Saturday, 30 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 165: Sun Jun 14

Une femme est une femme (Godard, 1961): Cine Lumiere, 2pm (35mm screening)


This screens as part of Cine Lumiere's Sunday French Classics season and will be shown from a rare 35mm print. Full details here.

Chicago reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard's third feature and first studio production (1960) starts with a subversive premise: a “neorealist” musical in which the major characters (Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, and Jean-Claude Brialy) can't really sing and dance, much as they'd like to. Periodically ravishing to look at (it's Godard's first foray into both color and 'Scope) and listen to (Michel Legrand did the nonsinging score), it's also highly deconstructive in the way it keeps jostling us away from these pleasures and in the general direction of indecorous reality. (It's also packed with both subtle and obvious references to other movies.) While its slender plot (stripper Karina wants a baby and turns to Belmondo when her boyfriend Brialy won't oblige her) can irritate in spots, the film's high spirits may still win you over. It's perhaps most memorable for being a highly personal “documentary” about Karina and Godard's feelings about her at the time, brimming with odd details and irreverent energies. In French with subtitles.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 164: Sat Jun 13

Carry On Screaming (Thomas, 1966): Cinema Museum, 5pm


The twelfth in the ‘Carry On’ series is a parody of classic Hammer Horror films and features regular cast members Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey and Joan Sims plus Fenella Fielding as Valeria Watt. Fielding will be making a personal appearance at 7.30pm (separate ticket required).

Time Out review:
Britain’s best loved low-budget comedy outfit pays tribute to its best loved low-budget horror outfit: the Hammer studio. The twelfth movie in the ‘Carry On’ series revolves around monsters and mad scientists in Edwardian London, features perfectly over-the-top performances from Kenneth Williams and Harry H Corbett (standing in for an unavailable Sid James) and lovingly sends up the lurid style and torrid blood-letting of the Hammer crowd. It's surprisingly scary, too.
Edward Lawrenson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 163: Fri Jun 12

The Misfits (Huston, 1961): BFI Southbank, 2.30pm, 6pm & 8.45pm


This is the centrepiece film of the Marilyn Monroe season and starts an extended run tonight at BFI Southbank. You can find all the details of the screenings until 25th June here.

Time Out review:
A superbly shot anti-Western, constantly dragged down by Arthur Miller's verbose, cloyingly glib script about emotional cripples searching for a meaning to life in the twilight of the American frontier, with Marilyn Monroe as the Reno divorcee who becomes a sort of earth mother/conscience to a group of ex-cowboys scratching an unhappy living around the rodeos. Lent a testamentary (almost prophetic) gloss when it proved to be the end of the line for both Clark Gable and Monroe, with Montgomery Clift - giving the best performance in the film - to follow soon after. But it really comes good only in the mustang round-up at the end, an overly symbolic but nevertheless magnificent sequence.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 162: Thu Jun 11

The Toxic Avenger (Herz/Kaufman, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


If only for the BFI warning that comes with this movie - "this film contains scenes that some viewers may find offensive" - this has got to be recommended. This "very definitio of schlock" also screens on 12 June. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A 98-pound weakling falls into a tub of toxic waste and emerges as a superhero; the first order of business is revenge on all the creeps who picked on him earlier. Cruddy, primal, extremely violent, and fairly entertaining, this 1984 feature from the New York-based exploitation outfit Troma, Inc. (Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz) captures some of the snot-flicking spirit of the old EC comics. How much you'll enjoy its deliberate crudity probably depends on how far you can let yourself regress to surly adolescence.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 161: Wed Jun 10

The Salt of the Earth (Wenders/Salgado, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm


The awe-inspiring images of photographer Sebastião Salgado are celebrated by director Wim Wenders in this much-praised documentary. (Special guests are to be announced).

Here is the BFI Southbank preview:
The awe-inspiring and overwhelmingly beautiful images of Sebastião Salgado, the Brazilian photographer and former refugee, so captured the imagination of acclaimed director Wim Wenders that he teamed up with Salgado’s son Juliano to tell the story of this global wanderer’s life in this award-winning documentary. It’s presented to mark Refugee Week, a nationwide programme of arts, culture and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees and attempts to counter negative media and public perceptions of them.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 160: Tue Jun 9

Broken Blossoms (Griffith, 1919): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This film, part of the DW Griffith season at BFI Southbank, also screens on 13 June. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of D.W. Griffith's most beautiful films (1919), about the chaste love of a Chinese man (Richard Barthelmess) for the frail daughter (Lillian Gish) of a loutish boxer. It perfectly fuses all the elements of Griffith's style: tender drama played off against scenes of violence; a rich, operatic sense of character and emotion; and a dreamlike acting style, given particular force by the subtlety of Gish's performance and the strength of Barthelmess's. Not to be missed.
Dan Druker

Here (and above) is the famous closet scene.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 159: Mon Jun 8

1971 (Hamilton, 2014): Curzon Bloomsbury, 6.30pm


Here is the Bertha Dochouse introduction to the screening:
Before Watergate, Wikileaks and Edward Snowden there was Media, Pennsylvania. On March 8, 1971 the Vietnam War and political paranoia were at their peak. With everyone in America glued to the Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier fight, eight anti-war activists broke into an FBI field office and stole every document they found. Mailed anonymously to the press, the documents revealed a trove of damning evidence proving that the FBI was deliberately intimidating civil rights activists protesting the Vietnam War. 
Through archive footage, interviews and dramatized scenes, this entertaining new documentary from Johanna Hamilton unveils the truth behind this bizarre crime and for the first time, reveals the identities of four members of the group, known as the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI. Anonymous until now and in comfortable middle age, these four 70’s radicals confess at last, and explain why eight ordinary people were willing to risk everything to expose a system that had become a state within a state.
Here is the trailer.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 158: Sun Jun 7

Sabrina (Wilder, 1954): Regent Cinema, 2.30pm


This film screens in a Billy Wilder double-bill with film noir classic Double Indemnity. You can find full details of the Regent Street Cinema event here and what we wrote about Double Indemnity the last time it was selected on the blog here.

Time Out review:
Humphrey Bogart plays a cold-hearted tycoon whose sole companion in life is The Wall Street Journal. William Holden is his wastrel brother, and Audrey Hepburn the chauffeur's daughter. Yes, you've guessed what happens. Holden fools around with her, she attempts suicide, is sent to France for a cookery course, returns to melt Bogart's heart, and Holden is left to chair the board. Getting to this characteristic Billy Wilder reversal of roles is romantic, funny and astringent all at the same time. Bogart is the man of plastic - he doesn't burn, melt or scorch - and Wilder satirises him and his ideals ruthlessly. Bogart's age here is crucial: he looks like an undertaker who has sidestepped the youth which Hepburn will give him. The golden boy Holden is the other extreme and equally ridiculous, driving around in his snazzy cars, coerced into a marriage between corporations, and forced to sit on some champagne glasses, enabling Bogart to sort out the Hepburn problem. It's a Cinderella story that gets turned on its head, a satire about breaking down class and emotional barriers (neatly signified in the array of window and glass imagery), and a confrontation between New World callousness and Old World humanity.
Adrian Turner

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 157: Sat Jun 6

Red-Headed Woman (Conway, 1932): Horse Hospital, 7.30pm


Chicago Reader review:
Anita Loos, who invented the stereotype of the fast-talking, hard-hearted gold digger in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, wrote the screenplay for this precode comedy (1932), which gave Jean Harlow one of her most perfect roles. As a shopgirl determined to scratch her way into society, she's brash, funny, and a little frightening. With Chester Morris, Lewis Stone, May Robson, and Charles Boyer, in his first American film, playing a chauffeur. Jack Conway, the only enthusiastic vulgarian on the MGM staff, directed.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract from the film.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 156: Fri Jun 5

Clash by Night (Lang, 1952): BFI Southbank, 8.45pm (35mm screening)


This great Fritz Lang film is part of the Marilyn Monroe season at BFI Southbank and also screens on 6th June. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A love triangle set in a scruffy seaport town, with Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, and Robert Ryan. The script, adapted from a Clifford Odets play, seems to have roused the realist in director Fritz Lang: the backwater atmosphere is as authentic as it is oppressive. The naturalism of this 1952 film, one of Lang's most underrated, makes an interesting contrast with the wild exaggerations of his Rancho Notorious, made the same year; for the buffs, there's also an early starlet appearance by Marilyn Monroe.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is a compendium of Monroe's appearances in the film.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 155: Thu Jun 4

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975): Regent Street Cinema, 8pm


Chicago Reader review:
All of Stanley Kubrick's features look better now than when they were first released, but Barry Lyndon, which fared poorly at the box office in 1975, remains his most underrated. It may also be his greatest. This personal, idiosyncratic, melancholy, and long (three hours) adaptation of the Thackeray novel is exquisitely shot in natural light (or, in night scenes, candlelight) by John Alcott, with frequent use of slow backward zooms that distance us, both historically and emotionally, from its rambling picaresque narrative about an 18th-century Irish upstart (Ryan O'Neal). Despite its ponderous, funereal moods and pacing, the film is a highly accomplished piece of storytelling, building to one of the most suspenseful duels ever staged. It also repays close attention as a complex and fascinating historical meditation, as enigmatic in its way as 2001: A Space Odyssey. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter; narrated by Michael Hordern.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 154: Wed Jun 3

The Frighteners (Jackson, 1996): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This film screens as part of the From The Universal Archives season. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Peter Jackson's follow-up to Heavenly Creatures is an sfx-heavy scarefest that looks at first like a return to the slapstick horror-comedy of Braindead. Later, however, it flips into a grim, disturbing horror movie about the malevolent spirit of a serial killer back from the grave to increase his body count. Fake para-psychologist Frank Bannister (Fox) is in cahoots with a trio of tortured souls - hip dude Cyrus (McBride), creaky-boned old-timer The Judge (Astin), and nerdy bookworm Stuart (Fyfe): they scare the shit out of Fairwater's inhabitants while Frank cleans up the mess. A series of unexplained deaths heralds the arrival of a Grim Reaper-like spirit that Frank alone can see. This may be connected to a thrill-kill case in which Patricia Bradley (Stone), now a middle-aged, mother-dominated recluse, and her hospital orderly boyfriend Johnny Bartlett (Busey) massacred a dozen patients and hospital staff. Though funded by Hollywood, this New Zealand-shot movie was creatively controlled by Jackson and co-writer Fran Walsh. So while the on-screen violence is toned down, there's no soft-pedalling the ugliness of mass murder or the obscenity of ill-deserved media celebrity. At times the relentless special effects and tangled plotting veer towards visual and narrative overkill, but the final tonal swerve is shocking and effective.Nigel Floyd

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 153: Tue Jun 2

Klute (Pakula, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This is part of the Alan Pakula Paranoia Trilogy at the Prince Charles and is screening from a 35mm print. Full details here.

Chicago Reader:
As close to a classic as anything New Hollywood produced, Alan Pakula's 1971 film tells of a small-town detective who comes to New York in search of a friend's killer. The trail leads to a tough-minded hooker who can't understand the cop's determination. Donald Sutherland works small and subtly, balancing Jane Fonda's flashy virtuoso technique.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 152: Mon Jun 1

Salvatore Giuliano (Rosi,1962): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This film, part of the Passport to Cinema season, can also be seen on 2 June. Tonight's screening will be introduced by film lecturer Lucy Reynolds. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
A landmark in political cinema, Francesco Rosi’s 1962 masterpiece marshalled the people of rural Sicily to re-enact the turbulent events that befell their region after WWII. Notorious bandit Salvatore Giuliano – fatally shot in 1950 – symbolises the turmoil of Sicily’s then-active independence movement. Giuliano’s services were called upon when it was convenient before he was abandoned.  This is no biopic, however – Giuliano is barely glimpsed. Instead, the film focuses on the fortunes of poverty-stricken Sicilians mired in neglect and corruption shaped by rivalries between Left and Right, Mafia and state, police and army. Among the most striking black-and-white movies ever made, this documentary-influenced Scorsese favourite is pulsating yet reflective, its outrage at injustice sharpened by the knowledge that Italy’s secret history of mendacity and collusion may never be fully uncovered. Place it alongside ‘The Battle of Algiers’ and ‘Z’ in the pantheon of political greats.
Trevor Johnston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 151: Sun May 31

Mandingo (Fleischer, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3pm


This film (being shown on 35mm) screens as part of the Southern Gothic season. The movie is also being shown on Sunday 24th May. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the most neglected and underrated Hollywood films of its era, Richard Fleischer's blistering 1975 melodrama about a slave-breeding plantation in the Deep South, set in the 1840s, was widely ridiculed as camp in this country when it came out. But apart from this film and Charles Burnett's recent Nightjohn, it's doubtful whether many more insightful and penetrating movies about American slavery exist. Scripted by Norman Wexler from a sensationalist novel by Kyle Onstott; with James Mason, Susan George, Perry King, Richard Ward, Brenda Sykes, and Ken Norton.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 150: Sat May 30

Once Were Warriors (Tamahori, 1994): King's College London, 1.30pm


This screens as part of the Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts.

Chicago Reader review:
A gritty, powerful first feature by Lee Tamahori, a director with a Maori father and a European mother, adapted by Maori playwright Riwia Brown from a popular novel by Alan Duff. The film focuses on a contemporary Maori family living in urban New Zealand and steeped in violence—the family includes an abusive but passionate father, a volatile but devoted wife, and, among the children, one gang member, one son at reform school, and an intellectually ambitious teenage daughter. Reportedly the original novel is stream of consciousness, switching between family members in the manner of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, and Brown was brought in to tell the story mainly from the viewpoint of the wife. At once upsetting and highly involving, it packs an undeniable punch. With Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison, Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell, and Julian “Sonny” Arahanga.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the opening scene.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 149: Fri May 29

The Hidden Fortress (Kurosawa): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.15pm


Here is the BFI introduction to this special screening:
We are delighted to welcome actor Steven Berkoff to introduce a film that has inspired him. An award-winning theatre director, playwright and successful self-published author, Berkoff is well-known for his villainous portrayals in films such as Beverly Hills Cop, Octopussy and Rambo: First Blood Part II. Directing professionally for four decades, his plays and adaptations have been performed across the world and translated into many different languages.

The Hidden Fortress is a story about rival clans, hidden gold and a princess in distress.. A thrilling mix of fairy story and samurai action movie, it was Kurosawa's first film shot in the widescreen process of TohoScope, and was a huge influence on George Lucas’s beloved Star Wars series.

Chicago Reader review:
Samurai leader Toshiro Mifune conducts his princess, Misa Uehara, across a war-torn landscape to safety in a casual, often satiric action film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The princess turns out to be a tough, imperious wench, the samurai is perceived as a cunning manipulator, and the foreground is taken over by two quarrelsome, grubbing peasants. George Lucas says he lifted the plot of Star Wars from this 1958 production, which remains the only Kurosawa film unburdened by a need to make art.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 148: Thu May 28

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999): Temple Cinema, Andaz Hotel, Liverpool Street, 7pm


Here's a chance to see one of the great Hollywood films of the last 20 years in a unique setting, in a masonic temple (in a hotel adjacent to Liverpool Street station). There's plenty of discussion about secret societies and the movie so this seems a perfect venue.

Chicago Reader review:
'Initial viewings of Stanley Kubrick's movies can be deceptive because his films all tend to be emotionally convoluted in some way; one has to follow them as if through a maze. A character that Kubrick might seem to treat cruelly the first time around (e.g., Elisha Cook Jr.'s fall guy in The Killing) can appear the object of tender compassion on a subsequent viewing. The director's desire to avoid sentimentality at all costs doesn't preclude feeling, as some critics have claimed, but it does create ambiguity and a distanced relationship to the central characters. Kubrick's final feature very skillfully portrays the dark side of desire in a successful marriage; since the 60s he'd been thinking about filming Arthur Schnitzler's brilliant novella "Traumnovelle," and working with Frederic Raphael, he's adapted it faithfully--at least if one allows for all the differences between Viennese Jews in the 20s and New York WASPs in the 90s. Schnitzler's tale, about a young doctor contemplating various forms of adultery and debauchery after discovering that his wife has entertained comparable fantasies, has a somewhat Kafkaesque ambiguity, wavering between dream and waking fantasy (hence Kubrick's title), and all the actors do a fine job of traversing this delicate territory. Yet the story has been altered to make the successful doctor (Tom Cruise) more of a hypocrite and his wife (powerfully played by Nicole Kidman) a little feistier; Kubrick's also added a Zeus-like tycoon (played to perfection by Sydney Pollack) who pretends to explain the plot shortly before the end but in fact only summarizes the various mysteries, his cynicism and chilly access to power revealing that Kubrick is more of a moralist than Schnitzler. To accept the premises and experiences of this movie, you have to be open to an expressionist version of New York with scant relation to the 90s (apart from cellular phones and AIDS) and a complex reading of a marriage that assumes the relations between men and women haven't essentially changed in the past 70-odd years. This is a remarkably gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, is likely to grow in mystery and intensity over time.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 147: Wed May 27

Blind (Vogt, 2014): Regent Street Cinema, 8.20pm


This new release plays in a double-bill with Roman Polanski's brillant Repulsion. If you want to read an excellent long review and reappraisal of the film look no further than David Jenkins' piece in Little White Lies magazine here. Repulsion starts at 6.15pm.

Time Out review of Blind:
Cinema usually treats blind women as vulnerable victims. Not this smart, unexpected Norwegian drama. Striking beauty Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) is learning to cope after a degenerative disease has robbed her of her sight. Making tea is a challenge and getting dressed involves a talking scanner that tells her the colour of her clothes. But Ingrid still remembers what the world looks like – and if she can visualise it in her mind’s eye, it’s real to her. 

The movie in essence becomes a journey into her inner world, full of surprises and peopled by characters she creates, including a shy, porn-addicted loner and a Swedish single mum starting life over in Oslo. Ingrid’s architect husband isn’t as malleable as the invented characters, as her imagination meshes with complex real-world emotions. It’s all presented as a playful cinematic puzzle by director Eskil Vogt’s confident direction and mischievous humour. Charlie Kaufman fans will lap it up, and though we end up understanding Ingrid’s plight instead of actually feeling what she’s going through, this is still ambitious filmmaking.

Trevor Johnston

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 146: Tue May 26

Variety (Gordon, 1983): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm


This rarely seen independent cult classic screens as part of the excellent ICA Cinematheque: Eye on I season. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Bette Gordon's independent feature is a little overambitiously formal at times, drawing in references to Chantal Akerman and Jean-Luc Godard, but it works very well as a hauntingly subjective character study. A young woman takes a job as a cashier in a Manhattan porno theater; the sounds emanating from inside seem slowly to seduce her, and she focuses her fantasies on one of the regular customers—a mysterious older man who appears to have crime-syndicate connections. Gordon is not gifted with dialogue, but the film's long silent sequences spin an enveloping otherworldly atmosphere.
Dave Kehr

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 145: Mon May 25

Frances Ha (Baumbach, 2012): Regent Street Cinema, 6.30pm


This film screens tonight in a double-bill with director Noah Baumbach's recent release When We're Young. Details here.

Time Out review:
‘I’m not a real person yet,’ blurts out Frances, who’s 27, lives in Brooklyn and has got that lurchy, what-the-hell-am-I-doing feeling about her life. Frances (Greta Gerwig) doesn’t have a proper job or a boyfriend (‘undateable’ is how she describes herself). What she does have is a best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner, Sting’s daughter). ‘We’re the same person with different hair’, says Frances. They live together, hang out together and fall asleep together in Sophie’s bed watching movies (there’s nothing sexual). But Sophie is outgrowing their friendship – and when she begins dating a banker and becomes a dinner-party-girl, she ditches Frances.

The movies are full of bromances, but we hardly ever see a decent film about friendships between women (when was the last? ‘Bridesmaids’?). This charming, drifty indie comedy, shot in gorgeous black and white, is a love story between Frances and Sophie. Like Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’ it feels totally honest. In your twenties you decide on the final version of you. Sophie is working on it; Frances is stuck in her crazy, clueless, can’t-pay-the-rent stage. She’s getting it all wrong but is sweetly cocky – a kooky clumsy cool girl in the tradition of Annie Hall.

The script, co-written by Gerwig and her boyfriend Noah Baumbach (who directs), is full of spiky-real one-liners – like this, when someone compares Frances to Sophie: ‘Are you older than her? You have an older face.’ You’ve got to love Gerwig for writing lines like that for herself. If you’ve not seen her in a film before, you will walk out of ‘Frances Ha’ having watched your new favourite actress.
Cath Clarke

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 144: Sun May 24

Once Upon a Time in America (Leone, 1984): Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, 11am


This is set to be one of the highlights of the repertory film year in London as the Badlands Collective present the UK premiere of the restored version of Sergio Leone's final movie. This release includes an added 20 minutes to versions of the film seen here previously. Elizabeth McGovern will be onstage for a Q&A after the film.

Chicago Reader review:
Like Once Upon a Time in the West, Sergio Leone's 3-hour-and-47-minute gangster epic (1984) is a foundation myth, though the quality of the myth is very different: the focus here is individual rather than collective, and the form is cyclical and subjective rather than linear and expansive. The relationship of Robert De Niro and James Woods—the brothers who betray—is an amalgam of Roman mythology, Christian parable, and Hollywood cliche; though the intricate flashback structure follows the memories of one man, the film also represents a kind of cultural recall—the fiction remembering itself. Every gesture is immediate, and every gesture seems eternal. Leone accomplishes all of this within the framework of a superb popular entertainment: it's a funny, rousing, brilliant piece of work. With Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Tuesday Weld, and Treat Williams; the score, of course, is by Ennio Morricone.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 143: Sat May 23

The File on Thelma Jordon (Siodmak, 1950):
BFI Southbank, NFT, 6.20pm (35mm screening)



This film, which is part of the Robert Siodmak season, also screens on 25th May. Full details here.

Time Out review:
A fine film noir which works an ingenious, intricate variation on the situation in Double Indemnity, but which takes its tone, unlike Wilder's film, not from Barbara Stanwyck's glittering siren who courts her own comeuppance ('Judgement day, Jordon!'), but from the nondescript assistant DA she drives to the brink of destruction. The part is played (remarkably well) by Wendell Corey, whose haunted, hangdog persona as a perennial loser is echoed so perfectly by the deliberately slow, inexorable tempo of Siodmak's direction (not to mention George Barnes' superbly bleak lighting) that the film emerges with a quality akin to Lang's dark, romantic despair.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 142: Fri May 22

Wise Blood (Huston, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm (35mm screening)


This film, part of the Southern Gothic season at BFI Southbank, is introduced by Susan Castillo, Professor of American Studies at King's College, London, and also screens on 17th May. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Along with The Man Who Would Be King and The Dead, this is arguably John Huston's best literary adaptation, and conceivably his very best film—a very close rendering of Flannery O'Connor's remarkable first novel about a crazed southern cracker (a perfectly cast Brad Dourif) who sets out to preach a “church without Christ,” and winds up suffering a true Christian martyrdom in spite of himself. The period, local ambience, and O'Connor's deadly gallows humor are all perfectly caught, and apart from the subtle if highly pertinent fact that this is an unbeliever's version of a believer's novel, it's about as faithful a version of O'Connor's grotesque world as one could ever hope to get on film, hilarious and frightening in equal measure. O'Connor conceived her novel as a parody of existentialism, and Huston's own links with existentialism—as the director of the first U.S. stage production of No Exit, as well as Sartre's Freud script—make him an able interpreter. With Harry Dean Stanton, Amy Wright, Daniel Shor, Ned Beatty, and Huston himself as the hero's fire-and-brimstone grandfather. The producer is Michael Fitzgerald, whose family's friendship with O'Connor guaranteed the fidelity and seriousness of the undertaking.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the opening.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 141: Thu May 21

Down By Law (Jarmusch, 1986): Regent Street Cinema, 6.15pm


This film screens in a double-bill with new release Dark Horse. Details here.

Time Out review:
Reissued in a new digital print, Jim Jarmusch’s deliciously deadpan third feature (first released in 1986) looks more than ever like a milestone in American independent cinema. Though not bound to the intellectual angst of Cassavetes, the anti-authoritarian anger of ‘Easy Rider’ or the aloofness of European art cinema (yet clearly influenced by all three), Jarmusch proved DIY film could be heartfelt, charming, wise and silly all at the same time. On a sweaty night in New Orleans, three mismatched oddballs – DJ Zack (Tom Waits), hipster pimp Jack (John Lurie) and stray Italian tourist Roberto (Roberto Benigni) – are banged up for a variety of perceived misdemeanours. Trapped together in a tiny cell, the men must learn to deal with each other’s shortcomings. The claustrophobic setting and semi-improvised tone might suggest something closer to sitcom than cinema (had Jarmusch seen ‘Porridge’?), but Robby Müller’s stately monochrome photography single-handedly lifts it into the realm of Proper Art. It’s a sad and beautiful world indeed.
Tom Huddleston


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 140: Wed May 20

Solaris (Tarkovsky, 1972): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm


This is part of the Sci-Fi season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Although Andrei Tarkovsky regarded this 1972 SF spectacle in 'Scope as the weakest of his films, it holds up remarkably well as a soulful Soviet “response” to 2001: A Space Odyssey, concentrating on the limits of man's imagination in relation to memory and conscience. Sent to a remote space station poised over the mysterious planet Solaris in order to investigate the puzzling data sent back by an earlier mission, a psychologist (Donatas Banionis) discovers that the planet materializes human forms based on the troubled memories of the space explorers—including the psychologist's own wife (Natalya Bondarchuk), who'd killed herself many years before but is repeatedly resurrected before his eyes. More an exploration of inner than of outer space, Tarkovsky's eerie mystic parable is given substance by the filmmaker's boldly original grasp of film language and the remarkable performances by all the principals. In Russian with subtitles. 165 min.

Jonathan Rosenabum


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 139: Tue May 19

Leaving Las Vegas (Figgis, 1995): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This is part of the What Happens in Vegas season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Alcoholic scriptwriter Ben (Cage) is blowing his options. Our first glimpse sees his beyond-niceties collaring of an agent friend in a smart restaurant to demand drink money, a symptomatic preamble to what's staring him in the face: a 'sadly, we have to let you go' dismissal from his studio job. Figgis sets the crap game running here: the pay-off finances a one-way ticket to oblivion or, to give hell its name, Las Vegas, city of permanent after-hours. Cash the cheque, burn the past, take the freeway - we're in the booze movie, that most fascinatingly flawed form of the modern urban tragedy. This modestly budget masterpiece pools the Vegas streets with reflected neon and watches Ben drown. Shue is good as the young hooker he falls for, but Cage is extraordinary, producing an Oscar-winning performance of edgy, utterly convincing suicidal auto-destruct. In fact, Figgis makes of him something of an existential saint, a man for whom terminal self-knowledge leads to a kind of grace. If the film lacks the depth and structural sophistication of, say, The Lost Weekend (it was shot fast, with Declan Quinn's saturated Super-16 photography blown up, which may explain its kinetic buzz), it certainly has the courage of its convictions.
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 138: Mon May 18

Criss Cross (Siodmank, 1949): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm


This film, part of the Robert Siodmak season, also screens on 10th May. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Robert Siodmak was one of the most influential stylists of the 40s, helping to create, in films such as Phantom Lady and The Killers, the characteristic look of American film noir. But most of his films have nothing more than their pictorial qualities to recommend them—Criss Cross (1949, 87 min.) being one of the few exceptions, an archly noir story replete with triple and quadruple crosses, leading up to one of the most shockingly cynical endings in the whole genre.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 137: Sun May 17

The Beguiled (Siegel, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.50pm


This film in the Southern Gothic season also screens on 10th May. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood took time out from their popular series of Universal programmers for this very personal exercise in American gothic (1971)—one that should have played the art houses rather than the drive-ins. Eastwood is a wounded Union soldier stranded in Confederate territory, who finds refuge of a sort in a girls' school run by Geraldine Page. The film is hushed and evocative, full of menace and barely suppressed hysteria. With Elizabeth Hartman.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 136: Sat May 16

Mommy (Dolan, 2014): Regent Street Cinema, May 16th, 2pm and 6.30pm


This screens at the new Regent Street Cinema in a double-bill with Appropriate Behaviour. The programme is also being shown on 15th May. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Born in 1989, French-Canadian writer-director Xavier Dolan ranks as the most accomplished young dramatic filmmaker in North America, and this engrossing character study, his fifth feature, demonstrates an emotional perspicacity one might expect from an artist many years his senior. The main characters are a brash young widow (Anne Dorval), her unmanageably obnoxious and violent teenage son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), and their neighbor, who gets pulled into their little world to her mixed pleasure and dismay (Suzanne Clément). Both mother and son are aggressive, uncompromising people, though the mother's fierce commitment to her child is both motivated and compromised by the bitter life lessons she's endured. Most of this unfolds in a square frame, a distracting and, to my mind, pointless innovation; the movie is distinguished not by its height or its width, but by its depth.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 135: Fri May 15

A Fuller Life (Fuller, 2013): BFI Southbank, Studio, 6.40 & 8.50pm


This documentary on the celebrated director Sam Fuller runs until May 28 at BFI Southbank. You can find full details of all the screenings here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
In this illuminating documentary by his daughter, the life, times and work of the late, great writer-director (and journalist, WWII veteran and novelist) Sam Fuller are revisited. Samantha Fuller weaves together clips from her father’s movies, photos and footage from his archive, and readings from his typically forthright autobiography by friends, fans and actors from his films, including Constance Towers, Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 134: Thu May 14

Stray Dogs (Ming-liang, 2013): ICA Cinema, 6.20pm


An extraordinary film. Don't miss the chance to catch this movie in a cinema on a short run at the ICA this week. Here are the details of all the screenings which begin on 9th May.

Chicago Reader review:
Tsai Ming-liang's bittersweet feature echoes two touchstones of the silent cinema—Chaplin's The Kid (1921) and Ozu's Passing Fancy (1933)—with its tale of a homeless man (Tsai regular Lee Kang-sheng) raising two small children on the outskirts of Taipei. Though periodically funny, this is more despairing than either of its models, concluding with a long silent sequence that's as devastating in its anticlimax as the apocalyptic imagery of Tsai's The Hole (1998) or The Wayward Cloud (2005). The Taiwanese writer-director has long been a master of conveying loneliness—most powerfully, through cockeyed compositions that make contemporary architecture look like an alien landscape. Here he broadens his focus to consider the disconnect between the larger society and the people it neglects, and the effect is tremendous. In Mandarin with subtitles.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 133: Wed May 13

Interstellar (Nolan, 2014): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Prince Charles Sci-Fi season. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
On a visual level, Interstellar is an exceptionally well-crafted Hollywood entertainment. Director Christopher Nolan, art director Dean Wolcott, and their effects artists render the imaginary settings in stunning detail. The film is rife with brilliant imagery: a horizon of frozen clouds, an ocean wave as tall as a skyscraper, the flashing interior of a wormhole through which the principal characters fly their spacecraft. The most striking thing about these images is that we're rarely encouraged to ooh and aah over them; unlike most ambitious space operas since 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Interstellar inspires not wonder but a cool contemplation. Nolan and his brother Jonathan, who cowrote the script, advance a hard-science perspective, incorporating such concepts as the theory of relativity and placing dramatic emphasis on research and problem solving.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 132: Tue May 12

Far From Heaven (Haynes, 2002): Regent Street Cinema, 6.30pm


This great Todd Haynes' film features on a double-bill with Still Alice, also starring Julianne Moore.

Chicago Reader review:
Todd Haynes's best feature to date—a provocative companion piece to his underrated Safe (1995), which also starred Julianne Moore as a lost suburban housewife but is otherwise quite different. This captures the look, feel, and sound of glamorous 50s tearjerkers like All That Heaven Allows, not to mock or feel superior to them but to say new things with their vocabulary. The story, set in 1957, concerns a traditional if well-to-do "homemaker" who falls in love with her black gardener (a superb performance by Dennis Haysbert) around the time that she discovers her husband (Dennis Quaid) is a closeted homosexual. Frankly, I find this movie more emotionally powerful, more truthful about the 50s, and more meaningful than any of the Technicolor Douglas Sirk pictures it evokes, even though it trades in obvious artifice in a way the originals never did. Though technically an independent feature, this is in fact one of the best Hollywood movies around.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 131: Mon May 11

Phantom of the Opera (Julian, 1925): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm


The special screening of this silent classic features a live score by Mininma.

Here is the Prince Charles Cinema's introduction:
Beneath the sewers of the Paris Opera House dwells a masked figure. He is the Phantom, a hideously disfigured composer whose dream is to turn chorus singer Christine into a diva. Lon Chaney, the “Man of a Thousand Faces”, dominates this classic adaptation of the 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux. His ghastly make-up and outrageous performance made this one of the great classics of American silent film. 


Minima’s music is an audacious 21st-Century interpretation of silent and avant-garde film. The ensemble of drums, bass, guitar and cello combine hypnotic post-rock beats with quasi-classical arrangements, striking up a thrilling relationship with the film. 

“Minima are one of the leading bands accompanying silent film in Europe.”
(Robert Rider, Head of Cinema, the Barbican Centre) 

Chicago Reader review:
Critics rank this 1925 feature by Rupert Julian well below Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but Lon Chaney's performance as the hideous organist prowling the sewers beneath the Paris Opera is still a cornerstone of gothic horror. Chaney based his death's-head make-up on a description from the Gaston Leroux source novel, though as film historian David J. Skal has observed, viewers at the time would have been more immediately reminded of the disfigured men who came home from World War I. Aside from the famous unmasking scene, the movie's most striking moment is the two-strip Technicolor sequence in which the Phantom, clad in the scarlet robes of Poe's Red Death, terrorizes a masked ball; the image seals Chaney's reputation as the grim reaper of the Jazz Age.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the famous unmasking scene