Thursday, 31 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 232: Thu Aug 21

Kids (Clark, 1995): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 9pm

This is part of the Teenage Kicks season and also screens on August 24th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
From noted still photographer-turned-director Larry Clark and young screenwriter Harmony Korine, both making their screen debuts, a slightly better than average youth exploitation film (and grim cautionary fable about both AIDS and macho teenage cruelty) that hysterical American puritanism contrived to convert into big news. (The New York Times's Janet Maslin called this “a wake-up call to the world”—meaning, I suppose, that rice paddy workers everywhere should shell out for tickets and stop evading the problems of white Manhattan teenagers.) But if the news is so big, why does it sound like such tired and familiar stuff? And reviewers who claimed that this depressing movie takes no moral position about what it's depicting must have been experiencing some form of self-induced shock, because taking moral positions is just about all it does. The photography is striking and the acting and dialogue seem reasonably authentic, if one factors in all the sensationalism, but let's get real—this was at best the 15th most interesting movie I saw at the 1995 Cannes festival. If you're determined to succumb to the bait, I hope you have more fun than I did.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 231: Wed Aug 20

Heathers (Lehmann, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This is part of the Teenage Kicks season at the BFI and also screens on August 22nd. Details here.

Time Out review:
A wicked black comedy about teenage suicide and pernicious peer-group pressure, this refreshing parody of high-school movies is venomously penned by Daniel Waters and sharply directed by Lehmann. The Heathers are three vacuous Westerburg High school beauties who specialise in 'being popular' and making life hell for socially inadequate dweebettes and pillowcases. Having sold out her former friends in these categories, Veronica (Ryder) becomes an honorary member of the select clique - but turns monocled mutineer. Aided by handsome rebellious newcomer JD (Slater), she devises a drastic plan to undermine the teen-queen tyranny, but underestimates JD's ruthlessness: the scheme backfires dangerously. The compromised ending (forced on the film-makers by New World) is a serious let-down, but there is some exceptional ensemble acting, several stylish set pieces, and more imaginative slang than you could shake a cheerleader's ass at. More crucially, the film uses an intimate knowledge of teen-movie clichés to subvert their debased values from the inside.
Nigel Floyd

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 230: Tue Aug 19

Suspiria (Argento, 1977): Union Chapel, Upper Street, Islington, 7pm

As part of this year’s Film4 FrightFest, prog-rock ensemble Goblin are to perform their original scores for George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Dario Argento’s Suspiria at two special screenings in London. Led by Brazilian-born Italian composer Claudio Simonetti, the four-piece will provide real-time accompaniment to the cult horror classics on August 18 and 19 at Union Chapel in Islington – follow the links for tickets to Dawn of the Dead and Suspiria.

Time Out review:
From his stylish, atmosphere-laden opening - young American ballet student arriving in Europe during a storm - Argento relentlessly assaults his audience: his own rock score (all dissonance and heavy-breathing) blasts out in stereo, while Jessica Harper gets threatened by location, cast, weather and camera. Thunderstorms and extraordinarily grotesque murders pile up as Argento happily abandons plot mechanics to provide a bravura display of his technical skill. With his sharp eye for the bizarre and for vulgar over-decoration, it's always fascinating to watch; the thrills and spills are so classy and fast that the movie becomes in effect what horror movies seemed like when you were too young to get in to see them. Don't think, just panic.

Here (and above) is the celebrated opening to the film.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 229: Mon Aug 18

Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1978): Union Chapel, Upper Street, Islington, 7pm

As part of this year’s Film4 FrightFest, prog-rock ensemble Goblin are to perform their original scores for George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Dario Argento’s Suspiria at two special screenings in London. Led by Brazilian-born Italian composer Claudio Simonetti, the four-piece will provide real-time accompaniment to the cult horror classics on August 18 and 19 at Union Chapel in Islington – follow the links for tickets to Dawn of the Dead and Suspiria.

Chicago Reader review:
George Romero's 1979 sequel to Night of the Living Dead is a more accomplished and more knowing film, tapping into two dark and dirty fantasies—wholesale slaughter and wholesale shopping—to create a grisly extravaganza with an acute moral intelligence. The graphic special effects (which sometimes suggest a shotgun Jackson Pollock) are less upsetting than Romero's way of drawing the audience into the violence. As four survivors of the zombie war barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall, our loyalties and human sympathies are made to shift with frightening ease. Romero's sensibility approaches the Swiftian in its wit, accuracy, excess, and profound misanthropy.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 228: Sun Aug 17

A Nos Amours (Pialat, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm

This film is also being shown on 10th and 13th August and the screening on Sunday 10 August will be presented with I am Dora, a film series and publication exploring how female characters in film affect women’s perceptions of themselves, and will followed by a salon discussion in the Blue Room.

If you've seen the film before you might want to read critic Nick Pinkerton's take on this troubling movie here from the Reverse Shot website here.

Chicago Reader review:
A 15-year-old French girl (Sandrine Bonnaire, extraordinary) finds refuge from her troubled family in a series of casual sexual encounters. The subject invites a certain social-worker condescension (it's the stuff of TV movies), yet Maurice Pialat's mise-en-scene allows us no comforting distance from the characters. His ragged long takes plunge us straight into the action and hold us there, as if we, too, were combatants in this family war. His unorthodox dramatic construction rejects the symmetry of classical plotting, and the narrative has a quirky, self-propelling quality that allows for some astonishing things to happen. Pialat himself plays the father, whose disappearance sets the action in motion and whose reappearance makes it explode.

Dave Kehr


This film ranked #38 in Time Out's list of the 100 greatest French films. Click here to see the full list.

Time Out review:

Fifteen-year-old Suzanne (Bonnaire) seems unable to progress beyond a rather doleful promiscuity in her relations with boys. Alone of her family, her father (played by Pialat himself) understands her, but when he leaves home for another woman, family life erupts into a round of appalling, casual violence, until Suzanne escapes into a fast marriage, and finally to America. Pialat's methods of close, intimate filming may place him close in many ways to our own Ken Loach, but his interests are rooted in a very cinematic approach to personal inner life, rather than any schematic political theory. The message may be that happiness is as rare as a sunny day, and sorrow is forever, but a counterbalancing warmth is provided by Pialat's enormous care for his creations. The rapport between father and daughter is especially moving. Pialat once acted in a Chabrol film, and one French critic's verdict on his performance can stand equally well for this film: 'Massive, abrupt, and incredibly gentle'.
Chris Peachement

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 227: Sat Aug 16

Enter The Void (Noe, 2010): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

This is part of the Eye-Popping Colour season at the Barbican. Full details here. This film is presented uncut and includes the ‘missing reel’ not featured in the movie’s original release.

Chicago Reader review:
French director Gaspar Noe has kept a pretty low profile since his 2002 drama Irreversible, notorious for its brutal nine-minute anal rape scene. But this epic, psychedelic mindfuck confirms him once again as the cinema's most imaginative nihilist (a conflicted honor if, like me, you consider nihilism a failure of the imagination). The main characters are a young Frenchman and his sister living at the margins of the Tokyo underworld, he as a drug dealer and she as a stripper; after the young man is shot by police and dies on the floor of a grimy toilet, his spirit floats omnisciently over the city (consistent with his recent study of the Tibetan Book of the Dead) and keeps tabs on his vulnerable sibling. The colored lights of nocturnal Tokyo provide an apt jumping-off point for Noe's drugged-out imagery, and his nicely calibrated story line reveals the siblings' tragic past before circling back to the present and what the future might hold. It's a dark and commanding vision, reaching for the heavens even as it wallows in the muck.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 226: Fri Aug 15

Brief Encounter (Lean, 1945): Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm

This is a special screening of David Lean's movie accompanied by live music from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The centrepiece of a three-week series of films screened in Royal Festival Hall, Brief Encounter is shown with a newly commissioned orchestral soundtrack by Southbank Centre's Resident Orchestra for three nights only on the 15th, 22nd and 29th August.
This performance is introduced by actor Lucy Fleming (daughter of Celia Johnson) and a complete performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 precedes the screening. Full details here.

The BFI Film Classics collection includes this film - it is written by Richard Dyer and I can thoroughly recommend it. Details here

Time Out review:
Nighttime; a railway station in Britain, circa WWII. An express train races through the smoky darkness, Rachmaninoff’s second Piano Concerto rages, and a man and a woman—their intimate tête-à-tête interrupted by a prissy acquaintance—silently say farewell, his hand lightly gripping her shoulder in lieu of a kiss. What led devoted housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) to this point? The memories flood in after she arrives home to her husband and two children: that speck of grit that flew in her eye all those months before, which brought Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) to her aid and led to an impulsive, mostly chaste affair. A love, of course, that couldn’t last.
David Lean’s classic weepie, adapted from a Noël Coward play (Still Life), is sheer perfection—the gold standard of tragic romances whose influence can still be seen to this day. (Andrew Haigh’s recent indie Weekend gave the basic template a queer twist, and plenty have interpreted Coward’s story as a coded gay romance.) Johnson and Howard’s repressed passion could fuel an English tank battalion, and the shadowy black-and-white cinematography—a love story drenched in noirish tones—looks especially gorgeous in this new 4K restoration. But it’s not all tears and anguish: Lean and Coward leaven the film’s inevitably upsetting outcome with a few pointedly satirical asides, the best of which is a movie-within-the-movie (Flames of Passion) that does all the emoting Brief Encounter’s prim-and-proper protagonists can’t.
Keith Uhlich

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 225: Thu Aug 14

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (Demy, 1967): BFI Southbank, 6pm

Geoff Andrew introduces this marvellous Jacques Demy musical in the Gotta Dance, Gotta Dance! season. The film also screens on 11th and 16th August. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One might argue for Lola (1960), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), or the lesser-known Une Chambre en Ville (1982) as Jacques Demy's greatest feature. But his most ambitious is this 1967 big-budget musical shot exclusively on location, a tale of various dreamers searching for and usually missing their ideal mates, who are usually only blocks away. The score is Michel Legrand's finest, with various jazz elements, lyrics in alexandrines by Demy, and intricately structured reprises that match the poetic, crisscrossing plot. Demy pays tribute to the American musical yet mixes in accoutrements of French poetic realism: dreams and reality coexist more strangely and stubbornly than in most other musicals. The results may be quintessentially French, but the energy and optimism are clearly inspired by America, and Gene Kelly's appearances are sublime.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 224: Wed Aug 13

20,000 Days on Earth (Forsyth & Pollard, 2014): Somerset House, 9pm

Here's the UK premiere of the award-winning documentary about musician & writer Nick Cave, which garnered rave reviews at Sundance this year.

Time Out review:
‘This is my 20,000th day on Earth,’ says Australian rock musician and writer Nick Cave as we see him waking up in a luxurious bed and baring his chest in the mirror. What are we watching? Is this ‘At Home with Nick Cave – The Royalties Years’? Far from it. Like much in this smart and deliriously strange film, the opening scene embraces a familiar tic of the music doc (here, the pretence of intimacy) but manages both to reject and rework it in inspiring ways. Put it this way: we don’t then see Cave take a crap or boil an egg. The film preserves his public face, even reinforces it, while also managing to offer a no-nonsense and revealing take on living and working as an artist.
The idea is that we spend one day on Earth with Nick Cave, from dawn til dusk, via family, friends, a recording session and a gig, but it’s just a conceit, a neat device, and much of the film plays out more like drama. It’s all a performance – but artifice co-exists with honesty.

There’s a sense of intimacy, but not the sort that pretends we’ve managed to breach the defences of someone’s life. There’s a shot of Cave watching a film with his young twin boys, eating pizza – the cuteness is exploded when we realise they’re watching ‘Scarface’. It’s a typically playful moment. Cave talks of his wife, Susie, and we hear an exciting monologue as he explains with moving hyperbole how he felt when he first laid eyes on her. But we only see her as a reflection in a window. The film conceals as much as it reveals, and its beauty is that it pretends to do nothing else. It embraces a mystery and protects it, and it’s thrilling to behold.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the review.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 223: Tue Aug 12

To Catch A Thief (Hitchcock, 1955): BFI Southbank, on extended run . . .

This Hitchcock classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. See here for details.

Chicago Reader review of To Catch A Thief:
'Cary Grant is a retired cat burglar on the Riviera and Grace Kelly is the spoiled American rich girl who seems to have the perpetual hots for him, in Alfred Hitchcock's fluffy 1955 exercise in light comedy, minimal mystery, and good-natured eroticism (the fireworks scene is a classic). Jessie Royce Landis (North by Northwest) is delightful as Kelly's clearheaded mother (she and Grant were born the same year, by the way), and John Williams gives expert support as usual.'
Dan Druker

Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 222: Mon Aug 11

The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.50pm

This is part of the Passport to Cinema season and also screens on August 17. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Sam Peckinpah's notorious western depicted an outlaw gang, made obsolete by encroaching civilization, in its last burst of violent, ambiguous glory. By 1969, when the film was made, the western was experiencing its last burst as well, and in retrospect Peckinpah's film seems a eulogy for the genre (there is even a dispassionate audience—Robert Ryan's watchful Pinkerton man—built into the film). The on-screen carnage established a new level in American movies, but few of the films that followed in its wake could duplicate Peckinpah's depth of feeling.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 221: Sun Aug 10

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks, 1953): Somerset House, 9pm

Each summer, The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court hosts London's most beautiful open-air cinema, the Film4 Summer Screen. The series features a range of films, all showing on a state-of-the-art screen with full surround sound. Full details of the season at Somerset House can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
Howard Hawks's grand, brassy 1953 musical about two girls from Little Rock—Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell—gone gold digging in Paris. The male sex is represented by a bespectacled nerd (Tommy Noonan), a dirty old man (Charles Coburn), and a 12-year-old voyeur (the unforgettable George "Foghorn" Winslow), all of whom deserve what they get. The opening shot—Russell and Monroe in sequins standing against a screaming red drape—is enough to knock you out of your seat, and the audacity barely lets up from there, as Russell romances the entire U.S. Olympic team to the tune of "Ain't There Anyone Here for Love?" and Hawks keeps topping perversity with perversity. A landmark encounter in the battle of the sexes.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 220: Sat Aug 9

Written on the Wind (Sirk, 1956): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

This is part of the Eye-Popping Colour season at the Barbican. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the most remarkable and unaccountable films ever made in Hollywood, Douglas Sirk's 1957 masterpiece turns a lurid, melodramatic script into a screaming Brechtian essay on the shared impotence of American family and business life. Sirk's highly imaginative use of color—to accent, undermine, and sometimes even nullify the drama—remains years ahead of contemporary technique. The degree of stylization is high and impeccable: one is made to understand the characters as icons as well as psychologically complex creations. With Dorothy Malone (in the performance of her career), Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, and Rock Hudson.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 219: Fri Aug 8

Beyond Clueless (Lyne, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This better be good. I helped to fund this film (in a modest way) through Kickstarter. It's been a popular ticket but definitely worth travelling to BFI Southbank on the night for returns.

Here is the BFI introduction:

As part of our Teenage Kicks season, Sonic Cinema presents the London premiere of film critic Charlie Lyne’s bold and stylish feature debut, with live music from critically acclaimed indie-pop duo ‘Summer Camp.’ Part documentary, part essay and part experimental driftwork, Beyond Clueless explores and celebrates the world of the American teenager, complete with its jocks, nerds, freaks, geeks, cheerleaders, angst, attitude and rebellion, as depicted by countless movies made in the wake of 1995’s breakout success Clueless. Lyne combines an intricate collage of scenes from over 200 teen movies with hypnotic narration by cult teen star Fairuza Balk (The Craft) and sophisticated pop from ‘Summer Camp,’ to create a dreamlike and highly original cinematic experience. Followed by a special DJ set in the benugo bar until late.

Here is the Guardian's Henry Barnes' review.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 218: Thu Aug 7

Two Days, One Night (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2014): Somerset House, 9pm

Each summer, The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court hosts London's most beautiful open-air cinema, the Film4 Summer Screen. The series features a range of films, all showing on a state-of-the-art screen with full surround sound. The UK premiere of the new Dardennes brothers' latest movie will be a highlight this year. Full details of the season at Somerset House can be found here.

Time Out review:
Two Days, One Night features a career-high performance from Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard – by far the Dardennes' starriest casting to date – and has a starting-gun premise: a young mother, Sandra (Cotillard), recently off work with depression, is made redundant from a small factory that makes solar panels. In her absence, 14 of her 16 colleagues have voted to take their bonuses (around 1,000 euros each) rather than let her keep her job. But willed into action by a supportive husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione), she persuades her boss to give her one last chance and to host a second vote round of voting two days later. Will she be able to save her job by knocking on doors over the weekend to persuade her colleagues to support her? This is political drama (with the smallest of p's) at its finest and most humane: heady, engaging, gently ingraining ideas about empowerment, taking a stand and how we organise our societies into the fabric of the film. Each one of Sandra's encounters is a surprise and adds shade or a new perspective to what we think the film has to tell us about human nature and how we live our lives. There are no heroes or villains here; everybody is simply getting by, and by the skin of their teeth. After spending 'Two Days, One Night' in the company of Sandra, you'll be punching the air with pride.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 217: Wed Aug 6

There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007): Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, NW1, 8pm

This promises to be a special screening (also showing on August 7). Here is the Roundhouse introduction:
By arrangement with Miramax and Park Circus Films, Roundhouse is pleased to be the home of a series of world-premiere screenings of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Academy Award-winning There Will Be Blood with Jonny Greenwood’s score performed live by the London Contemporary Orchestra, conducted by Hugh Brunt.

These live screenings will draw together an orchestra of over 50 musicians, including Jonny Greenwood himself, who will play the Ondes Martenot part.

Although widely regarded as one of the most influential soundtracks in recent years, There Will Be Blood was famously ruled ineligible in the Best Original Score category at the 2008 Academy Awards due to its use of pre-existing material. The score features passages from Greenwood’s compositions Popcorn Superhet Receiver and Bodysong (the latter used in the track Convergence), as well as works by Arvo Pärt and Brahms. All these cues have been collated into one ‘performance edition’, offering a complete representation of the original film, shown in a striking new light

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 216: Tue Aug 5

Carrie (De Palma, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm

This great Brian De Palma movie, part of the Teenage Kicks season, is also being shown on August 1st and 2nd. Details here.

Time Out review:
She wasn’t the favourite to play ‘creepy Carrie’, but it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Sissy Spacek (looking like she’s stepped into the ‘70s from another time altogether) in the role. Stephen King got the idea for the novel, his first, in the girls’ locker room of a college where he was working as a caretaker. Teenage girls can be pure evil and it’s in a locker room that we meet Carrie, who’s just had her first period and is being told to ‘plug it up!’ by the mean girls. Carrie’s secret is that she has telekinetic powers, which are about to wreak an apocalypse at the school prom. As for the pig’s blood scene, it doesn’t matter how many times you watch it, you’re willing that bucket not to drop. Spacek gamely offered to be covered in real pig’s blood, but in the end was drenched with a mix of syrup and food colouring.
Cath Clarke

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 215: Mon Aug 4

The Deer Hunter (Cimino, 1978): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 7.40pm

This multi-Oscar winning movie is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

Time Out review:
This is probably one of the few great films of the Seventies. It's the tale of three Pennsylvanian steelworkers, their life at work, at play (deer-hunting), at war (as volunteers in Vietnam). Running against the grain of liberal guilt and substituting Fordian patriotism, it proposes De Niro as a Ulyssean hero tested to the limit by war. Moral imperatives replace historical analysis, social rituals become religious sacraments, and the sado-masochism of the central (male) love affair is icing on a Nietzschean cake. Ideally, though, it should prove as gruelling a test of its audience's moral and political conscience as it seems to have been for its makers.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 214: Sun Aug 3

No1: Thieves' Highway (Dassin, 1949) & Rififi (Dassin, 1955): Cinema Museum, 2.30pm

Chicago Reader review of Thieves' Highway:
Perhaps the most unjustly neglected of Jules Dassin's preblacklist Hollywood pictures, and one of the best noirs ever made, this 1949 release is a terrific, fast-moving thriller about the corruption of the California fruit market business. Adapted by A.I. Bezzerides (Kiss Me Deadly, Track of the Cat) from his own novel, it has a pretty exciting cast as well: Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese (in her American debut), Lee J. Cobb (in a role anticipating his part in On the Waterfront), Barbara Lawrence, Jack Oakie, and Millard Mitchell.
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Chicago Reader review of Rififi:
It's one of the enduring mysteries of the Hollywood blacklist that directors such as Joseph Losey and Cy Endfield had to hide behind fronts or pseudonyms, whereas Jules Dassin was able to direct this atmospheric 1955 French thriller under his own name and still get it shown in the U.S., where it was something of an art-house hit. (Oddly, as a cast member he uses the name “Perlo Vita.”) Shot in Paris and its environs and adapted from an Auguste le Breton novel with the author's assistance, this is a familiar but effective parable of honor among thieves, and though it may not be as ideologically meaningful as the juicy noirs Dassin made for Hollywood—The Naked City (1947), Thieves' Highway (1949), and Night and the City (1950)—it's probably more influential, above all for its half-hour sequence without dialogue that meticulously shows the whole process of an elaborate jewelry heist.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer for Rififi.


No2: The Lady From Shanghai (Welles, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 2pm

This superb Orson Welles film noir is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

I have written a feature about the drama both on and off the screen involving this brilliant movie here at the Guardian Film website.

Chicago Reader review:
The weirdest great movie ever made (1948), which is somehow always summed up for me by the image of Glenn Anders cackling "Target practice! Target practice!" with unbalanced, malignant glee. Orson Welles directs and stars as an innocent Irish sailor who's drafted into a bizarre plot involving crippled criminal lawyer Everett Sloane and his icily seductive wife Rita Hayworth. Hayworth tells Welles he "knows nothing about wickedness" and proceeds to teach him, though he's an imperfect student. The film moves between Candide-like farce and a deeply disturbing apprehension of a world in grotesque, irreversible decay—it's the only true film noir comedy. The script, adapted from a novel by Sherwood King, is credited solely to Welles, but it's the work of many hands, including Welles, William Castle, Charles Lederer, and Fletcher Markle.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 213: Sat Aug 2

Tokyo Drifter (Suzuki, 1966): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

This screens as part of the Eye-Popping Colour season at the Barbican.

Time Out review:
Deliriously playful yakuza pic, in which Suzuki lets logic hang. Basically just another tale of gang warfare, it's kitted out with plot ellipses, bizarre sets and colour effects, inappropriate songs, absurd irrelevancies (nice hair-drier gags!), action scenes that verge on the abstract, and some visual jokes tottering precariously between slapstick and surrealism. Somehow, it still just about works as a thriller, with (very, very faint) echoes of Melville and Leone. Inspired lunacy.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 212: Fri Aug 1

Nights of Cabiria (Fellini, 1957): Phoenix Cinema, 11.45pm

Actor and writer Mark Gatiss will be on hand for a rare midnight screening of Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria as part of the Phoenix Nights season.

Time Out review:
In 1957, Fellini was still as indebted to neo-realism as to surrealism, and this melancholy tale of a prostitute working the outskirts of Rome is notable for its straightforward depiction of destitution. It may come as a surprise to those who know only Fellini's later work. It's easy to appreciate how Bob Fosse, Neil Simon and Peter Stone found a musical in it (Sweet Charity): Fellini orchestrates his story in waves of simple, pure emotion, telegraphed with silent screen gusto by Giulietta Masina. With her Noh eyebrows and white bobby socks, Masina is the missing link between Charlie Chaplin and Shirley MacLaine. One of life's eternal optimists, Cabiria one day meets the man of her prayers (Périer), and what follows is scarcely unexpected, but heartbreaking for all that. This new (1999) print features a seven minute sequence not seen since the film's Cannes premiere - Cabiria's encounter with a stranger delivering food parcels to the poor. Censored apparently at the behest of the Catholic Church, it underlines the severity of the social context, deepens Cabiria's character and serves as a poignant harbinger of things to come.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 211: Thu Jul 31

Scarface (Hawks, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm

This is part of the BFI's Passport to Cinema season.
The 28th July screening of this film will be introduced by Richard Combs. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Howard Hawks's 1932 masterpiece is a dark, brutal, exhilaratingly violent film, blending comedy and horror in a manner that suggests Chico Marx let loose with a live machine gun. Paul Muni gives his best performance as the simian hood Tony Camonte, whose one redeeming virtue is that he loves his sister (Ann Dvorak, of the limpid eyes and jutting limbs). Hawks reverses the usual structure of the gangster tragedy: Camonte doesn't hubristically challenge his world so much as go with the flow of its natural chaos and violence. The supporting actors—Osgood Perkins, Karen Morely, Boris Karloff, Vince Barnett, George Raft (flipping his coin)—seem to have been chosen for their geometric qualities; the film is a symphony of body shapes and gestures, functioning dynamically as well as dramatically.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 210: Wed Jul 30

Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944): Riverside Studios, 6.30pm

This is screening on a double-bill with Cold In July. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
James M. Cain's pulp classic (1944), as adapted by Raymond Chandler and directed by Billy Wilder. Barbara Stanwyck is perfectly cast as a Los Angeles dragon lady burdened with too much time, too much money, and a dull husband. Fred MacMurray (less effectively) is the fly-by-night insurance salesman who hopes to relieve her of all three. Wilder trades Cain's sun-rot imagery for conventional film noir stylings, but the atmosphere of sexual entrapment survives. With Edward G. Robinson.
Dave Kehr

Here's one of the famous scenes with MacMurray "speeding".

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 209: Tue Jul 29

Infernal Affairs (Lau/Mak, 2002): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm

This screens as part of the Century of Chinese Cinema season and is alo being shown on 27th July.

Chicago Reader:
A runaway hit in Hong Kong, this 2002 crime thriller reinvigorated the genre with its airtight script, taut editing, and sleek cinematography (Christopher Doyle served as visual consultant). Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love) plays an undercover cop who's spent three years infiltrating a local triad, and Andy Lau (Days of Being Wild) is his doppelganger, a triad mole rising through the ranks of the police department's organized crime unit. Neither man knows the other's identity, but after a while neither seems entirely sure of his own either. Their only reference point seems to be the mutual antagonism between their respective father figures, a steely police superintendent (Anthony Wong) and a scheming triad boss (Eric Tsang). In Cantonese with subtitles.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 208: Mon Jul 28

Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983): The Alibi Film Club, 91 Kingsland High St, E8, 8pm

The Alibi Film Club continue their excellent run of movies with this Cronenberg cult classic.

Chicago Reader review:  
'This 1983 shocker by David Cronenberg comes about as close to abandoning a narrative format as a commercial film possibly can: James Woods plays the programmer of a sleazy Toronto cable channel who stumbles across a mysterious pirate emission—a porno show called “Videodrome” that features hideous S and M fantasies performed with appalling realism. Knowing a ratings winner when he sees one, Woods sets out to find the producer and quickly becomes involved with a kinky talk-show hostess (Deborah Harry), expanding rubber TV sets, a bizarre religious cult, and—almost incidentally—a plot to take over the world. Never coherent and frequently pretentious, the film remains an audacious attempt to place obsessive personal images before a popular audience—a kind of Kenneth Anger version of Star Wars.'
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 207: Sun Jul 27

Don Giovanni (Losey, 1979): Phoenix Cinema, 1.30pm

Chicago Reader review:
Joseph Losey's film of Mozart's opera (1979) has redundant trappings of Freud and Marx, as if Losey felt the need to make the material more personal. He shouldn't have bothered, because it already plays straight to his concerns: Giovanni, with his self-destructive idealism, stands in the line of Losey heroes from The Boy With Green Hair to Mr. Klein. The visual context is ravishing, with a lighting scheme that builds from the understated and naturalistic to shocking contrasts of black and white. Meanwhile, the camera moves with a preternatural grace, drawing clean, curving lines through the romantic confusions. If the film has a fault, it is a common one in Losey: the absence of an emotional support for his piercing intellectual observations.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.