Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 25: Sat Jan 25

No1 Dark Days (Singer, 2000): Ritzy Cinema 1.30pm & Hackney Picturehouse, 5pm 
Both films will be followed by Q&A with director Marc Singer.

Here is the Picturehouses introduction: DARK DAYS is a sensitive and soulful portrait of a homeless community living in the subway tunnels of New York in the 1990s. Director Marc Singer creates a sympathetic portrait of this underground population, asking them to share everyday stories of their lives – finding food, caring for pets, socialising. In doing so he reveals that their daily grind is not dissimilar to ours, allowing viewers to confront poverty on an individual level.

Shot in black and white, with a crew comprised of the inhabitants of the tunnels and accompanied by a score from the legendary DJ Shadow, DARK DAYS endures as one of the definitive films of life lived in the margins. DARK DAYS premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival where it went on to win the Audience, Cinematography and Freedom of Expression Awards in the Documentary Category (it remains the only documentary film ever to win three awards at the festival).

Daily Telegraph review:
Twenty years ago, Englishman Marc Singer was living in New York City, and became drawn to a community of homeless people living underground, in the Amtrak tunnel near Penn Station. He lived with them on and off for a period of two years, deciding after a few months that a documentary was something which might help those in the community financially. What he assembled was the remarkable Dark Days, which won a clutch of awards – including the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival – on its release in 2000. Now reissued to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the British distributor Dogwoof, it holds up as a haunting document of mid-Nineties urban blight.
It’s as vivid a depiction of homelessness as cinema has ever given us. Shot in grainy 16mm monochrome, with a couple of strong lights Singer asked friends to tote around, it’s distinguished by remarkable intimacy, with none of the arty distance or aesthetic pretension a veteran filmmaker might have imposed. Singer’s subjects feel more like collaborators, an ensemble cast. They open up about terrible things they’ve suffered – in more than one case, the death of a child – which have sunk them into this abyss. Some have weaned themselves off smoking crack. Others intend to, one day.
The soundtrack, provided pro bono by pioneering hip-hop producer DJ Shadow, helps knit the whole into something forbidding, emotive and captivating. 
Tim Robey

Here (and above is an extract)


No 2 The Secret Beyond the Door (Lang, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film, which is part of the BFI Gothic season, also screens on Friday 31st January.

Time Out review:
An example of Hollywood's mooncalf affair with Freud during the '40s, ending in an absurd instant cure for psychopathy. But the premise is fascinating, and fraught with Gothic overtones as Bennett's heroine ('This is not the time to think of danger', she murmurs at the outset, shaking off premonition, 'this is my wedding day') gradually realises that, married to an architect (Redgrave) who literally and obsessively 'collects' rooms in which murders have occurred, she must uncover the secret of the one room always kept locked. Lang himself didn't think much of the film, but nevertheless set it under his usual sign of destiny ('This is not the time to think of danger...') and invested it with roots in older myths of the magic power of love. His direction is masterly, imposing meanings and tensions through images that are spare, resonant and astonishingly beautiful. A remarkable film.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is an extract.

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