Friday, 26 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 80: Sun Mar 20

Desert Hearts (Deitch, 1985): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3.45pm


This 35mm screwening is part of the BFI Flare Festival. Full details of the festival here.

Chicago Reader review:
I guess you're supposed to like this 1985 movie because it strikes all the right attitudes about lesbian sex; it's set in the 50s to make all of the 80s platitudes look revolutionary, and in the southwest to allow some fun with twangy regional accents and dippy local yokels. In an opening deliberately reminiscent of The Women, a tweedy, uptight professor of literature (Helen Shaver) arrives at a Nevada dude ranch to establish residency for a quickie divorce; her eye is caught by swaggering cowgirl Patricia Charbonneau, and she spends most of the rest of the film trying to rationalize the strange urge that possesses her. Mercifully, when the sex scene does finally arrive, it's good, steamy stuff, but director Donna Deitch is hopelessly clunky when it comes to getting her characters to talk—and they talk, and talk, and talk. Clipping that one scene is all it would take to qualify Desert Hearts as one of those “controversial” TV movies. Viewer discretion is indeed advised, on more than one level.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 79: Sat Mar 19

Lost Film Found Film - Short Films (2012-2015) by Sarah Wood: ICA Cinema, 8.30pm



Here is the ICA introduction:
In a world saturated with the still and moving image, how does the documentary image perform truth? Does it? What is really found in footage? Sarah Wood works with the found image as an act of reclamation and re-interrogation. In this survey of her recent films she questions not only our relationship to the documentary archival but also to 21st-century viewing conditionsof being observed while observingultimately asking how this influences the narration of history and memory.

Three Minute Warning
(dir. Sarah Wood, UK 2012, digital video, 3 mins)
The parallel histories of cinema and aviation revolutionised the twentieth century, generating irresistible fantasies of freedom and control. Three Minute Warning is a fast-forward history of the real impact of blue-sky thinking. You’ve had your three-minute warning: now is it time to resist?

Murmuration x 10
(dir. Sarah Wood, text: Helen Macdonald, UK 2015, digital video, 21 mins)
Helen Macdonald’s murmuration on the histories of observation and the annotation of migration is counterpointed with Sarah Wood’s visual questioning of how the archival document reports the natural world. How can we trust what we see? Do we see with spontaneity or is our view of the world framed by what we are supposed to know, what we have been taught to see? How free are we when we, in turn, are observed?

For Cultural Purposes Only
(dir. Sarah Wood, UK 2009, digital video, 8 mins)
In an age dominated by the moving image what would it feel like to never see an image of the place that you came from? The Palestinian Film Archive contained over 100 films showing the daily life and struggle of the Palestinian people. It was lost in the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982. Here interviewees describe from memory key moments from the history of Palestinian cinema. These scenes are drawn and animated. Where film survives, the artist’s impressions are corroborated. This is a film about reconstruction and the idea that cinema is an expression of cultural identity – that cinema fuels memory.

I Am a Spy
(dir. Sarah Wood, UK 2014, digital video, 23 mins)
It was only in the twentieth century that we needed papers to have an identity. Kafka’s Joseph K scrabbled in his pocket for something better than a bicycle license to prove who he was in the brave new world where official documents separate those who belong from those who are not allowed to belong. The borders of the new nation state offered frames for subterfuge. What happened on one side of the border had to be understood on the other. In an age when we can move more and see more than at any other point in history why have we become so watchful and so performative? I Am a Spy is a film that observes this watchfulness.

Sarah Wood is in conversation with Catherine Grant
(University of Sussex, Film Studies for Free)

Here (and above) is the trailer for I Am A Spy.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 78: Fri Mar 18

Visit or Memories and Confessions (de Oliviera, 1982): ICA Cinema, 8.30pm


 
This screening introduced by José Manuel Costa, Director of the Cinemateca Portuguesa - Museu do Cinema, is part of the Essay Film Festival at the ICA. You can find full details of the season here.

Hollywood Reporter review:
His death last month, while he was still professionally active at the venerable age of 106, quite possibly made Manoel de Oliveira the oldest filmmaker to have walked the planet. Little could he have known back in 1982, when at the age of 73 he filmed a wry sort of “testament” and embargoed its public screening until after his death, that it would take another 34 years before audiences would get a glimpse of Visit or Memories and Confessions (Visita ou Memórias e Confissões). The unusual circumstances surrounding the film's making and unveiling are an enticement in themselves for the art distributors who have long been associated with the Portuguese director’s prolific output, though more than anything it seems perfect as a 68-minute festival tribute. Certainly his audiences will not be disappointed in the film, which he co-scripted with Agustina Bessa-Luis, who wrote all his films after the turning point of Francisca in 1981.

For a story revolving around the need to sell and move out of the house in Porto that he built and loved, where he wrote all his screenplays for forty years, there is little sadness about the film — though maybe some nostalgia. Oliveira’s ironic sense of humor turns the leave-taking into a humorous ghost story (“a film by me, about me”) as an unseen couple voiced by Teresa Madruga and Diogo Doria stumble onto the deserted property and trespass through rooms filled with books, paintings, souvenirs and memories. In the screenwriters’ typical style, their conversation veers into the philosophical and metaphysical at the drop of a hat.
Deborah Young

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 77: Thu Mar 17

Tangerine (Baker, 2015): BFI Southbank, Studio Cinema, 6.40pm


One of the best movies of last year rolls around with three screenings at the BFI Flare Festival. The film is also being shown on 19th and 25th March. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This rollicking indie comedy takes place among the hookers of West Hollywood on Christmas Eve, a time for peace on earth and good will toward—bitch, I will fucking kill you! Back on the street after 28 days in jail, working girl Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) learns that her pimp/boyfriend has been cheating on her and, dragging along her best pal (Mya Taylor), sets out to collar the woman in question. Writer-director Sean Baker (Starlet, Prince of Broadway) locates the viewer so squarely inside the characters' sad, constricted world that when Sin-Dee and her nemesis overlook their differences long enough to share a crack pipe in the ladies' room, they might as well be drinking egg nog at a holiday party. With Baker regulars Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan, and James Ransone.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 76: Wed Mar 16

Goodbye to Langauge 3D (Godard, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm


A rare chance to see director Jean-Luc Godard's latest, and much-discussed film. There are a number of articles about this film circulating, one of the most interesting by David Bordwell which you can read here. The film also screens on March 7th and you can find the full details here.

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 75: Tue Mar 15

Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


This film, on an extended run from March 2nd to 16th is running to coincide with the release of the Kent Jones' documentary Hithcock/Truffaut. You can find the details here.

Here is all you need to know about the film and more on the Cinephilia & Beyond website.

Chicago Reader review of Vertigo:
'One of the landmarks—not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art. Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film extends the theme of Rear Window—the relationship of creator and creation—into the realm of love and sexuality, focusing on an isolated, inspired romantic (James Stewart) who pursues the spirit of a woman (the powerfully carnal Kim Novak). The film's dynamics of chase, capture, and escape parallel the artist's struggle with his work; the enraptured gaze of the Stewart character before the phantom he has created parallels the spectator's position in front of the movie screen. The famous motif of the fall is presented in horizontal rather than vertical space, so that it becomes not a satanic fall from grace, but a modernist fall into the image, into the artwork—a total absorption of the creator by his creation, which in the end is shown as synonymous with death. But a thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema.'
Dave Kehr 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 74: Mon Mar 14

Killer Constable (Chih-hung, 1980): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm


This screening is part of a Crime Hong Kong style season at the Barbica. You can find all the details here.

Here is the Barbican introduction:
The Dowager Empress’ ruthless security chief is sent to the south to recover stolen palace treasures and hunt down its thieves. As his men are killed one by one, he finds himself questioning his faith in the system he has vowed to uphold. A period set crime film; The Killer Constable bridges the gap between the Shaw Brothers studio films of the early 1970s and the more cynical approach of the Hong Kong New Wave. It is considered by many as director Kuei’s finest hour (and 38 minutes).

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 73: Sun Mar 13

No1: Crash (Cronenberg, 1996): Rio Cinema, 4.30pm


This film screens as part of a JG Ballard afternoon to coincide with release of High-Rise. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
David Cronenberg wrote and directed this 1996 film, a masterful minimalist adaptation of J.G. Ballard's 1973 neo-futurist novel about sex and car crashes, and like the book it's audacious and intense—though ultimately somewhat monotonous in spite of its singularity. James Spader meets Holly Hunter via a car collision, and they and Spader's wife (Deborah Kara Unger) become acquainted with a kind of car-crash guru (Elias Koteas) and his own set of friends (including Rosanna Arquette). Sex and driving are all that this movie and its characters are interested in, but the lyrical, poetic, and melancholic undertones are potent, the performances adept and sexy, the sounds and images indelible. If you want something that's both different and accomplished, even if you can't be sure what it is, don't miss this.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

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No2: Histoires du Cinema (Godard, 1998): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 2pm


This film is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI Southbank. Part two of this Godard production is being shown at 5.30pm and you can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Well over a decade in the making, this eight-part, 264-minute video (1998) is Jean-Luc Godard's magnum opus, but it's never been widely seen; Gaumont, which produced it, has never cleared the rights to its many film clips and artworks shown outside of France, and even there the commercial release has only monaural sound—a significant loss for a work that uses stereo so centrally. (Ironically, the proper sound track is available only in a CD set, accompanied by a translation of most of the text.) Daunting, provocative, and very beautiful, this meditative essay looks at the history of the 20th century through cinema and vice versa, mainly through a rich assortment of clips (sometimes superimposing more than one), sound tracks (sometimes paired with visuals from other films), poetic commentary (with plenty of metaphors), and captions. For better and for worse, it's comparable to James Joyce's Finnegans Wake in both its difficulty and its playfulness.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 72: Sat Mar 12

No1: Wendy and Lucy (Reichardt, 2008): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This screening is part of short season of director Kelly Reichardt films at Close-Up Cinema over the weekend of 11th to 13th March. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Kelly Reichardt's masterful low-budget drama tells a story a child could understand even as it indicts, with stinging anger, the economic cruelty of George Bush's America. Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) is impressively restrained as Wendy, a young homeless woman who's living in her car with her beloved mutt, Lucy. After the car breaks down in an Oregon hick town, she makes the mistake of tying Lucy up outside a grocery store before going in to shoplift, and when she gets busted and taken to the local police station, the dog disappears. Reichardt (Old Joy) and co-writer Jonathan Raymond began working on the story after hearing conservative commentators bash the poor in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and their movie is a stark reminder of how easily someone like Wendy can fall through our frayed safety net. The climax is a heartbreaker, and in its haunting finale the movie recalls no less than Mervyn LeRoy's Depression-era classic I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang.

JR Jones
Here (and above) is the trailer.

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No2: Big Hero 6 (Hall/Williams, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 1.30pm


Not the usual film for this slot but definitely my favourite US animation movie of recent years.

Time Out review:
For the past few years, Disney has been reinventing its style along two lines: the conscientious princess play of ‘Tangled’ and ‘Frozen’ alongside the more modern sensibility of movies like ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and now this one. ‘Big Hero 6’ has been adapted from an obscure Marvel comic, telling the story of Hiro (Ryan Potter), a teen robotics genius who learns to use his brainpower for good by assembling a science-driven superhero team, including a pudgy, huggable nurse robot called Baymax (Scott Adsit), programmed only for gentle helping and healing. ‘Big Hero 6’ should delight kids, but for adults it feels a little less unique than ‘Ralph’ or ‘Frozen’. Still, the animation is fluid and inventive, balancing action and slapstick well, and it’s an enjoyable diversion from a studio that usually offers more.
Jesse Hassenger

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 71: Fri Mar 11

Film Socialisme (Godard, 2010): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm



This film is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI Southbank. It is also being shown on March 16th and you can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Challenging but unfailingly gorgeous, this 2010 feature achieves one of Jean-Luc Godard's greatest ambitions: to reclaim political agitprop as the stuff of symbolist poetry. Like T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, it's designed as a Tower of Babel, with dialogue in several languages (the comically stripped-down English subtitles, which Godard calls "Navajo English," won’t make things easier for monoglots) and allusions to politics, history, art, and philosophy. Beneath the imposing structure, though, is a simple, eloquent plea for humanism amid the fractured culture of the 21st century. With characteristic perversity, Godard shot this "film" in a variety of digital video formats, and he seems invigorated by the postcinematic landscape (especially its utopian social aspect), finding classical beauty nearly everywhere he looks. At 79, Godard has again made a young man's movie.

Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 70: Thu Mar 10

After Hours (Scorsese, 1985): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm screening is part of a mini Martin Scorsese season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Martin Scorsese transforms a debilitating convention of 80s comedy—absurd underreaction to increasingly bizarre and threatening situations—into a rich, wincingly funny metaphysical farce. A lonely computer programmer (Griffin Dunne) is lured from the workday security of midtown Manhattan to an expressionistic late-night SoHo by the vague promise of casual sex with a mysterious blonde (Rosanna Arquette). But she turns out to be a sinister kook whose erratic behavior plunges Dunne into a series of increasingly strange, devastating incidents, including encounters with three more treacherous blondes (Verna Bloom, Teri Garr, and Catherine O'Hara) and culminating in a run-in with a bloodthirsty mob of vigilantes led by a Mr. Softee truck. Scorsese's orchestration of thematic development, narrative structure, and visual style is stunning in its detail and fullness; this 1985 feature reestablished him as one of the very few contemporary masters of filmmaking.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 69: Wed Mar 9

Sleepaway Camp (Hiltzik, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


This screening is part of the excellenbt Cult series at BFI Southbank.

Here is the BFI introduction:
In an era inundated by generic slasher films, Sleepaway Camp stood (decapitated) head and shoulders above the competition. For shy teen Angela, summer vacation turns into a nightmare when the bodies of her fellow campers start piling up. Undeniably problematic in its sexual politics, this is nonetheless a fascinating one-of-a-kind that remains one of the subgenre’s queerest, most incendiary additions.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 68: Tue Mar 8

Milano Calibro 9 (Di Leo, 1972): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This film is part of the Prince Charles's Classic Film season. Full details here.

Here is a Cigarette Burns film club introduction to a previous screening of the film in 2012:
Eurocrime. An over-the-top, short-lived, Italian action filled, crime thriller genre, and still one of the few undiscovered genres ... until recently. 

When the fantastic documentary EUROCRIME screened at this year's Frightfest, it sent film geeks scurrying off to hunt down these still quite obscure films, hungry for more. Few have been transferred to a digital format, leaving many only available on VHS, so the hunt is on.  

A great introduction to the genre is MILANO CALIBRO 9, fist fights, car chases, double-crossing and dripping with 70s slickness, this Fernando DiLeo-directed masterpiece follows recently released con, Ugo (Gastone Moschin), as he tries to escape his previous life, all the elements from his past conspire against him, convinced that he still has the missing $300,000. 

Caught between the police, his old crime bosses, his psychotic ex-mate, the brutal Rocco (Mario Adorf), and his love for his girlfriend, played by the stunning Barbara Bouchet, there doesn't appear to be much hope for Ugo... This is truly a fantastic film. 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 67: Mon Mar 7

Paris Belongs to Us (Rivette, 1960): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.40pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Jacques Rivette mini-season tribute. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Though more amateurish than the other celebrated first features of the French New Wave, Jacques Rivette's troubled and troubling 1960 account of Parisians in the late 50s remains the most intellectually and philosophically mature, and one of the most beautiful. The specter of world-wide conspiracy and impending apocalypse haunts the characters—a student, an expatriate American, members of a low-budget theater company rehearsing Pericles—as the student tries to recover a tape of guitar music by a deceased Spanish emigre who may have committed suicide. Few films have more effectively captured a period and milieu; Rivette evokes bohemian paranoia and sleepless nights in tiny one-room flats, along with the fragrant, youthful idealism conveyed by the film's title (which is countered by the opening epigraph from Charles Peguy: “Paris belongs to no one”). With Jean-Claude Brialy.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 66: Sun Mar 6

Eloge de l'Amour (Godard, 2001): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm


This film is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI Southbank. It is also being shown on March 12th and you can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard's 2001 feature, his best since Nouvelle Vague (1990), is in some respects as difficult as that film, though visually it's stunning and unique even among Godard's work. The first part, set in contemporary Paris, was shot in black-and-white 35-millimeter, while the second, set in Brittany two years earlier, is in floridly oversaturated color. A young man (Bruno Putzulu) interviews men and women for an undefined project called “Eloge de l'Amour,” which will involve three couples (young, adult, and old) experiencing four stages of love (meeting, physical passion, separation, and reconciliation). One young woman he spends time with is the granddaughter of a couple he's met earlier, former members of the French resistance negotiating to sell their story to a Hollywood studio. As in his magnum opus, Histoire(s) du Cinema, Godard is centrally concerned with the ethics of true and false representation and with the lost promise of cinema, which leads to some anti-American reflections ranging from reasonable to over-the-top. This is a twilight film, dark and full of sorrow, yet lyrical and beautiful as well.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 65: Sat Mar 5

Helas Pour Moi (Godard, 1993): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This film is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI Southbank. It is also being shown on March 3rd and you can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard's most spiritual film is also his most opaque (1991). But the beauty of his work is often breathtaking, and I'd rather hear Godard talking to himself than Spielberg speaking to half the planet. Two principal points of reference are Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) and the Greek myth about Zeus impersonating and cuckolding Amphitryon, as treated by Jean Giraudoux and others—both having to do with cosmic injustice and the relationship between love and war. Gerard Depardieu is the Amphitryon figure, and Zeus is a croaking voice on the sound track, dimly related to the voice of the computer in Alphaville. I also spotted references to Kierkegaard, Hitchcock's I Confess (known as La Loi de Silence in French), and Straub-Huillet's From the Cloud to the Resistance and Antigone. For all the hermetic poetry and esoteric mysticism, this film also has concrete things to say about the bombing of Baghdad and the slaughter in Bosnia.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 64: Fri Mar 4

Hitchcock/Truffaut (Jones, 2015): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


This documentary is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Tonight's screening is introduced by the director Kent Jones. Here are the full details of the screenings which run to March 16th.

Chicago Reader review:
Critic Kent Jones directed this documentary about the title book, which derived from a weeklong interview that Francois Truffaut conducted with Alfred Hitchcock in 1962. The film provides a useful summary of the cultural impact made by Cahiers du Cinema in the 1950s, explaining how the "politique des auteurs" (a theory that argued the director was the primary author of a film) changed the way people looked at movies; it also argues that Truffaut almost single-handedly changed the way people looked at Hitchcock, presenting him as an artist rather than a light entertainer. The lesson in critical history soon gives way to a succession of filmmakers discussing Hitchcock's genius; the impressive lineup of talking heads includes Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, David Fincher (who's particularly eloquent), Olivier Assayas, and Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
Kent Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 63: Thu Mar 3

Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (Godard, 1991): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This film is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI Southbank. It is also being shown on March 4th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard's devastating 1991 film about the collapse of the Berlin wall is probably the most underrated and neglected of his major late films, perhaps because its 62-minute running time makes it difficult to program theatrically. The basic conceit is that Lemmy Caution, the American-style tough guy of Godard's Alphaville—Eddie Constantine in his last performance—has been working as a mole in East Berlin since the 60s; cast adrift in West Germany, he wanders through a puzzling post-cold war landscape littered with historical memories of various kinds. Sorrowful and funny, bittersweet and elegiac, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero has an emotional directness rare in Godard's work, and it's certainly the most accessible of his late films.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 62: Wed Mar 2

Hail the Conquering Hero (Sturges, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm


This is part of the Preston Sturges season at BFI Southbank, the screening of this movie are on film and also being shown on March 5th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Preston Sturges's last feature for Paramount (1944) takes on wartime patriotism with a brio and vengeance that may take your breath away. Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) gets discharged from the marines due to chronic hay fever, but some service buddies decide to present him to his hometown as if he's a returning war hero. As usual, Sturges's stock company of wonderful bit actors—including William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn, Raymond Walburn, and Jimmy Conlin—is orchestrated and conducted like a pop symphony, and Ella Raines does duty as the love interest. A scathing delight.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 61: Tue Mar 1

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (Sturges, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm


This is part of the Preston Sturges season at BFI Southbank, the screening of this movie are on film and also being shown on March 11th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Preston Sturges's affably blasphemous version of the Nativity, with Betty Hutton as a World War II good-time girl who finds herself in the family way after a dimly remembered night with a soldier whose name may or may not have been Ignatz Ratzkiwatzki. The real miracle is that Sturges got all of this past the production-code office in 1944, particularly the arrival of Hutton's blessing, as scheduled on Christmas morning, in the form of sextuplets. Caustic and chaotic in the arch Sturges manner, it's probably his funniest and most smilingly malicious film. With Eddie Bracken and William Demarest.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 60: Mon Feb 29

Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.50pm


The Prince Charles are showing this classic movie from 70mm in a season that continues throughout March. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
David Lean's 1962 spectacle about T.E. Lawrence's military career between 1916 and '18, written by Robert Bolt and produced by Sam Spiegel, remains one of the most intelligent, handsome, and influential of all war epics. Combining the scenic splendor of De Mille with virtues of the English theater, Lean endeared himself to English professors and action buffs alike. The film won seven Oscars, including best picture and direction, yet the ideological crassness of De Mille and most war movies isn't so much transcended as given a high gloss: the film's subject is basically the White Man's Burden—despite ironic notations—with Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, and Omar Sharif called upon to represent the Arab soul, and Jose Ferrer embodying the savage Turks. The all-male cast helps make this one of the most homoerotic of all screen epics, though the characters' sexual experiences are at best only hinted at.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 59: Sun Feb 28

Le Corbeau (Clouzot, 1943): Cinema Museum, 2.30pm


In his fifth season of 'French Sundaes' at the Cinema Museum, Jon Davies tackles the fine tradition of the French thriller in four themed sessions. The theme for February’s event is ‘society’. In the 1943 film Le Corbeau (The Raven) a village doctor becomes target of poison-pen letters. As in many of the greatest thrillers, everyone is a suspect – a whole town in this case. A themed talk from Jon Davies will precede the screening.

Chicago Reader review:
Suffocatingly corrosive and misanthropic, this 1943 thriller was shot in occupied France by Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear), and its story of a small town terrorized by anonymous poison-pen letters so effectively captures the national paranoia that after the war Clouzot was unjustly persecuted as anti-French. The outstanding cast includes Pierre Fresnay and Ginette Leclerc. Otto Preminger remade this effectively in 1951 as The Thirteenth Letter, though his Quebec locations lack the earlier film's period interest.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 58: Sat Feb 27

Comment Ca Va (Godard, 1978): BFI Southbank, NFT2 8.45pm

 
This film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI Southbank. It is also being shown on February 29th. You can find the full details here.

Here is the BFI introduction:
This underrated film is informed by Godard’s activities in the left-wing press in the early 70s. It employs Claude Shannon’s information theory to examine the passage through the print media of a photograph depicting the 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal. Godard and Miéville’s conclusions: TV and the press are rotten, viewers and readers are infected by the rot, and journalists are ‘scum’...

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 57: Fri Feb 26

Carnival of Souls (Harvey, 1962): Close-Up Cinema, 6.15pm


Carnival of Souls is on a double-bill at Close-Up Cinema with Christian Petzold's Yella (2007). You can find all the details here.
Here is an excellent ICA introduction to the film: A low budget zombie horror delight, with a delirious organ score by Gene Moore and unforgettable monochrome images from cinematographer Maurice Prather. Lynchian before Lynch, Romeroesque before Romero.
Herk Harvey was a director and producer of industrial and educational films working for for the Centron Corporation in Kansas, who specialised in films about venereal disease. He took a career break to make this his first and only feature film. He cast Strasberg-trained Candace Hilligoss in the lead, and shot Carnival of Souls in three weeks on location in Lawrence and Salt Lake City. Carnival of Souls is a horror film, but a horror film unlike any other; it is an auteur film by another name.

Time Out review:
The only survivor when a car plunges into a river, Mary Henry (Hilligoss) emerges on to a sandbank like a sodden sleepwalker. Shortly afterwards, en route to Utah to take up a job as a church organist, Mary is frightened by a ghostly apparition, a white-faced man whose repeated appearances seem mysteriously connected with an abandoned carnival pavilion. Other strange episodes, during which Mary seems to become invisible and inaudible to those around her, exacerbate her feeling that she has no place in this world. With its striking black-and-white compositions, disorienting dream sequences and eerie atmosphere, this has the feel of a silent German expressionist movie. Unfortunately, so does some of the acting, which suffers from exaggerated facial expressions and bizarre gesturing. But the mesmerising power of the carnival and dance-hall sequences far outweighs the corniness of the awkward intimate scenes; and as Mary, caught in limbo between this world and the next, dances to the discordant carnival music of time, the subsequent work of George Romero and David Lynch comes constantly to mind.'

Nigel Floyd