Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 5: Thursday Jan 5

Secret Cinema: Unknown venue until January 22

You can buy tickets here from 12pm today.

The leading player in the pop-up and event cinema phenomenon and still the best. I shall be going on January 8 and there are still tickets available for the screenings between January 1 and the end of the current run on January 22. I have been to the Wings of Desire and Blade Runner Secret Cinema events and recommend the evenings highly. For Wings of Desire an ex-cinema in Shepherd's Bush had been transformed into bohemian Berlin in the 1970s and for Blade Runner an industrial estate near Canary Wharf became Los Angeles of the future. Scenes are re-enacted and the whole experience is akin to an immersive one in which cinemagoers as well as actors become part of the world of the film being shown.

Here's a link to the Secret Cinema website and this is the Guardian's feature on the current film being celebrated. I have a pretty sure idea which film will be screened and it's a bona-fide classic. Celebrated St John restaurant are hosting a secret pop-up restaurant at the venue which I've booked and all in all it looks like a terrific night is in store.

Here is a YouTube collection of Secret Cinema events for your perusal.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 4: Wednesday Jan 4

Super 8 (JJ Abrams, 2011): Roxy Bar & Screen, Borough, London Bridge

Chicago Reader review:

'Writer-director J.J. Abrams (who did the 2009 Star Trek reboot) overloads this sci-fi adventure with so many homages to his co-producer Steven Spielberg that it plays like the elder director's greatest hits, minus his characteristic scares and sense of wonder. In a small Ohio burg during the summer of 1979, five middle-school boys and a female classmate collaborate on an amateur Super-8 zombie movie; while filming late one night at the town's railroad depot, they witness a spectacular train derailment, then find mysterious geometric cubes among the wreckage of a secret military shipment. Soon the community is plagued by power surges, ominous noises behind rustling leaves, and unexplained disappearances; when the escaped extraterrestrial insect finally appears, it looks like something assembled from that old children's game Cootie. With Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, and Joel Courtney.' Andrea Gronvall

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 3: Tuesday Jan 3

Broadway Danny Rose (Allen, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT2 8.40pm
This film is also on at this cinema on Jan 7 and Jan 9.

The Guardian have a terrific 'My Favourite Film' season running and this was film editor Andrew Pulver's pick. Read his reasons why in a terrific piece here.

Chicago Reader review:

'Woody Allen attends to his neglected lovability factor in this tiny, anecdotal comedy about a fifth-rate theatrical agent who gets mixed up with a tough, bouffanted Mafia moll (Mia Farrow). It seems meant to recapture Allen's lost audience: the verbal wit is fast and frequently hilarious, and the grating self-pity that has come to mar his films has been tempered. Still, Allen can't resist building monuments to his moral superiority: once again he has cast himself as the only unfailingly right character in a world populated by weaklings and opportunists (structurally, the film is indistinguishable from the unbearable Stardust Memories). But Allen has a real find in Nick Apollo Forte, who plays a randy, overweight Italian singer (he's like a corrupt teddy bear), and Allen's static, long-take camera style shows signs of developing some dramatic effectiveness. With Sandy Baron'
Dave Kehr 

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 2: Monday Jan 2

Zelig (Allen, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT 3, 6.10pm
This film is screening every day at this cinema until January 19.

Continuing the season of Woody Allen comedies at the NFT (details of which you can find here) this is perhaps the director's finest work. Time Out critic David Jenkins thinks so and here's why:

'When push comes to shove, my favourite Woody is ‘Zelig’, a hilarious one-of-a-kind from 1983. It’s another thinly-veiled auto-portrait centring on a chameleon-like pariah who is able to meld his body to fit in with those surrounding him. His story is delivered by way of a bogus documentary mixing footage filmed on antique cameras, recontextualised newsreel and shrewd use of blue screen technology. Granted it’s an odd little film, often dismissed as a over-egged joke or love-it-or-loathe-it after-dinner frivolity, but the way in which it conjoins the droll comedy of self-hatred from ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Manhattan’ with the pet Allen interests of jazz, psychotherapy and, of course, old movies, makes this one of his most trenchant and enjoyable personal statements to date. My sentiments echo those of one of the film’s many crackpot interviewees: ‘Leonard Zelig is one of the finest gentlemen in the United States of America. He is the cat’s pyjamas!’ Hear, hear.'

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 1: Sunday Jan 1

Sleeper (Allen, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm
This film also screens on Jan 7 & 18 at the cinema.

There's a Woody Allen season running at the NFT (all the details here) and here's one of the undoubted highlights - after all, we all know his early funny ones are the best. This one is bloody hilarious. If memory serves there are no traces of the world as we know it now in 2173 in this movie other than a sighting of a McDonald's restaurant which appears in a scene as the fugitive Allen races past. A wonderful touch in a film sprinkled with great gags.

Chicago Reader review:

'Woody Allen takes a 200-year snooze after an ulcer operation and wakes up in 2173, where he finds, to no one's surprise, Diane Keaton (as sphinxlike as ever), a Volkswagen, and a good number of Richard Nixon jokes. Like all of Allen's early films, this 1973 release is an ungainly collection of one-liners and misdirected sight gags that hardly qualifies as a “movie.” But as a stand-up routine it's a scream. With John Beck and Mary Gregory'
Dave Kehr

Even the trailer here is terrific.

Capital Celluloid - Day 361: Saturday Dec 31

Fantasia New Year's Eve Party: Roxy Bar & Screen, Borough, London Bridge, 8pm-3.30am

From the Roxy Bar's introduction to the night: After last year's brilliant Alice in Wonderland party, this year we invite you to don your magic hats and join us for a night of Disney magic…

Bring in 2012 Peter Pan style by going back to childhood in our very own Never Never Land, SE1. "Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test!"We’ll have your favourite characters (the Roxy prince and princesses) serving up stardust sprinkled cocktails to the backdrop of classic Disney films, old and new … Hakuna Matata!

Capital Celluloid - Day 360: Friday Dec 30

The Artist (Hazanavicius, 2011): Everywhere for the coming months.

It's rare I put up a new release on here but this film, which opens in the UK today, is destined to be a huge hit and one you should catch over the holidays as it will put a spring in the step of any jaded cinemagoer. I caught a screening at the London Film Festival and while it lacks the emotional resonance to be a great film it's crowd-pleasing, movie-making of the highest order and a must for any big screen lovers.

Here's a terrific piece by Jonathan Rosenbaum on Uggie, the dog who steals the show. Critics in general are raving about The Artist but if you want an alternative viewpoint head to Sight & Sound for Tony Rayns' review here. He says "The Artist is at best a novelty hit, right up there with Benny Hill's Ernie: The Fastest Milkman in the West."

Chicago Reader review:

'French director Michel Hazanavicius takes a break from his OSS 117 spy spoofs to pay loving tribute to the silent cinema, re-creating its luminous black-and-white photography and consigning all the dialogue to intertitles. The story is a variation on that timeless movieland myth A Star Is Born: Jean Dujardin plays a Hollywood matinee idol whose career unravels with the advent of the sound era, and Berenice Bejo is a bit player who ascends into the stratosphere once actors become prized for their gab. No big-time commercial filmmaker has tried anything like this since Mel Brooks made his appropriately titled Silent Movie (1976), but that had a contemporary setting and favored Brooks's vulgar shtick over the physical grace of the silent clowns. By contrast, this effort often manages to duplicate the magical pantomime of the era; a lovely scene in which Bejo drapes herself in the arms of a hung jacket as if it were a human lover could have come straight out of a Marion Davies picture. With John Goodman, James Cromwell, and Penelope Ann Miller.'
J R Jones

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 359: Thursday Dec 29

Labyrinth (Henson, 1986) plus masquerade ball: Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

The highlight here is likely to be off screen with masked fancy dress positively encouraged.

Time Out review:

'Terry Jones scripted this fairy tale fantasy in which pubescent Connelly must negotiate the myriad dangers of a mazy goblin city and cross the Bog of Eternal Stench to reclaim her baby brother from the talons of Goblin King Bowie. If the narrative's an enthusiastic assemblage of elements from the likes of Maurice Sendak and Frank L Baum, Henson's Creature Shop were on hand to provide the necessary, and rather impressive supporting cast of assorted gnomes and pixies. Still, although the film's initial energy and engaging finale are rather muffled by a mid-section that spends too much time idling in neutral, you can at least wonder at David Bowie's saddest ever haircut (no mean achievement) and bask in the pleasurable sight of an ill-tempered gnome scornfully squishing sweet little fairy creatures underfoot.'
Trevor Johnston

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid - Day 358: Wednesday Dec 28

Belle de Jour (Bunuel, 1967):
Trangallan Tapas Bar, 61 Newington Green, Stoke Newington, London N16 9PX
Tel: 020 7359 4988 8pm

This is a new venture from a great new restaurant in north London and you can find more details here.

Time Out review:

'One of the sly, Spanish provocateur’s greatest popular successes, ‘Belle de Jour’ – revived in a new print as centrepiece of a two-month NFT Buñuel retrospective – is a mischievously deadpan and classically cool 1967 adaptation of Joseph Kessel’s ‘cheap’ fictionalised tale of a Parisian doctor’s wife who secretly volunteers for the two-till-five shift at an upmarket brothel. It opens with French cinema’s prim, fair Miss Frigidaire, Catherine Deneuve, being roughly trussed and stripped by her husband, before ‘the little whore’  is whipped and distainfully left for the carnal satisfaction of his two coachmen. As Buñuel and his scriptwriter Jean-Claude Carrière make clear, this is a mere fantasy in the head of their masochistic heroine. Nevertheless, it was received as a confrontational ‘liberationist’ shock  at the time. If, for us jaded children and grandchildren of the ’60s, 40 years of bombardment by explicit sexual imagery has made that impact unrecoverable, the undiminished power of the film resides more in the mesmeric audacity of Buñuel’s method. The productive friction – be it between the salacious material and the ‘chaste’ formality of  how it’s observed;  the ersatz ‘elegance’ of the salon and the perverse etiquettes of the Yves Saint Laurent-clothed, cigarette-chewing prostitutes and their clients; or the hallucinatory melding of fantasy and reality –  still generates heat like a nuclear reactor.'
Wally Hammond

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid - Day 357: Tuesday Dec 27

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alfredson, 2011): BFI Southbank, Studio, 8.30pm
This film is on an extended run at the cinema until January 8

Time Out review:

'Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (‘Let the Right One In’) blows a fresh air of continental style into Le Carré’s story without harming the 1970s British period feel of his source material. Naturally, some episodes from the book and TV series don’t make it into the film, but it’s remarkable how much remains, often secured by a sly glance here or quick image there. This spy story is all about the journey – the process – and the byways of the route, not the grand finale. This film’s superb cast, script and direction threaten to make that journey equally as thrilling as Le Carré’s book.' Dave Calhoun

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid - Day 356: Monday Dec 26

The Naked Gun (Zucker, 1988) & Airplane! (Abrahams, David & Jerry Zucker, 1980) double-bill:
Prince Charles Cinema, 7pm & 8.50pm 
Time Out review of The Naked Gun:

'Fans of the Airplane team (and especially of their short-lived TV series Police Squad, by which this gloriously tacky spoof cop-thriller is inspired) will know that corny old gags, hoary clichés, and downright silliness can, if delivered in the right spirit, provide far more fun than any amount of Merchant-Ivory bons mots or Woody Allen witticisms. As ever, sophistication is conspicuously absent as tactless, dim-witted Lt Frank Drebin (Nielsen) investigates the shooting of a cop during a ludicrously audacious drugs bust. One hesitates even to attempt a synopsis of the admirably perfunctory plot, other than that suspects include a delirously plastic Priscilla Presley and a magnificently corseted Montalban. Ineptitude rules throughout. Finally, though, it's Nielsen's show: with an unaccountable flair for the needlessly dramatic, he holds the entire shambling absurdity together by treating everything as if it were a matter of life or death. The endlessly tasteless juvenilia should make you ashamed of laughing yourself into a stupor.'Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer


Time Out review of Airplane!:

'Zapping every disaster movie cliché with the cartoon subtlety of Mad magazine may be nothing more than cannibal glee, but it prompts enough convulsions of laughter in this wacky spoof from the Kentucky Fried Movie team for you not to notice their dead hand at work. Imagine the same old '50s airplane yarn: pilots poisoned, passengers panic, while a traumatised war-hero lands the jalopy. It should be disastrous. But psycho ground controllers (Stack and Bridges), laff-a-second pace, and bludgeoning innuendo make this the acceptable face of the locker-room satire.'Don McPherson

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid - Day 355: Saturday Dec 24

Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas 3D (Selick, 2006):
Clapham Picturehouse, 5pm

Time Out review:

'Probably the single neatest expression of Tim Burton’s cute-gothic outsider sensibility, this highly likeable 1993 stop-motion fable also proves a perfect match for Disney’s impressive new 3D technology. The spindly, ragged tactility that always made ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ such a visual treat now leaps from the screen, its undead stars coming alive thanks to a process that saw the meticulously crafted original translated frame by frame into a digital model, then processed for viewing through polarised specs. The story sees Jack Skellington, ennui-stricken King of Halloweentown, alighting on a muddle-headedly revitalising scheme: he and his variously rotting, slavering and blood-sucking subjects will co-opt Christmas and deliver a holiday according to their own gruesome lights. Daintily combining cartoon horror-show visuals with quasi-Romantic yearnings and a cracking score and songs by Danny Elfman, ‘Nightmare…’ now makes for a thoroughly pleasurable 3D experience – partly for the wonderfully rendered details of the grotesque puppets and sets, partly because the script’s non-stop momentum suits the roller-coaster photography – and the punchy running time brings things to a close before eye-strain sets in.' Ben Walters 

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid - Day 354: Friday Dec 23

Gremlins (Dante, 1984) & Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Dante, 1990) double-bill:
Prince Charles Cinema, 6.40pm & 8.50pm

OR a late programme addition: It's A Wonderful Life & Wings of Desire Scala tribute at Gate Notting Hill. Details here.

Chicago Reader review of Gremlins:

'E.T. with the lid off (1984). At the center of this horror comedy is a tidy family parable of the kind so dear to the heart of producer Steven Spielberg: the cute little whatzits who turn into marauding monsters when they pass through puberty (here gooily envisioned as “the larval stage”) are clearly metaphors for children, and the teenager (Zach Galligan) whose lapse of responsibility unleashes the onslaught is a stand-in for the immature parents of the 80s (Poltergeist). But Spielberg's finger wagging is overwhelmed by Joe Dante's roaring, undisciplined direction, which (sometimes through sheer sloppiness) pushes the imagery to unforeseen, untidy, and ultimately disturbing extremes. Dante is perhaps the first filmmaker since Frank Tashlin to base his style on the formal free-for-all of animated cartoons; he is also utterly heartless. With Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, and more movie-buff in-jokes than Carter has pills' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.


Chicago Reader review of Gremlins 2:

'This 1990 sequel to the beastie movie of 1984, directed like its predecessor by the irreplaceable Joe Dante, relocates the hero and heroine (Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates) in New York, where they're both working for a vain tycoon named Daniel Clamp (John Glover)—an obvious conflation of Donald Trump and Ted Turner—in a midtown skyscraper, where the gremlins manage to run loose and cause all sorts of mischief. Solid, agreeable entertainment that basically consists of plentiful gags and lighthearted satire spiked with Dante's compulsive taste for movie references, humorously scripted by Charlie Haas but without the darker thematic undertones and the more tableaulike construction of the original. You may want to see this more than once in order to catch all the peripheral details, but there aren't any depths to explore, just a lot of bright, free-floating comic invention. With Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee, Kathleen Freeman, and many cameos (including Daffy Duck and Leonard Maltin).'Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.


STOP PRESS: Late addition to programme at Gate Cinema Notting Hill

In tribute to the double-bill the old Scala cinema did every 23rd December the Gate are screening a double-bill of It's A Wonderful Life and Wings of Desire with a two-for-one deal so "people can bring their angels with them." You can find out all the details here.

Capital Celluloid - Day 353: Thursday Dec 22

Meet Me in St Louis (Minnelli, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20 & 8.45pm
This re-released film is on an extended run until December 29. Details here.

I went to see this on Sunday and the film certainly lives up to its reputation as one of Hollywood's finest musicals. There are numerous articles and features on this film, including an excellent one by Richard Dyer in the January edition of Sight & Sound. Dyer refers to work by Andrew Britton on the film which has been reproduced in the recent publication of his complete film criticism and by Robin Wood in his collection Personal Views. Both are well worth seeking out.

And here is an excellent piece by the Guardian's John Patterson on Minnelli to coincide with the re-release of tonight's film.

Time Out review:

'In 1939, rosy-cheeked chanteuse Judy Garland trumpeted the cosy, all-American proverb that ‘there’s no place like home’ in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. She returned five years later to reaffirm those beliefs in Vincente Minnelli’s musical masterpiece, ‘Meet Me in St Louis’, a Technicolor ode to the joys and tensions of living side-by-side with your fellow man.

In a snow globe rendering of St Louis, Missouri circa 1903, the affluent Smith clan must face the prospect of ripping up their ancestral roots to chase future fortunes. The film has only a whisper of a plot, preferring to amass the simple pleasures of life (flirting with neighbours, riding the trolley, Christmas with the folks) into a single romantic vision of a perfect society.

Framed as a sepia-tinted postcard come to life, Minnelli’s panoramic city symphony examines the meanings of nostalgia and memory while offering a sweetly ironic depiction of Middle American conservatism where sex is taboo, dinner is at six, money is evil and father knows best. A heavenly slice of brassy Hollywood romanticism that’ll still have you swooning all the way to the trolley stop.'
David Jenkins

Here is the remarkable Halloween sequence which Britton and Wood found so fascinating.

Capital Celluloid - Day 352: Wednesday Dec 21

It is Fine. Everything is Fine (Glover, 2007): Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley, 7pm

This went down so well in February that the Phoenix have got actor Crispin Glover back for his famous Big Slide Show plus a screening of the second part of the "It" trilogy, titled 'It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine!'

This comes highly recommended by colleagues at the Guardian and all those who went earlier in the year and having looked at some of Glover's work on YouTube, I am certain it will be like nothing else on offer in London tonight and as such well worth investigating. Apparently, Glover has said he has previously stayed until 4am to finish off his Q&A's! Here is Guardian film editor Catherine Shoard's interview with the actor/drirector.

Check this out, the trailer for tonight's movie. And this. Or even this.

The Phoenix are also screening part one of Glover's trilogy What Is It? with another Big Slide Show from the unique showman on Thursday evening, Dec 22. And you can find out more details here.

Footnote: the actor's father is Bruce Glover, famous for playing the villain Mr Wint in Diamonds Are Forever.

Capital Celluloid - Day 351: Tuesday Dec 20

Tulse Luper Films: A Walk Through H and Vertical Features Remake
(Greenaway, 1978-9): Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, 7.30pm

Vertical Features Remake (1978) charts the attempts of a group of rival academics to remake fictional ornithologist Tulse Luper’s seminal but lost film ‘Vertical Features’ or ‘Vertical Lists’. In the second feature of the program, A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist (1979), the narrator recounts a journey taken through ‘H’ aided by a series of drawings arranged by Tulse Luper. But what is ‘H’ and who is the mysterious Tulse Luper? Confused? You should be. But read this and you'll definitely want to make your way there.

Time Out review of A Walk Through H:

'Greenaway's unique short feature is one of the best British movies of the decade. It defeats efforts at description. You could call it a cross between a vintage Borges 'fiction' and a Disney True Life Adventure, but that wouldn't get close to its humour or the compulsiveness of Michael Nyman's romantic score. It's nominally a narrative about an ornithologist following a trail blazed by the legendary Tulse Luper, but it's a narrative without characters... See it at all costs.' Tony Rayns

Capital Celluloid - Day 350: Monday Dec 19

Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm
This screening is part of the Passport to Cinema season and will be introduced by Richard Combs

Here's a fascinating video essay on the film by American artists B. Kite and Alexander Points-Zollo.

Chicago Reader review:

'One of the landmarks—not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art. Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film extends the theme of Rear Window—the relationship of creator and creation—into the realm of love and sexuality, focusing on an isolated, inspired romantic (James Stewart) who pursues the spirit of a woman (the powerfully carnal Kim Novak). The film's dynamics of chase, capture, and escape parallel the artist's struggle with his work; the enraptured gaze of the Stewart character before the phantom he has created parallels the spectator's position in front of the movie screen. The famous motif of the fall is presented in horizontal rather than vertical space, so that it becomes not a satanic fall from grace, but a modernist fall into the image, into the artwork—a total absorption of the creator by his creation, which in the end is shown as synonymous with death. But a thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema.' Dave Kehr        

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 349: Sunday Dec 18

It's A Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946): Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, London NW3 3EU, 7.30pm

Here's a screening with a difference. The Flicker Club begin the evening by introducing a surprise guest who will read the original story, ‘The Greatest Gift’, from which this legendary film is adapted, Jackanory for adults if you like. But who will their  mysterious narrator be this year? Last year it was Tom Hollander and the year before Bill Nighy… All will be revealed on the night, but suffice to say the Flicker Club assure us we will be in the hands of a real master.

And as it's Christmas all who turn up will not leave empty handed.  On top of their usual goody bag there will be a Secret Santa DVD sack. All you have to do is bring a wrapped copy of a film you'd like to share and you will leave with a new one . . .

Chicago Reader review:

'The film Frank Capra was born to make. This 1946 release marked his return to features after four years of turning out propaganda films for the government, and Capra poured his heart and soul into it. James Stewart stars as a small-town nobody, on the brink of suicide, who believes his life is worthless. Guardian angel Henry Travers shows him how wrong he is by letting Stewart see what would have happened had he never been born. Wonderfully drawn and acted by a superb cast (Donna Reed, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Lionel Barrymore, Gloria Grahame) and told with a sense of image and metaphor (the use of water is especially elegant) that appears in no other Capra film. The epiphany of movie sentiment and a transcendent experience.' Dave Kehr       

Here's the phone scene. Gets me every single time.                 

Capital Celluloid - Day 348: Saturday Dec 17

The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939): Chelsea Curzon, 2pm

Christmas wouldn't be complete without this classic.

Chicago Reader review:

'Thanks to innumerable childhood viewings, this 1939 film is too firmly planted in my (pre)consciousness for me to find the proper critical distance. In many ways, it's stiff, ersatz, and anonymous in the usual MGM house style of the 30s (though King Vidor, one of several directors who worked on the project, does manage some graceful camera movement in the Munchkin scenes), but frankly I don't care. Those talking trees were a staple of my nightmares for years, and Margaret Hamilton is still my prime mental image of absolute evil. I don't find the film light or joyful in the least—an air of primal menace hangs about it, which may be why I love it. With Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, and Billie Burke; Victor Fleming took the final directing credit.'
Dave Kehr   

Here's Judy Garland with Somewhere over the Rainbow.                                        

Capital Celluloid - Day 347: Friday Dec 16

Scrooge (Hurst, 1951): The Vanishing Point, 21 Lee Road, Blackheath, London SE3 9RQ, 7.30pm

Pop-up and immersive cinema is all the rage right now and this looks one of the best recent events. The screening takes place in a converted Victorian art studio made to look like Scrooge and Marley's counting house.

Time Out review:

'Surprisingly, there isn't a film version of the Dickens novella which merits the imprimatur 'classic'. The Muppets had a good stab at it, and Bill Murray was well cast in the otherwise scattershot Scrooged. On the plus side, this version is cast like an engraved illustration: Thesiger, Johns, Hordern, Harrison, Malleson, Baddeley and, above all, the splendidly aloof Sim, who feasts on Dickens' best lines ('I expect you want the whole day off tomorrow?'), greets each new ghost with a weary shiver, and handles his giddy rebirth with aplomb.' Tom Charity

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 346: Thursday Dec 15

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Hughes, 1987): Stratford Picturehouse, 8.30pm

This sounds like a lot of fun.  

From the Stratford Picturehouse introduction: Join the Picturehouse Podcast for a special Christmas screening of John Hughes' classic (ahem - Thanksgiving) comedy, PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES. It's the boys' number one film to watch at Christmas, and they want to share it with you, on the big screen. There will be Christmas giveaways and pre-film activities in the bar, plus the boys will record a live podcast in the auditorium before the film begins.

Time Out review:

'When their flight is grounded by snow, suave advertising exec Neal Page (Martin) finds himself stuck with travelling shower-curtain-ring salesman Del Griffith (Candy), the human equivalent of a Double Whopper. Griffith offers the benefit of his wide-ranging travel experience, and the pair set off overland on an odyssey of disasters. Sympathy, initially with the exec, shifts to the salesman, who is revealed as a vulnerable and lonely misfit, while his companion proves an intolerant bully and foul-tempered snob.'
Elaine Paterson

Here's a great extract which kinda gets to the heart of the movie.

Capital Celluloid - Day 345: Wednesday Dec 14

The General (Keaton, 1926): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
With live piano from John Sweeney

Chicago Reader review:
'Buster Keaton may have made more significant films, but The General (1927) stands as an almost perfect entertainment. Keaton is a locomotive engineer in the Civil War south whose train is hijacked by Union spies; his attempts to bring it back become a strangely moving and very funny account of man's love for machine. Marion Mack is the girl, who can't quite compete.' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 344: Tuesday Dec 13

Edvard Munch (Watkins, 1974): Whiteleys Shopping Centre, 6.15pm

The highlight of the week and one of the highlights of the year on the repertory circuit this one.

Going to the cinema does not have to entail driving to the out-of-town multiplex or even to any sort of picture house at all these days. There are plenty of pubs and clubs putting on films while the pop-up cinema phenomenon is becoming far more prevalent in the movie listings. The Nomad Cinema, run by the people at the excellent Lexi Cinema in Kensal Green, is the most adventurous of the pop-up brigade.

This film from the Nomad Cinema at the Whiteleys Shopping Centre has been selected by the A Nos Amours collective, a group founded by celebrated director Joanna Hogg and Adam Roberts. They are dedicated to "programming and screening overlooked or especially potent cinema." You can find out more about them here.

Time Out review:

'Peter Watkins' biography of the formative years of the pioneer Expressionist easily vindicates its running time. As Munch moves through his youth, quiet and alienated, we realise that he too was eluded by any lasting intimacy: a long, abortive affair with an older woman joins the ubiquitous ghosts of a childhood scarred by sickness and death. In the end it's the paintings which do Munch's talking for him, both directly and through the prefigurations and echoes in the film's set pieces, a fuzzed, mutely anguished procession of half-profiles and silently helpless groups with numb, naked eyes. It's a remarkable film.' Giovanni Dadomo

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid - Day 343: Monday Dec 12

A Trip to the Moon (Melies, 1902): Cine Lumiere, 6pm with soundtrack by Air

From the introduction on the Cine Lumiere website: Internationally revered French electronic music duo, AIR (Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin), will attend an exclusive screening of Georges Méliès’ cult film A Trip to the Moon shown in its restored colour version.

Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon), was released in black and white and also in colour, hand painted, in 1902. It was an immediate success worldwide and the first blockbuster in the history of cinema. Widely considered one of the most important and influential works in film history, it has inspired Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo which comprises several extracts of it and centres around Méliès’ life.

Here is a clip.

Capital Celluloid - Day 342: Sunday Dec 11

The Curse of the Cat People (Wise, 1944) & Tales from the Crypt (Francis, 1972):
Roxy Bar & Screen, 3pm

A superb double-bill from the Classic Horror Campaign, a pressure group trying its best to get horror films back on our TV screens. You can find out more about them via this Facebook page. And more about this afternoon's brilliant pre-Christmas double-bill here.

Time out review of Curse of the Cat People:

'Though very different in purpose and tone to Cat People, Val Lewton's 'sequel' is far more closely tied to its predecessor than is commonly believed. For one thing, all the main characters remain very much the same as they were in the earlier film, to which there are many specific references; for another, both films concern the way that guilt, fear and fantasy can arise from isolation and misunderstanding. In this case, it's a small girl, lonely and repeatedly scolded by her parents and shunned by her friends for indulging in day-dreaming; when she populates her solitary world with the ghost of her father's dead first wife (Simon, heroine of Cat People), her imagination (or is it?) gets her into serious trouble. Far from being a horror film, it's a touching, perceptive and lyrical film about childhood, psychologically astute and occasionally disturbing as it focuses entirely on the child's-eye view of a sad, cruel world.'
Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.


Classic Horror Campaign review of Tales from the Crypt: 

'Of all the Amicus portmanteau collections that made it onto TV in the mid seventies the film that sticks in my memory of illicit late night sessions spent inches from the glowing screen, volume turned down to avoid detection is the aptly named Tales From The Crypt (1972). You’ll be meeting a nice mix of familiar faces some fresh some fading all assigned easily recognisable cameos, the arrogant military type (Nigel Patrick), the flamboyant art lover (Richard Greene), the scheming wife (Joan Collins), the unfaithful husband (Ian Hendry), the suburban snob (Robin Phillips), they’re all here.

'Drawing its inspiration from the fifties horror comic of the same name, stylistically Tales From The Crypt is rooted in the seventies. Only the underlying moral of each tale remains timeless. It's very witty and boasts some great performances. Worthy of particular merit is Peter Cushing as Grimsdyke the put-upon pensioner who turns up with a valentine card no-one wants to receive and Nigel Patrick who ends up at the sharp end of Patrick Magee’s sightless avenger.'

Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 341: Saturday Dec 10

"Quote-a-long" Ghostbusters (Reitman, 1984): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

Time Out review:

'A welcome reissue for this deliriously inventive, evergreen 1984 family comedy. Or at least, it used to be a family film: thanks to a churlish re-think by the BBFC – it’s been upped from a PG – ‘Ghostbusters’ is now deemed unsuitable for its target audience. Though presumably, this has more to do with some spicy language (‘this man has no dick!’) and ‘adult’ situations (Sigourney Weaver’s mid-air ecstasy) than anything to spook the under-12s. Quibbles aside, this is a near-flawless example of the ’80s genre boom in full swing, fusing state-of-the-art SFX, a loopy guys-on-a-mission plot, some awful synth ’n’ snare electro-pop and a handful of the finest one-liners ever' Tom Huddleston 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 340: Friday Dec 9

The Boy Friend (Russell, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT 1, 8pm
This film, part of the MGM Musicals season, will also be screened on December 29.

There's only one place for film fans tonight - and that's at the BFI Southbank to honour the late, great Ken Russell. The director was due to appear to introduce his film but he can expect a fitting tribute from critic Mark Kermode and one of the film's stars, Twiggy.

The sold out notices went up early for this one but there's always the possibility of a ticket in the returns queue. The advice is to get there early.

Time Out review:

'Sandy Wilson's delightfully lightweight musical is given the unnecessary avoirdupois that seems unavoidable with Russell. Some things work beautifully: Tommy Tune's deliriously leggy Charleston, the bathing beauty inanities of 'Sur la Plage', almost everything Twiggy does as the wide-eyed ingenue. But there are also some bloated Busby Berkeley pastiches which clash horribly with Wilson's mock-'20s score. Consistency was never Russell's strong point.' Tom Milne

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 339: Thursday Dec 8

Las Acacias (Giorgelli, 2011): ICA Cinema 6pm and all week till Thursday 15 Dec

Time Out review:

'Those in need of a flab-free winter warmer should look no further than this hushed romance that takes place in the cramped confines of a cantankerous trucker’s cab. Rubén (Germán de Silva) has agreed to allow a local woman, Jacinta (Hebe Duarte), to ride shotgun as he hauls logs from a Uruguayan backwater to Buenos Aires. That she brings along her obscenely cute newborn initially raises hackles – there’s barely a word uttered in the first 30 minutes – but as they amble on down the road and the baby gurgles and ogles adoringly, the nervy pair begin to let down their guards. Delicately paced and deceptively slight, director Pablo Giorgelli (winner of the Camera d’Or for a debut film at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival) generates sweet truth and sexual tension by keeping the style clean, acting tight and edits sparse. The will they/won’t they climax is a tad trite, but it’s a superficial nick on the façade of the film’s overall loveliness.' David Jenkins

Here is the trailer.