Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 101: Tue Apr 11

The Major and the Minor (Wilder, 1942): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This film, which also screens on March 29th and April 22nd, is part of the Ginger Rogers season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Billy Wilder’s first American directorial effort (1942) stars Ginger Rogers as a broke New York career woman who poses as a 12-year-old to get a half-fare train ride home to Iowa. The Wilder ironies and favorite themes—sexual deception, innuendo, the power of words to slice up and serve a character—are all present in abundance. Ray Milland is properly straight as the officer who tries to take care of Ginger as she’s falling in love with him.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 100: Mon Apr 10

Hands Up! (Skolimowski 1967/1981): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.40pm

This film is also screened on March 31st at BFI Southbank. Full details of the Jerzy Skolimowski season at the cinema can be found here.

Time Out review:
Though doubts have been expressed as to the wisdom of re-editing the original footage to make space for a prologue shot in 1981 in London and Beirut, Skolimowski's film, more aptly titled than he realised, proves well worth waiting for since its suppression by the Polish authorities in 1967. Shot in sepia and grey, bursting with '60s energy and invention, funny yet vitriolic, it details in consistently vivid imagery a collective psychodrama staged by four disillusioned students in an abandoned cattle truck. Unforgettable.
Gilbert Adair

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 99: Sun Apr 9

Identification Marks: None (Skolimowski, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.40pm

This film is also being screened on April 3rd. Full details of the Jerzy Skolimowski season at BFI Southbank can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
Few movies have portrayed killing time with as much urgency as Jerzy Skolimowski’s debut feature (1964), completed when the director was only 26. It takes place over several hours before a young layabout (played by Skolimowski in a deadpan performance) has to leave town for two years of military service; the character’s impending loss of freedom gives way to a film of unfettered imagination, with a narrative that zigzags from one digression to another and ambitious camerawork that transforms the dreary industrial town of Łódz into something out of a dream. The freewheeling vibe might remind you of contemporaneous films by Richard Lester (The Knack . . . and How to Get It) or Jean-Luc Godard (Band of Outsiders), though Skolimowski’s fantasy of youth is distinctly more acrid. For all his liberated behavior, the hero never manages to transcend the repressiveness of Soviet bloc culture–nor, for that matter, his inherent selfishness.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 98: Sat Apr 8

The Lightship (Skolimowski, 1985): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 12.15pm

This 35mm presentation also screens on April 14th. Full details of the Jerzy Skolimowski season at BFI Southbank can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
A moody, carefully crafted film by Jerzy Skolimowski (Moonlighting) set aboard an isolated U.S. Coast Guard ship, where captain Klaus Maria Brandauer, a German-American with a military black mark against his name, is confronted by a band of hijackers led by a menacing Cajun (Robert Duvall). Opaque and literary in Skolimowski’s late, gray exilic mode, but still well worth seeing.
Pat Graham

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 97: Fri Apr 7

Top Hat (Sandrich, 1935): BFI Southbank, NFT3 2.40pm, NFT1 6pm & NFT3 8.40pm

This classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Time Out review:
The third Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie (not counting Flying Down to Rio) and one of the best, with a superlative Irving Berlin score (it includes 'No Strings', 'Isn't This a Lovely Day?', 'Top Hat, White Tie and Tails' and 'Cheek to Cheek'), and equally superlative Hermes Pan routines which spark a distinct sexual electricity between the pair. Oddly enough, the film is almost slavishly patterned on The Gay Divorcee, with the scene again shifting from London to a resort (Venice in this case), the plot again turning on mistaken identity, and the comedy again reliant on Horton, Blore and Rhodes. The reason you don't really notice this - with Top Hat readily springing to mind as the archetypal Fred'n'Ginger movie - is the booster given by Van Nest Polglase's stunning white Art Deco designs, which were to set the tone for the series.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 96: Thu Apr 6

Billy Liar (Schlesinger, 1963): BFI Southbank,NFT2, 8.30pm

This great film, also screening on April 14th & 27th, is part of the Northern Voices season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Released in the wake of the early social realist films of Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson, Schlesinger’s physical world is the same – northern and working-class – but his approach to social commentary and storytelling, as adapted from Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall’s book and play, is more playful and less concerned with realism than films like ‘Taste of Honey’ and ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’. Schlesinger’s Billy (Tom Courtenay) is a confused young man with too much imagination for considering kitchen sinks: nominally he’s an undertaker’s clerk, but his real job is to carve a parallel, fantasy world for himself, whether leading men to war in a state called Ambrosia or forging himself a career in showbiz. Billy’s endless lies feel less like deceptions and more like an expression of the conflicts within a young man who’s uneasy in a fast-changing world. Funny and unexpectedly poignant.
Dave Calhoun

Here's my favourite scene (and above). Courtenay rehearses his resignation ahead of the arrival of employer Emmanuel Shadrack (Leonard Rossiter).

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 95: Wed Apr 5

Kundun (Scorsese, 1997): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

This 35mm presentation also screens on Apri 21st and 27th and is part of the Martin Scorsese 90s season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Recounting the life of the 14th Dalai Lama prior to his departure from Tibet, this highly uncharacteristic feature by Martin Scorsese is his best since The King of Comedy, but you can’t profitably approach it expecting either the violence or the stylistic punchiness of something like GoodFellas. Scripted by Melissa Mathison (in close consultation with the Dalai Lama and his family) and cast almost exclusively with Tibetan exiles, this nonreligious movie about a religious leader is beautiful, abstract, charged with mystery, but never pretentious. Far from dictating a position on the Dalai Lama, the film doesn’t even define a particular point at which the spoiled toddler is transformed into a holy man; a good deal of the historical, political, and religious context is implied rather than explained, and most of the major events occur offscreen. Despite the somewhat questionable wallpaper score by Philip Glass, Scorsese’s delicate, inquisitive style has an inevitability and a rightness all its own.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.