Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 267: Thu Sep 25

La Grande Illusion (Renoir, 1939):
The Russett, 17 Amhurst Terrace, London, E8. 7.45pm



CINÉ-REAL is a non-for-profit film club with the aim of bringing together film makers, actors, writers, directors, producers, photographers, cinephiles etc, to enjoy classic films as film and share their passion for filmmaking.. The films shown are all 16mm prints.

Chicago Reader review:
For many years this 1937 tale of brotherhood and escape, set in a World War I German prison camp, was considered Jean Renoir's official masterpiece. It's an excellent film, with Renoir's usual looping line and deft shifts of tone, though today the balance of critical opinion has shifted in favor of the greater darkness and filigree of The Rules of the Game. Francois Truffaut described it as"the least eccentric of all of Renoir's French movies," and for that reason it has long been the most popular. But to imagine this same material in the hands of any of the cinema's more naive, more didactic humanists—a Capra or a Stevens, say—is to appreciate the measure of Renoir's genius and honesty.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 266: Wed Sep 24

All the Colors of the Dark (Martino, 1972): The Horse Hospital, 7pm


This screening is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.
 

Here is the Horse Hospital introduction:
Hallucinatory satanists infest swinging London in this hard-to-find psychedelic Giallo from one of its boldest proponents, Sergio Martino (The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh, Torso, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I have the Key). All the necessary ingredients are here, including giallo queen Edwige Fenech as the troubled victim of a psychopathic stalker, exotic West London locations and a psyched-out sitar heavy theme from Bruno Nicolai.

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 265: Tue Sep 23

The Last Impresario (Otto, 2013): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm


This screening is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Director Gracie Otto pays a vibrant tribute to a fascinating entertainer – possibly the most famous person you’ve never heard of! Notorious London theatre and film impresario Michael White produced over 300 shows and movies over the last 50 years, including risqué productions of Oh! Calcutta!, The Rocky Horror Show and Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. This intimate documentary introduces us to this playboy, gambler, bon vivant and friend of the rich and famous via interviews with Naomi Watts, Kate Moss, John Waters, Barry Humphries and more.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 264: Mon Sep 22

Le Grand Meaulnes (Albicocco, 1967): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


This screening, which is introduced by the novelist Julie Myerson, is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Time Out review:
A film made with vaseline and railway tracks, which takes some adjusting to; but you soon forget to read the subtitles, because you can understand all you need without them. It's based on the book Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier, and explores a strange adolescence in provincial France at the end of the last century. In the film, Roger Corman meets Proust, Elvira Madigan rides again, and Renoir takes acid.
John Collis

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 263: Sun Sep 21

Kinetta (Lanthimos, 2005): Tate Modern, 5.20pm


This screening, which will be followed by a Q&A featuring the director, Yorgos Lanthimos, is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Here is the Scalarama introduction: Kinetta. A Greek defunct resort town, inhabited during the off-season by migrant workers. Lanthimos studies the cryptic activities of an inscrutable trio (a policeman, a photographer, and a hotel maid) who barely speak and who pass the time by staging reenactments of murders. The policeman with a passion for automobiles, tape recorders and Russian women, investigates a series of recent murders in the area. He enlists the help of a photo-store clerk, a loner who is a part-time videographer, and a young hotel maid, who will be performing the role of the female victims. This oddball trio engages in a succession of murder re-enactments, directed by the cop with exhaustive attention to detail but questionable scientific purpose… We know nothing more of these people. Not even their names. They will disappear in the first flood of summer vacationers…

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 262: Sat Sep 20

AI: Artificial Intelligence (Spielberg, 2001): Albert & Victoria Museum, 7pm


Victoria & Albert Museum introduction:
Watch A.I. Artificial Intelligence and hear Professor Mark Bishop, a world authority on computer intelligence, introduce the dazzling sci-fi created by Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg.
Tracing its genesis in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, Professor Bishop discusses the movie's robot child with current developments in A.I. technology and philosophy.

This event is part of the London Design Festival at the V&A 2014

Chicago Reader review:
A collaboration between the living Steven Spielberg and the late Stanley Kubrick seems appropriate to a project that reflects profoundly on the differences between life and nonlife. Kubrick started this picture and came up with the idea that Spielberg should direct it, and after inheriting a 90-page treatment Kubrick had prepared with Ian Watson and 600 drawings he'd done with Chris Baker, Spielberg finished it in so much his own manner that it may be his most personal film, as well as his most thoughtful. It might make you cry; it's just as likely to give you the creeps—which is as it should be. This is a movie people will be arguing about for many years to come.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 261: Fri Sep 19

Planet of the Apes (Schaffner, 1968): Genesis Cinema


This Apes double-bill (the cinema are also screening Project Nim) is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Time out review:
Four sequels and a TV series bred contempt, but this first visit to Pierre Boulle's planet, bringing a welcome touch of wit to his rather humourlessly topsy-turvy theory of evolution, remains a minor sci-fi classic. The settings (courtesy of the National Parks of Utah and Arizona) are wonderfully outlandish, and Schaffner makes superb use of them as a long shot chillingly establishes the isolation of the crashed astronauts, as exploration brings alarming intimations of life (pelts staked out on the skyline like crucified scarecrows), and as discovery of a tribe of frightened humans is followed by an eruption of jackbooted apes on horseback. The enigma of the planet's history, juggled through Heston's humiliating experience of being studied as an interesting laboratory specimen by his ape captors, right down to his final startling rediscovery of civilisation, is quite beautifully sustained.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 260: Thu Sep 18

La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960): Genesis Cinema, 6pm


This Roma Bellazza doubl-bill (the cinema are also screening The Great Beauty) is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Time Out review:
The opening shot shows a helicopter lifting a statue of Christ into the skies and out of Rome. God departs and paves the way for Fellini's extraordinarily prophetic vision of a generation's spiritual and moral decay. The depravity is gauged against the exploits of Marcello (Mastroianni), a playboy hack who seeks out sensationalist stories by bedding socialites and going to parties. Marcello is both repelled by and drawn to the lifestyles he records: he becomes besotted with a fleshy, dimwit starlet (Ekberg), he joins in the media hysteria surrounding a child's alleged sighting of the Virgin Mary, yet he longs for the bohemian life of his intellectual friend Steiner (Cuny). There are perhaps a couple of party scenes too many, and the peripheral characters can be unconvincing, but the stylish cinematography and Fellini's bizarre, extravagant visuals are absolutely riveting.
Elaine Patterson

Here is an excerpt.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 259: Wed Sep 17

Plan 9 from Outer Space (Wood, 1959):
Atomic Bark Film Club, Scenario, 97 Stoke Newington Rd, London, N16 8BX



This screening is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Bela Lugosi died during the making of this low-budget science fiction programmer, but that didn't faze director Edward Wood: the Lugosi footage, which consists of the actor skulking around a suburban garage, is replayed over and over, to highly surreal effect. Wood is notorious for his 1952 transvestite saga Glen or Glenda? (aka I Changed My Sex), but for my money this 1959 effort is twice as strange and appealing in its undisguised incompetence. J. Hoberman of the Village Voice has made a case for Wood as an unconscious avant-gardist; there's no denying that his blunders are unusually creative and oddly expressive.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 258: Tue Sep 16

Body Double (De Palma, 1984): W London Hotel, Wardour St, London, W1 7pm


One of the highlights of the year, a very rare screening from Little White Lies magazine (with an introduction by critic Matt Thrift) of Brian De Palma's underrated mid-1980s Hitchcockian thriller. Highly recommended.

Chicago Reader review:
It pains me to say it, but I think Brian De Palma has gotten a bad rap on this one: the first hour of this thriller represents the most restrained, accomplished, and effective filmmaking he has ever done, and if the film does become more jokey and incontinent as it follows its derivative path, it never entirely loses the goodwill De Palma engenders with his deft opening sequences. Craig Wasson is an unemployed actor who is invited to house-sit a Hollywood Hills mansion; he becomes voyeuristically involved with his beautiful neighbor across the way, and witnesses her murder. Those who have seen Vertigo will have solved the mystery within the first 15 minutes, but De Palma's use of frame lines and focal lengths to define Wasson's point of view is so adept that the suspense takes hold anyway. De Palma's borrowings from Hitchcock can no longer be characterized as hommages or even as outright thievery; his concentration on Hitchcockian motifs is so complete and so fetishized that it now seems purely a matter of repetition compulsion. But Body Double is the first De Palma film to make me think that all of his practice is leading at least to the beginnings of perfection.
Dave Kehr 


If you want to read more about this movie there's Susan Dworkin's Double De Palma, an on-the-set account of the making of the film, plus a very thoughtful chapter in Misogyny in the Movies: the De Palma Question by Kenneth Mackinnon.

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 257: Mon Sep 15

M (Lang, 1931): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm


This Fritz Lang classic is on an extended run from Sep 5th at BFI Southbank (and also screens at the Rio Cinema for a week from that date). Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Peter Lorre stars in Fritz Lang's sympathetic and terrifying story of a child murderer, filmed in Germany in 1931. The underworld joins forces with the police in tracking down Lorre's plump, helpless maniac because his atrocities have interrupted the course of crime-as-usual. The moral issues are complex and deftly handled: Lorre is at once entirely innocent and absolutely evil. Lang's detached, modified expressionist style gives the action a plastic beauty: the geometry of the images is reflected in the geometry of the plot, as every piece of film clicks together on its way to the inevitable climax. Two lines meet, and Lorre is at the center. 
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 256: Sun Sep 14

The Phantom Carriage (Duvivier, 1939): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


This Sunday French Classics screening, featured every week at the Cine Lumiere, is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Cine Lumiere introduction:
The creaking wheels of the phantom carriage ridden by Death himself – and driven by the hapless man who dies at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve – provide the sinister backdrop for this rare French fantasy film. Pierre Fresnay is remarkable as hard-drinking tough guy, David, whose buddy Georges haunts his nights as the ghostly carriage driver. A woman from the Salvation Army will try to save David from the fate of his friend.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 255: Sat Sep 13

Nekromantik (Buttgereit, 1987): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm


As the Rio puts it this film marks 'the return of a legendary and much banned favourite Scala mix of gore, transgression and cosmic dread ...' This late-night screening is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

Scalarama preview:
Inspired by American serial killer Edward Gein, Nekromantik tells the story of necrophilic couple: Betty and Rob. He works for a street cleaning company specializing in body disposals of all kinds. With Betty, he not only shares the apartment, but also a sexual preference for the dead. What excitement, when Rob brings home a corpse. But when he is fired from his job, Betty leaves him, taking the dead lover with her. Buttgereit’s debut feature was made as a protest against rigid new censorship in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1980s. While it was banned in some countries, it achieved cult status in others, and established Buttgereit as master of German splatter and horror.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 254: Fri Sep 12

Fat City (Huston, 1972): Genesis Cinema, 6pm

 
This triple-bill Fight Night special (the cinema are also screening The Set Up & Killer's Kiss) is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Full details here.

John Huston is much better known for The Dead, African Queen and The Maltese Falcon but Fat City is surely, along with Wise Blood (1979), his finest work. Don't miss the chance to see a rare screening of this wonderful slice of Hollywood melancholia in which Stacy Keach gives the performance of a lifetime as a struggling boxer giving it one last try and Jeff Bridges shines as a naive up-and-coming fighter. Watch out in particular for the final scene of this movie and an audacious, haunting shot a minute from the end.

Time Out review:
'Marvellous, grimly downbeat study of desperate lives and the escape routes people construct for themselves, stunningly shot by Conrad Hall. The setting is Stockton, California, a dreary wasteland of smoky bars and sunbleached streets where the lives of two boxers briefly meet, one on the way up, one on the way down. Neither, you sense instantly, for all their talk of past successes and future glories, will ever know any other world than the back-street gymnasiums and cheap boxing-rings where battered trainers and managers exchange confidences about their ailments, disappointments and dreams, and where in a sad and sobering climax two sick men beat each other half to death for a few dollars and a pint of glory. Huston directs with the same puritanical rigour he brought to Wise Blood. Beautifully summed up by Paul Taylor as a "masterpiece of skid row poetry".'
Tom Milne


Spoiler alert - here's that final scene.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 253: Thu Sep 11

A Quiet Place in the Country (Petri, 1968): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm



This screening is part of a short season at the ICA dedicated to the brilliant Italian director Elio Petri. Full details here.

Here is the ICA introduction: Petri’s erotic, intellectual horror film, winner of a Special Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1969, offers a harrowing, hallucinatory account of an artist’s descent into madness. Franco Nero stars as a successful abstract painter who heads out for a peaceful rural idyll with his mistress-turned-manager (Vanessa Redgrave) only to become unhinged by his growing obsession with the ghost of a murdered woman (Gabriella Grimaldi) that haunts their holiday villa. The film’s striking canvases are by the American artist Jim Dine and the original score is from maestro Ennio Morricone.

The Q&A after the screening will feature Pasquale Iannone.

Pasquale Iannone is a film academic and critic based in Edinburgh. He is a regular contributor to Sight & Sound as well as various BBC Radio programmes. His film curation work includes seasons at BFI Southbank, Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 252: Wed Sep 10

The Long Day Closes (Davies, 1992): ICA Cinema, 6.40pm


This screening, brought to you by the Badlands Collective is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September. Director Terence Davies will be attending this event.

Here is the ICA introduction:
A hypnotic, bittersweet ode to boyhood, cinemagoing, postwar working-class family life, Catholicism and glacial erosion, The Long Day Closes follows Bud, a lonely young boy growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s. Told as a trance of memories and moments, the film’s particular brand of sadness, beauty, breathtaking rhythm and atmospheric cinematography is emblematic of why writer-director Terence Davies is one of the great artists of contemporary British cinema.

The movie will be shown from a 35mm print and the screening will feature an introduction and complimentary programme booklet from repertory cinema curators The Badlands Collective.

Chicago Reader review:
The 1992 conclusion of Terence Davies's second autobiographical trilogy may not achieve the sublime heights of parts one and two (which comprised 1988's Distant Voices, Still Lives), but it's still a powerful film, possibly even a great one—the sort of work that can renew one's faith in movies. Part three chronicles his life in working-class Liverpool between the ages of 7 and 11, a period he compresses into the years 1955 and 1956, but Davies focuses less on plot or memory as they're usually understood than on the memory of emotions and subjective consciousness. Music, lighting, elaborate camera movements, and the sound tracks of other films are among the tools he uses in relation to the basic settings of home, street, school, church, pub, and movie theater. Davies emphasizes the continuities and discontinuities between these places and the emotions they evoke, creating a consistent sense of religious illumination and transfiguration. What he does with the strains of "Tammy" in one climactic sequence and with the drift of moving clouds in another are alone worth the price of admission.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is that sequence Rosenbaum discusses in the conclusion of his short review.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 251: Tue Sep 9

We Still Kill the Old Way (Petri, 1967): ICA Cinema. 7.45pm


This screening is part of a short season at the ICA dedicated to the brilliant Italian director Elio Petri. Full details here.

Here is the ICA introduction:

Petri's first adaptation of a work by Leonardo Sciascia follows the unauthorised investigation of timid left-wing university professor Laurana (Gian Maria Volonté) who refuses to discount a double murder in his Sicilian hometown as an old-fashioned honour killing. On the trail of the real murderer in what soon appears to be a politically-motivated crime, Laurana must navigate a maze-like conspiracy which appears to implicate most of the town's dignitaries. Complicating matters, he also falls in love with one of the murdered men's wives.

This claustrophobic thriller is a study of the interaction between organised crime and power in which the Mafia (never explicitly mentioned) is analysed as a social phenomenon deeply and irrevocably ingrained into society.

The Q&A after the screening will feature Alan O'Leary and Nico Marzano.
Dr Alan O'Leary is Senior Lecturer in Italian Cinema and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. He recently partook in a series of overseas fellowships as part of the World Universities Network. Nico Marzano is Film & Cinema Manager at the ICA.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 250: Mon Sep 8

Three Times (Hsiao-Hsien, 2005): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm


This is screening as part of the Passport to Cinema season at BFI and was my personal 2005 London Film Festival highlight.

Chicago Reader review:
The three episodes of Hou Hsiao-hsien's exquisite 2005 feature, his best in many years, are set achronologically in Taiwan, in 1966, 1911, and 2005; each is about 40 minutes long and stars Chang Chen and Shu Qi. The structure may make the film sound like Hou's greatest hits, echoing not only his trilogy about Taiwan in the 20th century (City of Sadness, The Puppet Master, and Good Men, Good Women) but the nostalgia about adolescence in A Time to Live and a Time to Die, the ritzy period bordello in Flowers of Shanghai, and the contemporary club scene in Millennium Mambo (which also starred Shu). But it's the intricate formal and thematic relation of the three parts that defines the film's beauty and makes it such a passionate meditation on youth, love, and freedom in relation to history. The ironic Chinese title translates as "The Best of Times."
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 249: Sun Sep 7

Alphaville (Godard, 1965) & Pierrot Le Fou (Godard, 1965):
Rio Cinema, 1.30 & 3.30pm


This Godard double-bill is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September.

Chicago Reader review of Alphaville:
The unadorned streets of Paris become Alpha 60, Capital of Pain, in Jean-Luc Godard's smoky, acrid 1965 science fiction film. It's the most political of Godard's films before his complete radicalization, and probably his most anguished. The terrain crossed by special agent Lemmy Caution (B movie star Eddie Constantine) is relentlessly sterile and oppressive, a wilderness of glass-box architecture and endless white corridors. The view of technology as inherently evil is too facile for Godard's fine, paradoxical mind, and the film as a whole is light on insight. But it remains an outstanding example of the filmmaker's power to transform an environment through the selection of detail: everything in it is familiar, but nothing is recognizable. With Anna Karina and Akim Tamiroff.
Dave Kehr

Here is academic Colin MacCabe's introduction to Alphaville.

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

Chicago Reader review of Pierrot Le Fou:
"I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple," Jean-Luc Godard said of this brilliant, all-over-the-place adventure and meditation about two lovers on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina). Made in 1965, the film, with its ravishing colors and beautiful 'Scope camerawork by Raoul Coutard, still looks as iconoclastic and fresh as it did when it belatedly opened in the U.S. Godard's misogynistic view of women as the ultimate betrayers is integral to the romanticism in much of his 60s work—and perhaps never more so than here—but Karina's charisma makes this pretty easy to ignore most of the time. The movie's frequent shifts in style, emotion, and narrative are both challenging and intoxicating: American director Samuel Fuller turns up at a party scene to offer his definition of cinema, Karina performs two memorable songs in musical-comedy fashion, Belmondo's character quotes copiously from his reading, and a fair number of red and blue cars are stolen and destroyed.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


When Pierrot Le Fou, which will surely come to be seen as one of Jean-Luc Godard's finest, was re-released in 1989 after many years out of circulation, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum had this to say in an article in Chicago Reader : "Looking at Pierrot Le Fou again almost a quarter of a century after it was made, 20 years after its initial U.S. release, is a bit like visiting another planet; it’s an explosion of color, sound, music, passion, violence, and wit that illustrates what used to be regarded as cinema."

It's impossible for me to give a swift synopsis for Pierrot Le Fou in which Jean Paul Belmondo, ostensibly escaping stifling domesticity, and Anna Karina, fleeing a group of gangsters, depart Paris for the south of France suffice to say that it is brimming with ideas and scenes of extraordinary complexity. My abiding memories of seeing this the first time was of the vitality and colour - I was reminded when viewing it again last year that this was also a caustic commentary by the director on his relationship with Karina. Still, a huge treat and a film you will not forget in a hurry.

If I had to pick one excerpt it would be this one in which fellow director Sam Fuller is asked what is the meaning of cinema: "Film is like a battleground", recounts the American filmmaker. "Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion."

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 248: Sat Sep 6

Satantango (Tarr, 1994): ICA Cinema, 11am



This screening, brought to you by the A Nos Amours film club, is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September.

Here is the ICA introduction:
This legendary film, running at 7 hours 12 minutes, deals with the collapse of a collectivised Soviet-era farm in rural Hungary. There is the scent of money in the air, and, in chaotic and changeable times, a yearning for meaning and salvation. At such times it is inevitable that prophets and Messiahs will be longed and waited for. The question is whether they will be false prophets, or mere charlatans. In the chilly, bleak rotten world of Sátántangó, who will follow who, and why, are left wonderfully uncertain. These are ordinary human concerns, but it is the vastness of the  landscape, the featureless plains and endless horizons, and a terrifying, unremitting wind from nowhere, and a rain that falls without end, that threatens to wash away all human hope. Signature long takes, often as long as the 10 minutes that a roll of film allows, combined with astonishing camera choreography offers a sublime cinema experience. To commit to Sátántangó is to commit to the unforgettable and life-changing: these are the outer limits of cinema. The screening is on 35mm.

Chicago Reader review:
How can I do justice to this grungy seven-hour black comedy (1994), in many ways my favorite film of the 90s? Adapted by Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr and Laszlo Krasznahorkai from the latter's 1985 novel, this is a diabolical piece of sarcasm about the dreams, machinations, and betrayals of a failed farm collective, set during a few rainy fall days (two of them rendered more than once from the perspectives of different characters). The form of the novel was inspired by the steps of the tango—six forward, six backward—an idea reflected by the film's overlapping time structure, 12 sections, and remarkable choreographed long takes and camera movements. The subject of this brilliantly constructed narrative is nothing less than the world today, and its 431-minute running time is necessary not because Tarr has so much to say, but because he wants to say it right. In Hungarian with subtitles.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 247: Fri Sep 5

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Petri, 1970): ICA Cinema, 7.45pm


This screening is part of a short season at the ICA dedicated to the brilliant Italian director Elio Petri. Full details here.

Here is the ICA introduction:
Inaugurating a cycle of cinema politico in Italy, Petri's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is a dark and satirical political thriller set during a time of internal political disturbance, where a psychopathic Roman police inspector (Gian Maria Volonté) cracks down with relish on the political dissidents of the day. After slashing the throat of his masochistic mistress (Florinda Bolkan), the inspector is perversely put in charge of the investigation. With sadistic pleasure, he plants clues that implicate himself and then craftily diffuses them, ostensibly to prove his invincibility. As director Petri's split-second edits rocket back and forth between flashback and detection, this film is a biting critique of Italian police methods and authoritarian repression, a psychological study of a budding crypto-fascist and a probing who-dunnit. The iciest of film noirs, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 1970.


The panel discussion afterwards will include:
Pasquale Iannone,  a film academic and critic based in Edinburgh. He is a regular contributor to Sight & Sound as well as various BBC Radio programmes. His film curation work includes seasons at BFI Southbank, Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse.
Michael Brooke, a regular contributor to Sight & Sound who also produced the Arrow Academy editions of Elio Petri’s L’Assassino and Francesco Rosi’s Salvatore Giuliano.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 246: Thu Sep 4

Judex (Franju, 1963): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


This film follows a Sight & Sound panel discussion on the work and legacy of the British film critic Raymond Durgnat.

Chicago Reader review:
There's a world of difference between the natural, “found” surrealism of Louis Feuillade's lighthearted French serial (1914) and the darker, studied surrealism and campy piety of this 1964 remake by Georges Franju. Yet in Franju's hands the material has its own magic (and deadpan humor), which makes this one of the better features of his middle period. Judex (Channing Pollack) is a cloaked hero who abducts a villainous banker to prevent the evil Diana (Francine Bergé in black tights) from stealing a fortune from the banker's virtuous daughter. Some of what Franju finds here is worthy of Cocteau, and as he discovered when he attempted another pastiche of Feuillade's work in color, black and white is essential to the poetic ambience. With Jacques Jouanneau and Sylva Koscina. In French with subtitles.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 245: Wed Sep 3

The Last House on the Left (Craven, 1972): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This screening, brought to you by the Cigarette Burns Film club, is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September.

Here is the Prince Charles Cinema introduction:
Psychotronic and Cigarette Burns Cinema team up to present a series of ultra-rare UK cinema screenings of the notorious video nasty The Last House on the Left.
When two innocent girls head to the big city for their first rock gig, little do they expect their simple diversion to score a bit of weed would go so disastrously wrong for all involved.

Released in 1972, Wes Craven"s rough-edged directorial debut The Last House on the Left remains as controversial now, as it did then. Suffering for decades under an outright UK ban, before finally seeing an official home video release in the mid-noughties and a few, very limited theatrical screenings in the UK, we are pleased to bring this groundbreaking and nerve shattering nasty to UK screens on 35mm for its largest and longest theatrical run ever.

Wes Craven closes the door on the hippie 60s and kicks down a new path to the post Vietnam era of harsh brutality, in a movie you won"t soon forget, but don"t worry, it"s only a movie...

Psychotronic Cinema is a monthly cult film event which has been dedicated to bringing the world"s greatest, rarest and flat out weirdest cult movies to Scottish cinema screens for over a decade. While down south, Cigarette Burns flies the battered and bloodied flag of celluloid, screening 35mm and 16mm genre magic wherever there"s a projector.

Roger Ebert review:
Last House on the Left is a tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect. There is a moment of such sheer and unexpected terror that it beats anything in the heart-in-the-mouth line since Alan Arkin jumped out of the darkness at Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark. I don't want to give the impression, however, that this is simply a good horror movie. It's horrifying, all right, but in ways that have nothing to do with the supernatural. It's the story of two suburban girls who go into the city for a rock concert, are kidnapped by a gang of sadistic escaped convicts and their sluttish girlfriend, and are raped and murdered. Then, in a coincidence even the killers find extreme, the gang ends up spending the night at the home of one of the girls' parents.

Wes Craven's direction never lets us out from under almost unbearable dramatic tension. The acting is unmannered and natural, I guess. There's no posturing. There's a good ear for dialogue and nuance. And there is evil in this movie. Not bloody escapism, or a thrill a minute, but a fully developed sense of the vicious natures of the killers. There is no glory in this violence. And Craven has written in a young member of the gang (again borrowed on Bergman's story) who sees the horror as fully as the victims do. This movie covers the same philosophical territory as Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" (1971), and is more hard-nosed about it: Sure, a man's home is his castle, but who wants to be left with nothing but a castle and a lifetime memory of horror?

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 244: Tue Sep 2

Daisies (Chytilova, 1966): Wilton's Music Hall, 7.30pm



This screening is part of the Scalarama season which runs throughout September.

Chicago Reader review:
My favorite Czech film, and surely one of the most exhilarating stylistic and psychedelic eruptions of the 60s, this madcap and aggressive feminist farce by Vera Chytilova explodes in any number of directions. Two uninhibited young women named Marie engage in escapades that add up to less a plot than to a string of outrageous set pieces, including several antiphallic gags and a free-for-all with fancy food (rivaling Laurel and Hardy) that got Chytilova in lots of trouble with the authorities; disturbing yet liberating, it shows what this talented director can do with freedom. A major influence on Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating, this 1966 feature is chock-full of female giggling, which might be interpreted in context as the laughter of Medusa: subversive, bracing, energizing, and rather challenging to most male spectators. In Czech with subtitles.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 243: Mon Sep 1

Bloody Beans (Mari, 2013):
Fernandez and Wells, Somerset House, WC2R 1LA, 7.45pm
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This screening, part of the Scalarama season, is hosted by the True Images, Tall Stories film club. You can find more details on the Facebook page for the event here. Narimane Mari will be at the screening for a Q&A after the film.

Here is the True Images, Tall Stories introduction to the evening: Narimane Mari's Bloody Beans (2013), is a strange fable from Algeria based on an episode from its war of independence. Sick of only ever getting beans, a group of children on the beach decide to kidnap a soldier and demand something better to eat... Sunsoaked, surreal and with a great electro soundtrack by Zombie Zombie, this film almost defies description and we are grateful to Narimane for kindly allowing us to show it for free.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 242: Sun Aug 31

Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006): Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square, 7.45pm


This screening is from the Nomad Cinema. Here is their introduction:
The original Casino Royale (1967) may have been a spoof comedy, but this 2006 take on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel is a very dark affair. Daniel Craig stars in his first role as 007 in what the producers were hoping would be a successful reboot of the Bond franchise - and they certainly succeeded. Set at the beginning of Bond’s career as a secret agent, we see a less experienced and far more vulnerable man, as he typically falls in love with a treasury employee [the exquisite Eva Green] assigned to help him bankrupt a terrorist in a high-stakes game of poker.

No need to gamble on us though: go all in and grab yourself a ticket to see this contemporary classic in the extraordinary, atmospheric setting of the Hippodrome Casino in London’s West End. Go on, take our advice...

Tickets include one Super Odd Chip, courtesy of The Hippodrome Casino.
Please note: This screening is partly seated at tables in cabaret style [first come, first seated] with waiter service throughout the film.


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

Chicago Reader review:
Clive Owen seemed like the natural choice, but in casting Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, franchise owners Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson opted for someone who looked cold enough to kill a man with his bare hands. That he does, in a brutal black-and-white opening sequence, and for the rest of the movie Craig's wardrobe seems to alternate between crisp evening clothes and other people's blood. The script updates Ian Fleming's first Bond novel to a post-9/11 world and scales back the silliness that always seems to creep into the series; director Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro) contributes some superior action set pieces but keeps the camp and gadgetry to a minimum. With Eva Green, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, and liver-lipped Mads Mikkelsen as the villain, an international terrorism financier who weeps drops of blood.

JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 241: Sat Aug 30

Margaret (Lonergan, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.10pm



This film was famously buried by Fox studios and there was just one late press screening in Britain. I wrote about the tortured pre-release history here. But Kenneth Lonergan's follow up to the excellent You Can Count On Me gained a second life thanks to critics enthused by one of the best American film in recent years championing this superb movie.

Here the film screens in the Teenage Kicks season and can also be seen on 31 August. Details here.

This is Peter Bradshaw's review from the Guardian to the time of release:
Since 2000, when he made his mark with a tremendous debut, You Can Count on Me, Kenneth Lonergan has been absent from the radar as a director. The reason turns out to have been years of acrimonious studio argument over the length of his followup project, a post-9/11 New York drama in a world of trauma, rage, blame, overtalking and interrupting. Originally conceived as a three-hour movie, it has been allowed into cinemas in a two-and-a-half hour cut.

Perhaps Lonergan is content with this and perhaps not, but the resulting movie is stunning: provocative and brilliant, a sprawling neurotic nightmare of urban catastrophe, with something of John Cassavetes and Tom Wolfe, and rocket-fuelled by a superbly thin-skinned performance by Anna Paquin. Its sheer energy and dramatic vehemence, alongside that raw lead performance, puts it way ahead of more tastefully formed dramas.

Paquin plays Lisa, the daughter of divorced parents: a mouthy, smart-but-not-that-smart teen at private school, sexy but emotionally naive, self-absorbed and scarily hyper-articulate in the language of entitlement and grievance. She may have inherited drama-queen tendencies from her mother Joan (J Smith-Cameron), a Broadway stage star, with whom she lives in New York. One day, after an encounter of pouting defiance with her exasperated mathematics teacher (Matt Damon), Lisa takes it into her head to buy a cowboy hat. She sees a bus driver wearing one she likes: he is played by Mark Ruffalo. With a teenager's heedless disregard for the consequences, she flirtatiously runs alongside his bus, waving wildly, asking where he got it. He smiles back at her, taking his eyes off the road – with terrible results.

Lisa is overwhelmed with ambiguous emotion at having contributed to a disaster and then participated in a coverup, and, compulsively driven to do something, draws everyone into a whirlpool of painful and destructive confrontations. But is that emotion guilt or righteousness? Or a sociopathic convulsion, a need to create a huge redemptive drama with herself at the centre, to lash out against her mother and the entire adult world; or to enact vengeance against a man who, without trying, has placed her in a position of weakness – at the very point at which she considers she should be attaining her adult, queen-bee status? Paquin creates that rarest of things: a profoundly unsympathetic character who is mysteriously, mesmerically, operatically compelling to watch.


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 240: Fri Aug 29

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Roeg, 1976): British Museum, 8.15pm



The Sci-Fi season at the BFI begins this weekenmd with three outdoor screenings, of which this is the second one.

Time Out review: 
'Nicholas Roeg's hugely ambitious and imaginative film transforms a straightforward science fiction story (novel, Walter Tevis) into a rich kaleidoscope of contemporary America. Newton (David Bowie), an alien whose understanding of the world comes from monitoring TV stations, arrives on earth, builds the largest corporate empire in the States to further his mission, but becomes increasingly frustrated by human emotions. What follows is as much a love story as sci-fi: like other films of Roeg's, this explores private and public behaviour. Newton/Bowie becomes involved in an almost pulp-like romance with Candy Clark, played out to the hits of middle America, that culminates with his 'fall' from innocence. Roeg, often using a dazzling technical skill, jettisons narrative in favour of thematic juxtapositions, working best when exploring the clichés of social and cultural ritual. Less successful is the 'explicit' sex Roeg now seems obliged to offer; but visually a treat throughout.' Chris Peachment
Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 239: Thu Aug 28

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Guest, 1961): British Museum, 8.15pm


The Sci-Fi season at the BFI starts with this outdoor screening.

BFI introduction: A Fleet Street journalist (Edward Judd) investigates the world’s increasingly ferocious weather conditions, and discovers that the Earth has been knocked off its axis by extensive nuclear testing. Is the Earth doomed? With strong performances (Leo McKern is a stand-out), a vivid depiction of the world of newspaper journalism, and extensive location shooting on the streets of London, Val Guest delivers one of the best British sci-fi films.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 238: Wed Aug 27

Charulata (Ray, 1964): BFI Southbank, 5.40 & 8.30pm


This film is on an extended run at the BFI. Full details here.

Chicago Reader:
Also known as The Lonely Wife, this relatively early (1965) film by Satyajit Ray (The World of Apu), based on a Tagore novel of Victorian India, may be the first of his features in which he really discovers mise-en-scene, and it's an exhilarating encounter. It's typically rich in the nuances of grief and in extraordinarily allusive dialogue, though not very much happens in terms of plot (a sensitive woman is neglected by her newspaper-publisher husband and drawn to his younger cousin). But at every moment, the gorgeous cinematography and expressive camera movements and dissolves have plenty of stories of their own to tell. You shouldn't miss this. In Bengali with subtitles.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 237: Tue Aug 26

Night Moves (Reichardt, 2013): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm



One of my most anticipated films of 2014 gets a special preview ahead of release later this week.

Chicago Reader review: In the acclaimed Wendy and Lucy (2008), writer-director Kelly Reichardt and screenwriter Jon Raymond submerged their anger over America’s fraying social safety net in a simple story of a homeless young woman and her dog; this excellent drama is more explicit politically but marries the rhetoric to a slow-burning suspense story that won't let go. Three scruffy young eco-terrorists (Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard) plot to blow up a dam in Oregon with a boatful of explosives, but in the finest noir tradition, something goes terribly wrong and they break ranks. Eisenberg, an actor prone to strutting and preening, gives his most restrained and effective performance in years, and Fanning is perfectly believable as an east-coast rich girl who bankrolls the operation but can't live with the consequences. As in Wendy and Lucy, the natural and social environs are impeccably authentic, in this case conveying the bohemian radicalism of the Portland area that nurtures the trio's dangerous scheme.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 236: Mon Aug 25

Irma Vep (Assayas, 1996): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


This film is part of the Passport to Cinema season at BFI Southbank and is introduced by Richard Combs. There is another screening on August 29th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Olivier Assayas wrote and directed this dark, brittle French comedy (1996) about a film company remaking Louis Feuillade's silent 1916 serial Les Vampires. This unexpected masterpiece was assembled so quickly that it has an improvisational feel and a surrealist capacity to access its own unconscious—traits it shares with Feuillade's work. A once prestigious French director of the 60s (Jean-Pierre Léaud) casts Maggie Cheung (playing herself) as villainess Irma Vep (an anagram for vampire), and his sexual infatuation with her is matched by that of the costume designer who escorts her around Paris (Jacques Rivette regular Nathalie Richard). The feverish pace of the shooting seems to unleash bad vibes as well as desire, and Assayas follows the delirium as if he were at the center of a hurricane. What emerges is a memorable look at contemporary life in general and international low-budget filmmaking in particular. In English and subtitled French.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 235: Sun Aug 24

The House of the End Times (Hidalgo, 2013): Empire Leicester Square, 8.45pm


This screening takes place on the fourth night of Fright Fest 2014, the UK's premiere international fantasy and horror film festival. You can find the details of the festival here. I am indebted to horror film expert Nigel Floyd for his suggestions and selections.

Fright Fest introduction: The first ever horror film produced in Venezuela to reach an international audience, director Alejandro Hidalgo's heady mix of THE OTHERS, H.P. Lovecraft and old school Mario Bava was a big box-office hit in its home country. Thirty years after being put in prison for murdering her family, Dulce (Ruddy Rodriguez, a former Miss Venezuela) returns to the old dark house to try and understand the mysteries and tragedies that have tormented her life, This sci-fi tinged chiller has solid direction, convincing performances, wonderful cinematography and a unique South American style.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 234: Sat Aug 23

The Badabook (Kent, 2014): Empire Leicester Square, 6.30, 8.40 & 11pm



This screening takes place on the third night of Fright Fest 2014, the UK's premiere international fantasy and horror film festival. You can find the details of the festival here. I am indebted to horror film expert Nigel Floyd for his suggestions and selections.

Here is the Fright Fest introduction: Repulsion meets 'The Gruffalo' in writer/director Jennifer Kent's Sundance acclaimed debut feature as the unresolved traumas of a conflicted mother and disturbed son manifest as a malevolent entity threatening to consume them both. Amelia (Essie Davis) and her son, Sam (Daniel Henshall), have had a raw deal in life. Her husband Oskar died six years prior while driving her to the hospital pregnant with Sam, and his birthday is a particularly painful reminder. But now things worsen dramatically. Samuel's been having nightmares, and when a mysterious pop-up children's book appears on his shelf titled 'Mister Babadook', he is finally able to put a name to the terror.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 233: Fri Aug 22

Housebound (Johnstone, 2014): Empire Cinema, Leicester Square 6.30, 8.35 & 11.20pm




This screening takes place on the second night of Fright Fest 2014, the UK's premiere international fantasy and horror film festival. You can find the details of the festival here. I am indebted to horror film expert Nigel Floyd for his suggestions and selections.

Fright Fest introduction: Like THE LOVED ONES? Then this one’s for you. Gore, guffaws and a scary whole lot more lie in wait for permanently pissed-off Kylie Bucknell, forced to return to the family house when the court places her on home detention. Her punishment for a botched ATM raid is made all the more intolerable by the fact she has to live with her over-bearing motor-mouth mother Miriam who's convinced the house is haunted. But after dismissing Miriam's superstitions, rebellious Kylie too starts hearing unsettling whispers in the dark, creaking floorboards and strange bumps in the night. Has she inherited her mother’s overactive imagination or is there indeed evil afoot between the windows and doors? Find out in this TALES OF THE CRYPT-style Kiwi comedy chiller sporting a great sense of local humour, pitch-perfect cast chemistry, a fiercely fun tone, a very creepy atmosphere and a good deal of splatter mayhem.

Here (and above) is the trailer.