Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 153: Mon Jun 3

Death Game (Traynor, 1977): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is a 35mm presentation.

Movies Are Dead film club introduction:
We are proud to present another little-seen genre classic on 35mm: the ultimate 1970s psychological thriller, Death Game. John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson favourite Seymour Cassel stars as George Manning, a family man whose perfect life is turned into a nightmare of sex and torture when he allows himself to be seduced by two beautiful young women, played by Sondra Locke and Colleen Camp, who show up at his door on a rainy night with mysterious intentions. A heady combination of Věra Chytilovás's Daisies and Michael Haneke's Funny Games run through the sleaziest of 42nd Street grindhouse filters, this remake of the 1973 sexploitation flick Little Miss Innocence was itself remade twice, including by Eli Roth with Keanu Reeves and Ana de Armas in 2015's Knock Knock. But the unhinged and superbly made Death Game is the definitive version of this lurid tale – don't miss this ultra-rare opportunity to catch it at the Prince Charles Cinema!

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No 2: Stromboli (Rossellini, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 12noon

Chicago Reader review:
Roberto Rossellini's first filmic encounter with Ingrid Bergman, made in the wilds in 1949 around the same time the neorealist director and the Hollywood star were being denounced in the U.S. Senate for their adulterous romance. Widely regarded as a masterpiece today, the film was so badly mutilated by Howard Hughes's RKO (which added offscreen narration, reshuffled some sequences, and deleted others) that Rossellini sued the studio (and lost). The Italian version, which Rossellini approved, has come out on video, and this rarely screened English-language version is very close to it. A Lithuanian-born Czech refugee living in an internment camp (Bergman) marries an Italian fisherman (Mario Vitale) in order to escape, but she winds up on a bare, impoverished island with an active volcano, where most of the locals regard her with hostility. The film is most modern and remarkable when the camera is alone with Bergman, though Rossellini wisely shows neither the wife nor the husband with full sympathy. Eschewing psychology, the film remains a kind of ambiguous pieta whose religious ending is as controversial as that of Rossellini and Bergman's subsequent Voyage to Italy (though its metaphoric and rhetorical power make it easier to take). Rossellini's blend of documentary and fiction is as provocative as usual, but it also makes the film choppy and awkward; the English dialogue is often stiff, and Renzo Cesana as a pontificating local priest is almost as clumsy here as in Cyril Endfield's subsequent Try and Get Me! Nor is the brutality of Rossellini's Catholicism to every taste; Eric Rohmer all but praised the film for its lack of affection toward Bergman, yet the film stands or falls on the strength of her emotional performance—and I believe it stands.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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