Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 184: Fri Jul 5

The Man Without Desire (Brunel, 1923): Birkbeck Institute of Moving Image, 6.30pm

This is a 35mm screening with piano accompaniment.

Birkbeck Institute introduction:
A mourning lover reawakens after 200 years to search for his beloved. Filmed in Berlin and on location in Venice, this romantic time-travel fantasy has an exotic atmosphere rare in the British silent era, thanks to the group of bohemian artists and skilled technicians Brunel assembled for his debut feature, with cameraman Henry Harris fresh from working on Abel Gance's J'accuse. It helped launch the screen career of Ivor Novello, although by a cruel irony Brunel was denied the opportunity to direct Novello's biggest hit, The Rat. A rare chance to see this on 35mm with live accompaniment by Costas Fotopoulos.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 183: Thu Jul 4

The Lighthouse (Saakyan, 2006): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm

This film is part of the Restored strand at BFI Southbank.

Time Out review:
Impressive allegory of war – notably in how it affects communities of the elderly, infirm, children and women left bereft by the absence of their menfolk, either through battle, exile or death – set in an undefined region of the Caucasus, but making clear references to the genocidal Armenian experience. Lena (the expressive Anna Kapaleva) journeys by train to her  mountain village, in the aftermath of an unspecified war hinted at by government radio broadcasts, to encourage her grandparents’ departure but finds herself stranded. Beautifully shot in muted colour tones (replete with some extraordinary mordant, misty time-lapse shots of  the helicopter-gun-ship strewn landscape), this atemporal requiem, assuredly directed by Mariya Saakyan,  is played out with a Kusturica-style heightened naturalism, stripped bare of his carnival-esque levity, and deepened by affecting poetic musings on familial and cultural loss. 
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 182: Wed Jul 3

 The Driver (Hill, 1978): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


This is a 16mm screening and part of The Nickel's season of road movies at the cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
An audacious, skillful film noir (1978) by Walter Hill, so highly stylized that it's guaranteed to alienate 90 percent of its audience. There's no realism, no psychology, and very little plot in Hill's story of a deadly game between a professional getaway driver (Ryan O'Neal) and a detective obsessed with catching him (Bruce Dern). There is, however, a great deal of technically sophisticated and very imaginative filmmaking. The cross-references here are Howard Hawks, Robert Bresson, and Jean-Pierre Melville: a strange, heady, and quite effective range of influences. With Isabelle Adjani, Ronee Blakley, and Matt Clark.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the season trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 181: Tue Jul 2

Alps (Lanthimos, 2011): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm


There is another screening of this film on July 18th and is part of the Yorgos Lanthimos season at the Prince Charleds Cinema. Full details here.

Time Out review:
In a gymnasium, a handful of odd people calling themselves ‘Alps’ hangs out, connected by a fixation with the mundane details of the lives of people at death’s door – including a promising teenage tennis player in intensive care. Weird hobby? Exploitative enterprise? Search for identity? Greek filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos might be best suited to a form that doesn’t really exist: the cinematic novella. Both 2009’s ‘Dogtooth’, about a perversely insulated nuclear family, and this follow-up have much to recommend them. They cultivate queasy suspense from banalities and unfurl with a dry-as-dust deadpan absurdism that covers a multitude of sins. They have a powerful feeling for the ways in which social and linguistic structures underwrite arbitrary but binding – even reassuring – power games. And they have a juggling, discombobulating way with intimate deceptions, sudden violence and nuggets of Hollywood fandom.
Ben Walters

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 180: Mon Jul 1

Eraserhead (Lynch, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This genuine cult movie, which also screens on July 14th and 27th, is part of the excellent Discomfort Movies season at BFI Southbank. Tonight will feature an extended introduction from season curator Kimberley Sheehan.

This film takes me back to an era before video, DVD and social media when print and word-of-mouth were the main forms of communication where a film was concerned. Lynch's debut was a must-see back in the late 1970s and it was fitting that the movie had its premiere at a midnight screening at the Cinema Village in New York as the midnight-movie circuit was responsible for popularising this indefinable work. Eraserhead is a seminal work in the history of independent film and is as much a must-see now for anyone interested in what film can achieve.

Chicago Reader review:
David Lynch describes his first feature (1977) as “a dream of dark and troubling things,” and that's about as close as anyone could get to the essence of this obdurate blend of nightmare imagery, Grand Guignol, and camp humor. Some of it is disturbing, some of it is embarrassingly flat, but all of it shows a degree of technical accomplishment far beyond anything else on the midnight-show circuit. With Jack Nance and Charlotte Stewart.'
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 179: Sun Jun 30

The Tree of Life (Malick, 2011): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.15pm


This is a 35mm screening.

Chicago Reader review:
A masterpiece, this fifth feature by Terrence Malick manages to reconcile the emotional force of his 70s classics, Badlands and Days of Heaven, with the epic naturalism of his more recent comeback films, The Thin Red Line (1998) and The New World (2005). Brad Pitt gives an impressively sober, tight-lipped performance as the rigid 1950s patriarch of a little family in Waco, Texas, a decent but angry man whose strict treatment of his three young sons is countered by the love and Christian grace of his ethereal wife (Jessica Chastain). Interspersed with this humble family conflict are scenes of the world's creation that Malick concocted with the legendary special effects artist Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey). These audacious sequences can't help but evoke the metaphysical questing of 2001, and in fact The Tree of Life often feels like a religious response to Stanley Kubrick's cold, cerebral view of our place in the universe. Not to be missed.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 178: Sat Jun 29

El Sur (Erice, 1983): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


This film is also screened on June 22nd at Close-Up Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
On the surface, despite the presence of a different fictional source (a story by Adelaida Garcia Morales) and scriptwriter (Jose Luis Lopez Linares), Victor Erice's second feature seems to bring back some of the haunting obsessions of his first, the wonderful Spirit of the Beehive (1973): the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the magical spell exerted by movies over childhood, and a little girl's preoccupation with her father and the past. But as English critic Tim Pulleine has observed, a reference to Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt in El sur (South, 1983) points to an elaborate system of doubling and duplication that underlies the film's structure as a whole, operating on the level of shots and sequences as well as themes (north and south, father and daughter, real and imaginary). Although this subtle spellbinder ends somewhat abruptly, reportedly because the film's budget ran out, it seems to form a nearly perfect whole as it is: a brooding tale about an intense father-daughter relationship and the unknowable past, mysterious and resonant, with the poetic ambience of a story by Faulkner.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.