Sunday, 23 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 125: Sat May 6

A Canterbury Tale (Powell & Pressburger, 1943): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.30pm

This 35mm screening of one of the most extraordinary films ever made in Britain is part of the 'Girls Like Us' season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details of the season here. This film is also being shown on May 13th. Details here.

Critic and novelist Xan Brooks has written a beautiful piece on Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's film for the Guardian which you can read here.

Chicago Reader review:
Very nearly plotless, this 1944 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger represents one of the few times the narrative cinema has approached the lyrical ideal. Crossing wartime Britain, a group of travelers—including an American GI, a young woman from London, and an English officer—linger in a small farming village, ostensibly to solve a peculiar mystery (someone is putting glue in the local girls' hair), but really because of the spell (quite literal, in P and P's mystical vision) cast upon them by the countryside. Over the hill lies Canterbury Cathedral, and as parallels begin to emerge with Chaucer's pilgrims, the characters find themselves being drawn to it, for a soft-pedaled climax that represents the fulfillment of their individual quests. Strange and wonderful.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) ... an extract ... and all you could wish for from a film.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 124: Fri May 5

Killer's Kiss (Kubrick, 1955): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of a Stanley Kubrick season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details of the season here.

Time Out film review:
Written, edited, shot, produced and directed by Kubrick for a mere $75,000, his second feature is a moody but rather over-arty B thriller whose prime pleasures lie in the high contrast b/w camerawork (Kubrick had been a top photographer for Look). The story is nothing original - a down-at-heel boxer (Smith) falls for a night-club dancer (Kane) after saving her from being raped by her boss (Silvera), who consequently determines to put an end to their romance - but Kubrick makes the most of flashback and dream sequences, and a surreal climactic fight in a warehouse full of mannequins. The dialogue was post-synched, making for a certain stiltedness in the performances, but at least the brief running-time ensures that the film's more pretentious moments tend to flash past, rather than linger as in Kubrick's later work. (Incidentally, the film - and a fictionalised account of its making - became the subject of Strangers Kiss in 1983).
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 123: Thu May 4

Satan's Brew (Fassbinder, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 9th and you can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
The scurrilous movie that marked a turnaround in Fassbinder's film-making practice, following the disbandment of his 'stock company' of actors as a theatre troupe. The familiar faces are still around, this time distorted by pebble glasses, pustules or gross make-up, but there's a new sense of liberation from theatrical stylisation gusting through the proceedings. The plot is a benignly black celebration of the art of literary theft: Kurt Raab plays a clapped-out writer who regains his stride when he begins 'accidentally' reproducing the complete works of Stefan George. He is surrounded by freaks, perverts and grotesques, and so hardly anyone notices. It's no accident that this frolicsome tale reverses Fassbinder's standard 'victim' formula: it transpires that the tyrannical Raab is secretly a masochist, and one who actively enjoys being victimised. Bouncy.

Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 122: Wed May 3

The Tarnished Angels (Sirk, 1957): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.15pm

This film, part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank (inspired by Rainer Werner Fassbinder's favourite films list) will be introduced by BFI programmer-at-large Geoff Andrew. This fabulous movie can also be seen on May 1st, 19th and 22nd. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Douglas Sirk took a vacation from Ross Hunter and Technicolor for this 1958 production, though he retained Rock Hudson, who turns in an astonishingly good performance as a journalist fascinated by the sordid lives of a trio of professional stunt fliers (Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, and Jack Carson). Based on a minor novel by William Faulkner (Pylon), the film betters the book in every way, from the quality of characterization to the development of the dark, searing imagery. Made in black-and-white CinemaScope, the film doesn't survive on TV; it should be seen in a theater or not at all. Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 121: Tue May 2

Fear of Fear (Fassbinder, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm  screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 7th and you can find all the details here. Tonight's presentation is introduced by Dr Mattias Frey of the University of Kent.

BFI introduction:Overwhelmed by anxiety, a middle-class wife and mother (Carstensen) tries alcohol, Valium and listening to Leonard Cohen, but nothing seems to help – least of all the interfering in-laws who accuse her of not being ‘normal’. With echoes of Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, this disturbing account of one woman’s struggle to conform deserves to be much better known.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 120: Mon May 1

Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven (Fassbinder, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.45pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 6th and you can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Superior 1975 Fassbinder film, with the wonderful Brigitte Mira (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) as a hausfrau whose husband goes insane, killing his boss's son and throwing himself into the jaws of the assembly line. She becomes a symbol to the left wing and a freak to the right. No other director understands the strength of mediocre minds as does Fassbinder; when his films don't slip into derision, they can be ineffably moving, as this one is. The ending is impossible, but it is perfect (which may be why it's impossible).
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the opening.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 119: Sun Apr 30

Eight Hours Don't Make a Day (Fassbinder, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 12.30pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details of the season can be found here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
Thanks to a new restoration premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Fassbinder’s controversial five-part TV series can be seen again at last. Aimed at a mass audience, this entertaining soap opera of working-class life revolves around an extended family of three generations who struggle to balance the demands of the workplace with the pressures of family life. Based on extensive research among factory workers and trade unionists, it was deliberately more optimistic than Fassbinder’s cinema features, encouraging social solidarity. The abrupt cancellation of the highly successful series (three more episodes had been planned) was, in Fassbinder’s view, politically motivated.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 118: Sat Apr 29

Fox and His Friends (Fassbinder, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 20th. You can find all the information here.

Time Out review:
One of Fassbinder's excellent melodramas. The director himself plays a working-class man who wins a small fortune on the lottery and is destroyed by men who befriend him on Munich's gay community. It's his usual vision of exploitation and complicity hidden under the deceiving mantle of love, but Fassbinder's precision, assured sense of milieu, and cool but human compassion for his characters, make it a work of brilliant intelligence. And the director himself is superb as the none-too-intelligent hero.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 117: Fri Apr 28

Mulholland Dr (Lynch, 2001): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm

This 4k re-release screening is also being shown at Close-Up Cinema on April 29th. You can find the full details here.

Mulholland Drive is the cinematic re-release of the year so far. There's a terrific piece on the movie written to coincide with the re-release you can find here by Robert Bright in The Quietus. And if you can't catch the film at Close-Up here are details of the other screenings in London.

Close-Up introduction:
"Like Billy Wilder’s film named after another iconic Hollywood street, Mulholland Drive tells a sordid tale of the industry of illusion and its boulevards of broken dreams – but for David Lynch, these dreams fold into dreams within dreams within dreams. Originally intended as a pilot for a television series, Lynch’s möbius riddle was rejected by TV executives. In restructuring it for the silver screen, Lynch crafted one of his finest masterworks. When the perky, wholesome Betty Elms lands in Hollywood for what could be her big break, she meets “Rita,” an ostensible femme fatale who is rendered identity-less because of amnesia from a car accident. Lynch’s (and Hollywood’s) dazzling dream factory sets to work with mysterious objects, startling visions, amusing detours and revelatory alterations in acting styles and character identities. The noir cracks open and gives way to a multi-toned, terrifyingly beautiful hallucination that is as much a complex reflection on Hollywood as it is an endlessly transforming psychological puzzle. Cinematic archetypes – including all versions of the female presented or rejected by Hollywood – double, reflect and regenerate into uncanny metaphors in Lynch’s subconscious minefield where the fluid layers of identity, nostalgia, desire, deception and projection could be in the minds of the characters, the audience, or a complete fabrication by dark, unknown forces behind the scenes … or well beyond."
Harvard Film Archive

Here (and above) is the trailer for the re-release.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 116: Thu Apr 27

Housekeeping (Forsyth, 1987): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

This is a 35mm screening presented by 'Celluloid Sorceress' Nikki Williams. The film's editor Michael Ellis will be joining Williams to discuss Housekeeping, his work with director Bill Forsyth and other aspects of his 50-year career.

Chicago Reader review:
In his first American picture (1987) Scottish director Bill Forsyth adapts Marilynne Robinson's acclaimed novel about two orphaned sisters (played by Sara Walker and Andrea Burchill) who share their ramshackle house with their eccentric aunt (Christine Lahti). The setting is the Pacific northwest in the 1950s, and Forsyth does a remarkable job with period detail and the beautiful natural settings, assisted by his own UK crew of cinematographer Michael Coulter, production designer Adrienne Atkinson, costume designer Mary-Jane Reyner, and editor Michael Ellis. But the most impressive thing about this haunting fable is Forsyth's fluidity and grace as a storyteller, which gives this understated tale some of the resonance one associates with Terrence Malick's Badlands and Days of Heaven. The story suggests a kind of feminist version of Huckleberry Finn, with the sisters playing Huck and Tom to their aunt's Jim; the performances by all three actresses are impeccable. A film to be savored rather than gulped.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 115: Wed Apr 26

Alien (Scott, 1979): Picturehouse Central, 7pm

Picturehouse Central are showing this sci-fi classic in 70mm. The film is also being screened on May 7th and 11th and you can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
In the wake of the huge commercial success of Alien, almost all attention has perversely focused on the provenance of the script (was it a rip-off of It, the Terror from Beyond Space? Of Van Vogt's fiction? Was former John Carpenter collaborator Dan O'Bannon sold out by producers Walter Hill and David Giler's rewrites?). But the limited strengths of its staple sci-fi horrors - crew of commercial spacecraft menaced by stowaway monster - always derived from either the offhand organic/ Freudian resonances of its design or the purely (brilliantly) manipulative editing and pacing of its above-average shock quota. Intimations of a big-budget Dark Star fade early, and notions of Weaver as a Hawksian woman rarely develop beyond her resourceful reaction to jeopardy.
Paul Taylor

Here (and above) is the (brilliant) trailer.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 114: Tue Apr 25

Zardoz (Boorman, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This screening is part of the Cinematic Jukebox season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Probably John Boorman's most underrated film—an impossibly ambitious and pretentious but also highly inventive, provocative, and visually striking SF adventure with metaphysical trimmings (1974). Set in a postapocalyptic society in 2293, it stars Sean Connery as a warrior and noble savage with dawning awareness; interestingly enough, the plot in many ways resembles that of Boorman's best film, Point Blank.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 113: Mon Apr 24

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Forman, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.35pm

This BFI release, to mark Jack Nicholson's 80th birthday on September 22nd, is on an extended run from April 14th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This slick and entertaining 1975 film of Ken Kesey's cult novel will inevitably disappoint admirers of director Miloš Forman's earlier work. Jack Nicholson plays McMurphy as if he were born to it, and the supporting cast provides fine, detailed performances. But there is little of Forman's real personality in the film, which smooths over the complexities of his Czechoslovakian work in favor of some mighty simpleminded conceptions of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. With Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Michael Berryman, Scatman Crothers, and Sidney Lassick.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the new trailer.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 112: Sun Apr 23

The Fireman's Ball (Forman, 1967): Close-Up Cinema, 7pm

This screening is part of the Close-Up cinema season on Milos Forman and the British Free Cinema movement, in collaboration with the Czech Centre London.

Tonight's film is introduced by Dr David Sorfa, a senior lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh and managing editor of the journal Film-Philosophy. David Sorfa has written on Michael Haneke, Jan Švankmajer and Czech cinema as well as a broad range of other film subjects and has a particular interest in film-philosophy and film adaptation. He discusses The Fireman’s Ball on the occasion of the recent Blu-ray release of the film.

The Fireman's Ball is part of a double-bill with:
Together (Lorenza Mazzetti, 1952 | B/W | 35mm)
Together is set in London's East End, with its bombsites, narrow streets, riversides, warehouses, markets and pubs. It follows two deaf-mute dockers who are completely cut-off from the outside world and are constantly pursued by groups of jeering children. Its modern depiction of everyday working-class life and its new approach to realism were inspired by Italian neo-realism and by the techniques used by Mazzetti's Free Cinema friends.

Chicago Reader review of The Fireman's Ball:
Milos Forman's 1967 film of little people confronting little disasters, as the annual ball of a small Czech town goes hopelessly wrong. With Loves of a Blonde
, it's the best work Forman's done, rooted in a social reality that has eluded him in his American projects, and directed with a nonlinear suppleness that suggests the formal achievement of Jacques Tati. From a script by Forman, Jaroslav Papousek, and Ivan Passer; photographed by Miroslav Ondricek.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 111: Sat Apr 22

The Red Shoes (Powell & Pressburger, 1948): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.15pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Classic Film season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details of the season here.

Two things fascinate me about this great film: firstly, no one mentions that it could all be the feverish dream of one of the central characters; see if you can spot the key moment I mean. Secondly, the character of Lermontov, superbly played by Anton Walbrook, who is one of Powell & Pressburger's greatest creations. Enjoy. Here are extracts featuring the aformentioned Lermontov.

Chicago Reader review:
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Trilby-based ballet film (1948, 133 min.) has been the cult property of dance freaks for far too long. A look beneath its lushly romantic surface reveals a dark, complex sensibility, and that surface, rendered in the somber tones of British Technicolor, reflects a fantastically rich cinematic inventiveness. Moira Shearer is the ballerina who, following the outlines of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, trades her life for her art; Anton Walbrook, as her impresario, is perhaps the most forceful embodiment of the shaman figures–magical, outsized, sinister–who haunt Powell and Pressburger's work. The Red Shoes remains the best known of Powell and Pressburger's 18 features, yet it's only the tip of the iceberg–beneath it lies the most commanding body of work in the British cinema. 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 110: Fri Apr 21

Across 110th Street (Shear, 1972): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm

Come to the bar early at Regent Street Cinema for special drinks offers and live DJ sets from Soul Jazz Records as they continue their blaxploitation season.

Chicago Reader review:
Extremely seedy and violent, this 1972 feature by Barry Shear and cinematographer Jack Priestley makes extraordinary use of Harlem locations in telling the story of three punks who rip off $300,000 from the syndicate's numbers bank. Anthony Quinn is the beleaguered police detective with too many skeletons dangling in too many closets, and Anthony Franciosa is the mob's enforcer. Grim, and not for the weak stomached. With Yaphet Kotto, Richard Ward, and Antonio Fargas.

Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 109: Thu Apr 20

A Real Young Girl (Breillat, 1976): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Barbican's 'Cinema Matters: What the Movies Do To Us' season. You can find details of all the films here.

Barbican introduction:
A Real Young Girl is one of only a small clutch of films showing teenage female sexuality from the inside, and is notable for its audacious approach to its subject – in terms of explicit imagery, but also in daring to depict aspects of the heroine’s sexuality that are not comfortably titillating. Completed in 1976, it was banned in France for over 25 years and only released onto the festival circuit in 2000.
France 1976 Catherine Breillat 93 min 35mm presentation  

Begun back when mainstream movies allowed the occasional glimpse of breast but certainly no pubic hair, this pioneering experimental short explicitly shows the director and her partner making love. Conceived as a celebration of everyday sex, it consists of collaged sequences, some hand-painted and etched. “It’s different from any pornographic work you’ve ever seen… and there’s no objectification of fetishization of the woman.” (Carolee Schneemann) 

US 1964-1967 Dir Carolee Schneemann 25 min 16mm presentation 

+ Dyketactics    
A sensual, evocative collage of over 100 images selected for their representation of the sense of touch, this experimental short broke new ground in its exploration of lesbian identity and desire. In the words of the director, “I wanted to make a lesbian commercial.” 
US 1974 Dir Barbara Hammer 4 min 16mm presentation

Chicago Reader review:
The theories about sexuality and trauma artfully advanced in this previously unreleased 1975 debut of director Catherine Breillat (Romance, Fat Girl) are more nuanced and intuitive than those of most schools of psychology. Alice (Charlotte Alexandra) is as fixated on her genitals as are the men who expose theirs to her, in fantastic and realist sequences that blur the line between what she desperately wants, what repulses her, and what she actually experiences. While her mother aggressively does housework, complaining all the while about her life, Alice sunbathes and flirts—or more—with her father, who's having an affair. It's as if she's biding her time until she manages to seduce one of his dreamier employees or, better yet, escapes by returning to school at the end of the summer vacation. Periodically she takes flight in her imagination or on her bike, where she's always removing her underwear so she or someone else can insert something into her vagina. “Disgust makes me lucid,” she says in voice-over after vomiting on herself. “It was at that very moment that I decided to write my diary because I couldn't sleep—that would have meant giving in; it would have meant obeying.” Breillat wrote the screenplay based on her novel Le soupirail.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 108: Wed Apr 19

The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook, 2016): Rio Cinema, 8.15pm

Straying into new film territory here, try and seek out the director's cut which the Rio Cinema are screening from April 14th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Decadence is both the subject and the style in ‘Oldboy’ director Park Chan-wook’s elegant, intensely romantic adaptation of Sarah Waters’s spicy bestseller ‘Fingersmith’. Shifting the action from Victorian England to pre-war Korea under Japanese rule, Park has created a film that delights in ornate furnishings, flowing gowns and sensuous sexual imagery, but reminds us that these things are just surface – the stuff that really matters is always kept hidden. Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) is a proper Dickensian orphan: raised by a Fagin-like madam on the streets of Seoul, she’s an experienced thief and con artist. So when smooth huckster Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) needs an eager young crook to impersonate a lady’s handmaiden as part of a scam he’s planning, Sook-hee steps up. Her mission: to encourage the innocent, unworldly Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) to disobey her cruel uncle Kouzuki (Jo Jin-woong) and run away with the dashing Fujiwara – bringing her fortune along with her, of course. And then Sook-hee starts falling in love… The cinematic equivalent of drinking three glasses of champagne in the bath, ‘The Handmaiden’ is a film to luxuriate in. Park has always been a visual master – even his infuriating American debut, 2013’s ‘Stoker’, had that going for it – but he’s outdone himself here. Waters’s labyrinthine plot is handled with the utmost care, and the characters – particularly the seemingly fragile Hideko – are beautifully sketched and performed. But it’s in probing beyond the pretty exterior that ‘The Handmaiden’ truly succeeds: it may seem to be a film about wealth, artifice and cruelty, but what resonates is the love story, and the liberated ideals underpinning it (the film’s stark anti-pornography stance is unexpected but strangely affecting). It doesn’t all work – the pace can be a little slow, and there are definitely points where Park tries to have his tasty feminist cake and eat it. But this is smart, sumptuous and wonderfully indulgent, best watched on a wet Sunday with an entire box of chocolates.
Tom Huddleston