Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 197: Thu Jul 17

No1: Rollerball (Jewison, 1975):
The Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road, Dalston, N1 4BL, 7pm

This film is brought to you by a new London-based science fiction film club, run by SF specialists The Space Merchants.

Here is their introduction:
Norman Jewison’s dystopian Rollerball portrays a near-future in the aftermath of the Corporate Wars, in which nations have crumbled and conglomerates rule. In place of freedom the people are given bread and circuses: material comfort and Rollerball itself. Played on a circular, slanted track by men on skates and motorbikes, this extreme sport is the ultimate extrapolation of the primitive blood lust implicit in many team sports. James Caan is outstanding as Jonathan E, star player with the Houston team.
In the elegant detachment of Jewison’s direction, emphasised by the stark, alienating use of classical music, there are echoes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Notwithstanding the brilliantly staged arena sequences, Rollerball is essentially about freedom versus conformity and the corruption of unfettered capitalism, with Caan leading an existential rebellion in the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 which leads to a chilling, apocalyptic finale. Certainly the most prophetic film of the 1970s, Rollerball has an intelligence and power overlooked by those who simply denounce its brutal violence.
Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2: Golden Eighties (Akerman, 1986): ICA Cinema, 7pm

Film-maker Carol Morley will introduce the latest in the A Nos Amours film club's complete retrospective of Chantal Akerman's work.

Chicago Reader review:
Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman) made this independent work from a work-in-progress known as The Eighties (the English title of the finished film is Window Shopping). Forty minutes of videotaped auditions and rehearsals for Akerman's shopping center musical are followed by three production numbers—in radiant 35-millimeter—from the film. The subject is first and foremost Akerman's love of actors and the filmmaking process, and second the process itself—the intermediary steps between conception and perfection, from physical materials to cinematic illusions. If you don't know Akerman's work, this is an excellent place to start: it's a very funny, very idiosyncratic piece from one of the most sympathetic of modernist filmmakers.

Dave Kehr

Here is the ICA introduction:
Film collective A Nos Amours continues a retrospective of the complete film works of Chantal Akerman with an exuberant and sparky musical, at once homage to classic era MGM musicals, and an expression of a highly European sensibility: satirical, teasing, resigned.

Chantal Akerman devoted enormous energy to this long cherished project. Not only would she write and direct, but she wrote the lyrics to the songs. Set in an other-worldly shopping mall called the Toisson d’Or (which translates as The Golden Fleece), perhaps modelled on the mall of the same name in Brussels.

Golden Eighties interweaves tales of love, longing, disappointment and heartbreak. It offers song and choreographed - if not quite dance-like - movement. Akerman is working as ever with ordinary material, arranged and framed with precise purpose.

The musical numbers here touch on economic woes, recession, sexual positions, and can be catty and sarcastic – far removed from the sentimental world of MGM musicals, but not so far removed from the musicals of Jacques Demy or especially Renoir’s odd valedictory song and dance segment in Le Petit Théâtre de Jean Renoir.

Shot with distinctive Fujicolor film stock, lit without shadows, stuck in an interior studio world as if exterior did not exist, jam-packed with infuriatingly catchy tunes, this is an astonishing work from an artist who began as a structuralist, albeit a structuralist with a gift for narrative.

Here is the opening to the film.

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