Saturday, 19 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 291: Sun Oct 18

Variety (Dupont, 1925): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 2pm


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 12
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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.

London Film Festival introduction:
Here, at last, is the restoration for which all true fans of Weimar cinema have been waiting. Varieté is arguably the least well known of the great German silents, having been scarcely available for so long. A heady cocktail of destructive passion, frank eroticism and seedy showbiz glamour, it stars Emil Jannings as Boss, a middle-aged circus acrobat whose life is derailed by an adulterous affair with a seductive stranger (Lya de Putti). But it’s famed, above all, for Karl Freund’s vertiginously mobile, frequently subjective camera, which breathtakingly captures the aerial exploits of Boss and his fellow trapeze artists. To those who know Dupont as the director of Piccadilly (made three years later in Elstree), his spectacular German masterpiece will come as a revelation.
Margaret Deriaz


Here (and above) is a video essay on the film by Kristin Thompson.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 290: Sat Oct 17

Women in Love (Russell, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.45pm


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 11
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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 18th October. Full details here. 

London Film Festival introduction:
Two couples (Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, Alan Bates and Jennie Linden) find themselves trapped between the pressure to follow convention and the urge to explore a Bohemian lifestyle. The lush English landscape offers a verdant backdrop as the protagonists engage with nature in a direct and sensuous way, each searching for love but unsure what it means. Cinematographer Billy Williams’ gorgeous imagery and dramatic lighting, and Shirley Russell’s vibrant period costumes make Women in Love a visual delight throughout. This newly remastered digital version restores the film’s colour and texture to its full glory.
Josephine Botting

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 289: Fri Oct 16

THE STUFF OF FILM: A collection of 11 short films in the London Film Festival Experimenta strand centering on celluloid, including ...

The Exquisite Corpus (Tscherkassky, 2015): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.45pm


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 10
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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.

You can also catch today's selection as part of the Short Film Award prize screening at Cineworld Haymarket on Saturday 17th October. Full details here.

Here is some background to the work, including notes on the making of the film by Peter Tscherkassky.

London Film Festival introduction:
Celluloid is a medium that can be used to conjure up all manner of magic visions and political interventions. These are just a few ... see here for full details of the 11 films.

Here (and above) is Peter Tscherkassky's Outer Space (1999)

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 288: Thu Oct 15

Sunset Song (Davies, 2015):
Vue Cinemas, West End Screens 7&5, 8.45 & 9.15pm


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 3
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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.

London Film Festival introduction:
Last seen closing the LFF in 2011 with The Deep Blue Sea, Terence Davies returns to the Festival with this exquisite treatment of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel, which gives him a broad canvas of rain-lashed farmland on which to apply his knack for literary adaptation. It’s the early 20th-century in rural Scotland and Chris Guthrie is a young woman with plans. Excelling at her schooling and in possession of a burgeoning independent streak, she seems destined for a job in teaching. But family life has its own pull and her religious father exerts a formidable force on his brood, as well as on her mother whose body he treats as both refuge and battleground. As the constellation of her family shifts around her and romance comes calling, Chris grows into womanhood just as the First World War begins to devastate a generation. Agyness Deyn builds upon her starring role in last year’s Electricity with a spirited performance that expresses Chris’ joys as a light from within, while Peter Mullan brings gnarly authenticity to the zealous patriarch. A true Scottish epic, Sunset Song laments the devastation of war and pays fine tribute to the endurance of the land. 
Kate Taylor 

Here (and above) is Terence Davies interviewed about the movie. 

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 287: Wed Oct 14

Francofonia (Sokurov, 2015): Picturehouse Central, 9pm



59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 8
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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 14th October. Full details here.

London Film Festival introduction:
At a moment when Europe is taking a long hard look at itself, this art-historical tour-de-force from Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark, Faust) could not feel more relevant. While many films about life under occupation focus on resistance movements, we are in much more complex territory with this exploration of the occasionally ugly choices that were made in the name of great art. Francofonia considers how French society and their occupying Nazi forces viewed culture – and thus themselves – during the Second World War. Mixing re-enactment and archive footage, Sokurov builds his narrative around the Musée du Louvre, focusing on the relationship between Jacques Jaujard, Director of the French National Museums, and Count Wolff Metternich, who is sent from Germany to oversee France’s art collection. An insightful, poetic and pointed vision of how liberty, equality and fraternity operates under occupation.
Kate Taylor

Here (and above is the trailer).

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 286: Tue Oct 13

Cemetery of Splendour (Weerasethakul, 2015):
Vue West End, Screens 7 & 5, 8.45 & 9.15pm



59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 7
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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 Wednesday 14th October. Full details here.

London Film Festival introduction:  
The hypnotic filmmaking of Apichatpong Weerasethakul – whose Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival in 2010 – is infused with a dreamy tropical heat that frequently plays havoc with narrative, reality and his characters. In his latest beguiling creation, a group of soldiers have succumbed to a mysterious sleeping sickness. They are transferred to a temporary clinic in a former school (not unlike the regional hospital setting of Syndromes and a Century), where friendly local volunteer Jenjira (Jenjira Pongpas Widner) tends to Itt (Banlop Lomnoi), a handsome soldier who receives no visitors. Hovering by the bedside of the other men is a young medium Keng (Jarinpattra Rueangram), who uses her considerable psychic power to help visiting family and friends communicate with their comatose loved ones (though she cannot guarantee they will always hear what they want). As events quietly unfold, Jenjira begins to suspect that the soldiers’ enigmatic syndrome links them to an ancient burial ground that lies beneath the clinic. Rippling with sly humour and emanating a profound sense of magic, the film conjures – rather than implies – the political uncertainty of contemporary Thailand. Weerasethakul’s coded lament for his homeland is as joyful as it is melancholy.
Clare Stewart

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 285: Mon Oct 12

Rocco and His Brothers (Visconti, 1960): Vue West End Screen 7, 11am


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 6
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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 10th October. Full details here. 

London Film Festival introduction:
Rocco is like an opera without the arias. A mother and her five sons abandon the poverty of southern Italy and head for the economic promise of Milan, only to find their relationships implode as the brothers battle over love, passion and morality. Rocco’s epic, emotional sweep is guaranteed to leave you emotionally drained by the end. It’s not just Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece, but also that of cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno. Whether he’s framing the fragile beauty of Alain Delon or the vistas of the city, his lustrous black and white camerawork is breathtaking. Here it could not be better served than by this magnificent restoration. And to cap it all, two scenes that were victims of the censor’s scissors have finally been reinstated.
Robin Baker

Here's a more detailed review by Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 284: Sun Oct 11

Warlock (Dmytryk, 1959): Vue Islington, 6pm



59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 5
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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 10th October. Full details here.

Time Out review:
An incredibly overwrought Freudian Western, with Henry Fonda as the notorious killer hired by the cowardly citizens of Warlock to defend them from a vicious gang. Fonda brings with him his lifelong partner (and possible lover), the blond, neurotic, club-footed Anthony Quinn. After a few rousing shoot-outs, one of the opposition (Richard Widmark) joins them, and he is appointed sheriff. Enter Dorothy Malone, whose fiancé has been murdered by Quinn, and she falls in love with Widmark, whom she hopes will avenge her. It all ends with a Viking-style funeral, and with Fonda starting to think beyond his guns. Edward Dmytryk (after the blacklist days, at least) was usually one of Hollywood's dullest directors, but not here. The movie is overlong yet dynamic, juxtaposing moments of repose, when the script shuffles relationships like a stacked deck, and bursts of action which have something of the operatic stylisation of Sergio Leone.
Adrian Turner

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 283: Sat Oct 10

Bone Tomahawk (S Craig Zahler, 2015): Odeon Leicester Square, 9.15pm


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 4
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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 11th October. Full details here.

London Film Festival introduction:
Late one night in the Wild West town of Bright Hope, Arthur O’Dwyer’s life is turned upside down when his wife is kidnapped. A disparate vigilante posse is quickly assembled, headed up by the town’s sheriff Franklin Hunt, and together they venture off in pursuit of Arthur’s wife and her abductors. Unfortunately for our intrepid heroes, they have no idea just who or, more to the point, what is waiting for them when they reach their fateful destination. Equal parts The Searchers and The Hills Have Eyes, this gloriously imaginative genre hybrid is an original, unpredictable beast, filled with enough surprises to satisfy even the most jaded of horror hounds and western fans. An impressively assured directorial debut of writer/musician S Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk is a visual feast and boasts some great performances from its all-star cast which includes Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins, not to mention a host of enjoyable cameos including the likes of Sid Haig and Sean Young. But take caution, as one might expect from an unpredictable horror/western exploitationer, the threat of violence is never far away. And when I say violence, I mean violence. With a capital V. Don’t say you weren’t warned...
Michael Blyth

Here's a longer review from Variety critic Guy Lodge.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 282: Fri Oct 9

The Forbidden Room (Maddin, 2015): BFI IMAX, 6.30pm


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 3
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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.

London Film Festival introduction: 
Gleeful, hypnotic and totally deranged, Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, The Saddest Music in the World) and co-director Evan Johnson’s phantasmagoric opus screens supersize (a world first!) as our Experimenta Special Presentation at BFI IMAX. Opening with an absurd 1960s-era instructional from a pot-bellied letch on how to take a bath; rapidly segueing to a Canadian lumberjack on a mission to rescue a damsel with amnesia being held captive by cave dwelling wolf-men; and at some later point cutting to Udo Kier being lobotomised to curb his penchant for pinching derrieres; this whacked-out medley of weird tableaus travels deep under the ocean, high into the sky and far into the darkest regions of the psyche. The Forbidden Room evolved from the interactive Seances project, with Maddin as the director/medium channeling the spirits of silent films, lost to the archives, through improvised live ‘happenings’. They took place in temporary sets at Montreal’s Phi Center and The Pompidou Centre in Paris, and featured participants such as Geraldine Chaplin, Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Rampling and Ariane Labed. Taking ‘really hideous, raw video’ and reworking all the palettes and colour-timing on over 4,000 hours of rushes, then experimenting with super-imposition and adding luridly entertaining inter-titles, The Forbidden Room is epic both as a formal filmmaking feat and a deliriously heightened cinephilic pleasure. 
Clare Stewart 

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 281: Thu Oct 8

21 Nights With Pattie (Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu, 2015): Curzon Mayfair, 9pm



59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 2
 

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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 films also screens on 9th and 12th October. Full details here.

LFF preview:  
Caroline (Isabelle Carré) arrives at a mountain village in the South of France for the funeral of her solitary, bohemian mother. But in this idyllic spot, no one has death on their mind – least of all local woman Pattie, who promptly regales Caroline with hair-raising tales of epic sexual exploits. Then a mysterious turn of events attracts the attentions of a gendarme with bizarre theories, some of them implicating an old friend of Maman’s (André Dussollier), who may possibly be a Nobel-winning novelist travelling incognito. The Larrieu brothers (A Real Man) offer a witty, eccentric, constantly surprising fable about desire, imagination and landscape, superbly cast (Sergi Lopez and Denis Lavant also feature), with a sharp, winning lead performance from Isabelle Carré and an outrageously funny title turn from Karin Viard as a woman with a no-holds-barred libido, and proud of it. Strange, mischievous and magical – the proverbial ‘Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy’.
Jonathan Romney

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 280: Wed Oct 7

Black Girl (Sembene, 1966): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm


59th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (7th-18th October 2015) DAY 1

Every day (from October 7 to October 18) 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.

Black Girl also screens on October 9th and tickets are available. Full details here. 

Chicago Reader review: 
The 1966 first feature of Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene. A girl from a lower-class district in Dakar goes to work as a maid for a French couple and accompanies them on a vacation to France, where her newfound sense of freedom gradually turns into feelings of isolation and invisibility. Sembene keeps his metaphors under control, and the result is a message movie with an unusual depth of characterization.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is an extract.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 279: Tue Oct 6

The Panic in Needle Park (Schatzberg, 1971): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This movie, which also screens on October 1st, 11th and 17th, is part of the New Hollywood season at Close-Up Cinema through September and October. You can find all the details here.

Harvard Film Archive review:
One of the quintessential expressions of early 1970s American cinema, Schatzberg’s second feature centers around a fragile woman who, like the characters its co-screenwriter Joan Didion’s early novels, has been set adrift by recent trauma and overly dependent relationships. Shot on location in a wintry and desolate New York City, Panic in Needle Park offers an undaunted and fascinating vision of the secret world of drug addicts with an electrifying Al Pacino – in his first starring role – as a small time hustler and addict and newcomer Kitty Winn as the naive Midwesterner enraptured by his energetic charm. Panic in Needle Park is both a poetic and deeply touching love story and a vivid, documentary-style rendering of the squalor and fear felt by addicts drifting like ghosts through the dirty flophouses, cheap diners and trash-strewn sidewalks of the Upper West Side. Eschewing a music track and any direct appeals to sentimentality, Schatzberg imbues the film with a verité quality that lends an air of wrenching, tragic inevitability to the doomed lovers’ tale.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 278: Mon Oct 5

Three Times (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2005): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm



This 35mm screening is part of the Hou Hsiao-Hsien season at BFI and was my personal 2005 London Film Festival highlight. The film can also be seen on 27th September and 3rd October. You can find the full details here.

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.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 277: Sun Oct 4

The Last Detail (Ashby, 1973): Close-Up Cinema, 5pm


This movie, which also screens September 29th, October 2nd and October 10th, is part of the New Hollywood season at Close-Up Cinema through September and October. You can find all the details for the film's screenings here.

Chicago Reader review:
Two career sailors escort a backward young colleague to naval prison to serve an eight-year stretch for petty thievery. Along the way, the two initiate the youngster into the rites of manhood (getting drunk, getting laid, and pushing back when pushed), then have to stifle the boy's newfound sense of freedom to protect their careers. A tough-talking, sparely directed effort (1973) by Hal Ashby, with an immaculate performance by Jack Nicholson as the arrogant and salty (but feeling) sailor who tries to stay in charge of the odyssey, and almost doesn't.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 276: Sat Oct 3

Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2001): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.30pm



This is part of the Hou Hsiao-Hsien season at BFI Southbank and also screens on 1st October. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
Vicky (Shu) came to Taipei as a teenager and lurched into an affair with the ultra-possessive Hao-Hao (Duan), who lived for DJ-ing but thought it would be uncool to play records for a living. She decided she'd leave him when her savings ran out but in the meantime gravitated into the orbit (not the bed) of small-time gangster Jack (Kao), who treated her like a best friend. But when she finally moved into Jack's place, he had a sudden money crisis and disappeared somewhere in Japan. This differs from Hou's earlier accounts of women around male riff-raff (Daughter of the Nile, the present-day parts of Good Men, Good Women) in two striking ways. First, it looks back at the present from a point ten years in the future, rendering it strange and distant. Second, Vicky is seen not as a marginalised onlooker but as a young woman coming into bloom, learning by experience how to build her own identity. The film is a virtual portrait of Shu Qi, in much the way that Godard once made films as pretexts for capturing the moods of Anna Karina. Extremely beautiful, as hypnotic as its trance-techno soundtrack, and (like Flowers of Shanghai) very, very druggy.
Tony Rayns

This is the famous opening scene.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 275: Fri Oct 2

The Searchers (Ford, 1956): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


This is part of the Passport to Cinema season and also screens on the 4th and 5th October. Ian Christie introduces the film on the 5th.

Chicago Reader review:
We may still be waiting for the Great American Novel, but John Ford gave us the Great American Film in 1956. The Searchers gathers the deepest concerns of American literature, distilling 200 years of tradition in a way available only to popular art, and with a beauty available only to a supreme visual poet like Ford. Through the central image of the frontier, the meeting point of wilderness and civilization, Ford explores the divisions of our national character, with its search for order and its need for violence, its spirit of community and its quest for independence.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 274: Thu Oct 1

La-bas (Akerman, 2006): ICA Cinema, 7pm


A Nos Amours are presenting the most complete retrospective ever attempted of Chantal Akerman's entire cinematic oeuvre. You can see the full details of the rest of the screenings here.

Here is the A Nos Amours introduction:
A camera in a room. A series of shots of a window, balcony, the light of the exterior world. Off screen we hear the voice of Akerman, on the phone. Has she been to the beach? No. She is indoors.
Akerman’s camera sees life beyond, glimpses of lives lived as in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. But the story told is very different: this is Tel Aviv, and Akerman is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. She is apprehensive about a recent bombing, and meditates on the whether Israel is indeed the ‘promised land’ or merely a new form of exile. There are of course no conclusions to be drawn, because the debate is only ever at best provisional. "It’s complicated," she states. Her relationship with Israel is overwhelming and frustrating, a matter of love and hate. And what of the sea? The vast untroubled waters have lapped these shores throughout human history. The sea is an image of freedom, or ease, of human concerns dwarfed. But as ever, it is back to the apartment, and the glimpse of a life outside, beyond the shutters.

Here (and above) is an excerpt.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 273: Wed Sep 30

Flowers of Shanghai (Hsiao-Hsien, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm


This film screens as part of the Hou Hsiao-Hsien season and is also being shown on 5th October. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Based on a famous 19th-century Chinese novel, Hou Hsiao-hsien's 1998 drama is set in an upscale Shanghai brothel, a claustrophobic artificial paradise where courtesans and their upper-class clients smoke opium, argue about money, and indulge in witty gossip. The film opens with a brilliant seven-minute take; the languid yet precise cinematography throughout gives it the seductive power of a drug-induced dream.
Berenice Reynaud

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 272: Tue Sep 29

Attenberg (Tsangari, 2010): Goethe Institute, 7pm


This is part of the Scalarama season which takes place throughout September. All the films in the season can be found here.

Time Out review:
This eccentric and, in turn, annoying and captivating Greek meditation on the weirdness of human behaviour comes from the same experimental camp as 2009’s ‘Dogtooth’ – a funny and disturbing film about two parents who shelter their kids from the outside world. That film’s director, Yorgos Lanthimos, pops up here as an actor, and its producer, Athina Rachel Tsangari, is the writer-director of ‘Attenberg’, whose title comes from the pleasure Marina (Ariane Labed), a permanently dazed young woman, derives from watching nature films by David Attenborough.

Yes, ‘Attenberg’ is a misspelling of the name of our foremost wildlife presenter (we await the sequel, ‘Bare Grills’, with baited breath.) Who knows what Attenborough and his brother, Richard, would think of the film’s deadpan storytelling style, bathetic tone and sideways view on communication, love and death? It’s structured as a series of vignettes or episodes, but the thread running through it is Marina having to deal with the death of her father (Vangelis Mourikis), an engineer. She’s close to him and there seems to be no one else in her life apart from a friend, Bella (Evangelia Randou) and a man, Spyros (Lanthimos), with whom she strikes up a sexual relationship in a hotel room – her first, she says.

Unlike in ‘Dogtooth’, where the behavioural framework was clear, it’s not obvious in ‘Attenberg’ why Marina is so cut off from life, and so it’s hard to decipher her actions. She has never kissed a man and she obsesses over simple wordplay. She behaves towards Bella in ways other adults would with their shadows: she practises kissing with her, tries out  Python-esque walks and tells her of her dreams of trees with penises hanging from them as fruit. The focus on impending and actual death is more straightforward, and the film is good on where the sombre meets the comic in dealing with someone’s passing. To enjoy ‘Attenberg’, you have to tune in to an unusual wavelength, but there are strange pleasures to enjoy.

Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 271: Mon Sep 28

Fight Club (Fincher, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


These notes were written for a screening organised by TheShiznit.co.uk two years ago. I reproduce them here as they still hold true. Tonight's is a 35mm screening.
 
"Why Fight Club? It's not only one of the most bruising assaults on consumer culture since a pissed-off Naomi Klein got a shit toy in her Happy Meal, it's one of the last truly great films of the '90s – a middle-finger to the bullshit, logo-obsessed century it was about to swagger into. I can't think of a movie more in tune with TheShiznit.co.uk's policies of photoshopping funny captions on pictures of Taylor Lautner and making stupid animated gifs of Spider-Man. 

"Can you believe it's [15] years old? I can't remember a film that proved to be so eerily prescient – predicting the ubiquity of Apple even before the iPod and the rise of grass-roots social anarchy before Anonymous had a name. It delivers its message like a molotov cocktail through a window. Who wouldn't snap up the chance to watch it again, in a cinema environment, with loads of cool people? And me? An idiot, that's who. Are you an idiot? No? Then order your tickets NOW."


Chicago Reader review:
'This exercise in mainstream masochism, macho posturing, and designer-grunge fascism (1999) is borderline ridiculous. But it also happens to be David Fincher's richest movie—not only because it combines the others (Alien 3, Seven, The Game) with chunks of Performance, but also because it keeps topping its own giddy excesses. Adapted by Jim Uhls from Chuck Palahniuk's novel, this has something—but only something—to do with a bored Edward Norton encountering a nihilistic doppelganger (Brad Pitt) who teaches him that getting your brains bashed out is fun. Though you're barely allowed to disagree with him, your jaw is supposed to drop with admiring disbelief at the provocation, and the overall impression of complexity might easily be mistaken for the genuine article. In other words, this is American self-absorption at its finest.' 
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 270: Sun Sep 27

The Shining (Kubrick, 1980): Central Picturehouse, 4pm


This special screening of The Shining will be followed by an interview with executive producer Jan Harlan. He began working closely with Stanley Kubrick in 1969 and later became his brother-in-law. Jan collaborated with him on five of his films, from Barry Lyndon to A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Jan directed and produced the acclaimed documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. At this event’s interview, as well as the making of The Shining, he will discuss his other work with the legendary director.

If you want to read an intelligent discussion on the movie, and a good introduction to tonight's screening here is one by long-time fan Jonathan Romney in the Independent on Sunday.

Time Out review:
All of Stanley Kubrick’s films – be it ‘The Killing’ or ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ – demand to be seen on a big screen. They’re about people trapped in huge, indifferent machines gone wrong, from a heist plot to a spaceship, and only the huge indifference of the cinema does them justice. In ‘The Shining’, the machine is a haunted house: the Overlook Hotel, created by Stephen King and turned by Kubrick into an awry environment in which mental stability, supernatural malignance and the sense of space and time shimmer and warp to terrible effect.

The story sees Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) drag his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) up a mountain to be the hotel’s winter caretaker. Things go badly. This is the original 1980 US version, 24 minutes longer than the one familiar to UK audiences. On the upside, it fleshes out the family’s city life and includes an intriguing TV-watching motif; on the downside, there are some daft scare shots and it didn’t ever exactly feel short at two hours. Still, a masterpiece.
Ben Walters

Here is the trailer (above is another, and my favourite of all cinema trailers)

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 269: Sat Sep 26

The Mother (Michell, 2003): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This overlooked film is one of John Waters' selections to accompany his season at BFI Southbank. Here (at the bottom of the page) are all the movies Waters has selected, which included the delirious Trog and the brilliant and underrated The Deep Blue Sea.

Time Out review:
Anyone who thought the film Calendar Girls bottled it will find this an altogether meatier proposition. Scripted by the congenitally unsentimental Hanif Kureishi, The Mother gives Anne Reid the role of a lifetime as the recently widowed May, who comes down to stay with her middle class son in London and can't find the courage to leave. Even then, it's only her son's friend Darren (Daniel Craig) who sees May as a person, not an antiquated nuisance. They become friends and, secretly, lovers. Reid is wonderful, subtly revealing a difficult, longtime repressed woman coming out of her shell under the attentive curiosity of the younger man. The director, Roger Michell, treats the sex scenes just so, with frankness, humour and compassion. It's only in the wider social realm that this affair assumes the status of taboo. May's grown children busily set about fixing her up with a likely partner never imagining the object of her real heart's desire lies so close to home. Very handsomely shot, the film exists in an altogether different zone to Michell's Notting Hill - this is a London natives may actually recognise. It's a shame, though, that the melodramatic showdown at the end of the movie smacks of nothing more than bad faith. 
Tom Charity


Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 268: Fri Sep 25

The Divide (Round, 2015): Art House Cinema, Crouch End, 6.30pm


Here is the Art House Cinema introduction:
An exclusive pre-release screening as part of the 2015 London Labour Film Festival, this event includes a Q&A, live on the ArtHouse stage, with award winning journalist Owen Jones, director Katherine Round and General Secretary of PCS Chris Baugh.

Inspired by the best-selling book The Spirit Level, Round’s accomplished debut feature illustrates a more personal account of how inequality shapes our societies. From the fast-food employee struggling to earn a living to the Wall Street psychologist who aspires to live the affluent life of the damaged white collar workers he attends to. Personal testimony from those on both ends of the income spectrum helps to successfully articulate how the rising gap between the rich and poor negatively impacts people from the bottom to the top of society.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 267: Thu Sep 24

The Cremator (Herz, 1968): ICA Cinema, 8.40pm


The ICA are running a film season celebrating ten years of Second Run Films, featuring movies chosen by a variety of filmmakers. Here, ICA Film and Cinema Manager Nico Marzano introduces the season:
September 2015 marks Second Run's 10th Anniversary, an appropriate time to celebrate their work in bringing long-lost classics and undiscovered contemporary films to an UK audience. As part of the celebrations, Second Run have asked filmmakers to choose just one film that they love in the catalogue - and have come up with a selection of personal choices from (among others) Pedro Costa, Mark Cousins, Yorgos Lanthimos, Kim Longinotto, Jiří Menzel, Carol Morley, Avi Mograbi, Joshua Oppenheimer, the Brothers Quay, Ron Peck, Carlos Reygadas, Peter Strickland, István Szabó and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Of the many films chosen by the filmmakers, the ICA has selected five for our week-long celebration which runs 19–24 September 2015. A difficult decision but we have now reached our final selection of five films and are delighted that all will be presented by the filmmakers and writers who selected them. Their choices represent a core selection of the Second Run catalogue, each film a special discovery to share with a new audience. We hope you will join us for the celebration.
Peter Strickland selects tonight's choice, The Cremator.

Chicago Reader review:
While it's a bit programmatic for my taste, this 1968 black comedy in black and white is undeniably creepy—once director Juraj Herz enters the fractured mind of his protagonist, he refuses to budge. Based on a novel by Ladislav Fuks (who cowrote the screenplay with Herz) and set in Prague before and during the German occupation, it concerns a smugly bourgeois crematorium operator (Rudolf Hrusinsky) who loses his sanity and drifts into collaboration with the Nazis, ultimately turning on his half-Jewish wife and their children. An outlying figure of the Czech New Wave, Herz demonstrates an undeniable flair for telegraphic, almost subliminal editing and deep-focus mise en scene.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is a flavour of this unique film.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 266: Wed Sep 23

In Cold Blood (Brooks, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.20pm


This film is on an extended run from 11th September at BFI Southbank. You can find details of all the screenings here.

Guardian review:
No one who has ever seen it forgets the beginning of Richard Brooks’s 1967 adaptation of Truman Capote’s “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood: a Greyhound bus howls out of an ink-black prairie night, Kansas City its destination, on a screaming trumpet note from Quincy Jones’s score. Inside the darkened bus we glimpse seated silhouettes, and a child making her way towards the rear. She sees a boot sole with two catspaw studs – these will eventually convict their owner of murder – and the outline of a man holding a guitar. He strikes a match on the boot – in the fierce blackness, it registers like Hiroshima – and moves it toward his cigarette and his face, which fills the screen: Robert Blake (who was later an acquitted murder suspect in real life) is Perry Smith, convicted killer of four, the hanged man.

All of In Cold Blood’s virtues are encapsulated in that opening: the black-and-white camerawork of cinematographer Conrad Hall; the music of Jones; and the performance of Robert Blake. Hall’s work draws on news-footage aesthetics, achieving a true-crime tabloid griminess that evokes photographers such as Walker Evans and Robert Frank. Jones sonically anchors his two killers (Smith and Richard “Dick” Hickock, played by Scott Wilson) with unnerving twinned acoustic basses and found sounds. And Robert Blake is Robert Blake, in the keynote performance of his career.
John Patterson (you can read the full feature via this link)

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 265: Tue Sep 22

Absolute Beginners (Temple, 1986): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm


This screening, hosted by Danny Leigh with special guests star Patsy Kensit and director Julien Temple, is part of the London on Film season. The film is also being shown on 17th September. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A fascinating attempt by rock video director Julien Temple to do several things at once—adapt a Colin MacInnes novel, show the London youth scene in 1958 (while dealing at length with the racial tensions of the period), build on some of the stylistic innovations of Frank Tashlin, Vincente Minnelli, and Orson Welles, and put to best use a fascinating score by Gil Evans that adapts everything from Charles Mingus to Miles Davis. A mixed success, but an exhilarating try (1986). With David Bowie, Keith Richards, and James Fox.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 264: Mon Sep 21

Boom! (Losey, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


This is one of John Waters' selections to accompany his season of film as BFI Southbank. The film is also screened on 27th September. Details here. And here (at the bottom of the page) are all the movies Waters has selected, which included the delirious Trog and the brilliant and underrated The Deep Blue Sea.

John Waters' review:
Beyond bad, the other side of camp – a film so beautiful and awful there is only one word to describe it: perfect. If you don’t like this film, I hate you.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 263: Sun Sep 20

Runaway Train (Konchalovsky, 1985) & Shy People (Konchalovsky, 1987):
Regent Street Cinema, 2pm & 4.25pm


The Badlands Collective present a double-bill tribute to Cannon Films as part of the Scalarama season which takes place throughout September. All the films in the season can be found here.

Chicago Reader review of Runaway Train:
Considering how much is truly awful about this 1985 film—a ludicrous situation (two convicts and a woman are trapped on a locomotive speeding out of control through the Alaskan wilderness), gobs of undigested philosophical dialogue, an appallingly mannered Method performance by lead Jon Voight—it's a high tribute to the skills of director Andrei Konchalovsky (Maria's Lovers) that it comes off as gripping entertainment. Imagine a cross between the macho roughhouse of a Robert Aldrich film (Emperor of the North is a close comparison) and the visual texture (snow, rusting steel, licking flames) of a Tarkovsky thumb sucker like Stalker and you'll have some idea. Konchalovsky excels both at the staging of claustrophobic psychodrama (the way he shoots the action in the cramped engine cab is a model of the creative use of restricted space) and large-scale action, setting up a very effective movement between emotional pressure and physical release. With Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay; based on an unproduced screenplay by Akira Kurosawa.
Dave Kehr

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

Chicago Reader review of Shy People:
Andrei Konchalovsky's engrossing feature about a New York journalist (Jill Clayburgh) who invites her teenage daughter (Martha Plimpton) along on an expedition to the remote bayous of Louisiana to hunt up some remote relatives for a magazine article she's writing—a journey that leads her to the imperious and eccentric widow Ruth (Barbara Hershey) and her family. The interesting and exciting thing about this exercise in comparative anthropology—which can incidentally be read as a brilliantly understated cold-war allegory—is that it is never complacent or obvious; the relative values of “civilization” and primitivism are constantly juxtaposed, but without the kind of facility that one would expect from such a venture. The mysticism and poetry of Konchalovsky's conception, moreover, are never forced, and never allowed to interfere with the film's value as entertainment (adventure, comedy, and melodrama, with a faint touch of fantasy)—yielding a movie that manages to be “Russian” in conception without sacrificing any of its local truths. Gerard Brach and Marjorie David collaborated with Konchalovsky on the script; with Merritt Butrick, John Philbin, and Mare Winningham. Chris Menges is the talented cinematographer; the music is by Tangerine Dream.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer for Shy People.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 262: Sat Sep 19

Buzzard (Potrykus, 2014): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm


This film screens as part of the Scalarama season throughout September. You can the full details of all the films being shown through the month here.

Chicago Reader review:
Buzzard
is the latest film by Michigan native Joel Potrykus and the final installment of his "animal trilogy" (which includes the 2012 feature Ape and the 2010 short Coyote). Buzzard is an endearingly strange, pitch-black comedy of errors, a singular vision of the working poor's barbaric fringes. The remarkable Joshua Burge—lead actor in both Ape and Coyotestars as bug-eyed, greasy-haired Marty, a dispirited, neo-Dickensian temporary office worker idly stationed at a nondescript mortgage company. At home in his dingy apartment, he exploits company refund policies and corporate giveaways for cash and prizes, in part to make ends meet but also for the joy of fucking with the system, any system. Marty's small-time scams are a hoot, but when one ill-planned ruse lands him in deep trouble (or so he thinks, paranoia being one of the film's essential elements), he flees to Detroit in desperation and the laughs subside.

Marty is reprehensible, but Burge roots his alarming behavior in relatable fears. Goofing around with a homemade glove of blades, a la Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Marty slices his hand open; just another blue-collar millennial without health insurance, he fakes a work accident to receive workers' comp. Life's basic comforts elude him, forcing him to rely on his wits; he's the poster boy for the scavenger class, backed into a corner and dangerously short of options. His anxiety is reflected in Potrykus's camerawork, which often recalls the intensity and immediacy of guerrilla filmmaking. But behind the amateurish aesthetic lies a director with high-art sensibilities who uses Buñuelian surrealism to undercut the film's verisimilitude. Like Potrykus, Burge shows great daring, his performance a high-wire act of ballistic anomie and genuine empathy; we may find Marty repugnant, but only because we fear ending up like him, a disillusioned hellion desperate for a way out. 
Drew Hunt 

Here (and above) is the trailer.