Sunday, 29 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 222: Mon Aug 20

Accident (Losey, 1967): BFI Southbank, Studio, 8.50pm


This film, which is part of the Pinter season (full details here), is also screened on August 1st and 10th (full details here).

Chicago Reader review:
Joseph Losey's coldly funny puzzle movie (1967), about the erotic entanglements of Oxford as superbly entangled by scenarist Harold Pinter. Dirk Bogarde's crumbling don is the sharpest of the many similar performances he has given, and Stanley Baker is superbly chunky as Bogarde's rival for a young Austrian student (Jacqueline Sassard). With Vivien Merchant, Michael York, Delphine Seyrig, and Alexander Knox.

Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 221: Sun Aug 19

Reunion (Schatzberg, 1989): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.10pm


This 35mm screening, which is part of the Pinter season (full details here), is also screened on August 31st (full details here).

Chicago Reader review:
Jerry Schatzberg 1989 picture, a French-English-West German production, is one of his very best, Adapted by Harold Pinter from a novel by Fred Uhlman, and shot in 'Scope by Bruno De Keyzer, it tells the story of a New York Jewish lawyer (Jason Robards) returning to Stuttgart, Germany, after a 55-year absence to discover what happened during the early 30s to his best friend (Samuel West)—an ambassador's son who didn't share the racism of his aristocratic family. What's impressive about the tale's unfolding (most of it told in flashback, with Christien Anholt as the hero as a youth) is the meticulous re-creation of Germany during the rise of Nazism (the superb production design is by the great Alexandre Trauner, who appears in a cameo in a warehouse office), as well as a sensitive (and perhaps timely) depiction of how the gradual changes in national thinking were reflected in everyday life. It's all been done before, but seldom with such feeling for detail and nuance; one has to adjust to the curious mix between English dialogue and street signs in German, but the performances—by Francoise Fabian, Maureen Kerwin, Barbara Jefford, and Bert Parnaby in addition to the leads—are impeccable.

Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 220: Sat Aug 18

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.50pm


This 35mm print is being screened on the date of the massacre.

Chicago Reader review:
Tobe Hooper's 1974 bloodbath cheapie acquired a considerable reputation among ideologically oriented critics, who admired the film's sneaky equation of middle-class values with cannibalism and wholesale slaughter. The plot, such as it is, concerns a group of teenagers who fall into the hands—and knives, and ultimately chain saws—of a backwoods family of homicidal maniacs. The picture gets to you more through its intensity than its craft, but Hooper does have a talent.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 219: Fri Aug 17

Bride of Frankenstein (Whale, 1935) & Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau, 1946):
Somerset House (6.30pm, films start at 9pm)




The Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House returns for two weeks from August 9th. Here is the introduction to the season: This year's stellar selection of films are shown on London’s largest outdoor screen, presented in full surround sound and accompanied by DJ sets, exclusive onstage introductions from directors, cast and surprise special guests. Laugh, cry, jump out of your skin and cheer along with 2,000 other film fans under the stars at the original and best outdoor screen in London. Book now and join us for the boldest and brightest cinema under the night sky this summer. You can find full details of the Somerset House/Film4 season here.

NB:
The DJ set tonight is supplied by Pye Corner Audio, who specialise in a majestic and cinematic electronica that conjures up the sound of haunted dance floors. A unique blend of John Carpenter, slow disco, deep house and electronic library music. Over eight albums across several labels and remixes for John Foxx, Mogwai, Mark Lanegan and Stealing Sheep. Pye Corner Audio’s Martin Jenkins is a seasoned live performer and regular guest at Ghost Box's Belbury Youth Club events.

Chicago Reader review of Bride of Frankenstein:
James Whale's quirky, ironic 1935 self-parody is, by common consent, superior to his earlier Frankenstein (1931). Whale added an element of playful sexuality to this version, casting the proceedings in a bizarre visual framework that makes this film a good deal more surreal than the original. Elsa Lanchester is the reluctant bride; Boris Karloff returns as the love-starved monster. Weird and funny.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the great scene in which the monster meets the blind man.


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Chicago Reader review of La Belle et La Bete:
A sublime, sumptuous film directed by Jean Cocteau with the help of René Clément (1946). Cocteau re-creates the classic story of the beauty who gives herself to the beast to save her father, and whose growing love eventually transforms him into a handsome prince, with a brilliant blend of decor (sets by Christian Berard), human forms (superb makeup by Arakelian), and visual effects (dreamlike photography by Henri Alekan). Josette Day, Jean Marais, and Marcel André star.

Don Druker

Here is the BFI trailer.  

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 218: Thu Aug 16

Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986): Somerset House, 6.30pm (film starts 9pm)


The Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House returns for two weeks from August 9th. Here is the introduction to the season: This year's stellar selection of films are shown on London’s largest outdoor screen, presented in full surround sound and accompanied by DJ sets, exclusive onstage introductions from directors, cast and surprise special guests. Laugh, cry, jump out of your skin and cheer along with 2,000 other film fans under the stars at the original and best outdoor screen in London. Book now and join us for the boldest and brightest cinema under the night sky this summer. You can find full details of the Somerset House/Film4 season here.

NB: The brilliant musician and soundtrack composer Barry Admason will be the DJ on the decks before the screening of the film.

Chicago Reader review: 
It's personal all right, also solipsistic, intransigent, and occasionally ridiculous. David Lynch's 1986 fever-dream fantasy, of a young college student (Kyle MacLachlan) returned to his small-town roots and all manner of strangeness, is replete with sexual fear and loathing, parodistic inversions (of Capra, Lubitsch), and cannibalistic recyclings from Lynch's own Eraserhead and Dune. The bizarrely evolving story—MacLachlan becomes involved with two women, one light and innocent (Laura Dern, vaguely lost), the other dark and sadomasochistic (Isabella Rossellini), as well as with a murderous psychopath (a brilliantly demented Dennis Hopper)—seems more obsessive than expressive at times, and the commingling of sex, violence, and death treads obliquely on familiar Ken Russell territory: it's Crimes of Passion with the polarities reversed. Still, the film casts its spell in countless odd ways, in the archetype-leaning imagery, eccentric tableau styling, and moth-in-candle-flame attraction to the subconscious twilight.
Pat Graham


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 217: Wed Aug 15

Woman on the Run (Foster, 1950): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


Kennington Noir presents this 35mm screening.
Lessons of Darkness website review:
With his lumbering frame and granite mug, Dennis O’Keefe was one of film noirs most endearing hard cases, and his presence is one of the many delights of Woman on the Run, Norman Foster’s 1950 romantic thriller about a San Francisco woman (Ann Sheridan) who, along with an intrepid journalist (O’Keefe), goes in search of her in-hiding husband after the man witnesses a murder. Frankly depicting marital estrangement while offering up a vivid, progressive portrait of feminine strength that’s scarcely sullied by one strangely misogynistic offhand comment (“Mrs. Johnson, didn’t your husband ever beat you?”), the film is a superb showcase for Sheridan, who balances resentment, fear, and ferocity with graceful fluidity while navigating the winding tale’s shadowy twists and turns. The actress’ forcefully nuanced performance is nicely counterbalanced by O’Keefe’s charmingly blunt one-dimensionality – which, for reasons I can’t quite articulate, remains irresistibly appealing – just as Foster’s story eventually offsets its occasionally languid, overly melodramatic plotting with a blistering nighttime carnival finale involving a speeding rollercoaster.
Nick Schager

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 216: Tue Aug 14

Falling Down (Schumacher, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm Celluloid Sorceress presentation will include an introduction by Rebecca Nicole Williams and vintage trailers before the main feature.

Time Out review:
Joel Schumacher's film goes beyond the confines of vigilante films like Death Wish whose concerns stop at the criminal justice system. 'D-Fens' (Kirk Douglas), named after his own car number plate and his now redundant job as a bastion of America's nuclear defence industry, is a one-man terrorist in the Los Angeles jungle. Forced by a traffic jam to make his way 'home' on foot, Douglas strikes at various targets: rude car drivers, obstructive fast-food workers, violent gangs, overcharging Korean shopkeepers, snobby golf-course wrinklies. However, the only person he directly murders is a disgusting, homophobic neo-Nazi. The scumbag is played by the invariably excellent Forrest who, along with Duvall as a speak-softly cop and Barbara Hershey as Douglas's estranged wife, gives the cast an air of huge respectability. There are reservations: too many plot and moral loose-ends, while the film veers giddily between Douglas the psycho-menace and Douglas the sad sympathy-object. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and certainly unnerving.

Steve Grant

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 215: Mon Aug 13

Dancing Lady (Leonard, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.30pm


This 35mm screening, which is also being shown on August 19th, is part of the Joan Crawford season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Dancing Lady was selected by Chicago Reader as one of the five must-see films starring Crawford, along with Johnny Guitar, Autumn Leaves, Strange Cargo and The Women. You can read the full article and Dave Kehr reviews here.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1933 Joan Crawford vehicle was smart and light enough to become the biggest hit of her early career. Crawford climbs the ladder from chorus girl to Broadway star while debating the relative merits of suitors Clark Gable and Franchot Tone. In the final production number, she gets an assist from a fresh-faced kid from New York—Fred Astaire, in his first screen appearance.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 214: Sun Aug 12

Rebecca (Hitchcock, 1940): Somerset House, 6.30pm (film starts 9pm)


The Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House returns for two weeks from August 9th. Here is the introduction to the season: This year's stellar selection of films are shown on London’s largest outdoor screen, presented in full surround sound and accompanied by DJ sets, exclusive onstage introductions from directors, cast and surprise special guests. Laugh, cry, jump out of your skin and cheer along with 2,000 other film fans under the stars at the original and best outdoor screen in London. Book now and join us for the boldest and brightest cinema under the night sky this summer. You can find full details of the Somerset House/Film4 season here

Chicago Reader review:
'There are too many conflicting levels of authorship—between Alfred Hitchcock, Daphne du Maurier, and David O. Selznick—for this 1940 film to be a complete success, but through its first two-thirds it is as perfect a myth of adolescence as any of the Disney films, documenting the childlike, nameless heroine's initiation into the adult mysteries of sex, death, and identity, and the impossibility of reconciling these forces with family strictures. As a Hitchcock film, it is, with the closely related Suspicion, one of his rare studies from a female point of view, and it is surprisingly tender and compassionate; the same issues, treated from a male viewpoint, would return in Vertigo and Marnie (Laurence Olivier's Maxim becoming the Sean Connery character of the latter film).'
Dave Kehr 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 214: Sat Aug 11

Mannequin (Borzage, 1937): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This 35mm screening, which is also being shown on August 15th, is part of the Joan Crawford season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Joan Crawford is a poor girl from the lower east side, unhappily married to a petty crook, who finds relief with Spencer Tracy, a self-made millionaire. Frank Borzage's gift for compact, succinct, visual metaphor is evident in his use of a flickering lightbulb in the stairway of Crawford's tenement apartment; it becomes, in the space of a few frames, a heartbreaking symbol of dying hope.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 213: Fri Aug 10

Heathers (Lehmann, 1988): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm 


The 30th anniversary of this cult film is being screened at a number of venues in London.

Time Out review:
A wicked black comedy about teenage suicide and pernicious peer-group pressure, this refreshing parody of high-school movies is venomously penned by Daniel Waters and sharply directed by Lehmann. The Heathers are three vacuous Westerburg High school beauties who specialise in 'being popular' and making life hell for socially inadequate dweebettes and pillowcases. Having sold out her former friends in these categories, Veronica (Winona Ryder) becomes an honorary member of the select clique - but turns monocled mutineer. Aided by handsome rebellious newcomer JD (Christian Slater), she devises a drastic plan to undermine the teen-queen tyranny, but underestimates JD's ruthlessness: the scheme backfirs dangerously. The compromised ending (forced on the film-makers by New World) is a serious let-down, but there is some exceptional ensemble acting, several stylish set pieces, and more imaginative slang than you could shake a cheerleader's ass at. More crucially, the film uses an intimate knowledge of teen-movie clichés to subvert their debased values from the inside.
Nigel Floyd


Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 212: Thu Aug 9

Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm



Time Out review:
School's breaking up for the summer of '76. The seniors debate party politics while next term's freshmen run the gauntlet of brutal initiation rites, barely comforted by the knowledge that they'll wield the stick one day. No one's looking much farther ahead than that. This has a free-wheeling, 'day-in-the-life-of' structure which allows writer/director Linklater, in his second feature, to eavesdrop on an ensemble cast without much in the way of dramatic contrivance. There's a quirky counter-cultural intelligence at work: sympathy for those on the sidelines, and a deadpan pop irony which places this among the hippest teenage movies. While the camera flits between some two dozen youngsters (played by uniformly excellent unknowns), Linklater allows himself to develop a handful of stories. Seriously funny, and shorn of any hint of nostalgia or wish-fulfilment, this is pretty much where it's at. 
Tom Charity 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 211: Wed Aug 8

DOUBLE-BILL: Daisies (Chytilova, 1966) & Riddles of the Sphinx (Mulvey/Wollen, 1977): Regent St Cinema, 6.30pm & 8.30pm


Chicago Reader review of Daisies:
My favorite Czech film, and surely one of the most exhilarating stylistic and psychedelic eruptions of the 60s, this madcap and aggressive feminist farce by Vera Chytilova explodes in any number of directions. Two uninhibited young women named Marie engage in escapades that add up to less a plot than to a string of outrageous set pieces, including several antiphallic gags and a free-for-all with fancy food (rivaling Laurel and Hardy) that got Chytilova in lots of trouble with the authorities; disturbing yet liberating, it shows what this talented director can do with freedom. A major influence on Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating, this 1966 feature is chock-full of female giggling, which might be interpreted in context as the laughter of Medusa: subversive, bracing, energizing, and rather challenging to most male spectators.
Jonathan Rosenbaum



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Time Out review of Riddles of the Sphinx:
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's second film places the simple story of a mother/child relationship in the wholly unexpected context of the myth of Oedipus' encounter with the Sphinx; its achievement is to make that context seem both logical and necessary. First off, the story: a broken marriage, an over-possessive mother, a growing awareness of feminist issues, a close female friend, and a newly questioning spirit of independence. Then, underpinning it, the myth, which introduces a set of basic questions about the female unconscious. The mixture of feminist politics and Freudian theory would be enough in itself to make the film unusually interesting, but various other elements make it actively compelling: the beautiful, hypnotic score by Mike Ratledge, the tantalising blend of visual, aural and literary narration in the telling of the story, and the firm intelligence that informs the film's unique and seductive overall structure.
Tony Rayns


Here (and above) is the trailer for Daisies.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 210: Tue Aug 7

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Capra, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm


This Frank Capra film, which is also being shown on August 18th, is part of the Big Screen Classics strand at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Frank Capra's very atypical drama about an American missionary (Barbara Stanwyck) taken prisoner by a Chinese warlord (Nils Asther) is not only his masterpiece but also one of the great love stories to come out of Hollywood in the 30s—subtle, delicate, moody, mystical, and passionate. Joseph Walker shot it through filters and with textured shadows that suggest Sternberg; Edward Paramore wrote the script, adapted from a story by Grace Zaring Stone. Oddly enough, this perverse and beautiful film was chosen to open Radio City Music Hall in 1933; it was not one of Capra's commercial successes, but it beats the rest of his oeuvre by miles, and both Stanwyck and Asther are extraordinary.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is an extract.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 209: Mon Aug 6

La Verite (Clouzot, 1960): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm


This Henri-Georges Clouzot film, which is also being shown on August 3rd and 27th, is part of the Big Screen Classics strand at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A smash hit in France and an Oscar nominee in the U.S., this 1960 courtroom drama was the last big success for writer-director Henri-Georges Clouzot, whose jaundiced view of humanity resonated in such classic mysteries as The Raven (1943) and Diabolique (1955). Brigitte Bardot stars as a loose woman on trial for the murder of her former lover, and as scripted by Clouzot, the movie draws heavily on the subtext of Bardot's real-life infamy: both the prosecution and the defense are determined to try her in the court of public opinion, where her real crime seems to be not homicide but a liberal attitude toward her own body. The blond sex symbol frequently named this as her best film, and she delivers a potent performance as a good-time girl gone bad, but the movie's chief asset is Clouzot's acid portrayal of a cynical legal system and puritanical society.
JR Jones


Here (and above) is an extract.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 208: Sun Aug 5

The Producers (Brooks, 1967): Rio Cinema, 4.15pm


This presentation includes appearances by director Mel Brooks before and after the movie in an interview recorded especially for this 50th Anniversary screening.

Time Out review:Mel Brooks' first feature, an absolutely hilarious and tasteless New York Jewish comedy about Broadway. Mostel plays a producer determined to clean up by staging the worst flop in history, first making sure that it's over-backed by all of the rich widows hot for him. Mostel and Wilder (as his bumbling Portnovian accountant) ham outrageously, and some of the humour falls flat. But the all-time flop itself could serve as a definition of kitsch, its centrepiece being the number 'Springtime for Hitler', all tits, pretzels and beer steins, in the best tradition of gaudy American burlesque.
Rod McShane

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 207: Sat Aug 4

Velvet Goldmine (Haynes, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.45pm


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

Time Out review:
This witty, evocative re-creation of the heady days of glam rock is loosely structured on the lines of a Citizen Kane-style flashback narrative, with a journalist (Christian Bale) sent back from New York to Britain to investigate, ten years on, the disappearance of Bowie-like star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) after an on-stage assassination is revealed to have been a publicity stunt. Partly a film à clef which retranslates real-life events and personalities into a dazzling fiction, partly an unsentimental celebration of an era of (potential) pan-sexual liberation (complete with unexpected but fitting tribute to Oscar Wilde), and partly a typically Todd Haynesian study of transgression, identity and the gulf between private and public image, it's superbly shot, edited and performed, and exhilaratingly inventive throughout. 
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) are the opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 206: Fri Aug 3

Old Times (Curtis, 1991): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm



This screening is part of the Harold Pinter season. You can find the full details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
Pinter’s 1971 stage play makes perfect television in that it combines an intimate power-battle with a hallucinatory framework. On one level, we watch a verbal, physical and musical battle between a successful filmmaker (Malkovich) and a house-guest (Richardson) over possession of the former’s wife (Nelligan). But the play also shows all three characters re-creating the past according to the psychological and tactical needs of the moment.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 205: Thu Aug 2

Strange Cargo (Borzage, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm


This 35mm presentation, which is also being screened on August 13th and 16th (details here), is parrt of the Joan Crawford season at BFI Soutbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A pivotal film in Frank Borzage's career, Strange Cargo(1940) finds the director moving beyond his concern with the spiritual qualities of human relationships to a broader, more mystical vision of a transcendent harmony between man and nature. Some viewers will object to the film's overtly allegorical structure (a mysterious avatar figure played by Ian Hunter leads a group of escaped convicts through a purgatorial jungle), but Borzage's power lies in his clarity. Adapted by Lawrence Hazard from Richard Sale's novel Not Too Narrow, Not Too Deep; with Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and Peter Lorre.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 204: Wed Aug 1

Almost Famous (Crowe, 2000): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


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

Chicago Reader review:
Writer-director Cameron Crowe's autobiographical fourth feature (2000)—after Say Anything . . . , Singles, and Jerry Maguire—concerns the adventures of a 15-year-old rock journalist (Patrick Fugit) touring with a band (the fictional Stillwater) in 1973 for Rolling Stone. This has much of the warmth and feeling for adolescence that Crowe displayed in his first feature, though the slick showboating of Jerry Maguireisn't entirely absent either. Part of what Crowe's exploring here is the ethical confusion that can arise from the differences between being a journalist and being a groupie. With Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Philip Seymour Hoffman (especially good as the legendary rock critic Lester Bangs), Zooey Deschanel, and Anna Paquin.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.