Thursday, 28 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 69: Sun Mar 10

The Counsellor (Scott, 2013): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm


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

Multiglom website review:
When The Counsellor was released in 2013, the reception was overwhelmingly negative. “The worst movie ever made.” “Very disappointing.” “A huge misfire.” “An ugly, ugly picture.” “Blah bloody blah.” “A boring mess.” And so on. And indeed it is a hard film to like, the opposite of feelgood, and doesn’t bother trying to make its audience feel comfortable on any level whatsoever. I hated it on first viewing, but here’s the thing – I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards, and not only because it contains one of the most shockingly explicit onscreen murders of a character played by a major Hollywood star that I’ve ever seen. And then I thought about it some more, this time trying to work out why I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A second look, this time at the director’s cut, convinced me I was wrong – it’s one of the best films Ridley Scott has ever made, his world-building skills providing the perfect visual complement to Cormac McCarthy’s loquacious screenplay. All sunlight, no shadow, nowhere to hide. Elements I loathed the first time around – stereotypical characters (the protagonist’s girlfriend, too pure for this world, exists solely to get kidnapped and butchered), the portentous speechifying (surely nobody  pontificates like that jefe), the relentlessly downbeat but hardly eye-opening message that going into business with criminals can ruin your life – clicked into place once I’d realised that neither characters nor dialogue nor plot were intended as in any way realistic. As Outlaw Vern wrote, “Everything is over-discussed and under-explained, that’s the approach.” It’s not a thriller in which you identify with a protagonist as they go to hell and back. It’s a grim fable, nearer to McCarthy’s oft-cited but so far unfilmed masterpiece, Blood Meridian, in which we observe from a distance as the protagonist goes to hell, and is condemned to stay there, because there’s no way back, and that’s how it is. No clever sleight of hand, or long con double-cross, or cathartic shoot-out can save him. In other words, the world of The Counsellor is McCarthy World, the same way that Brian De Palma’s films are set on Planet De Palma – a place with its own set of rules, but with a kernel of truth at its core: the world is crueller than you can ever know, and the boundary between your own life and that cruelty is a wisp of a thing that can be blown away in the blink of an eye. All it takes is one bad decision, bad luck, or bad people. Intellectually, we’re already aware of this, but The Counsellor rams it home with a vengeance, and no mollycoddling, so that you feel it on an emotional level as well. At its dark heart this is a horror movie, because for all the stylised dialogue, it contains truths so unpleasant that any halfway realistic dramatic admission of them would simply be unbearable.
Anne Billson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 68: Sat Mar 9

The Legend of Suram Fortress (Parajanov, 1985): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm


This 35mm presentation, which also screens on March 13th, is part of the Sergei Parajanov season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
After more than a decade of officially enforced inactivity, Soviet filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov (in collaboration with Georgian actor Dodo Abashidze) returned to the world of archaic folk ritual and “reactionary” nationalistic myth that got him in trouble with the authorities in the first place (1985). This visionary reworking of an old Georgian epic about the construction of a medieval fortress doesn't have the terse assurance of Paradjanov's life of Armenian poet Sayat Nova (The Color of Pomegranates), and the ritualized action occasionally veers away from hieratic archetype toward MGM choreographic kitsch. Still, the antique tableau styling (a modernist impersonation of Melies) remains much the same as in the earlier film, and Paradjanov's use of rich, radiantly expressive color could hardly be bettered. It's the poetic reconstruction of cultural identity, not as it presents itself to history but as it exists in the mythic imagination. In Georgian with subtitles. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 67: Fri Mar 8

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Parajanov, 1964): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


This film, which also screens on March 17th, is part of the Sergei Parajanov season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Adapted from a novel by Ukrainian writer M. Kotsyubinsky, Sergei Paradjanov's extraordinary merging of myth, history, poetry, ethnography, dance, and ritual (1964) remains one of the supreme works of the Soviet sound cinema, and even subsequent Paradjanov features have failed to dim its intoxicating splendors. Set in the harsh and beautiful Carpathian Mountains, the movie tells the story of a doomed love between a couple belonging to feuding families, Ivan and Marichka, and of Ivan's life and marriage after Marichka's death. The plot is affecting, but it serves Paradjanov mainly as an armature to support the exhilarating rush of his lyrical camera movements (executed by master cinematographer Yuri Illyenko), his innovative use of nature and interiors, his deft juggling of folklore and fancy in relation to pagan and Christian rituals, and his astonishing handling of color and music. A film worthy of Dovzhenko, whose poetic vision of Ukrainian life is frequently alluded to. In Ukrainian with subtitles.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 66: Thu Mar 7

The Lost People (Box/Knowles, 1949): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.15pm


This 35mm screening of a film jointly directed by the fascinating figure of Muriel Box is part of the excellent Projecting the Archive season. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
This film is a timely reminder of the tensions between nationalities in the late 1940s when the unifying force of the battle against Hitler was receding, and old rivalries began to resurface. Based on the play Cockpit by Irish writer Bridget Boland, The Lost People focuses on a group of displaced persons from all over Europe who gather in an abandoned theatre in Germany, from where the British army attempts to return them home. With a screenplay by Boland and Muriel Box and an all-star British cast, this film is a fascinating window onto the European post-war landscape, and suggests that, even 70 years after its release, the political situation in Europe has changed little.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 65: Wed Mar 6

Othon (Straub-Huillet, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm





This screening is part of the Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet season at BFI Southbank (you can find all the details here).

Time Out review:
Straub examines the process by which events enter our cultural mainstream, and the process by which their use as part of a communications system is transformed into Culture. Corneille's play of political intrigue in Late Empire Rome is used as a base. The text speaks of individual power games outside any social context. Straub perches his actors in togas on the Capitoline Hill in broad daylight. He treats Corneille's words as an undifferentiated block of sound (the actors gabble expressionlessly), and interweaves it with birdsong, traffic noises, the loud splashing of a fountain. A dialectic is set up between the abstraction of the actors' speech and the intimacy of their presence on screen; and between the actors as actors and the actors as play characters, between the actuality of the past and our use of it, with light and colour changes taking on some of the functions of intonation in speech. The film can be mesmeric or irritating: irritating if one tries to force it into fulfilling preconceived notions of plot and character, mesmeric if one trusts the film-maker to lead one into fresh areas of perception.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 64: Tue Mar 5

The Searchers (Ford, 1956): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This classic werstern, which is also being shown on March 10th and 19th, is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
We may still be waiting for the Great American Novel, but John Ford gave us the Great American Film in 1956. The Searchers gathers the deepest concerns of American literature, distilling 200 years of tradition in a way available only to popular art, and with a beauty available only to a supreme visual poet like Ford. Through the central image of the frontier, the meeting point of wilderness and civilization, Ford explores the divisions of our national character, with its search for order and its need for violence, its spirit of community and its quest for independence.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 63: Mon Mar 4

Not Reconciled (Straub, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm


This screening is part of the Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet season at BFI Southbank (details here) andwill be introduced by academic and filmmaker Laura Mulvey.

New Yorker review:
The subtitle of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s first feature, from 1965, “Only Violence Helps Where Violence Reigns,” suggests the fierce political program embodied by their aesthetic austerity. The film, set in Cologne, is a fragmentary adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s novel “Billiards at Half Past Nine,” which they strip down to a handful of stark events and film with a confrontational angularity akin to the music by Bartók that adorns the soundtrack. Only the subtlest of indicators alert viewers to the story’s complex flashbacks. The middle-aged Robert Fähmel tells a young hotel bellhop about persecutions under the Third Reich; Robert’s elderly father, Heinrich, an architect famed for a local abbey, recalls the militaristic passions of the First World War, during which his wife, Johanna, faced legal trouble for insulting the Kaiser. A third-generation Fähmel is considering a career in architecture; meanwhile, the exiled brother of Robert’s late wife returns home only to be met by their former torturer, now a West German official taking part in a parade of war veterans. Straub and Huillet bring the layers of history to life in the present tense, which they judge severely. The tamped-down acting and the spare, tense visual rhetoric evoke a moral crisis as well as the response—as much in style as in substance—that it demands.
Richard Brody


Here (and above) is Brody's video essay on the film.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 62: Sun Mar 3

Union Pacific (De Mille, 1939): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm


This 35mm presentation (which is also screened on March 9th) is part of the Barbara Stanwyck season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Cecil B. De Mille's weak point was always his direction of actors, but this 1939 epic about the building of the first transcontinental railroad is graced by a lively cast—Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, a villainous Robert Preston—that makes De Mille's charging narrative seem even more entertaining than usual. With Akim Tamiroff, Brian Donlevy, Anthony Quinn, and Evelyn Keyes.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 61: Sat Mar 2

Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Straub-Huillet, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.25pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet season at BFI Southbank (details here) and is also being presented on March 12th when the film will be introduced by long-time Straub-Huillet collaborator Misha Donat (full information here).

Time Out review:
A film about the past which is lucid can help people of the present to achieve that necessary lucidity.' Straub's account of Bach is nothing if not lucid: it documents the last 27 years of its subject's life (through the mediating eyes of his wife) principally in terms of his music. The music itself obviates any need for a 'drama' to present Bach; Straub celebrates its range and complexity while showing it always in performance, to emphasise the nature of Bach's work as musician/conductor. A narration (compiled from contemporary sources) sets the man in his economic and social context. With his minimalist's sensitivity to nuance and inflection, Straub eschews pointless cutting and camera movement. The beautiful result has the air of a crystal-clear meditation.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 60: Fri Mar 1

From Today Until Tomorrow (Straub/Huillet, 1997): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm





The Goethe-Institut London and its partners are presenting 'The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet' (more details here), the first complete UK retrospective of the films of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, who have crafted one of the most influential and controversial oeuvres in modern cinema.  Running from March until June 2019 across several London venues, the season will include all of Straub and Huillet’s long and short films directed from 1962 until Huillet’s death in 2006 as well as the films Straub has directed since. Additional events and workshops will provide an opportunity for in-depth engagement with the filmmakers’ unique aesthetics and political engagement. Viewers can experience the exquisite craftsmanship and sheer beauty of their work, as all films will be presented in digital restorations and, whenever possible, in their original format, on new 35mm prints. Screenings and events will take place at the ICA, BFI Southbank, King’s College London, Goethe-Institut London, Ciné Lumière, Close-Up, and the Whitechapel Gallery. This is the opening night of the Straub/Huillet season and here is the ICA introduction to the evening's films:

In From Today until Tomorrow (Von Heute auf Morgen)(1997), Huillet and Straub offer a political reading of Arnold Schoenberg’s rarely performed one-act twelve-tone comic opera Von Heute auf Morgen from 1929, the libretto of which was written by Schoenberg’s wife Gertrud, under the pseudonym ‘Max Blonda’. This ‘apocalypse on a domestic scale’, as Hanns Eisler described it, is a critique of modernity and a commentary on the position of women in the last days of the Weimar Republic under the guise of an apparently frivolous comedy of marriage. Set in a bourgeois family home, the film was shot in a studio in crepuscular 35mm black and white, a style which references the silent comedies of Ernst Lubitsch or Carl Theodor Dreyer. Huillet and Straub recorded the film in absolute synchronicity, in direct sound and mono, with the music performed live by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Gielen. The screening opens with an alternative take from Straub and Huillet’s 1992 film Sicilia!, based on Elio Vittorini’s 1930s allegorical anti-fascist novel Conversations in Sicily.
 
From Today Until Tomorrow (Von Heute auf Morgen) is a UK Premiere and will be screened in its original 35mm format.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 59: Thu Feb 28

The Lucky Number (Asquith, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


Anthony Asquith’s 1932 film boasts some excellent comic talent (especially Gordon Harker), and the music of Mischa Spolianski. Film historian Geoff Brown introduces a 35mm screening.

BFI introduction:
Clifford Mollison stars as footballer who, in pursuit of an elusive pools ticket, covers a lot of ground and gathers a motley crew of helpers. Anthony Asquith’s visual imagination raises the film above the material, with one critic comparing his approach to that of René Clair. Also contributing to the film’s success is some excellent comic talent (especially Gordon Harker), the photography of Gunther Krampf and the music of Mischa Spolianski.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 58: Wed Feb 27

After Hours (Scorsese, 1985): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm 


This 35mm screening is part of the Martin Scorsese season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Martin Scorsese transforms a debilitating convention of 80s comedy—absurd underreaction to increasingly bizarre and threatening situations—into a rich, wincingly funny metaphysical farce. A lonely computer programmer (Griffin Dunne) is lured from the workday security of midtown Manhattan to an expressionistic late-night SoHo by the vague promise of casual sex with a mysterious blonde (Rosanna Arquette). But she turns out to be a sinister kook whose erratic behavior plunges Dunne into a series of increasingly strange, devastating incidents, including encounters with three more treacherous blondes (Verna Bloom, Teri Garr, and Catherine O'Hara) and culminating in a run-in with a bloodthirsty mob of vigilantes led by a Mr. Softee truck. Scorsese's orchestration of thematic development, narrative structure, and visual style is stunning in its detail and fullness; this 1985 feature reestablished him as one of the very few contemporary masters of filmmaking.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 57: Tue Feb 26

The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm


This 35mm screening (also showing on September 22nd) is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Monthly Film Bulletin reviewOne 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 

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 56: Mon Feb 25

Dogtooth (Lanthimos, 2009): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm


Chicago Reader review:
I've seen movies this weird before, but never from Greece. Inside the confines of a nicely appointed country home, a stern patriarch and his obedient wife keep their teenage son and two teenage daughters cloistered from the world and zanily miseducated. Tape-recorded vocabulary lessons teach them new words with absurdly inaccurate definitions, an LP of Frank Sinatra singing "Fly Me to the Moon" is presented to them as their grandfather's voice, and a female security guard from the father's workplace is periodically brought home to copulate with the blank-faced young man. Writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos walks a fine line between the sinister and the hilarious, though the confused siblings (Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, and Hristos Passalis) are never less than poignant. This 2009 comedy is one you won't forget, though probably not for lack of trying.
J.R. Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 55: Sun Feb 24

All I Desire (Sirk, 1953): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 7.55pm


This film, part of the Barbara Stanwyck season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened at the cinema on February 27th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A failed actress and mother of three (Barbara Stanwyck) returns to the husband (Richard Carlson) and family she deserted years before in this superior 1953 drama by Douglas Sirk, a very personal reworking of a standard soap-opera plot. True to form, Sirk transforms the material through a careful and ironic subversion of the conventions; what emerges is a biting assessment of the value of survival in the face of small-town meanness and prejudice, a neat use of a very bourgeois format to satirize its audience.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 54: Sat Feb 23

Clash by Night (Lang, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


This 35mm presentation, which also screens on February 25th, is part of the Barbara Stanwyck season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A love triangle set in a scruffy seaport town, with Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, and Robert Ryan. The script, adapted from a Clifford Odets play, seems to have roused the realist in director Fritz Lang: the backwater atmosphere is as authentic as it is oppressive. The naturalism of this 1952 film, one of Lang's most underrated, makes an interesting contrast with the wild exaggerations of his Rancho Notorious, made the same year; for the buffs, there's also an early starlet appearance by Marilyn Monroe.
Dave Kehr

There’s a more detailed piece with some interesting asides about Monroe in this movie published by Chicago Reader which can be found here.

Here is an extract featuring Stanwyck.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 53: Fri Feb 22

The Oberwald Mystery (Antonioni, 1980): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This 35mm presentation is also being screened on February 17th. Full details of the Michelangelo Antonioni season can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
This is an experimental film in the original rather than fashionable sense of that term—a 1980 adaptation by Michelangelo Antonioni of Jean Cocteau's play The Eagle Has Two Heads that reunites the filmmaker with Monica Vitti in the starring role as a widowed queen who falls in love with an anarchist poet sent to assassinate her. What makes this experimental is neither the play nor the performances, but the fact that Antonioni shot it in color video (later transferred to 35-millimeter), regarding the medium not as “television” but as a new kind of cinematography, and associating each character with a different color as part of his visual exploration. The choice of the Cocteau play seems more arbitrary than inevitable, which raises the form-versus-content issue even more than in most Antonioni features. The results are singular, to say the least.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 52: Thu Feb 21

Beyond the Clouds (Antonioni, 1995): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This 35mm presentation is also being screened on February 17th (when the film will be introduced by director Michelangelo Antonioni’s widow). Full details of the Antonioni season are here.

Chicago Reader review:
Michelangelo Antonioni's farewell feature (1995, 115 min.), combining four sketches from his book That Bowling Alley on the Tiber, is minor only by his own standards. He made it when he was 83, after a stroke ten years earlier left him partially paralyzed and largely unable to speak; to placate the film's insurers Wim Wenders collaborated on the script and direction, but only on the brief segments linked by a filmmaker (played by John Malkovich) who roams around looking for material. (One of these segments, featuring Jeanne Moreau and the late Marcello Mastroianni, focuses, ironically, on the theme of artistic imitation.) It's the most directly erotic of Antonioni's features, its stories all revolving around the possibility of sex between strangers, and Antonioni takes advantage of all the existential mysteries involved. It's also set in different parts of Italy and France (with English, Italian, and French spoken at different junctures), and Antonioni characteristically intertwines his eroticism of the flesh with an even more precise eroticism of place.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 51: Wed Feb 20

Raging Bull (Scorsese, 1980): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Martin Scorsese season. Full details here.

Time Out review:
You was my brudda. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit… I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum…’ When the washed-up Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) quotes ‘On The Waterfront’ to himself, it tells us as much about his self-pity as the actual parallels with Brando’s Terry Malloy. Not just a contender but a champ, La Motta’s fall stemmed not from outside pressures but inner weaknesses, stunningly realised in De Niro’s colossal performance; both he and Scorsese have arguably never been better. Following from 1941 to 1964 the explosively jealous and narcissistic middle-weight, his brother-manager Joey – Joe Pesci, great in his breakthrough role, first of the badabing pairings with De Niro that would define his career – and Jake’s tenderised wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), ‘Raging Bull’ is a masterclass in pain inflicted on oneself and one’s loved ones, as well as one’s opponents. The use of pop and opera and the black-and-white photography (by Michael Chapman) are exemplary, the actual boxing a compulsive dance of death.
Ben Walters

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 50: Tue Feb 19

Car Wash (Schultz, 1976): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm


This film is being screened from a 35mm print.
Chicago Reader review:
Not quite a disco musical, this 1976 release sure feels like one in terms of bounce, verve, and energy. It's basically a comedy-drama built around a string of vignettes related to a day in the life of a Los Angeles car wash, with a very good, largely nonwhite cast featuring Franklyn Ajaye (a particular delight), Antonio Fargas, Bill Duke, Ivan Dixon, Richard Pryor, Tracy Reed, and Garrett Morris; Sully Boyar plays the white boss. The gags tend to be much more concerned with questions of class than one is accustomed to in American movies—and the contrapuntal punctuations of the disco DJ are positively Altman-esque. Michael Schultz (Cooley High) directed a screenplay by Joel Schumacher, and if you compare this movie to Schumacher's somewhat similar D.C. Cab, made seven years later, you may conclude that Schumacher's is the dominant creative voice. Critics seemed to like this less than audiences; personally I had a ball.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer

Monday, 11 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 49: Mon Feb 18

Identification of a Woman (Antonioni, 1982): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Michelangelo Antonioni season and is also being shown on February 20th. Details here. Tonight’s event will be introduced by the filmmaker’s widow Enrica Fico Antonioni.

Chicago Reader review:
Michelangelo Antonioni's 1982 feature (he didn't make another until the 1995 Beyond the Clouds) focuses on an Italian filmmaker (Tomas Milian) and his chance encounters with two women. The most openly erotic of Antonioni's features, and visually one of the most beautiful (what he does with fog in one famous sequence is particularly memorable), it's also one of his most elusive in terms of plot and character. With Christine Boisson, Daniela Silverio, and Sandra Monteleoni.
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 48: Sun Feb 17

The Remains of the Day (Ivory, 1993): Curzon Soho, 2.30pm


This 35mm screening is part of the season (details here) celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Curzon Soho.

Time Out review:
Who else but Merchant Ivory to give the big-screen treatment to Ishiguro's Booker Prize-winning novel about class, fascism and the stiff upper lip? Anthony Hopkins plays Mr Stevens the butler, a man so fanatically devoted to selfless service that he carries on pouring the port while his father lies dying, and refuses to question the Nazi sympathies of his titled master (Edward Fox). Yet love steals unawares into even the hardest of hearts, and his stern warnings to female staff cannot protect him from falling slowly for the new housekeeper, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). That the film works is down to Hopkins, who plays his face like a lyre - a tic here, an inflected eyebrow there. It's an astonishing performance, but the viewer is still hard-pressed to commit to him emotionally. It's Thompson we really feel for, trying to get some reaction from the man she too comes secretly to love. In these scenes of repartee, where politeness is a weapon and every honorific twists in the gut like a knife, the film finally comes alive.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 47: Sat Feb 16

The Stud (Masters, 1978) & The Bitch (O’Hara, 1979): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm


Rio Cinema introduction:
Supakino and Zodiac Film Club are teaming up to bring you a dirty disco double bill featuring the infamous Joan Collins films The Stud (1978) and The Bitch (1979). A rousing alternative to Valentine’s Day, we invite you to put on your platforms, bring a date and prepare to dance. We’ll be providing party bags, an intermission disco and prizes for the sleaziest looks, along with one or two surprises in the works with our media partner Radiant Circus. Shot on a tiny budget in three weeks and rejected by most major studios, The Stud ended up being the most successful film of 1978. Based on the steamy novel by Jackie Collins, the film revived her sister Joan’s career and went on to spawn an equally excessive sequel just a year later. Set in London’s disco scene, The Stud and The Bitch follow the hedonistic, erotic exploits of Fontaine Khaled, a woman of expensive taste and unbridled libido. With their hazy aesthetic, lavish set design and disco soundtrack, the sleek and sleazy classics are the perfect 70s treat.
Here (and above) is the trailer for The Stud.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 46: Fri Feb 15

The Lady Eve (Sturges, 1941): 
BFI Southbank, NFT2, 2.30pm, NFT1, 6.30pm & NFT3, 8.45pm


This film is on an extended run at the cinema. You can find the full details here. It is also part of the Barbara Stanwyck season, the full information for which your can find here.

Chicago Reader review:
Preston Sturges extended his range beyond the crazy farces that had made his reputation with this romantic 1941 comedy, and his hand proved just as sure. Henry Fonda is the heir to a massive beer fortune who has spent his life in the scientific study of snakes; Barbara Stanwyck is the con girl who exclaims “What a life!” and sets out to turn Fonda around. Among the faces who crowd the frames are Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest, Eric Blore, Melville Cooper, and Jimmy Conlin. 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 45: Thu Feb 14

The Fan (Schmidt, 1982): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm


The annual Valentine’s Day screening by Cigarette Burns is traditionally the best in London and this year is no different.

Barbican introduction:
Simone is the devoted fan of the film's title, eagerly devouring every scrap of publicity the Gary Numan-esque pop star R tosses to his teen followers. In school, she spends her classes dreamily writing R unanswered love letters; at home, she stalks the postman in desperate hopes of a reply. She is entranced by R's every television appearance; he seems to look directly through the TV screen at her, singing only to her. This must be love. When they finally meet, their lives are forever changed. This West German film brilliantly maps the loneliness and confusion of adolescence, then goes further, exploring the terrifying depths of fanaticism and the looming shadow of Germany’s own dark past. Rivalling the grim intensity of that other German cult classic Christiane FDer Fan is not a film you will easily leave behind in the cinema.

Here (and above) is the excellent trailer.


Sunday, 3 February 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 44: Wed Feb 13

Wavelength (Snow, 1967): Tate Modern, 6.30pm


Tate Modern introduction to this special 16mm screening:
Canadian artist Michael Snow is celebrated for his groundbreaking work in a range of media including film, video and sound. Over the last six decades, his practice has explored the characteristics of these media in great depth, addressing questions of time, movement and perception. We are honoured to welcome the artist to Tate to screen his renowned film Wavelength1967, followed by the world premiere of Waivelength 2019, a new audio performance specially conceived for Tate Modern's Starr Cinema. A feat of structural filmmaking, Wavelength unfolds as a gradual zoom from one side of the artist’s loft to the other, accompanied by the sound of a rising sine wave. The film is punctuated by changes in light, colour filters and four moments in which human characters appear, gesturing towards a narrative. After a short break, Snow and collaborator Mani Mazinani will premiere an audio performance entitled Waivelength. The immersive performance reworks the film's sine wave soundtrack into a new composition distributed across multiple channels of sound in real time.​​

Here is a thoughtful piece by Donato Totaro on Wavelength, often dubbed the ‘Citizen Kane’ of experimental cinema.
‘Thirty-five years after its inception, Wavelength (Ontario, 1967, 45 min.) remains one of the most vital and (still) groundbreaking films in the history of experimental cinema. It is, quite simply, the “Citizen Kane” of experimental cinema. Screenings of Wavelength in and out of academic situations have probably generated more mixed emotions – frustration, boredom, exhilaration and awe (sometimes in the same spectator) – than any other film. I can vouch from personal experience of teaching this film, that Wavelength retains its power to evoke these emotions.’

Here (and above) is a 1983 documentary on Wavelength’s director Michael Snow.