Monday, 29 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 128: Wed May 8

True Stories (Byrne, 1986): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


Time Out review:
David Byrne gleaned the inhabitants for his hypothetical small town (Virgil, Texas) from mad American tabloids like the Weekly World News, which trades in stories about Mexicans who can read your nose, illegal immigrants from outer space, and suchlike. As the film's on-screen narrator, he wanders through the streets, homes and shopping malls of Virgil during its sesquicentennial 'celebration of specialness' with an air of quizzical, bemused wonder, and meets as rich and strange a bunch of characters as we've seen since Robert Altman's Nashville. Like Altman's film, True Stories has a handful of brilliant musical set pieces, each in a different musical idiom, from gospel to C & W. It's also heir to Nashville in its multiple, interweaving plots and its plethora of vivid performances, notably from Jo Harvey Allenas the Lying Woman, and (best of all) John Goodman as Louis Fyne, the lonely bachelor with a consistent panda bear shape. And that's not the half of it. True Stories is an unprecedented crossbreed: a rock film with a brain, an 'art' movie with belly laughs, a state of the nation address without boredom.
Kevin Jackson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 127: Tue May 7

Bitter Victory (Ray, 1957): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.15pm


This film (being shown from a 35mm print), in the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on May 12th and 29th, with the last date including an introduction by Geoff Andrew, BFI programmer-at-large, whose book, 'The Films of Nicholas Ray: The Poet of Nightfall' is highly recommended and can be found via this link.

“There was theatre (Griffith), poetry (Murnau), painting (Rossellini), dance (Eisenstein), music (Renoir). Henceforth there is cinema. And the cinema is Nicholas Ray.” Jean-Luc Godard*

Time Out review:
The title tells all. Though Curt Jürgens and Richard Burton lead a successful World War II assault on Rommel's desert headquarters (for which Jürgens is undeservedly decorated), in the course of the raid both men are broken. Jürgens falls prey to indecision and cowardice brought on by his envy of the seeming ease with which Burton handles both the military situation and his personal affairs (including a past liaison with Jürgens' wife), while Burton's romantic veneer is shattered by the conflicting emotions he discovers within himself. The resulting personal anguish, summed up in Burton's blank delivery of the line 'I kill the living and save the dead', seeps into the very grain of Nicholas Ray's magisterial black-and-white 'Scope set-ups.
Phil Hoad


Here (and above) is an extract.

*Opening sentence of Godard's contemporaneous review of Bitter Victory

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 126: Mon May 6

Sunset (Nemes, 2018): Curzon Soho, 7.30pm


A rare foray into contemporary releases for Capital Celluloid with this special 35mm screening of László Nemes’ latest film plus Q&A with the director (the screening and Nemes Q&A will also be repeated on May 31st - details here).

Curzon Soho introduction:
From László Nemes, the Oscar-winning director of Son of Saul comes this sublimely evocative recreation of 1913 Budapest, a city at the crux of world history. Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab) arrives in the capital eager to become a milliner at her late parents’ legendary hat shop. But she is drawn into the mystery of what happened to her long-missing brother. Her search will lead her into a dazzling panorama of the dying gasps of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Perfectly pitched between dream and nightmare, with real lives caught in the web of history, Sunset is a worthy successor to Son of Saul.
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 125 : Sun May 5

The Leopard (Visconti 1963): Close-Up Cinema, 6.30pm


A bona fide masterpiece which grows in stature with the passing years and now in a remastered form which simply adds to the beauty of a magisterial work of cinema. Here is critic Dave Kehr on the film's history, it was butchered on release and only seen in a truncated form for many years, and here is Martin Scorsese talking about his involvement in the restoration. The Leopard is one of the American director's favourite films as evidenced in this list.

This film, which is also being shown on May 26th, is part of the Scott Walker season at Close-Up Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Cut, dubbed, and printed in an inferior color process, the U.S. release of Luchino Visconti's epic didn't leave much of an impression in 1963; 20 years later, a restoration of the much longer Italian version revealed this as not only Visconti's greatest film but a work that transcends its creator, achieving a sensitivity and intelligence without parallel in his other films. Burt Lancaster initiated his formidable mature period as the aging aristocrat Don Fabrizio, who works to find a place for himself and his family values in the new Italy being organized in the 1860s. The film's superb first two hours, which weave social and historical themes into rich personal drama, turn out to be only a prelude to the magnificent final hour—an extended ballroom sequence that leaves history behind to become one of the most moving meditations on individual mortality in the history of the cinema.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 124: Sat May 4

Rouge (Kwan, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.15pm


This film, part of the Chinese Visual Festival at BFI Southbank, includes a Q&A with director Stanley Kwan.

Time Out review:
Tale of a courtesan who died for love in the 1930s, roaming present-day Hong Kong as a wraith because she has failed to meet her lover in the after-life. A sharp, mildly satirical portrait of Hong Kong life in the '80s is shot through with flashbacks to the '30s, suffused with a heady, opium-hazed decadence worthy of Huysmans, yielding an elegant and deeply felt movie about the transience of things - especially love. Stunning visuals and sophisticated performances add up to a terrific, stylish movie.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 123: Fri May 3

Heaven on Earth (Schünzel/Schirokauer, 1927): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm


BFI intro to this 35mm screening, the opening night of the Weimar season at BFI Southbank:
A hapless politician (comic genius Schünzel) leads a double life – publicly attacking the depravity of Berlin nightlife while secretly running ‘Heaven on Earth’, a notorious nightclub. This delicious distillation of the contemporary debate around moral degeneracy features raunchy chorus girls, a black jazz band, and a cross-dressing scene that anticipates Some Like It Hot by several decades.

Background to live score for tonight's film:
Helen Noir is a London-based musician and composer. A classically-trained soprano and accomplished producer, she has written original scores for live performance for a number of films, including Alla Nazimova’s Salome and ‎Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness. Helen’s live scores respond to picture in unique and compelling ways, referencing disco, opera, jazz or chanson, and incorporating choral loops, reverb-drenched guitar or techno bass-lines.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 122: Thu May 2

Magnolia (Anderson, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm



This 35mm screening is part of the Paul Thomas Anderson season at Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.


Time Out review:
Anderson's meandering multi-story megasoap with a message is over-ambitious, self-conscious, self-indulgent, self-important and clumsy into the bargain. But it's also one of the most enthralling and exhilarating American movies in ages. Much in the style of Nashville and Short Cuts (though lacking Altman's light touch), this intimate epic charts the various fortunes, over a day or so, of various individuals living in the San Fernando Valley - including the dying Earl (Jason Robards), his young wife Linda (Julianne Moore), and his nurse Phil (Philip Seymour Hoffman); Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise), prophet of machismo; and numerous people associated, past or present, with a TV quiz show - whose paths cross by design, destiny, chance or coincidence. Insofar as the film is about 'story', little happens save that Anderson initially conceals information, and then slowly scatters snippets so that we can piece the jigsaw together. For all the humour, it's a dark portrait of loss, lovelessness and fear of failure in contemporary America, and not a film that trades in understatement. As the lost souls make their way towards - what? - redemption? - a deus ex machina plot development occurs, as contrived, ludicrous, bold and grandly imaginative as any Biblical flood or plague.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 121: Wed May 1

Class Relations (Straub/Huillet, 1984): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm


This film is part of the Jean-Marie Straub/Daniele Huillet season at Close-Up Cinema from May 1st. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Using the fragmentary Kafka novel Amerika as their armature, West German minimalists Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet (Moses and AaronFrom the Cloud to the Resistance) have fashioned a modern parable of immigrant opportunity (1983) based on the Marxian idea that economics, rather than politics or religion or other conceptual inventions, comprises the social bedrock of all human relationships. In contrast to Europe, where ideological “superstructure” still camouflages the economic nature of interclass struggles, Straub and Huillet evidently see the United States as a land of perfect economic clarity, where social relations are matter-of-factly accepted for what they are and everyone's a fully advertent actor in the economic arena (though I suspect we market animals may not share the filmmakers' Realpolitiker enthusiasms for our infrastructural candor). It sounds provocative to say the least, and it's certainly a departure from the interiorized Kafka we're used to on film, however loosely adapted.
Pat Graham

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 120: Tue Apr 30

The Stuff (Cohen, 1985): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm


This rare screening of the cult 1980s horror film is followed by the documentary, King Cohen: The Wild World of Larry Cohen. Details here.

Time Out review:
Larry Cohen's demons have never been your average little devils: Q the Winged Serpent lived atop the Chrysler Building, his anti-Christ lived in a Brooklyn basement, and J Edgar Hoover wasn't exactly human. This one is a white glop which comes bubbling out of the ground, tastes nice, and is immediately mined and marketed by a fast food chain under the logo 'Enough is never enough'. In other words, the monster doesn't come after you, you have to go out and consume it. Once eaten, it does strange things to people. Leading the anti-Stuff campaign for the forces of good is Michael Moriarty, in his customary persona as the laid back bozo who isn't as stupid as he looks ('Nobody is as stupid as I look'). As usual, Cohen's humour is chaotic (importing a right wing private army for the finale), surreal, and very, very subversive. If the drive-in crowd took its message to heart, they'd never eat again. Invasion of the Body Snatchers for our time.
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 119: Mon Apr 29

Closely Observed Trains (Menzel, 1966): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


This screening is part of the Czechoslovak New Wave season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Director Jiri Menzel's 1966 film of a Czechoslovakian youth (Vaclav Neckar) and his amorous and military adventures during World War II. It recalls the work of Milos Forman in its elliptically funny yet tender observation of the quirks of humanity. Some uproarious scenes combine with marvelously perceptive observations of both everyday behavior and the process of a boy's maturation.
Dan Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 118: Sun Apr 28

Being There (Ashby, 1979): Castle Cinema, 2pm


This 16mm screening from Cine-Real is also being shown on April 25th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Peter Sellers gives one of his finest portrayals as an untutored victim of environmental isolation, living his life entirely within the walls of a Washington house and its garden, with television providing his only link to the outside world. When he's forced outside, this charming vacuum becomes, through a series of well-wrought ironies, the toast of the town. The director, Hal Ashby, has affected a restrained, understated style to match the subtlety and precision of Sellers's performance. No one seems to know what to do with the allegorical undertone of Jerzy Kosinski's script, but as a whole this 1979 film maintains a fine level of wit, sophistication, and insight. With Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, and Richard Dysart.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 117: Sat Apr 27

The Return of the Prodigal Son/Humiliated (Straub/Huillet, 2001-03): ICA Cinema, 2.15pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Jean-Marie Straub/Danielle Huillet season at the ICA Cinema. You can see the full details  of the season here.

ICA Cinema introduction:
The diptych The Return of the Prodigal Son / Humiliated (Il Ritorno del figlio prodigo / Umiliati) (2001–03) is a segue from Workers, Peasants (2001) and Straub and Huillet’s third film based on the writings of Elio Vittorini. The film returns to Vittorini’s Marxist novel The Women of Messina(1973) about a community founded after the Second World War by workers and peasants from different regions of Italy. In the film, the commune is threatened by the pressures of a restructured post-war world, of its laws and politics, and by the forces of history from which they had hoped to protect themselves.

Incantati (2002) is a re-edited sequence from the end of Humiliated.
 
Dolando (2003), was made as a gesture from the filmmakers to their crew. One of the film’s actors, Dolando Bernardini – who also starred in From the Cloud to the Resistance (1979) – sings a capella three verses from Torquato Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered (1581).
 
The Return of the Prodigal Son / Humiliated will be screened in its original 35mm format.

Programme:
 
The Return of the Prodigal Son / Humiliated (Il Ritorno del figlio prodigo / Umiliati), Dirs. Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Italy, 2001 – 03, 64 min., Italian with English subtitles.
 
Incantati, Dirs. Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 2002, Italy/France/Germany, 35mm, 6 min., Italian with English subtitles.
 
Dolando, Dirs. Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 2003, Italy/France/Germany, 7 min., Italian with English subtitles.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 116: Fri Apr 26

Workers, Peasants (Straub/Huillet, 2001): ICA Cinema, 6.20pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Jean-Marie Straub/Danielle Huillet season at the ICA Cinema. You can see the full details here.

ICA introduction:
Workers, Peasants (2001) is the second and central part of Huillet and Straub’s Elio Vittorini trilogy and draws on the ‘characters, constellations and text’ of the author’s experimental Marxist novel The Women of Messina (1973). Twelve working-class men and women reunite amidst ruins in the aftermath of the Second World War, after Italy has regained its national and territorial unity. As a community, they try to erase the memory of the war and attempt to protect themselves against violence, misery and fear by building new relationships to their work and daily life. The group keep a ‘register’, a kind of newspaper, as if following the proceedings of an investigation or trial. The texts are recited from memory or read aloud by non-professional actors, who are gathered in the forest of Buti, Tuscany.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 115: Thu Apr 25

Paperhouse (Rose, 1988): BFI Southbank, 8.40pm


This 35mm screening features a camera negative first generation print of cult horror film Paperhouse and includes Bernard Rose in person for a Q&A after the screening.

Time Out review:
An 11-year-old girl succumbs to fainting fits, is put to bed, and draws an imaginary house with an imaginary friend. Through dreams, she enters this otherworld of her own creation. Down these Elm Streets a young girl must go, you might think, but Bernard Rose's striking movie debut has more art (and heart) up its sleeve than the usual bogeyman/teenagers routine. This time the monster is the girl's estranged father, and the shocks are more to do with primary fears of a violent adult world. Matthew Jacobs' script also manages to convey atmospheric banality without dealing with naturalistic characters, while the design department succeeds in turning infantile sketches into near-apocalyptic landscapes, often to shatttering effect. Ultimately, where the film scores over the current gore market is in its return to the values of emotion and psychology within fantasy. There are production compromises (an-over inflated score, a miscast Glenne Headly); but Rose, veteran of that banned Frankie Goes To Hollywood video, directs with exhilarating assurance, and Charlotte Burke makes an excellent heroine.
David Thompson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 114: Wed Apr 24

Capote (Miller, 2005): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


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

Chicago Reader review:
Philip Seymour Hoffman does an impressive impersonation of Truman Capote in this biopic, directed with force and economy by Bennett Miller. Dan Futterman adapted a 1988 bio by Gerald Clarke, but the sharp script has a narrower, more polemical focus than the book, concentrating on the writing of In Cold Blood and arguing that Capote was destroyed by the project's ethical and emotional conflicts. The depictions of novelist Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) and editor William Shawn (Bob Balaban) aren't convincing, but Miller is mainly interested in Capote's identification and duplicitous relationship with Perry Smith, one of the murderers he was writing about, and that story rings true. With Chris Cooper and Clifton Collins Jr. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 113: Tue Apr 23

Sicilia (Straub/Huillet, 1989): ICA Cinema, 6.20pm


This film is part of the Jean-Marie Straub/Danielle Huillet season at the ICA Cinema. You can see the full details here.

ICA introduction:
‘Sometimes / one confuses the pettiness of the world / with the offences of the world. / Ah! / If there were / knives and scissors, awls, picks and harquebuses, / mortars, sickles and hammers, cannons, cannons, dynamite!’

The first part of a trilogy of films based on the work of Elio Vittorini, Sicilia! (1999) is adapted from the author’s anti-fascist novel Conversations in Sicily (1939). After many years away, Silvestro returns from northern Italy to the Sicilian countryside of his childhood to visit his mother. The film, shot in black and white, retains the musicality of Vittorini’s language and is made up of a series of conversations the protagonist has with strangers in a port, fellow passengers on a train, his mother, and a knife-sharpener.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 112: Mon Apr 22

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.10pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Stanley Kubrick season at BFI Southbank.

If you're interested in reading more about this remarkable film I can recommend two BFI publications - Michel Chion's Modern Classics monograph on Eyes Wide Shut and the chapter on the film in James Naremore's book titled On Kubrick.

Chicago Reader review:
'Initial viewings of Stanley Kubrick's movies can be deceptive because his films all tend to be emotionally convoluted in some way; one has to follow them as if through a maze. A character that Kubrick might seem to treat cruelly the first time around (e.g., Elisha Cook Jr.'s fall guy in The Killing) can appear the object of tender compassion on a subsequent viewing. The director's desire to avoid sentimentality at all costs doesn't preclude feeling, as some critics have claimed, but it does create ambiguity and a distanced relationship to the central characters. Kubrick's final feature very skillfully portrays the dark side of desire in a successful marriage; since the 60s he'd been thinking about filming Arthur Schnitzler's brilliant novella "Traumnovelle," and working with Frederic Raphael, he's adapted it faithfully--at least if one allows for all the differences between Viennese Jews in the 20s and New York WASPs in the 90s. Schnitzler's tale, about a young doctor contemplating various forms of adultery and debauchery after discovering that his wife has entertained comparable fantasies, has a somewhat Kafkaesque ambiguity, wavering between dream and waking fantasy (hence Kubrick's title), and all the actors do a fine job of traversing this delicate territory. Yet the story has been altered to make the successful doctor (Tom Cruise) more of a hypocrite and his wife (powerfully played by Nicole Kidman) a little feistier; Kubrick's also added a Zeus-like tycoon (played to perfection by Sydney Pollack) who pretends to explain the plot shortly before the end but in fact only summarizes the various mysteries, his cynicism and chilly access to power revealing that Kubrick is more of a moralist than Schnitzler. To accept the premises and experiences of this movie, you have to be open to an expressionist version of New York with scant relation to the 90s (apart from cellular phones and AIDS) and a complex reading of a marriage that assumes the relations between men and women haven't essentially changed in the past 70-odd years. This is a remarkably gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, is likely to grow in mystery and intensity over time.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the opening.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 111: Sun Apr 21

The Woman in the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8pm


The 35mm presentations of this Japanese masterpiece (also on April 18th and 22nd) are part of the Big Screen Classics season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Japanese New Wave director Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1964 allegory on the meaning of freedom and the discovery of identity. An office worker (Eiji Okada) on an entomological holiday spends the night with a widow (Kyoko Kishida), whose shack at the bottom of a sand pit becomes his prison. Gradually he learns to love her and to help her in her endless task of shoveling sand, which the local villagers use to protect themselves from the elements. A bizarre film, distinguished not so much by Kobo Abe's rather obvious screenplay as by Teshigahara's arresting visual style of extreme depth of focus, immaculate detail, and graceful eroticism.
Dan Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 110: Sat Apr 20

Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960): Screen on the Green, 11.30pm


This screening is part of the excellent midnight movie season at the Everyman Screen on the Green in Islington. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A dark night at the Bates Motel, in the horror movie that transformed the genre by locating the monster inside ourselves. Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece blends a brutal manipulation of audience identification and an incredibly dense, allusive visual style to create the most morally unsettling film ever made. The case for Hitchcock as a modern Conrad rests on this ruthless investigation of the heart of darkness, but the film is uniquely Hitchcockian in its positioning of the godlike mother figure. It's a deeply serious and deeply disturbing work, but Hitchcock, with his characteristic perversity, insisted on telling interviewers that it was a "fun" picture.

Dave Kehr

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 109: Fri Apr 19

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 2.30pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Stanley Kubrick season at BFI Soutthbank, and on an extended run at the cinema. You can find the full details of the season here. Barry Lyndon is also being screened on April 21st, 27th and 30th. More details here.


Chicago Reader review:
All of Stanley Kubrick's features look better now than when they were first released, but Barry Lyndon, which fared poorly at the box office in 1975, remains his most underrated. It may also be his greatest. This personal, idiosyncratic, melancholy, and long (three hours) adaptation of the Thackeray novel is exquisitely shot in natural light (or, in night scenes, candlelight) by John Alcott, with frequent use of slow backward zooms that distance us, both historically and emotionally, from its rambling picaresque narrative about an 18th-century Irish upstart (Ryan O'Neal). Despite its ponderous, funereal moods and pacing, the film is a highly accomplished piece of storytelling, building to one of the most suspenseful duels ever staged. It also repays close attention as a complex and fascinating historical meditation, as enigmatic in its way as 2001: A Space Odyssey. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter; narrated by Michael Hordern.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 108: Thu Apr 18

lnland Empire (Lynch, 2006): Genesis Cinema, 8.30pm


This 35mm screening is part of a David Lynch season at the Genesis Cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
David Lynch's first digital video (2006) is his best and most experimental feature since Eraserhead (1978). Shot piecemeal over at least a year and without a script, this 179-minute meditation builds on Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001) as a sinister and critical portrait of Hollywood. But it resists any narrative paraphrase, with several overlapping premises rather than a single consecutive plot. Laura Dern plays an actress who's been cast in a new feature, as well as a battered housewife and a hooker; there are also Polish characters and a sitcom with giant rabbits in human clothes. The visual qualities include impressionistic soft-focus colors, expressionistic lighting, and disquietingly huge close-ups. With Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons, Karolina Gruszka, Harry Dean Stanton, and Grace Zabriskie.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 107: Wed Apr 17

Monsieur Verdoux (Chaplin, 1947): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


This masterpiece is being shown as part of Chaplin Month at the Cinema Museum.

Chicago Reader review:
A film of serene elegance and sharp teeth, Charles Chaplin's 1947 masterpiece was met with violent hostility on its first release, and contributed strongly to his political exile in the 1950s. Chaplin steps out of the tramp character, playing a soft-spoken French gentleman who supports his lovely children and crippled wife by marrying rich widows and killing them. The moral—“if war is the logical extension of diplomacy, then murder is the logical extension of business”—has a Brechtian toughness and wit, but the style is soft, seductive, elegiac. Chaplin clearly loves the monster he has made, and when the tramp's walk returns for a moment as Verdoux is led to the gallows, we see death with a smiling, human face. With Martha Raye and Isobel Elsom.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 106: Tue Apr 16

Our Time (Reygadas, 2018): ICA Cinema, 7.30pm



This screening is followed by a Q&A with director Carlos Reygadas hosted by filmmaker and projection designer Athina Rachel Tsangari.
Cinema Scope review:
In his Cannes-awarded Post Tenebras Lux, Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas already dealt with personal matters, reflecting on his role as lover, father and husband in a semi-autobiographical film with a metaphysical bias. Our Time goes even further in his Knausgårdian self-observation as he himself takes the central part as rancher/award-winning poet Juan, while Reygadas’ wife and sometimes editor Natalie López plays Ester, his spouse. Also, the location is his own playground. The autofiction turns out as a sort of Bergmanesque introspection of a marriage that hides its imbalances behind a liberal, open-minded stance towards extramarital sex. The problems start when Ester has an affair with gringo horse breaker Phil (Phil Burger). Juan can’t suppress his jealousy and accuses his wife of disloyalty because she wouldn’t tell him every detail. In the wrong hands a topic such as this could quickly become banal; however, Reygadas deals with it in a daring and truthful way. His prime interest lies in the moral dilemma of a freedom that one theoretically allows, but practically is not able to fulfill. Our Time is essentially a film about masculinity in crisis: Juan tries to rationalize his uneasiness, and at the same time his compulsive behaviour makes it impossible for him to detach from it. Is it courageous that Reygadas exposes himself as a rather ridiculous man? The answer must remain ambiguous, as the director never gives up control. With the support of his inventive DP Diego Garcia, he seems very much aware of his abilities. The film fuses different poetic devices to punctuate the couple’s efforts for a mutual understanding and better communication. At the same time, the archaic landscape is used like a subtext, undermining the spirited parle d’amour: a wild bull is effectively used as a reminder that nature never gives up its will.
Dominik Kamalzedh
Here (and above) is the trailer.

**********

The Interrogation of Pilot Pirx (Piestrak,1969): Barbican Cinema, 6.45pm


This special screening is part of the Stanislaw Lem on Film season at the Barbican. You can find the full details here.

Barbican Cinema introduction:
Based on a short story by Stanislaw Lem, this 1970s Polish sci-fi anticipates the anxiety of Blade Runner: non-humans passing among us, unrecognised.
In an undefined near-future, a new, top-secret mission is announced: a test flight around Saturn to try out new automatic probes for passing through the Cassini Division. Recruited to the mission, Pilot Pirx gradually comes to understand its covert purpose: to test a new kind of android being developed by a shady corporation and which, it is hoped, will come to replace human beings on space flights. Only some of Pirx’ five-person crew are human, the rest are robots: can he tell them apart, and can they be trusted? Shot in part at various newly-built modernist locations including the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and featuring an edgy, percussive score by composer Arvo Part, the film combines sci-fi speculation with the look and feel of a 70s-era conspiracy thriller.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 105: Mon Apr 15

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Scott, 1982/2007): Prince Charles Cinema 9pm


This presentation is on an extended run at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details of the screenings here.

Chicago Reader review:
Not to be confused with the mislabeled "director's cut," this seventh edition of Ridley Scott's SF masterpiece (1982) is arguably the first to get it all right, finally telling the whole story comprehensibly. This visionary look at Los Angeles in 2019—a singular blend of grime and glitter that captures both the horror and the allure of Reagan-era capitalism—was a commercial flop when it first appeared. Loosely adapted from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, it follows the hero (Harrison Ford) as he tracks down and kills "replicants," or androids. Much of the film's erotic charge and moral and ideological ambiguity stem from the fact that these characters are very nearly the only ones we care about. (We never know for sure whether Ford is a replicant himself.) With Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos, Joe Turkel, and William J. Sanderson.
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 104: Sun Apr 14

Solaris (Ishimbaeva & Nirenburg, 1968): Barbican Cinema, 3pm


This special screening is part of the Stanislaw Lem on Film season at the Barbican. You can find the full details here.


Barbican intorduction:
Stanilslaw Lem completists won’t want to miss this rare screening of the 1968 Russian TV version of Solaris. When Kelvin arrives at the space station, just two of the original crew remain. They are haunted by replicas of people from their past, emanations of the mysterious planet Solaris they are orbiting. Soon enough, Kevin is visited by a woman outwardly identical to his dead wife. Can he resist the disturbing ambiance of Solaris, and the emotional pull towards the living, breathing likeness of the woman he loved? Featuring some of the top actors from Moscow’s celebrated Vakhtangov Theater, this screen version of Lem’s masterpiece reimagines it as a psychological chamber piece, played out against a spare, expressionistic studio set, with an eerie electronic score and stylized black-and-white cinematography.
Here (and above) is the trailer.