Monday, 24 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 181: Sun Jun 30

The Last Metro (Truffaut, 1980): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

This film is part of the ‘Stage on Screen’ season at Cine Lumiere. You can find the full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
On the surface, a tepid, shallow, but slickly mounted 1981 entertainment by Francois Truffaut, set during the German occupation of Paris, where a theatrical troupe is struggling to mount a new production while the director, a fugitive (Heinz Bennent), hides in the theater basement. Meanwhile, his wife and leading lady (Catherine Deneuve) enters timorously into an affair with the new leading man (Gerard Depardieu). Truffaut coaxes only familiar meanings from the material, and even seems to back away from the emotional possibilities, yet the accumulation of metaphors of containment and concealment gradually comes to suggest another subject—the withdrawal, the silence, the impotency of the artist. At times, the film seems to be about the reasons for its own emptiness.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 180: Sat Jun 29

La Grande Bouffe (Ferreri, 1973): Cine Lumiere, 4pm

Chicago Reader review:
Hilarious, stomach-turning, morbid, breezy, funny, and sad fable about four men (Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazzi, Philippe Noiret, and Michel Piccoli) who shut themselves up in a Parisian villa and gorge themselves to death on gourmet delights, pausing only to sample the charms of three negligible whores and the simple affections of Andrea Ferreol before expiring disgustingly one by one. Marco Ferreri directed this 1973 black comedy, which satirizes two of France's most cherished institutions: dining and whoring. The fun begins when you realize that each actor is using his or her own real name. Be certain to have dinner at least an hour before you see it. Also known as Blow-Out.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 179: Fri Jun 28

La Ceremonie (Chabrol, 1995): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This sscreening is part of the 'Playing the Bitch' season at the NFT. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Not to be confused with films of the same title by Nagisa Oshima and Laurence Harvey, this expertly contrived and ultimately shocking 1995 psychological thriller is still probably the best feature by New Wave filmmaker Claude Chabrol since 
Just Before Nightfall (1971). It's a mysterious, haunting tale about a sullen if dutiful maid (Sandrine Bonnaire), a postal worker who becomes her best friend (Isabelle Huppert), and a likable bourgeois family that the two women are fated to despise. Adapted from Ruth Rendell's novel A Judgment in Stone and coscripted by psychoanalyst Caroline Eliacheff, this film unfolds with the rigor of a dream. With Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Virginie Ledoyen, and Valentin Merlet.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 178: Thu Jun 27

A Real Young Girl (Breillat, 1976): Barbican Cinema, 7pm

This 35mm presentation is part of the ‘After the Wave: Young French Cinema in the 70s’ season. You can find the full details here.

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

Here (and above) is an extract.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 177: Wed Jun 26

Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm

This screening will be introduced by Observer film critic Simran Hans.

Chicago Reader review:
When Fritz Lang filmed it in 1938 (as You Only Live Once), the story had a metaphysical thrust. When Nicholas Ray filmed it in 1948 (They Live by Night), it was romantic and doom laden. But by the time Arthur Penn got to it in 1967, it was pure myth, the distillation of dozens of drive-in movies about rebellious kids and their defeat at the hands of the establishment. It's by far the least controlled of Penn's films (the tone wobbles between hick satire and noble social portraiture, and the issue of violence is displayed more than it's examined), but the pieces work wonderfully well, propelled by what was then a very original acting style.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 176: Tue Jun 25

Bastards (Denis, 2013): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm

This film, which also screens on June 22nd, is part of the Claire Denis season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
It’s almost certain you’ll be lost during French writer-director Claire Denis’s obscured, bracingly angry portrait of a French family undone by its failures and perversities. However, that is the point, and it makes for a difficult yet rewarding experience. Vincent Lindon plays a ship’s captain who abandons his post to seek revenge on the person who destroyed his family, though his motives aren’t laid out so much as abstractly implied. Working with her usual cinematographer, Agnès Godard, Denis (‘Beau Travail’, ‘35 Shots of Rum’) conjures a mesmerisingly morbid atmosphere (rain-slicked city streets, a dingy barn in which something terrible went down) and populates the film with all number of noir types, from a richer-than-God businessman (Michel Subor) to a catatonically damaged young woman (Lola Créton) with a secret. It all builds to an unforgettably lurid finale that snaps this punch-drunk nightmare into fearsome focus.
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 175: Mon Jun 24

The Master (Anderson, 2012):  Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Seymour Hoffman season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find more details here.

The Master was the best film of 2012 and if you read one lengthy article on this movie make it J Hoberman's in the Guardian which you can find here.

Chicago Reader review:
'A self-destructive loner (Joaquin Phoenix), discharged from the navy after serving in the Pacific in World War II, flounders back in the States before coming under the wing of a charismatic religious leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) transparently based on L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. This challenging, psychologically fraught drama is Paul Thomas Anderson's first feature since the commanding There Will Be Blood (2007), and like that movie it chronicles a contest of wills between an older man and a younger one, as the troubled, sexually obsessed, and often violent young disciple tries to fit in with the flock that's already gathered around the master. This time, however, the clashing social forces aren't religion and capitalism but, in keeping with the era, community and personal freedom—including the freedom to fail miserably at life. The stellar cast includes Amy Adams, Laura Dern, and Jesse Plemons.'  
JR Jones
Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 174: Sun Jun 23

Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock, 1951): Castle Cinema, 2pm

This 16mm presentation by the CineReal team is also being shown on June 19th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Alfred Hitchcock's famous 1951 thriller, centered on a classic Catholic theme—that there is no difference between thinking a sin and committing it. When Guy (Farley Granger) daydreams the murder of his wife, black, neurotic Bruno (Robert Walker) materializes as if in answer to his prayers: Bruno will kill Guy's wife if Guy, in turn, will kill Bruno's father. Some critics (famously Robin Wood) have claimed that the film cops out by relieving Guy of his end of the deal, but something else is going on here, particularly when Bruno's father—elevated, unseen, all-powerful—is clearly more than a father. Perhaps Strangers on a Train still hasn't yielded all its secrets. With Ruth Roman and Leo G. Carroll; a disgruntled Raymond Chandler worked on the screenplay.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 173: Sat Jun 22

Liebelei (Ophuls, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.35pm

Do not miss the 35mm screenings of this heartbreaking and superbly directed early work by Max Ophuls. The film also screens on June 29th and is part of the Weimar season at BFI Southbank. You can find all the details of the season here.

Time Out review:
'What is eternity?' a young girl asks her soldier lover. What indeed? As in Ophüls' Lola Montès, La Ronde and Madame de... this early German melodrama - which treats the passionate, whirlwind love affair between a young lieutenant and a shy sensitive fräulein - acknowledges both the liberating joy of love and its sad transience. For humans are never entirely free of their past, and young Fritz has a skeleton in his closet that makes a mockery of the pair's vows of undying love. Most similar to Madame de..., the film may be a little slow and ragged at times, but its final emotional power is undeniably immense.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 172: Fri Jun 21

Life Begins Tomorrow (Hochbaum, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.25pm

This 35mm presentation, whihc is also being screened on June 18th, is part of the Weimar season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
On his release from a Berlin prison, a young man embarks on an urban odyssey in search of his wife. His growing anxiety and overwhelming sensory impressions are evoked through a panoply of experimental techniques. Made shortly after the Nazi takeover, this is arguably the masterpiece of neglected director Werner Hochbaum; its creative energy is purest Weimar.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 171: Thu Jun 20

The Departed (Scorsese, 2006): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

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

Chicago Reader review:
After a pair of expensive historical epics (Gangs of New YorkThe Aviator) Martin Scorsese returns to the well for this blistering crime thriller (2006) about cops and robbers in South Boston. A remake of the Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs, it stars Jack Nicholson as a ruthless mobster, Martin Sheen as captain of an undercover police unit, and Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as the young men they send to spy on each other. Neither spy knows the other's identity, and their cover is so deep each runs the risk of being stranded in his new life. It's a classic doppelganger setup, reminiscent of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, though it may be the least moral story Scorsese has ever taken on, functioning simultaneously as a thrill ride and a coldly cerebral Skinnerian exercise.
J.R. Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 170: Wed Jun 19

Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1947): Regent Street Cinema, 12.05 & 3.30pm

Two 35mm screenings of the archetypal film noir. Not to be missed.

Chicago Reader review:
The most delicate and nuanced of film noirs (1947), graced with a reflective lyricism that almost lifts it out of the genre. Robert Mitchum, a former private eye, has taken refuge from life as the owner of a small-town gas station. A gangster (Kirk Douglas) presses him back into service to search for his wandering mistress (Jane Greer). This is no expressionist thunderstorm of guilt and fate, but a film of small, finely textured effects, centered on subtle grades of morality. The cool, feathery photography is by Nicholas Musuraca; the director is Jacques Tourneur. With Rhonda Fleming, Steve Brodie, and Richard Webb.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract. 

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 169: Tue Jun 18

La Regle du Jeu (Renoir, 1939): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 9pm

If forced to make a choice this would count as my favourite film, one which has appeared in Sight & Sound's top 10 list since its inception in 1952. This 35mm presentation, also being screened on June 24th and 27th, is part of the Big Screen Classics season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Its Paris opening in 1939 was a disaster: the film was withdrawn, recut, and eventually banned by the occupying forces for its “demoralizing” effects. It was not shown again in its complete form until 1965, when it became clear that here, perhaps, was the greatest film ever made. “The rules of the game,” said Jean Renoir, “are those which must be observed in society if one wishes to avoid being crushed.” His protagonist, a pilot (Roland Toutain), breaks the rules: he believes that his love for a wealthy married woman (Nora Gregor) is strong enough to lift him above society, above morality. At a weekend hunting party, he learns it is not—that nothing is.
Dave Kehr 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 168: Mon Jun 17

Three Times (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2005): Close-Up Centre, 8.15pm

In parallel to Aperture Asia & Pacific Film Festival's focus on Taiwanese cinema, Close-Up Cinema Is presenting a programme of thirteen films, by three masters of Taiwanese New Cinema, set in and around Taipei throughout the 20th and 21st Century. Full details here. This film, also being shown on June 29th, gets a 35mm screening.

Chicago Reader review:
The three episodes of Hou Hsiao-hsien's exquisite 2005 feature, his best in many years, are set achronologically in Taiwan, in 1966, 1911, and 2005; each is about 40 minutes long and stars Chang Chen and Shu Qi. The structure may make the film sound like Hou's greatest hits, echoing not only his trilogy about Taiwan in the 20th century (City of Sadness, The Puppet Master, and Good Men, Good Women) but the nostalgia about adolescence in A Time to Live and a Time to Die, the ritzy period bordello in Flowers of Shanghai, and the contemporary club scene in Millennium Mambo (which also starred Shu). But it's the intricate formal and thematic relation of the three parts that defines the film's beauty and makes it such a passionate meditation on youth, love, and freedom in relation to history. The ironic Chinese title translates as "The Best of Times."
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the sublime opening to the film.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 167: Sun Jun 16

You Can Count on Me (Lonergan, 2000): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 2pm

This special 35mm screening will be introduced by star of the film, Matthew Broderick.

Time Out review:
This won best screenplay prize at Sundance, and justly so. The tone is a little uncertain at first, as writer/director Lonergan introduces his four characters: Linney's single mom, a Christian who still works in a bank in the town she grew up in; her young son (Culkin); her new boss, the smug and officious Broderick; and her tearaway brother, Ruffalo, who has never settled at anything with anyone. It's not long, though, before we discover that these people have much more in common than they imagine. Lonergan has the rare gift of allowing comic tribulation to deepen his characters, not degrade them (he also has a cameo as the local priest). Linney especially responds with a warm and sympathetic performance.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 166: Sat Jun 15

A City of Sadness (Hou, 1989): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm

In parallel to Aperture Asia & Pacific Film Festival's focus on Taiwanese cinema, Close-Up Cinema Is presenting a programme of thirteen films, by three masters of Taiwanese New Cinema, set in and around Taipei throughout the 20th and 21st Century. Full details here. This film, also being shown on June 24th, gets a 35mm screening.

Chicago Reader review:
This beautiful family saga by the great Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien begins in 1945, when Japan ended its 51-year colonial rule in Taiwan, and concludes in 1949, when mainland China became communist and Chiang Kai-shek's government retreated to Taipei. Perceiving these historical upheavals through the varied lives of a single family, Hou proves himself a master of long takes and complex framing, with a great talent for passionate (though elliptical and distanced) storytelling. Given the diverse languages and dialects spoken here (including the language of a deaf-mute, rendered in intertitles), this 1989 drama is largely a meditation on communication itself, and appropriately enough it was the first Taiwanese film to use direct sound. It's also one of the supreme masterworks of the contemporary cinema, the first feature of Hou's magisterial trilogy (followed by The Puppet Master and Good Men, Good Women) about Taiwan during the 20th century.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 165: Fri Jun 14

Human Desire (Lang, 1954j: Ealing Classic Cinema Club, 7.30pm

This film is part of the Ealing Classic Cinema Club programme. Details here

Chicago Reader review:
Fritz Lang's 1954 American version of the Zola novel (and Renoir film) La Bete Humaine. Gloria Grahame, at her brassiest, pleads with Glenn Ford to do away with her slob of a husband, Broderick Crawford. Lang mines the railroad setting for a remarkably rich series of visual correlatives to his oppressively Catholic conception of guilt and retribution. A gripping melodrama, marred only by Ford's inability to register an appropriate sense of doom.
Dave Kehr 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 164: Thu Jun 13

Black Orpheus (Camus, 1959): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm

Soul Jazz Records Cinema Club present this 35mmm screening of the 1959 Palme d'Or winner.

Time Out review:
Winner of the 1959 Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, this retelling of the Orpheus story in carnival-thronged Rio hasn’t altogether escaped the ravages of time. Although Marcel Camus’ film sprang from contemporary currents in Brazil (based on a theatre piece by Vinicius de Moraes, and gaining immeasurably from its classic samba score by fresh talents Luiz Bonfá and Antonio Carlos Jobim), it’s still hard to escape the suspicion that the French director is exploiting the abundant local colour for his own purposes. That said, his largely non-professional cast acquit themselves with an appealing sincerity as handsome trolleybus conductor Orfeu (Breno Mello) falls for visiting innocent Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn), despite the fact he’s engaged to the brazen Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira). Romantic intrigue soon gives way to an altogether darker mood though, as Orfeu finds himself unable to protect his new love from the unwelcome attentions of a dark stranger, who makes his fatal strike while the carnival’s at its height and his skeleton outfit blends right in.It’s a film that improves as it goes along, the clunky comedy of the happy favelas eclipsed by an imaginative transposition of the Orphic legend, cleverly using locations such as the city’s missing-persons bureau and a Macumba ceremony seemingly halfway between revivalist meeting and voodoo frenzy. Presumably, this ethnographic aspect impressed at the time, but nowadays it’s the incredibly rich whirl of colour and movement captured by Jean Bourgoin’s gorgeous cinematography and the timelessly appealing soundtrack (inspiration for a subsequent generation of jazzmen) that continue to cast a spell. A mixed bag then, but the highlights are memorable.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 163: Wed Jun 12

Variety (Gordon, 1983): ICA Cinema, 6.45pm

Bette Gordon's indie classic Variety is screened in its original 35mm format alongside its precursor, Gordon’s Super 8 short film Anybody’s Woman (1981).This screening is part of the Kathy Acker season at ICA Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Bette Gordon's independent feature is a little overambitiously formal at times, drawing in references to Chantal Akerman and Jean-Luc Godard, but it works very well as a hauntingly subjective character study. A young woman takes a job as a cashier in a Manhattan porno theater; the sounds emanating from inside seem slowly to seduce her, and she focuses her fantasies on one of the regular customers—a mysterious older man who appears to have crime-syndicate connections. Gordon is not gifted with dialogue, but the film's long silent sequences spin an enveloping otherworldly atmosphere.
Dave Kehr
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 162: Tue Jun 11

The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This 35mm screening is part of the ‘Philip Marlowe’ season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Monthly Film Bulletin review:
One of the most gratifying reflections on the virtually impenetrable web of duplicity and murder that constitutes the plot of The Big Sleep is that, from Howard Hawks’ point of view, it really doesn’t matter who killed Owen Taylor. What does matter – and this despite the superb, spare evocation of desolation, rainy nights and an all-pervasive sense of genuine evil – is the illusion of suspense that the film so brilliantly sustains. However many times one sees the film and comes away baffled by exactly who did what to whom, it still regularly leaves one with the exhilarating feeling that perhaps next time all will indeed be satisfactorily resolved. (Notwithstanding the scriptwriters’ famous bafflement over the fate of Owen Taylor, the plot, which is clearly divided in two, can in fact be explained in a logical, if ultimately rather tortured fashion.) The film’s strength, as Hawks himself observed, derived in large part form a structure of self-contained, set-piece episodes, almost all of which are memorable for a different reason: the jungle meeting between Marlowe and General Sternwood; the sustained ’horse-racing’ conversation between Marlowe and Vivian at Mars’ club; the poisoning of Harry Jones seen through frosted glass; the confusion, worthy almost of the Marx Brothers, when more and more guns are produced at Joe Brody’s apartment. Quite outside the plot itself, the film turns on the way Hawks juxtaposes his male and female characters. There are a superabundance of vivacious women: the librarian; the cigarette girl and the waitress at Mars’ club; Agnes; Mona; Carmen (despite her instability) and, of course, Vivian Rutledge herself. The Hawksian women – tough, individual, opinionated – are all doers; in contrast, with the exception of Eddie Mars, the seedy gallery of male crooks are on the whole so entangled in the webs of their own intrigues and ambitions that they can only react to events. Although it was not seen as such by many of its early reviewers, The Big Sleep is also, of course, a witty, literate entertainment and one that has endured in the popular imagination not only for the famous Bogart-Bacall exchanges (loaded as they were in 1946 – and indeed as they remain today – with a delicious, explicitly, sexual charge), but also in a film that has ironically very little to do with the spirit of Chandler’s rather moralistic first novel, for the carefully placed Chandlerisms, the apposite, self-protective wisecracks and the tart summaries of character (“I assume”, Sternwood remarks of his daughters, “they have all the usual vices”). The plethora of killings now seems on the whole less horrific than it once did, while the film’s tone of escalating absurdity in a genuinely dark world grows if anything even more sprightly as the years go by. 
John Pym 

Monday, 3 June 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 161: Mon Jun 10

Eternity and a Day (Angelopoulos, 1998): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

In tribute to the late-great Bruno Ganz, Gareth Evans presents a special 35mm screening of Theo Angelopoulos' Eternity and a Day.

Chicago Reader review:Winner of the 1998 Palme d'Or at Cannes, this rambling but beautiful feature by Theo Angelopoulos may seem like an anthology of 60s and 70s European art cinema: family nostalgia from Bergman and seaside frolics from Fellini; long, mesmerizing choreographed takes and camera movements from Jancso and Tarkovsky; haunting expressionist moods and visions from Antonioni. Yet it's such a stirring and flavorsome examplemdfar richer emotionally and poetically than Woody Allen?s derivations—that I was moved and captivated throughout its 132 minutes. Bruno Ganz is commanding as a Greek writer who's recently learned that he's terminally ill; the part was conceived for the late Marcello Mastroianni, yet Ganz seems perfect for it (though he's dubbed by a Greek actor, as Mastroianni undoubtedly would have been). Brooding over the loss of his seaside retreat and family home in Thessaloniki, the hero meets an eight-year-old illegal alien from Albania (Achilleas Skevis) and spends the day crisscrossing the past and visiting his familiar haunts, sometimes in the flesh and sometimes in his imagination, and Angelopoulos is masterful in orchestrating these lyrical and complex encounters.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.