Thursday, 30 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 158: Fri Jun 7

Carnival of Souls (Harvey, 1962): Curzon Soho, 9.30pm


Director Peter Strickland is at Curzon Soho to introduce personal favourite Carnival of Souls, an inspiration for his new feature In Fabric. The film will be presented in presented in 35mm print. See the director Q&A for In Fabric at 6.15pm on 7 July: more info.
An absolute one-off cult classic, Carnival of Souls has been an inspiration for filmmakers for its combination of unsettling horror and the uncannily surreal. The only film by industrial filmmaker Herk Harvey, shot on a modest budget with the intention of having “the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau”, the end result is something that lingers eerily in the mind.
Here is an excellent ICA introduction to the film: A low budget zombie horror delight, with a delirious organ score by Gene Moore and unforgettable monochrome images from cinematographer Maurice Prather. Lynchian before Lynch, Romeroesque before Romero. Herk Harvey was a director and producer of industrial and educational films working for for the Centron Corporation in Kansas, who specialised in films about venereal disease. He took a career break to make this his first and only feature film. He cast Strasberg-trained Candace Hilligoss in the lead, and shot Carnival of Souls in three weeks on location in Lawrence and Salt Lake City. Carnival of Souls is a horror film, but a horror film unlike any other; it is an auteur film by another name.
Time Out review: 
The only survivor when a car plunges into a river, Mary Henry (Hilligoss) emerges on to a sandbank like a sodden sleepwalker. Shortly afterwards, en route to Utah to take up a job as a church organist, Mary is frightened by a ghostly apparition, a white-faced man whose repeated appearances seem mysteriously connected with an abandoned carnival pavilion. Other strange episodes, during which Mary seems to become invisible and inaudible to those around her, exacerbate her feeling that she has no place in this world. With its striking black-and-white compositions, disorienting dream sequences and eerie atmosphere, this has the feel of a silent German expressionist movie. Unfortunately, so does some of the acting, which suffers from exaggerated facial expressions and bizarre gesturing. But the mesmerising power of the carnival and dance-hall sequences far outweighs the corniness of the awkward intimate scenes; and as Mary, caught in limbo between this world and the next, dances to the discordant carnival music of time, the subsequent work of George Romero and David Lynch comes constantly to mind.
Nigel Floyd

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 157: Thu Jun 6

L’enfant secret (Garrel, 1982): Barbican Cinema, 7pm


This film is the opening night of the ‘After The Wave: Young French Cinema in the 70s’ season at the Barbican. You can find all the details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Philippe Garrel's masterwork—a dreamlike meditation on doomed romance, inspired by the French writer-director's relationship with pop singer Nico—premiered in France in 1982 but received its first Chicago screening only this year (2018), as part of the Gene Siskel Film Center's Garrel retrospective in May. It's one of those rare movies that exists in a category all its own, bridging narrative and nonnarrative cinema in ever-inventive ways. Indeed, it feels as though every shot is challenging what movies can do, how they can convey emotions, and the nature of thought. But despite being formally unusual, it's always emotionally accessible if not emotionally overwhelming.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is an extract.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 156: Wed Jun 5

The Gangs of New York (Scorsese, 2002): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm


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

Time Out review:
Based on Herbert Asbury's history of criminal New York in the mid-19th century, this is nothing less than Scorsese's Birth of a Nation. Irish immigrants are flooding the city, while the poor club together in rival ethnic gangs. You can sense the director's excitement at this virgin cinematic territory: Gangs of New York won't establish a new genre, but it does suggest the missing link between the frontier Western and the gangster movie. Cinephiles will find echoes of The Wild BunchHeaven's Gate, Leone and Visconti in the mix, yet the director has modulated the nervy syntax to fashion what is meant to be his most accessible movie - the percussive rock score and wan romantic clinches between Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz are firmly in the blockbuster idiom. Predictably, her role as a pinchpurse by the name of Jenny remains undeveloped. And because she's the lynchpin in the surrogate Oedipal revenge drama between DiCaprio's angry Amsterdam Vallon and Daniel Day-Lewis's ferocious crime lord Bill the Butcher, that's a real drawback. Despite the long running time, the film's relationships all feel malnourished, with things getting especially sketchy around the two-thirds mark. Even so, it's never less than compelling, driven by an overwhelming, larger than life performance from Day-Lewis and by Scorsese's grandiose historical imagination.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 155: Tue Jun 4

Echoes of Silence (Goldman, 1966): Barbican Cinema, 7pm


This film is part of the Bebop: New York season at the Barbican. Full details here.

Film Comment review (full article here):
Jean-Luc Godard once famously quipped something to the effect that “the history of the movies is the story of boys looking at girls.” That could be the motto for a small but rich sub-genre of films: near-plotless accounts of young male romantics ambling through picturesque cities, fixating on one beautiful stranger after the next, yet opening up to none of them, consoling themselves with their own private epiphanies while remaining essentially alone. The prototype perhaps is Bresson’s Paris-set Four Nights of a Dreamer, with José Luis Guerín’s beguiling In the City of Sylvia its closest modern-day successor—but the father of them all was Peter Emanuel Goldman’s Echoes of Silence, a micro-budget slice of New American Cinema shot on ragged black-and-white 16mm between 1962 and 1965. Set in the streets, bars, and cheap apartment buildings of New York, and starring a handful of the director’s friends and whatever passersby the camera happened to catch, it's filmed with the resources of a guerrilla documentarian and shot with the eye of a poet.

Max Nelson

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 154: Mon Jun 3

Vendredi Soir (Denis, 2002): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm


This 35mm presentation, also screening on June 12th, is part of the Claire Denis season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Nightfall in wintry Paris. Laure (Lemercier), aged thirty-plus, has spent Friday packing up her flat, a prelude to moving in with her boyfriend. Her plan is to drive over to her friends' place for dinner, but streets gridlocked by a transport strike halt her progress. Moments after a radio announcer suggests motorists should offer help to stranded pedestrians, Laure is sharing her vehicle with taciturn Jean (Lindon), and the evening develops from there. Desire in Denis' films has often been a disruptive factor, yet this sensual divertissement offers its fairly ordinary female protagonist a guilt-free liberation, possibly temporary, from the confines of a steady relationship. It's not a matter of transgressive, predatory or premeditated sexuality, however. Rather, it's Lemercier realising she can allow herself a moment of sexual self-expression when circumstances unexpectedly permit. A facilitator rather than a seducer, Lindon lends the movie an inclusive erotic charge very different from that found in standard male-oriented fantasy narratives. This is wonderfully alert film-making, vividly alive to the constant by-play between inner longings and everyday surroundings. Trust me, you'll be stirred in all the right places. (Based on the novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim).
Trevor Johnston

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 153: Sun Jun 2

Never Say Never Again (Kerschner, 1983): Regent Street Cinema, 2.30pm


The Regent Street Cinema have a James Bond on Sundays season this year and this one passes muster as it’s a very rare chance to see a film which was praised on release by critics Ian Christie (in the Daily Express) and Philip Strick in the Monthly Film Bulletin and was a welcome return for Sean Connery, 12 years after Diamonds Are Forever when he said “Never again” (hence the title). It’s also by the best Bond director to look through a lens. The bonus is that actress Valerie Leon appears for a Q&A after the film.

Time Out review:
For all of us whose adolescence was entwined around a vision of a coral beach and Ursula Andress emerging from the foam in a white bikini, it's very comforting to return to the ambience; as the admirable Q has it, 'I hope this is a return to more gratuitous sex and violence, Commander Bond'. The plot is a Thunderball retread - the underwater hijacking of nuclear weapons, the holding of the world to ransom; routine stuff if your name is 'Bond...James Bond'. As usual, a hefty slice of the pleasure in watching late Bondage comes from the villains, in this case Bergman's chief angst-master Max von Sydow as the man with the fluffy white cat, Klaus Maria Brandauer proving that a man may smile and smile and be a villain, and Barbara Carrera, she of the pneumatic balcony. The action's good, the photography excellent, the sets decent; but the real clincher is the fact that Bond is once more played by a man with the right stuff. Civilisation is safe in the hands of he who has never tasted quiche, and who, on the evidence here, at least, can perform a very passable tango.
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 152: Sat Jun 1

Animal Kingdom (Michôd, 2010): Picturehouse Central, 7pm


This winner of the Sundance Festival Prize of 2010 is being screened from a 35mm print as part of the Sundance Film Festival 2019 in London season this year. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
In the opening shot of this tense Australian noir, a comfy domestic scene turns lurid and tragic in the blink of an eye, which is a pretty good encapsulation of the entire movie. An orphaned teenager (James Frecheville) comes to Melbourne to live with his tough grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and his three uncles, all petty criminals of one sort or another. When one of their pals is killed by police, the oldest uncle (Ben Mendelsohn) insists that they retaliate, and the newcomer is pulled, against his will, into the family’s code of silence. Writer-director David Michod creates a densely textured moral universe that makes good on his metaphoric title—and in this case, the animals are perfectly willing to eat their young.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 151: Fri May 31

The Blue Angel (Von Sternberg, 1930): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 2.30, 6.20 & 8.45pm


This masterpiece of Weimar Cinema is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The first film collaboration between Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich (1930), this reeks with decay and sexuality. Emil Jannings plays the professor who tries to stop his students from visiting nightclub singer Lola-Lola (Dietrich) and ends up succumbing to her plump charms. In many ways the film is about the constancy of emotion as well as the destructive tricks it plays. Jannings's repressed little prig, whose first sexual encounter results in his total destruction, is redeemed from contempt by Sternberg's respect for his masochistic passion.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.


Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 150: Thu May 30

Wake in Fright (Kotcheff, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.15pm


Chicago Reader review:
Ted Kotcheff (First BloodThe Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz) directed this forgotten Australian masterpiece (1971) about an arrogant Sydney schoolteacher (Garry Bond) who's slowly driven mad after a prolonged stay in the Yabba, a desolate mining town in the middle of the Australian outback. After gambling away every dollar he has, Bond succumbs to the aggressive hospitality of the locals, and they condition him to their brutish lifestyle, which seems to consist mostly of constant drinking, random fistfights, anarchic destruction of other people's property, and kangaroo hunting. A Conradian parable of a man succumbing to the wild, the film is remarkable for its raw, pointed depiction of human behavior. Push a man too far, Kotcheff suggests, and you'll find the beast concealed behind the mask of propriety.
Drew Hunt

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 149: Wed May 29

Doubt (Stanley, 2008): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.20pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Philip Seymour Hoffman season. You can find all the details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
John Patrick Shanley adapted his own Pulitzer-winning play for this compelling drama about an archconservative nun (Meryl Streep) and a progressive priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) clashing in a working-class Bronx parish in 1964. Principal of the parish school, the nun suspects the priest of molesting a 12-year-old boy—the school's first black student. Lacking any evidence and hamstrung by the church's male-dominated chain of command, she embarks on a vendetta that leads her to the edge of a moral abyss. Shanley skillfully opens up the play's action on-screen while preserving its ambiguity about the characters' motives. Streep and Hoffman are pitch-perfect, and Amy Adams is also superb as a young nun caught up in the conflict. 
Albert Williams

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 148: Tue May 28

Rosetta (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.25pm


Time Out review:
A deserving Palme d'Or winner at Cannes '99, Rosetta is in the same, grim realist mould as the Dardennes' earlier La Promesse; it, too, offers a glimmer of hope through the prospect of friendship. Teenage Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne) has it tough: living in a trailer park with her promiscuous, alcoholic mother, she tries to hang on to whatever mundane jobs she can get, but for all her determination and hard work, bad luck and her surly, volatile disposition repeatedly tell against her. Is life really worth living? Using very little dialogue and long, hand-held tracking shots (the relentlessly restless visuals perfectly reflect Rosetta's unsettled life, the secret to which is provided only halfway through the movie - and even then, subtly), the Dardennes never sentimentalise their heroine but respect the mysteries of her soul; the result is a film almost Bressonian in its rigour and power to touch the heart.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 147: Mon May 27

Spartacus (Kubrick, 1960): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4.40pm


This film is part of the Stanley Kubrick season. Full details here. It is also being screened on May 19th from a 35mm print. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Just as The Ten Commandments (1956) was the apotheosis of Eisenhower conservatism, this 1960 blockbuster, which broke the Hollywood blacklist by crediting screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, seems the quintessence of Kennedy liberalism. Anthony Mann directed the first sequence but then was replaced by Stanley Kubrick, who said he enjoyed the most artistic freedom in the scenes without dialogue. Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons are appealing as the eponymous rebel slave and his love interest; no less juicy is the Roman triumvirate of Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, and Laurence Olivier, playing one of the first bisexual characters in a major Hollywood film (unfortunately one also has to put up with the embarrassing accents and performances of Tony Curtis, John Dall, and Nina Foch, among others). This may be the most literate of all the spectacles set in antiquity. This restored version, including material originally cut, runs 197 minutes, including Alex North's powerfully romantic overture.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 146: Sun May 26

Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.45pm



This Martin Scorsese classic will be screening from a 35mm print, and is part of the director's retrospective. You can find full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Martin Scorsese put all the city dweller's irrational, guilty fears into this 1976 story of a New York taxi driver (Robert De Niro) on a one-man rampage against the "scum"—pimps, whores, muggers, junkies, and politicians. Scorsese's style is a delirious, full-color successor to expressionism, in which the cityscape becomes the twisted projection of the protagonist's mind. Paul Schrader's screenplay, with its buried themes of sin and redemption, borrows heavily from Robert Bresson's Pickpocket, yet the purloined material is transformed in startling, disturbing ways. It would be hard to imagine an American film more squarely in the European “art” tradition than this, yet it was misunderstood enough to become a significant popular success—a thinking man's Death Wish.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 145: Sat May 25

Paths of Glory (Kubrick, 1957): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.50pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Stanley Kubrick season at BFI Southbank. You can find the details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
The 1957 film that established Stanley Kubrick's reputation, adapted by Kubrick, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson from Humphrey Cobb's novel about French soldiers being tried for cowardice during World War I. Corrosively antiwar in its treatment of the corruption and incompetence of military commanders, it's far from pacifist in spirit, and Kirk Douglas's strong and angry performance as the officer defending the unjustly charged soldiers perfectly contains this contradiction. The remaining cast is equally resourceful and interesting: Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Ralph Meeker, and the creepy Timothy Carey, giving perhaps his best performance. Banned in France for 18 years, this masterpiece still packs a wallop, though nothing in it is as simple as it may first appear; audiences are still arguing about the final sequence, which has been characterized as everything from a sentimental cop-out to the ultimate cynical twist.



Sunday, 12 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 144: Fri May 24

Full Metal Jacket (Kubrick, 1987): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Stanley Kubrick season at BFI Southbank - you can find full details of the season here. Full Metal Jacket is also being shown on May 15th and you can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
Stanley Kubrick shares with Orson Welles and Carl Dreyer the role of the Great Confounder—remaining supremely himself while frustrating every attempt to anticipate his next move or to categorize it once it registers. This odd 1987 adaptation of Gustav Hasford's The Short-Timers, with script-writing assistance from Michael Herr as well as Hasford, has more to do with the general theme of colonization (of individuals and countries alike) and the suppression by male soldiers of their female traits than with the specifics of Vietnam or the Tet offensive. Elliptical, full of subtle inner rhymes (for instance, the sound cues equating a psychopathic marine in the first part with a dying female sniper in the second), and profoundly moving, this is the most tightly crafted Kubrick film since Dr. Strangelove, as well as the most horrific; the first section alone accomplishes most of what The Shining failed to do.
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 143: Thu May 23

Shadows (Cassavetes, 1959): Barbican Cinema, 7pm



This 35mm screening is part of the Bebop New York season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'John Cassavetes's first feature (1959), shot in 16-millimeter, centers on three siblings living together in Manhattan; the oldest, a third-rate nightclub singer (Hugh Hurd), is visibly black, while the other two (Ben Carruthers and Lelia Goldoni) are sufficiently light skinned to pass for white. This is the only Cassavetes film made without a full script (it grew out of acting improvs), and rarely has so much warmth, delicacy, and raw feeling emerged so naturally and beautifully from performances in an American film. It's contemporaneous with early masterpieces of the French New Wave and deserves to be ranked alongside them for the freshness and freedom of its vision; in its portrait of a now-vanished Manhattan during the beat period, it also serves as a poignant time capsule. With Tony Ray (son of director Nicholas Ray), Rupert Crosse, Dennis Sallas, Tom Allen, and Davey Jones—all very fine—and a wonderful jazz score by Charles Mingus. It's conceivable that Cassavetes made greater films, but this is the one I cherish the most.'
Jonathan Rosenabum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 142: Wed May 22

Bringing Out the Dead (Scorsese, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


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

Chicago Reader review:
A conscientious NYC paramedic (Nicolas Cage) has lost a patient whose image continues to haunt him in this 1999 seminarrative plotted as a series of calls he answers with a series of partners (John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore). A kind of revisionist 
Taxi Driver-After Hours-Leaving Las Vegas, the movie draws genre allusions, specific references, a range of styles, and several haltingly linear story lines into a maelstrom. Its hard-to-pin-down tone is frighteningly original—simultaneously world-weary and adolescent with an aura of perpetual anxiety, as if the characters and filmmakers were in pursuit of a catharsis everyone knows will never come. The movie systematically generates enigmas as it attacks many of life's deepest questions—sometimes literally, through Cage's portentous voice-overs, sometimes suggestively, through the startling combination of physical elements within a given shot or scene. The pop tunes that make up a significant part of the sound track, as in many other movies directed by Martin Scorsese, are often slow paced by 90s standards; it's a distinctively middle-aged edginess that dominates the hyperbolically gory, morbid, schmaltzy, paranoid-surreal text—a text that provokes thought more than directs it, which should fascinate viewers for a long time. The screenplay by Paul Schrader was based on a novel by Joe Connelly.
Lisa Alspector


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 141: Tue May 21

Matinee (Dante, 1993): Birkbeck Cinema, 6pm


Birkbeck Cinema introduction: 
Radiant Circus is creating an alternative cinema guide for London. The site has grown as a result of audience activism, producing weekly event listings in the absence of reliable information from the industry. In the process of doing so it has started to document alternative screen culture across Greater London, from anarchic community collectives to freelance film promoters, single-screen venues and multi-platform independents. Covering both red carpet film festivals and site-specific pop-ups, Radiant Circus lists approximately 200 events each week, making it the only comprehensive guide to London’s DIY, independent and alternative movie nights, film events and gallery screenings. Radiant Circus founder Richard Clark will talk about the site's growth and development, before leading discussion of “independent exhibition at a time of crisis”, drawing parallels between classic exploitation cinema and the tactics used by independent film promoters across London today. Dorota Ostrowska (Senior Lecturer in Film & Modern Media) and Clark will talk about the site’s development and discuss “independent exhibition at a time of crisis” as we draw parallels between classic exploitation cinema and the tactics used by independent film promoters across London today. The evening will conclude with a screening of Joe Dante’s film Matinee.


Chicago Reader review:
John Goodman stars as shlockmeister Lawrence Woolsey (affectionately based on William Castle), who turns up in Key West in 1962 to present a preview of his latest horror B-film. This highly enjoyable and provocative teenage comedy, set during the Cuban missile crisis, was directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins) and written by Dante regular Charlie Haas and Jerico, who all have a lot of fun with all the period absurdities, especially those provoked by war fever. They're also adroit in implicitly suggesting some related absurdities of the early 1990s. With Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton (an English teenager who does an astonishing job of sounding American), Omri Katz, Kellie Martin, Lisa Jakub, and a number of enjoyable character actors including Jesse White, John Sayles, and Dick Miller.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 140: Mon May 20

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Reisz, 1960): Lexi Cinema, 6.30pm


Actor Samuel West will introduce this screening, which is part of the Film School season at the Lexi Cinema. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Forging the template for films about swarthy, unreconstructed men whose only solace can be found in the bottom of a pint glass, Karel Reisz’s raucous and relevant 1960 character study showed the lengths that the young, disenfranchised working-class stiff would go to shirk the responsibilities of adulthood. Based on the first novel by ‘Angry Young Man’ author Alan Sillitoe, (who also wrote ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’), the film gave Albert Finney his big break as the hard-drinking, hard-smoking and hard-loving Arthur Seaton, a nihilistic machine worker in Nottingham who habitually funnels his modest wage packet on pleasures of the flesh. Finney’s all-pistons-firing lead performance is note perfect, and props still go to him for making us empathise with Arthur’s naivity rather than being alienated by his bravado and the fact that he’s, well, a bit of a shit. Makes a lovely double with ‘Billy Liar’, only Billy never got duffed up by squaddies. Alas…

David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the famous opening scene.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 139: Sun May 19

The Death of Empedocles (Straub/Huillet, 1987): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


Chicago Reader review:
The tenth and latest feature of European avant-garde filmmakers Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet—filmed in Sicily and using as its text the first of three versions of Friedrich Holderlin's unfinished 1798 verse tragedy—is one of their most beautiful works; but like all the best avant-garde work, watching and listening to it requires some adjustments in our usual activity as spectators—adjustments that involve new areas of play as well as work. This is a film in which sound matters at least as much as image, and where the lovely natural settings (filmed in 35-millimeter by Renato Berta) are as important as the actors and the text. The sound of Holderlin's highly metered German blank verse is the most sensually rich use of that language that I have ever heard, and even if, like me, you don't understand the language, the selective subtitles should be regarded as footnotes to glance at rather than as a substitute for the main text. Unlike the texts in Straub and Huillet's early work, the text here is dramatically and expressively acted, and the compelling cast includes Andreas von Rauch as Empedocles (a Greek philosopher expelled from his community for blasphemy, and bent on suicide), Howard Vernon (who acted in Fritz Lang's The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse) as the priest Hermocrates, William Berger as the political leader Critias, Vladimir Baratta as Empedocles' young disciple Pausanias, and Martina Baratta and Ute Cremer as women of the town who discuss the hero's fate. In its remarkable use of German verse accompanied by the sounds of nature, the film resembles oratorio more than drama, but the physical experience of this combination of spoken text and location shooting is powerful and intoxicating (1986). 

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.


Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 138: Sat May 18

Othon (Straub-Huillet, 1969): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm


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, 

Monday, 6 May 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 137: Fri May 17

Dr Strangelove (Kubrick, 1964): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.30pm


Park Circus are re-releasing Stanley Kubricks masterpiece DrStrangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Restored in 4K, the film will open in UK cinemas from 17 May 2019, including an extended run at the BFI Southbank (full details here) as part of a special Kubrick season.

Stanley Kubrick Considers The Bomb, a new short film produced and directed by Matt Wells, will be screened exclusively in cinemas as part of this release. With contributions from those who knew Kubrick best, including Katharina Kubrick, Jan Harlan (Kubrick’s Executive Producer and brother-in-law) and journalist and author Eric Schlosser, the film considers how Kubrick responded to society’s widespread concern about nuclear war and transformed it into his irreverent comic masterpiece.

Chicago reader review:
Like most of his work, Stanley Kubrick's deadly black satirical comedy-thriller on cold war madness and its possible effects (1964) has aged well: the manic, cartoonish performances of George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Peter Sellers (in three separate roles, including the title part) look as brilliant as ever, and Kubrick's icy contempt for 20th-century humanity may find its purest expression in the figure of Strangelove himself, a savage extrapolation of a then-obscure Henry Kissinger conflated with Wernher von Braun and Dr. Mabuse to suggest a flawed, spastic machine with Nazi reflexes that ultimately turns on itself. With Peter Bull, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, and James Earl Jones.

Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the new trailer for the film.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 136: Thu May 16

The Warriors (Hill, 1979): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.25pm


The Prince Charles Cinema are showing the 35mm print of The Warriors on an extended run from May 10th to 17th, with special guest Thomas G. Waites (who plays 'Fox' in the film) introducing the movie and taking part in a Q&A after the movie. You can find the full details of all the screenings here.

Chicago Reader review:
Walter Hill's existential action piece (1979), rendered in a complete stylistic abstraction that will mean tough going for literal-minded audiences. The straightforward, straight-line plot—a street gang must cross the length of New York City, pursued by police and rival fraternities—is given the convoluted quality of a fever dream by Hill's quirky, claustrophobic direction. Not quite the clean, elegant creation that his earlier films were, 
The Warriors admits to failures of conception (occasional) and dialogue (frequent), but there is much of value in Hill's visual elaboration of the material. With Michael Beck, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, and Thomas Waites.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.