Monday, 8 September 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 291: Sun Oct 19

The Duke of Burgundy (Strickland, 2014): Curzon Mayfair, 6pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 12
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Thursday 9th and 10th at Odeon West End 2. Full details here.

LFF introduction:
Visually and aurally intoxicating, and exquisitely performed, Peter Strickland’s (Berberian Sound Studio, Katalin Varga) latest film is to be relished for both its singular vision and its acute awareness of cinema heritage. Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen, After the Wedding, Borgen) and Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) inhabit an exclusively female world. Their love for each other is expressed through ritual sado-masochist role-play. Cynthia, the cool ice queen, seemingly dominates the obliging, submissive Evelyn. The couple occasionally venture outside the hermetic world of their relationship, pursuing their shared interest in entomology and attending talks by the haughty and seductive Dr Schuller. The relationship begins to unravel however, when Cynthia starts to suffer from performance fatigue. While it might be Evelyn who washes the knickers, she also wears the pants. With Cynthia yearning for something a little more conventional, Evelyn’s obedience gives way to criticism and provocation, rendering this very specific relationship strangely universal and mundane. Channelling the early 70s eroticism of Jess Franco and the ‘passionate agony’ (as Susan Sontag put it) of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Strickland creates a decadent, finely calibrated universe that is as sensually and cinematically distinctive as it is funny and true. Featuring dress and lingerie by Andrea Flesch and perfume by Je Suis Gizella.
Clare Stewart

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 290: Sat Oct 18

Born Yesterday (Cukor, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3.45pm


8th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 11
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Thursday 16th at Vue Cinemas West End Screen 7. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Despite the tendency of Garson Kanin's play to go all dewy-eyed in its celebration of American democratic ideals, Cukor's screen version is still a delight. The story - rehashed later in The Girl Can't Help It - concerns the apparently dumb chorus-girl mistress of a ruthless tycoon-cum-gangster; the big shot decides she should become more sophisticated and knowledgeable (purely for the sake of appearances), and employs Holden to give her a few lessons. But the plan backfires, both because she falls for the teacher and because her education turns her against her brutish lover's rather dubious moral practices. A very simple idea, but enlivened by a sharp, witty script, and by Cukor's effortless handling of the brilliant performances: especially fine are Holliday as the dumb blonde who makes good, and Crawford as the confused sugar-daddy, nowhere more so than in the marvellous scene where her mindless singing disturbs his concentration over a game of gin rummy. Magic.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 289: Fri Oct 17

Jauja (Alonso, 2014): Vue West End Screen 7, 6.30pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 10
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Sunday 19th at Hackney Picturehouse. Full details here.

LFF introduction:
Danish engineer Captain Gunnar Dinesen (Viggo Mortenson) is stationed with the Argentine army in a remote corner of Patagonia. When his 15-year-old daughter Ingeborg elopes with a young soldier, the angry and distraught Dinesen begins an epic journey across a harsh, threatening landscape in the hope of tracking the couple down. For his fourth feature, maverick director Lisandro Alonso turns to a difficult period in Argentine history, the brutal 1882 campaign to eradicate the indigenous population from Patagonia. His painterly existential western, framed in a vintage 4:3 ratio, is a fable about filmmaking, colonialism, the formation of nation and a brilliant chronicle of Dinesen’s descent into a single-minded obsession as fierce and foreboding as that of Apocalypse Now’s deranged Kurtz. Mortensen excels as the quixotic Dinesen, who undertakes the arduous journey through mythical landscapes, where his idea of utopia remains forever out of reach.
Maria Delgado

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 288: Thu Oct 16

Li'l Quinquin/P'tit Quinin (Dumont, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 11.45am



58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 9
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Saturday 11th at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

LFF introduction:
Who would have predicted a comedy from Bruno Dumont, the auteur behind such austere dramas as Hadewijch and Camille Claudel 1915? Yet P’tit Quinquin is not only comic, but altogether knockabout. Set in Dumont’s familiar Northern France, it concerns a series of bizarre crimes involving corpses and cattle, and the local children who become fascinated with them, headed by intrepid Quinquin. Leading the investigation, and taking the phrase ‘bumbling cop’ to new extremes, is Captain van der Weyden – clueless as Clouseau and unkempt as Columbo, with an extraordinary range of facial tics. P’tit Quinquin is riotous stuff, but confrontational too – partly because of Dumont’s casting of apparently physically or mentally disabled non-professionals, partly because of its unsettling depiction of everyday racism. Made as a TV mini-series but shown here as a self-contained film, P’tit Quinquin is a hoot – yet unmistakably 100% Dumont. 
Jonathan Romney

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 287: Wed Oct 15

The Tribe (Slaboshpytskiy, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm



58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 8
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Friday 17th at West End Vue Screen 5. Full details here.

LFF introduction:
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s audacious debut is not only a compelling, confrontational drama, it’s also an innovative rethinking of cinema’s language of sight and sound. Featuring a superb cast of young deaf performers, The Tribe is set in a boarding school for young deaf people, where new arrival Sergey (Fesenko) is drawn into an institutional system of organised crime, involving robbery and prostitution. But he crosses a dangerous line when he falls for Anna (Novikova), one of the girls to whom he’s assigned as pimp. Depicting a closed world with its own unforgiving laws, The Tribe is part-thriller, part-bad dream, with often startling use of intense sexuality and violence. Containing no spoken dialogue, but only sign language – and no subtitles – the film subverts the pieties that often attend cinema’s depiction of deaf people. Dazzlingly executed and shot in long complex takes, it is one of the outstanding discoveries of 2014.
Jonathan Romney

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 286: Tue Oct 14

Leviathan (Zvyagintsev, 2014): Odeon West End 2, 8.30pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 7
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Friday 17th at Curzon Mayfair. Full details here.

LFF introduction:
Set on the remote Kola Peninsula, near the Russian border with Finland, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan tells of the tragic conflict between the individual and a corrupt system of power. Kolya lives with his second wife and the son from his first marriage in a house he built on a rocky shore. The mayor of a local town wants to acquire the property for redevelopment, but with the help of a childhood friend, now practicing as a lawyer in Moscow, Kolya attempts to resist the compulsory purchase. It’s not difficult to see this ordinary man’s fate prefigured by the detritus of wrecked boats and skeletal remains of a beached whale lining the shore. Zvyagintsev (The Return, The Banishment and Elena) won the best screenplay award at Cannes with Leviathan. It has attracted comparisons with Tarkovsky, but has as much in common with classic Russian literature; the depth, complexity and resonance of Zvyagintsev’s vision taking us beyond the beguiling simplicity of his story to probe a malaise that affects Russian society at large. The history was inspired by a legal case in Colorado, but the court proceedings here are authentically Russian and, as Zvyaginstev said recently, if you fight authority you eventually lose.
Peter Hames

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 285: Mon Oct 13

Goodbye to Langauge (Godard, 2014): BFI IMAX Cinema, Waterloo, 6.30pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 6
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

LFF introduction:
Yes, the rumours were true – Jean-Luc Godard has made a feature in 3D, but it’s not 3D as Michael Bay would recognise it. While JLG’s latest disquisition on language, politics and the image very much follows on from his recent features, Goodbye to Language pushes his formal explorations into exciting new territory. There’s a hint of a narrative, involving a married woman and a single man, but this is above all an essay in fragmentation, taking in wordplay, literary and musical quotation, toilet humour, abundant allusion to science fiction – and even a mischievous moment of costume drama. Often using electrically saturated colours, Godard flouts illusionism with some visual flourishes that are all the more magical for their lo-fi simplicity. All this, and a charismatic debut from the film’s true star – a dog named Roxy. Godard is as provocative as ever, but it’s a long time since we’ve seen him so exuberant.
Jonathan Romney

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 284: Sun Oct 12

The Colour of Pomegranates (Parajanov, 1968): Hackney Picturehouse, 1pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 5
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Oct 10 at BFI Southbank. Full details here.  

Here is the feature I wrote for the Guardian on this unique movie.

Chicago Reader:
The late Sergei Paradjanov's greatest film, a mystical and historical mosaic about the life, work, and inner world of the 18th-century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, was previously available only in the ethnically “dry-cleaned” Russian version—recut and somewhat reorganized by Sergei Yutkevich, with chapter headings added to clarify the content for Russian viewers. This superior 1969 version of the film, found in an Armenian studio in the early 90s, shouldn't be regarded as definitive (some of the material from the Yutkevich cut is missing), but it's certainly the finest we have and may ever have: some shots and sequences are new, some are positioned differently, and, of particular advantage to Western viewers, much more of the poetry is subtitled. (Oddly enough, it's hard to tell why the “new” shots were censored.) In both versions the striking use of tableaulike frames recalls the shallow space of movies made roughly a century ago, while the gorgeous uses of color and the wild poetic conceits seem to derive from some utopian cinema of the future, at once “difficult” and immediate, cryptic and ravishing. This is essential viewing.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 283: Sat Oct 11

My Darling Clementine (Ford, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3.30pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 4
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Oct 10 at Vue West End Screen 7. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
John Ford's 1946 reworking of the Doc Holliday-Wyatt Earp legend stars Henry Fonda as the elegant Earp and Victor Mature as a surprisingly moving Doc Holliday. The Earp-Clanton feud, climaxing with the epic gunfight at the O.K. Corral, becomes for Ford a perfect case study in the virtues of family unity, civilization, and loyalty—and the film that emerges is one of Ford's most sublime and atmospheric. Highly recommended.
 

Don Druker 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 282: Fri Oct 10

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Hooper, 1974): Vue West End Screen 7, 9pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 3
Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens on Oct 12 (NFT1) and Oct 13 (Ritzy Cinema). Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Tobe Hooper's 1974 bloodbath cheapie acquired a considerable reputation among ideologically oriented critics, who admired the film's sneaky equation of middle-class values with cannibalism and wholesale slaughter. The plot, such as it is, concerns a group of teenagers who fall into the hands—and knives, and ultimately chain saws—of a backwoods family of homicidal maniacs. The picture gets to you more through its intensity than its craft, but Hooper does have a talent.
Dave Kehr

Here is the remastered trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 281: Thu Oct 9

Hard To Be A God (German, 2013): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 2pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 2

Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens at Cine Lumiere at 5pm on October 12. Full details here.


BFI introduction:
‘It’s squelchy,’ the idiot child exclaims. ‘It’s always been squelchy,’ comes the deadpan response. Well yes, by this point into Hard to Be a God it seems impossible to imagine any other state exists, beyond the entirely captivating but putrid parade of mud, entrails and effluent passing our eyes. There’s a virtual stench that infuses Alexei German’s wildly ambitious black and white epic. Completed by his wife and son following German’s death in 2013, the film’s setting is Arkanar, a planet stuck in a Medieval jag. The Renaissance never seemed to arrive here and we follow a clutch of drunken scientists from Earth who are considered Gods. With various action filling every part of the frame, the eye must constantly travel. The resulting experience is akin to living inside a Bruegel painting. A must for those who like their cinema visionary, hellish, and utterly thrilling.
Kate Taylor

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 280: Wed Oct 8

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Altman, 1982):
BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm


58th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (8-19 October 2014) DAY 1

Every day (from October 8 to October 19) I will be selecting the London Film Festival choices you have a chance to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see them at the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out by the time you read this as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is all the information you need about the best way to get tickets.

This film also screens at NFT1 on Sunday 12th October at 3.15pm. Full details here.

LFF introduction:
The first of Robert Altman’s adaptations of stage plays introduced his admirably rigorous, enormously fertile approach to the question of turning theatre into something properly cinematic. Ed Graczyk’s play depicts the 1975 reunion, two decades after James Dean’s death in the Texan desert nearby, of a group of women who used to be members of his fan club; as they reminisce about the past and reflect on the present, various truths emerge to sometimes comic, sometimes painful effect. Crucially, Altman never ‘opens out’ the action but uses the many sightlines provided both by his characteristically prowling camera and by a mirror on the wall of his single dime-store set to reveal and illuminate the cracks in the masks of his garrulous characters. And the performances of his almost entirely female cast are uniformly superb – Cher’s, especially, being a revelation.

Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the opening.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 279: Tue Oct 7

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Andersen, 2003): Barbican Cinema, 7pm


This screening is part of the City Visions seasons at the Barbican.

Chicago Reader review:
This brilliant and often hilarious video essay (2003) by Thom Andersen (Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer) assembles clips from 191 movies set in Los Angeles, juxtaposing their fantasies with the real city as seen by a loyal and well-informed native. That might sound like a slender premise for 169 minutes, but after five viewings I still feel I've only scratched the surface of this epic meditation. Andersen focuses on the city's people and architecture, but his wisecracking discourse is broad enough to encompass a wealth of local folklore, a bittersweet tribute to car culture, a critical history of mass transit in southern California, and a song of nostalgia for lost neighborhoods and lifestyles. Absorbing and revelatory, this is film criticism of the highest order.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 278: Mon Oct 6

O Lucky Man! (Anderson, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This is part of the Passport to Cinema season at BFI Southbank and also screens on October 5th. Full details can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
The gradations of sham and corruption and the quirky contours of modern society, as revealed in the epic wanderings of Lindsay Anderson's modern Candide/Everyman (Malcolm McDowell). Mick Travers (now Travis), the vicious public school of If . . . behind him, learns the bitter lesson of how to play the game for all it may (or may not) be worth in this valiant, comic, yet quietly sad three-hour journey to a kind of wisdom. Fuzzy in its particulars, the film makes up for it with standout performances from Ralph Richardson, Rachel Roberts, and Arthur Lowe.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the opening to the movie.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 277: Sun Oct 5

Moonraker (Gilbert, 1979): Genesis Cinema, 3pm


Genesis Cinema and Soundstage Events present this special event to mark 35 years since the release of the classic James Bond adventure. This special screening will be followed by an exclusive interview with special effects supervisor John Richardson & producer Bill Cartlidge. 

Oscar-winning special effects artist John Richardson is also know for his work on ALIENS, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, WILLOW and DIE ANOTHER DAY. Bill Cartlidge is also known for his work on ALFIE, EDUCATING RITA, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, BORN FREE and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 276: Sat Oct 4

When A Woman Ascends the Stairs (Naruse, 1960): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


This screening is part of the City Visions seasons at the Barbican.

Chicago Reader:
A 1960 film by Mikio Naruse, perhaps the greatest Japanese director as yet unknown to American audiences. Where most directors begin with an anonymous style, Naruse started out as a strong individualist (Wife! Be Like a Rose!) and gradually pared his work down to the sublime blankness of his late films, of which this is one. It's a melodrama of extreme emotional violence—about a woman (Hideko Takamine) who runs a bar in Tokyo's Ginza district and the seemingly endless series of betrayals that befall her—but Naruse treats it with such evenness that it becomes microscopically subtle: its deepest pain is conveyed by lack of expression on the actor's face. With Masayuki Mori (Ugetsu) and Tatsuya Nakadai (Kagemusha).

Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 275: Fri Oct 3

The Elephant Man (Lynch, 1980): Phoenix Cinema, 11.30pm


As Part of the  Phoenix Nights series at the cinema, film critic and Phoenix patron Mark Kermode presents David Lynch's The Elephant Man

Time Out review:
'More accessible than Lynch's enigmatically disturbing EraserheadThe Elephant Man has much the same limpidly moving humanism as Truffaut's L'Enfant Sauvage in describing how the unfortunate John Merrick, brutalised by a childhood in which he was hideously abused as an inhuman freak, was gradually coaxed into revealing a soul of such delicacy and refinement that he became a lion of Victorian society. But that is only half the story the film tells. The darker side, underpinned by an evocation of the steamy, smoky hell that still underlies a London facelifted by the Industrial Revolution, is crystallised by the wonderful sequence in which Merrick is persuaded by a celebrated actress to read Romeo to her Juliet. A tender, touching scene ('Oh, Mr Merrick, you're not an elephant man at all. No, you're Romeo'), it nevertheless begs the question of what passions, inevitably doomed to frustration, have been roused in this presumably normally-sexed Elephant Man. Appearances are all, and like the proverbial Victorian piano, he can make the social grade only if his ruder appendages are hidden from sensitive eyes; hence what is effectively, at his time of greatest happiness, his suicide. A marvellous movie, shot in stunning black-and-white by Freddie Francis.'
Tom Milne

Here and above is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 274: Thu Oct 2

Vive L'Amour (Ming-liang, 1994): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


This is part of the Century of Chinese Cinema season. Full details here. The film also screens on Sunday 28 September.

Chicago Reader:
Tsai Ming-liang's strikingly beautiful second feature (1994), a haunting look at alienation among three young people in Taipei—a real estate agent, a street vendor, and a gay, painfully withdrawn burial-plot salesman—won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival and is one of the key modernist works of the Taiwanese new wave. Working principally without dialogue, with a feeling for modern architecture and contemporary urban despair that often recalls Michelangelo Antonioni, the film gathers its forces slowly, but builds to a devastating finale.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here and above is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 273: Wed Oct 1

Cairo Drive (Elkatsha, 2013): Barbican Cinema, 8.15pm


This screening is part of the City Visions seasons at the Barbican.  

Barbican Cinema introduction:
In this visceral, humorous portrait of Cairo - which was awarded Best Arab Documentary at Abu Dhabi Film Festival - Egyptian/American director Sherief Elkatsha enables an insightful account of the city which has captured our collective attention since the run up to and during the Egyptian revolution. Between 2009 and 2012, Sherief let his camera roam the jam packed roads of this rampantly urban space. By talking to taxi drivers, traffic police, private citizens, politicians, children and ambulance drivers, he has created a middle eastern ‘road movie’ that takes us through the labyrinth of Egyptian society and culture as they manifest themselves on Cairo’s roads.

There will be a Screentalk after the screening with director Sherief Elkatsha and film scholar Alisa Lebow.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 272: Tue Sep 30

Les Diaboliques (Clouzot, 1955): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This is part of the cinema's Classic Films season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The notoriously ruthless 1955 thriller by France's most neurotic director, Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear). Clouzot cast his own wife, Vera, as an invalid who plots the murder of her husband, assisted by his mistress (Simone Signoret). Set in the rotting confines of a private school for boys, the film is cruel, sour, and—unfortunately—very effective.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 271: Mon Sep 29

Manila in the Claws of Light (Brocka, 1975): Barbican Cinema, 6.20pm



This screening is part of the City Visions season at the Barbican. Follow the link for full details.

Here is the Barbican introduction:
The story of a young provincial arriving to take on – or be engulfed by – the big city is an archetypal one. The greenhorn here is 21-year-old fisherman Julio, who arrives in the Filipino capital looking for his girlfriend. Immediately robbed of what little cash he has, he scrabbles to survive, drifting through a number of temporary jobs – from black market construction worker to gay prostitute – while wandering the city in search of his beloved. Routinely cited as the best film ever produced by the Philippines, this is a fascinating portrait of life in Manila’s corrupt, teeming and polluted urban jungle.

Time Out review:
Widely (and understandably) considered one of the pinnacles of Filipino cinema, Lino Brocka’s devastating, recently restored 1975 melodrama opens with several stunning, grainy black-and-white shots of Manila, striking a beautiful balance between on-the-ground verisimilitude and fable-like eeriness. As the images morph into color (very urban Wizard of Oz), we meet 21-year-old Julio (Bembol Roco), a fisherman who has traveled from his coastal idyll in pursuit of Ligaya (Hilda Koronel), the woman he loves. She was taken from her home with promises of a better life, but Julio has learned that she was actually sold into the employ of a Chinese pimp.

Julio’s search for Ligaya makes up the story’s overall arc, but for much of the movie, Brocka is more interested in putting his protagonist through the anything-to-survive wringer. He procures jobs as an underpaid construction worker and as a reluctant gay prostitute. People he befriends either vanish when the going gets tough or die under dreadful circumstances. And always there’s the oppressiveness of the big city, with its overpopulated streets, lurid neon signs and a stench that seems to waft off the screen.

It’s almost too much, this parade of indignities. Some skeptics, like Philippines-based critic Noel Vera, have pointed out that Brocka considerably softened Julio from his portrayal in Edgardo Reyes’s 1967 serial novel, which inspired the movie. Indeed, the character often comes off as a tragic innocent, more symbol-of-a-debased-nation than flesh-and-blood person. None of that, however, mitigates the power of the final third, in which Julio’s quest comes to a head and the metropolis where he has tried desperately to survive bares its unforgiving talons.
Keith Ulich

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 270: Sun Sep 28

Head (Rafelson, 1968): Genesis Cinema, 10am


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

Head will be shown at the Genesis Cinema on Sunday 28 September along with 11.40am 'Easy Rider', 1.30pm 'Five Easy Pieces', 3.25pm 'Drive, He Said', 5.10pm 'A Safe Place', 6.55pm 'The Last Picture Show' and 9.15pm 'The King of Marvin Gardens' in a BBS All-Dayer event.

Here is the Criterion Collection introduction to this great screening:
Like the rest of America, Hollywood was ripe for revolution in the late sixties. Cinema attendance was down; what had once worked seemed broken. Enter Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner, who knew that what Hollywood needed was new audiences—namely, young people—and that meant cultivating new talent and new ideas. Fueled by money from their invention of the superstar TV pop group the Monkees, they set off on a film-industry journey that would lead them to form BBS Productions, a company that was also a community. The innovative films produced by this team between 1968 and 1972 are collected here —works that now range from the iconic (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Picture Show) to the acclaimed (The King of Marvin Gardens) to the obscure (Head; Drive, He Said; A Safe Place), all created within the studio system but lifted right out of the countercultural id.

Chicago Reader review:
After NBC canceled the innovative sitcom The Monkees, the band and their TV brain trust, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, hatched this big-screen psychedelic freak-out (1968), a narrative cul-de-sac of genre parodies, musical numbers, smug antiwar statements, and bilious McLuhan-esque satire. Scripted by Rafelson and Jack Nicholson (who would next collaborate on Five Easy Pieces), it's uneven but mostly a blast, with great tunes like Harry Nilsson's "Daddy's Song," Michael Nesmith's barn burner "Circle Sky," and Gerry Goffin and Carole King's grandiose "Porpoise Song." Rafelson directed; with cameos by Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Frank Zappa, Annette Funicello, Sonny Liston, Teri Garr, and Victor Mature.

JR Jones


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 269: Sat Sep 27

Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Godard, 1967): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


This screening is part of both the Desperate Housewives and City Visions seasons at the Barbican. Follow the respective links for full details.

Chicago Reader review:
The most intellectually heroic of Jean-Luc Godard's early features (1966) was inspired by his reading an article about suburban housewives day-tripping into Paris to turn tricks for spending money. Marina Vlady plays one such woman, followed over a single day in a slender narrative with many documentary and documentarylike digressions. But the central figure is Godard himself, who whispers his poetic and provocative ruminations over monumentally composed color 'Scope images and, like James Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, continually interrogates his own methods and responses. Among the more memorable images are extreme close-ups of a cup of coffee, while another remarkable sequence deconstructs the operations of a car wash. Few features of the period capture the world with as much passion and insight.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 268: Fri Sep 26

Now Voyager (Rapper, 1942): Ealing Classic Cinema Club, Ealing Town Hall, 7.30pm


Chicago Reader review:
Repressed spinster Bette Davis awakens to the joys of life and Paul Henreid in Irving Rapper's classic 1942 study in schmaltz. Not great filmmaking, but indispensable to students of 40s pop culture. This is the one in which Henreid lights two cigarettes at once, a show of dexterity that his subsequent career never equaled. The aggressive score is by Max Steiner; with Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville, and John Loder.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.