Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 67: Thu Mar 8

Tout Va Bien (Godard, 1972): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm




Chicago Reader review:
Yves Montand, a former New Wave filmmaker, and his wife, Jane Fonda, get involved in a factory takeover in this 1972 self-styled “commercial” film by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. Actually, it's only a slight step back from Godard's hard-core political tracts, but the few concessions he does make—characters and a story, of sorts—go a long way toward making the rhetoric accessible. Jerry Lewis's famous cutaway set from 
The Ladies' Man is recycled to expose the factory's power structure; long lateral tracks across a bank of supermarket checkout lanes make a wry comment on the ethics of consumerism.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 66: Wed Mar 7

Kuhle Wampe (Dudow, 1932): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This 35mm screening, which will also be shown on March 13th and 19th, will be introduced tonight by Geoff Andrew as part of the 'Big Screen Classics' season.

Chicago Reader review:
A rhapsodic declaration of faith in communism, this German feature by screenwriter Bertolt Brecht and director Slatan Dudow was released in 1932 but banned a few months later, after Hitler came to power. Playing off documentary footage, Dudow and Brecht track the fortunes of a German family, arguing for solidarity among workers and wholesale rejection of both Nazism and social democracy in favor of a joyous communitarianism. 
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 65: Tue Mar 6

A Film Like Any Other (Godard, 1968): Close-Up Cinema 7.30pm


Only The Cinema website review:
'In the aftermath of the student demonstrations and worker strikes that swept across France in May 1968 and after, Jean-Luc Godard — who had already declared the end of cinema, at least for him, in Week-end — fully embraced the student radicalism and the peculiar French Maoism of the time. He was setting off on a journey away from the cinema, but continued making films (and eventually videos) nonetheless. For the last couple of years of the 60s and throughout the 70s, Godard all but abandoned the commercial cinema for various political and aesthetic experiments in which he would drastically reconfigure his approach to the cinema. A Film Like Any Other was one of the first statements of this new, experimental era in Godard's career, the beginning of his long exodus from the cinema, the first of what would be many attempts to work out, in film form, the political and cinematic questions that concerned him. In that respect, this film is a precursor to the films that Godard would make collaboratively with his Dziga Vertov Group experiments, as well as the later (and ultimately much more advanced) videos he'd create with Anne-Marie Miéville.

A Film Like Any Other establishes many of the concerns that would motivate the later films: the possibility of real change, the problems of how to better organize revolutionary actions, and implicitly the central idea that would drive the Dziga Vertov Group's work: Godard's attempts to reconstruct a cinematic form appropriate to ideological films. Whether intentionally or not, A Film Like Any Other
 also winds up demonstrating, better than any of the other films Godard made during his revolutionary period, just why the student idealism and radicalism of this period ultimately amounted to so little. The film is a direct response to (and document of) the events of May 1968. It is constructed primarily around footage of a group of workers and students having a discussion in a field with tall grass and flowers, interspersed with black-and-white documentary images shot during the May protests. The color footage of the discussion is shot from a low angle, with the speakers mostly either turned away from the camera or with their heads chopped off by the top of the frame, so that they remain anonymous representatives of student or proletariat interests rather than individuals.'

“Two 54-minute segments, with identical successions of images but different soundtracks. Students from Nanterre (where May 68 more or less began) sit on the grass (shot from the neck down) and discuss where the movement will go next; two Renault workers discuss their own ideas of a revolutionary future – their images are intercut with black and white footage of May 68, their words mingle with Godard’s own rhetoric. When the film was shown at the 1968 New York Film Festival, Godard told the projectionist to flip a coin and decided on the spot which 16mm reel to begin with. According to D.A. Pennebaker, the American distributor, the audience “began to tear up their seats.”” – Film Society of Lincoln Center 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 64: Mon Mar 5

Mr Jolly Lives Next Door (Frears, 1987): Maida Vale Everyman, 7pm


Maida Vale Everyman introduction:
What are you doing on March 5th 2018? Fancy getting drunk? Can you believe it’s been 30 years since the boys at Dreamytime Escorts took out Nicholas Parsons? That must mean it’s time to get together again and catch up - so pack that Fairy Liquid, tell the French geezer and let's head to the cinema (though there will be no exploding tonic water this time - we hope). Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door – the super-cult Comic Strip film film that is perhaps one of the most quotable pieces of all time – is about to turn 30 and that’s as good as reason as any to come and join us at the Everyman Maida Vale to see just how many gins you can get for £3,000. As well as an exciting screening of the film, Rowland Rivron (legendary comedian and co-writer) will be in  a 30-minute conversation with John Rain (host of Smersh Pod) to reveal behind the scenes stories, facts and give you the real inside track on the cut-throat World of the fluffy toy business. There will also be an exciting bonus screening of Dirty Movie (1984).
Time Out review:
TV's Comic Strip in a niagara of blood, booze, saliva and sick, this has Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall as a pair of bored escorts who, while taking no care of Nicholas Parsons, become involved with a hit-gang and an axe-man (Peter Cook). The abuse is so gratuitous, the pace so riotous, that a kind of obscene serenity hovers over the mayhem. It's funny. Comic Strippers will adore it, and after a six-pack, so will anybody else.
Mark Sanderson



Friday, 23 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 63: Sun Mar 4

The Rite (Bergman, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 4pm


This 35mm screening, also being shown on March 5th, is part of the Ingmar Bergman season. You can find full details of the season here.

Time Out review:
All Bergman's films around this time centre on isolated social groups (often the partners of a marriage) and show them under attack from both inside and out: Laingian fissures and cracks open up between the characters, and their precarious security is challenged by irruptions from the outside world. Bergman preserves and extends his private mythologies (witness the way that images and names recur from film to film), but in a broader (less precious, more honest) context: The Rite, with a trio of actors under examination by a judge on charges of obscenity, tries to expose the bonds that tie an artist to his audience, and pushes towards a theory of non-communication. A bold step forward in Bergman's analysis of human isolation.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 62: Sat Mar 3

After the Rehearsal (Bergman, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.40pm


This 35mm screening, also being shown on March 7th, is part of the Ingmar Bergman season. You can find full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Ingmar Bergman's 70-minute TV film (1984) is an afterword to Fanny and Alexander, an examination of the impressions and emotions that linger after the story is over, taking the form of three monologues (an elderly director, a young actress, the director's alcoholic ex-star and ex-lover) and a concluding duet. The film is awful where Bergman has always been awful—in trying to turn his philosophical conceits into viable drama—but there is something liberating in the very schematism of the project: he no longer needs to pretend that his mouthpieces are real people. As in Fanny, Bergman is self-consciously regathering the themes and situations that are his artistic property, though the perspective is no longer one of childhood and commencement, but of old age and exhaustion.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 61: Fri Mar 2

Girlfriends (Weill, 1978): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This film, which is also screened on March 13th, is part of the 'Girlfriends' season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Here is the BFI Southbank introduction: Struggling photographer Susan flatshares with best friend Anne, but when Anne gets married Susan must fend for herself. Claudia Weill’s woefully neglected gem celebrates the comedy and confusion of young single life in New York – decades before Girls and Frances Ha made it a phenomenon. Championed by Stanley Kubrick on its original release and recently ‘re-discovered’ by Lena Dunham, Girlfriends is finally receiving the attention it deserves.

New York Times review:

One of Girlfriends' many gentle astonishments was brought to mind by a viewing of Alex Ross Perry’s recently released feature “The Color Wheel”—namely, that, for all the discussion of the directorial art of comic timing, the art of knowing just how near or far to place the camera to an actor, the art of comic distance, is equally important in calibrating the humor of performance. Weill is psychically close to her protagonist, the young photographer Susan Weinblatt (played by Melanie Mayron with an audacious vulnerability), but doesn’t stay so visually close as to short-circuit her humor—both the self-deprecating kind and the kind, achieved with a hint of critical detachment, that Weill sees in her. Even scenes of anguished, ambivalent commitment evoke Susan’s whimsical, dialectical jousting, her blend of studied reticence and irrepressible spontaneity. The movie catches a moment of new expectations for women, when professional assertiveness and romantic fulfillment were more openly in conflict, but it also catches the last days of an old New York, a time when office buildings were not guarded fortresses but open hives, and when—peculiarly similarly—the boundaries between professional activity and personal involvement were less scrupulously guarded, perhaps even undefined. One of the wonders of Weill’s movie is in its intimate crystallization of the inchoate; it propels Susan Weinblatt and a city of young women into the future, and it’s terribly sad that Weill’s—and, for that matter, Mayron’s—own careers didn’t leap ahead in the same way.
Richard Brody

Here is Brody's video discussion of the film.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 60: Thu Mar 1

Sawdust and Tinsel (Bergman, 1953): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 2.30pm


This brilliant Ingmar Bergman film, part of the director's season at BFI Southbank, also screens on March 2nd, 4th and 17th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A major early feature by Ingmar Bergman, also known as 
The Naked Night (though the Swedish title apparently means "The Clown's Night"). This 1953 film is perhaps the most German expressionist of Bergman's 50s works, as redolent of sexual cruelty and angst as Variety and The Blue Angel, but no less impressive for all that. The aging owner of a small traveling circus who left his wife for a young performer in his troupe tries to regain his lost family. Visually splendid, but you may find the masochistic plot pretty unpleasant. With Ake Gronberg and Harriet Andersson.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is an extract.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 59: Wed Feb 28

The Bells of St Marys (McCarey, 1945): Regent St Cinema, 2pm


Chicago Reader review:
Leo McCarey's 1945 sequel to his hugely successful Going My Way (1944), with Bing Crosby back as Father O'Malley, the pipe-smoking priest of the New York slums. Going My Way is probably the worst of McCarey's major films—obvious, coy, fearsomely sentimental—but Bells is one of his finest, a film so subtle in its romantic exposition that it's halfway over before you realize what it's about: a priest in love with a nun. Seldom has a sequel so completely transcended its predecessor: McCarey's invisible hand, nudging the narrative more than directing it, turns looming cliches into the most refined, elusive feeling. With Ingrid Bergman, Henry Travers, and William Gargan.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 58: Tue Feb 27

Zazie dans le Metro (Malle, 1960): Cine Lumiere, 8.45pm


Prior to the screening of this film (at 7pm) cinema experts, scholars and authors Ginette VincendeauAlastair PhillipsMichael Temple and Michael Witt gather to celebrate the releases of Paris in Cinema: Beyond the Flâneur (BFI), and of the second edition of The French Cinema Book (BFI). Together they will discuss a series of cinematic milestones that considers both the artistic ambition and the commercial realities of French cinema, from the earliest days of silent cinema to the most recent releases, taking on board both the cinema of the great auteurs (from Feuillade to Denis) and popular film genres (thrillers, comedy). Major movements (such as the New Wave) will be discussed, as well as the way French cinema repeatedly took the city of Paris as its background, subject and muse, depicting its everyday streets and apartments as well as its famous landmarks.

Chicago Reader review: 
Arguably Louis Malle’s best work (1960). Based on Raymond Queneau’s farcical novel about a little girl (Catherine Demongeot) left in Paris for a weekend with her decadent uncle (Philippe Noiret), this wild spree goes overboard reproducing Mack Sennett-style slapstick, parodying various films of the 1950s, and playing with editing and color effects (Henri Decae’s cinematography is especially impressive), though gradually it becomes a rather disturbing nightmare about fascism. Forget the preposterous claim by a few critics that the movie’s editing influenced Alain Resnais, but there’s no doubt that Malle affected Richard Lester — and was clearly influenced himself by William Klein, whom he credited on the film as a visual consultant. A rather sharp, albeit soulless, film, packed with ideas and glitter and certainly worth a look.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 57: Mon Feb 26

Modern Romance (Brooks, 1981): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35m presentation is part of an Albert Brooks double-bill, also featuring 'Lost in America' at the Prince Charles. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Albert Brooks and Kathryn Harrold as two young Los Angeles professionals caught in a roller-coaster relationship. Though this 1981 film was only Brooks's second, it displays a distinctive, original, and highly effective mise-en-scene: Brooks is a superrealist who uses long takes to hold his characters in a tight compression of time and space, while his even, laconic direction of dialogue short-circuits conventional comic rhythms, going beyond easy payoffs into an almost cosmic apprehension of life's inescapable absurdity. The first part of the film is farcical and very funny; from there it shades into a pointed naturalism and ends on a note of near-tragedy. With Bob Einstein and George Kennedy. 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 56: Sun Feb 25

Moonstruck (Jewison, 1987): Genesis Cinema, 2.30pm


Genesis Cinema introduction:
The Bechdel Test Fest proudly partners with Ruby Tandoh to present an afternoon of film, food and thoughtful chatter at one of our favourite venues, Genesis Cinema. In celebration of Ruby’s nourishing new book Eat Up!, a manifesto that reignites the pleasure of eating, we’ll be co-hosting a 30th Anniversary presentation of Moonstruck in 35mm, a film with food and love at its core with a mesmerising, Oscar-winning performance by Cher. Tandoh is an author and journalist who writes for, among others, the Guardian, Elle and Vice. A finalist on the 2013 Great British Bake Off, she has published two cookery books, Crumb and Flavour.

Chicago reader review:
Good, corny fun develops when Italian-American widow Loretta Castorini (Cher) falls in love with her fiance's brother Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage). Director Norman Jewison and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley milk the New York settings, accents, and folkways for all they're worth—although those familiar with certain Manhattan locations may be dismayed to find them transplanted to Brooklyn—and the broad Italian family humor gets so thick at times that you could cut it with a bread knife. Among the “adorable” secondary cast are Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Julie Bovasso, and Feodor Chaliapin Jr., but most of the show belongs to Cher and Cage, both of whom are at their energetic best. Dick Hyman is in charge of the hyperbolic music, which starts off with “That's Amore” to clue us all in to what we should expect (1987).
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 55: Sat Feb 24

Man Bites Dog (Belvaux/Bonzel/Poelvoorde, 1992): Cine Lumiere, 9pm


This film is part of the 'Focus on Belgian Cinema' season at Cine Lumiere. You can find all the details of the season here.

Time Out review:
Mostly, Ben (Benoit Poelvoorde) is an ordinary sort of guy. One passion, however, is unusual: he regularly commits murder, not exactly at random, but certainly without malice or provocation. So intriguing is Ben's deadly charm that a film crew decide to make a documentary about him; and come to like him so much that they start facilitating, then collaborating in, his crimes. This spoof fly-on-the-wall documentary is funny, scary, provocative, and profoundly disturbing. While the body count is sky high and the violence explicit, it's neither a thriller nor, finally, a psychological study. Rather, it's a witty, uncompromising acknowledgment of both film-makers' and audiences' often unhealthy fascination with the spectacle of violence. Even as you admire its bravura, intelligence and seeming authenticity, such is its rigour that you are also forced to question just why you are watching it. Purely on a gut level, it may offend; but as an exploration of voyeurism, it's one of the most resonant, caustic contributions to the cinema of violence since Peeping Tom.

Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 54: Fri Feb 23

Trouble Every Day (Denis, 2001): Deptford Cinema, 7.30pm


Time Out review:
It begins, innocently enough, with a kiss—tentative at first, but slowly increasing in passion and intensity. (How easy it is to lose yourself in intimacy with another.) We’ll never see these two people again; they’re just some randomly horned-up couple in a car taking advantage of the dark of night. Yet they help set the moody, libidinal tone of Claire Denis’s inimitable horror film—being rereleased in a new 35mm print—in which the real monsters are those microscopic urges that, taken too far, make mincemeat of our humanity.
There are man-size monsters here too, first and foremost newlywed American Shane Brown (Vincent Gallo). He’s ostensibly traveling to Paris with his wife, June (Tricia Vessey), for their honeymoon, but in actuality he’s looking for an old colleague, Léo (Alex Descas), to help him with some cannibalistic appetites that may have resulted from a research trip abroad. Shane’s quest to quash his cravings and keep his spouse safe is contrasted with the uninhibited acting out of Léo’s wife, Coré (Béatrice Dalle, that great gap-toothed temptress), who is similarly infected and literally devours men with rabid glee.
Denis shoots this grisly-erotic roundelay in her distinctively woozy and elliptical style. The deepest connections between characters emerge from silence as opposed to dialogue—Shane gazing hungrily at a hotel maid’s neck, Coré quietly enticing a fresh-faced neighbor boy into her boarded-up lair—while the groggy atmosphere, aided immeasurably by Agnès Godard’s grainy cinematography and the punch-drunk score of indie-rockers Tindersticks, keeps you constantly beguiled.
Gallo and Dalle are sublimely tragic figures; the scene in which Shane stalks around Notre Dame like Frankenstein unleashed is a pitch-perfect encapsulation of the way the film plays with and deepens movie-monster archetypes. Yet it’s June who ends up as the movie’s brokenhearted soul, so loved that she can never be lusted after and—in what is perhaps Trouble Every Day’s most terrifying reveal—all too aware of that fact.
Keith Uhlich

Monday, 12 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 53: Thu Feb 22

Secretary (Shainberg, 2002): Genesis Cinema, 6.50pm


This film is part of the Cult Classic Collective strand at the Genesis Cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
This wicked little black comedy (2002), adapted from a short story by Mary Gaitskill, chronicles the perverse attraction between a young typist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her uptight boss (James Spader), a sadomasochistic tango that strikes unexpected chords in each character. The young woman is a self-mutilator, and when the attorney spanks her for a minor mistake, she knows she's found the right job. The film's romantic conceit turns on the decidedly un-PC notion of female submissiveness, but director Steven Shainberg (Hit Me) twists the story into a sly and stylized study of two lonely souls who come to realize they're made for each other. Spader is both haughty and tender as the sadistic control freak, and Gyllenhaal is even better as the love-starved kitten, crawling around on all fours and meowing for more. Angelo Badalamenti wrote the creepy score; with Lesley Ann Warren as the typist's overly solicitous mother and Stephen McHattie as her self-loathing father. 
Ted Shen

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 52: Wed Feb 21

The Extra Girl (Jones, 1923): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


The Kennington Bioscope is a regular cinema event featuring live accompaniment to silent films that takes place at the Cinema Museum. The main feature tonight is The Extra Girl (1923), a comedy starring Mabel Normand, directed by F. Richard Jones and produced by Mack Sennett. This screening will be from a 16mm print, and will be introduced by Kevin Brownlow. A programme of silent shorts precedes the main film.

Cinema Museum introduction:

Given the status of Mabel Normand as the leading comedienne of the silent screen, her feature-length films are frustratingly hard to obtain. There are plenty of early shorts from Vitagraph, Biograph and, especially, Keystone, as well as the Hal Roach films from the end of her career (1927’s 
Should Men Walk Home has previously been screened at Kennington Bioscope); of her starring features, few are known to remain. Mickey (1918) survives and dates from the end of her early relationship with Mack Sennett. Most of her subsequent films at Goldwyn are missing. Sennett, convinced that he alone could provide appropriate vehicles for Normand, made repeated efforts to lure her back and secured a loan-out from Goldwyn for Molly O’ (1922), which seems presently to circulate only in a Russian-language print. Their final film together – The Extra Girl (1923) – is, fortunately, available for us to screen in a good (English!) copy. F. Richard Jones – Normand’s favourite director – brings out the best of her talents in this tale of a small-town girl with aspirations to be a movie actress.

Here (and above) is an extract.