Monday, 29 April 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 135: Wed May 15

Journey to Italy (Rossellini, 1953): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20 & NFT3 8.30pm
This brilliant film is on an extended run at the BFI until June 6th. Details here.

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 2013 - Day 134: Tue May 14

The Last Projectionist (Lawes, 2011): Riverside Studios, 7pm

Time Out introduction:
This British documentary looks to be plugging into a major change in our cinema landscape: the end of traditional, 35mm projection in favour of digital projection, which is cheaper and requires less skill. The film hones in on Birmingham’s Electric Cinema, which, founded in 1909, claims to be the country’s oldest cinema – although that’s a claim that a number of venues regularly make. The film features interviews with both staff old and new and customers, again old and new, who recount their experiences of visiting the place over the years. It will be interesting to see whether the film trades purely on nostalgia or whether it offers important analysis of the changing face of cinema exhibition.

Here's an article on the background to the film from the Guardian.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 133: Mon May 13

Stand By Me (Reiner, 1986): Islington Vue, 9pm
This film, part of the Vue Cinemas Back to Vue season, is also being screened on Wednesday 15th. More details here. You can find all the details of the full season here.

Time Out review:
In Reiner's superior slice of teen nostalgia, Dreyfuss is the now middle-aged writer, looking back at the dear dead days beyond recall when he and a group of young friends ventured into the local woods where they believed a corpse was buried. Based on an (apparently) semi-autobiographical story by Stephen King, the film covers similar territory to countless other rites-of-passage dramas. The Ben E King theme song and all the imagery of tousled adolescents preening themselves like miniature James Deans rekindle memories of old jeans commercials, but the film is so well-observed and so energetically acted by its young cast that mawkishness is kept at bay.
Geoffrey Macnab

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 132: Sun May 12

Fires Were Started (Jennings, 1943): Phoenix Cinema, 2pm
This 70th anniversary screening of one of the greatest British documentaries will be introduced by film historian, author and academic Ian Christie.

Time Out review:
Jennings' one venture into feature-length drama-documentary narrowly escaped being brutally chopped down by the publicity men at the Ministry of Information. Certainly it lacks the tight narrative structure common in good commercial films, but Jennings is a strong enough film-maker to ignore formulae and conventions to build his own unique structures. Here he used real firemen and real fires - kindled among the blitzed warehouses of London's dockland - but with the aim of creating something more than documentary realism. It is the epic quality of the firemen's struggle that excites Jennings, and his celebration of the courage and dignity of ordinary people working together in the shadow of disaster makes the film extraordinarily impressive.
Robert Murphy

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 131: Sat May 11

L'Argent (Bresson, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm
This film, part of the Passport to Cinema season at BFI Southbank, also screens on May 12th and 13th. Here are the details. The screening on Monday 13 May will be introduced by Philip Kemp.

There has been a late change to the BFI programme which has enabled me to slot this late masterpiece by Robert Bresson in. The original entry for today is reproduced below and has been moved to Wednesday May 15 this week in the blog.

Chicago Reader review:
Robert Bresson's 14th film in 40 years, made in 1983. It returns to some of the themes of his earlier work—the notion of stolen grace from Pickpocket, the suppression of scenes in favor of a continuous flow of action from A Man Escaped—but there is also a new passion and electricity in Bresson's minimalist images; it nowhere feels like the work of an 80-year-old man. Among the violent events are a bank robbery, a car chase, a prison insurrection, and a series of brutal murders; the world is ready to explode into chaos, but Bresson retains his contemplative distance, searching for the sense in which this "avalanche of evil" can lead to the ultimate spiritual victory of his protagonist. Bresson, working his sound track as assiduously as his visuals, once again makes us realize how little use most films make of the resources of the cinema. A masterpiece. 
Dave Kehr

Bresson's minimalist trailer.


********************************

Journey to Italy (Rossellini, 1953): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4.15, 6.30 & 8.45pm
This brilliant film is on an extended run at the BFI until June 6th. Details here.

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 2013 - Day 130: Fri May 10

The Hit (Frears, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm
This film, screening as part of the Terence Stamp season at BFI Southbank, is also on at the cinema on May 16. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Stephen Frears's philosophical comedy takes the form of a gangster film about an underworld informer (Terence Stamp) who has spent his ten years in hiding in a Spanish village, preparing himself spiritually for the inevitable day when the partners he betrayed find him and take their revenge. Retribution eventually arrives in the figure of a coldly professional killer (John Hurt) and his punkish apprentice (Tim Roth), but as they conduct Stamp back to their bosses in Paris, they begin to break down under the pressure of their victim's smiling equanimity. Frears gradually transfers our sympathy from Stamp to Hurt, reversing the roles of tormentor and tormented and finding in Hurt's fluster and panic the signs of the poignant humanity that Stamp has so coolly repressed. The staging is a little too studied for my taste, but this remains an accomplished, provocative effort.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 129: Thu May 9

A Place at the Table (Jacobson and Silverbush, 2012): Riverside Studios, 7.30pm

Here is the Riverside introduction to the InTheDocHouse presentation:  One in four children in the US doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. From hard-working families surviving on food bank hand-outs to an epidemic of child obesity in low-income households due to a reliance on cheap fast food, A Place at the Table exposes the shocking reality of ‘food insecurity’ for 49 million US citizens.

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 128: Wed May 8

Toby Dammit (Fellini, 1967) + Hu-Man (Laperrousaz, 1975): BFI Southbank, 8.50pm
This Terence Stamp movie, part of the BFI season devoted to the actor, also screens on May 11th. You can find all the details here. Stamp will be at the screening to introduce the films.

Here is the BFI introduction to Toby Dammit:
In the best of the three episodes making up this portmanteau of adaptations of tales by Edgar Allan Poe, Fellini cast Stamp as a degenerate, drug-addled British actor come to Rome to play Christ in a Catholic Western. The director’s trademark obsessions and stylistic flamboyance are on plentiful display, and his star rewards him with an appropriately unsettling and brave performance.

Here is an extract. 

... and also to Hu-Man:
A newly edited short version of this rare and seemingly prescient cult fantasy about an actor (Stamp) being put in threatening situations and having his emotions broadcast to TV viewers. Jeanne Moreau and Frederick Von Pallandt (of Nina and Frederick fame) were also in the cast.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 127: Tue May 7

El Topo (Jodorowsky, 1970): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
This film is screening as part of the Classic Film season at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1970 midnight cult hit from Mexico, which made quite a few waves in its time, is an extravagant hodgepodge of hand-me-down surrealism, mysticism, Italian westerns, theater of cruelty, and Buñuel—more enjoyable for its unending string of outrages than for its capacity to make coherent sense. The writer-director plays the lead, wandering through the Mexican desert in search of enlightenment from a series of enigmatic masters, and leaving behind (or experiencing) a great deal of grotesque violence. This was the first genuine midnight-movie hit, and if you're looking for pure sensation with intimations of pseudoprofundity, this is the place to go.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 126: Mon May 6

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Wilder, 1970): BFI Southbank, 8.30pm
This film is also showing at BFI Southbank on May 2nd and May 7th. Details here.

A personal favourite. If you can get hold of Adrian Turner and Neil Sinyard's book Journey Down Sunset Boulevard there's a wonderful chapter on this movie, while for novelist Jonathan Coe it was an an obsession and for BBC Sherlock author Mark Gatiss it featured in the Observer's 'The Film that Changed my Life' series.

Chicago Reader review:
Billy Wilder, in an exceedingly mellow mood, portrays Holmes as a tortured man, trapped by his own legend and paying the price for his reputation of invincibility (1970). Robert Stephens is superb as a very real Holmes, and Colin Blakely is equally good as Watson. The cutting of more than 40 minutes from the original film hurts its initial continuity, but once the action begins, this takes on a magical quality that makes it one of Wilder's best efforts. Affectionately conceived, chock-full of marvelous subtleties, this meticulously constructed adventure-romance shouldn't be missed.
Don Druker

Here are the opening titles.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 125: Sun May 5

Scarecrow (Schatzberg, 1973): BFI Southbank, 4pm, 6.15 & 8.45pm
This film is screening as part of an extended run from April 26th to May 5th. Details here.

New York Times review:
The road movie may have been the defining genre of the 1970s, and Jerry Schatzberg's "Scarecrow," made in 1973, is a definitive example. Starring a young Al Pacino (whom Mr. Schatzberg had promoted to stardom with his excellent, now mysteriously unavailable "Panic in Needle Park") and Gene Hackman (hitting his stride as a leading man after "The French Connection"), it is about the bond that develops between two outsiders as they hitchhike across the country, ostensibly on their way to opening a car wash together in Pittsburgh. That their vague dreams will never be fulfilled is a given; the film belongs to a time, now long past, when American movies still interested themselves in losers and the socially marginalized, rather than the pumped-up triumphalists Tom Cruise has come to embody. 

Mr. Schatzberg makes the best of the meandering, episodic script by Garry Michael White, allowing his theme - the inability of these infantilized men to connect with the grown-up women who surround them - to emerge with casual force from the apparent randomness. Dorothy Tristan (today a screenwriter), Ann Wedgeworth, Eileen Brennan and Penelope Allen contribute quick, vivid sketches of women whose fate it is to remain rooted in place while the boys move blithely on to their next misadventure. The fine widescreen transfer preserves the misty, grainy look of Vilmos Zsigmond's highly original cinematography.Dave Kehr

Here is the opening.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 124: Sat May 4

Performance (Roeg/Cammell, 1970): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm
The daddy of midnight movies which was a weekly feature of the late-night cinema circuit in London in the 70s and 80s, showing in a pristine 35mm print. Not to be missed.

I'm busy reading Colin McCabe's BFI Film Classics book, a wonderful introduction to what the author calls "the greatest British film ever made."

Time Out review:
Nicholas Roeg's debut as a director is a virtuoso juggling act which manipulates its visual and verbal imagery so cunningly that the borderline between reality and fantasy is gradually eliminated. The first half-hour is straight thriller enough to suggest a Kray Bros documentary as James Fox, enforcer for a London protection racket, goes about his work with such relish that he involves the gang in a murder and has to hide from retribution in a Notting Hill basement. There, waiting to escape abroad, he becomes involved with a fading pop star (Mick Jagger) brooding in exile over the loss of his powers of incantation. In what might be described (to borrow from Kenneth Anger) as an invocation to his demon brother, the pop star recognises his lost power lurking in the blind impulse to violence of his visitor, and so teases and torments him with drug-induced psychedelics that the latter responds in the only way he knows how: by rewarding one mind-blowing with another, at gunpoint. Ideas in profusion here about power and persuasion and performance ('The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is one that achieves madness'); and the latter half becomes one of Roeg's most complex visual kaleidoscopes as pop star and enforcer coalesce in a marriage of heaven and hell (or underworld and underground) where the common denominator is Big Business.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 123: Fri May 3

TAKE YOUR PICK TONIGHT

1 Wolfen (Wadleigh, 1981): Phoenix Cinema, 11pm
Another brilliant midnight movie screening from the Cigarette Burns film club. More details on the film club's Facebook page here.

Here is the Cigarette Burns introduction:
It's 1981 and the Year of the Wolf. Released between Joe Dante's HOWLING and John Landis' AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, WOLFEN was swiftly over shadowed by the two other beasts. Left to rot on the back shelf like the decaying Bronx it depicts, WOLFEN is in a class of it's own, mixing Native American folklore with a gritty NYC cop, taking enough from the horror genre to raise the tension and enough from a crime thriller to keep you going. Your average gorehound was going to walk away a bit confused and perhaps even disappointed. Oscar winning director Michael Wadleigh laced his gritty NYC crime horror with heavy lashings of politics, taking a long hard look at the mistreatment of Native Americans at the hands of the American establishment and ultimately making one of the most interesting. intense, and underrated werewolf films of 1981.


Time Out review:
School-leavers whose ambitions lean towards criminal pathology will pick up useful tips on wielding the scalpel and the white sheet in this foray into the bleakly explicit world of the contemporary shocker: a werewolf movie for an ecology-conscious age. The last-reel process whereby the lurking terror breaks cover and is transformed into a 'sympathetic' but unconquerable force is smoothly convincing: we are a long way here from simply feeling a bit sorry for King Kong. The setting is two New Yorks: that of the multinational, politically-amoral corporations, and that of the slum wastelands, both with the same landlords. The camera's vision is a fresh one, and though the wolf's eye view sequences threaten at first to become a nuisance, they are soon justified as a dramatic device, and ultimately as essential to the plot.

Here is the trailer. 

*********************************************

2 It's Such a Beautiful Day + The Don Hertzfeldt Experience: ICA Cinema, 8pm

Here's the ICA introduction to what promises to be a fascinating evening:
Join us for an evening of Don Hertzfeldt films, with Time Out's Tom Huddleston and Little White Lies' David Jenkins presenting Hertzfeldt's debut feature It's Such a Beautiful Day alongside a selection of his incredible short works. 

For almost 20 years, Don Hertzfeldt has been one of the world's most inventive, prodigiously talented and bracingly sardonic directors of hand-drawn animated film. It's Such a Beautiful Day is his scintillating feature debut, coming on the back of such celebrated (and Oscar-nominated) short works as Rejected, Wisdom Teeth and The Meaning Of Life

The film follows an anxiety-stricken stick man named Bill for whom the mundane tasks of everyday life prove Earth-shatteringly momentous. We join him on a bittersweet existential odyssey which takes in dead birds, big onions, lunchbox messages, trains, manatees, leaf-blowers and the eventual death and rebirth of the known universe. The film is a pocket-sized epic, incorporating the blistering deadpan of Buster Keaton, the narrative back-flipping of Charlie Kaufman, the blissful Zen contemplation of Yazujiro Ozu and the grand philosophical investigations of Terrence Malick. It's Such a Beautiful Day is filmmaking at its most original: like nothing you will have seen before.

The film's US release last year was greeted by a chorus of positive reviews: it currently has a 100% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics describing it as 'rapturous', 'evocative' and 'beautiful'. It's Such a Beautiful Day was also selected as one of the AV Club's top 10 films of 2012.

It's Such a Beautiful Day subsequently screens from Saturday 4 May.

Here's an idea of what to expect.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 122: Thu May 2

The Gleaners and I (Varda, 2000): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm
This film is screening as part of the Agnes Varda season at the ICA cinema. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A superb documentary by Agnes Varda, the sole woman member of the French New Wave, who not only wrote and directed but also shot the film with a digital camera. The film begins by musing on people who pick up what's left on the ground after mechanical harvesting and moves on to interviews with other types of gleaners: artists who use found objects, a Michelin two-star chef who forages for herbs, and folks who troll for discarded food in supermarket Dumpsters, pick up edible detritus after market stalls have been struck, or furnish their homes with sidewalk discards. Varda seamlessly weaves in poetic interludes on famous images of gleaners by French artists, a magical sequence in which she stumbles upon a junk-shop work that combines two of her favorite harvest paintings, and her own feelings about aging, travel, and the cinema. Not to be missed. In French with subtitles.
Meredith Brody

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 121: Wed May 1

The Collector (Wyler, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm
This film, which screens as part of the Terence Stamp season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown May 4th. Details here.

Time Out review:
William Wyler's adaptation of John Fowles' excruciatingly cunning first novel maintains a velvet-gloved grip throughout. A psychopathically repressed lepidopterist uses his football pool winnings to abduct a vibrant young art student and pin her down at all costs. Fowles extended the desperate captive-captor relationship into a multi-faceted metaphor, probing into everything from primal sexual politics and the class war to the responsibility of the artist and the dead soul of '60s England.

Here is the trailer.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 120: Tue Apr 30

if.... (Anderson, 1968): Barbican Cinema, 8.15pm

To celebrate 100 years of the Critics’ Circle, the oldest organisation of its kind in the world, the Barbican are screening the series The Film That Changed My Life. Tonight's movie is introduced by Time Out film editor Dave Calhoun.

Chicago Reader review: Lindsay Anderson indulges his taste for social allegory with a tale of a repressive boys' school rocked by student revolutionaries who listen to African music. Though clearly about Mother England and her colonies, the film found its popular success, in that distant summer of 1969, in being taken quite literally. Anderson deserves credit for sniffing out the cryptofascist side of the student movement, and his presentation of oppression—sexual and social—is very forceful. Yet the film finally succumbs to its own abstraction with an ending that satisfies neither symbolism nor wish fulfillment.
Dave Kehr


Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 119: Mon Apr 29

Kill List (Wheatley, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm
We listed this on its release and heartily recommend those of you who haven't seen it catching it at the BFI, who are also screening the film on the 27th and 28th April as part of the Made in Britain season. Details here.

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

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


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

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

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

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 118: Sun Apr 28

Star Spangled to Death (Jacobs, 2004): Close-Up CinemaBethnal Green Working Men's Club, 42-46 Pollard Row, Bethnal Green, London, E2 6NB, 1pm

Star Spangled to Death is a 2004 experimental film directed by Ken Jacobs, consisting almost entirely of archive footage, depicting the history of the United States in film. It won the Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 2004. More details on tonight's presentation here on Close-Up's Facebook page.

Chicago Reader review:
Initially shot in 16-millimeter between 1957 and '59, periodically expanded and updated over the following decades, and completed last year on video in a six-and-a-half-hour final version, Ken Jacobs's magnum opus of political protest is made of the same basic ingredients as the rest of his oeuvre: beautifully shot scenes of cavorting friends and comrades (including Jerry Sims, a pre-Flaming Creatures Jack Smith, and some recent anti-Bush protesters) and found footage (including most of Nixon's “Checkers” speech, campaign propaganda for Nelson Rockefeller, a fatuously racist documentary about Africa, and Al Jolson in blackface). Semi-indigestible by design, this nonetheless steadily builds in political and historical resonance.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 117: Sat Apr 27

Upstream Color (Carruth, 2012): London O2 Arena, 8.45pm
This film, the long-awaited follow-up to Shane Carruth's 2004 film Primer, screens as part of the London Sundance Film Festival. More details here. This movie will also be shown on the April 25th (8.45pm) and April 28th (11.30am).

The press screening held on Monday 22nd April resulted in plenty of positive notices.

Sundance Festival introduction: Shane Carruth’s sensuously directed and much anticipated sophomore effort (his feature debut, Primer, won the Sundance Film Festival 2004 Grand Jury Prize) is a truly remarkable film that lies beyond the power of language to communicate while it delivers a cohesive sensory experience. At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Upstream Color took home a Special Jury Award for its Sound Design. With its muscular cinematic language rooted in the powerful yearnings felt before words can be formed, Upstream Color is an entirely original, mythic, romantic thriller that goes in search of truths that lie just beyond our reach.

Here is the trailer.

For other Sundance London highlights take a look at Emma Simmond's article here.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 116: Fri Apr 26

Billy Liar (Schlesinger, 1963): British Library, Euston Rd, N1, 6pm

This film is scheduled for a 50th anniversary Blu-ray release in May and tonight's screening will be introduced by script writer Keith Waterhouse's friend Michael Parkinson.

Time Out review:
Released in the wake of the early social realist films of Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson, Schlesinger’s physical world is the same – northern and working-class – but his approach to social commentary and storytelling, as adapted from Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall’s book and play, is more playful and less concerned with realism than films like ‘Taste of Honey’ and ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’. Schlesinger’s Billy (Tom Courtenay) is a confused young man with too much imagination for considering kitchen sinks: nominally he’s an undertaker’s clerk, but his real job is to carve a parallel, fantasy world for himself, whether leading men to war in a state called Ambrosia or forging himself a career in showbiz. Billy’s endless lies feel less like deceptions and more like an expression of the conflicts within a young man who’s uneasy in a fast-changing world. Funny and unexpectedly poignant.
Dave Calhoun

Here's my favourite scene. Courtenay rehearses his resignation ahead of the arrival of employer Emmanuel Shadrack (Leonard Rossiter)

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 115: Thu Apr 25

The Lady Eve (Sturges, 1940): Barbican Cinema, 6.30pm

To celebrate 100 years of the Critics’ Circle, the oldest organisation of its kind in the world, the Barbican are screening the series The Film That Changed My Life. Tonight's screening is introduced by Times film critic Wendy Ide.

Chicago Reader review:
Preston Sturges extended his range beyond the crazy farces that had made his reputation with this romantic 1941 comedy, and his hand proved just as sure. Henry Fonda is the heir to a massive beer fortune who has spent his life in the scientific study of snakes; Barbara Stanwyck is the con girl who exclaims “What a life!” and sets out to turn Fonda around. Among the faces who crowd the frames are Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest, Eric Blore, Melville Cooper, and Jimmy Conlin. 
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 114: Wed Apr 24

Ship of Theseus (Gandhi, 2012): Barbican Cinema, 7.30pm

To celebrate 100 years of the Critics’ Circle, the oldest organisation of its kind in the world, the Barbican are screening the series The Film That Changed My Life. Tonight's movie is introduced by Evening Standard film critic Derek Malcolm.

This epic movie from India examines questions of identity, justice, beauty and death by exploring the stories of three conflicting characters. A photographer grapples with the loss of her perceived brilliance following an operation; a monk faces a dilemma, choosing between principle and death; and a stockbroker follows the path of a stolen kidney. An assured and often astounding debut feature from Anand Gandhi, this is a delicately poetic film from a director to watch.

Here is the trailer.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 113: Tue Apr 23

I Know Where I'm Going (Powell & Pressburger, 1945): Barbican Cinema, 6.30pm

To celebrate 100 years of the Critics’ Circle, the oldest organisation of its kind in the world, the Barbican are screening the series The Film That Changed My Life. Tonight movie is introduced by Times critic Kate Muir.

Chicago Reader review:
Michael Powell's 1945 film resists easy classification: it opens as a screwball comedy, grows into a mystical, Flaherty-like study of man against the elements, and concludes as a warm romance. Wendy Hiller, in one of the best roles the movies gave her, is a toughened, materialistic young woman on her way to meet her millionaire fiance in the Hebrides; Roger Livesey is the young man she meets when a storm blows up and prevents her crossing to the islands. Funny and stirring, in quite unpredictable ways, with the usual Powellian flair for drawing the universal out of the screamingly eccentric.
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 112: Mon Apr 22

Images (Altman, 1972): Roxy Bar and Screen, 7.30pm

This is a real treat. A very rare screening of a lost Robert Altman film.

Here is the introduction from the FilmBar70 club: Beautiful, haunting and very, very creepy, ‘Images’ deserves a place in the pantheon of the utterly unnerving alongside such greats as ‘The Shining’, ‘The Innocents’ and ‘Don’t Look Now’. Featuring a startling, award-winning (Cannes ’72) performance by Susannah York, luminous photography by Vilmos Zsigmond and an atypically atonal score from John Williams, Altman’s long neglected work truly requires a resurgence.

York plays Cathryn, a children’s author embroiled in her latest opus. When a series of enigmatic phone calls alluding to her husband’s infidelity shakes her reverie, Cathryn finds herself beset by unwelcome spectres from her past. As the barriers between the internal and the external crumble, the solution she implements to lay her ghosts to rest may prove more lethal than she could possibly conceive…

In addition to ‘Images’, we’ll be celebrating certain eruptive performances given by actresses beyond the verge of a nervous breakdown. From Lillian Gish to Isabelle Adjani, we’ll be lauding those ladies who threw themselves immitigably into the abyss in a special pre-feature Filmbar presentation.
And that’s not all, for El Diabolik will be on hand to summon the World of the Psychotronic Soundtrack to baffle your senses and get you a whirling…

Time Out review:
Underrated film about a lonely woman cracking up and suffering disturbing hallucinations about sex and death. Unlike most of Altman's movies, which parody and reinvent genres, Images stands rather in a loose trilogy with That Cold Day in the Park and 3 Women, in its investigation of madness and its concentration upon a female character. The fragmented style of the film, in which York's mental life is portrayed as substantially as her 'real' life, might have become pretentious; but the director controls things beautifully, proffering credible biographical reasons for her inner disturbances, and borrowing shock effects from the thriller genre to underline the terrifying nature of her predicament. It's brilliantly shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (wtihout a hint of psychedelic trickery in sight), superbly acted, and lent extra menace by the sounds and music of, respectively, Stomu Yamashta and John Williams.
Geoff Andrew

Here's the great FilmBar70 trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 111: Sun Apr 21

Celine and Julie Go Boating (Rivette, 1974): Barbican Cinema, 3pm
To celebrate 100 years of the Critics’ Circle, the oldest organisation of its kind in the world, the Barbican are screening the series The Film That Changed My Life. Tonight's movies is introduced by Independent on Sunday film critic Jonathan Romney.

Chicago Reader review:
Jacques Rivette's comic feminist extravaganza is as scary and unsettling in its narrative high jinks as it is exhilarating in its uninhibited slapstick (1974). Its slow, sensual beginning stages a meeting between a librarian (Dominique Labourier) and a nightclub magician (Juliet Berto). Eventually, a plot within a plot magically takes shape—a somewhat sexist Victorian melodrama with Bulle Ogier, Marie-France Pisier, Barbet Schroeder (the film's producer), and a little girl—as each character, on successive days, visits an old dark house and the same events take place. The elaborate Hitchcockian doublings are so beautifully worked out that this movie steadily grows in resonance and power. The four main actresses scripted their own dialogue with Eduardo de Gregorio and Rivette, and the film derives many of its euphoric effects from a wholesale ransacking of the cinema of pleasure (cartoons, musicals, thrillers, and serials).
Jonathan Rosenabum

There's pretty much nothing like this.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 110: Sat Apr 20

Arabian Nights (Pasolini, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT1 8.30pm
This is screening as part of the Pier Paolo Pasolini season at BFI Southbank and is also on at the cinema on April 25th and 28th. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Pier Paolo Pasolini's penultimate film (1974), and the concluding chapter in his trilogy on antique eroticism. Though the relentless objectification of the frolicking bodies looks forward to the cool Sadean ferocity of Salo, the style is light, casual, frivolous—it doesn't have the intensity or obsessiveness of pornography, yet it doesn't seem to have any other point. A typical puzzlement from Pasolini, a major figure who never made a major film.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 109: Fri Apr 19

Let's Scare Jessica To Death (Hancock, 1971): ICA Cinema, 8.30pm
It's a Cigarette Burns production. What are you waiting for? Rush here to find more details.

Here is the ICA introduction:
A shining example of the creeping dread which infused the finest genre films of the 70s, Let's Scare Jessica to Death places Zohra Lambert as the titular character, a fragile woman recovering from a recent stint in a mental institution. Whisked away to a labyrinthine house on a remote apple farm with her husband and his best friend, her head filled with unnerving local legends of murder and vampires, Jessica's slender grasp on sanity is to put to the test once again as transient hippie Emily decides to stay with them at the farmhouse. Her striking resemblance to a murdered girl who once lived on the property, eerie visions, terrifying locals and bodies in the lake all combine to push Jessica ever closer to the edge, with disastrous consequences.

The film will be introduced by Kier-La Janisse, a writer and film programmer based in Montreal, Canada. She is the Director of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, Web Director at Fangoria.com, the film curator for POP Montreal and a programmer for SF Indie. She has written for Fangoria, Filmmaker, Rue Morgue, Shindig! and Incite: Journal of Experimental Media and is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012), Kier-La Janisse's autobiographical exploration of female neurosis in horror and exploitation films. Anecdotes and memories interweave with film history, criticism, trivia and confrontational imagery to create a reflective personal history and examination of female madness, both onscreen and off.

Here is an extract from Tom Fellows' review at the classichorror.com website:

That Let's Scare Jessica to Death should be overlooked as one of the finest horror pictures of the 1970s is apt. Lacking the guttural, attention grabbing scares of contemporaries Night of the Living Dead and Last House on the Left, the film is a more somber, subdued affair. Its autumnal light casts dark shadows and the rural farmhouse location becomes secondary to the inner landscape of a mentally unstable mind. Also Let's Scare Jessica to Death refuses the sensationalism usually associated with movie madness (no cannibal doctors or men dressed as their mothers here) and instead retreats inward, sharing whispered thoughts and ghostly warnings. Like its central protagonist, it is a movie that shyly refuses to draw attention to itself, but underneath lays insanity, sadness and startling beauty. A masterpiece.

Here is the trailer.