Friday, 30 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 251: Sun Sep 8

A Fish Called Wanda (Crichton, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.15pm

This 35mm presentation, which is also being screened on September 18th, is part of the ‘It’s Monty Python at 50’ season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Charles Crichton, the veteran British director who made his biggest mark with The Lavender Hill Mob in 1950, teams up with actor, writer, and executive producer John Cleese in another madcap caper comedy (1988) that's every bit as funny as its predecessor. Like many of the best English comedies, much of the humor here is based on character, good-natured high spirits, and fairly uninhibited vulgarity (a speech impediment and dead dogs supply the basis for some of the gags). The superlative cast includes Americans Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis (at her sexiest), as well as Michael Palin and Cleese; Crichton keeps the laughs coming with infectious energy.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 250: Sat Sep 7

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Fleischer, 1954): Prince Charles Cinema, 3pm

This screening is a 35mm presentation.

Chicago Reader review:
Grandly entertaining 1954 film of the Jules Verne novel, produced by Walt Disney and directed by the tireless Richard Fleischer (who, 30 years later, was still tossing off odd pleasures like Red Sonja and Conan the Destroyer). James Mason is a monomaniacal Captain Nemo; Kirk Douglas and Paul Lukas are his reluctant guests aboard the Nautilus. With Peter Lorre and Carlton Young.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 249: Fri Sep 6

This classic British film, regarded by many as the finest produced in this country, is on an extended run at BFI Southbank in its 4K restoration. You can find the details of the other screenings here. Tonight’s presentation is introduced by Angela Allen, one of the surviving members of the film crew on this superb Carol Reed movie.

Chicago Reader review:
It once was praised as a sharply realistic study of American idealism (in the person of pulp novelist Joseph Cotten) crushed by European cynicism (embodied by war profiteer Orson Welles), but today it's the extravagant falsity that entertains—from Welles's "cuckoo clock" speech to the crazy camera angles and madly expressionist lighting chosen by director Carol Reed. It isn't easy when you're up against the likes of Reed, writer Graham Greene, and producer David O. Selznick, but Welles still manages to dominate this 1949 film, both as an actor and as a stylistic influence. What's missing is the Welles content. With Trevor Howard, Alida Valli, and Bernard Lee. 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the new BFI trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 248: Thu Sep 5

The Wanderers (Kaufman, 1979): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10pm

This is a 40th anniversary 35mm presentation.

Time Out review:
The Bronx, 1963. Gangland. Rumbles, racism, and rock'n'roll; but the times they are a-changin'. Kennedy's dead and the Marines are calling. This adaptation of Richard Price's episodic novel plays like the urban flip-side of American Graffiti: a macho mini-community grows up and apart in the cultural gulf between Dion and Dylan. The comic indulgence is streaked with hindsight analysis and irony, but thankfully avoids moral schematics as the wonderfully-cast characters confront a world beyond their tenement horizons and, well...wander. The film survives cuts to deliver some great, gross, comic book capers. And rock history gets its most intelligent illustration since Mean Streets.
Paul Taylor

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 247: Wed Sep 4

Under The Skin (Adler, 1997): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.20pm

This 35mm screening is part of the ‘Woman With a Movie Camera’ strand (full details via this page here) at BFI Southbank and will be introduced by the film’s director, Carine Adler.

Time Out review:
Iris (Samantha Morton) has always been jealous of sister Rose (Claire Rushbrook), but when their mother  (Rita Tushingham) dies, she's thrown into numb, furious confusion. Rejecting her old life (Rose and boyfriend Gary), Iris turns instead to the discomfort of strangers. At first glance, writer/director Adler's film seems extremely thin. Morton has charisma in spades and wears oddball clothes well. Such blasted poise proves irresistible to Adler, whose frenetic camera feasts on Morton as if she were a piece of meat. We never believe Iris is part of a community; she's more a wandering Lolita, slumming it among ignorant, treacherous low life. And though the sexual commentary is clearly intended to be cold, it's also tiresome. Are the sex scenes exploitative? Who can say. In the last third, however, Adler's strategy becomes clear: she's been playing a waiting game. Rose acquires an integrity that goes beyond mere respectable virtue, and when Iris's grief thaws, her helpless, animal-like pain is overwhelming. More surprisingly, our sense of the will-o'-the-wisp mother gathers force, the 'story' of her complex mothering told through the daughters' pinches, pokes and eventual tender fumblings towards each other. In its own twisty way, then, the film avoids both sentimentality and art-school cool, and with the help of superlative performances from Morton and Rushbrook, digs deep into the psyche.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 246: Tue Sep 3

Bringing Up Baby (Hawks, 1938): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

This 35mm presentation, also being screened on September 7th, is part of the Cary Grant season. You can find the full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Though it's almost impossible, try to sit back sometime and enjoy this 1938 Howard Hawks masterpiece not only for its gags, but for the grace of its construction, the assurance of its style, and the richness of its themes. Cary Grant's adventures with Katharine Hepburn lead from day into night, tameness into wildness, order into chaos; needless to say, it's a deeply pessimistic film, though it draws its grim conclusions in a searingly bright and chipper way. Amazingly, the film was a failure when first released (during Hepburn's "box-office poison" period), but time has revealed its brilliance, as well as the apparent impossibility of its like ever being seen again (What's Up, Doc? notwithstanding). With May Robson, Charlie Ruggles, and Barry Fitzgerald.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 245: Mon Sep 2

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 244: Sun Sep 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 243: Sat Aug 31

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 242: Fri Aug 30

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 241: Thu Aug 29

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 240: Wed Aug 28

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 239: Tue Aug 27

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 238: Mon Aug 26

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

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

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

David Jenkins

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 237: Sun Aug 25

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 236: Sat Aug 24

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 235: Fri Aug 23

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

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

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

Here (and above) is an extract.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 234: Thu Aug 22

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 233: Wed Aug 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 232: Tue Aug 20

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

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

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.