Friday, 31 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 107: Tue Apr 18

The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Straub/Huillet, 1968):
BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm



BFI introduction to this film in the Big Screen Classics season:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder acknowledged the influence of Jean-Marie Straub’s early work on his own developing style. This portrait of Bach exemplifies the rigorous, politicised aesthetic of Straub and his partner Daniele Huillet, who alternate performances of the composer’s music (filmed as simply as possible) with a narration compiled from contemporary sources to provide a sociopolitical context.
+ The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp
1928. Dir Jean-Marie Straub. 28min
This triptych stars Fassbinder and several of his regular collaborators.
The other screening of this film on Wednesday 26th April 18:00 will be introduced by Manuel Ramos-Martinez, Goldsmiths.

Time Out film review:
'A film about the past which is lucid can help people of the present to achieve that necessary lucidity.' Straub's account of Bach is nothing if not lucid: it documents the last 27 years of its subject's life (through the mediating eyes of his wife) principally in terms of his music. The music itself obviates any need for a 'drama' to present Bach; Straub celebrates its range and complexity while showing it always in performance, to emphasise the nature of Bach's work as musician/conductor. A narration (compiled from contemporary sources) sets the man in his economic and social context. With his minimalist's sensitivity to nuance and inflection, Straub eschews pointless cutting and camera movement. The beautiful result has the air of a crystal-clear meditation.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 106: Mon Apr 17

A Star is Born (Cukor, 1954): Regent Street Cinema, 8.30pm


Welcome to the reason this blog exists. In December 2010 I watched this film, a movie I went to see when restored and re-released in cinemas in 1983, on television. I thought afterwards how much I would love to see this movie on the big screen again and that prompted an idea to write a daily blog picking a film to see in London. The purpose of starting the blog was to highlight to film lovers the best movies on the capital's repertory cinema circuit.

What writing the blog has also done is reinvigorate my moviegoing. The act of putting this small contribution to the London film scene together has resulted in encouraging me to go and see more movies. I hope the blog has had that impact on others too. This brilliant restoration of one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time comes highly recommended. Many believe Judy Garland gave her greatest performance in this film and one critic has called Mason's the best supporting performance by a male actor in modern Hollywood. Try and get to see A Star is Born where it should be seen - in a cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Even in this incomplete restoration George Cukor's 1954 musical remake of the 1937 Hollywood drama is devastating. Judy Garland plays a young singer discovered by aging, alcoholic star Norman Maine (James Mason), who helps her to fame as "Vicki Lester" even as his career slips. Garland gives a deeply affecting performance--halting, volatile, unsure of herself early on and unsure of Norman later--and her musical numbers are superb. Yet the film's core is its two-character scenes, in which small shifts in posture subtly articulate the drama's essence. Cukor gives his preoccupation with self-image a surprisingly anti-Hollywood spin: despite the many industry-oriented group scenes, the characters seem fully authentic only when they're alone with each other. The scenes of Lester acting seem tainted with artifice, and her a cappella performance of her current hit for Norman on their wedding night further separates the public from the private. Later, reenacting the production number shot that day, she uses a food cart for a dolly and a chair for a harp; Cukor's initial long take heightens the intimacy between her and Norman, just as the household props implicitly critique studio artificiality. All that matters, Cukor implies, is what people can try to become for each other. The film was badly mangled when Warner Brothers cut a half hour shortly after its release; this 1983 35-millimeter restoration replaces some footage, offering stills when only the sound track could be found. Fortunately these slide shows are confined to early scenes, giving some sense of what was lost. 
Fred Camper 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

If you want to read an excellent account of the film, its making and the background to the 1983 restoration I can recommend Ronald Haver's book A Star is Born. Full details here.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 105: Sun Apr 16

Martha (Fassbinder, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm


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:
The everyday fascism Fassbinder dissects often rests on the simple observation that there are elements of sado-masochism even in such respectable bourgeois relationships as true romance and happy-ever-after marriage. Here, his script an adaptation of a story by Cornell Woolrich, he takes the staples of the Sirk melodrama (love at first sight, a big-dipper courtship, a honeymoon drive) and stands them on their heads, combining '40s costumes and movie references with recognisably real locations and high colour photography. He forces to their logical extremes the attitudes implicit in the woman's weepie and the little woman's traditional craving for a strong and competent man, pushing a sentimental romance into a high camp study of SM, full of images of vampirism, claustrophobia and haunted house genre movies. With no explicit references to a world beyond the screen, with indulgently aesthetic settings and outlandishly theatrical performances (notably from Margit Carstensen as the perennially hapless victim), he creates a dazzling baroque abstraction with unsettling relevance to even the most mundane domestic partnerships. 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 104: Sat Apr 15

1900 (Bertolucci, 1976): Regent Street Cinema, 2pm


This 35mm screening is part of Kino Klassika's 'World to Win' season. Bringing together provocative films by directors such as Andrzej Wajda, Bernardo Bertolucci and Ken Loach, the season offers a touring programme to reach audiences across the UK. You can read the full details here.

If you purchase the ‘Supper Club’ ticket for this event then you will enjoy a KinoVino reception, serving a rustic Italian buffet and wine. KinoVino, launched in 2015, is rapidly gaining recognition as one of London’s most original projects, that unites food and film. Featured in British Vogue and named one of 10 best supper clubs by TimeOut London, KinoVino marries best of world cinema with some of the most innovative menus inspired by the films. For each edition, its founder, Alissa Timoshkina, creates an immersive experience where film, food and wine are curated under one theme, with the original room decor and tablescapes reflecting and enhancing the theme of the night. 

Regent Street Cinema introduction:
Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 (Novecento) presents a sweeping political epic of Italian history from 1901, the year Verdi died, up to the Liberation in 1945.The film follows the stories of Alfredo Berlinghieri, the son of a wealthy landowner, and Olmo Dalco, whose family works on the Berlinghieri estate. Born on the same day, the two are bound by a close childhood friendship but are separated by social chasms and opposite destinies as they grow up during the turbulent interwar years. 1900 presents a critique of Italy’s unequal social structure, which remained unchanged through half a century of war, racism, and liberation.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 103: Fri Apr 14

Effi Briest (Fassbinder, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm


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 19th . You can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1974 film of Fontane's 19th-century social novel is an interesting experiment with shifting narrative forms, moving from the compulsive psychological realism of its source to Brechtian distancing devices, often in the same scene. The slow, deliberate pace is sometimes taxing, but this story of a 16-year-old girl locked in the boredom of a loveless marriage is perfectly suited to Fassbinder's stifling mise-en-scene. With Hanna Schygulla and Wolfgang Schenck.
Dave Kehr 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 102: Thu Apr 13

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Fassbinder, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm


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 17th and 24th. You can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
A lesbian love triangle becomes a schema of sexual power plays in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most harshly stylized and perhaps most significant film (1972). The action is confined to a single set—the apartment of fashion designer Margit Carstensen, decorated with desiccated mannequins and a mammoth painting of fleshy, galloping nudes—where the three characters (one is a mute) scheme, complain, and attempt to seduce. With Irm Hermann and Hanna Schygulla.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract. 

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 101: Wed Apr 12

Beware of a Holy Whore (Fassbinder, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details of the season here. Tonight's screening is introduced by season programmer Margaret Deriaz.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1970 film about a movie crew trapped in a Spanish seaside hotel, waiting first for the star (Eddie Constantine) to arrive and then for the director (Lou Castel) to find his inspiration. This edgy, violent, impacted movie was based on incidents that occurred during the shooting of Fassbinder's Whity, and survivors claim that it more or less accurately records the paranoia and desperate needfulness that reigned on Fassbinder's sets. It was also the last film of his ragged avant-gardist period; with the subsequent Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, he moved into an emulation of a Hollywood director's distance and control. With Hanna Schygulla, Ulli Lommel, and Magdalena Montezuma.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 100: Tue Apr 11

The Merchant of Four Seasons (Fassbinder, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm


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 16th and 28th. You can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder has a genius for detailing the pain of suppressed emotional states, and even at its most achingly deliberate, his style in dealing with the petit bourgeois mentality is a source of endless fascination. This 1971 feature, originally shot for German television, chronicles the struggles of a fruit peddler to build a semblance of a life for himself and his wife—with whom he maintains only the barest contact—in postwar Germany. With Hans Hirschmuller, Irm Hermann, and Hanna Schygulla.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 99: Mon Apr 10

Threads (Jackson, 1984): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm


This film is part of the 'What London watches: Ten Films That Shook Our World' season at the Barbican. You can find the full details here.

Barbican introduction:
A devastating speculative account of the effects of a nuclear attack on Sheffield at the onset of World War III, BBC drama Threads was nominated for seven BAFTA awards after its 1984 release.  Preparing for their marriage, Jimmy and Ruth (Reece Dinsdale and Karen Meagher) are almost oblivious to the international political tensions caused by the USSR’s invasion of Iran. But when Sheffield – home to vast resources and an RAF base – is bombed by a thermonuclear device, they must learn to survive as their home is turned into a desolate wasteland. Probably one of the most authentic portrayals of nuclear winter onscreen, Threads is horrifying and fascinating, brutal and powerful – a stark warning to humanity of the real, human effects of nuclear war.

Here is Guardian Film critic Peter Bradshaw's take in the newspaper's .Horror: the film that frightened me most. series.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 98: Sun Apr 9

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Lynch, 1992): Curzon Soho, 3pm


This is the fifth screening in the Curzon Soho Enthusiasm season, dedicated to screening from prints. Here is the cinema's introduction to the event (full details here):

Following on from our ‘Hollywood Babylon’ double–bill of Rabbit's Moon and Lost Highway back in February, ENTHUSIASM returns to the sun-bleached driveways of Los Angeles with a special 16mm presentation of Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s landmark experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) - followed by a rare 35mm screening of David Lynch’s misunderstood masterpiece Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992).

Panned at the time of release by the mainstream critics, this is one of Lynch's finest works and a film that has grown in reputation over the years.

Time Out review:
'A bleak, heartrending study of familial abuse, teenage desperation and small-town claustrophobia, it's certainly David Lynch's most emotionally extreme film, and perhaps his most heartfelt and sympathetic. The score by Angelo Badalamenti is one of the finest in recent memory, and the cast are astonishing.'
Tom Huddleston

You can read a more expansive review by Huddleston at the notcoming.com website here.
Here's a flavour: 'This blending of the absurd and the horrifying to dreamlike and disturbing effect has become Lynch’s hallmark, from the chickens in Eraserhead to the hobo behind the diner in Mulholland Drive. Nowhere else in his work does he use the technique as effectively as in Fire Walk With Me. Sudden tonal shifts from joy or security to overwhelming sadness, unease, terror and back again are perhaps the film’s most effective emotional weapons, and Lynch deploys them mercilessly.'

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 97: Sat Apr 8

The Passenger (Antonioni, 1975): Curzon Bloomsbury, 3pm


Q&A screening: A panel discussion will follow the screening featuring David Levitt of Levitt Bernstein architects who worked closely on the Brunswick Centre with the late Patrick Hodgkinson and anthropologist and broadcaster Farrah Jarral, who recently wrote and presented the 10-part series BBC Radio 4 series From Savage to Self. Further guests to be announced.

This screening is held to coincide with Passengers, a site-specific exhibition series based at the Brunswick Centre that brings together artists that have an interest in the real and imaginative environments we construct and inhabit. A tour of the exhibition is also offered to interested guests after the screening and discussion - See more here. Passengers brings together artists that have an interest in the real and imaginative environments we construct and inhabit. The title references the 1975 film The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni that uses the Brunswick as a powerful and otherworldly mise-en-scène.

Chicago Reader review:
A masterpiece, one of Michelangelo Antonioni's finest works (1975). Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider star as a journalist who trades one identity for another and the woman who becomes his accomplice (and ultimately the moral center of his adopted world). Less a thriller (though the mood of mystery is pervasive) than a meditation on the problems of knowledge, action for its own sake, and the relationship of the artist to the work he brings into being. Next to this film, Blowup seems a facile, though necessary, preliminary. By all means go.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Q&A screening: A panel discussion will follow the screening featuring David Levitt of Levitt Bernstein architects who worked closely on The Brunswick Centre with the late Patrick Hodgkinson and Anthropologist and Broadcaster Farrah Jarral who recently wrote and presented the 10 part series BBC Radio 4 series From Savage to Self. Further guests to be announced. Saturday 8 April 3.00pm, Bloomsbury This screening is held to coincide with Passengers, a site-specific exhibition series based at the Brunswick Centre that brings together artists that have an interest in the real and imaginative environments we construct and inhabit. A tour of the exhibition is also offered to interested guests after the screening and discussion. - See more at: https://www.curzoncinemas.com/bloomsbury/film-info/the-passenger#sthash.MILUXP1s.dpuf

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 96: Fri Apr 7

Vivre sa Vie (Godard, 1962): BFI Southbank, Studio, 8.50pm


This film is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank (details here). This movie also screens on 11th, 21st and 24th April. You can find all the information here.

Time Out review:
Twelve Brechtian tableaux chronicle the life and death of a whore, starting out as a documentary on prostitution, ending as a Monogram B movie. In retrospect, Godard expressed doubts about the cheap gangster pyrotechnics as being merely a nod to cinephilia. But like the highly stylised prostitution scenes, they are in fact a distantiating device forcing a more direct confrontation with the film's true subject: the enigmatic beauty and troubling presence of Karina, and the mystery of Godard's own passionate involvement with her. This film, as Godard has noted, was the first stage in the inevitable dissolution of their marriage, as described in Pierrot le Fou; and every scene in the film obliquely pinpoints that crisis as originating in the awareness that, as director to star actress, he found himself rapturously but humiliatingly playing client to her prostitute. 
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 96: Thu Apr 6

Whity (Fassbinder, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm


The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 15th. More information here.

Chicago Reader review:  
Despite the entreaties of his white prostitute lover, Whity, the black illegitimate son and servant of a wealthy white landowner, is reluctant to abandon his dysfunctional family. Günther Kaufmann endows Whity with a persuasively human combination of subservience and entitlement. In a role that straddles fiction and reality, writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder plays a vicious cowboy who taunts and tortures Whity: though the intensity of the blows may be exaggerated by sound effects, they're definitely landing on Kaufmann's body. Fassbinder's provocative 1970 meditation on race and class costars Hanna Schygulla and Ron Randell.
Lisa Alspector 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 95: Wed Apr 5

Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick, 1957): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm


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

Time Out review:
A film noir from the Ealing funny man? But Mackendrick's involvement with cosy British humour was always less innocent than it looked: remember the anti-social wit of The Man in the White Suit, or the cruel cynicism of The Ladykillers? Sweet Smell of Success was the director's American debut, a rat trap of a film in which a vicious NY gossip hustler (Curtis) grovels for his 'Mr Big' (Lancaster), a monster newspaper columnist who is incestuously obsessed with destroying his kid sister's romance... and a figure as evil and memorable as Orson Welles in The Third Man or Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter. The dark streets gleam with the sweat of fear; Elmer Bernstein's limpid jazz score (courtesy of Chico Hamilton) whispers corruption in the Big City. The screen was rarely so dark or cruel.
Chris Auty

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 94: Tue Apr 4

35 Shots of Rum (Denis, 2008): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


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

Chicago Reader review:
A handsome black widower (Alex Descas) and his lovely college-age daughter (Mati Diop) inhabit a self-contained world of tranquil domesticity and affection in a gray suburban high-rise outside of Paris. A goodhearted but insecure woman down the hall (Nicole Dogué) lives in the abject hope of winning the widower's heart, and a sweetly melancholic young man upstairs (Grégoire Colin) harbors similar feelings for the young woman. It's a given that the father-daughter bubble must eventually burst, but the smart writer-director Claire Denis (Beau Travail) has other, subtler things on her mind than Electra-complex melodrama. This 2008 feature is beautiful but very quietly so, and definitely not for the ADHD set.
Cliff Doerksen

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 93: Mon Apr 3

Brainstorm (Trumbull, 1983): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


Cigarette Burns Cinema introduction to this 70mm screening:
BRAINSTORM was the plaything of special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull, who wanted to maximise the screen and push cinema to new places, shot on 35mm and 70mm. Trumbull’s second and final feature, after having worked on some of the finest science fiction films of all time, 2001, Silent Running, Blade Runner, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Andromeda Strain. Sadly, his masterpiece was overshadowed by the death of its co-star Natlie Wood, rather than the ground breaking over the top special effects he employed.
Brainstorm is the first film Cigarette Burns thought of when the Prince Charles Cinema mentioned 70mm.


Chicago Reader review:
Douglas Trumbull's stab at science fiction for adults (1983) turns out to be an unconscious remake of Roger Corman's classic cheapie X—The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, though refitted with a sappy, spiritual ending. A group of research scientists construct a machine capable of recording and playing back every human sensory stimulus; as in the Corman film, the device becomes a metaphor for the privileged vision of the movies. Though the film finally succumbs to a trite and uncertainly constructed thriller plot (military nasties are trying to turn the project to their own evil ends), Trumbull deserves credit for trying to tie his special-effects extravaganza to some complex character relationships. With Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, and Cliff Robertson.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 92: Sun Apr 2

The American Soldier (Fassbinder, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 4.15pm



The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 5th. You can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder described this 1970 film as “what's left in the minds of the German people who see a lot of American gangster films.” What's left, apparently, is some of the seediest mise-en-scene I've ever encountered—flat, grainy, spatially incomprehensible, and way too dark. And naturally, it's fascinating. This is Fassbinder before he froze up as a Douglas Sirk impersonator: a real punk movie, full of wonderfully half-baked ideas.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 91: Sat Apr 1

Lolita (Kubrick, 1962): Prince Charles Cinema, 2.40pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's 'Stanley Kubrick on Film' season covering the movies he made from 1962 to 1999. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Keeping his misanthropic tendencies somewhat in check, Stanley Kubrick made a solid film (1962) out of Vladimir Nabokov's notorious and brilliant novel. James Mason is the pederastic representative of Old Europe, yearning after the 14-year-old flower of American girlhood, Lolita (Sue Lyon). Where Nabokov was witty, Kubrick is sometimes merely snide, but fine performances (particularly from Peter Sellers, as the ominous Clare Quilty) cover most of the rough spots. With Shelley Winters.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 90: Fri Mar 31

Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder, 1974):
BFI Southbank, NFT2 2.30pm + NFT1 6.30 & 8.45pm


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 an extended run throughout April. All the information is here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder takes Douglas Sirk's Hollywood melodrama All That Heaven Allows and pushes it over the brink: it becomes the story of a May-December romance between a Moroccan guest laborer and an aging German hausfrau. The visual style is mostly Sirk's as well—it emphasizes artificially cheerful primary colors and imprisoning frames within the frame—though the distant, drained, but finally impassioned acting style is pure Fassbinder. This 1974 film stands as one of Fassbinder's sturdiest achievements, posed between the low-budget funkiness of his early features and the mannerism of his late period. In German with subtitles.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 89: Thu Mar 30

Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? (Fassbinder, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 1st. All the information is here.

Chicago Reader review:
Made for about $10,000, this 1970 provocation by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Michael Fengler stars Kurt Raab (The Stationmaster's Wife) as a character with the same name—a moody, misfit draftsman at a German architectural firm who grows increasingly alienated from his workplace, his neighbors, his parents, and his bourgeois wife (Lilith Ungerer). As did Sinclair Lewis in Babbitt, Fassbinder navigates carefully between mockery and empathy, heightening the interior drama with his superior staging: in almost every key scene, the chattering characters become white noise as we focus on the silent sufferer in the room. With Franz Maron and Hanna Schygulla.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is an extract.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 88: Wed Mar 29

Z (Costa-Gavras, 1969): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm


This evening is part of Kino Klassika's 'World to Win' season. Bringing together provocative films by directors such as Sergei Eisenstein, Mikhail Kalatozov, Larisa Shepitko and Andrei Smirnov, Jean-Luc Godard, Gauber Rocha, Andrzej Wajda, Bernardo Bertolucci and Ken Loach, the season offers a touring programme to reach audiences across the UK. You can read the full details here.

The film was restored and digitized last year by KG Productions with the support of CNC and under the supervision of Costa-Gavras. 


Time Out review:
Costa-Gavras' crowd-pleasing left wing thriller was based on the 1965 Lambrakis affair, in which investigation of the accidental death of a medical professor uncovered a network of police and government corruption. As Greece was under the Colonels at the time, the film was shot in Algeria, with a script by Spaniard Jorge Semprun and music by Theodorakis. The recreation of the murder and the subsequent investigation uses the techniques of an American thriller to gripping effect, though conspiracies are so commonplace nowadays that it's hard to imagine the impact it made at the time.
David Thompson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 87: Tue Mar 28

Gods of the Plague (Fassbinder, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2 8.40pm


The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 3rd. More information here.

Chicago Reader review:
A 40s American gangster film, made by a German in 1969. With Gods of the Plague, Rainer Werner Fassbinder deliberately attempted to throw the style of the film noir back on itself. He's less interested in the art of the American film than in the stock situations and characters of the most routine genre movies as he attempts to find the universal in the banal. Through this story of a black gangster's foray into the Munich underworld, Fassbinder tries to emotionally recharge and revalidate the most common cliches of the form.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 86: Mon Mar 27

Love Is Colder Than Death (Fassbinder, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT 2, 6.20pm


It's the opening night of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder season at the BFI Southbank. Full details here. Tonight's film, the director's debut, can also be seen at the BFI Southbank on March 31st. You can find out more here.

Time Out review:
A restless and sombre foray into the b/w world of the Hollywood gangster film as interpreted by B-movie mavericks such as Sam Fuller, and ex-Cahiers iconoclasts such as Godard, here stripped bare by Fassbinder to reveal the cold underlying mechanism of love, death, loneliness, friendship, hate, betrayal and manipulation. Shot on a pfennig budget, this - his first feature - is both an assured 'revolutionary' critique of genre, and at the same time a constantly searching experiment in style and treatment. The plot? For what it is worth, the worn-leather-jacket-and-boots, chain-smoking ex-con and pimp (Fassbinder) refuses the brutal 'persuasions' of the Syndicate, befriends a felt hat and raincoat (Ulli Lommel), only to be betrayed by a jealous prostitute lover (Hanna Schygulla) in an attempted bank robbery. In this bleak world of bare sets, static camera shots, and stylised acting, was awkwardly born one of the greatest 'lives in film' the cinema has seen.
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is an extract.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 85: Sun Mar 26

Melancholia (Engel, 1989): Curzon Soho, 3pm



This is the second Enthusiasm season screening devoted to showing movies from prints at the Curzon. As part of Curzon Artificial Eye's 40th anniversary celebrations here's a rare chance to see Curzon founder Andi Engel directing this intriguing 1989 film on 35mm. You can find all the details of this superb programme, which includes Engel's favourite film, Vertov's 1931 short 'Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass', here.

Time Out review:
Like writer/director Engel, the hero (or anti-hero) of this elegant existential/political thriller - successful art critic David Keller (Jeroen Krabbé) - is a product of the radical '60s, a German now living in Britain. But his success is hollow: Dürer's engraving 'Melancholia' on his upmarket apartment wall, vodka on his desk, abandoned relationships (most notably with old flame Susannah York), angst and melancholy in his heart. This moral inertia is catalysed by an unexpected phone call: a voice from the German past tells him he has been chosen as the assassin of a Chilean ex-torturer, coming to London for a conference. Can he stay true to the ideals of his youth? Could he, should he, kill? Krabbe, rugged and taciturn (the clipped dialogue of the opening sounds echoes of the B thriller) gives an excellent performance, personalising moral and political issues with facial sensitivity, a palpable intellect, and physical restraint. There is much to enjoy: Hitchcockian tension and invention in the action sequences, a contemplative but fluid visual style and an evocative use of music. Good, too, to see London and Hamburg filmed as expressively as they are here by cameraman Denis Crossan. 
Wally Hammond

Here is the trailer.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 84: Sat Mar 25

The Eyes of My Mother (Pesce, 2016): Picturehouse Central, 6.30pm


Picturehouse Central introduction:
The Final Girls present a special 35mm screening of monochrome nightmare The Eyes Of My Mother. Shot in crisp black-and-white, Nicholas Pesce’s debut feature tells the coming-of-age story of Francisca (Magalhaes), a young woman exploring her ever-evolving morbid curiosities. Living a quiet existence on a secluded farmhouse somewhere in neglected rural America, Francisca’s life is irrevocably disrupted by an unwelcome visitor that shatters her family and unchains a series of increasingly violent rituals. A disturbingly gorgeous examination of madness, loneliness and obsession, The Eyes Of My Mother makes for a twisted Mother’s Day treat.

Time Out review:
A man comes up a long, dusty road to a house on a hill. That could be the start of many horror films—in fact, it is—but none of them do what debuting writer-director Nicolas Pesce does in his shocking The Eyes of My Mother. For one, we quickly notice the guy is unwell: giggly, wide-eyed, armed with a huge pistol and the desire to flaunt it. And yet, even he doesn’t know he’s just invaded a home where the careful slicing of flesh is a way of life. There’s a young girl who lives there; she becomes a fast learner. Pardon the vagueness, but some surprises are worth keeping. Shooting in ominous black and white (often from a high, airy remove), Pesce has made an exquisite creepshow that pays homage to the mightiest of fear films, Tobe Hooper’s silent-majority satire The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), while still having a coppery taste all its own. The movie skips through the years; skeptical viewers will wonder if such domestic brutality could go unnoticed for so long. But of course, it can: The Eyes of My Mother already feels, unwittingly, like a timely expression of backwardness straight from the heartland, tinged with revenge, sex and saintly suffering. If you can stomach the fear, go. Confident hands created this film. Its nightmare lingers for weeks.
Joshua Rothkopf

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 83: Fri Mar 24

Fantastic Mr Fox (Anderson, 2009): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This is part of the 35mm Presentations at the Prince Charles Cinema. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Tony hipster Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums) takes a left turn into stop-motion animation with this 2009 adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's book, and the result is an instant classic. The material allows Anderson to neutralize the most irritating aspects of his work (the precociousness, the sense of white-bread privilege) and maximize the most endearing (the comic timing, the dollhouse ordering of invented worlds). Like the rest of his movies, this one is essentially infantile—but when you're telling the story of a ne'er-do-well fox conspiring against a trio of nasty farmers, who cares? Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) collaborated with Anderson on the script; among the voice talents are Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, and George Clooney, perfect as the roguish hero.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 82: Thu Mar 23

Stray Dogs (Ming-liang, 2013): Phoenix Cinema, 10.30am


An extraordinary film. Don't miss the chance to catch this movie in a cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Tsai Ming-liang's bittersweet feature echoes two touchstones of the silent cinema—Chaplin's The Kid (1921) and Ozu's Passing Fancy (1933)—with its tale of a homeless man (Tsai regular Lee Kang-sheng) raising two small children on the outskirts of Taipei. Though periodically funny, this is more despairing than either of its models, concluding with a long silent sequence that's as devastating in its anticlimax as the apocalyptic imagery of Tsai's The Hole (1998) or The Wayward Cloud (2005). The Taiwanese writer-director has long been a master of conveying loneliness—most powerfully, through cockeyed compositions that make contemporary architecture look like an alien landscape. Here he broadens his focus to consider the disconnect between the larger society and the people it neglects, and the effect is tremendous. In Mandarin with subtitles.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 81: Wed Mar 22

Black God, White Devil (Rocha, 1964): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm


This evening is part of Kino Klassika's 'World to Win' season. Bringing together provocative films by directors such as Sergei Eisenstein, Mikhail Kalatozov, Larisa Shepitko and Andrei Smirnov, Jean-Luc Godard, Gauber Rocha, Andrzej Wajda, Bernardo Bertolucci and Ken Loach, the season offers a touring programme to reach audiences across the UK. You can read the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A key figure in Brazil's leftist Cinema Novo movement of the 60s, Glauber Rocha became a balladeer for the downtrodden with this 1964 allegory about blind faith among peasants in Brazil's poor, barren northeast. Manuel, a cowhand who's killed a rancher in a rage, seeks salvation with a Christlike mystic, then with the last of the bandits fighting the landowning gentry. His futile quest and its many detours—based partly on folk legends—are described by a troubadour who sings off camera. Rocha, who wrote the script and most of the lyrics, consciously uses iconography from Eisenstein (Potemkin, Que Viva Mexico), Buñuel (Nazarin), and Godard (Les carabiniers) to create a mise-en-scene that's decidedly European avant-garde, while he has the actors pose and speak in a deliriously theatrical manner derived from Brecht and Grotowski (Geraldo Del Ray is superb as the confused, impressionable Manuel). The fusion of European and Afro-Brazilian elements—dialogue, exquisite black-and-white images, and music by Villa-Lobos—is startlingly original and poetical in conveying the hope and despair of the oppressed.
Ted Shen

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 80: Tue Mar 21

Princess Raccoon (Sukuzi, 2005): Curzon Soho, 9pm



This 35mm screening is part of the '10th Anniversary Fashion in Film Festival'. You can find full details of the Fashion In Film Festival here.

Time Out review:
A cult favourite thanks to delirious, inventive, expressionist-tinged ’60s gangster flicks like ‘Branded to Kill’ and ‘Tokyo Drifter’, the now octogenarian maverick director Seijun Suzuki came out of directorial retirement with the idiosyncratic ‘Pistol Opera’ in 2001. For his latest extravaganza, he places a modernist spin on the fairytale, offering a sometimes bewildering and visually stunning tale of young romantic love between Ziyi Zhang’s ‘spiritual’ titular princess and the banished son (dreamboat Jo Odigari) of gloriously fearsome Mikijiro Hara’s Lord of Grace Castle. You have to admire the veteran’s energy. Much of the action here is staged against beautifully designed lithographic backdrops – think Syberberg on LSD – with Yonezo Maeda’s swooping camera often descending from the gods like in a Busby Berkeley musical. Kabuki and Noh theatre vies with rock’n’roll musical and rap opera; balletic mise-en-scène with camp Jarmanesque anachronisms as medieval court figures fight and make out with mythic beasts, shape-shifting spirits and demons.
Wally Hammond


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 79: Mon Mar 20

The Colour of Pomegranates (Parajanov, 1968): Curzon  Bloomsbury, 8.30pm


This screening is part of the '10th Anniversary Fashion in Film Festival'. You can find full details of the Fashion In Film Festival here.

Here is the feature I wrote for the Guardian on this unique movie.

Chicago Reader:
The late Sergei Paradjanov's greatest film, a mystical and historical mosaic about the life, work, and inner world of the 18th-century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, was previously available only in the ethnically “dry-cleaned” Russian version—recut and somewhat reorganized by Sergei Yutkevich, with chapter headings added to clarify the content for Russian viewers. This superior 1969 version of the film, found in an Armenian studio in the early 90s, shouldn't be regarded as definitive (some of the material from the Yutkevich cut is missing), but it's certainly the finest we have and may ever have: some shots and sequences are new, some are positioned differently, and, of particular advantage to Western viewers, much more of the poetry is subtitled. (Oddly enough, it's hard to tell why the “new” shots were censored.) In both versions the striking use of tableaulike frames recalls the shallow space of movies made roughly a century ago, while the gorgeous uses of color and the wild poetic conceits seem to derive from some utopian cinema of the future, at once “difficult” and immediate, cryptic and ravishing. This is essential viewing.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.