Friday, 30 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 97: Sun Apr 8

Pierrot Le Fou (Godard, 1965): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


This film, part of the Cine Lumiere's 'Jean-Luc Godard – Heading to '68' season (full details here), will be preceded by an inroduction and followed by a discussion with Nick Walker of the Rochester Kino Cinema Club.

When Pierrot Le Fou, which will surely come to be seen as one of Jean-Luc Godard's finest, was re-released in 1989 after many years out of circulation, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum had this to say in an article in Chicago Reader : "Looking at Pierrot Le Fou again almost a quarter of a century after it was made, 20 years after its initial U.S. release, is a bit like visiting another planet; it’s an explosion of color, sound, music, passion, violence, and wit that illustrates what used to be regarded as cinema."

It's impossible for me to give a swift synopsis for Pierrot Le Fou in which Jean Paul Belmondo, ostensibly escaping stifling domesticity, and Anna Karina, fleeing a group of gangsters, depart Paris for the south of France suffice to say that it is brimming with ideas and scenes of extraordinary complexity. My abiding memories of seeing this the first time was of the vitality and colour - I was reminded when viewing it again last year that this was also a caustic commentary by the director on his relationship with Karina. Still, a huge treat and a film you will not forget in a hurry.

If I had to pick one excerpt it would be this one in which fellow director Sam Fuller is asked what is the meaning of cinema: "Film is like a battleground", recounts the American filmmaker. "Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion.

Chicago Reader review:
"I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple," Jean-Luc Godard said of this brilliant, all-over-the-place adventure and meditation about two lovers on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina). Made in 1965, the film, with its ravishing colors and beautiful 'Scope camerawork by Raoul Coutard, still looks as iconoclastic and fresh as it did when it belatedly opened in the U.S. Godard's misogynistic view of women as the ultimate betrayers is integral to the romanticism in much of his 60s work—and perhaps never more so than here—but Karina's charisma makes this pretty easy to ignore most of the time. The movie's frequent shifts in style, emotion, and narrative are both challenging and intoxicating: American director Samuel Fuller turns up at a party scene to offer his definition of cinema, Karina performs two memorable songs in musical-comedy fashion, Belmondo's character quotes copiously from his reading, and a fair number of red and blue cars are stolen and destroyed.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 96: Sat Apr 7

Witchfinder General (Reeves, 1968): Cinema Museum, 5pm


The Cinema Museum screening will be followed by a Q&A with the star of the film, Ian Ogilvy, for which you will need a separate ticket. Full details here.

Time Out review:
'Filmed on location in the countryside of Norfolk and Suffolk on a modest budget, this portrait of backwoods violence - set in 1645, it deals with the infamous witchhunter Matthew Hopkins, and the barbarities he practised during the turmoils of the Civil War - remains one of the most personal and mature statements in the history of British cinema. In the hands of the late Michael Reeves (this was his last film, made at the age of 23), a fairly ordinary but interestingly researched novel by Ronald Bassett, with a lot of phony Freudian motivation, is transformed into a highly ornate, evocative, and poetic study of violence, where the political disorganisation and confusion of the war is mirrored by the chaos and superstition in men's minds. The performances are generally excellent, and no film before or since has used the British countryside in quite the same way.'
David Pirie

Here (and above) is the trailer.

You can read critic Robin Wood's famous 1970 Movie article on director Michael Reeves here.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 95: Fri Apr 6

Laughter in the Dark (Richardson, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm


This film gets a rare 35mm screening, and is also being shown on April 22nd, as part of the Woodfall season at BFI Southbank. You can see all the details of the season here.

Time Out review:
Despite being transplanted from the sado-masochistic gloom of the German '30s to the Swinging London of the '60s, this adaptation of Nabokov's teasingly perverse variation on the eternal triangle is not as bad as one might expect. It's shot as a series of brief, impressionistic scenes with Monteverdi tinkling tranquilly on the sound-track: a style which works well at the beginning as the ageing art critic (Nicol Williamson, excellent) meets his cinema usherette (Anna Karina) and finds her worming herself into his obsessions; and it serves at the end, when the critic, blinded after a lover's quarrel and believing himself alone with the repentant girl in a lonely villa, gradually realises that there is a third presence in the house, playing mocking games with him. In between times, though, the film sags horribly into all sorts of destructively non-Nabokovian vulgarities: a swinging party shot in swinging style, a surfeit of semi-nude couples cavorting on beds, etc.

Tom Milne

Here (and above) is an extract. 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 94: Thu Apr 5

The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm



This (35mm) screening is part of the Terrence Malick season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

The Thin Red Line confused Jonathan Romney so much when he was the Guardian's chief film critic that he said he wasn't sure whether it was worth one star or five so he put a row of question marks at the top of his review which you can read in full here.

Here is the Chicago Reader review:
There's less sense of period here and more feeling for terrain than in any other World War II movie that comes to mind. Terrence Malick's strongest suits in his two previous features, Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978)—a painterly sense of composition and a bold and original use of offscreen narration—are enhanced here, first by a successful wedding of ecology and narrative (which never quite happened in Days of Heaven) and second by the notion of a collective hero, which permits the internal monologues of many characters in turn. I haven't read the James Jones novel this is based on,  which some feel is his best, but Malick clearly is distancing the material philosophically and poetically, muting the drama periodically and turning it into reverie. This may have its occasional dull stretches, but in contrast to Saving Private Ryan it's the work of a grown-up with something to say about the meaning and consequences of war. The fine cast includes Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Nick Nolte, John C. Reilly, and, in tiny parts, John Travolta and George Clooney.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 94: Wed Apr 4

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Durkin, 2011): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the 'Cinematic Jukebox' season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details of the season here.

Time Out review:
'The American indie toast of both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals, Sean Durkin’s unnerving and insidiously offbeat horror-thriller exposes the sinister underside of religious cult deprogramming via an ingeniously suggestive and prickly performance from Elizabeth Olsen. It opens with a dishevelled and volatile Martha (Olsen) seeking refuge with her pedantic older sister (Sarah Paulson) and prig hubby (Hugh Dancy) in their sterile lakeside retreat. Formally (and, for that matter, atmospherically) we’re deep in ‘Last Year At Marienbad’ country, as the film switches back and forth in time to offer a series of layered and increasingly uncomfortable reveals as to what questionable deeds our multi-monikered heroine has been up to for the last two years. It may be a question of taste, but Dancy felt like the loose-link here: a technically strong performance, but a clich├ęd take on Brit obstinacy that threatened to cloud more pressing thematic concerns. Still, a very minor quibble for an otherwise majorly impressive and rigorous nightmare movie.'
David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 93: Tue Apr 3

Deathdream (Clark, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm


This film. which is also being shown on April 7th, is part of the cult strand season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

AllMovie review:
This dark, brooding low-budget effort opens in Vietnam, where young infantryman Andy Brooks (
Richard Backus) is struck down by a sniper's bullet. At the same time in Andy's hometown, his poor mother is uttering a desperate prayer for Andy to come home... and shortly thereafter, he does. Despite Mrs. Brooks' exultation at her son's safe return, it becomes apparent to the rest of the family that there's something terribly wrong with Andy; he won't do much more than sit in a chair, staring blankly at the walls of his room... that is, until nightfall, when he prowls the town in search of human blood, which he extracts from his victims through a syringe and injects into his own veins. The first horror effort from director Bob Clark, who followed with Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things! and the effective thriller Black Christmas, this haunting film (released as The Veteran in 1972) functions as a Vietnam-era variant on the classic story of "The Monkey's Paw" and was one of the first films of the genre to address the stateside reactions to the horrors of that war.

Cavett Binion

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 92: Mon Apr 2

The Fire Within (Malle, 1963): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm


Chicago Reader review:
Louis Malle achieved a rare level of mastery in this 1963 portrait of the last 24 hours in the life of a man emerging from an alcoholism cure. It's a penetrating study of a man at the end of his rope, and a searing re-creation of a social milieu. With Maurice Ronet.
Don Druker


Here (and above) is the opening scene.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 91: Sun Apr 1

The Last Temptation of Christ (Scorsese, 1988): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.50pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Classic Films season. You can find the full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
A 1988 adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's controversial novel. Neither the best nor the worst of Martin Scorsese's films, but possibly the most ambitious, it more or less inverts the principles of his religiously informed New York films by being a religious film informed by some of the cadences, intonations, and attitudes of New York. The efforts to plant this story in a contemporary vernacular are not always successful but the performances are uniformly fine in their adherence to the material, and consistently avoid any vulgarity or showboating. Concentrating on the humanity and fallibility of Jesus in continual conflict with his divinity, the film falters as a contemporary statement mainly in its primitive view of women, who are allowed to signify nothing beyond sexual temptation and maternity. Filmed in Marrakech; with Willem Dafoe (as Jesus), Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Verna Bloom, Andre Gregory, Randy Danson, David Bowie, Barry Miller, and Harry Dean Stanton. Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 90: Sat Mar 31

Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Classic Films season. You can find the full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
The most densely allegorical of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces (1954), moving from psychology to morality to formal concerns and finally to the theological. It is also Hitchcock's most innovative film in terms of narrative technique, discarding a linear story line in favor of thematically related incidents, linked only by the powerful sense of real time created by the lighting effects and the revolutionary ambient sound track. James Stewart is the news photographer who, immobilized by a broken leg, dreams stories about the neighbors in his courtyard and demands that they come true. With Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 89: Fri Mar 30

Carrie (De Palma, 1976): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm


"[Forty] years on, Brian De Palma’s Carrie – an adaption of Stephen King’s breakout 1974 debut novel – has long been a bona fide classic, capable of inspiring its own Halloween costumes, sitcom references, cross-generational dialogues, and [...] studio remake. Looking at the film today [...] it seems like a miracle it was ever made in the first place. Released in 1976, at a moment when major Hollywood studios were still improbably willing to give space to the personal visions of young directors, Carrie remains a wicked piece of work: a film deeply committed to making its fragile teenage heroine’s sufferings palpable, pitiable, and relatable – but only so that it can twist the knife in deeper when the time comes."
M
ax Nelson


Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 88: Thu Mar 29

The Bad Sleep Well (Kurosawa, 1960): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm


This presentation is part of Close-Up Cinema's 'Essential Cinema' programme. You can find full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa's 1960 presagement of the Lockheed scandal, with Toshiro Mifune fighting corporate corruption, is a well-done thriller with Kurosawa's usual social overtones. His use of the wide screen here seems, unaccountably, much more accomplished than in the later Dersu Uzala.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 87: Wed Mar 28

Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, 1957): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm


This 35mm presentation is part of Close-Up Cinema's 'Essential Cinema' programme. You can find full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa's remarkable 1957 restaging of Macbeth
in samurai and expressionist terms is unquestionably one of his finest works—charged with energy, imagination, and, in keeping with the subject, sheer horror. Incidentally, this was reputed to have been T.S. Eliot's favorite film. With Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 86: Tue Mar 27

Head (Rafelson, 1968): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


Prince Charles Cinema are presenting this 50th anniversary screening of this extraordinary film.

Time Out film review:
Bob Rafelson's first feature, made when Monkee mania had all but died, Head proved too experimental for the diminishing weenybop audience which had lapped up the ingenious TV series. It flopped dismally in the US, and only achieved belated release here. Despite obviously dated aspects like clumsy psychedelic effects and some turgid slapstick sequences, the film is still remarkably vital and entertaining. Rafelson (who helped to create the group), together with Jack Nicholson (co-writer and co-producer), increased the TV show's picaresque tempo while also adding more adult, sardonic touches. The calculated manipulation behind the phenomenon is exposed at the start, when the Monkees metaphorically commit suicide. The typical zany humour is intercut with harsher political footage and satire on established genres of American cinema, exploding many a sacred cow into the bargain.


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 85: Mon Mar 26

Early Spring (Ozu, 1956): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.35pm


This 35mm presentation is part of an Yasijuro Ozu season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Time out review: 
A typically low-key domestic drama in Yasijuro Ozu's mournful, defeatist vein: it deals with the break-up between an office-worker and his wife when the husband embarks on a tentative affair, and surrounds both partners with extensive webs of friends, relatives, acquaintances and colleagues. It's shot and edited in Ozu's characteristic 'minimalist' style, with hardly any camera movement, a carefully circumscribed syntax, and an editing method that's as unconventional by Japanese standards as it is remote from the Western norm. Ozu's pessimism is deeply reactionary, and the idiosyncrasy of his methods is more interesting for its exoticism than anything else; but anyone who finds the socio-psychological problems of post-war Japan engaging will find the movie both fascinating and rather moving, simply as evidence.
Tony Rayns


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 84: Sun Mar 25

The Lost City of Z (Gray, 2016): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm


This 35mm presentation, part of the 'Cinematic Jukebox' season and of one of last year's best releases is on offer at £1 for Prince Charles Cinema members.

Chicago Reader review:
Based on the nonfiction book by David Grann, this gripping historical epic chronicles the years-long quest of English explorer Percy Fawcett (played with clear-eyed determination by Charlie Hunnam) to find a fabled Amazonian city whose early innovations may have put the British Empire to shame. Fawcett first traveled to South America as a British army officer in 1906, and his crusade to track down the lost city of Zed, as he called it, was interrupted by the trench warfare of World War I; he and his grown son returned to the jungle as private adventurers in 1925 but were never heard from again. Writer-director James Gray (
Two LoversThe Immigrant) stages all this with an impressive sense of narrative scale, presenting a series of physical conflicts between the explorers and the indigenous peoples they encounter even as he tracks the ongoing ideological conflict between Fawcett and the cultural chauvinists calling the shots back home. With Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Angus Macfadyen, and Tom Holland.
JR Jones


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 83: Sat Mar 24

Bill Douglas Trilogy (Douglas, 1978): Deptford Cinema, 6.30pm



Guardian review:
In the early 1970s Bill Douglas came out of nowhere to make three sequential short films that established, practically on their own, a coherent idea of British alternative cinema. Douglas came from Newcraighall, a battered mining village outside Edinburgh, and his films chronicle his bleak and often brutal upbringing. But they are no social-realist tracts: Douglas films with the eye of a Bergman-esque poet, conjuring images of extraordinary power out of the hard Scottish landscape. Douglas had predictable difficulties fitting into the conventional industry after this brilliantly personal start, and completed only one more film, Comrades, about the Tolpuddle Martyrs, before his death in 1991.
Andrew Pulver


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 82: Fri Mar 23

Blanche (Borowczyk, 1971): Close-Up Cinema,7.30pm


This screening is part of the Walerian Borowczyk season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details of the season here. 

Time Out review:
In this remarkable film, Borowczyk, through his commitment to ambiguity (notably in his framing, which forever denies the foreground/background opposition) and his belief in almost entomological observation, transforms his 13th century characters - a foolish old Baron, an overproud King, a lecherous page and a stupidly handsome lover, all of whom are in love with and/or lust after the simple Blanche, the Baron's young wife - into tragic figures caught up in a dance of death over which they have no control. In exactly the same way, the castle and its decor, photographed by Borowczyk as though it were living and its inhabitants were mere dolls for the most part, is seen as the backdrop to a happy fairytale, and at the same time as the root of all evil, as rooms and bizarre machines are opened and set in motion.

Phil Hardy

Here is an extract from the opening of the film.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 81: Thu Mar 22

St Elmo's Fire (Schumacher, 1985): Genesis Cinema, 8.50pm


Genesis Cinema introduction:
After sold-out screenings of The Lost Boys in Brighton and Bradford, and a rare London show of cult comedy D.C. Cab, independent curator and historian Rebecca Nicole Williams brings her look at the career of Joel Schumacher to the Genesis with the director’s breakthrough hit.  Shot on a modest budget by Stephen H. Burum (The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible) with Schumacher’s trademark widescreen aesthetic St. Elmo’s Fire tapped into social and economic pressures on young people brought about by the political climate of the time and took $38 million. Fans of anything ‘80s will go crazy for John Parr’s #1 hit single Man in Motion, the big fashion and Demi Moore’s designer hair. With introduction and a selection of vintage 35mm trailers before the feature, catch the lightning while it lasts!

Chicago Reader review:
 
Seven recent college graduates try to cope with the harsh realities of the adult world. The screenplay for this 1985 feature is so riddled with character inconsistencies and unmotivated behavior that it plays like science fiction: the unsuspected presence of body-snatching aliens is the only conceivable explanation for the bizarre twists of psychology the film proposes. Joel Schumacher's chief directorial technique lies in cutting away to another grouping of characters as soon as one situation threatens to become too serious, and the film builds to an astonishing conclusion in which all of the groups' problems are cheerfully dismissed as illusory. Still, Schumacher's undisguised bumblings make the film marginally more bearable than its obvious models, the impenetrably slick group gropes The Big Chill and The Breakfast Club: some real-life messiness is allowed to intrude on the director's overcalculated manipulations of his characters' fates. With Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and (most impressive) Andrew McCarthy and Mare Winningham
Dave Kehr

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 80: Wed Mar 21

The Heiress (Wyler, 1949): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


Film critic Pamela Hutchinson will be on hand to introduce this screening.

Chicago Reader review:|
William Wyler turns Henry James's Washington Square
into a visually concise chamber drama (1949) that starkly renders the characters' cruelty and ambiguous motives. It follows the battle of wills between a homely spinster (Olivia de Havilland); her selfish and condescending father, who can't forgive her lack of grace (Ralph Richardson); and the dandyish suitor who might be after her fortune (Montgomery Clift). Always a confident handler of actors, Wyler exploits the leads' diverse acting traditions (Hollywood studio, Shakespearean, and Method, respectively) to sharpen the conflict and increase the psychological tension. (Both Richardson and de Havilland were nominated for Oscars, though only the latter won.) Wyler's deep-focus, long-take style turns the family's well-appointed New York home into a prison, and then a tomb; the poignant score is by Aaron Copland.
Ted Shen


Here (and above) is the trailer.