Friday, 30 October 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 319: Sun Nov 15

No1: Regeneration (Walsh, 2015) & The Cheat (DeMille, 2015): Rio Cinema, 1.45pm

This is a special 'Rio Cinema at 100 Double Bill' to celebrate the picture palace's centenary. The Rio Cinema first opened its doors as the Kingsland Empire in 1915. This double bill features two of the films which would very likely have been shown a hundred years ago.

Here is the Rio introduction to the screenings:
"The first full-length gangster picture ever made," according to its director, Raoul Walsh, who would later make such Hollywood Golden Age gangster classics as THE ROARING TWENTIES, HIGH SIERRA, and WHITE HEAT. Produced in 1915 on location on the Lower East Side of New York REGENERATION features a cast of authentic lowlife types performing alongside professional actors. These gangsters are little more than two-bit street corner hoodlums trapped by their circumstances. A tough-as-nails orphan bred on unforgiving slum streets to become a hoodlum hero begins the tortuous journey that will make him a different kind of hero. REGENERATION is a re-discovered movie milestone which with its religious themes, mobile camerawork, and potent evocation of its grim locations has been called the spiritual ancestor of Martin Scorsese's MEAN STREETS. 

A scandal in 1915 because of its explosive sexual and racial content, THE CHEAT also emphatically announced the arrival of director Cecil B. DeMille whose 40-year Hollywood career was just beginning. Having gambled away the charity money she's entrusted with, a society lady borrows from a wealthy Asian man in exchange for sex and then reneges on the deal, entrapping herself and her husband in a web of revenge and racial intrigue. It's a taut melodrama with some outstanding (and sadistic) visuals that would have been horrifying 100 years ago and are still effective today. The film also made Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa a sex symbol and a big star, although he is now best remembered as the prisoner-of-war camp commandant in David Lean's THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI made four decades later.

Here is an article by the Guardian's Pamela Hutchinson on 'Cinema 100 Hundred Years Ago' which looks at Regeneration and The Cheat among other landmark movies of 1915.

Here (and above) is an extract from Regeneration.


No2 El (Bunuel, 1953): ICA Cinema, 4.15pm

This is part of the Luis Bunuel season at the ICA. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of Luis Bunuel's more perverse low-budget Mexican features (1952), also known in this country as This Strange Passion. Arturo de Cordova plays a wealthy Catholic whose insane jealousy toward his wife (Delia Garces) first becomes apparent on their honeymoon. In some ways it's a parody of machismo, full of anticlerical thrusts, but like many other Bunuel features of this period, the irreverence—consisting in part of such ghoulish, Sade-inspired notions as the hero wanting to sew up his wife's vagina—tends to be almost parenthetical rather than the main focus. Bunuel remained true to his surrealist origins throughout his Mexican period, but the full command of his earliest and latest films, as well as such intermediate masterpieces as Los olvidados and The Exterminating Angel, resulted in stronger fare than this. Still, the hero's wonderful crooked walk in the final shot seems the perfect emblem of Bunuel's own sly subversion in adverse circumstances.
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is an extract.

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