Sunday, 23 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 108: Fri Apr 18

No1 The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie, 1981): Hackney Picturehouse, 7.50pm

This is part of the year-long 70x70 film 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, which finishes in June.

Screenwriter Barrie Keefe will join Iain Sinclair for an introductory discussion to this classic London film.

Chicago Reader review:
By the early 80s the British film industry was profitably turning away from the David Lean-Carol Reed “tradition of quality” to find new life in grittier styles and subjects. This transposition of an American gangster tragedy (complete with Christological references) to London's West End doesn't quite have an American drive and assurance, yet the film is fascinating for the culture gaps it opens. Bob Hoskins gives a growly, charismatic performance as the kingpin brought low by phantom forces over the course of an Easter weekend, and there's a political theme that asserts itself with nicely rising force. With Helen Mirren and Dave King; directed by John Mackenzie (1980).
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No 2 Stakeout (Nomura, 1958): ICA Cinema, 8.40pm

A hugely revered, popular filmmaker in his home country of Japan, Yoshitaro Nomura's (1919 – 2005) film career spanned more than 50 years during which he directed 89 movies.

This is the ICA introduction to the season:
Considered one of the pioneers of Japanese film noir, he is best known in Japan for his adaptations of mystery and detective novels, several of which were based on stories by best-selling left-leaning crime writer Seicho Matsumoto (1909-1992), who was the most popular and highest paid writer in Japan in the late 1950s. Compellingly brought to life by Nomura, the crimes in these stories speak of a compromised society, damaged and mistrustful. The five best examples of their collaboration are being screened at the ICA. These include the 1974 thriller, Castle of Sand, which is ranked as one of the greatest ever-Japanese films by domestic critics, as well as The Demon (1978), Zero Focus (1961), The Chase (aka Stakeout) (1958), and The Shadow Within (1970).

Nomura poured his heart and soul into Stakeout, a stylish mystery in which two Tokyo detectives come to sympathise with those on whom they’re spying.

Two Tokyo cops travel to a small town on the southern island of Kyushu. They are there to observe the suspected hideout of Ishii, a lowlife murder suspect who they believe is being protected by his lover Sadako, who is eking out a sad life as the unloved wife of an arrogant businessman.
By 1958 Nomura had become established at Shochiku as a versatile and highly efficient director. Stakeout was, incredibly, his 25th film in within six years. But this was a special project for the 39-year-old director, who, recognising the step up in terms of talent and resources available, recognised that it could be his breakthrough film (it was). It was the first of his eight collaborations with the already extremely popular writer Seichô Matsumoto, who in the same year had three series and two novels published.

An emotive take on the US noir template, somewhat reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, it boasts some thrillingly modern, gliding cinematography by Seji Inoue. Stakeout also established at least two patterns for the Nomura/Matsumoto films - the train journey to an outlying region, and a sympathetic interest in marginalised characters - in this a downtrodden woman. Fans of Japanese cinema may recognise detective Shimo-oka, played by Seiji Miyaguchi, the master swordsman Kyuzo from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and Hideko Takamine, the iconic star of Mikio Naruse’s best films.

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