Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 143: Sat May 24

No1: Walerian Borowczyk Short Films Programme: ICA Cinema, 6.30pm



This ICA programme includes two (Les Astronautes and Les Jeux Des Anges) of what critic Michael Brooke describes in his BFI article here as the five must-see movies from Borowczyk.

Here is the ICA introduction: Coinciding with Walerian Borowczyk: The Listening Eye in the Fox Reading Room at the ICA, this programme offers a unique opportunity to see rarely screened short films by the Polish painter, sculptor and filmmaker.
This programme of short films was originally selected by Walerian Borowczyk for an exhibition at Le Ranelagh in Paris 1965:
Renaissance (1963) 9’
Był raz Sobie… / Once Upon A Time… (1957) 9’
Encyclopedie de Grand-Maman (1962) 6’
Dom / Home (1958) 11’
Szkoła / School (1958) 7’
Le Concert (1962) 7’
Sztandar młodych / Banner of Youth (1957) 2’
Strip-Tease (1957) 2’
Les Astronautes (1959) 12’
Nagrodzone uczucie / Requited Feelings (1957) 8’
Les Jeux Des Anges (1964) 14’
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No2 Ida (Pawlikowski, 2013): Barbican Cinema, 6pm


Award-winning Polish born director Pawel Pawlikowski returns to his homeland for this moving and intimate drama about a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers a dark family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation.

The film will be followed by a ScreenTalk with director Pawel Pawlikowski.

Time Out review:
Tragedy hangs like smoke over this spectral, startling return to form for Polish-born, British-based writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski. First and foremost, there’s the historical tragedy of The Holocaust which drives the story. But there’s also, it seems, a pervasive, underlying layer of personal tragedy: it doesn’t feel like a stretch to place ‘Ida’ alongside, say, Roman Polanski’s ‘Macbeth’ and Elem Klimov’s ‘Come and See’, films haunted by the loss of a spouse and a subsequent darkening in the filmmaker’s view of the world. ‘Ida’ is a film built of snapshots: few scenes run longer than a minute or two and the dialogue is sparse and functional, in stark contrast to Pawlikowski’s poetic earlier works like ‘My Summer of Love’. In addition, the painterly, painstakingly composed camera angles are all self-consciously ‘off’, Pawlikowski’s film may be bleak and unforgiving, but it’s also richly sympathetic and deeply moving.
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 142: Fri May 23

Jewel Robbery (Dieterle, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.45pm


This is part of the Hollywood Babylon: Early Talkies before the Censor of pre-Code films at the BFI. The pre-Code movies included in the blog are recommended by the London Film Festival programmer Clyde Jeavons. This also screens on May 24th. Details here.

Here is the BFI introduction: A delightfully amoral comedy as only the pre-Code era could provide, Jewel Robbery offers sex, adultery, armed robbery, drug use and wickedly-racy dialogue. Kay Francis plays a Viennese woman who has married a dull man for his money (not that it stops her taking lovers on the side). When one of her many shopping trips to a jeweller’s is rudely interrupted by William Powell’s impeccably urbane jewel thief, it’s love at first sight.

The film screens with the Ernst Lubitsch classic Trouble in Paradise

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 141: Thu May 22

No 1 Blanche (Borowczyk, 1971): BFI Southbank, 8.30pm


This is part of the Walerian Borowczyk season at BFI Southbank and also screens on May 13th.
Full details here.

Time Out review:
In this remarkable film, Borowczyk, through his commitment to ambiguity (notably in his framing, which forever denies the foreground/background opposition) and his belief in almost entomological observation, transforms his 13th century characters - a foolish old Baron, an overproud King, a lecherous page and a stupidly handsome lover, all of whom are in love with and/or lust after the simple Blanche, the Baron's young wife - into tragic figures caught up in a dance of death over which they have no control. In exactly the same way, the castle and its decor, photographed by Borowczyk as though it were living and its inhabitants were mere dolls for the most part, is seen as the backdrop to a happy fairytale, and at the same time as the root of all evil, as rooms and bizarre machines are opened and set in motion.

Here (and above) is the opening.

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No2: Un Jour Pina a Demandé (Akerman, 1983) & L’Homme à la Valise (Akerman, 1983):
ICA Cinema, 8pm




This is the latest screening in the full Chantal Akerman retrospective.

Here is the A Nos Amour film club introduction:
Un jour Pina a demandé
Dir. Chantal Akerman, France/Belgium 1983, 61 mins
Wim Wenders has recently made a film about Pina Bausch – but this film predates it by some decades, and is a very different object altogether. Comparison will be intriguing.
Akerman and Bausch: two remarkable women makers. One is a maker of theatrical dance works, taking commonplace gestures and transforming them into extraordinary pageants, while the other is a maker of wonderfully choreographed compositions made of rhythmical everyday elements. Both offer an aesthetic that rearranges expectations of what matters. Both women have worked at the coal face of what women are dealing with, living with, and making the most of. The encounter is not a confrontation, it is a meeting of sensibilities, a perfect combination of a film-maker’s sage framing of a dance-maker’s flamboyant world-making.
L’Homme à la valise 
Dir. Chantal Akerman, France 1983, 61 mins
A wonderfully wry and spritely comedy, in which Akerman plays herself returning from her travels only to find a man who had been staying in her apartment annoyingly is still in residence. Infuriatingly, he is writing, and writing prolifically as his noisy typewriter proves. Akerman meanwhile finds herself blocked. The tapping is a torment. A return to the physical performance of the opening third of Je Tu Il Elle, a perfectly realised existential comedy.


Here (and above) is an extract from On Tour with Pina Bausch.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 140: Wed May 21

No1 Gone To Earth (Powell & Pressburger, 1950): Stratford East Picturehouse, 6.30pm


This is part of a Powell & Pressburger season at Stratford Picturehouse.

Time Out review of Gone To Earth:
'A film much maligned in its time, not least by producer David O Selznick, who issued an American version retitled The Wild Heart, incorporating additional footage directed by Rouben Mamoulian and running only 82 minutes. Mary Webb's 1917 novel was the archetypal bodice-ripper - wicked squire, pious yokels, adultery and redemption - out of which Powell and Pressburger made a visually spellbinding romance. Christopher Challis' photography evokes Shropshire and the Welsh borders so that you can smell the earth. Menace, the bloodlust of the chase (of the fox or the outcast sinner), is omnipresent as trees bend and wild creatures panic before an unseen primal force. Cruelty besides beauty sweeps these pastoral vistas. Forget Jennifer Jones' rustic English (Kentucky? Australian?) and the melodramatic clichés (boots trampling posies): the haunting, dreamlike consistency recalls that other fairy story of innocence and menace, The Night of the Hunter. '
Martin Hoyle

Here is an extract.

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No 2 Concussion (Passon, 2013): ICA Cinema, 8.40pm


This film screens at the ICA from May 16th to 22nd. Details here.

Here is the ICA introduction:
Concussion is a sexy, provocative story about a woman who turns her fantasy life into reality – and then faces the consequences.
After wealthy 40-something Abby (Robin Weigert, Deadwood) is hit on the head by her son’s baseball, she begins to yearn for something more than her banal suburban life. She buys a pied-à-terre in Manhattan, and her pent-up libido draws her into a double life as a high-class hooker for female clients. But as Abby’s decisions become increasingly reckless, we realise that she won’t be able to keep her secret for long.
Writer-director Stacie Passon’s accomplished debut features breakout performances by Weigert and Maggie Siff (Mad Men). A kind of feminised American Beauty, its mix of sensuality and poignancy examines sexual discovery as a means of finding your true self.
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 139: Tue May 20

Waller's Last Trip (Wagner, 1988): Goethe Institute, 7pm


This film is shown as part of the series More or Less By the Book.

Here is the Goethe Institute introdcution:
In his much acclaimed 1988 debut film, Christian Wagner follows track inspector Waller on his final walk along the railway track he has overseen for most of his life. Passing through the rural landscape of the Bavarian Allgäu, the old man is haunted by scenes of the past, which are conveyed with a great naturalness and a sense of local character. The film is based on the 1985 novel, one of several magical realist books set in the Allgäu by Gerhard Köpf.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 138: Mon May 19

The Great Dictator (Chaplin, 1940): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.35pm


Chicago Reader review:
Made in 1940, when a sense of humor about the Nazis was still possible. Charles Chaplin plays two roles, Adenoid Hynkel, the dictator of Tomania, and a poor Jewish barber who's mistaken for Hynkel and sent to deliver a speech in his place. The final address, in which Chaplin pleads with the audience for sanity and world peace, has often been criticized for its length and sententiousness, but it is a remarkable piece of acting and verbal rhetoric (all the more so as this was the first time Chaplin had spoken in a film). Chaplin is at his most profound in suggesting that there is much of the Tramp in the Dictator, and much of the Dictator in the Tramp.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 137: Sun May 18

My Night at Maud's (Rohmer, 1969): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


This is part of Cine Lumiere's excellent Sunday French Classic season.
Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Eric Rohmer's droll and delicate comedy of language (1969), about a devout Catholic (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who delivers an all-night monologue on the philosophy of Pascal to escape being seduced by the lovely atheist Maud (Francoise Fabian). Number three in Rohmer's series of “Six Moral Tales,” it is probably the most pure: the plotline transpires entirely in the central character's mind and is never explicitly acknowledged by Rohmer's direction, which concentrates instead on the elaborate gambits of a style of speech meant to do anything but communicate.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 136: Sat May 17

No1: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Yates, 1973): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


This screens as part of the 'Strong, Silent Types' season at the Barbican.
Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A deft and insightful look at the gray world between criminal and straight, and the painful strategies men devise to keep from being submerged, brutalized, or emotionally bleached out. Peter Yates creates films in which men have to trust each other more than perhaps they should (Robbery, The Hot Rock, Bullitt) and in which mechanization often wins out over feeling. Robert Mitchum turns in an immaculate performance as the artful dodger and pathetic small-timer just barely in the know—with fine support from Peter Boyle as a man whose nastiness differs only in degree from the nastiness of his world.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the theatrical trailer.

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Here is the Filmbar70 introduction:
‘The Delian Mode’ (2009) charts the life and work of the ‘Sculptress of Sound’ - our very own Delia Derbyshire, member of the BBC Radiophonic workshop and arranger of the original ‘Doctor Who’ theme. A tape slicing pioneer, Delia’s delicate drones and granite grey slabs of noise have influenced a legion of electronic musical mavericks, and ‘The Delian Mode’ rightly pays homage to this most emancipated of artists.
‘Space Is The Place’ (1974) may well be the only blacksploitation/free-jazz/social-document/art-house film you’re ever likely to clap your eyes. A wild, psychedelic jam, ‘Space Is The Place’ concerns a cosmic conflict between the unearthly jazz pianist Sun-Ra and the pimpish Overseer for the future of America’s black community. As Sun-Ra and his Arkestra blare out their message of celestial revolution, tin-foil special effects and Black Panther styled radicalism are fused to create an experience that’s truly out there.
Join us on Saturday May the 17th at Hollywood Spring in Hackney to celebrate these incredible audionauts and their cosmic transmissions.
Here (and above) is the opening to Space is the Place.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 135: Fri May 16

An Autumn Afternoon (Ozu, 1962): BFI Southbank, 2.30, 6.10 & 8.40pm


This re-release is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Yasujiro Ozu's last film, made in 1962, is a study of an old man's loneliness as he prepares to marry off his only daughter. Stylistically it's one of Ozu's purest, most elemental works: no camera movement, very little movement within the frames, and hardly any apparent narrative progression. Appreciating Ozu is a matter of temperament—for some, his films are unbearably dull; for others, they are works of a unique serenity and beauty.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an excerpt.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 134: Thu May 15

The Rules of Attraction (Avary, 2002): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm


This is an Ali Gray (aka @shiznit) production. I'll let him have the floor. Here is his introduction:

Directed by Roger Avary and adapted from the book by Bret Easton Ellis, The Rules Of Attraction is not your typical college flick. For starters, precious few lessons are learned. Most, if not all of the characters, begin and end the movie as selfish assholes. There isn't a conventional narrative as such: it starts and ends in the middle of a sentence. But in between? A collection of comic and tragic vignettes following US college kids that are so spoiled and detached from reality, it's no surprise one of them is related to Patrick Bateman. 

Hilarious and troubling in equal measure, The Rules Of Attraction leaps between tones like it's playing a game of hopscotch. Technically it's astounding - watch out for Victor's European Vacation, a high-energy montage that condenses an entire fortnight of debauchery into four minutes - but it's devastating when it needs to be. Most importantly, however, it's a showcase for the best James Van Der Beek performance ever: a role that buries Dawson in the creek forever.

Fatally miss-sold in the US upon release in 2002, The Rules Of Attraction is the anti-teen movie: a perfect snapshot of a disillusioned, disinterested, destructive generation. Come celebrate this underrated teen classic with TheShiznit.co.uk, with themed drinks in the bar beforehand (with red cups!) and fun before the film begins. Deal with it. Rock and roll. Etc.

There's more information at theshiznit.co.uk website. Jump in.

Great trailer (here and above).

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 133: Wed May 14

No1: The Small Back Room (Powell & Pressburger, 1949):
Stratford East Picturehouse, 6.15pm



A rare chance to see perhaps the most underrated film in the Powell & Pressburger canon.

Chicago Reader review:
Cut to ribbons by its original American distributor, this 1949 film remains the most elusive of Michael Powell's mature works. David Farrar stars as a crippled, alcoholic bomb expert who tries to solve the secret of a new Nazi device—small bombs made to look like toys that explode when children pick them up. With Kathleen Byron, memorable as the mad nun of Powell's Black Narcissus, and Jack Hawkins, Anthony Bushell, and Michael Gough.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an excerpt.

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No 2: Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993):
Rooftop Cinema Club, Queen of Hoxton pub, Shoreditch, 9pm


I've been to a few screenings here in recent summers at this venue and was very impressed. Seating in directors' chairs; lovely food and drink and blankets to keep warm in cool weather. Here is a list of their upcoming attractions.


Time Out review:
School's breaking up for the summer of '76. The seniors debate party politics while next term's freshmen run the gauntlet of brutal initiation rites, barely comforted by the knowledge that they'll wield the stick one day. No one's looking much farther ahead than that. This has a free-wheeling, 'day-in-the-life-of' structure which allows writer/director Linklater, in his second feature, to eavesdrop on an ensemble cast without much in the way of dramatic contrivance. There's a quirky counter-cultural intelligence at work: sympathy for those on the sidelines, and a deadpan pop irony which places this among the hippest teenage movies. While the camera flits between some two dozen youngsters (played by uniformly excellent unknowns), Linklater allows himself to develop a handful of stories. Seriously funny, and shorn of any hint of nostalgia or wish-fulfilment, this is pretty much where it's at.

Tom Charity

Here (and above) are clips.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 132: Tue May 13

American Graffiti (Lucas, 1973): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm



This is part of the Classic Movie season at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Chicago Reader review: 'By now, George Lucas's film about the summer of '62 is almost beyond criticism. A brilliant work of popular art, it redefined nostalgia as a marketable commodity and established a new narrative style, with locale replacing plot, that has since been imitated to the point of ineffectiveness. The various heresies perpetrated in its name (everything from Cooley High to FM) are forgivable, but the truly frightening thing about the film is that it's almost become nostalgia itself. Where were you in '73?'
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer: 'Where were you in 62?'

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 131: Mon May 12

The Warriors (Hill, 1979): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.50pm



Chicago Reader review:
Walter Hill's existential action piece (1979), rendered in a complete stylistic abstraction that will mean tough going for literal-minded audiences. The straightforward, straight-line plot—a street gang must cross the length of New York City, pursued by police and rival fraternities—is given the convoluted quality of a fever dream by Hill's quirky, claustrophobic direction. Not quite the clean, elegant creation that his earlier films were, The Warriors admits to failures of conception (occasional) and dialogue (frequent), but there is much of value in Hill's visual elaboration of the material.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 130: Sun May 11

Suzanne (Quillévéré, 2013): Rio Cinema, 4.30pm


This widely praised new French movie plays in a double-bill with Journal de France (Raymond Depardon & Claudine Nougaret, 2012). Details here.

Guardian review:
There is beauty, simplicity and mystery in Katell Quillévéré's film Suzanne, about a truck-driver's daughter in France who gets into trouble. Sara Forestier brings passion to the role of Suzanne and François Damiens is excellent as her dad, Nicolas, who has done his honest best to bring up two girls – Suzanne and her sister, Maria (Adèle Haenel) – after the death of their mother. Everything is OK in their lives, until a handsome, moody guy (Paul Hamy) catches Suzanne's eye.

We see her story playing out in a sequence of intimate scenes, whose drama Quillévéré shapes with candour and calm. Suzanne's life advances in little jumps: time will have passed between scenes, sometimes revealing a new situation, and we must mentally readjust. It is expertly managed, with marvellous subtlety. I have watched the film twice (the first time was when it opened Critic's Week at Cannes last year) and still can't decide if the audience-wrongfooting effect in a certain grave-visiting scene is deliberate or not. 

A tiny glimpse of something allows us to think that a heartstoppingly awful event has happened, but a later, fuller look at what we had only glimpsed shows us this is more awful than we thought. The relationship between the two sisters is lovingly portrayed, and the triangular dynamic with their father is wonderfully managed. It is moving and heartfelt, and Quillévéré makes it look very easy.
Peter Bradshaw

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 129: Sat May 10

The Getaway (Peckinpah, 1972): Barbican Cinema, 4pm



This is part of the 'Strong, Silent Types' season at the Barbican. More details here.

Time Out review:
An evident precursor to The Driver (Walter Hill scripted both, this one from Jim Thompson's novel). The major strength of The Getaway rests solidly on McQueen's central role, a cold tense core of pragmatic violence. Hounded by furies (two mobs, police, a hostile landscape), he responds with a lethal control, blasting his way through shootouts that teeter on madness to the loot, the girl, and Peckinpah's mythic land of Mexico. Survival, purification, and the attainment of grace are achieved only by an extreme commitment to the Peckinpah existential ideal of action - a man is what he does. Peckinpah's own control of the escalating frenzy is masterly; this is one of his coldest films, but a great thriller.
Chris Peachment

Here is the trailer.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 128: Fri May 9

Gold Diggers of 1933 (LeRoy): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.15pm


This is part of the Hollywood Babylon: Early Talkies before the Censor of pre-Code films at the BFI. The pre-Code movies included in the blog are recommended by the London Film Festival programmer Clyde Jeavons. The film also screens on May 2nd and will be introduced by Mike Mashon. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The great Depression musical, produced by Warner Brothers as a follow-up to Forty-Second Street. If Forty-Second Street was an agreeable sketch, this one is the Sistine Chapel, an insanely overproduced extravaganza that gave Busby Berkeley his first chance to really cut loose. A zillion chorus girls playing electric violins decorate "The Shadow Waltz"; "Pettin' in the Park" is an unbridled voyeuristic fantasy that rivals Michael Powell's Peeping Tom in perversity. Ginger Rogers sings "We're in the Money" in pig latin, and—to give the enterprise a noble touch—the plight of the unemployed veteran is explored in "Remember the Forgotten Man." With Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Warren William, Aline MacMahon, Sterling Holloway, Guy Kibbee, and Ned Sparks; Mervyn LeRoy directed the dialogue passages.
Dave Kehr

Here is that 'Pettin' in the Park' extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 127: Thu May 8

Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.20pm



This is one of a new monthly screening of films hand-selected by the cinema's good friend, Scroobius Pip. Not only will the man be in attendance to introduce the film, but he will also be on hand to host a post-film audience wide discussion and Q&A. 

Time Out review:
School's breaking up for the summer of '76. The seniors debate party politics while next term's freshmen run the gauntlet of brutal initiation rites, barely comforted by the knowledge that they'll wield the stick one day. No one's looking much farther ahead than that. This has a free-wheeling, 'day-in-the-life-of' structure which allows writer/director Linklater, in his second feature, to eavesdrop on an ensemble cast without much in the way of dramatic contrivance. There's a quirky counter-cultural intelligence at work: sympathy for those on the sidelines, and a deadpan pop irony which places this among the hippest teenage movies. While the camera flits between some two dozen youngsters (played by uniformly excellent unknowns), Linklater allows himself to develop a handful of stories. Seriously funny, and shorn of any hint of nostalgia or wish-fulfilment, this is pretty much where it's at.

Tom Charity

Here (and above) are clips.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 126: Wed May 7

The Beast (Borowczyk, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm


This is part of the Walerian Borowczyk season and also screens on May 27th. Details here.

Time Out review:
Once upon a time, in the 18th century, a beast lived in the woods of an aristocratic estate. And this beast, possessed of a giant phallus and an insatiable lust, set upon the beautiful young lady of the house. But the lady was of an even greater sexual appetite, and laid the beast to eternal rest. Two centuries later, the tale of the beast would return in the dreams of an American heiress contracted to carry the male descendant of the same crumbling aristocratic family... Borowczyk's all-out assault on social conventions and repressed desires, an outrageously ironic blend of French farce and surrealist poetry, can be seen as signposting both the peak of his sexual fables (Blanche, Immoral Tales) and his subsequent decline into ephemeral soft porn. Its shameless shuffling of equine couplings, pederastic priests and priapic black manservants earns it nul points for political correctness. But seen from its own amoral perspective, aided by Borowczyk's remarkable sense of framing and rhythm, La Bête is that rare achievement, a truly erotic film. 

Here and above is a extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 125: Tue May 6



This re-release of Stanley Kubrick's anti-war classic is on an extended run from May 2nd to May 15th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'The 1957 film that established Stanley Kubrick's reputation, adapted by Kubrick, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson from Humphrey Cobb's novel about French soldiers being tried for cowardice during World War I. Corrosively antiwar in its treatment of the corruption and incompetence of military commanders, it's far from pacifist in spirit, and Kirk Douglas's strong and angry performance as the officer defending the unjustly charged soldiers perfectly contains this contradiction. The remaining cast is equally resourceful and interesting: Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Ralph Meeker, and the creepy Timothy Carey, giving perhaps his best performance. Banned in France for 18 years, this masterpiece still packs a wallop, though nothing in it is as simple as it may first appear; audiences are still arguing about the final sequence, which has been characterized as everything from a sentimental cop-out to the ultimate cynical twist.' 

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 124: Mon May 5

Taxi! (Del Ruth, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT, 8.15pm


This is part of the Hollywood Babylon: Early Talkies before the Censor of pre-Code films at the BFI. The pre-Code movies included in the blog are recommended by the London Film Festival programmer Clyde Jeavons. This also screens on May 11th. Details here.

BFI introduction: Roy Del Ruth’s film is rough, ready and very fast; much like the New York streets in which it’s set, and its young lead, James Cagney. Cagney, white hot after the success of The Public Enemy, plays a cabbie with a hair-trigger temper who’s caught in a turf war with a rival company, and who hooks up with Sue (Loretta Young), whose father was killed by the same rivals. Like many pre-Code films, this captures the diverse accents and ethnicities of US cities in a way that later films often lost, with Cagney himself speaking Yiddish in an early.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 123: Sun May 4

Memo Mori (Richardson, 2009):
(Limited capacity - email events@70x70.info to book a place)


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.

Here is the introduction from Emily Richardson's website:
Memo Mori is a journey through Hackney tracing loss and disappearance. A canoe trip along the canal, the huts of the Manor Garden allotments in Hackney Wick, demolition, relocation, a magical bus tour through the Olympic park and a Hell’s Angel funeral mark a seismic shift in the topography of East London.

This film has been put together from fragments of footage shot over three years, 2006 – 2009 in Hackney, each section being an event or observation of something that has been or is about to be erased from the landscape. It has been woven together with a commentary by Iain Sinclair’s and readings from his book, Hackney, That Red Rose Empire.

The film begins with a canoe trip down the canal, taken with Stephen Gill into the ‘Olympic zone’, where we discovered a shipwreck and a pair of kingfishers before the security barriers came down to the water line. We arrive at the Manor Garden allotments where the huts, each unique, it’s own character, a manifestation of their owners personality perhaps, sadly about to be demolished to make way for what we do not really know – an Olympic park or car park or something.

We take a magical bus tour around the Olympic park in the Demolish, Dig and Design phase, which, as Iain says in the film, is all statistics and logistics, piles of mud and no photography. Then to a Hells Angels funeral, death on the motorway, martyred and immortalised on Hackney Rd with wreaths of flowers, Satan’s Slaves, RIP in black roses.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 122: Sat May 3

Yojimbo (Kurosawa, 1961): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


This is part of 'Strong, Silent Types' season at the Barbican. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa has any number of dramatic and cinematic cliches (both American and Japanese) to overcome—and does so brilliantly—in this action-packed, highly comic 1961 translation of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest to the samurai movie tradition. Toshiro Mifune is again incomparable as the masterless samurai who wanders into a small war between two rival gangs and proceeds to set things right by further stirring them up. In Japanese with subtitles.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the Criterion trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 121: Fri May 2

No1: 10 Rillington Place (Fleischer, 1971): Phoenix Cinema, 11.45pm


The Phoenix plan to have monthly late-night Friday screenings, with a guest to introduce the movie. Tonight it's the choice of actor and writer Reece Shearsmith. Full details here.

Radio Times review:
In 1953, three years after Timothy Evans went to the gallows for the murder of his daughter Geraldine, John Reginald Christie, the family's landlord and a wartime special constable, was convicted at the Old Bailey of murdering his wife and was also shown to be responsible for the deaths of five other women, and, by his own admission, for the death of Mrs Evans. Although Christie denied killing the infant, Evans was found not to have killed his child in a subsequent inquiry. Based on the book by Ludovic Kennedy that helped secure Evans's posthumous pardon in 1966, Richard Fleischer's film is nowhere near as visually audacious as his Boston Strangler two years previously. But it does contain an acting tour de force from Richard Attenborough as the seedy killer, who boasted openly of his ability to perform "minor operations". Superbly re-creating the atmosphere of late-1940s London, this is a chilling study of an evil mind.
David Parkinson

Here (and above) is an extract.

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No2: Estate (Zimmerman, 2014):
The Russet, Hackney Downs Terrace, Amhurst Rd, E8


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.

Andrea Luka Zimmerman, featured in the YouTube video above, says of 'Estate': "Featuring past and present residents of the Haggerston estate plus Ken Worpole and Jeremy Till with original songs by Olivia Chaney. Tracking the passing of Hackney’s Haggerston Estate and wider utopian principles of social housing, Estate offers an unruly celebration of extraordinary everyday humanity. As a 1930s block is bulldozed, a luxury apartment complex rises. Challenging tired stereotypes, Estate interweaves long-term observational footage with the residents’ own historical re-enactments and dramatised reveries."

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 120: Thu May 1

Goto, Island of Love (Borowczyk, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm



This film, part of the Walerian Borowczyk season at the BFI, also screens on May 20. Details here.

Here is the BFI introduction: A petty thief works his way up the absurd hierarchy of Goto, an archipelago cut off from civilisation by a tumultuous earthquake. His dream is to possess Glossia, a stifled beauty trapped in a loveless marriage to a melancholic dictator. Originally banned in Communist Poland and Franco’s Spain, Goto, Island of Love features bizarre sights, poetic flashes of colour and the stunning deployment of Handel’s organ concertos.

Here (and above) is the opening.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 119: Wed Apr 30

No1: Monsieur Verdoux (Chaplin, 1947): Odeon Cinema Covent Garden, 8.30pm


This film is screening as part of the London Labour Film Festival. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A film of serene elegance and sharp teeth, Charles Chaplin's 1947 masterpiece was met with violent hostility on its first release, and contributed strongly to his political exile in the 1950s. Chaplin steps out of the tramp character, playing a soft-spoken French gentleman who supports his lovely children and crippled wife by marrying rich widows and killing them. The moral—“if war is the logical extension of diplomacy, then murder is the logical extension of business”—has a Brechtian toughness and wit, but the style is soft, seductive, elegiac. Chaplin clearly loves the monster he has made, and when the tramp's walk returns for a moment as Verdoux is led to the gallows, we see death with a smiling, human face. With Martha Raye and Isobel Elsom.
Dave Kehr

Here is Chaplin's famous court speech.

*********************

No 2: Casino (Scorsese, 1995): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm


Love the opening titles (here and above); love the cast; love the soundtrack ...

This great film screens as part of the Martin Scorsese season at Prince Charles.
Details here.


Chicago Reader review:
Simultaneously quite watchable and passionless, Martin Scorsese's three-hour dissection of power in Las Vegas (1995), set principally in the 1970s, sometimes comes across like an anthology of his previous collaborations with Robert De Niro—above all GoodFellas, though here the characters are high rollers to begin with. By far the most interesting star performance is by Sharon Stone as a classy hooker destroyed by her marriage to a bookie (De Niro, in the least interesting star performance) selected by the midwest mob to run four casinos. There's an interesting expositional side to the film, with De Niro and Joe Pesci's characters both serving as interactive narrators, but the film never becomes very involving as drama, With James Woods, Don Rickles, Alan King, Kevin Pollak, and L.Q. Jones.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 118: Tue Apr 29

Jeremy (Barron, 1973): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm



TV presenter, film critic, author and skiffle double-bass player, Mark Kermode introduces one of his favourite films Jeremy (1973). Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor star in this touching high school romance. There will be a Q&A session with Mark before the film.

Here's an extract from an interview with Kermode about Jeremy.

Let's finish with Jeremy, then. Because you talked about how we don't look back at older films more often. Jeremy highlights that critics have Kryptonite, critics have favourites, and films that are personally important to them. Those are the films that build and inform critics, yet conversely, the ones not often talked about by them. Why is that?

I think partly it's do with what you said before, 14 films a week and you're struggling to keep up with releases. For me, I do screenings and introduce films, and I get asked what I want to show. 'There's a 35mm print of Jeremy'. Wow: one of the reasons I chose that was that I hadn't seen a 35mm print of Jeremy since 1974. It's a privilege.

It's partly to do with finding the time, but partly because the narrative of the thrust of film journalism is what's the next thing, what's the next thing? Film academia tends much more to look back. The best thing to happen to me in my life was Linda [Mark's wife]. It happens that Linda is a professor of film, and it's one part of her that I can't envisage my life living without her. Living with someone who's an academic who writes better than I do, knows more than I do and will literally sit there and go you're wrong about A.I. is great because so much of film academia is that the critics have moved on, now let's do the archaeology. You can't believe the pleasure of living with someone who loves that...

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 117: Mon Apr 28

Red Dust (Fleming, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This screens as part of the Passport to Cinema season and is also being shown on April 29 & 30.

Here is the BFI introduction: Playing an undisguised prostitute, Jean Harlow exemplifies pre-Code Hollywood in this Somerset Maughamesque tale of colonial folk undone by rampant nature on a rubber plantation in Indo-China. Harlow mainly lingers, and smoulders, on the sidelines of Dennis Carson’s (Clark Gable) affair with the very ‘proper’ Barbara (Mary Astor), but she also has some choice comments, as when reading a children’s bedtime story to the convalescent Carson: ‘A chipmunk and a rabbit – say, I wonder how this comes out?’

The screening on 28 April will be introduced by Richard Combs.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 116: Sun Apr 27

No1 The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet (Jeunet, 2013): Cine Lumiere, 5pm 


Here is the Cine Lumiere introduction: 
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s (Amélie) adaptation of Reif Larsen’s best-selling novel is an amusing, poignant and visually stunning feature designed to delight young and old alike. Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is only ten, but he already knows so much that he could easily be thirty years older. Gifted with a lively imagination, insatiable curiosity and prodigious gifts of observation, he appears to be Montana’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci. Instead of staying home and biding his time, he decides to leave for Washington, alone, to compare his intuitions and research with the country’s top scientists. But while on the road, pondering insoluble questions such as ‘How can human beings produce so many right angles, when their behaviour is so illogical?’, he keeps thinking of the family he left behind on a ranch in Montana…
Followed by a Q&A with Helena Bonham-Carter and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet


*******

No 2 Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950): Temple Studios, 31 London St, W2 1DJ, 12.50pm


Temple Studios, home to Punchdrunk Theatre’s The Drowned Man, will be opening its doors for exclusive screenings of two Hollywood cinema classics, Day of the Locust (April 13th) and Sunset Boulevard. Both films will be screened on 16mm prints in the atmospheric cinema space, The Encino Theater, housed within the extraordinary environs of Temple Studios’ set for The Drowned Man, which recalls the fading glamour of 1960s Los Angeles film industry.

Selected by Punchdrunk’s Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, the films are two of the cinematic inspirations for The Drowned Man, alongside George Büchner’s fractured literary masterpiece, Woyzeck. There are limited tickets on sale here.


Chicago Reader review:
'Billy Wilder's searing, funny, morbid look at the real tinsel beneath the phony tinsel (1950). Aging silent-movie vamp Gloria Swanson takes up with William Holden, a two-bit screenwriter on the make, and virtually holds him captive in her Hollywood gothic mansion. Erich von Stroheim, once her director, now her butler, is the other figure in this menage-a-weird. A tour de force for Swanson and one of Wilder's better efforts.'
Dan Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer: 'The most unusual picture in many years'.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 115: Sat Apr 26

Life of Riley (Resnais, 2014): Cine Lumiere, 8.40pm


Here is the Cine Lumiere introduction: Alain Resnais’ last feature is an ebullient, beautifully stylised adaptation of the work of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn – whom he turned to twice before – aided by a dazzling ensemble cast. In the English countryside, the life of three couples is disturbed by a character we shall constantly hear about but never see: the enigmatic George Riley. The terminally ill man is the focus for various people affected by his life: his best friend Jack (Michel Vuillermoz), urges George’s estranged young wife Monica (Sandrine Kiberlain) to return to her ailing husband during the final six months of his life; meanwhile, George’s doctor Colin (Hippolyte Girardot) attempts to obscure news of George’s illness from his gossipy wife (Sabine Azéma), who spends much of her time reflecting on life with Jack’s partner (Caroline Silhol). With a blatantly fictitious studio setting and purposely mannered performances, Resnais once again exposes the quotidian deceptions of suburban couples.

Here (and above) is the French trailer.