Thursday, 23 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 342: Mon Dec 11

Santa Claus (Cardona, 1959): Institute of Light, Helmsley Place, London Fields, E8, 7pm

Here is the Cigarette Burns introduction to a special fundraising night:
Cigarette Burns Cinema celebrates and utlises archives and archive materials. Archives come in a variety of forms, from the large institutional ones to smaller volunteer run ones and all serve a vital purpose. When the 19th September 2017 earthquake hit Mexico, Tepoztlan was among the many cities and towns that were devastated. Located in Tepoztlan is the Permanencia Voluntaria Archivo Cinematográfico, a small independent archive, that hosts a wide range of equally small independent Mexican cinema, from paper, photo, posters, audio, tapes in 16 and 35 mm, and video. They are now working to rebuild and repair the damage that the earthquake left behind. Without Santos to save them from the evils of the Vinegar Syndrome Vampires, Cigarette Burns thought it was time to step up and give back to the archives. 
So we will be screening René Cardona's insane Christmas fairy tale - Santa Claus aka Santa vs the Devil. Famously takien apart by the folks at Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and nestled comfortably in the infamous IMDb Bottom 100, this interpretation is packed full of the magical and weird, from Santa's child labour force, to his arch enemy Satan whispering in children's ears, from gigantic terrifying dancing dolls, to Merlin the Magician, 1959's Santa Claus is by no means a titan of Mexican cinema, but rather a magical foray into the odder corners of cinema. 

All proceeds will be donated to the Permanencia Voluntaria Archivo Cinematográfico to help secure their collection remains for us to enjoy and discover it.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 341: Sun Dec 10

Dead Again (Branagh, 1991): Regent Street Cinema, 7pm

This 35mm presentation is the latest Badlands Collective screening.

Chicago Redaer review:
Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) directs and plays two roles in a show-offy American thriller scripted by Scott Frank that is loads of fun even if it's ultimately strangled by its excesses. A Los Angeles private eye (Branagh) sets out to learn the identity of a beautiful amnesiac (Emma Thompson) who suffers from nightmares; he's aided by an antique dealer (Derek Jacobi) with a flair for hypnosis. With his help the woman produces tales set in LA in the 40s about a European composer and his wife (Branagh and Thompson again), shot in black and white. As the twists come thick and fast and the plot gets progressively more and more baroque, Branagh shows himself to be at least as intelligent as Brian De Palma in delivering over-the-top stylistic filigree and every bit as willing to take his own two-dimensional postmodernism too seriously; with Andy Garcia, Hanna Schygulla, and an enjoyable turn by an uncredited Robin Williams (1991).
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 340: Sat Dec 9

F For Fake (Welles, 1975): ICA Cinema, 8.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of a superb "Light Show' season devoted to screening from prints over at the weekend of December 8th to 10th at the ICA. More details here.

ICA introduction:
Please walk into the light – the ICA, MUBI and Little White Lies are proud to present a weekender of movie masterworks screened on glistening 35mm celluloid. The films we have selected are all outliers in some aspect or another, and they are all the product of genius directors looking to capitalise on the possibilities of this young medium. They ask not what cinema can do for them, but what they can do for cinema. And even though each title offers a deeply personal insight into the inquiring, philosophical, playful and subversive minds of their maker, they also speak about cinema itself. What does it mean to make a movie? To create a world? To build a person?  The line-up includes Jacques Tati’s dance through the Paris of his dreams in Playtime (1967), a devilish treatise on truth in Orson Welles's F For Fake (1973), an eccentric, soul-searching confessional in Agnés Varda's The Beaches of Agnés (2008), a limo ride through the history of cinema with Leos Carax's Holy Motors (2012) and a kaleidoscopic feminist dirty bomb in Vera Chytilova’s Daisies (1966).

Chicago Reader review:
'Orson Welles's underrated 1973 essay film—made from discarded documentary footage by Francois Reichenbach and new material from Welles—forms a kind of dialectic with Welles's never-completed It's All True. The main subjects are art forger Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, Welles himself, and the practice and meaning of deception. Despite some speculation that this film was Welles's indirect reply to Pauline Kael's bogus contention that he didn't write a word of Citizen Kane, his sly commentary—seconded by some of the trickiest editing anywhere—implies that authorship is a pretty dubious notion anyway, a function of the even more dubious art market and its team of “experts.” Alternately superficial and profound, the film also enlists the services of Oja Kodar, Welles's principal collaborator after the late 60s, as actor, erotic spectacle, and cowriter, and briefer appearances by many other Welles cohorts. Michel Legrand supplies the wonderful score.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the most impressive part of the film, Welles' paean to Chartres Cathedral.

Here are Welles's words: 'Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world and it’s without a signature: Chartres. A celebration to God’s glory and to the dignity of man. All that’s left most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked, poor, forked, radish. There aren’t any celebrations. Ours, the scientists keep telling us, is a universe, which is disposable. You know it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things, this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust, to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us, to accomplish. Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life. We’re going to die. “Be of good heart,” cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced – but what of it? Go on singing. Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much. (Church bells peal…)'

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 339: Fri Dec 8

Playtime (Tati, 1967): ICA Cinema, 8.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of a superb "Light Show' season devoted to screening from prints over at the weekend of December 8th to 10th at the ICA. More details here.

ICA introduction:
Please walk into the light – the ICA, MUBI and Little White Lies are proud to present a weekender of movie masterworks screened on glistening 35mm celluloid. The films we have selected are all outliers in some aspect or another, and they are all the product of genius directors looking to capitalise on the possibilities of this young medium. They ask not what cinema can do for them, but what they can do for cinema. And even though each title offers a deeply personal insight into the inquiring, philosophical, playful and subversive minds of their maker, they also speak about cinema itself. What does it mean to make a movie? To create a world? To build a person?  The line-up includes Jacques Tati’s dance through the Paris of his dreams in Playtime (1967), a devilish treatise on truth in Orson Welles's F For Fake (1973), an eccentric, soul-searching confessional in Agnés Varda's The Beaches of Agnés (2008), a limo ride through the history of cinema with Leos Carax's Holy Motors (2012) and a kaleidoscopic feminist dirty bomb in Vera Chytilova’s Daisies (1966).

Chicago Reader review:
My favorite movie, this 1967 French comedy by actor-director Jacques Tati has the most intricately designed mise en scene in all of cinema. The restored 65-millimeter version, with four-track DTS sound, expands the possibilities of becoming lost in Tati's vast frames and creatively finding one's way again. His studio-constructed vision of Paris begins in daytime with nightmarishly regimented straight lines and right angles and proceeds to night with accidental yet celebratory curves of people instinctively coming together. It peaks in an extraordinary sequence, set in a gradually disintegrating restaurant, that comprises almost half the film: once various musicians start to perform, the viewer's gaze inevitably follows the customers in a kind of improvised dance, collecting and juxtaposing simultaneous comic events and details. In this landscape everyone is a tourist, but Tati suggests that once we can find one another, we all belong.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 338: Thu Dec 7

The Apartment (Wilder, 1960): Prince Charles Cinema, 1.10pm

This 35mm screening is part of the 'Christmas at the PCC season'. Full details here.

Time Out review:
'Re-teaming actor Jack Lemmon, scriptwriter Iz Diamond and director Billy Wilder a year after ‘Some Like It Hot’, this multi-Oscar winning comedy is sharper in tone, tracing the compromises of a New York insurance drone who pimps out his brownstone apartment for his married bosses’ illicit affairs. The quintessential New York movie – with exquisite design by Alexandre Trauner and shimmering black-and-white photography – it presented something of a breakthrough in its portrayal of the war of the sexes, with a sour and cynical view of the self-deception, loneliness and cruelty involved in ‘romantic’ liaisons. Directed by Wilder with attention to detail and emotional reticence that belie its inherent darkness and melodramatic core, it’s lifted considerably by the performances: the psychosomatic ticks and tropes of nebbish Lemmon balanced by the pathos of Shirley MacLaine’s put-upon ‘lift girl’.'
Wally Hammond

Monday, 20 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 337: Wed Dec 6

Pavement Butterfly (Eichberg, 1929): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

Cinema Museum introduction:

The film Pavement Butterfly (1929), is a German English co-production directed by Richard Eichberg in Germany, and stars Anna May Wong. Tonight's presentation will be screened using a 35mm BFI print, and will be accompanied by guest pianist Stephen Horne. In this, her second silent film with Eichberg, Wong plays Princess Butterfly, an exotic Parisian fan dancer whose “death leap through a circle of naked swords” act goes tragically wrong. Blamed for the impalement of a fellow performer, she runs away and takes shelter with a handsome but starving painter who she brings luck.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 336: Tue Dec 5

In A Lonely Place (Ray, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm 

Nicholas Ray’s beguiling blend of murder mystery and unusually adult love story is one of the finest American movies of the early 50s. The lonely place is Hollywood: scriptwriter Dix (Bogart) is prime suspect in the murder of a young woman, until neighbour Laurel (Grahame) provides him with a false alibi. But as the pair embark on a romance, his volatile temper – exacerbated equally by the studio and the cops – makes her wonder whether he might have been guilty... Brilliantly adapted from Dorothy B Hughes’ novel, Ray’s tough but tender film is spot-on in its insightful characterisation of Tinseltown and of the troubled lovers. Marvellously cast, Bogart and Grahame bring an aching poignancy to their painful predicament.
Geoff Andrew, BFI Programmer-at-large

This 35mm re-release begins an extended run at BFI Southbank on Novemebr 27th (full details here). Geoff Andrew will provide an introduction at the November 28th screening.
Time Out review:
The place is Hollywood, lonely for scriptwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart), who is suspected of murdering a young woman, until girl-next-door Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) supplies him with a false alibi. But is he the killer? Under pressure of police interrogation, their tentative relationship threatens to crack - and Dix's sudden, violent temper becomes increasingly evident. Nicholas Ray's classic thriller remains as fresh and resonant as the day it was released. Nothing is as it seems: the noir atmosphere of deathly paranoia frames one of the screen's most adult and touching love affairs; Bogart's tough-guy insolence is probed to expose a vulnerable, almost psychotic insecurity; while Grahame abandons femme fatale conventions to reveal a character of enormous, subtle complexity. As ever, Ray composes with symbolic precision, confounds audience expectations, and deploys the heightened lyricism of melodrama to produce an achingly poetic meditation on pain, distrust and loss of faith, not to mention an admirably unglamorous portrait of Tinseltown. Never were despair and solitude so romantically alluring.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 335: Mon Dec 4

The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch, 1940): Prince Charles Cinema, 1.50pm

This 35mm presentation is part of the Prince Charles' Christm as season. Full details here.
Chicago Reader review:
There are no art deco nightclubs, shimmering silk gowns, or slamming bedroom doors to be seen, but this 1940 film is one of Ernst Lubitsch's finest and most enduring works, a romantic comedy of dazzling range that takes place almost entirely within the four walls of a leather-goods store in prewar Budapest. James Stewart is the earnest, slightly awkward young manager; Margaret Sullavan is the new sales clerk who gets on his nerves—and neither realizes that they are partners in a passionate romance being carried out through the mails. Interwoven with subplots centered on the other members of the shop's little family, the romance proceeds through Lubitsch's brilliant deployment of point of view, allowing the audience to enter the perceptions of each individual character at exactly the right moment to develop maximum sympathy and suspense. With Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, Sara Haden, and Felix Bressart.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 334: Sun Dec 3

Les Valseuses (Blier, 1974): Cine Lumiere 4pm

This screening is part of the Jeanne Moreau season. Full details here.

Cine Lumiere introduction:
Les Valseuse
features Gérard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere as a pair of sociopaths wending their way across France. The two men break into houses, but largely as a prelude to seducing and exploiting women. Actresses Miou-Miou, Jeanne Moreau and Isabelle Huppert join the dance in Blier’s powerful satire of social and sexual mores.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 333: Sat Dec 2

Kiss Me Deadly 6.20pm (Aldrich, 1955): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.30pm

This 35mm presentation, which also screens on December 8th, is part of the 'Can You Trust Them?' season at BFI Southbank season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The end of the world, starring Ralph Meeker (at his sleaziest) as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (at his most neolithic). Robert Aldrich's 1955 film is in some ways the apotheosis of film noir—it's certainly one of the most extreme examples of the genre, brimming with barely suppressed hysteria and set in a world totally without moral order. Even the credits run upside down. This independently produced low-budget film was a shining example for the New Wave directors—Truffaut, Godard, et al—who found it proof positive that commercial films could accommodate the quirkiest and most personal of visions.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the remarkable opening with those subversive credits.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 332: Fri Dec 1

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.50pm

Here's one of the great films set during Christmas, and an opportunity to see Stanley Kubrick's much-underrated final movie in an original 35mm print.

If you're interested in reading more about this film I can recommend two BFI publications - Michel Chion's Modern Classics monograph on Eyes Wide Shut and the chapter on the film in James Naremore's book titled On Kubrick.

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

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 331: Thu Nov 30

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007): Genesis Cinema, 8.50pm

This modern classic will be screened from a 35mm print.

Time Out review:
Where does criminality end and celebrity begin is the question posed by Australian director Andrew Dominik whose stunning second film – after 2000’s excellent (and not entirely dissimilar) ‘Chopper’ – sets the Western genre barn ablaze to deliver a gripping, Gothic tête à tête between two of American history’s most morally perplexing folk heroes. Kicking off with an expertly choreographed train robbery which acts as both a narrative nub and tonal barometer for the director’s bucolic, mournful mise en scene and script, the film then ruefully traces the interlocking paths of Jesse James and his young admirer Robert Ford. Early word suggested that Casey Affleck’s Ford was the man to keep an eye on come awards season, but this is unquestionably Pitt’s film, his James insouciantly radiating a piercing, unreadable intensity redolent of Joe Pesci’s work with Scorsese, a truly enigmatic presence constantly obscured behind warped glass, thick smoke, or even his own visibly battered visage. Though, in the end, the film’s main intention is to have you query every element of its mischievous title (and you probably will), it’s a journey of immense emotional foreboding and, flabby coda aside, a red-raw classic. 

David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 330: Wed Nov 29

Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm

This 35mm presentation is part of a short Joseph Conrad on Film season at Regent Street Cinema, which also includes and excellent 'Outcast of the Island' and 'The Duellists' double-bill on November 30th. You can find full details here.

Time Out review:

The central storyline – Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is tasked with tracking down and executing Marlon Brando’s rogue Colonel Kurtz – is essentially a slender thread upon which Francis Ford Coppola and his co-writer John Milius hang a number of increasingly wild asides. But these brief, brutal and seemingly unconnected incidents work together to drive the film forward: in their very randomness, they build a picture of a war being fought without strategy or clear intent, making Willard’s mission simultaneously clearer and more morally meaningless. In contrast to Coppola’s earlier ‘The Godfather Part II’ and ‘The Conversation’, ‘Apocalypse Now’ isn’t a conspicuously ‘smart’ film: literary references aside, there are no intellectual pretensions here. Instead, as befits both its tortuous hand-to-mouth genesis and the devastating conflict it reflects, this is a film of pure sensation, dazzling audiences with light and noise, laying bare the stark horror – and unimaginable thrill – of combat. And therein lies the true heart of darkness: if war is hell and heaven intertwined, where does morality fit in? And, in the final apocalyptic analysis, will any of it matter?
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 329: Tue Nov 28

In The White City (Tanner, 1983): Picturehouse Central, 6.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Bruno Ganz retrospective at Picturehouse Central. You can find the full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
A sailor (Bruno Ganz) abandons his job as a hand on an automated oil tanker to spend a few days exploring the city of Lisbon. Suddenly liberated from purpose, responsibility, and structured time, he finds that the world looks different to him, and slowly he loses himself in its newly opened fissures. What gives this 1983 film its authenticity and powerful moodiness is perhaps the fact that the director, Alain Tanner, has followed the course of his own protagonist, cutting himself off from a planned scenario and allowing the shape of the city to dictate the incidents of his drama. Temperamentally it's like no other Tanner film (at times, it suggests the work of Wim Wenders), but it has all his rigor and visual acuteness. With Teresa Madruga (of Manuel de Oliveira's Francisca).
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 328: Mon Nov 27

The Glass Wall (Shane, 1953): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This 35mm presentation is a rare screening for a 1953 film noir in the Gloria Grahame season. You can find all the details of the season here. The film is also being shown on November 20th.

BFI introduction:
One of Grahame’s lesser-known titles, this film also offered her a rare starring role. She appears opposite Italian star Vittorio Gassman, who plays a Hungarian illegal immigrant determined to remain in the US, with one night to track down the person who can save him from deportation. Grahame gives an exquisite performance as a woman on the breadline who forms a bond with the desperate man.The screening on Monday 20 November will be introduced by season curator Jo Botting of the BFI National Archive.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 327: Sun Nov 26

Wings of Desire (Wenders, 1987): Prince Charles Cinema, 1pm

This 35mm 30th anniversary screening is part of the Classic Film Season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Wim Wenders's ambitious and audacious feature (1987) focuses mainly on what's seen and heard by two angels (Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander) as they fly over and walk through contemporary Berlin. These are the angels of the poet Rilke rather than the usual blessed or fallen angels of Christianity, and Wenders and coscreenwriter Peter Handke use them partially to present an astonishing poetic documentary about the life of this city, concentrating on an American movie star on location (Peter Falk playing himself), a French trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin), and a retired German professor who remembers what Berlin used to be like (Curt Bois). The conceit gets a little out of hand after one of the angels falls in love with the trapeze artist and decides to become human; but prior to  this, Wings of Desire is one of Wenders's most stunning achievements, certainly in no way replaceable by City of Angels
, the ludicrous 1998 Hollywood remake.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 326: Sat Nov 25

Ghosts (Broomfield, 2007): Prince Charles Cinema, 1pm

This film is part of the London Labour Film Festival. You can find full details here.

Time Out review:
‘Ghosts’ are the nicknames given to the  British by Chinese immigrant workers in Nick Broomfield’s devised drama, which sketches the background to the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers on the flats of Morecambe Bay in February 2004. He begins and ends with the event itself: eerie shots of foamy water trickling over dark sand; a cluster of men and women standing on the top of a sinking minibus – before rewinding to Fujian province in China where a young woman, Ai Qin (Ai Qin Lin) pays a trafficker to take her to London. Unlike Michael Winterbottom’s ‘In This World’, the journey is dealt with swiftly and mostly via a moving-line on a school-issue map. Instead it’s everyday life for illegal immigrants in Britain that Broomfield is concerned with and he sketches the details of their day-to-day existence, from their living arrangements (13 to a miserable semi in Norfolk) and working conditions (stuffing chickens into bags for supermarkets) to the sexual and economic hierachy imposed on Ai Qin and her companions by fellow Chinese immigrants turned modern-day slave-drivers. As reportage and dramatisation that benefits hugely from Broomfield’s decision to cast close to his subject (Ai Qin was an illegal immigrant), it’s powerful stuff, even if, as in ‘The Road to Guantánamo’, it’s difficult not to shake the feeling that we’re watching a series of well-researched, careful and intelligent reconstructions of the sort which might later be edited and inserted into a documentary. But it’s to Broomfield’s credit that he resists this, deciding instead on a more daring, dramatic approach. It has its weak points as drama – some stilted acting, especially – but when the topic itself is so in need of exposure, much can be forgiven in favour of the film’s social and political importance. And important it certainly is.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 325: Fri Nov 24

The Big Heat (Lang, 1954): BFI Southbank, NFT, 2.30pm & NFT3, 8.45pm

This magnificent Fritz Lang film noir, which is on an extended run at BFI Southbank, is part of the Re-Releases and Gloria Grahame seasons.

Time Out film review:
Homicide Sgt Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford), a seemingly wholesome family man, investigates a fellow officer's suicide. Lifting the lid off the garbage can, he uncovers a world where megalomaniac crime bosses, police commissioners and city councillors share the same poker table, and all opposition is put on the payroll. Pulled off the case and suspended from duty, personal tragedy and a growing contempt for his peers lead him into a vengeful vendetta that equates his actions with those of his enemies. Lang strips down William P McGivern's novel to essentials, giving the story a narrative drive as efficient and powerful as a handgun. The dialogue is functional. Every shot is composed with economy and exactitude, no act gratuitous. The most celebrated scene, where Lee Marvin's psychopathic gangster mutilates his moll Gloria Grahame's face with scalding coffee, is remarkable in that you never see him do it; the contract killings are also sex murders, but again unseen. Bannion's redemption comes as he (and we) are moved by the courage of others; a crippled woman gives him a lead, a band of old army chums protect his daughter, and finally Grahame, in whose retributive act lies his purgatio
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 324: Thu Nov 23

The Shape of Night (Nakamura, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

Try not to miss this typically lavish Noboru Nakamura film, one not available on any format here or on the dark shores of the web. This 35mm presentation, which is also being screened on November 29th, is part of the Women in Japanese Melodrama season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
This intoxicating rediscovery follows Yoshie (Kuwano), a woman pushed into prostitution by her violent yakuza boyfriend, in a mode that filters the emotion of Naruse through the daring of Imamura. Gorgeously shot in widescreen, with bold compositions and editing, Nakamura’s revelatory film absorbs Douglas Sirk’s expressive use of colour, while pointing forward to the lyrical modernism of Wong Kar Wai.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 323: Wed Nov 22

La Notte (Antonioini, 1961): Cine Lumiere, 6.30pm

This film, which is also being shown on November 26th, is part of the Jeanne Moreau season at Cine Lumiere. You can see all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Michelangelo Antonioni's 1961 follow-up to L'Avventura—and middle feature in a loose trilogy ending with L'Eclisse—repeats many of the melancholic themes of its predecessor, with particular emphasis on the boredom and atrophied emotions of the rich. The results are somewhat more mixed, though on the whole the performances are better—which may not matter so much in an Antonioni context. The minimal plot, restricted to less than 24 hours, involves the death of passion between a successful novelist (Marcello Mastroianni) and his frustrated wife (Jeanne Moreau). The best parts of this movie tend to cluster around the beginning and end, and include the novelist's brief encounter with a nymphomaniac patient at a hospital and his longer encounter with the daughter (Monica Vitti) of an industrialist at a party; one of the worst is a walk taken by the wife around Milan, full of symbolic and pretentious details.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 322: Tue Nov 21

The Curse of the Cat People (Wise/Von Fritsch, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.15pm

This 35mm screening, part of a double-bill with 'Cat People, is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Though very different in purpose and tone to Cat People, Val Lewton's 'sequel' is far more closely tied to its predecessor than is commonly believed. For one thing, all the main characters remain very much the same as they were in the earlier film, to which there are many specific references; for another, both films concern the way that guilt, fear and fantasy can arise from isolation and misunderstanding. In this case, it's a small girl, lonely and repeatedly scolded by her parents and shunned by her friends for indulging in day-dreaming; when she populates her solitary world with the ghost of her father's dead first wife (Simon, heroine of Cat People), her imagination (or is it?) gets her into serious trouble. Far from being a horror film, it's a touching, perceptive and lyrical film about childhood, psychologically astute and occasionally disturbing as it focuses entirely on the child's-eye view of a sad, cruel world.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 321: Mon Nov 20

The Magnificent Ambersons (Welles, 1942): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This 35mm screening, in the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on November 17th. Full details here.

Personally, this is my favourite film by Orson Welles and my appreciation and understanding of its richness has been aided in no small part by two great books, This Is Orson Welles by Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, which contains a condensed version of the original script, and the BFI Film Classics monograph The Magnificent Ambersons by VF Perkins. The website Frequently Asked Questions About Orson Welles is well worth a look if you want to find out more about this film and the legends that have grown up around it.

Chicago Reader review:
Orson Welles's second completed feature (1942) and arguably his greatest film (partisans of Citizen Kane notwithstanding). By far his most personal creation, this lovingly crafted, hauntingly nostalgic portrait of a midwestern town losing its Victorian innocence to the machine age contains some of Welles's most beautiful and formidable imagery, not to mention his narration, a glorious expression of the pain of memory. A masterpiece in every way (but ignore the awkward ending the studio tacked on without Welles's approval).

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 320: Sun Nov 19

Pandora's Box (Pabst, 1928): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3pm

BFI introduction to this 35mm screening:
Pandora’s Box is a film ‘that bears repeated viewing and obsessive scrutiny’ (Bryony Dixon, ‘100 Silent Films’). Here is a good moment to re-view Pabst’s classic tale of the ammoral Lulu – played beautifully, in every sense, by Louise Brooks – on the occasion of Pamela Hutchinson’s new BFI Classic which challenges assumptions made about the film and its star by previous generations. Introduced by the author.

Time Out review:
It’s hard to say quite how much one of the great, late masterpieces of the silent era, 
GW Pabst’s extraordinary, erotic and tragic adaptation/conflation of two Wedekind plays, ‘Pandora’s Box’, owes to the electrifying, photogenic and iconic presence of Louise Brooks, the Kansas-born actress. It’s an Expressionist-Realist walk with love and death, as the sensual and erotic charge of a Berlin prostitute and Kurfürstendamm revue artist sets herself and all who come in contact with her into a destructive social, emotional and physical spiral, ending with her swooning embrace of Thanatos in the person of a mythical, murderous Jack the Ripper. But it may not have seemed quite so modern, vital and powerful, had Pabst chosen, say, Dietrich, or any of the rumoured 2,000 others who the German director screen-tested for the role of the arch femme-fatale, Lulu. 

In the words of German critic Lotte Eisner, Wedekind’s Lulu was endowed with an ‘animal beauty, but lacking all moral sense, and doing evil unconsciously’. Brooks had the animal beauty alright – and a modicum of self-destructiveness, as her biographical writings testify – but it is her qualities of intelligence and sheer vitality as Lulu, not her putative ‘reflective passivity’, that ensures that her performance seems as exciting and fresh, as well as disturbingly enigmatic, transgressive and deeply moving, today as it did in 1928. That does not diminish, however, the importance of Pabst’s artistry: his psychological insights, atmospheric use of chiaroscuro lighting and thrilling mise-en-scène, not to mention his taboo-breaking audacity in flaunting this ‘corn-fed Hollywood flapper’ and exposing the dark appetites and hypocrisies found in the dank, pansexually decadent salons of Weimar Berlin. All offer a perfect context in which Lulu can dazzle and entice, if not – to borrow the line Nic Ray coined in 1949’s ‘Knock on Any Door’ – ‘to live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse’.

Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.