Thursday, 22 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 245: Mon Sep 2

Hamlet (Branagh, 1996) Prince Charles Cinema, 6.25pm

This 70mm presentation is also being screened on September 8th. Details here.

Time Out review:
If Kenneth Branagh's ambitious film needs any kind of compliment, it is that at around four hours it carries itself perfectly well. The star/director has assembled one of the finest casts ever seen on the big screen: so the Player King is played by Charlton Heston, who at least gets to speak, unlike John Gielgud, Judi Dench, John Mills and Ken Dodd in a succession of parts which underline the text through imagined interludes. Sometimes the casting is regrettable (Jack Lemmon looking ill-at-ease as a superannuated sentry); at others tongue-in-cheek (Richard Attenborough as the English ambassador) or wasteful (Gerard Depardieu as a one-scene monosyllabic spy). The role-playing scores most in the world of work and politics, warfare and diplomacy, as imagined by Briers' superb Polonius and Derek Jacobi's Claudius. Branagh's prince is admirable: popular, versatile, frank, kind, ruthless, athletic, straight-backed, with a little-boy-lost voice to go with the martial one. Tim Harvey's production design makes Elsinore a highlight, creating a snow-swept Ruritania of chessboard floors, mirrored corridors, freezing courtyards. Drawbacks: an intrusive score; spurious sex scenes between Kate Winslet's Ophelia and Branagh's pre-antic Hamlet; and a full-scale Norwegian invasion during the final duel. But all in all, as near to Branagh's masterwork as dammit, and far better fun than a jig, or even a tale of bawdry.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 244: Sun Sep 1

Quiz Show (Redford, 1994) & Marty (Mann, 1955) : Cinema Museum, 2pm

Badlands Collective introduction:
One of the most acclaimed releases of 1994, Robert Redford’s Quiz Show has slipped out of public view in recent years but the themes it explores are as potent and resonant as ever 25 years on. Adapted by Paul Attanasio from former Kennedy aide Richard Goodwin’s memoir, Quiz Show uses the scandal surrounding the rigged NBC game show Twenty One to examine the corruption that lies beneath the seductive glamour of the American dream, and posing questions of class and privilege through the contrasting fortunes of the compromised contestants Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) and Herbie Stempel (John Turturro). Redford posited his film as a parable about “the eternal struggle between ethics and capitalism,” but it’s primarily a vastly entertaining and morally ambiguous human drama, and we are thrilled to be presenting this rare 35mm presentation.

One of the key moments in Quiz Show hinges on Marty (1955), another much-celebrated film in its day that now seems to have been forgotten by many. The story of a kind-hearted but insecure bachelor (Ernest Borgnine) who falls for a sensitive schoolteacher, the Palme d’Or-winning Marty is a romantic marvel with a melancholy soul, and at a shade over ninety minutes it remains the shortest film to ever win Best Picture. Delbert Mann – making his directorial debut – was named Best Director with Paddy Chayefsky winning the first of his three Oscars for his tough and tender screenplay, while Ernest Borgnine beat James Cagney, James Dean, Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracy to the Best Actor award.

Running Order:
14.00 Doors open
14.30 Quiz Show (133 mins)
17.25 Marty (90 mins)

Chicago Reader review of Quiz Show:
Robert Redford's best and richest directorial effort (1994) unpacks the TV quiz show scandal of the late 50s, when glamorous intellectual Charles Van Doren, star contestant on the quiz showTwenty-One, belatedly confessed that he'd been fed all the questions in advance. As played by Ralph Fiennes, Van Doren is lamentably not much more than a shallow icon, stripped of the real-life ambiguities and hidden depths that were apparent to everyone who followed the story. Despite these and other predictable simplifications, the story is allowed to retain much of its resonance and suggestiveness—as an instance of ethnic and class conflict as well as a landmark in media bamboozlement—and even some of the network and corporate culprits in the original fraud are singled out and named. Rob Morrow is especially good as Richard N. Goodwin, the feisty and ambitious House subcommittee member who helped to uncover the scandal, even though it meant fingering a man he admired, and John Turturro is effective as Herb Stempel, another contestant whose disgruntlement as an involuntary loser on the show was crucial in bringing Van Doren down.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer for Quiz Show.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 243: Sat Aug 31

Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky, 1969): Prince Charles Cinema, 2.15pm

The films of Andrei Tarkovsky have been a regular feature of the London repertory cinema scene for the last few years. Now the Prince Charles Cinema are showing a season of his great movies from 35mm prints. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Andrei Tarkovsky's first major film (1966, though banned and unseen until 1971), cowritten by Andrei Konchalovsky, about a 15th-century icon painter. This medieval epic announced the birth of a major talent; it also stuns with the sort of unexpected poetic explosions we've come to expect from Tarkovsky: an early flying episode suggesting Gogol, a stirring climax in color. Not to be missed. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 242: Fri Aug 30

Pather Panchali (Ray, 1955): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

Close-Up Cinema are presenting a month long programme of trilogies and triptychs, featuring films by Kenji MizoguchiFederico FelliniSatyajit RayMichelangelo AntonioniRainer Werner FassbinderKrzysztof KieślowskiDavid Lynch, and Miguel Gomes. Full details here.

Time Out review:
It’s 50 years since the late, great Bengali writer-director Satyajit Ray made his debut with this, the first and finest installment of his ground-breaking ‘Apu Trilogy’. It was the first Indian movie to attract attention in the West, and if your experience of subcontinental cinema extends no further than Bollywood’s  romantic musicals, it’s not just the film’s enduring status as a landmark of world cinema that makes it essential viewing. It remains a miracle of lyrical realism: the detailed, documentary-style observation of village life as experienced by young Apu, his sister Durga, their parents and ancient grandma is inflected by a marvellous use of motifs (trains beckoning to another, industrialised urban world, water as a symbol of cyclical regeneration) to turn a simple rites-of-passage story into pure poetry. A hymn to curiosity, courage and conscience, it introduces Apu as an opening eye, innocent of adult anxieties but alert to adventure and, finally, moral discovery. Ravi Shankar’s music is great too. A masterpiece, inarguably.
Geoff Brown

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 241: Thu Aug 29

La Ciénaga (Martel, 2001): Barbican Cinema, 6.45pm

This 35mm presentation is part of the ‘Heat of the Moment’ season at the Barbican Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This astonishing 2001 debut by Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (The Holy Girl) manages to sustain tension and anxiety throughout. At their run-down country estate, a middle-aged couple drink away the hot, sticky days, ignoring their bored adolescent children. An accident next to the murky swimming pool sends the mother to her bed, while the other members of the family wander around, taking potshots at dogs and wild animals in the surrounding swamplands or flopping down on unmade beds, oblivious to ringing phones and doorbells and one another. After the mother's cousin arrives from town with her own brood, violence seems not just possible but probable. This has the power of great literature, and it's remarkably assured in its juggling of two large families. Every shot is dense with life, with children and animals running in and out, yet the movie is highly focused, a small masterpiece.
Meredith Brody

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 240: Wed Aug 28

Camille (Cukor, 1936): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This film, which will be introduced by artist and film scholar Cathy Lomax, is part of the Big Screen Classics strand at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The Dumas story of a tubercular courtesan is a classic only in its unrelenting morbidity, but George Cukor makes it work, accenting the oozing romantic fatalism with marvelously fresh open-air sequences and lively playing (1936). Garbo, away for once from the stultifying Clarence Brown, gives her most vivid, intimate performance; she's no longer part of the elegant MGM decor but a human being with a life of her own. Cukor gives her the close-ups she deserves: immaculately lit and framed, but loose enough to give her some breathing room, to let her exercise an independent will.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 239: Tue Aug 27

The Game (Fincher, 1997): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This 35mm presentatiuon is part of the David Fincher season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
San Francisco. Ruthless financier Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a control freak who no longer knows the meaning of fun or friendship. When his estranged, addictive brother Conrad (Penn) enrolls him with Consumer Recreation Services for his birthday, his curiosity's aroused by the offer of a mysterious 'game' tailored to the needs of each participant. At first his application is rejected, but when, on TV, a newscaster starts talking directly to him, Nicholas realises the game's already begun and that his actions are being monitored and manipulated. As his privacy is progressively invaded and the situations in which he finds himself become ever more life-threatening, Van Orton tries to pull out of the game, but too late. Though the film's 'message' about complacency transformed by chaos and uncertainty is hackneyed, the alarming twists of the witty, ingenious script (by John Brancato and Michael Ferris) hold the attention throughout.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 238: Mon Aug 26

Veronika Voss (Fassbinder, 1982): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

Close-Up Cinema are presenting a month long programme of trilogies and triptychs, featuring films by Kenji Mizoguchi, Federico Fellini, Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni, Rainer Werner FassbinderKrzysztof Kieślowski, David Lynch, and Miguel Gomes. Full details here.

Little White Lies review:
This is representative of Fassbinder’s astounding “BDR trilogy”, made right at the tail end of his career (including 1979’s The Marriage of Maria Braun and 1981’s Lola). Veronika Voss, his penultimate film, appears to foretell his own demise as it follows a sports journalist who begins to snoop into the life of a mysterious cabaret singer (Rosel Zech) who once performed for the Nazis and even, allegedly, got physical with Goebbels. This is like Fassbinder’s twist on Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd, but instead of focusing on a laughable grotesque, it’s about a glamorous ghost attempting and failing to live a frazzled duel existence. The glistening black-and-white photography lends this deeply sombre tale a nostalgic visual counterpoint – like its tragic heroine, its trapped and torn between changing times.

David Jenkins

This review is from a Fassbinder top ten films article in Little White Lies that places this movie at No1 in the director's work. You can read the full piece here. 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 237: Sun Aug 25

Lola (Fassbinder, 1981): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm

Close-Up Cinema are presenting a month long programme of trilogies and triptychs, featuring films by Kenji Mizoguchi, Federico Fellini, Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni, Rainer Werner FassbinderKrzysztof Kieślowski, David Lynch, and Miguel Gomes. Full details here.

Time Out film review:
A wonderfully upfront narrative rendered in garish primary colours, this discursive update of The Blue Angel poses Lola (Barbara Sukowa) and the blue-eyed trembling-pillar-of-rectitude building commissioner who helplessly falls for her (Armin Mueller-Stahl) as barometers of the moral bankruptcy at the heart of Germany's post-war 'economic miracle'. Lola (owned, like most of the city, by Mario Adorf's bluffly sleazy building profiteer) threads sinuously through the civic corruption of reconstruction, accruing sufficient manipulative credit to buy a slice of the status quo, seductively scuttling several shades of idealism with the oldest of come-on currencies. Business as usual. The prostitution metaphors come undiluted from early Godard, the poster-art visuals from the magnificent melodramas of Sirk and Minnelli; the provocations are all Reiner Werner Fassbinder's own.
Paul Taylor

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 236: Sat Aug 24

Suspicion (Hitchcock, 1941): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

This film, which also screens on August 18th, is part of the Cary Grant season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review: 
'Everyone concedes that this 1941 Hitchcock film is a failure, yet it displays so much artistic seriousness that I find its failure utterly mysterious—especially since the often criticized ending (imposed on Hitchcock by the studio) makes perfect sense to me. This is the first film in which Hitchcock puts his dazzling technical imagination wholly in the service of his art: note his subtlety in establishing the menace of the Cary Grant character by never allowing him to be seen walking into a shot; he simply appears in the scene, his entrance covered by a cut or dissolve. Grant gives what is perhaps the finest of his many great performances for Hitchcock: required to play two different, completely contradictory characters simultaneously, he never cheats or flattens out, but plays in magnificent, mysterious depth. With Joan Fontaine (who won the Oscar that Grant deserved) and Nigel Bruce.'
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 235: Fri Aug 23

White Dog (Fuller, 1982): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

We're talking personal top ten territory here, with a rare screening of the brilliant director Sam Fuller's late masterpiece. This film, in the Big Screen Classics strand at BFI Southbank, also screens on August 13th and 19th. You can find full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Samuel Fuller's 1982 masterpiece about American racism—his last work shot in this country—focuses on the efforts of a black animal trainer (Paul Winfield) to deprogram a dog that has been trained to attack blacks. Very loosely adapted by Fuller and Curtis Hanson from a memoir by Romain Gary, and set in southern California on the fringes of the film industry, this heartbreakingly pessimistic yet tender story largely concentrates on tragic human fallibility from the vantage point of an animal; in this respect it's like Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar, and Fuller's brilliantly eclectic direction gives it a nearly comparable intensity. Through a series of grotesque misunderstandings, this unambiguously antiracist movie was yanked from U.S. distribution partly because of charges of racism made by individuals and organizations who had never seen it. But it's one of the key American films of the 80s. With Kristy McNichol, Burl Ives, Jameson Parker, and, in cameo roles, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, Christa Lang, and Fuller himself.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 234: Thu Aug 22

Young Soul Rebels (Julien, 1991): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm

Thjis 35mm presemntation is also being screened on August 14th (full details here, which includes director's extended introduction). The film is part of the Nineties season. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
Artist Isaac Julien’s first narrative feature revolves around four characters in 1977 London, where class and racial tensions simmer. A murder mystery intersects the lives of aspiring DJ Chris (Nonyela) and his ambitious girlfriend Tracy (Okonedo), and Chris’ friend Caz (Sesay), who embarks on a romance with punk Billibud (Durr).

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 233: Wed Aug 21

Unrelated (Hogg, 2007): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This 35mm presentation in the Big Screen Classics strand at BFI Southbank is introduced by Dr Davina Quinlivan, Kingston University London. This film is also being shown on August 6th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
One villa outside Siena, two fractured and well-heeled families on holiday and a woman who arrives late to the party leaving some of her sorrows behind her in Britain but still carrying excess emotional baggage…

‘Unrelated’ is the first feature from television director Joanna Hogg and is a surprising, sensitive and compelling study of upper middle-class mores and middle-age hang-ups. Hogg casts the unknown Kathryn Worth as Anna, a sad soul and old friend of solid Verena (Mary Roscoe), a no-nonsense home counties sort of lady who’s enjoying a break with her new husband, another male friend and their various teenage children. A hidden trauma is making Anna behave oddly: she drifts towards the kids and away from the adults, and is especially taken by Etonian Oakley (Tom Hiddleston), the oldest, whose maturity isn’t as developed as Anna’s behaviour implies.

The holiday setting offers a theatre in which Hogg plays out this intriguing study of a damaged woman whose surroundings and companions offer her few favours. It’s true that some of the acting and dialogue, at times awkwardly improvised, wanders from the precision shown elsewhere. 

Also, Hogg is better at concealing than she is at revealing: the best moments are quiet and suggestive and a final, emotional unfurling of Anna’s crisis doesn’t offer the power or the satisfaction it should. Mostly, though, Hogg displays a welcome desire to draw on global film influences and ignore the unwritten rules of what British cinema should or should not seek to achieve, especially in the realm of films about the monied and unsympathetic.

Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 232: Tue Aug 20

Farewell My Lovely (Richards, 1975): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.25pm

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

Time Out review:
After Robert Altman's intensive analysis of Philip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye, it's hard to imagine another straightforward adaptation. Yet Farewell, My Lovely deliberately courts nostalgia with lovingly recreated '40s settings and film techniques recalling the thrillers of the time, besides the casting of Robert Mitchum, who made his name in just such films. As such, it lies alongside the successful 1944 adaptation rather than the current Californian detective pictures, whose troubled introspections it lacks. The film's triumph is Mitchum's definitive Marlowe, which captures perfectly the character's down-at-heel integrity and erratic emotional involvement with his cases. Purists may find the script's tinkering with Marlowe's character irritating. But there are plenty of compensations: strong supporting performances, moody renderings of the underbelly of Los Angeles nightlife, and a jigsaw plot with Marlowe's chase through seven homicides to find an ex-nightclub singer, six years disappeared.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 231: Mon Aug 19

Ghost World (Zwigoff, 2001): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10pm

This is a 35mm presentation.

Chicago Reader review:
Terry Zwigoff (Crumb) brilliantly negotiates the shift to fiction filmmaking in a very personal adaptation (2001) of the Daniel Clowes comic book, which either captures with uncanny precision what it's like to be a teenage girl in this country or fooled me utterly into thinking it does. Thora Birch (American Beauty
) plays Enid, a comic book artist who plans to share an apartment with her best friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) and befriends Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a lonely, much older collector of rare blues and jazz 78s, shortly after she almost graduates from high school. To get a diploma, she has to take an art course over the summer, and our glimpses of this add up to the funniest portrait of American “art appreciation” I've ever seen. Never predictable, this movie is often hilarious as well as touching, subtly adapting the mise en scene of Clowes's original without being fancy or obtrusive about it. With Brad Renfro and Bob Balaban.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 230: Sun Aug 18

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.30pm

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.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 229: Sat Aug 17

The Doom Generation (Araki, 1995): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm

This 35mm presentation, which is also screened on August 4th (details here), is part of the Nineties season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Welcome to Hell': this 'heterosexual movie' by Gregg Araki is not for the faint-hearted. A couple-on-the-road movie, with a sexually voracious third party along for the ride, this is a highly stylised, luridly coloured provocation, aimed squarely at the moral majority (not that they'd be seen dead at a flick like this). Firing on all cylinders for the first time, Araki throws in decapitation, spunk munching, outrageous visual and structural puns, Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, and a running 666 gag, all in the service of American sexual liberation. Imagine Natural Born Killers with a sense of humour.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 228: Fri Aug 16

My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This film, which is also being screened on August 5th (details here), is part of the 90s season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Gus Van Sant's 1990 feature, his best prior to Elephant, is a simultaneously heartbreaking and exhilarating road movie about two male hustlers (River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves) in the Pacific Northwest. Phoenix, a narcoleptic from a broken home, is essentially looking for a family, while Reeves, whose father is mayor of Portland, is mainly fleeing his. The style is so eclectic that it may take some getting used to, but Van Sant, working from his own story for the first time, brings such lyrical focus to his characters and his poetry that almost everything works. Even the parts that show some strain—like the film's extended hommageto Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight—are exciting for their sheer audacity. Phoenix was never better, and Reeves does his best with a part that's largely Shakespeare's Hal as filtered through Welles.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.