Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 83: Sat Aug 7

White Dog (Fuller, 1982): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm

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 Ennio Morricone season at BFI Southbank, also screens on August 20th and 27th. 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 the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 82: Fri Aug 6

Now, Voyager (Rapper, 1942): BFI Southbank, 2.30, 5.50 & 8.40pm


This Hollywood classic, in the Bette Davis season, is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. The Radio Three programme, Free Thinking, discussed the star and you can hear it here.

Time Out review:
Bette Davis, impeccable as usual, turns the sow's ear of Hollywood's notion of a repressed spinster (remove the glasses and lo! a beauty) into something like a silk purse. Great stuff as a worldly-wise psychiatrist (Claude Rains at his smoothest) recommends a cruise, and bitter-sweet shipboard romance soars with an unhappily married architect (Paul Henreid, suavely performing the archetypal two-cigarette trick). The women's weepie angle gets to be a bit of a slog later on, but it is all wrapped up as a mesmerically glittering package by Rapper's direction, Sol Polito's camerawork, and Max Steiner
's lushly romantic score. (From a novel by Olive Prouty).
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the new BFI trailer.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 81: Thu Aug 5

Crash (Cronenberg, 1996): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.40pm


Chicago Reader review:
David Cronenberg wrote and directed this 1996 film, a masterful minimalist adaptation of J.G. Ballard's 1973 neo-futurist novel about sex and car crashes, and like the book it's audacious and intense—though ultimately somewhat monotonous in spite of its singularity. James Spader meets Holly Hunter via a car collision, and they and Spader's wife (Deborah Kara Unger) become acquainted with a kind of car-crash guru (Elias Koteas) and his own set of friends (including Rosanna Arquette). Sex and driving are all that this movie and its characters are interested in, but the lyrical, poetic, and melancholic undertones are potent, the performances adept and sexy, the sounds and images indelible. If you want something that's both different and accomplished, even if you can't be sure what it is, don't miss this.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 80: Wed Aug 4

Kings of the Road (Wenders, 1976): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Wim Wenders season at the Prince Charles Cinema this summer. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The first masterpiece of the New German Cinema. Wim Wenders's existentialized road movie (1975) follows two drifters—an itinerant movie-projector repairman and a child psychologist who has followed his patients by dropping out—in a three-hour ramble through a deflated Germany, touching on their private pasts and their hopes for the future. It's full of references to Hawks, Ford, and Lang, and one scene has been lovingly lifted in its entirety from Nicholas Ray's 
The Lusty Men. As the hommages indicate, one of the subjects is the death of cinema, but this isn't an insider's movie. Wenders examines a played-out culture looking for one last move. An engrossing, enveloping film, made with great craft and photographed in highly textured black-and-white by Robby Müller.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 79: Tue Aug 3

Modern Romance (Brooks, 1981): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm


This is a 35mm presentation.

Chicago Reader review:
Albert Brooks and Kathryn Harrold as two young Los Angeles professionals caught in a roller-coaster relationship. Though this 1981 film was only Brooks's second, it displays a distinctive, original, and highly effective mise-en-scene: Brooks is a superrealist who uses long takes to hold his characters in a tight compression of time and space, while his even, laconic direction of dialogue short-circuits conventional comic rhythms, going beyond easy payoffs into an almost cosmic apprehension of life's inescapable absurdity. The first part of the film is farcical and very funny; from there it shades into a pointed naturalism and ends on a note of near-tragedy. With Bob Einstein and George Kennedy.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 78: Mon Aug 2

Dangerous (Green, 1935): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.15pm


This 35mm presentation (also being screened on August 13th and 18th) is part of the Bette Davis season. You can find the full details of the season here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
Joyce Heath, a once-successful actress now down on her luck, is taken in by an engaged architect who was inspired by her work and wants to help her. Her warnings that she’s jinxed are not without reason, and it soon becomes clear that she has plenty to hide. Davis won her first Oscar® for the role of Joyce but always felt that it was a consolation prize for not having been nominated for Of Human Bondage. Either way, she truly shines in the role.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 77: Sun Aug 1

Brazil (Gilliam, 1984): Castle Cinema, 1.45pm

This film, which is being screened by Cine-Real, who specialise in 16mm screenings, is also being shown at the Castle Cinema on July 22nd and 25th. Full details here.

Terry Gilliam’s movie has a fascinating history. Universal Studios were horrified on seeing the original cut Gilliam wanted to put out and after a lengthy delay while studio executives dithered the director was forced to take a full-page ad out in trade magazine Variety demanding to know why his film had not been released.

The version of Brazil released outside the United States was very different from the one seen by Americans, which was drastically re-edited and given a happy ending. The Brazil Gilliam wanted the public to see and the one which will be screened here is a bold and superbly imaginative movie with an ending which haunted me for some time when I saw it on its initial release.

Gilliam himself said he wanted Brazil to be "the Nineteen Eighty-Four for 1984". In many ways he  succeeded, creating a nightmarish Orwellian world in which freedom is limited while fashioning a film which leaves its audience dumbfounded and despairing. No wonder Universal could not face unleashing it on an unsuspecting American public.

Chicago Reader review:
Terry Gilliam's ferociously creative black comedy (1985) is filled with wild tonal contrasts, swarming details, and unfettered visual invention—every shot carries a charge of surprise and delight. Jonathan Pryce is Sam Lowry (the name suggests Stan Laurel, and Pryce wears Laurel's expression of perpetually astonished innocence), a minor functionary in a totalitarian government of the near future; his only escape from the parodistically bleak urban environment (resourcefully rendered by Gilliam through a combination of sets, models, and locations) is in his dreams, where he becomes a winged, heroic figure rescuing a ravishing blond. Of course, it isn't long before the blond (Kim Greist) walks into his waking life. Robert De Niro contributes a gruffly funny cameo as the one knight of honor in the ashen land: a guerrilla heating-duct repairman. With Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Peter Vaughan, and Bob Hoskins.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.