Thursday, 31 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 322: Mon Nov 18

Galaxy Quest (Parisot, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm



Time Out review;
The series only ran from '79 to '82, but the cast of 'Galaxy Quest' are making a living of sorts on the fan convention circuit. Facing yet more dorky devotees hardly enthuses the show's alien and science officer, Alexander Dane (Rickman), communications officer Gwen DeMarco (Weaver), and commander Jason Nesmith (Allen). Still, they need the money, so they tag along when a dweeby-looking bunch inveigles them into visiting their mock-up of the programme's old vessel, the 'Protector'. But the twist is, this time the ship was actually crafted on a distant planet, where transmissions of 'Galaxy Quest' have been mistaken for historical documents, and the misguided extra-terrestrials have gambled on recruiting heroic Allen and crew to save their world from interstellar rivals. The actors have played this script before, but now it's for real. Gently satirising the Trekkie phenomenon, Parisot's movie works a treat because it's sufficiently knowing to have the references down pat, but affectionate enough to have a soft spot for just about everyone. Effects and production design are also splendidly integrated into the overall enterprise, which is even more enjoyable for being so unexpected.

Trevor Johnston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 321: Sun Nov 17

Bride of Frankenstein (Whale, 1935): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm


This film is showing as part of the BFI Gothic season and also screens on November 20th. Tonight's screening will be introduced by Sara Karloff. Details here.

Chicago Reader:
James Whale's quirky, ironic 1935 self-parody is, by common consent, superior to his earlier Frankenstein (1931). Whale added an element of playful sexuality to this version, casting the proceedings in a bizarre visual framework that makes this film a good deal more surreal than the original. Elsa Lanchester is the reluctant bride; Boris Karloff returns as the love-starved monster. Weird and funny.
Don Druker

Here and above is the great scene in which the monster meets the blind man.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 320: Sat Nov 16

Daughters of Darkness (Kumel, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm


Chicago Reader review:
Harry Kumel's stylish Belgian vampire film with a cult reputation (1971) is worth seeing for several reasons, not least of which is Delphine Seyrig's elegant lead performance as a lesbian vampire who operates a luxury hotel. The baroque mise en scene is also loads of fun; with Daniele Ouimet and Andrea Rau.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 319: Fri Nov 15

 No 1 Quatermass 2 (Guest, 1957): ICA Cinema, 7pm



Here is the ICA introduction: The British science fiction film Quatermass 2 (Hammer Film Productions, 1957) holds a particular significance for the fictional protagonist of three of Patrick Keiller's films, whose exploits also featured in the recent exhibition The Robinson Institute (Tate Britain, 2012) in which Quatermass 2 was displayed.

A detail of the film (the feature-length adaptation of Nigel Kneale's 1955 six-part BBC television serial) appears to connote Professor Quatermass's moon rocket base with the Spadeadam Rocket Establishment, built in the late 1950s to test rocket motors for Blue Streak, the UK's medium-range ballistic missile.

In the Robinson imagination, Blue Streak's subsequent cancellation and replacement with the US-produced Polaris figure as a crucial ‘moment' in the UK's post-WW2 history, the repercussions of which continue today, while Quatermass 2's encounter with an invading malevolent intelligence appears to offer both an explanation for the UK's descent into neoliberalism as well as, perhaps, some hope for an eventual recovery.

Join Patrick Keiller and Mark Fisher for a screening of Quatermass 2 followed by a discussion prompted by the film and by the histories explored in Keiller's films and in The View From the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes, Keiller's first collection of essays published by Verso Books (November 2013)

Patrick Keiller's films include the celebrated London (1994), Robinson in Space (1997), The Dilapidated Dwelling (2000), and Robinson in Ruins (2010); other works include the installations Londres, Bombay (Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing, 2006) and The Robinson Institute (Tate Britain, London, 2012), the latter accompanied by a book The Possibility of Life's Survival on the Planet. Formerly a research fellow at the Royal College of Art (2002-11), he has taught in schools of art and architecture since 1974.

Mark Fisher is the author of the influential Capitalist Realism (Zer0, 2009) and the forthcoming Ghosts of my Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures (Zer0, 2013). Since 2004, he has written the celebrated blog k-punk and is a regular contributor to publications including FriezeThe Wire and Film Quarterly. He lectures in Aural and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths and is a Commissioning Editor for Zer0 books.

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No2 Eyes Without a Face (Franju, 1959): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 2.30pm


This film, part of the BFI Gothic season, is also screened on the 14th and 16th of November. All the details are here.

Chicago Reader review:
As Dave Kehr originally described it, “a classic example of the poetry of terror.” Georges Franju's 1959 horror film, based on a novel by Jean Redon, is about a plastic surgeon who's responsible for the car accident that leaves his daughter disfigured; he attempts to rebuild her face with transplants from attractive young women he kidnaps with the aid of his assistant. As absurd and as beautiful as a fairy tale, this chilling, nocturnal black-and-white masterpiece was originally released in this country dubbed and under the title The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus, but it's much too elegant to warrant the usual “psychotronic” treatment. It may be Franju's best feature, and Eugen Schufftan's exquisite cinematography deserves to be seen in 35-millimeter.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 318: Thu Nov 14

Hangover Square (Brahm, 1945): Wiltons Hall, Graces Alley, E1 8JB, 7.30pm


This is screening as part of Iain Sinclair's 70x70 season, the film adaptation of Patrick Hamilton's famous novel, shown in an East End music hall.

"Brahm’s film is a minor classic, a shotgun wedding of expressionism and surrealism: barrel organs, leering pawnbrokers, cor-blimey-guv urchins. Linda Darnell enthusiastically impersonates a knicker-flashing singer with flea-comb eyelashes and hair in which you could lose a nest of squirrels. There are two mindblowing sequences: the bonfire on which the faithless Netta is incinerated, while a mob of Ensor devils howl and chant – and the concerto, when a raving Bone hammers away at a blazing grand piano. Bernard Hermann, Hitchcock’s composer of choice, soups up a fabulously pastiched score that drives the whole nutty phantasmagoria along: a candlelit steamer plunging over a frozen waterfall. The film has nothing to do with Patrick Hamilton’s novel, apart from using that evocative title as the excuse for a purgatorial nightmare of the kind the burnt-out writer might have experienced in his last, glazed, dry-retch, schoolgirl-fixated, beaten- with-cricket-bat, English seaside days."
Iain Sinclair


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 317: Wed Nov 13

Vampir Cuadecuc (Portabella, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm


There's very little in cinema quite like this movie. Here's the BFI introduction:
A rare opportunity to see an intensely experimental vampire movie like no other. Both jarring and atmospheric, it was shot guerrilla style on set during production of Jess Franco’s Count Dracula using high contrast b/w 16mm. Modern incursions such as the sight of a smoke machine, Christopher Lee preparing for his staking scene and a brooding electronic score, spin haunting new narratives around the classic vampire tale, and connect it to the dictator-era Spain in which it was made.
Tonight's screening is introduced by writer and curator Mark Nash.

In a 2011 issue of Sight & Sound there's an appraisal of Pere Portabella's oeuvre by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in which he counts tonight's film as his favourite work by the Catalan filmmaker. The movie itself consists of a black and white film of Jesus Franco's "very conventional colour movie Count Dracula (1970), starring Christopher Lee," writes Rosenbaum. "The material is submitted to a great deal of processing in visual textures and accompanied by a kind of musique concrete by Carlos Santos, consisting of such elements as jet planes, drills, operatic arias, kitschy muzak and sinister electronic drones."

Rosenbaum first saw Vampir Cuadecuc at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971 and reckoned it the highlight of that year's crop. "Vampir was my favorite of all the films I saw at Cannes that year. I returned to it several times, and described it afterwards in the Village Voice  as 'at once the most original movie at the festival and the most sophisticated in its audacious modernism', says Rosenbaum in this essay on his website.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 316: Tue Nov 12

Sacrface (De Palma, 1983): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm


Time Out review:
'The recent, unironic adoption of Brian De Palma’s furious, ludicrous crime epic by gangstas, playas and hippety-hoppety bling merchants of all stripes is perhaps testament to the film’s outrageous cojones, rather than any piercing insight into the criminal psyche. 

But there’s no denying that ‘Scarface’ is also a lot of fun, tracking homicidal Cuban homunculus Tony Montana (Al Pacino) from his first footsteps on US soil to his operatic demise in a cloud of AK-47 bullets and coke. In fact, cocaine-fuelled excess seems to power the whole movie, from Oliver Stone’s overloaded, trashily self-aware script to Al Pacino’s wildly unpredictable consonant-mangling mumble (‘Manolo, choot dis piece a chit’), from De Palma’s magnificently indulgent Wellesian long shots to the retina-scorching, high-kitsch set and costume design.

What’s most impressive is Stone and De Palma’s unwillingness to cloak Tony’s grotesque, voracious machine-gun capitalism with any sort of ‘Godfather’-style guff about honour and family: ‘Scarface’ is an unashamed study of selfish, sadistic criminality, and all the better for it.
'
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 315: Mon Nov 11

Mad Love (Freund, 1935): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This film is screening as part of the BFI Gothic season and will be introduced by writer Xavier Aldana Reyes. The film will aslo be shown on November 16th. Details here.

Chicago Reader:
This atmospheric 1935 chiller, a remake of the silent expressionist film The Hands of Orlac, was directed by the great cinematographer Karl Freund, who shot Metropolis, The Last Laugh, and a dozen other classics, then spent his twilight years shooting I Love Lucy. Peter Lorre (in his first American role) plays a mad surgeon who grafts the hands of a psychopath onto a crippled concert pianist. The film is worth seeing for a number of reasons, but its latter-day reputation rests on Pauline Kael's theory that Gregg Toland, the photographer, used this film to try out the effects he later applied to Citizen Kane.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 314: Sun Nov 10

Berlin Alexanderplatz, Part Two (Fassbinder, 1980): ICA Cinema, 11am-8pm


The second part of  Fassbinder's epic, first aired on German TV in 1980, and part of the year-long Iain Sinclair 70x70 season. See Saturday 9th Nov post here for full introduction.

Programme There are two opportunities to see the full Berlin Alexanderplatz programme: on the weekends of 9/10 and the 16/17 of November 2013.

Saturday
11am - 1.30pm
1) The Punishment Begins
2) How is One to Live if One Doesn’t Want to Die?
2.15pm - 5.15pm
3) A Hammer Blow to the Head Can Injure the Soul
4) A Handful of People in the Depths of Silence
5) A Reaper with the Power of Our Lord
6pm - 8pm
6) Love Has Its Price
7) Remember — An Oath can be Amputated

Sunday
11am - 2pm
8) The Sun Warms the Skin, but Burns it Sometimes Too
9) About the Eternities Between the Many and the Few
10) Loneliness Tears Cracks of Madness Even in Walls
2.45pm - 4.45pm
11) Knowledge is Power and the Early Bird Catches the Worm
12) The Serpent in the Soul of the Serpent
5pm - 8pm
13) The Outside and the Inside and the Secret of Fear of the Secret
14) My Dream of the Dream of Franz Biberkopf by Alfred Döblin, An Epilogue
Berlin Alexanderplatz, dir Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979/80

This screening is part of Iain Sinclair's 70x70 project in which the author curates a season of 70 classic films throughout his 70th birthday year.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 313: Sat Nov 9

Berlin Alexanderplatz, Part One (Fassbinder, 1980): ICA Cinema, 11am-8pm


This masterwork from Fassbinder, first aired on German TV in 1980, is part of the year-long Iain Sinclair 70x70 season. See Sunday 9th November post here for details of full programme.

Here is the ICA introduction:
Writer and filmmaker Iain Sinclair presents Rainer Werner Fassbender's seminal 1980 television series Berlin Alexanderplatz, screened from the original 35mm prints. There are two opportunities to see the full Berlin Alexanderplatz programme: on the weekend of 9/10 November with an introduction by Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit, and also on 16/17 of November 2013.

The physical momentum of the prose in Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz is exhilarating, like the rush of Walter Ruttmann’s film from the same period, Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt. Language and image cut fast. Trains. Bars. Songs. Black marketeers. Whores of all sexes. Surgeons. Detectives. Berlin in the late-Twenties was the world city, city of war-damaged grotesques out of George Grosz and Otto Dix. 

How dynamic Döblin’s book now seems, an outgrowth of the energies of place, and how muted, in comparison, how lightweight and strategically charming, the Berlin snapshots of Christopher Isherwood, which were laid out between 1930 and 1933

Isherwood’s material lends itself to Hollywood schmaltz, with his English girl, Sally Bowles, swallowed alive by a full-throttle Liza Minnelli. Berlin Alexanderplatz is scrupulously, sweatily, reimagined and composed afresh by Rainer Werner Fassbinder: a tapeworm epic for our own times, funded by new German 70x70 television money in Cologne. 

Actors, taken to the edge, perform miracles of choreographed self-exposure. They are crushed but not obliterated by the claustrophobic sets that contain them. And by the troubling memory of a book more honoured than read in a Europe that is not quite prepared to revive it.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 312: Fri Nov 8

The Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm
plus George A Romero in conversation: NFT1, 6.30pm


Catch director George A Romero in conversation before this seminal movie, which screens as part of the BFI Southbank Gothic season.

Chicago Reader review:
George Romero's gory, style-setting 1968 horror film, made for pennies in Pittsburgh. Its premise—the unburied dead arise and eat the living—is a powerful combination of the fantastic and the dumbly literal. Over its short, furious course, the picture violates so many strong taboos—cannibalism, incest, necrophilia—that it leaves audiences giddy and hysterical. Romero's sequel, Dawn of the Dead, displays a much-matured technique and greater thematic complexity, but Night retains its raw power.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.
 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 311: Thu Nov 7

Suspiria (Argento, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm


This screening, part of the BFI Gothic season, will be preceded by director Dario Argento in conversation. The film is also shown on November 17th. Details here.

BFI introduction: Eschewing monochrome shadows in favour of garish colour, Argento’s phantasmagoric journey into the occult is a case of Gothic at its most vibrant. Aspiring ballerina Suzy Banyon enrols at a prestigious European dance academy, only to uncover the terrifying mysteries kept hidden by its faculty. Co-written with actress Daria Nicolodi, the plot follows a disorienting dream logic that is perfectly complemented by a hyper-real visual style, blending operatic violence with a fairy-tale twist. – Michael Blyth

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 310: Wed Nov 6

Seven (Fincher, 1995): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm



Chicago Reader review:
Who would have guessed that a grisly and upsetting serial-killer police procedural (1995) costarring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as detectives, written by a Tower Records cashier (Andrew Kevin Walker), and directed by David Fincher (Alien) would bear a startling resemblance to a serious work of art? One can already tell that this film is on to something special during the opening credits, which formally echo several classic American experimental films and thematically point to the eerie kinship between the serial killer and the police—not to mention the kinship between murder and art making that the movie is equally concerned with. The detectives are trying to solve a series of hideous murders based on the seven deadly sins, and the sheer foulness and decay of the nameless city that surrounds them, which makes those of Taxi Driver and Blade Runner seem almost like children's theme parks, conjures up a metaphysical mood that isn't broken even when the film moves to the countryside for its climax. Admittedly, designer unpleasantness is a hallmark of our era, and this movie may be more concerned with wallowing in it than with illuminating what it means politically. Yet the filmmakers stick to their vision with such dedication and persistence that something indelible comes across—something ethically and artistically superior to The Silence of the Lambs that refuses to exploit suffering for fun or entertainment and leaves you wondering about the world we're living in. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Richard Roundtree, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) are the superb opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 309: Tue Nov 5

Elephant Man (Lynch, 1980): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6pm


This film, part of the Gothic season at BFI Southbank, also screens on November 12th (with introduction by Richard Combs) and November 15th. Details here.


Time Out review:
'More accessible than Lynch's enigmatically disturbingEraserheadThe Elephant Man has much the same limpidly moving humanism as Truffaut's L'Enfant Sauvage in describing how the unfortunate John Merrick, brutalised by a childhood in which he was hideously abused as an inhuman freak, was gradually coaxed into revealing a soul of such delicacy and refinement that he became a lion of Victorian society. But that is only half the story the film tells. The darker side, underpinned by an evocation of the steamy, smoky hell that still underlies a London facelifted by the Industrial Revolution, is crystallised by the wonderful sequence in which Merrick is persuaded by a celebrated actress to read Romeo to her Juliet. A tender, touching scene ('Oh, Mr Merrick, you're not an elephant man at all. No, you're Romeo'), it nevertheless begs the question of what passions, inevitably doomed to frustration, have been roused in this presumably normally-sexed Elephant Man. Appearances are all, and like the proverbial Victorian piano, he can make the social grade only if his ruder appendages are hidden from sensitive eyes; hence what is effectively, at his time of greatest happiness, his suicide. A marvellous movie, shot in stunning black-and-white by Freddie Francis.'
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is an extract from the film.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 308: Mon Nov 4

Kingpin (Peter & Robert Farrelly, 1996): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.45pm



Time Out review:
Woody Harrelson's Roy Munson, the 1979 Odor Eaters Ten-Pin Bowling Champion, has been 17 years on the skids, paying off the bubo-encrusted landlady of his verminous flophouse with vomit-inducing bouts of sex. If he's lucky. Only with the arrival of fright-wigged con artist Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray, gleefully camp) do things look up, McCracken teaching him to make money hustling ten-pin, until he's abandoned to a bunch of rednecks who twig to him and slash off his bowling hand. Undaunted, he happens upon Randy Quaid's Ishmael Boorg, an ingenuous Amish and fellow bowling natural, and they take off for the National Championships in Reno, pausing only to pick up mini-skirted 'personal companion' Claudia (Vanessa Angel). There's something arresting in the sheer commitment the Farrelly brothers bring to the naff gags, pratfalls and ritual humiliations these three go through. More beguiling still is their warts-and-all depiction of low life, so upfront it ends up quite affectionate; equally, the keen observations quash charges of cynicism. Dumbfounding.
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 307: Sun Nov 3

No1 Alice Sweet Alice (Sole, 1976): Dissenting Academy (pub), Newington Green, N1


Here's the Cigarette Burns introduction: End the long Hallowe'en week with a roast followed by a free film buzzing out of the glorious old projector - no digital here.

A long overlooked gem of the evil child genre. Featuring a young Brooke Shields in her first role, and a downright nasty Paula E. Sheppard in the title role. Definitely a rare opportunity to catch this on film, or even a public screening.

The print is the original US print with the title COMMUNION, before it was rereleased under ALICE, SWEET ALICE or later still as HOLY TERROR. 


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No2 The Beyond (Fulci, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.30pm


This film, which is in the Gothic season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on October 28th when it will be introduced by writer Roger Luckhurst. Details here.

BFI introduction: Telling of a New Orleans hotel built upon one of the seven gateways to Hell, The Beyond eschews genre conventions in favour of confrontational surrealism and gore. Lucio Fulci’s Gothic classic is a fragmented fever-dream of striking set-pieces (in which eyes are gouged out and faces melted with acid). It is memorable for its violence and atmosphere but also for Fabio Frizzi’s remarkable score and its stylish cinematography.James Blackford

The BFI are screening a new uncut 35mm print of the English version of the film.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 306: Sat Nov 2

No1 Top Sensation (Alessi, 1969); The Lady in Red (Teague, 1979) & Link (Franklin, 1986):
Roxy Bar and Screen final all-nighter, 11pm



This is the final all-nighter at the Roxy:

Here is the Roxy introduction: 
1. TOP SENSATION: All on-board as Filmbar70 and Camera Obscura start with the long lost grail of Euro sexploitation/ political/ allegorical/Italo-rash cinema – ‘Top Sensation

1969 – a period of cultural transition. As cinema began the long road to a freedom freed from the fetters of censorship, so myriad mutations began to form. ‘Top Sensation’, positioned between sleaze-mongering and anti-bourgeoisie baiting, is a particularly succulent morsel to digest. Replete with over the top sex and the overwhelming belief that excess is very, very bad, this tale of innocence defiled by commerce proves that you can have your cake and eat it.

2. THE LADY IN RED: Then, listed by no less than Quentin Tarantino as one of his favourite grindhouse films, Lewis Teague's The Lady in Red (presented by Savage Cinema club) purports to tell the scintillating truth behind the death of legendary gangster John Dillinger. Told through the eyes of his last girlfriend Polly (Pamela Sue Martin), the film explores the Depression-era crime syndicate, from bank robberies to whore houses to bloody gangland shootouts.

Produced by Roger & Julie Corman and boasting a crackerjack screenplay by future indie filmmaking legend John Sayles, The Lady in Red features a top-form cast, including then-recent Oscar winner Louise Fletcher, Christopher Lloyd, exploitation legends like Dick Miller and Mary Woronov as well as a memorable uncredited cameo by a certain Oscar nominee/recent Breaking Bad guest star. 
Savage Cinema will precede the film with a range of classic Corman trailers, as well as clips from the documentary Roger Corman: Hollywood’s Wild Angel (1976).

3. LINK: And finishing with the classic 80’s British monkey horror / thriller Link (presented by Aorta Burst).  A young Elizabeth Shue and Terence Stamp star (and get upstaged by) Locke the ape in a crazy story about a professor and his assistant looking after and studying after 3 chimpanzees.  It’s not going to end well…

Here is the trailer for The Lady in Red.

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No 2 Harold and Maude (Ashby, 1971): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm


Another excellent choice for a late nighter in the midnight movie season at the Rio. Check out all their screenings here.


Time Out review:
'Like Bob Rafelson, a director similarly obsessed with the trials and tribulations of the children of the rich, Ashby forever treads the thin line between whimsy and absurdity and 'tough' sentimentality and black comedy. Harold and Maude is the story of a rich teenager (Cort) obsessed with death - his favourite pastime is trying out different mock suicides - who is finally liberated by his (intimate) friendship with Ruth Gordon, an 80-year-old funeral freak. It is most successful when it keeps to the tone of an insane fairystory set up at the beginning of the movie.'
Phil Hardy


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 305: Fri Nov 1

Nosferatu the Vampyre (Herzog, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm



This film is part of the BFI's Gothic season and continues on an extended run at the Southbank venue until November. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of F.W. Murnau's classic vampire film is a flop as a horror movie, but it works as a string of Herzogian epiphanies centered on death and the apocalypse. The acting is too eccentric and the narrative drive too weak to satisfy fans of the genre, but Herzog's admirers will find much in the film's animistic landscapes and clusters of visionary imagery. The largely superfluous cast includes Klaus Kinski as the decaying count, Isabelle Adjani as the pure-hearted heroine, and the excellent Bruno Ganz as the paralyzed hero.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the BFI trailer for the film.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 304: Thu Oct 31

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (Miraglia, 1971): ICA Cinema, 4pm


This film is screened as part of a Euro Horror day at the ICA which brings together film historians, programmers and academics to discuss this cinematic tradition, critical category and marketing label.

This one-day event seeks to examine the critical intersections and interactions between various fields of cultural production – fan discourses, discourses of connoisseurship, academic discourses, spaces for dissemination – to map out a richer picture of the cultural history of Euro Horror, which more often interlocks with global histories of exploitation, sexploitation or psychotronic cinema. The event closes with a 35mm screening of La Notte che Evelyn usci dalla tomba / The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (Emilio P. Miraglia, 1971)

Speakers include film historian Jonathan Rigby, film genre programmer Josh Saco, Professor Peter Hutchings, Associate Professor Ian Olney, and Dr Antonio Lázaro-Reboll.

You can find all the details here.

11.05am - From Caligari to [•REC]
Jonathan Rigby, film historian
The development of Euro Gothic from the silent era to the 21st century.

11.50am - Euro Horror as Possession/Possession in Euro Horror
Ian Olney, York College of Pennsylvania
The ways in which Euro Horror upends the conventions of American Horror.

12.30pm - Lunch

1.30pm - Putting the Brit into Euro-Horror (and vice versa)
Peter Hutchings, University of Northumbria
The connections between British Horror and Euro Horror.

2.25pm – A Psychotronic Encyclopedia, A Perfectionist’s Guide, and A European Trash Journal on Euro-Horror
Antonio Lázaro-Reboll, University of Kent
The role of alternative publications in shaping narratives of Euro Horror film.

3.20pm - Genre Film Exhibition and Rep Cinema
Josh Saco, Cigarette Burns film programmer
The pitfalls and complexity of championing celluloid presentations in a world riddled with HD home entertainment centres.

4pm – Film Screening on 35mm
La Notte che Evelyn Uscì Dalla Tomba / The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (dir Emilio P. Miraglia, Italy 1971)

Monday, 14 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 303: Wed Oct 30

A Time for Dying (Boetticher, 1969): Dentist (Arts Centre), 33 Chatsworth Rd, E5 0LH, London


This rarely seen Budd Boetticher movie is part of the year-long 70x70 season. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London. Here is a full list of the excellent programme.

Iain Sinclair on A Time for Dying:
'A potent late discovery in a Hastings charity pit where last movies rub shoulders with CGI slaughter excesses and botched exorcisms. Classic Boetticher is front-cover Cahiers du Cinema. Is namechecked in Breathless.
Pared-down journeying with Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, and superior heavies like Richard Boone, Henry Silva, Lee Van Cleef, James Coburn. By 1969, the situation was complicated: cross-border time, rows with the wrong people.

A lack of interest in the pure western form. Which elects this one straight into the anti-pantheon, post-cinema purgatory. When nobody cares, interesting things happen. The actors are like promoted extras hoping for television.
Boetticher takes the writing credit, but it feels like they made it up as they went along. Lucien Ballard was still around to shoot it. A truly posthumous artefact. And better for it. Audie Murphy takes a production credit and drifts in as Jesse James.'

Here (and above) is the opening of  the movie.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 302: Tue Oct 29

The Last Movie (Hopper, 1971): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm


This rarely seen Dennis Hopper movie is part of the year-long 70x70 season. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London. Here is a full list of the excellent programme.

Here are some of Sinclair's musings on this unique movie:
'I like endgames. And final commissions. And films that make no sense, shot long after there is any space for them in the world. Hopper’s The Last Movie – which I’ve never seen, or felt the need to chase down – is in sympathy with Asylum. With elements of Herzog. With the Wurlitzer version of Peckinpah. With Budd Boetticher’s terminal charity-shop DVD, A Time for Dying. (A money-laundering exercise for Audie Murphy, who was in hock to the Mafia.)

A cast that includes Sam Fuller, Kris Kristofferson, Peter Fonda and Dean Stockwell is opening too many of heaven’s gates. ‘Persistently sabotages its own resolution.’ Great. That period of Hollywood (money) was about finding ways of subverting the possible. From the descriptions I’ve read – indistinguishable from the synopsis of a Wurlitzer novel – The Last Movie is the finish of American Smoke I wish I’d been capable of writing.

'The narrative extracted from all those bad journeys made Chile seem like the place to which I should aspire, but never achieve. No skies as pure as the dome above the Atacama Desert. Where the dialogue between origin and extinction is manufactured by monkish, rumpled men, and women with the courage to sift the gritty sand for years, hoping for fragments of bones from the disappeared. A foot in a ruined boot becomes a venerated relic. At this distance from the centres of wealth generation, capitals of greed, the outlines of the story are smoothed and given force.'

Chicago Reader review:
The least that can be said for Dennis Hopper's 1971 drama is that no other studio-released film of the period is quite so formally audacious. After Easy Rider, Hopper was given carte blanche by Universal Pictures to make this disjointed epic in Peru; although it was given a special prize at the Venice film festival, the film was withdrawn from circulation in the U.S. after a couple of weeks and has rarely been screened since. After working in a western directed by Samuel Fuller (playing himself), during which one of the lead actors (Dean Stockwell) has been killed, an American stunt man (Hopper) remains behind with a Peruvian woman. He is eventually drafted into an imaginary movie being made by the Indian villagers and is also enlisted in a scheme to find gold in the mountains. The curious thing about this freewheeling allegory is that it is simultaneously about many things (the fakery of moviemaking, mutual exploitation, ugly Americans in the third world, Hopper as Jesus) and nothing at all.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the opening of The Last Movie.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 301: Mon Oct 28

British Sounds (Godard, 1970): Master Tech, 1 Heneage St, London  E1 5LJ


This rarely seen Jean Luc-Godard movie is part of the year-long 70x70 season. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London. Here is a full list of the excellent programme.

Time Out review:
The film that was made for and then banned from London Weekend TV. Essentially a documentary, it's a genuine political artefact in which Godard contrives to assault the British sensibility with a series of images and provocations (the slogans flashed on the screen are sometimes humorous and always to the point). The parts where people just talk really work; when Ford Dagenham workers discuss the company-employee situation, the effect is simple and uncluttered but devastatingly effective. Sometimes, however, the control vanishes - the sequence with Essex students making posters, for instance - and this confirms the impression that revolution in Britain will only come from the industrial army who need it, not the middle class academics who play it.

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 300: Sun Oct 27


No1 Friendly Witness (Sonbert, 1989): Tate Modern, 7pm



This is part of the Tate season devoted to the experimental film-maker Warren Sonbert. More details of the full retrospective can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
'In contrast to his earlier sound films, Friendly Witness is obviously edited in relation to the music. But the editing never becomes a slave to the music's beat, and the images never become illustrations for the word of the songs. Instead the relationship between the image and music, particularly in the rock section, is not unlike the relationships Sonbert creates between images. At times the words of the songs seem to relate directly to the images we see (we hear "my little runaway" while seeing a motorcycle jumper); at other times words and images seem to be working almost at cross-purposes or relating only ironically. Similarly, at times the image rhythm and music rhythm appear to dance together, while at others they go their separate ways. 


What makes Friendly Witness such a rich masterpiece, & multiple viewings so rewarding, is that its whole structure is based not on a single organizational principle but on many, some of them almost contradictory. Some films are organized primarily as a series of metaphors, or by connecting images more abstractly through common shapes or movements, or by using images for their narrative possibilities--but Sonbert uses all these methods and more. He thus produces a cinema of multiple attractions based on dissonance as well as rhyme, fissure as well as connection, irony as well as rapture.'
Fred Camper

You can read the lengthy review here.

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No2 An American Werewolf in London (Landis, 1981): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm


This screening is aprt of the BFI Gothic season. The film is also being shown on October 22nd and November 4th. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
John Landis's 1981 attempt to recast the classic horror film into the flip, self-mocking style of his Animal House while retaining the thrills and chills. It's a failure, less because the odd stylistic mix doesn't take (it does from time to time, and to striking effect) than because Landis hasn't bothered to put his story into any kind of satisfying shape. It's the Blues Brothers syndrome again: a lot of dissociated segments left hanging in midair. Still, this may be one of Landis's most personal films: passages of adolescent sexual fantasy alternate with powerfully expressed guilt over dirtier fantasies of family murder and rape. The director may be more in tune with the Freudian subtext of the werewolf fable than his carefully maintained surface cool might indicate. With David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, and Jenny Agutter.
Dave Kehr

Above (and here) is the trailer.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 299: Sat Oct 26

No1 The Tarnished Angels (Sirk, 1957): Tate Modern, 3pm


The screening of this brilliant Douglas Sirk film is part of the Warren Sonbert season at Tate Modern.

Here is the Tate Modern introduction: Tarnished Angels, based on William Faulkner’s Pylon, is a Depression-era story set during the New Orleans Mardi Gras of the 1930s. Rock Hudson plays a reporter fascinated by the marginal lives of a fairground pilot and his wife, played by Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone. Shot in lush, sweeping black-and-white CinemaScope, the camera follows with fluid sweeps and pans the tragic plight of these passionate lost souls caught in a downward spiral of obsession jealousy, self-destruction and defeat. In 1975 Warren Sonbert described Sirk’s cinema as follows:
The fetid taste of intrinsic imperfection, of behavioural mistakes endlessly repeated from generation to generation, find expression in the staggeringly demonic visual motifs recurring throughout Sirk’s films of the merry-go-round, the amusement park ride, the circular treadmill, the vehicle that really goes nowhere, insulated hopeless activity, the Western frame of mind, people struggling to get outside cages of their own building yet encased by their own unique palpable qualities.
Sonbert was known not only for his films and opera reviews but he was also a noted film critic. His writings about feature films are amongst his more extraordinarily profound and insightful creations. In them, he expressed admiration for a pantheon of American directors working within the studio system, including Alfred Hitchcock, Nicholas Ray, and notably Douglas Sirk who appears in Sonbert’s film Noblesse Oblige (1981). He deeply admired Sirk’s ability to expose the ‘hollow cupidity and superficiality of middle class ideals’ and to accentuate the forces of destruction rent upon the nuclear family structure of the 1950s.

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No 2 Vampyr (Dreyer, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4.15pm


This film is screening as part of the BFI Gothic seaaon and is also being shown on October 31st. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'The greatness of Carl Dreyer's first sound film (1932, 83 min.) derives partly from its handling of the vampire theme in terms of sexuality and eroticism and partly from its highly distinctive, dreamy look, but it also has something to do with Dreyer's radical recasting of narrative form. Synopsizing the film not only betrays but misrepresents it: while never less than mesmerizing, it confounds conventions for establishing point of view and continuity, inventing a narrative language all its own. Some of the moods and images conveyed by this language are truly uncanny: the long voyage of a coffin, from the apparent viewpoint of the corpse inside; a dance of ghostly shadows inside a barn; a female vampire's expression of carnal desire for her fragile sister; an evil doctor's mysterious death by suffocation in a flour mill; a protracted dream sequence that manages to dovetail eerily into the narrative proper. The remarkable soundtrack, created entirely in a studio (in contrast to the images, which were all filmed on location), is an essential part of the film's voluptuous and haunting otherworldliness. (Vampyr was originally released by Dreyer in four separate versions—French, English, German, and Danish; most circulating prints now contain portions of two or three of these versions, although the dialogue is pretty sparse.) If you've never seen a Carl Dreyer film and wonder why many critics, myself included, regard him as possibly the greatest of all filmmakers, this chilling horror fantasy is the perfect place to begin to understand.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum 


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 298: Fri Oct 25

The Pit and the Pendulum (Corman, 1961): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm
+ Roger Corman in conversation (NFT1, 6.30pm)


This film is screening as part of the BFI Southbank Gothic season and is also being shown on October 29th and November 26th. Details here. Tonight's presentation will be preceded by a special appearance from director Roger Corman. Details of that event can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
Roger Corman's second go at Edgar Allan Poe (1961) appears just a bit labored, with Poe's tale of psychological torture during the Inquisition tacked on to Richard Matheson's original screenplay. But this team, the same Corman group that made House of Usher and went on to establish Corman as the cinema's chief interpreter of Poe, shows a genuine flair for the gothic cinema that is still a delight. Vincent Price gives one of his better performances, and Barbara Steele (who is to the British gothic movie what Vera Hruba Ralston was to Republic Pictures) is there to add authenticity. Refreshingly good-humored, and marked by Corman's delirious visual sense.
Don Druker


Here (and above) is the trailer for the film.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 297: Thu Oct 24

Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm


This screening is part of the BFI Soutbank's Gothic season. Tonight's screening is introduced by Kevin Jackson and the film is also being screened at the cinema until November 7th. Details here.

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

 
Here is an extract. Above you can get a taste of this great movie.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 296: Wed Oct 23

Dracula (Browning, 1931) + The Mummy (Freund, 1932):
BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.45pm


Tonight's movies are being screened as part of the BFI Southbank's Gothic season. This double-bill can also be seen on 33rd, 27th and 31st October. Details here.

Chicago Reader reviews of:
Dracula:
Universal's classic from 1931, directed by Tod Browning. The opening scenes, set in Dracula's castle, are magnificent—grave, stately, and severe. But the film becomes unbearably static once the action moves to England, and much of the morbid sexual tension is dissipated. Browning remains one of the most intriguing directorial enigmas of the 20s and 30s: he could be flat, dull, and clumsy, but once he connected with the underlying perversities of his screenplays, his films lit up with a diabolical grace. Dracula is disappointing next to Freaks and The Devil-Doll, but it still offers the highly satisfying spectacle of Bela Lugosi packing six volumes of innuendo into the line “I never drink . . . wine.”
Dave Kehr

and...

The Mummy:
Karl Freund, former cameraman for Lang and Murnau in Germany, directed and photographed this creditable 1932 entry in the Universal horror cycle. The drama may be clumsy, but Freund's lighting is a wonder. The charmingly egregious Boris Karloff stars, with support from Zita Johann, a first-rate actress who never really made it in the movies, thanks mainly to roles like this one.
Dave Kehr

Above (and here) is the trailer for Dracula.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 295: Tue Oct 22

Hackney Marshes (Smith, 1978) & The Girl Chewing Gum (Smith, 1976):
The White Building Unit 7, Queen's Yard White Post Lane London E9 5EN, 7pm




This is a specially curated screening by Iain Sinclair.
Iain Sinclair will be in conversation with filmmaker John Smith after the screening.
London psycho-geographical writer Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year with the showing of 70 films he handpicked that relate to his work. Here are the full listings. 
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The Girl Chewing Gum is a 1976 British short film directed by John Smith. The film is widely acknowledged as one of the most important avant-garde films of the 20th century.

'In The Girl Chewing Gum an authoritative voice-over pre-empts the events occurring in the image, seeming to order not only the people, cars and moving objects within the screen but also the actual camera movements operated on the street in view. In relinquishing the more subtle use of voice-over in television documentary, the film draws attention to the control and directional function of that practice: imposing, judging, creating an imaginary scene from a visual trace. This 'Big Brother' is not only looking at you but ordering you about as the viewer's identification shifts from the people in the street to the camera eye overlooking the scene. The resultant voyeurism takes on an uncanny aspect as the blandness of the scene (shot in black and white on a grey day in Hackney) contrasts with the near 'magical' control identified with the voice. The most surprising effect is the ease with which representation and description turn into phantasm through the determining power of language.' - from Michael Maziere, John Smith's Films: Reading the Visible' Undercut 10/11.

'John Smith's improbable treatise on representation has deservedly become a Co-op classic.'
Ian Christie, Time Out.

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Hackney Marshes was a documentary commissioned by Thames Television for the series Take Six. 

Smith says: ‘Shown at 6 o’clock in the evening – how things have changed!’ John Wyver wrote the review in Time Out. ‘The dual subjects are the inhabitants of tower blocks in Hackney and the components and conventions of filmmaking. Interviews with the former are cut against a limited sequence of compositions, which illustrate and question the soundtrack in a number of distinct ways… Its success demonstrates the necessity for many TV film-makers to begin to rethink their safe approaches and accepted techniques.’

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 294: Mon Oct 21

Mickey One (Penn, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This rare screening of Arthur Penn's New Wave-influenced film is part of the BFI Passport to Cinema season and is also being shown on August October 29th. Tonight's showing is introduced by the excellent Richard Combs. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1964 film is so obscure that contemporary critics dismissed it as a colossal bit of self-indulgence by director Arthur Penn and star Warren Beatty. Scripted by Alan Surgal, it's a variation on Kafka's The Trial, with Beatty as a second-rate nightclub comic on the run from a nameless threat (which may or may not involve the syndicate and some gambling debts). Quintessential Penn, far easier to read now than it was then, and even funny in spots.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the film's opening.