review:
'French filmmaker and novelist Catherine Breillat is already a disputed figure for the frankness about sex and sexual desire and the lack of political correctness in many of her previous features (e.g., 36 fillette). Inspired in part by Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses, this story about a young grammar-school teacher (Caroline Ducey) who starts sleeping around when her lover and flatmate (Sagamore Stevinen) loses interest in having sex with her is Breillat's most explicit and controversial film to date (if not necessarily her best). The heroine's voice-over, conventionally poetic and fairly constant, provides a kind of counterpoint to the sex. The story isn't always believable, and some protracted bondage sequences may stretch your patience if you don't pick up on their poker-faced comedy (the prosaic man tying the knots, who claims to have made love to 10,000 women, is the heroine's boss). There's also some hokey essentialism about motherhood that I could have done without, and when the film drifts off into fantasy at the end, Breillat's tone becomes less confident. But the eroticism is powerful, and the documentary candor and directness of the sex scenes make this well worth seeing.'
Jonathan Rosenabum                                

Here is the trailer

IMPALED (2006) – Clark
A hilarious yet incredibly insightful short doc from the director of Kids that examines the effects of the ubiquity (and homogeneity) of pornography. If a generation of guys see hundreds of hours of fucking before they actually fuck, how does it teach them what to expect and what they want – and what neuroses does it give them?

Here is an extract.

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

If you can't make it to Peckham this is well worth catching:

Elena (Zvyagintsev, 2011): Phoenix Cinema, 6.15pm

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 2013 - Day 28: Mon Jan 28

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jires, 1970):
Duke of Wellington pub, 119 Balls Pond Road, London, N1, 8pm


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

Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 27: Sun Jan 27

Some Came Running (Minnelli, 1959): Riverside Studios, 6.15pm

Jean Luc-Godard was a huge fan of this movie (read Jonathan Rosenabum here on the influence of the film and Vincente Minnelli's 1950s melodramas on the French director). Director Richard Linklater named this movie as the film that changed his life.

Chicago Reader review:
'Some Came Running (1959) is arguably the greatest of the extraordinary series of 'Scope and color melodramas that Vincente Minnelli directed over the span of a decade, beginning with The Cobweb (1955). Minnelli, known for his handling of decor (he got his start in Chicago designing window displays for Marshall Field's), used his camera to weave character and setting into intense, sometimes garish fabric. In Some Came Running, Frank Sinatra plays a writer who returns to the midwestern town where he was reared, setting in motion a series of struggles between family members and lovers in which everyone seems to be running in place, trapped in patterns of cyclical repetition that are mirrored in carefully arranged, almost entrapping wide-screen images. Finally a carnival scene explodes the screen into a cacophony of colors as characters struggle between selfishness and selflessness, passion and freedom. Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacLaine give superb performances that matter most for how they function in the film as a whole, and the script includes some wonderfully cynical comments on small-town America.' 
Fred Camper

Here is an extract.

And here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 26: Sat Jan 26

The Women (Cukor, 1939): Rio Cinema, 1.30pm
This is part of the Film Moire season at the Rio Cinema from Cripple Creek Playhouse dedicated to the golden age of the Hollywood costumiers. Here's a rundown of all the films they are showing.

Chicago Reader review:
'Adapted from Clare Boothe Luce's play, this glossy 1939 satire about pampered Manhattan wives hasn't lost its bitchy edge. The catty banter and Wildean aphorisms (some of them contributed by Anita Loos) are delivered with impeccable timing by a cast only MGM could have mustered: Norma Shearer is a wife vexed by her husband's infidelity, Joan Crawford the tough cookie who seduces Shearer's man, Rosalind Russell a gossip fond of outrageous hats, and Marjorie Main a wisecracking hick. George Cukor directed with characteristic theatricality and love for his actresses.'
Ted Shen 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 25: Fri Jan 25

Once Upon a Honeymoon (McCarey, 1942): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm 
This film, screening as part of the BFI's Screwball! season, also screens on Sunday Jan 27. Details here.

Paul Harrill writes at the Senses of Cinema website: 'Of the greatest directors of the Classic Hollywood era, Leo McCarey’s work and reputation are today among the most popularly and critically neglected. McCarey was a giant in his time. His films were often hugely successful with audiences, and his colleagues admired his work (three Oscars and 36 nominations for his films, fan letters reportedly from Chaplin and Capra, etc). Jean Renoir expressed a once widely held sentiment when he remarked, “McCarey understands people better perhaps than anyone else in Hollywood”.'

If you want to read something more detailed on this movie then Robin Wood, who has written extensively on this director, has an article entitled Democracy and Shpontanuity in the Film Comment issue of Jan-Feb 1976.

Chicago Reader review:
'Leo McCarey's astonishing attempt to blend screwball comedy and wartime propaganda—even more astonishing because, by and large, it works. Ginger Rogers is an American gold digger who marries Nazi Walter Slezak on the eve of the war; it's the job of radio correspondent Cary Grant to get her working for our side. Despite some windy passages, the film's equation of true love and the democratic ideal is irresistible, quintessential Leo McCarey.'
Dave Kehr

Here is a clip.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 24: Thu Jan 24

Underground (Asquith, 1928): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.40pm
This film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

Time Out review:
'In celebration of the tube’s 150th anniversary comes this painstakingly restored print of a classic British silent movie, which unfolds in and around the London Underground of 1928. Eyes meet across a Northern Line carriage and soon Bert (Cyril McLaglen) is pursuing the alluring Nell (Elissa Landi), though she’s already involved with dashing ticket inspector Bill (Brian Aherne). Tensions between the two men soon escalate into violent confrontation, which threatens the safety of the network when the action switches to Bert’s workplace – the LU’s Lots Road Power Station.
Extensive filming in and around Waterloo tube station provides cherished vintage period detail of uplighters on the escalators, smoking on the trains and pre-Harry Beck route maps. But the film’s much more than a mere time capsule. True, the plot is somewhat coincidence-prone but it’s delivered with muscular performances and an array of thrillingly mobile camerawork from the oft-undervalued Asquith – its sweep from lyricism to high tension is matched by Neil Brand’s cracking new orchestral score. An utterly splendid achievement all round.'
Trevor Johnston

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 23: Wed Jan 23

Hard Eight (Thomas Anderson, 1996): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
This is part of the Paul Thomas Anderson retrospective at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'A pared-down crime thriller set mainly in Reno, this first feature by writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is impressive for its lean and unblemished storytelling, but even more so for its performances. Especially good is Philip Baker Hall, a familiar character actor best known for his impersonation of Richard Nixon in Secret Honor, who's never had a chance to shine on-screen as he does here. In his role as a smooth professional gambler who befriends a younger man (John C. Reilly), Hall gives a solidity and moral weight to his performance that evokes Spencer Tracy, even though he plays it with enough nuance to keep the character volatile and unpredictable. Samuel L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow, both of whom have meaty parts, are nearly as good, and when Hall and Jackson get a couple of good long scenes together the sparks really fly.'
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 22: Tue Jan 22

Memories of Last Year in Marienbad (Schlondorff, 2012): Cine Lumiere 8.30pm

Here is the introduction to tonight's event: Shot around Munich in 1960, Last Year in Marienbad soon became a classic of the French New-Wave. Directed by Alain Resnais and written by Alain Robbe-Grillet, it won the Golden Lion in Venice in 1961. Almost 50 years later in 2008, Olivier Corpet, director of IMEC (Institut Mémoires de l’Edition Contemporaine) received unedited Super 8 material shot by the actress Françoise Spira, a member of the cast of Marienbad who died only a few years after the making of the film.

In possession of this rare treasure, Olivier Corpet and Bernard-Henri Lévy remembered that Volker Schlöndorff was Resnais’ assistant on Marienbad and proposed to him that he edit and comment on the archive material. The result is this 50-minute documentary which reveals the work that went into Resnais’ masterpiece.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Olivier Corpet, director of IMEC, German film critic Gerhard Midding and curator and film-maker Adam Roberts.

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If you can't make that event I can highly recommend another film in the Polanski season at BFI Southbank tonight:

Rosemary's Baby (Polanski, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.20pm
This film screens as part of the Roman Polanski season in January and February at BFI Southbank. The details are
here.

Chicago Reader review:
'The treacherous-mate theme that has been a staple of “women's pictures” since Gaslight gets its ultimate, most agonizing development in this 1968 story about a young woman (Mia Farrow) who discovers her husband has sold her body for use by a witches' coven. The horror is more clinical than supernatural, as Polanski transforms Ira Levin's story into a metaphor for the loss of identity induced by pregnancy. A very sophisticated, very effective piece of work spun from primal images, with an excellent cast that includes John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Ralph Bellamy, Maurice Evans, Patsy Kelly, and Elisha Cook Jr..'
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 21: Mon Jan 21

Sullivan's Travels (Sturges, 1941): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm
This is screening as part of the Screwball! season at BFI Southbank and will be introduced by season curator Peter Swaab.

Chicago Reader review:
'Preston Sturges's remarkable autobiographical fantasy (1941) about a famous comedy director (Joel McCrea) who, after years of turning out things like Ants in Your Pants of 1940, yearns to create a great social statement. The lesson he learns—on a research trip through America's seamy underside—is that the downtrodden masses need Mickey Mouse more than Marx. A dubious proposition, but in Sturges's hands a charming one, filled out by his unparalleled sense of eccentric character.'  Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 20: Sun Jan 20

Le Peau Douce (Truffaut, 1964): Cinema Museum, Kennington 2.30pm

Chicago Reader review:
'The most neglected and underrated of Francois Truffaut's early features--which are still his best overall--is his fourth, La peau douce (1964). It charts with tender and quirky precision the fleeting and desperate adulterous affair between a very successful middle-aged literary critic who's married (Jean Desailly) and an airline stewardess who isn't (Francoise Dorleac, in what may be her greatest performance). As Dave Kehr has noted, this is "the first of Truffaut's features in which his preoccupation with Hitchcock becomes fully apparent," and the editing of certain stretches even suggests a thriller; it also has one of the most startling and melodramatic endings of any Truffaut film.' Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 19: Sat Jan 19

Knife in the Water (Polanski, 1962): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm
This film screens as part of the Roman Polanski season in January and February at BFI Southbank. The details are here.

There's an excellent new review of this Polanski movie by Tim Robey in the Telegraph which you can read here.

Chicago Reader review:

'Written with Jerzy Skolimowski (Moonlighting), this 1962 production was Roman Polanski's first feature film, and there are those who would still call it his best. A middle-aged married couple, intrigued by a young blond hitchhiker, invite him to spend a weekend on their yacht. The sexual tensions build slowly and subtly, and when they explode into violence, it seems to be the desired result.
' JR Jones

Here is an extract. 

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 18: Fri Jan 18

From The Sea to the Land Beyond (Woolcock, 2013):
Rough Trade East, Old Truman Brewery, Dray Walk, 91 Brick Lane, 6.30pm FREE

Here's the introduction to what looks  a pretty special evening: To launch the DVD release of From the Sea to the Land Beyond, which features music by British Sea Power, Caught by the River and the BFI invite you to a special screening of the film introduced by its award-winning director Penny Woolcock, who will take part in a Q&A afterwards, hosted by Luke Turner, Associate Editor of The Quietus.com.

This fascinating and moving lyrical portrait of Britain's coastline is created through an exquisitely beautiful combination of evocative archive footage from the BFI National Archive and stirring music. British Sea Power set the course for this cinematic voyage with an original score that ebbs and flows with the natural sounds of seagulls, ships and just the occasional snippet of speech. Uplifting and inspirational, From the Sea to the Land Beyond is released on BFI DVD on 21 January 2013 but we will have copies on sale at this launch event at a specially reduced price. More details on the Facebook page here.


Here is an extract.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 17: Thu Jan 17

Chinatown (Polanski, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.20pm
This is screening as part of the Polanski season at BFI Southbank on an extended run until 31 Jan. You can find the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'A tribute to the detective thriller and all it represented in terms of notions of heroism and possibilities for action—and an elaboration of Roman Polanski's black thoughts on the absurdity of it all. This stylish 1974 whodunit stars Jack Nicholson (never better) and Faye Dunaway (likewise). A bit abstract, though gorgeously shot (by John Alonzo) and cleverly plotted (by Robert Towne), Polanski's film suggests that the rules of the game are written in some strange, untranslatable language, and that everyone's an alien and, ultimately, a victim.'
Don Druker

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 16: Wed Jan 16

Unfortunately, Riverside London have had to cancel this screening owing to illness.

Deep Blue Sea (Harlin, 1999): Riverside Studios, 8pm
This is part of the cinema's 'Bad Film Club' and there will be a running, live commentary throughout the screening of the movie.

Chicago Reader review:
'At once self-conscious and generic, this smart monster movie about smart monsters—supersharks cleverer than the scientist who created them—repeatedly lulls you into thinking it's paint by numbers. But the writers know you'll know what to expect. The characters are sufficiently naive to get picked off one by one, but their ignorance doesn't extend to the genre conventions governing their behavior, making for some shockingly funny moments. The furious, expressionistically blood-drenched action is set in and around an oppressively self-contained floating laboratory that seems designed—like the mountain hotel in The Shining—to test its inhabitants' vulnerability. Expect to be frequently reminded of other movies—that's part of the point. Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger) directed a screenplay by Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, and Wayne Powers; with Saffron Burrows, LL Cool J, Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Jane, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michael Rapaport, and Stellan Skarsgard.'
Lisa Alspector

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 15: Tue Jan 15

Macbeth (Polanski, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.15pm
This film, which screens as part of the Polanski season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on Saturday 19th January at 6pm. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'The Roman Polanski version (1971), strong on youth, beauty, and inevitable gore. The wide-screen visuals swamp the dialogue, and the thematics have been turned inside out—but that's what movie adaptations ought to do. It's not major Polanski, but neither is it a meeting of the Great Books Club. With Jon Finch (of Hitchcock's Frenzy) and Francesca Annis.'
Dave Kehr

Here's the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 14: Mon Jan 14

Ivan's Childhood (Tarkovsky, 1962): Greenwich Picturehouse, 1pm
The Greenwhich Picturehouse have made a great start to the new year. Kubrick's debut movie last week and now Tarkovsky's. Hats off.

Chicago Reader review:
'Andrei Tarkovsky's powerful 1962 first feature, also known as Ivan's Childhood and The Youngest Spy, is his most conventional as narrative, though it contains some remarkable dreamlike interludes that anticipate his later work. Shot in black and white, it follows the adventures of a boy serving as a spy on the front lines during World War II. In Russian and German with subtitles.'
Jonathan Rosenabum                                               

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 13: Sun Jan 13

They Live (Carpenter, 1988): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
I was reminded of this movie when seeing an extract in Slavoj Zizek's upcoming movie The Pervert's Guide to Ideology. You can hear some of his thoughts on the film in a lecture here. This is a beer and pizza night screening so you get some of both with your ticket.

Chicago Reader review:
'John Carpenter's 1988 SF action-thriller about aliens taking over the earth through the hypnotic use of TV. The explicit anti-Reagan satire—the aliens are developers who regard human beings as cattle, aided by yuppies who are all too willing to cooperate for business reasons—is strangely undercut and confused by a xenophobic treatment of the aliens that also makes them virtual stand-ins for the Vietcong. Carpenter's wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie's central conceit are explored only cursorily. All in all, an entertaining (if ideologically incoherent) response to the valorization of greed in our midst, with lots of Rambo-esque violence thrown in, as well as an unusually protracted slugfest between ex-wrestler Roddy Piper and co-star Keith David.' 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 12: Sat Jan 12

Lady Lazarus (Lahire, 1991): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm
This is the latest screening from the I Am Dora collective. The main presentation, part of the London Short Film Festival, will be followed by an episode of Mad Men. Read on . . .

A subjective and personal study, I am Dora is a collaboration between curator Jemma Desai and designer Claire Huss. The series explores how and why women identify with one another and what this means when the identification is with a flawed or misunderstood character.

Each limited run printed edition launches with a programme of films alongside a discussion, or specially curated ‘in conversation’ aimed at encouraging a more subjective engagement with film and film theory. Part 3 is a study on the persisting significance of Sylvia Plath.

Lahire’s Lady Lazarus from 1991 beautifully reveals the overwhelming allure of Plath’s poetry, by creating an intimate phantasmagoria, revealing the emotion in her poetry to be as vital as her works are enduring. Almost 30 years later, in 2012, Matthew Weiner wrote Lady Lazarus, an episode of the popular American TV drama Mad Men. This episode and wider series explore the theme of persistent emptiness and dissatisfaction, eerily echoing the sentiments in Plath’s work.

The films will be followed by an ‘in conversation’ on Plath, with Jemma Desai, founder of I am Dora, and writer and curator Sandra Hebron.

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously near to wanting nothing.” Sylvia Plath, from a draft of a letter to Richard Sassoon, December 1955

Here is the Guardian obituary for Sandra Lahire, who died aged 50 in 2001 after a long history of anorexia.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 11: Fri Jan 11

The Little Richard Story (Klein, 1980): Tate Modern, 7pm

I have to confess to knowing little about this, another film in the excellent William Klein season at the Tate, but this comes highly recommended by Little White Lies film critic David Jenkins and that's good enough for me.

Here is the Tate introduction: Klein goes on the hunt for Little Richard, the legendary ‘Architect of Rock and Roll’, who quit show business in 1957 at the height of his fame to become an evangelist. Richard was then lured back to secular music in the 1960s and 70s, but the excesses of stardom led him to a second retreat from the stage. For years he struggled to reconcile his religious calling with his flamboyant rock-and-roll persona, and at the time of filming, Klein finds Little Richard selling ‘Black Heritage Bibles’ for a Nashville couple. Sensing that his image is being exploited, Richard quits his sales position and deserts the film. But Klein turns this into an opportunity to reconstruct Richard’s personality through the words of his family and friends in his native Macon, Georgia, and to celebrate his status as a cultural icon by filming scores of Little Richard impersonators and adoring fans in Hollywood.

Chicago Reader review:
'Made for West German television in 1980, William Klein's very entertaining and energetic documentary portrait of the rock-and-roll idol was shot mainly in Macon, Georgia, Little Richard's hometown, at a time when the singer was a “media evangelist” for a company selling expensive commemorative Bibles. Midway through production, Little Richard had a financial dispute with the Bible company and announced that he'd received a message from God telling him to walk out on the film. He promptly disappeared. Ordinarily, this would have left the film and filmmaker high and dry. But a deft use of archival footage of Little Richard in his prime, combined with Klein's usual fascination with media fanfare —including a hilarious procession of black and white Little Richard impersonators—gives the film more than enough to sink its teeth into. And because this is William Klein, the teeth are sharp and the bite is sure.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

                                    

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 10: Thu Jan 10

Fear and Desire (Kubrick, 1953): Greenwich Picturehouse, 8.30pm

Here is the Greenwich Picturehouse introduction: Finding themselves behind enemy lines in an unnamed war zone, the crew of a crashed military plane determine to make their way back to friendly territory, led by the doughty Lt Corby. Along the way they ambush and kill two enemy soldiers, and capture and abuse a hapless peasant girl. Paul Mazurksy (who went on to become one of the most notable actors and directors of his generation) gives a great performance Pvt Sidney, a young solider traumatised and gradually deranged by the unfolding events. The inhumanity and hypocrisy of war is the essential message of this historically important film, and one Kubrick would later return to in PATHS OF GLORY and FULL METAL JACKET.

This is a rare chance to see Stanley Kubrick's debut film. The background to this movie reproduced here is taken from Wikipedia:
Fear and Desire was not a box office success, and Kubrick had to take a for-hire job directing the promotional short The Seafarers on behalf of the Seafarers International Union in order to raise funds for his next planned feature, Killer's Kiss (1954), which would be co-written by Kubrick and Howard Sackler and star Frank Silvera, one of the Fear and Desire actors.

In the years following its release, Fear and Desire seemed to have disappeared. There were stories that Kubrick had spent years acquiring all known prints of the film, with the plan of preventing it from ever being seen again. However, some prints of the film remained in private collections.
Fear and Desire had its first retrospective screening at the 1993 Telluride Film Festival. In January 1994, the Film Forum, a nonprofit art and revival theater in lower Manhattan, announced plans to show Fear and Desire on a double bill with Killer's Kiss. Although the film’s copyright lapsed and the property was in the public domain, thus allowing it to be shown without fear of legal actions, Kubrick tried to discourage it from gaining an audience. Through Warner Brothers, Kubrick issued a statement that severely downplayed the film’s value, and he called Fear and Desire "a bumbling amateur film exercise."
To date, there have been very few public screenings of Fear and Desire; the only commercially available print belongs to the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Among the rare presentations were a 1993 screening at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., a 2003 one-time screening at the Two Boots Den of Cin in New York City and an August 2008 presentation at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. Also, some clips from the film can be seen in the 2001 documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures.
In 2010, an original copy of the film was discovered at a Puerto Rican Film laboratory. On December 14, 2011, Turner Classic Movies aired a print restored by George Eastman House. Kino Video announced a Blu-ray and DVD release of the film in early 2012. It was released on October 23, 2012.

Here is the trailer.