Monday, 31 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 316: Sat Nov 12

An American Werewolf in London (Landis, 1981): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm


Prince Charles Cinema introduction for the 35th anniversary screening:
We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate 35 years of terrifying and humouring audiences the world over than by bringing it back for a one-off Saturday Night screening just a few steps away from where the film was made, introduced by An American Werewolf In London expert Paul Davis, an award-winning filmmaker and writer whose first film was the 2009 feature documentary Beware the Moon, on the making of An American Werewolf In London. This coming August he strays off the road and back onto the moors once again with his first book, Beware The Moon – The Story of An American Werewolf in London. This 200 page, hardback book is, in the words of director John Landis, “the most complete and accurate account of the making of American Werewolf”.

Time Out review:
It’d be interesting to see polling data on how many Brits recall John Landis’s hysterical gore-spattered masterpiece as that all-important rite of passage: their first 18. Well, the folks at the BBFC have ruined all that: in reclassifying the film 15, they’ve made all our childhoods seem that little bit less dangerous. Which is no reflection on the film: horror-comedy is overfamiliar nowadays, with diminishing returns, but this only makes Landis’s achievement more impressive. Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever, ‘American Werewolf…’ has its flaws, but these are outweighed by the film’s many, mighty strengths: the soundtrack is astounding, the characterisation is marvellous and the one-liners are endlessly memorable (‘a naked American man stole my balloons!’). A classic, no less.
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 315: Fri Nov 11

Bride of Frankenstein (Whale, 1935): Picturehouse Central, 10pm


This screening is part of a Universal Monsters season at Picturehouse Cinemas. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
James Whale's quirky, ironic 1935 self-parody is, by common consent, superior to his earlier Frankenstein (1931). Whale added an element of playful sexuality to this version, casting the proceedings in a bizarre visual framework that makes this film a good deal more surreal than the original. Elsa Lanchester is the reluctant bride; Boris Karloff returns as the love-starved monster. Weird and funny.
Don Druker


Here (and above) is the trailer.


'Alone ... bad ... friend ... good'

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 314: Thu Nov 10

The Parallax View (Pakula, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Warren Beatty season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can read all the details here.


Time Out review:
'A thriller about a journalist, alerted to the mysterious deaths of witnesses to the assassination of a presidential candidate, who embarks on an investigation that reveals a nebulous conspiracy of gigantic and all-embracing scope. It sounds familiar, and refers to or overlaps a good handful of similar films, but is most relevantly tied to Klute. Where Klute was an exploration of claustrophobic anxiety, The Parallax View is inexorably agoraphobic. Its visual organisation is stunning as the journalist (Beatty) is drawn into an increasingly nightmarish world characterised by impenetrably opaque structures, a screen whited out from time to time, or meshed over with visually deceptive patterns. It is some indication of the area the film explores that in place of the self-revealing session with the analyst in Klute, The Parallax View presents us with the more insecurity-inducing questionnaire used by the mysterious Parallax Corporation for personality-testing prospective employees. Excellent performances; fascinating film.' 
Verina Glaessner

Here's an introduction to the film by director Alex Cox on the BBC series Moviedrome.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 313: Wed Nov 9

The Man with Three Coffins (Lee Chang-ho, 1987): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Classics Revistited section of the London Korean Film Festival. You can find all the details here. The film will be followed by a Lee Chang-ho Q&A.

Harvard Film Archive review:
Lee's inimitable masterpiece is a hypnotic trance film and drifting road movie that follows a melancholy widower's journey back into his past as he travels to his dead wife's rural hometown to spread her ashes. Stylistically daring, The Man With Three Coffins uses a floating voice-over and avant-garde montage to evoke, with striking frankness, its anti-hero's sexually charged fears and stinging frustrations. Imbued with the heavy perfume of bitter memories and frustrated desiresThe Man With Three Coffins is a work of raw emotional intensity that almost seems itself to be haunted by the same supernatural forces that so disquiet the film and are most powerfully embodied in the uncanny figure of a shaman in direct communication with the shadow world of the departed.

Here (and above) is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 312: Tue Nov 8

Good Windy Days (Lee Chang-ho, 1980): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Classics Revistited section of the London Korean Film Festival. You can find all the details here. The film will be followed by a Lee Chang-ho Q&A.

Harvard Film Archive review:
One of Lee's most politically confrontational films, Good Windy Days uses its intertwined narrative of three young men coming of age in 1980s Seoul to cut a pointed cross-section across a society undergoing painful and contradictory transition. Made at almost exactly the same time as the devastating 1980 Gwangju MassacreGood Windy Days melds black comedy and melodrama to openly critique the rigid class hierarchies that erect cruel obstacles in the wayward paths of Lee's stumbling characters. Although little known in the US, Good Windy Days is celebrated as one of the seminal Korean films of the 1980s and an important first expression of the political urgency and artistic sophistication of the Korean New Wave.

Here (and above) is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 311: Mon Nov 7

Imitation of Life (Sirk, 1959): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.15pm


This 35mm screening, part of the Black Star season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on October 30th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Douglas Sirk's 1959 film was the biggest grosser in Universal's history until the release of Airport, yet it's also one of the most intellectually demanding films ever made in Hollywood. The secret of Sirk's double appeal is a broadly melodramatic plotline, played with perfect conviction yet constantly criticized and challenged by the film's mise-en-scene, which adds levels of irony and analysis through a purely visual inflection. Lana Turner stars as a young widow and mother who will do anything to realize her dreams of Broadway stardom; her story is intertwined with that of Susan Kohner, the light-skinned daughter of Turner's black maid, who is tempted to pass for white. By emphasizing brilliant surfaces, bold colors, and the spatial complexities of 50s moderne architecture, Sirk creates a world of illusion, entrapment, and emotional desperation. With John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Dan O'Herlihy, Robert Alda, and Juanita Moore.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 310: Sun Nov 6

Magnificent Obsession (Sirk, 1954): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


This film is part of the Barbican's Cheap Thrills season. You can find all the details of the season here.

Time Out review:
Douglas Sirk directed a number of films which say an awful lot about '50s America. A European who saw Americans more clearly than most, he found, in the 'women's weepies' producers often gave him, a freedom to examine contemporary middle class values. This one (from a novel by Lloyd C Douglas) has a preposterous plot: playboy Rock Hudson takes up medicine again after being indirectly responsible for the death of a philanthropic doctor and directly responsible for his widow's blindness. Assuming the dead man's role, Hudson starts practising the same kind of secretive Christianity, but has to resort to an alias to win the widow herself. Sirk turns all this into an extraordinary film about vision: sight, destiny, blindness (literal and figurative), colour and light; the convoluted, rather absurd actions (a magnificent repression?) tellingly counterpointed by the clean compositions and the straight lines and space of modern architecture. Sirk's films are something else: can Fassbinder even hold a candle to them?
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 309: Sat Nov 5

A Journey through French Cinema (Tavernier, 2015): Cine Lumiere, 4.35pm



This screening is part of the 24th UK French Film Festival. Full details here.


London Film Festival introduction:
Bertrand Tavernier is a life-long fan of cinema. Through his own experience as a filmmaker and his personal connections, he takes us on a voyage through his country’s film history, focusing on both major and unheralded auteurs from the 1930s through to the 1970s, showcasing their artistry with a selection of wonderful clips. Tavernier talks directly to the camera with infectious enthusiasm about the films, actors, directors, composers, writers and cinematographers who have meant so much to him, and who played such a significant role in French film history. From Renoir and Chabrol through to Melville and Becker, every frame of this marvellous documentary exudes passion. Tavernier’s commentary is also augmented by rare footage from behind the scenes, along with treats such as the audio recording of a ferocious argument between Jean-Paul Belmondo and Melville. This is a very special documentary displaying Tavernier’s generous spirit.
Julia Pearce


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 308: Fri Nov 4

The Invisible Man (Whale, 1933): Picturehouse Central, 10pm


This film is part of an excellent Universal Monsters season at Picturehouse Cinemas. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
James Whale's 1933 film plays more like a British folk comedy than a horror movie; it's full of the same deft character twists that made his 
Bride of Frankenstein
 a classic. Claude Rains became a star in the title role, although, of course, he was not seen until the last few frames. With Gloria Stuart, E.E. Clive, and Una O'Connor, always a serviceable screamer.
Dave Kehr
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 307: Thu Nov 3

From The Land of the Moon (Garcia, 2016): Cine Lumiere, 7.30pm


This screening is part of the 24th UK French Film Festival. Full details here.

Cine Lumiere introduction:
In this handsomely crafted adaptation of Milena Agus’s novel, Marion Cotillard is Gabrielle, a sensual, independent-minded woman. Married to a man she didn’t choose and vowed never to love, she becomes ill and is sent away to a cure in the Alps. There, she meets André (Louis Garrel), a dashing injured veteran of the Indochina war, who rekindles the passion buried in her.


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 306: Wed Nov 2

Once Upon A Time in the West (Leone, 1969): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm


This 35mm screening is presented with Universal Music and release of Morricone 60. 

Chicago Reader review:
Sergio Leone, famous for his spaghetti westerns shot in Spain, dared to invade John Ford's own Monument Valley for this 1969 epic. He brought back a masterpiece, a film that expands his baroque, cartoonish style into genuine grandeur, weaving dozens of thematic variations and narrative arabesques around a classical western foundation myth. It's very much a foreigner's film, drawing its elements not from historical reality but from the mythic base made universal by the movies. Moments of intense realism flow into passages of operatic extravagance; lowbrow burlesque exists side by side with the expression of the most refined shades of feeling. The film failed commercially and was savagely recut by its distributor, Paramount Pictures; copies from the European version may be as close as we'll ever get to the original. With Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, and Jason Robards; Bernardo Bertolucci contributed to the script.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 305: Tue Nov 1

The Night Porter (Cavani, 1974): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Barbican's Cheap Thrills season. You can find all the details of the season here.


Barbican introduction:
Set in 1957 Vienna, Charlotte Rampling plays a concentration camp survivor who discovers her former torturer and lover (Dirk Bogarde) is working as a porter at the hotel where she’s staying. Reunited in a scene of violent passion, the pair lock themselves away in his flat, where they resume their S&M relationship. With its taboo subject-matter perceived as sensationalism, it provoked much debate at its time of release as well as making it an arthouse hit and a cultural event in the style of other 70s button-pushers like Last Tango in Paris. Even today, it is uniquely provocative and problematic – a film which truly gives us cause to question our deepest-held notions of “good” and “bad” taste.

Time Out review:
Like Last Tango in Paris, an operatic celebration of sexual disgust, set in 1957 in a Viennese hotel where Bogarde (maintaining a low profile as a porter) and Rampling (a guest while her conductor husband embarks on a concert tour) meet and recreate their former relationship as sadistic SS officer and child concentration camp inmate; a sexuality that can only end in degradation and self-destruction. Somewhere along the way, the film's handling of serious themes, and its attempts to examine the Nazi legacy in terms of repression and guilt, both sexual and political, get lost amid all the self-conscious decadence.Chris Peachment


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 304: Mon Oct 31

Fox and His Friends (Fassbinder, 1975): Barbican Cinema, 6.30pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Barbican's Cheap Thrills season. You can find all the details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1975 melodrama by Rainer Werner Fassbinder is one of his better middle-period films. A fairgrounds worker (Fassbinder) who wins a small fortune in a state lottery is exploited and eventually destroyed by his effete bourgeois lover (Karlheinz Boehm) and the lover's stuck-up friends. Very sharp about class and milieu, the film is limited only by Fassbinder's characteristic enjoyment of the hero-victim's pain. At one point the camera is even stationed on a floor a moment before the hapless hero slips and falls, in sadistic anticipation of his mishap. As with much of Fassbinder's work, his cruelty complicates rather than negates his mordant, on-target social analysis.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 303: Sun Oct 30

Stella Dallas (King, 1925): Barbican Cinema, 3pm


This special 35mm presentation is part of the Barbican's Cheap Thrills season. You can find all the details here.

Here is the Barbican introduction:
This is the story of a mother and daughter seen through the prism of class, artfully composed by Henry King in this poignant silent drama. Our heroine Stella (Belle Bennett) gets married ‘above her station’, as they say, to the debonair Stephen Dallas (Ronald Colman). Try as she might, Stella cannot quite fit in; her speech too unrefined, her clothes a shade too outlandish. Rejected by her peers, Stella is divorced and abandoned, while her daughter Laurel is raised in her father’s milieu.

Emotionally charged and totally captivating, Stella’s predicament tugs at your empathy: we see her point of view, but she never gets to win. Rather than being moulded in the image of good taste like Eliza Doolittle after her, class is immutable for Stella; this is her tragedy. What’s more, the scene in which Stella sees Laurel herself get married might be one of the most heart-breaking around.

Stephen Horne accompanies this screening with his original score, alongside Elizabeth-Jane Baldry on harp, which was first performed at the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema earlier this year. We’re thrilled to have Stephen and Elizabeth-Jane performing and journalist Pamela Hutchinson to introduce the screening.


Here (and above) is an extract.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 302: Sat Oct 29

Fat Girl (Breillat, 2001): Barbican Cinema, 6.15pm


This 35mm presentation (which includes a Q&A with director Catherine Breillat) is part of the Barbican's Cheap Thrills: Trash, Movies and the Art of Transgression season. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Elena (Mesquida) is 15, old enough to understand the effect of her beauty on males, young enough to feel insecure and confused over how to lose her virginity to the right person. Her 12-year-old sister Anaïs (Reboux), on the other hand, is fat, envious and insists that, when the time comes, she'd rather give herself to a stranger. Holidaying with their parents, the girls reach a new phase in their bickering when Elena starts seeing Italian law student Fernando (De Rienzo), whose determination to have sex involves smooth talk that may persuade Elena of his romantic intentions, but doesn't fool little sister, reluctant witness to his siegecraft from her bed across the room. What if mum or dad were to find out? Breillat's typically tough but sensitive study of sisterly rivalry may be less philosophical in tone - not to mention less visually explicit - than its predecessor Romance, but it remains notable for its refusal to provide a facile, politically correct account of adolescent experience. As psychological portrait and social critique, the film offers cruelly honest insights. Dark, disturbing and hugely impressive, it's made all the more lucid by superb performances from the two young actresses.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 301: Fri Oct 28

Fuego (Bo, 1969): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm


This event is part of the Barbican's Cheap Thrills: Trash, Movies and the Art of Transgression season. Full details here.

Barbican introduction:
There’s plenty of heat and heart in this charming Argentine tale of love, lust and copious nudity.

Laura (Isabel Sarli) needs men – and women – because she’s a nymphomaniac. Spotted on the beach from afar by a wealthy industrialist, the immediately enamoured Carlos (Armando Bo), Laura decides he is the only man she loves – but he’s not the only person who can satisfy her. The tension between Laura's needs and her emotions make for an inevitably tragic ending.

Sarli is Argentina’s own Sophia Loren and her appeal is extraordinary; her wardrobe of fur coats, plunging necklines and her birthday suit shows that she’s a woman fully conscious of her own power.

It’s this confidence from Sarli, combined with the Catholic moral dilemmas of the late 1960s that makes for such a potent mix. The melodrama might well make us giggle, but that core tension – between what women want and how they should be – is still worth exploring.


Here (and above) is the opening of the film.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 300: Thu Oct 27

Ed Wood (Burton, 1994): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Tim Burton season at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Tim Burton's charming black-and-white fantasy biopic about Edward D. Wood Jr. (Johnny Depp), a writer-director-actor at the lowest reaches of Z-budget filmmaking who won posthumous cult status by virtue of his eccentric personality (as a straight transvestite) and his very personal form of ineptitude. Such a project requires the historical imagination to re-create a time before camp had entered the mainstream sensibility as an attitude of affection; instead Burton and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski opt for a pie-eyed postmodernist fancy that in effect transports today's audience back into the 50s (derisive at a premiere of Bride of the Monster, respectful at a premiere of Plan 9, absurdly set in Hollywood's plush Pantages Theater). As a result Wood's singularly miserable and abject career, which ended in alcoholism and indigence, is magically transformed into the feel-good movie of 1994, budgeted for a cool $18 million and radiating tenderness (at least for the guys; nearly all the women are regarded as betrayers and spoilsports). Yet the movie still manages some remarkable achievements—in particular, a tour de force performance by Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi (whose friendship with Wood becomes the film's emotional center) and some glorious cinematography by Stefan Czapsky.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 299: Wed Oct 26

Homo Sapiens (Geyrhalter, 2016): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm


Hollywood Reporter review:
Homo Sapiens 
are conspicuously absent in Austrian documentarian Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s latest film, which chronicles a series of manmade structures that have been left to rot after natural disasters, human neglect or time itself have taken their toll. Similar in form to the director’s previous nonfiction studies (Our Daily Bread, Over the Years), this wordless assemblage of fixed shots is as much a museum piece as it is a strictly art-house item, inviting viewers to sit back and let the imagery consume them. Far from commercial, it’s still a compelling modern study of man vs. nature, with the latter clearly getting the upper hand. Filming in places ranging from Fukushima to Bulgaria, with stops in the U.S., South America and parts of Europe, Geyrhalter – who shot all the material himself – presents us with an array of homes, offices, shopping malls, hospitals, schools, churches, movie theaters and military installations in various states of decay. Where they are located and why they have been abandoned is never explained, nor does the filmmaker attempt to appease us with scenes of people rebuilding or moving on: there are simply no people to speak of, and at best one can see a few birds or frogs enjoying their new habitats.
Reminiscent of photos by Allan Sekula and Andreas Gursky, or else of the book The Ruins of Detroit by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre, Homo Sapiens manages to find much beauty in the sight of destruction, with each image a skillfully lit and framed composition underlining both the absence of humans and the fact that Mother Nature is slowly claiming back what may be rightfully hers. Weeds sprout up in the middle of untended parking lots, water flows across wrecked lobbies and, in one exquisite shot, an old car lies at the bottom of a cave, as if returning to the prehistoric age. Working again with sound designer Peter Kutin, Geyrhalter eschews any music or explanatory voiceover, building a dense soundscape out of blowing wind, leaky roofs and other reminders that the earth can never be turned off like all the powerless structures on display. If the imagery can be at once breathtaking and disconcerting – one devastated seaside city looks like the set of Inception, another wreck in the desert belongs in Planet of the Apes – there’s a sort of consolation in the fact that the natural world will continue to live on despite us. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Jordan Mintzer

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 298: Tue Oct 25

Something Wild (Demme, 1986): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm


The Badlands Collective are returning to the Prince Charles Cinema to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this brilliant and underseen film with a 35mm screening.

Chicago Reader review:
A synthesis of the pop/sociological/exploitation strands of his earlier work (Citizens Band, Melvin and Howard, etc), Jonathan Demme's picaresque joyride across the American landscape is still arguably the best thing he's ever done. Jeff Daniels is Charlie, a New York corporate schmo who becomes sexual prey to Melanie Griffith's Lulu (a nod to Pabst's Pandora's Box) and later punching bag for her estranged, psychotic husband (Ray Liotta). Demme's concerned with the ways his characters interrelate, bobbing between Preston Sturges social farce and Blue Velvet antisocial nightmare, but also with the American character generally, the environments that give messy shape to individual lives, force and urgency to particular obsessions. Not the best film of its year (1986), but the best American one—in its action-movie energy, in its preference for practical sociology over ruminating psychology.
Pat Graham

Here (and above) is the trailer.
 

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 297: Mon Oct 24

Woman of the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm


This 35mm screening is part of the 'Big Screen Classics' season at BFI Southbank and is also being shown on October 21st and 25th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Japanese New Wave director Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1964 allegory on the meaning of freedom and the discovery of identity. An office worker (Eiji Okada) on an entomological holiday spends the night with a widow (Kyoko Kishida), whose shack at the bottom of a sand pit becomes his prison. Gradually he learns to love her and to help her in her endless task of shoveling sand, which the local villagers use to protect themselves from the elements. A bizarre film, distinguished not so much by Kobo Abe's rather obvious screenplay as by Teshigahara's arresting visual style of extreme depth of focus, immaculate detail, and graceful eroticism.'
Dan Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 296: Sun Oct 23

Dune (Lynch, 1984): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm & 9pm


This 70mm presentation is also being screened at the Prince Charles on October 17th and 19th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
If this 1984 film really cost $60 million, producer Dino De Laurentiis must be the greatest patron of avant-garde cinema since the Vicomte de Noailles financed Buñuel's L'Age d'Or. Director David Lynch thoroughly (and perhaps inadvertently) subverts the adolescent inanities of Frank Herbert's plot by letting the narrative strangle itself in unnecessary complications, leaving the field clear to imagery as disturbing as anything in Eraserhead. The problem is that the imagery—as Sadean as Pasolini's Salo—isn't rooted in any story impulse, and so its power dissipates quickly. The real venue for this film is either a grind house or the Whitney Museum; its passage through the shopping malls of America was a once-in-a-lifetime anomaly. Kyle MacLachlan is the pallid hero who becomes a messiah to an oppressed desert tribe.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 295: Sat Oct 22

Cabin in the Sky (Minnelli, 1943): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.50pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Black Star season at BFI Southbank. Details here. This film will also be shown on October 20th.

Time Out review:
One can easily criticise this all-black musical (Vincente Minnelli's first feature) for falling prey to the same 'Uncle Tom' stereotyping that characterised Green Pastures, but there's no denying both the compassion with which Minnelli treats his characters and the immense cinematic talent on view. The gorgeous dreamlike sets and consummate control of the fantastic atmosphere that imbues the story (an idle, poverty-stricken farmer dreams of being sent to Hell upon dying) are already well developed. And the cast are magnificent, delivering the lovely Harold Arlen score with style and power.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 294: Fri Oct 21

Hallelujah! (Vidor, 1929): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Black Star season at BFI Southbank. Details here. The film will be introduced by historian Stephen Bourne.

Chicago Reader review:
King Vidor's 1929 talkie was one of the first to take the microphone outdoors. Its reputation rests on its creative use of sound (notably in the chase finale), but the film is equally impressive for its use of space—the open fields that contrast, in their full, fluid dimensionality, with the purposefully flat, cramped interiors. A melodrama with an all-black cast, the film was socially advanced for its time, less so for ours.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 293: Thu Oct 20

Night at the Crossroads (Renoir, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This 35mm screening is part of the French Noir season at BFI Southbank and also screens on October 20th. You can find the full details here.

New Yorker review:
In Jean Renoir’s 1932 adaptation of a detective novel by Georges Simenon, the stink of humanity rises equally from the gutters of Paris, where the laconic Inspector Maigret (Pierre Renoir, the director’s brother) is stationed, and the muddy suburban outpost where Maigret is sent to solve a crime. A car is reported stolen and turns up with a diamond dealer’s corpse inside, and Maigret begins his investigation with the obvious suspect, an immigrant of dubious background whose ramshackle house is a nest of questionable habits and suspicious intentions. The film is famously gappy (the real-life reasons remain a mystery), but it’s nonetheless a sly and raunchy glimpse of the resentment and aggression beneath the French populace’s back-slapping heartiness. The director’s vision of the working world is harshly physical. The night mist is sickly with cigarette smoke and pungent liquor; the glistening of headlights on rain-slicked roads, the screech of a wan accordion, and the scrape of a favorite old record are symbols of evil and harbingers of death. Renoir matches the elegance of calm lawmen with their terse courage, Maigret’s perspicacity with an astonishing, documentary-style long take of a car chase through back roads in near-total darkness.
Richard Brody

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 292: Wed Oct 19

Prince of Darkness (Carpenter, 1987): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


This 35mm screening is part of the John Carpenter season at BFI Southbank and can also be seen on October 22nd. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Genre specialist John Carpenter returns to the principle of confined space that he used as a disciplinary structure in Assault on Precinct 13 and The Thing in this 1987 horror thriller, set in an abandoned church. The main difference here is the heavy metaphysical baggage: a team of graduate science students and teachers is summoned by a Catholic priest (Donald Pleasence) to study an ancient religious manuscript that proves to contain differential equations (written long before such equations were developed), and a canister containing a green liquid that proves to be seven million years old. Mathematics combines with demonology to produce a variant on Night of the Living Dead, and while the church is playfully called Saint Godard's, the pivotal use and significance of mirrors spawned by the canister liquid might make Saint Cocteau's more appropriate. While the dense significations of the script may get a bit thick in spots, Carpenter's handsome 'Scope images generally make the most of them. Some haunting poetic notions —such as video images from the future that appear as recurring dreams to the church's inhabitants—also figure effectively in the plot.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 291: Tue Oct 18

Dark Star (Carpenter, 1974): BFI Southbank, BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.55pm



This screening is part of the BFI Southbank's John Carpenter season. Tonight's programme includes an extended introduction to the season by Michael Blyth. Full details here.


Chicago Reader review:
In John Carpenter's witty and stylish 1974 sci-fi satire, the Dark Star is an intergalactic bomber wandering through the universe on a vaguely Nixonian mission to destroy unpopulated planets that might stand in the way of space travel. The ship's crew is variously bored, blissed out, and restlessly rambunctious. By introducing human eccentricities (mostly southern Californian in nature) into the cold structure of science fiction, Carpenter creates a vision of the technological future that is both disillusioned and oddly affirmative in its insistence on the unscientific survival of emotional frailty. Amazingly, the film (Carpenter's first) was made on a reported budget of $60,000. With Dan O'Bannon (also the coscenarist) and Brian Narelle.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 290: Mon Oct 17

Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (Meyer, 1970): Picturehouse Central, 7pm



This 35mm screening is part of the brilliant Edgar Wright season at Picturehouse Central. Here are the full details.

Venerable and adored film critic Ebert crossed the line to become scriptwriter in this collaboration with 1970s skin-flixster Russ Meyer.  An enduring camp cult classic, it follows three pneumatic wannabees who come to Hollywood to make it big but find only sex, drugs and sleaze.  Sophisticate Ebert brings a touch of sly wit and class to this most unlikely of projects.

From Kate Arthur, on BuzzFeed:
“…But always enhancing Ebert’s place as a seminal figure in movie criticism was his hilarious contribution to movies themselves: the 1970 release Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. He cowrote it with shlocktarian Russ Meyer, and it’s just an unparalleled spectacle of amazingness. On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Ebert wrote about the experience in Film Comment: “We wrote the screenplay in six weeks flat, laughing maniacally from time to time, and then the movie was made.”

“The plot doesn’t make any sense, but if you want to try, Wikipedia has a good summary. And Louis Peitzman has written the “19 Reasons “Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls” Is The Greatest Cult Film Of All Time.” As Louis points out, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls gave us many gifts, but my favorite (and I’m sure I’m not alone) was the Z-Man character, who Ebert said was based on Phil Spector (“but neither Meyer nor I had ever met Spector,” he wrote).”

Two thumbs up, Roger!

Time Out review:
'With his first movie for a major studio, Meyer simply did what he'd been doing for years, only bigger and better. That's to say, he turned the homely story of an all-girl rock band's rise to fame under their transsexual manager into a delirious comedy melodrama, soused in self- parody but spiked with dope, sex and thrills.'

Tony Rayns


Here's one of the great songs from the soundtrack. In The Long Run by the The Carrie Nations.