Saturday, 29 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 112: Wed Apr 23

The Demon (Nomura, 1978): ICA Cinema, 8.30pm


This is part of the Yoshitaro Nomura season at the ICA. Details here.

You can read a detailed feature on this film by my Guardian colleague Phil Hoad here.

Here is the ICA introduction:

Originally a 1957 short story, which in turn is based on a real life incident, The Demon is the disturbingly detached account of a pathetic father, Sôkichi, who’s encouraged to commit awful crimes by his partner.

The film begins in a low-rent downtown Tokyo suburb where Sôkichi runs a declining printing business with his unhappy wife. One sweltering summer’s day, Sôkichi’s mistress – hitherto unknown to the wife - arrives from another part of the city with their three children. At the end of her tether after Sôkichi’s maintenance payments have stopped, she has resigned to leave their children with him.

This is perhaps one of the most downbeat of all the films that Nomura made from Seichô Matsumoto sources, and the earlier scenes, which depict a deeply unhappy domestic situation, are particularly tough. The film’s great asset is a performance of real skill by Ken Ogata (also in The Castle of Sand), who plays wretched Sôkichi, and lends him, if not exactly sympathy, a tangible sense of hurt and conflict. Ogata originally hesitated at accepting this role but was persuaded to sign on by a friend.

The result was the Best Actor award from the Japanese Academy, and a subsequent career playing powerful, difficult characters, most notably the infamous writer Yukio Mishima in Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 111: Tue Apr 22

The Very Edge (Frankel, 1962): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm


Here is the BFI introduction: A surprisingly tense drama, scripted by Elizabeth Jane Howard, the respected novelist and one-time wife of Kingsley Amis. A young professional couple’s married life in an achingly clean, modern house is overturned by the arrival of a stalker. Richard Todd excels as the petulant, impatient husband who ruins a police trap. Jeremy Brett is equally convincing as the scary, brutal stalker from the wrong side of the tracks. Jack Hedley impresses as the world-weary police inspector, and Patrick Magee is a suitably unsettling handyman. What is remarkable and unexpected about the film, however, is Anne Heywood’s transition from a ‘Stepford Wife’ to a woman who is determined, literally, to ‘stand on her own two feet’.

Introduced by Nigel Algar, BFI Senior Curator (Fiction).

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 110: Mon Apr 21

Rebel Without a Cause (Ray, 1955): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.40pm & NFT1, 8.45pm


This brilliant Nicholas Ray film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank from April 18 to May 1. All the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Nicholas Ray's moving 1955 tale of teenage romanticism thwarted by an adult world of televisions and atomic bombs established James Dean as America's first underage icon. Dean's alienation is perfectly expressed through Ray's vertiginous mise-en-scene: the suburban LA setting becomes a land of decaying Formica and gothic split-levels. An unmissable film, made with a delirious compassion. With Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Corey Allen, Edward Platt, and Dennis Hopper.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 110: Sun Apr 20

Groundhog Day & Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 1pm



What better way to mark a tribute to the late Harold Ramis. Groundhog Day than watching a Groundhog Day double-bill  . . . What better way to mark a tribute to the late Harold Ramis than watching a Groundhog Day double-bill . . . What better way to mark a tribute to the late Harold Ramis than watching a Groundhog Day double-bill . . . as a tribute to the late Harold Ramis.

New Statesman film critic, Ryan Gilbey, has written a BFI Modern Classics monograph on Groundhog Day which I can highly recommend. Here is an extract from a feature he wrote for the Observer on the film:

'[Groundhog Day] has emerged as one of the most influential films in modern cinema - and not only on other movies. Tony Blair did not refer to Jurassic Park in his sombre speech about the Northern Ireland peace process. Dispatches during the search for weapons of mass distraction made no mention of Mrs Doubtfire . And the Archbishop of Canterbury neglected to name-check Indecent Proposal when delivering the 2002 Richard Dimbleby Lecture. But Groundhog Day was invoked on each of these occasions.

The title has become a way of encapsulating those feelings of futility, repetition and boredom that are a routine part of our lives. When Groundhog Day is referred to, it is not the 2 February celebration that comes to mind, but the story of a cynical TV weatherman, Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, who pitches up in Punxsutawney to cover the festivities. Next morning, he wakes to discover it's not the next morning at all: he is trapped in Groundhog Day. No matter what crimes he commits or how definitively he annihilates himself, he will be returned to his dismal bed-and-breakfast each morning at 5.59am  . . .'

Here all the Ned Ryerson scenes, here are all the Ned Ryerson scenes, here are all the Ned Ryerson scenes . . .

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 109: Sat Apr 19

Zero Focus (Nomura, 1961): ICA Cinema, 8.40pm


This is the ICA introduction to tonight's film:
Zero Focus has the most overtly film noir stylings of all Yoshitaro Nomura’s films – it's all voiceover, revelations, duplicitous characters, and has a general sense of unease. It’s also the one most clearly indebted to Alfred Hitchcock, with a dual-identity plot and elevated showdowns reminiscent of both Vertigo and Rebecca, plus a Bernard Hermann-like score.


Teiko has only been married to her ambitious salesman husband Kenichi for a week before he leaves to tie up business in coastal Kanazawa. He promptly disappears, and so Teiko treks off to find him. She uncovers a murder plot against a legacy of wartime prostitution, stigma and shame. A great example of Japan’s noir boom, this is the first of two film versions, the latter was released in 2009.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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.

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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.


Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 107: Thu Apr 17

King Kong (Cooper/Schoedack, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


This films is part of the Passport to Cinema season at the BFI Southbank and can also be seen on the 17th and 18th April. Tonight's screening is introduced by Nathalie Morris.

Time Out review:
'If this glorious pile of horror-fantasy hokum has lost none of its power to move, excite and sadden, it is in no small measure due to the remarkable technical achievements of Willis O'Brien's animation work, and the superbly matched score of Max Steiner. The masterstroke was, of course, to delay the great ape's entrance by a shipboard sequence of such humorous banality and risible dialogue that Kong can emerge unchallenged as the most fully realised character in the film. Thankfully Wray is not required to act, merely to scream; but what a perfect victim she makes. The throbbing heart of the film lies in the creation of the semi-human simian himself, an immortal tribute to the Hollywood dream factory's ability to fashion a symbol that can express all the contradictory erotic, ecstatic, destructive, pathetic and cathartic buried impulses of 'civilised' man.'
Wally Hammond


Here (and above) King Kong climbs the Empire State Building.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 106: Wed Apr 16

How We Used To Live (Kelly, 2013): Curzon Soho, 6.45pm


Documentarian Paul Kelly returns to the festival with his latest collaboration with the band Saint Etienne, following the loose trilogy of London films Finisterre, What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day and This Is Tomorrow, all recently published on BFI DVD. In the decade since Finisterre Kelly has built a reputation as a distinctive voice in British cinema, developing a lyrical style that draws on the psychogeography and people of the city and its culture. How We Used To Live is effectively a prequel to Finisterre, a meditation on London life today and a glance back at a receding Britain. Using colour footage from the 1950s to the 1980s, taken from the BFI National Archive, the film covers the ‘New Elizabethan’ age from the optimism of the post-war era to the dawn of Thatcherism. Soundtracked by Saint Etienne’s Pete Wiggs and scripted by the band’s Bob Stanley with Travis Elborough, the film is for anyone who has ever tried to understand their city. Alluringly impressionistic, poetic and political, this is the most joyful and entertaining offering yet from a unique filmmaking collective.
Stuart Brown

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 105: Tue Apr 15

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm


This is screening as part of the Prince Charles Cinema's classics season.

Chicago Reader review:
'What can you say about the movie that taught you what movies were? The first time I saw Kane I discovered the existence of the director; the next dozen or so times taught me what he did—with lights and camera angles, cutting and composition, texture and rhythm. Kane (1941) is no longer my favorite Orson Welles film (I'd take Ambersons, Falstaff, or Touch of Evil), but it is still the best place I know of to start thinking about Welles—or for that matter about movies in general.' Dave Kehr

Here is the party scene and above is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 104: Mon Apr 14

War and Peace (Bondarchuk, 1966-1967): Riverside Studios, 6pm


Chicago Reader review:
Sergei Bondarchuk's kitschy, epic 1967 adaptation of the Tolstoy novel is the most expensive movie ever made, and though it can be bombastic and mind-numbing, it's often lively and eye filling. The balls and battle scenes are monumental, and Bondarchuk (who plays the bumbling Pierre, as Orson Welles would have in the 40s if he'd realized his own version with Alexander Korda) moves his camera a lot, incorporating some expressive 60s-style flourishes. Even at 415 minutes (over an hour shorter than the Soviet release) this rarely suggests the vision behind the set pieces or populist polemics; Tolstoy's feeling for incidental detail is more evident in non-Tolstoyan films like The Leopard and The Magnificent Ambersons. This is a landmark in the history of commerce and post-Stalinist Russia, but not cinema. If you'd like to merely sample it, try parts one and three. With Lyudmila Savelyeva (graceful as Natasha), Vyacheslav Tikhonov (suitably morose as Andrei), and more than 100,000 extras.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Parts 3 & 4 will be shown on Tuesday April 15th. Details here.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 103: Sun Apr 13

Girlfriends (Weill, 1978): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm


This screening, part of the Birds Eye View Film Festival, is the sixth movie curated by I Am Dora, a film series and publication exploring how female characters in film affect women’s perceptions of themselves. You can find more details on the I Am Dora Facebook page.

Here is the BFI Southbank introduction: Struggling photographer Susan flatshares with best friend Anne, but when Anne gets married Susan must fend for herself. Claudia Weill’s woefully neglected gem celebrates the comedy and confusion of young single life in New York – decades before Girls and Frances Ha made it a phenomenon. Championed by Stanley Kubrick on its original release and recently ‘re-discovered’ by Lena Dunham, Girlfriends is finally receiving the attention it deserves.

‘The missing link between Woody Allen and Lena Dunham. A forgotten gem to discover at Birds Eye View. I love it.’ Cath Clarke, Time Out

Here (and above) is an extract.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 102: Sat Apr 12

Bleak Moments (Leigh, 1971): Rio Cinema, 3pm


Welcome to the third Capital Celluloid film screening, another important landmark in the history of the blog at which I hope to see as many of you as possible. I am very please to say that the director Mike Leigh will be at the Rio to introduce the film and then join Sandra Hebron for a Q&A after the screening.

The inspiration for this event came after Leigh's heartfelt piece in the Guardian last year talking about his debut film. 

Chicago Reader review:
Mike Leigh's auspicious first feature focuses on the painful gaps in communication between a lonely accountant's clerk (Anne Raitt) and an uptight schoolteacher she halfheartedly tries to seduce. Kitchen-sink realism with a vengeance, punctuated by painful and awkward silences, this was made before Leigh formed a fully coherent social and political view of his material, but his feeling for the characters never falters. One can find a glancing relationship with John Cassavetes's first feature, Shadows, but the style and milieu is English to the core. This might seem overlong, and the drabness and emotional constipation may drive you slightly batty, but the film leaves a powerful aftertaste.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is an extract.

'I've tried to vary my films considerably, but I would have to admit that Bleak Moments remains, in some ways, the mother of all Mike Leigh films. And I'm very proud of it.'
Mike Leigh

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 101: Fri Apr 11

 No1 Aelita: Queen of Mars (Protazonov, 1924): 3Space, 29-31 Oxford St, W1D 2DR, 7pm



The event Life On Mars invites all those fascinated with space to get together for a screening of the extraordinary Russian silent film “Aelita”, which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary. 

Throughout the night the audience will also engage in a dreamy travel through soundscapes and imagery created by contemporary artists. All right in the heart of the city.


As part of this special event, the venue will be transformed by selected international visual artists. Amongst them, artist, adventurer and future astronaut Michael Najjar, documentary filmmaker and former planetary scientist Christopher Riley, French visual artist Anaïs Tondeur, and, premiering works in UK, Lithuanian artists Laura Grybkauskaite and Vsevolod Kovalevskij.

The night will also feature a sound performance, based on NASA transmissions, by the sound artist Andrew Page whose work has been exhibited in art galleries in the UK, Europe, America and Canada.

Renowned film scholar and Sight & Sound contributor Ian Christie will introduce the
screening. Here (and abo
ve) is the opening.


***********

No 2 Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (Oshima, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm


This is screening as part of the Jeremy Thomas season at BFI Southbank and is also bein gshown on April 2nd and 15th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Lurid sadism blends with equally lurid lyricism in this first English-language film (1983) by leading Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (The Ceremony, In the Realm of the Senses). The setting is a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, where four main characters—a conciliatory British officer (Tom Conti), a brutal peasant guard (Takeshi), a beautiful, guilt-riddled English commando (David Bowie), and the equally beautiful Japanese commandant (Ryuichi Sakamoto)—work out different responses to the savage conditions around them. The elliptical narrative centers on the unspoken erotic attraction between Sakamoto and Bowie, and Oshima appears to be treating ideas of elegantly transmogrified, purified emotions, yet the context and frequent incontinence of the execution bring the film uncomfortably close to the pseudophilosophical bondage fantasies of Yukio Mishima.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 100: Thu Apr 10

Toute Un Nuit (Akerman, 1982): ICA Cinema, 8pm


This is presented by the A Nos Amours Film Club in association with the Birds Eye Film Festival.

Here is the ICA introduction:
A Nos Amours continues a retrospective of the complete film works of Chantal Akerman with Toute une nuit, Akerman’s tender, ever-restless nocturnal of 1982.

This is a film that begins at fall of night and ends as dawn approaches. Bathed in an Edward Hopper-like gloom of neon and tungsten bulbs, Akerman arranges and choreographs a series of brief encounters, wordless lovers’ tender embraces, and the slow meanderings of lonely night owls.

These wordless interactions, often with musical interludes from juke boxes and accidental sound (beautifully mixed by Jean-Paul Loublier who also mixed Jeanne Dielman), accumulate into a wonderful screen dance, punctuated by stillness and silence. This is after the realm of the insomniac and time passing is never so strongly felt.

'I want the viewer to physically experience the time spent in each shot. This physical experience of this time is in you; the film time unfolds in you' (Akerman has said). And as we all know, waiting for love, hoping for love, is all about time.

A Nos Amours is pleased to be co-presenting this screening with Birds Eye View Film Festival.
We are delighted that Richard Kwietniowski will introduce the film. Richard Kwietniowski made the very memorable Love and Death Long Island and Owning Mahogany, and is a great admirer of Chantal Akerman.

Chicago Reader review:
Chantal Akerman said good-bye to minimalism with this 1982 feature, which finds its model less in Michael Snow than MGM musicals. A hot summer night in Brussels is covered in brief narrative fragments centered on couples coming together or breaking up; as the film continues, it acquires an almost choreographic sense of rhythm and space. A real pleasure to watch, though Akerman doesn't skirt the darker implications of this dance of desire.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 99: Wed Apr 9

For A Few Dollars More (Leone, 1965): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.20pm


This film is screening as part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Western Wednesdays season.

Chicago Reader review:
Sergio Leone followed up his international hit A Fistful of Dollars with this 1965 spaghetti western, continuing a trilogy that would end the following year with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. A nameless bounty hunter (Clint Eastwood) and a resolute ex-army colonel (Lee Van Cleef) team up to capture a scuzzy bandit who's planning to pull a bank job in El Paso. Leone's artful editing of close-ups to communicate the characters' spatial relationships is always a pleasure, and here he unveils his stylistic signature—extreme close-ups of the characters' eyes—as Van Cleef surveys the villain's wanted poster.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is Clint Eastwood's entrance.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 98: Tue Apr 8

No1 Mysterious Object at Noon (Weerasethakul, 2000) (+ director Q&A):
ICA Cinema, 8.40pm


This is the ICA introduction: Apichatpong Weerasethakul's hallucinatory debut feature is an experimental mix of documentary and fiction that wends its way through the landscapes and mindscapes of rural Thailand.
A film crew travels from the Thai countryside to Bangkok, asking the people they encounter along the way to expand upon a story involving a wheelchair-bound young boy and his teacher. The resulting stories are later reenacted by non-professional actors in dramatic recreations of the freely associated narrative strokes supplied. The daisy-chain structure of interlocking vignettes was inspired by the surrealist game Exquisite Corpses, and its formal strategies are aligned with both documentary realism and the avant-garde, but this boldly original debut looks and feels like nothing else.
We are delighted to welcome director Apichatpong Weerasethakul to this special screening. He will be in conversation with Andrea Lissoni, Curator of Film at Tate Modern . This is the very first UK screening of a new digital print, restored by the Austrian Film Museum and Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation.
Chicago Reader review:
Shot in 16-millimeter black and white with Dolby sound, then blown up to 35-millimeter, this singular experimental feature from Thailand (2000, 83 min.) is a freewheeling collaboration between filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul and villagers he encountered while driving south from Bangkok. After hearing a story en route, Weerasethakul asked others to continue and/or modify it; back in Bangkok, he shot portions of the narrative with nonprofessional actors. The entire film is a heady mix of fiction and nonfiction, with fantasy and actuality rubbing shoulders at every stage, and what emerges from the collective unconscious of the participants is surprising and fascinating. Weerasethakul packages his findings in diverse and inventive ways: as an improvised outdoor musical performance, as a game played by school children, as a collaborative description in sign by two teenage deaf-mutes. I can't think of another film remotely like it.
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Here (and above) is an extract
*********************************************


No2 In Bloom (Ekvtimishvili/Gross, 2013): BFI Southbank, NFT1 6.15pm


This is the opening night of the Birds Eye Film Festival. Details of the full programme here.

Here is the BFI introduction: Celebrated as a major discovery of the 2013 Berlinale, this beautifully crafted story follows two young girls coming of age in post-Soviet Georgia. As civil war rages in the newly independent state, two 14-year-old best friends just want to talk gossip, music and boys. But as insecurity and fear overcome everyday life, their childhoods come to an abrupt halt in this multi-award-winning, semi-autobiographical drama. ‘Terrifically cast... visibly potent.’ – Screen International.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 97: Mon Apr 7

Blue (Jarman, 1993): BFI IMAX Cinema, 7pm


Here is the BFI introduction to what sounds like some event: We conclude our two-month Derek Jarman retrospective with a very special presentation: Jarman’s Blue, projected on a truly magnificent scale, in the BFI IMAX. Various musicians provide the highly textured soundscape through which the director and his close friends weave a rich vocal account of his life and loves. Close to his death, Jarman draws the viewer into his vision-impaired world – a vision rendered only in blue. Don’t regret missing this truly one-off event, presented in association with Little Joe Magazine.


Time Out review:
The screen is a perfect blue throughout as Derek Jarman faces up to AIDS, the loss of loved ones, the breakdown of the body, blindness, his own approaching fall into the void. The film embodies the spiritual transcendence which Cyril Collard sought to convey in the last reel of his anguished melodrama Savage Nights, crucially in the serene contemplation of the screen itself, but also in Jarman's beautiful poetry. Extracts from the film-maker's diary supply an ironic commentary on the 'progress' of his illness so that the movie becomes a juxtaposition between the finite and the infinite, the sublime and the ridiculous. Greatly helped by Simon Fisher Turner's soundtrack. Moving beyond words.
Tom Charity

Above and here is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 96: Sun Apr 6

Grease (Kleiser, 1978): Alexandra Palace Drive-In Cinema, 7.45pm


The Rooftop Film Club people are back with their Drive-In programme (full details here) from March 20th to April 11th which includes runs at Sandown Park, Alexandra Palace and Brent Cross.

It's difficult to top Grease at a Drive-In venue though I have suggested to the organisers that the Peter Bogdanovich debut Targets would certainly give the audience some genuine chills given it has a terrifying denoument at a Drive-In.

The Guardian review:
One of the less essential reissues of recent years (it knows it, too - this is bashfully packaged as "for one night only") invites you to boogie back in time to ... when, exactly? 1978, when it was shot? 1959, when it was set? But all in all Grease has aged pretty well: perhaps because it was so loosely tethered to any time anyway, perhaps because its soapy, anticlimatic structure makes it such an easy watch. There's a surprising strain of filth, too - this is much closer to Hairspray than High School Musical. The message is: burn rubber, have sex, strut about like a chicken. It's one that's hard to resist.
Catherine Shoard

The opening credits over the best song in the film (the title track) is above. Here is the song Sandy by John Travolta.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 95: Sat Apr 5

The Women (Cukor, 1939): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


This is part of the Barbican's Baddest Girl Gangs series.

Chicago Reader review:
'Adapted from Clare Boothe Luce's play, this glossy 1939 satire about pampered Manhattan wives hasn't lost its bitchy edge. The catty banter and Wildean aphorisms (some of them contributed by Anita Loos) are delivered with impeccable timing by a cast only MGM could have mustered: Norma Shearer is a wife vexed by her husband's infidelity, Joan Crawford the tough cookie who seduces Shearer's man, Rosalind Russell a gossip fond of outrageous hats, and Marjorie Main a wisecracking hick. George Cukor directed with characteristic theatricality and love for his actresses.'
Ted Shen 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 94: Fri Apr 4

King and Country (Losey, 1964):
Reel Islington Film Club, Old Fire Station 84 Mayton Street, London, N7 6QT





Time Out review:
After three years at the front in World War I, a young soldier simply walks away from the guns; he is court-martialled, found wanting, and shot. For Losey, 'a story about hypocrisy, a story about people who are brought up to a certain way of life, who are given the means to extend their knowledge and to extend their understanding, but are not given the opportunity to use their minds in connection with it, and who finally have to face the fact that they have to be rebels in society...or else they have to accept hypocrisy.' This recasting of The Servant as a war film, with Courtenay playing the working-class deserter whose helplessness traps the liberal middle-class officer (Bogarde) assigned to defend him at his court-martial.
PH

Here is the trailer.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 93: Thu Apr 3

Freaks (Browning, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm



Freaks is screened as part of the Passport to Cinema season and is also being shown on March 31at and April 21st. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
If the heart of the horror movie is the annihilating Other, the Other has never appeared with more vividness, teasing sympathy, and terror than in this 1932 film by Tod Browning. Browning flirts with compassion for the sad, deformed creatures of his sideshow—most played by genuine freaks from the Ringling Brothers circus—but ultimately finds horror and revulsion as the outsiders take their climactic revenge. A happy ending, shot by Browning but deleted when the film was rereleased, resurfaced after many years: it shows the midget couple reunited under the condescending gaze of the “normal” friends, firmly reestablishing the complacent sense of “separateness” the body of the film has worked so hard to undermine. With Leila Hyams, Wallace Ford, and Harry and Daisy Earles.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an excerpt.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 92: Wed Apr 2

The Hit (Frears, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 9pm


This film, part of the Jeremy Thomas season, is also being screened on April 12th and 13th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Stephen Frears's philosophical comedy takes the form of a gangster film about an underworld informer (Terence Stamp) who has spent his ten years in hiding in a Spanish village, preparing himself spiritually for the inevitable day when the partners he betrayed find him and take their revenge. Retribution eventually arrives in the figure of a coldly professional killer (John Hurt) and his punkish apprentice (Tim Roth), but as they conduct Stamp back to their bosses in Paris, they begin to break down under the pressure of their victim's smiling equanimity. Frears gradually transfers our sympathy from Stamp to Hurt, reversing the roles of tormentor and tormented and finding in Hurt's fluster and panic the signs of the poignant humanity that Stamp has so coolly repressed. The staging is a little too studied for my taste, but this remains an accomplished, provocative effort.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 91: Tue Apr 1

Bad Timing (Roeg, 1980): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


This film, part of the Jeremy Thomas season, also screens on April 5th and 7th. Details here.


Time Out review:
One of Roeg's most complex and elusive movies, building a thousand-piece jigsaw from its apparently simple story of a consuming passion between two Americans in Vienna. Seen in flashback through the prism of the girl's attempted suicide, their affair expands into a labyrinthine enquiry on memory and guilt as Theresa Russell's cold psychoanalyst lover (Garfunkel) himself falls victim to the cooler and crueller investigations of the detective assigned to her case (Keitel in visionary form as the policeman turned father-confessor).
Donald Macpherson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 90: Mon Mar 31

Exorcist II: The Heretic (Boorman, 1977): Alibi Film Club, 8pm


Chicago Reader review:
Everybody seems to hate this movie, and not without good reason. But John Boorman's 1977 follow-up to William Friedkin's shocker is a much more interesting film than the original, and Boorman deserves credit for trying out some new ideas, even if most of them backfire. Visually, it's fascinating—sort of a blend of Minnellian baroque and Buñuelian absurdity—but the dialogue is childish, the story is incomprehensible, and the metaphysics are ridiculous. Still, an audacious failure is preferable to a chickenhearted success. More than worth a look, if only out of curiosity. With Richard Burton and Linda Blair.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 89: Sun Mar 30

La Chamade (Cavalier, 1968): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


Here is the Cine Lumiere introduction: Alain Cavalier’s elegant and lucid adaptation of Françoise Sagan’s 1966 novel stars Catherine Deneuve in a torrid tangle of desire, denial and deception. The expensively kept girlfriend of a wealthy older man, Lucille is beautiful, bored and blissfully blind to her shallow existence until she meets Antoine. Passionate but poor, Antoine offers a whole new world of experience and kindles Lucille’s smouldering desires. But as the charms of Antoine’s workaday life begin to fade, Lucille must choose between the love of her life and the love of her lifestyle.

Here is an extract.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 88: Sat Mar 29

It Was the Son (Cipri, 2012): Barbican Cinema, 4.30pm


Here is the Barbican introduction: To complement the production of Eduardo De Filippo’s insightful black comedy, Inner Voices (Le voci di dentro), in the theatre, the play's director and star of hit Italian films The Great Beauty, Il Divo and Gomorrah, Toni Servillo, joins us for a screening of It Was the Son (È stato il figlio) and a ScreenTalk on the Cinema 1 stage hosted by Adrian Wootton.

Directed by Daniele Ciprì, It Was the Son is an operatic study of family life set against the dark and dangerous world of Italian organised crime. Filled with black humour and poignant satire, the film was nominated for Best Film at the 2012 London Film Festival.


LFF review:
In one of the poorest suburbs of Palermo, Sicily – blighted by the Camorra gangs of the kind rendered in Gomorrah – a young girl is fatally wounded when caught in the crossfire of a gangster shooting. Promised extensive government compensation, the girl’s family, headed by its scrap merchant-scavenger father (amazingly embodied by the ubiquitous Toni Servillo), the family starts advance spending of its supposed riches and even more catastrophe ensues. An operatic, grotesque, grand guignol drama, dripping with venomous black humour and featuring a shocking denouement, It Was the Son is an astonishingly original, first solo directorial feature from cinematographer Daniele Ciprì (who also photographed Bellocchio’s Dormant Beauty) since he parted company with his long term creative partner, Maresco.
Adrian Wootton

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 87: Fri Mar 28

Fright Night (Holland, 1985): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm


This is screening as part of the BFI's Flare LGBT season.

Here is the BFI introduction: When certified horror buff Charlie Brewster becomes convinced the two guys next door are vampires, everyone around him thinks he’s just watched too many spooky movies. But as the signs add up, Charlie enlists the help of horror host Peter Vincent to destroy the suburban bloodsuckers. Essentially posing as a bourgeois homosexual couple, these snooty vamps have as much an appetite for fashion and antiques as they do virginal flesh. Meanwhile Charlie becomes so obsessed with the sexy stranger next door, his poor girlfriend doesn’t even get a look in. Fright Night is as gay off-screen as it is on: star Amanda Bearse came out in the 90s, while some might recognise Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) from his later career in such, erm, classics as Uncut Glory and Guys Who Crave Big Cocks. Oh, and then there’s also Roddy McDowall...
Michael Blyth

Time Out review:Charley (William Ragsdale) has seen a coffin being carried into the house next door and a corpse being dragged out, but no one will take him seriously. In desperation he enlists a TV vampire killer, who's initially charmed by neighbour-from-hell Jerry (Chris Sarandon), before noticing the absence of his reflection in a mirror. A farrago of cartoonish exaggeration (mouthfuls of fangs, razor-sharp talons and eyes like burning coals), knowing humour and '80s camp, it shouldn't even begin to work, and yet, strangely, it does, sort of, thanks to the assured handling of writer/director Holland, and two performances in particular - Geoffreys as Charley's pal Evil, and McDowall as the timid vampire killer. The music helps, covering an ambitious range from piano-murdering suspense-raisers, through disco fodder, to a Sparks tune, 'Armies of the Night', by Ron and Russell Mael.
Nicholas Royle

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 86: Thu Mar 27

Salvo (Grassadonia/Piazza, 2013): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm


Here is the ICA introduction: Winner of the Grand Prix in Critics’ Week at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, this ingenious art-house gangster movie follows Salvo (Bakri), a cold and emotionless Mafia bodyguard. After saving his employer from assassination, Salvo tracks down the man responsible, only to find himself taking charge of his enemy’s blind sister, a woman he first spares and then finds himself powerfully drawn to. Starting in a blaze of violence before gliding into a sensitive and beautifully acted two-hander, Salvo defies all genre expectations, coming up with something new and haunting as the strange chemistry within this deeply odd couple plays out.

This film runs from March 21st to March 27th at the ICA.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 85: Wed Mar 26

King Lear (Godard, 1987): Cine Lumiere, 7.30pm


This film is part of the 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 you can find a full list of the programme.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard's zany, English-speaking quasi adaptation of the Shakespeare play has the most complex and densely layered use of Dolby sound in movies. The "itinerary" of the film--one can't quite consider it a plot--involves a post-Chernobyl view of culture in general and Shakespeare's play in particular. Among the performers, mainly used by Godard as a painter might use colors, are stage director Peter Sellars, Molly Ringwald (as Cordelia), Burgess Meredith (as Lear), a semi-incoherent Godard (as someone called Professor Pluggy), and, in smaller parts, Norman Mailer, his daughter Kate Miller, film director Leos Carax, and Woody Allen. The film certainly qualifies as a perverse provocation on more levels than one, but one of these levels--believe it or not--is Shakespeare. It may drive you nuts, but it is probably the most inventive and original Godard film since Passion.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 84: Tue Mar 25

The Alternative Miss World (Gayor, 198): BFI Southbank, 8.30pm


This is part of the BFI Flare LGBT season.

Here is the introduction:
A rare screening of the film record of the arty drag happening that was the 1978 Alternative Miss World show on Clapham Common. With appearances by Divine as guest of honour, Little Nell (singing ‘I Wanna Be a Beauty Queen’) and a dizzying array of extraordinary contestants giving their own take on the traditional categories of daywear, swimwear and evening wear. Look out for a young John Maybury, artist Jill Bruce, Molly Parkin, Lionel Bart, dozens of men in frocks, and a cheerfully chaotic event organised and hosted by the indefatigable man-woman sculpture MC that is Andrew Logan. Like a time capsule of some of the bottled-up creativity of the post-punk moment, this is art meets glamour by way of show-stopping exhibitionism writ large. With a deliciously bitchy insider’s commentary track by Molly Parkin, Eric Roberts and Logan himself among others, this is a unique moment of avant-garde delight.
Brian Robinson

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 83: Mon Mar 24

To The Devil A Daughter (Sykes, 1976): Alibi Cinema, 91 Kingsland High St, E8 2BP, 7pm


Time Out review:
Hammer's second attempt at a Dennis Wheatley black magic thriller bears little comparison with the earlier The Devil Rides Out. It is very much a contemporary post-Exorcist movie, full of rampaging foetuses, obscene pregnancy rituals, and stray sexual suggestions as Lee's excommunicated priest and his satanist followers hound young Nastassja Kinski with malevolent intent. The film's unlikely trump card is Richard Widmark as a credibly sceptical supernatural investigator, who romps through the proceedings with a disarming stoicism, but regrettably faces his devilish opponent Lee only in the closing sequence.
David Pirie

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 82: Sat/Sun Mar 22/23

Demons (Bava, 1985): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm (Sat Mar 22)


This is a Cigarette Burns presentation. See the Facebook page for more details.

Here is the introduction: We are pleased to announce that once again we have nailed an exclusive to a one off screening of this imported 35mm print.

Upon receiving a free ticket to a special secret screening in Berlin's newly refurbished Metropol, a full cross section of society settle into their seats to watch the show. But little do they know what forces are at play, when the on screen horrors proceed to literally rip through the screen in a bid to unleash a demonic apocalypse upon the world.

This Dario Argento produced Euro shlock combines icons of the Italian genre film world, directed by Mario's son, Lamberto Bava, written by frequent Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martino collaborator, Dardano Sacchetti, DEMONS is an unforgettable 80s VHS joyride. You don't want to miss it.


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 81: Sat Mar 22

Will You Dance With Me? (Jarman, 1978): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.40pm

Here is the BFI introduction: In September 1984 Derek Jarman spent an evening in London gay nightclub Benjy’s as an experiment in filming dancing for Ron Peck’s feature film Empire State. The invited crowd includes many regulars and the film was never intended to be shown. Jarman’s verite camerawork offers a rich, raw and rare experience of cruising around a gay club. From show-stopping breakdancers to energetic disco dancers, Jarman can get close to anyone. We get to know the faces and dance moves of the entire club with Jarman returning again and again to some handsome young men, one of whom is actor Phillip Williamson (Angelic Conversation). A strangely moving exercise in nostalgia for anyone who was on the scene in 1984 – and a fascinating insight for anyone who wasn’t.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 80: Fri Mar 21

Street of Dreams (Sharp, 1988 unfinished): Horse Hospital, 7.30pm



An extraordinary doc, centred on the life and times of singer Tiny Tim. Here is the Horse Hospital introduction to the night.

Shock Cinema review:
Never released on this side of the globe, this Australian, self-titled "musical mirror maze" is one of the more jaw-dropping oddities I've had the pleasure to witness. A feature-length, free-form documentary on singer/pop-icon Tiny Tim, it's an imaginative, altogether joyous portrait of the man who brought "Tip-Toe Thru the Tulips With Me" to the public forefront (and gave me a chance to stay up past my bedtime when he married Miss Vicki on THE TONIGHT SHOW in 1969). 

Ten years in the making, this cobbles together a fantastic array of footage, much of it revolving around the Sydney amusement area, Luna Park, circa 1978, where Tiny (long past the height of his popularity) tried to set the Professional, Non-Stop Singing Record. Following the film's fragmented route, we watch him tooling around Australia before this marathon song-fest; dressed as a king-size Mickey Mouse; Tiny (and his film crew) lost in a Hall of Mirrors; a seemingly-pissed Tim popping an oil can of fosters, with a topless flat-chested chick on his bed; and even pays a visit to Tiny's ancient mother, who shows off childhood photos. 

Tiny admits that their bliss didn't last due to his belief that birth control was a Satanic invention and that "S-E-X can not be used, except for the glory of God's name and creating life" -- which led to an extremely unsatisfied Vicki. Along the way, Sharp also unveils a more sobering agenda, as we get a history lesson of this beloved amusement park, highlighted by a tragic incident on the Ghost Train ride, which burst into flame and claimed seven lives. 
Steven Puchalski

When asked about his ambitions in 1970 by Playboy Magazine Tiny Tim answered:
“My greatest unfulfilled ambition, is to be one of the astronauts or even the first singer on the Moon. But most of all, I’d love to see Christ come back to crush the spirit of hate and make men put down their guns. I’d also like just one more hit single.”

Here (and above) is an extract.