Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 33: Thursday Feb 2

Nostalgia for the Light (Guzman, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm
The director will be present for a Q&A at this DocHouse presentation.

DocHouse introduction: Meet Patricio Guzmán (Battle For Chile, Salvador Allende, The Pinochet Case), one of the legends of documentary filming, following this London premiere screening. This visionary masterpiece for our time is set in Chile's Atacama Desert. There, people search the past to understand the present: while women comb through the sands for remains of loved ones "disappeared" by the Pinochet regime and astronomers peer into the cosmos to solve the riddle of beginning of life.

Time Out review:

'A rather wonderful essay film from the makers of the Battle of Chile, whose diverse concerns - astronomy, geology, archaeology, history, politics - probably shouldn't hang together but, thanks to his deft way with metpahor, do so to emotionally and intellectually resonant effect. An illuminating, fascinating and finally very moving meditation on time and place and the enduring importance of memory, curiosity, courage and conscience.'

Look at this brilliant trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 32: Wednesday Feb 1

Eraserhead (Lynch, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.10pm

Eraserhead begins the David Lynch season at the BFI and 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 as it was when first released. Here is an extract, highlighting Lynch's innovative use of sound.

There's a bonus tonight as Lynch's early shorts The Grandmother (1970, 34min), The Amputee (1973, 5min) and The Alphabet (1968, 4min) will also be included.

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

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 31: Tuesday Jan 31

Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Bunuel, 1972):
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:

'Delightful if overrated comedy from Buñuel, flitting about from frustrating situation to frustrating situation as six characters in search of a meal never manage actually to eat it. Are they prevented by their own fantasies? by their lack of purpose? by their discreet charm? Buñuel never really lets us know, while managing to skip through some very funny scenes en route. But it does lack the savage bite and genuinely nightmarish feel of his earlier work (comparison with The Exterminating Angel shows up the later film's complacency), while the chic stylishness of the characters comes over as overbearing rather than satirically revealing.' Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 30: Monday Jan 30

2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm
This film is also screening at the BFI on Sunday at 8.15pm. It is part of the Passport to Cinema series and is introduced by Richard Combs.

Chicago Reader review:

'Seeing this 1968 masterpiece in 70-millimeter, digitally restored and with remastered sound, provides an ideal opportunity to rediscover this mind-blowing myth of origin as it was meant to be seen and heard, an experience no video setup, no matter how elaborate, could ever begin to approach. The film remains threatening to contemporary studiothink in many important ways: Its special effects are used so seamlessly as part of an overall artistic strategy that, as critic Annette Michelson has pointed out, they don't even register as such. Dialogue plays a minimal role, yet the plot encompasses the history of mankind (a province of SF visionary Olaf Stapledon, who inspired Kubrick's cowriter, Arthur C. Clarke). And, like its flagrantly underrated companion piece, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, it meditates at length on the complex relationship between humanity and technology—not only the human qualities that we ascribe to machines but also the programming we knowingly or unknowingly submit to. The film's projections of the cold war and antiquated product placements may look quaint now, but the poetry is as hard-edged and full of wonder as ever.' 139 min.

Here is a thrilling extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 29: Sunday Jan 29

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974) & Shivers (Cronenberg, 1975):
Roxy Bar & Screen, London Bridge, 7pm & 9.30pm

Here's the introduction to the evening: A special event tonight with author Jason Zinoman over from the US to talk about his new book and introduce a special horror double-bill plus shorts. Jason Zinoman is a critic and reporter covering theatre for the New York Times. He has also regularly written about movies, television, books and sport for publications including Vanity Fair, the Guardian, The Economist and Slate. He was the chief theatre critic for Time Out New York before leaving to write the ‘On Stage and Off’ column in the ‘Weekend’ section of The New York Times.

His new book SHOCK VALUE: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror is the first book to look in depth at the years roughly between 1968 and 1979 when a handful of outcasts and oddballs revolutionised the horror industry. With unprecedented access to directors, producers, actors, and most other major players, Zinoman vividly recreates the entertaining, behind-the-scenes stories of how Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, William Friedkin, and John Carpenter, among others, took one of the most potent and influential emotions in our culture—fear—and turned it on its head. With never-before-told stories about the makings of such classic horror films like The Exorcist, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween, and Alien, SHOCK VALUE is an enthralling, personality-driven account of one of the most influential periods of American film-making.

Chicago Reader review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre:

'Tobe Hooper's 1974 bloodbath cheapie acquired a considerable reputation among ideologically oriented critics, who admired the film's sneaky equation of middle-class values with cannibalism and wholesale slaughter. The plot, such as it is, concerns a group of teenagers who fall into the hands—and knives, and ultimately chain saws—of a backwoods family of homicidal maniacs. The picture gets to you more through its intensity than its craft, but Hooper does have a talent. With Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Ed Neal, and John Dugan.' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.


Time Out review of Shivers:

'This first commercial feature by a former underground film-maker offers a heady, if finally muddled, combination of globs of horror and social criticism. Despite its exploitation format, even the British censor discerned a moral to the tale and passed it uncut. Best is the way Cronenberg deliberately manipulates his synthetic cast and bland visuals, whose plastic surfaces erupt to reveal their repressions and taboos beneath; slug-like parasites (a mix of aphrodisiac and venereal disease) rampage through a luxury tower block, turning the inhabitants into sex-craving zombies. But exactly what is its moral? One suspects Cronenberg is laughing up his sleeve, as some (like the censor) read Shivers as an attack on permissiveness, while others take it as an indictment of the whole of modern society. Often, however, the film stops little short of wholesale disgust at the human condition. Misanthropic, indeed, but the black humour and general inventiveness place it high above most contemporary horror pictures.' Chris Peachment

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 28: Saturday Jan 28

Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

Another terrific midnight movie from the Rio in Dalston. The BFI Southbank are starting their Lynch season next week but a Saturday midnight screening is the perfect time to see this landmark film from one of America's most innovative film makers.

Chicago Reader review:

'It's personal all right, also solipsistic, intransigent, and occasionally ridiculous. David Lynch's 1986 fever-dream fantasy, of a young college student (Kyle MacLachlan) returned to his small-town roots and all manner of strangeness, is replete with sexual fear and loathing, parodistic inversions (of Capra, Lubitsch), and cannibalistic recyclings from Lynch's own Eraserhead and Dune. The bizarrely evolving story—MacLachlan becomes involved with two women, one light and innocent (Laura Dern, vaguely lost), the other dark and sadomasochistic (Isabella Rossellini), as well as with a murderous psychopath (a brilliantly demented Dennis Hopper)—seems more obsessive than expressive at times, and the commingling of sex, violence, and death treads obliquely on familiar Ken Russell territory: it's Crimes of Passion with the polarities reversed. Still, the film casts its spell in countless odd ways, in the archetype-leaning imagery, eccentric tableau styling, and moth-in-candle-flame attraction to the subconscious twilight.' Pat Graham 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 27: Friday Jan 27

Vampyr (Dreyer, 1932): Hackney Picturehouse, 9.15pm
The film plus Steven Severin score will also be screened at the Ritzy in Brixton on Saturday at 9.15pm.

Here's the introduction to what promises to be an excellent evening: Following on from his Blood of a Poet UK tour in the winter of 2010, Steven Severin returns with his new score for Vamoyr, the third in his ongoing film accompaniment series - Music for Silents.

Live in person, Siouxsie and the Banshees founder Severin presents a mesmerising synthesis of sound and image, heightening appreciation of the surreal and enigmatic nature of Carl Theodor Dreyer's film.

The unsettling tale of fear and obsession finds its aural counterpart in Severin's suitably textured score, a synthesised, highly atmospheric soundscape drawing the viewer rhythmically into the oneiric imagery on screen.

Chicago Reader review:

'The greatness of Carl Dreyer's first sound film (1932, 83 min.) derives partly from its handling of the vampire theme in terms of sexuality and eroticism and partly from its highly distinctive, dreamy look, but it also has something to do with Dreyer's radical recasting of narrative form. Synopsizing the film not only betrays but misrepresents it: while never less than mesmerizing, it confounds conventions for establishing point of view and continuity, inventing a narrative language all its own. Some of the moods and images conveyed by this language are truly uncanny: the long voyage of a coffin, from the apparent viewpoint of the corpse inside; a dance of ghostly shadows inside a barn; a female vampire's expression of carnal desire for her fragile sister; an evil doctor's mysterious death by suffocation in a flour mill; a protracted dream sequence that manages to dovetail eerily into the narrative proper. The remarkable soundtrack, created entirely in a studio (in contrast to the images, which were all filmed on location), is an essential part of the film's voluptuous and haunting otherworldliness. (Vampyr was originally released by Dreyer in four separate versions—French, English, German, and Danish; most circulating prints now contain portions of two or three of these versions, although the dialogue is pretty sparse.) If you've never seen a Carl Dreyer film and wonder why many critics, myself included, regard him as possibly the greatest of all filmmakers, this chilling horror fantasy is the perfect place to begin to understand.' Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here is an extract. 

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 26: Thursday Jan 26

The Body Beneath (Milligan, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT1 8.45pm

This looks fascinating. A screening from The Flipside team at the BFI.

I asked Will Fowler from The Flipside for the history and the ideas behind their screenings. He told me: "Our first Flipside was back in late 2006 when we screened the mondo-style documentary Primitive London. The drive for the slot is really to show films and TV programmes that are held in the BFI National Archive but rarely or indeed never shown in the cinemas at BFI Southbank.

"And these could be things that might not automatically be considered similar or comparable but that at some level do all sit in the margins of cinema and TV history- old Rupert Bear television episodes, the shocking horror film Corruption starring a rather blood thirsty Peter Cushing as well as genre pictures, 'curates eggs', the weird and wonderful.  

"I think our favourites tend to be things that sit on genre borders.  Art pictures that feature horror or exploitation elements like the film The Lifetaker, starring the old Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, that we are showing on 23 February when Peter Duncan will be a guest. We like to make our screenings enjoyable and accessible and invite the directors or actors but we don't mess around with the conventional cinematic viewing experience - there are no new soundtracks - we're also traditionalists!"

There's an excellent interview with Sam Dunn here which gives more background and you can get details of the titles on special offer via the BFI website here.

Here's their introduction to this night: Breaking from relentless work on the NYC grindhouse circuit, gay trash-meister Andy Milligan flew to England in the late 60s to direct this brilliantly rough-and-ready, gory, camp romp about an ancient vampire who lives next to Highgate Cemetery. Desperate to reassert his bloodline, the stately, charismatic ghoul - who dresses as a Reverend - must find a young descendant, supply them with fresh blood and stage a wild, sabbat-like feast for vampire friends from around the world. Originally shot in and around the cemetery on scraps of 16mm stock, through a greased lens, then later blown up for 35mm release, the film boasts a bizarre colour-drenched look which only enhances its peculiar dreamlike imagery.

The star of this film, Jackie Scarvellis, will also be present for a Q&A at this screening.

Take a look at this trailer.

There will also be a screening of 24 Hours: Highgate Vampire a short made by the BBC. Atmospherically shot in the dilapidated cemetery around the same time as the Milligan feature, this eerie, unsettling television news item reports on the infamous Highgate Vampire - and those who sought to lay it to rest.

The evening will be introduced by Will and his fellow archive curator Vic Pratt

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 25: Wednesday Jan 25

The Duke Mitchell Film Club present Paranormal Docs Night
King's Cross Social Club, 2 Britannia Street, WC1X 9JE, 7pm FREE

The Duke's introduction to the night: The Duke starts of 2012 in our typically obscure style with a night dedicated to the strange, bizarre and hugely entertaining Paranormal Documentaries that were all the rage in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These quasi-documentaries are packed with bad re-enactments, questionable witnesses and a cavalier disregard for facts, which makes them perfect for the first Duke night of the year!

Our main feature for the evening is the 1982 documentary “The Jupiter Menace”, in which Duke favourite George Kennedy is our guide through a weird landscape that’s packed with religious re-enactments, strange vector computer graphics and a wild and completely over-the-top 70s Moog synthesiser score. It’s a must see!

We’ll also have all our regular supporting features, including Trailer Trash, a short film, quiz, great music and much more, all with a Paranormal theme. So come along to the first Duke of 2012 and find out if we’re all going to die in 1982!

Here's something I found on YouTube

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 24: Tuesday Jan 24

Kind Hearts & Coronets (Hamer, 1949): RADA, Malet St, WC1E 7JN, 7pm

Chicago Reader review:

'Robert Hamer's 1949 film is often cited as the definitive black, eccentric British comedy, yet it's several cuts better than practically anything else in the genre. Dennis Price, as a poor, distant relative of the rich D'Ascoynes, must murder eight members of the family (all played by Alec Guinness) to obtain the title and fortune he believes are his right. Hamer's direction is bracingly cool and clipped, yet he's able to draw something from his performers (Price has never been deeper, Guinness never more proficient, and Joan Greenwood never more softly, purringly cruel) that transcends the facile comedy of murder; there's lyricism, passion, and protest in it too.' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 23: Monday Jan 23

Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960) & Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960):
Prince Charles Cinema, 6.40 & 8.45pm

Now this is a proper double-bill. Both landmark films, one that ruined a director's career and one that became one of the most influential in the history of cinema.

Chicago Reader review of Peeping Tom:

Michael Powell's suppressed masterpiece, made in 1960 but sparsely shown in the U.S. with its ferocity and compassion intact. The German actor Carl Boehm plays a shy, sensitive British boy (Powell doesn't try to cover his accent, which is typical of the film's deliberate sacrifice of realism for effect) who loves movies with all his heart and soul because he knows what they're really about—sex and death. This seductive, brightly colored thriller isn't about the “problem” of voyeurism as much as the sub-rosa fascinations of the cinema. It's an understanding and at times even celebratory film—attitudes that scandalized critics years ago and are still pretty potent today. 
Look at this brilliant trailer. Look Out!!

Chicago Reader review of Psycho:

'A dark night at the Bates Motel, in the horror movie that transformed the genre by locating the monster inside ourselves. Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece blends a brutal manipulation of audience identification and an incredibly dense, allusive visual style to create the most morally unsettling film ever made. The case for Hitchcock as a modern Conrad rests on this ruthless investigation of the heart of darkness, but the film is uniquely Hitchcockian in its positioning of the godlike mother figure. It's a deeply serious and deeply disturbing work, but Hitchcock, with his characteristic perversity, insisted on telling interviewers that it was a "fun" picture.' Dave Kehr

Here is Hitchcock having fun with his trailer for Psycho

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 22: Sunday Jan 22

Jour de Fete (Tati, 1948) & Mr Hulot's Holiday (Tati, 1953): Riverside Studios Cinema, 2.30 & 4.20

Chicago Reader review of Jour de Fete:

'Jacques Tati's first feature (1947), a euphoric comedy set in a sleepy village. As in all of his features, the plot is minimal: during Bastille Day festivities, the local postman (Tati) encounters a newsreel about streamlined postal delivery in America and attempts to clean up his act accordingly. But the exquisite charm of this masterpiece has less to do with individual gags (funny though many of them are) than with Tati's portrait of a highly interactive French village after the war—a view of paradise suffused with affection and poetry.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer


Time Out review of Mr Hulot's Holiday:

'Tati's most consistently enjoyable comedy, a gentle portrait of the clumsy, well-meaning Hulot on vacation in a provincial seaside resort. The quiet, delicately observed slapstick here works with far more hits than misses, although in comparison with, say, Keaton, Tati's cold detachment from his characters seems to result in a decided lack of insight into human behaviour. But at least in contrast to later works like Playtime and Traffic, there's enough dramatic structure to make it more than simply a series of one-off gags.' Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 21: Saturday Jan 21

Robocop (Verehoven, 1987): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

This is brought to you by the wonderful Cigarette Burns film club folk - more details via their website. I shall be in attendance and very much looking forward to a Paul Verehoven film I am ashamed to say I haven't seen in its entirety yet.

Chicago Reader review:

'Android policeman roots out criminals in futuristic Detroit at the behest of greedy corporate controllers. Gentrification, criminality, what's the difference? Not much, according to Paul Verhoeven's creepily stylish SF thriller (1987, 103 min.), though Verhoeven, a Dutch director (The Fourth Man) with a taste for subterranean kinks and slick continental veneer, is careful not to let his satirical assaults intrude on the more numbingly physical kind. Still, there's a brooding, agonized quality to the violence that almost seems subversive, as if Verhoeven were both appalled and fascinated by his complicity in the toxic action rot (the entropic mise-en-scene is more than a designer's coup: Verhoeven can't get out of the sludge, so he cynically slides right in). As the human cop turned android, Peter Weller hardly registers behind his fiberglass visor, though Verhoeven, usually a master at suggesting the sleazily psychological through the physical, might have made something more of his eerie Aryan blandness'
Pat Graham

You can find the Cigarette Burns trailer here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 20: Friday Jan 20

L'Atalante (Vigo, 1934): BFI Southbank, NFT1 6.30 & 8.30pm
This film is on an extended run and is screening through to February 29.

We are talking a top ten favourite here. Unmissable and the highlight of this - and, indeed, next month for that matter.

Chicago Reader review:

'Jean Vigo's only full-length feature (1934), one of the supreme masterpieces of French cinema, was edited and then brutally reedited while Vigo was dying, so a “definitive” restoration is impossible. (The reassembled version released in France in 1990 is almost certainly the best and most complete we'll ever be able to see—it's wondrous to behold.) The simple love-story plot involves the marriage of a provincial woman (Dita Parlo) to the skipper of a barge (Jean Daste), and the only other characters of consequence are the barge's skeletal crew (Michel Simon and Louis Lefebvre) and a peddler (Gilles Margaritis) who flirts with the wife at a cabaret and describes the wonders of Paris to her. The sensuality of the characters and the settings, indelibly caught in Boris Kaufman's glistening cinematography, are only part of the film's remarkable poetry, the conviction of which goes beyond such categories as realism or surrealism, just as the powerful sexuality in the film ultimately transcends such categories as heterosexuality, homosexuality, and even bisexuality. Shot by shot and moment by moment, the film is so fully alive to the world's possibilities that magic and reality seem to function as opposite sides of the same coin, with neither fully adequate to Vigo's vision. The characters are at once extremely simple and extremely complex (richest of all is Simon's Pere Jules, as beautiful a piece of character acting as one can find anywhere), and while the continuity is choppy in spots—a factor skillfully cloaked by Maurice Jaubert's superb score—the film's aliveness and potency are so constant that this hardly seems to matter. A major inspiration to subsequent generations of filmmakers, yet no one has ever succeeded in matching it.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 19: Thursday Jan 19

Of Time and the City (Davies, 2008): Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 7.30pm

This evening is curated by Passenger Films, a new film enterprise, made up of researchers and film fans, which brings hot topics from cultural geography to the film-going communities of London. Monthly events combine feature screenings with brief think tanks (with short films, discussions, speakers, drinks breaks and themed music).

Tonight's theme is the cinematic visualisations of urban change and the passage of time. The organisers will be celebrating the publication of Mark Tewdwr-Jones’ Urban Reflections: Narratives of Place, Planning and Change (Policy Press, 2011) with screenings on the theme of urban planning and its relationship with the narrative strategies of cinema.

Asisde from the main feature there will be two short films about the use of land in planning projects and on film. R K Neilson-Baxter’s ‘All That Mighty Heart’ (1962), shot by the Oscar-winning David Watkins for British Transport Films, shows a poetic ‘day in the life’ of London during the construction of the new Victoria Line. It includes fleets of Routemaster buses, the control rooms of the tube, early CCTV, vintage lights at Piccadilly Circus and children building sandcastles on the banks of the Thames. The little known ‘Destination Louvain La Neuve’, a short film from the New Town Archive, shows a historic snapshot of idealistic urban planning in Belgium and its promotion.

Time Out review of Of Time and the City:

'Terence Davies returned to Liverpool to make this docu-essay, a poetic, sometimes caustic, always enthralling cocktail of Mahler and Peggy Lee, TS Eliot and James Joyce, archive film and witty narration, all about the city where he grew up in the 1940s and ’50s. Davies left Merseyside in the early ’70s, moving south to pursue acting (briefly) and filmmaking (more enduringly, although with an unhappy hiatus of seven years from 2000) with such features as ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’ and ‘The Long Day Closes’. 

Towards the close, Davies asks, ‘Where are you, the Liverpool I have loved?’ We see ample (a little too ample) imagery of Victorian streets giving way to demolition and housing estates. Is this nostalgia? Maybe – but that matters little: Davies’s film is a memoir, not an objective portrait of a city. And, by being so personal in a way that’s so honest and so incisive, Davies indirectly offers national commentary that’s relevant far, far beyond his old Merseyside doorstep.' Dave Calhoun

Here is Davies's wonderful use of Peggy Lee's The Folks who Live on the Hill.


Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 18: Wednesday Jan 18

Down Terrace (Wheatley, 2009) and Kill List (Wheatley, 2011):
Roxy Bar and Screen, Borough, London Bridge. 7.30pm

The Roxy celebrates the work of British filmmaker Ben Wheatley with a double-bill screening of the recent hit thriller Kill List plus his debut feature, the critically acclaimed Down Terrace. Actor Michael Smiley, who stars in both films and won the Best Supporting Actor award at the British Independent Film Awards for his role in Kill List, will be present to introduce both films.

Time Out review of Down Terrace:

'The British gangster movie has taken a self-inflicted beating of late, but it’s not out for the count. Staying well clear of the usual parade of putdowns and punch-ups, ‘Down Terrace’ takes an unexpected approach to the genre, fusing the wry realism of Ken Loach with the blackly comic bloodlust of Ken Russell to produce perhaps the best homegrown movie of the year so far.

What director Ben Wheatley and his writing partner, Hill – veterans of TV comedy shows like ‘Time Trumpet’ – manage to achieve in ‘Down Terrace’ is a mounting, sickening sense of a world in freefall, where morality has been compromised to the point of meaninglessness and where distrust leads to murder, even within the family unit. And while this does result in a few berserk plot diversions, particularly in the final act, Wheatley and Hill establish such an oppressive mood and construct their characters so meticulously that even in its most extreme moments, the film remains engrossing, not to mention consistently funny and even, at times, rather sweet.'
Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer. 


Here is the five-star Time Out review of Kill List:

'Much of ‘Kill List’ will be familiar to anyone who caught ‘Down Terrace’ during its brief run last year: the semi-improvised dialogue and naturalistic performances, the close, documentary-style photography and the deep-seated sense of suburban moral decay. But it’s altogether more confident: where the earlier film leavened the darker moments with slapstick and satire, ‘Kill List’ is an unrelentingly grim ride into the bleakest imaginable terrain, its only humour black beyond belief.

There will be some who find the resulting series of increasingly brutal and dreamlike events hard to process, and a number of plot points remain unexplained even as the credits roll. But allow the film to take hold and its power is inescapable: the effect is like placing your head in a vice and waiting as it inexorably closes.

It’s hard to remember a British movie as nerve-shreddingly effective since ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ in 2004. Like that film, ‘Kill List’ may not make the impact it deserves upon initial release. But this is a grower, a film which lingers long in the memory: look for it on ‘Best of British’ lists for a long time to come.
Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 17: Tuesday Jan 17

The Childhood of Maxim Gorki (Donskoi, 1938):
Hampstead Film Society, Hampstead Town Hall, 213 Haverstock Hill, NW3 4QP, 7pm

Time Out review:

'Donskoi's Gorki Trilogy, completed by My Apprenticeship (1939, 98 min, b/w) and My Universities (1940, 104 min, b/w) is still widely revered as one of the all-time humanist classics, and it's true that the films' expert balance between guileless simplicity and rustic myth-making (seen to best advantage in Childhood) does give them a quality not often found outside the work of John Ford. But it's interesting to note that Donskoi's direction couldn't lie further from the mainstream of Russian film culture. Not only is he not very concerned about montage, but his concern with the lyricism of individual images leads him to neglect continuity of almost any sort: at one level, the films play like an anthology of continuity errors. That said, though, all three films do contain images of great strength in the Dovzhenko tradition. And Donskoi's handling of his actors (always encouraging them to play up to emotion, never shy of excess or sentimentality) certainly has the courage of its convictions.'
Tony Rayns

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 16: Monday Jan 16

Piccadilly (Dupont, 1929):
The Sun & Thirteen Cantons,
21 Gt. Pulteney St, W1F 9NG, 7pm

This is a Society Film Club @ Sanctum Soho screening and you can find out more about the people behind the club here. The Society Film Club put on a great night and that there couldn't be a better place to see a movie set in Soho than in the heart of Soho.

This features a stunning performance by lead star Anna May Wong. Don't take my word for it - read the excellent Silent London blog:

"Anna May Wong fans rejoice . . . here comes an outing for one of her most famous films – and one of the best London-set silents. Piccadilly (1929) is a fantastic film, directed by German director E A Dupont and set in a glamorous, jazzy West End nightclub. Anna May Wong plays Shosho, a dishwasher who is “discovered” while dancing on the kitchen sink, and whose sensual routines propel her to fame as the club’s lead dancer. She wins the heart of the nightclub’s owner too, which provokes his ex (Gilda Gray) to become dangerously jealous. Anna May Wong is absolutely stunning in the film, which has been recently restored by the BFI, preserving the original’s striking blue and amber tinting and making the most of its proto-noir photography. This is a film you’ll really love, I’m sure."

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 15: Sunday Jan 15

The Private Files of J Edgar Hoover (Cohen, 1978) & Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941):
Rio Cinema, 1.45 & 4pm

This is tagged as a 'Megalomania USA Double Bill' and features the highlight of the week with a very rare screening of Larry Cohen's Hoover bio-pic. Get that Clint.

Time Out review of The Private Files of J Edgar Hoover: 

'Rattling compulsively along through myth and history like some factoid TV mini-series, but constantly informed by a radical intelligence and humour, Cohen's analytical biopic surprisingly resolves into a complex investigation of the forces of realpolitik and sexual politics which created an arch-villain/monster from a moralist boy-scout lawyer. The movie may have the look of tabloid sleaze, but it never trades in the simplistic put-down or facile political optimism. If the idea of Hoover as a tragic figure hardly squares with the '70s consensus, then the playing, especially of Broderick Crawford as Hoover, does much to shift the prejudice; while at the point where post-Watergate cinema would usually present us with a revelatory crusader, Rip Torn's uptight FBI agent (our narrator) peters out into confused impotence. Genre fans can take comfort, however, since some expectations are happily served... Dillinger dies again.'
Paul Taylor  

Here is the trailer


Chicago Reader review of Citizen Kane:

'What can you say about the movie that taught you what movies were? The first time I saw Kane I discovered the existence of the director; the next dozen or so times taught me what he did—with lights and camera angles, cutting and composition, texture and rhythm. Kane (1941) is no longer my favorite Orson Welles film (I'd take Ambersons, Falstaff, or Touch of Evil), but it is still the best place I know of to start thinking about Welles—or for that matter about movies in general.' 
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 14: Saturday Jan 14

The Passenger (Antonioni, 1975) & Las Acacias (Giorgelli, 2011):
Riverside Studios, 2pm & 4.30pm PLUS 6.30 & 9pm

The Riverside regularly put on the best double-bills in London and this is a superb example, both being fine examples of road movies.

The Passenger is a revelation, the celebrated circular shot towards the end one of the most audacious in movie history. Here is the trailer.

Chicago Reader review of The Passenger:

A masterpiece, one of Michelangelo Antonioni's finest works (1975). Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider star as a journalist who trades one identity for another and the woman who becomes his accomplice (and ultimately the moral center of his adopted world). Less a thriller (though the mood of mystery is pervasive) than a meditation on the problems of knowledge, action for its own sake, and the relationship of the artist to the work he brings into being. Next to this film, Blowup seems a facile, though necessary, preliminary. By all means go. 126 min.


Time Out review of Las Acacias:

'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.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 13: Friday Jan 13

Midnight Movies Nightcap: London Short Film Festival, No20: Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

This is part of the London Short Film Festival. (All the details of the 10-day event are here.)

London Short Film Festival teams up with Midnight Movies for a second year running. This selection of mindbending short films mixes late-night surrealistic nightmares with more out-and-out horror and includes the Warp Films-produced short by artists Jake & Dinos Chapman, The Organ Grinder’s Monkey, starring Rhys Ifans.

Films screening in this programme are eligible for the Popcorn Horror Award for Best Horror Short. The winning film will receive a £300 cash prize, plus a year’s subscription to the Popcorn Horror mobile phone app and 2 weeks free promotion on their website, including having your film posted as “video of the week”.

All the short films screened this evening are here

And you can read all about the great Midnight Movies collective right here

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 12: Thursday Jan 12

Abendland (Geyrhalter, 2011): Riverside Studios, 7.30pm

This is the UK premiere of multi-award winning Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s subtly apocalyptic view of Western consumerism and decadence, intercut with those desperately trying to enter its borders.

"Nikolaus Geyrhalter makes documentaries with neither commentary nor music, bearing witness to a sick world . . ." So begins Joelle Stolz's feature on the film in the Guardian. You can read the full article here and here are more details about the Riverside screening, which has been organised by DocHouse, which was formed to support and promote documentaries in the UK.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 11: Wednesday Jan 11

Dead of Night (Cavalcanti/Hamer/Dearden/Crichton, 1945): Riverside Studios, 8.45pm
This is screening as part of the London Short Film Festival, more details about which can be found here. Riverside are showing this great movie in association with Scala Forever.

The highlight of the week.

Time Out review:

'Nearly 60 years on, Ealing's compendium of spooky tales remains scary as hell. The best of the five stories, which we see enacted as they're related in turn by guests at a country house, are Cavalcanti's 'The Ventriloquist's Dummy', with Redgrave possessed by his deceptively lifeless little partner, and Hamer's 'The Haunted Mirror', with the splendid Withers a reluctant participant as history repeats itself; least frightening, but amusing, are Radford and Wayne as typically obsessive sporting coves in Crichton's 'Golfing Story'. Best of all, however, is the overall narrative arc, with the framing story finally taking a headlong rush into a nightmarish realm almost surreal in its weird clarity and familiarity.'
Geoff Andrew

Here is a sneak preview.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 10: Tuesday Jan 10

Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

Chicago Reader review:

'The most densely allegorical of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces (1954), moving from psychology to morality to formal concerns and finally to the theological. It is also Hitchcock's most innovative film in terms of narrative technique, discarding a linear story line in favor of thematically related incidents, linked only by the powerful sense of real time created by the lighting effects and the revolutionary ambient sound track. James Stewart is the news photographer who, immobilized by a broken leg, dreams stories about the neighbors in his courtyard and demands that they come true. With Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr.'  Dave Kehr

Here's a sneak preview. 

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 9: Monday Jan 9

Purple Rose of Cairo (Allen, 1985): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm
This film, part of the Woody Allen wisecracks season, is also being screened at the NFT on January 21.

Time Out review:

'During the Depression, downtrodden housewife Farrow so inflames a film's leading man (an explorer-poet) that he climbs down from the screen, and entices her into a chaotic but charming love affair. Woody Allen's deft script investigates every nook and cranny of the couple's bizarre relationship, the irate Pirandellian reactions of the illusory characters left up on the screen, and the bewilderment of the actor whose movie persona has miraculously gone walkies. As the star-struck couple, Farrow and Daniels work wonders with fantastic emotions, while Allen's direction invests enough care, wit and warmth to make it genuinely moving.'  Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 8: Sunday Jan 8

Auto Focus (Schrader, 2002) & sex, lies and videotape (Soderbergh, 1989):
Shacklewell Arms, Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB, 4.30pm

The double-bill of the year so far clearly and it will be no surprise if it doesn't rate very highly by the year's end. An excellent coupling of films about sex and voyeurism brought to you by Still Advance. You can read more details here.

Time Out review of Auto Focus:

'Improvident sexaholic Bob Crane (Kinnear) came to fame as the star of the '60s TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes, and died, brutally and mysteriously, in a motel room in 1978. Co-produced by the writers of The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon, Schrader's film proposes that, in between, Crane's life was one long pile-up of party girls and home pornography, catalysed by his friendship with home-video evangelist 'John Carpenter' (Dafoe). The twist to the tale is the self-image Crane maintains as a straight-up, all-American kind of guy, justifying his playboy lifestyle to anyone who'll listen, even as it devours two marriages and his cherished (if vacuous) 'likeability'. Until some shaky stylisation at the close, Schrader sets up all this with uninflected matter-of-factness, offering Crane as a glib, mildly ridiculous enigma.' N B

Here is the trailer.


Chicago Reader review of sex, lies and videotape:

'Winner of the grand prize at the 1989 Cannes film festival, this is an extremely well made chamber piece about sexual attitudes and impulses. At the center of this stylish comedy-drama are an up-and-coming yuppie lawyer (Peter Gallagher); his sexually repressed wife (Andie MacDowell); his sexually uninhibited mistress (Laura San Giacomo), who happens to be his wife's sister; and his former college chum, who's just moved back to town (James Spader, who won the prize for best actor at Cannes)—an impotent eccentric who likes to videotape women talking about their sexual experiences. Cunningly scripted and acted, and talky in the best sense, the film is engrossing to watch but not especially interesting to ponder afterward; it's certainly an improvement on formulaic Hollywood, but on a thematic level there's still more windup than delivery—it's a film that ultimately seeks to satisfy more than to provoke. Writer-director Steven Soderbergh works mainly in close-ups and medium shots, and while his close concentration on his quartet of characters makes for a narrative intensity, the relative absence of a wider social context leads to a certain overall preciosity. You should see this, but don't expect any major revelations' Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 7: Saturday Jan 7

Brief Encounter (Lean, 1945): The Screen @RADA, Malet St, WC1E 7JN, 7pm

A beautifully acted British cinema classic and I can't think of a more appropriate place to watch it. The BFI Film Classics collection includes this film - it is written by Richard Dyer and I can thoroughly recommend it. Details here.

Time Out review:

'Critics love to pick at Lean and Coward's oh-so-polite study of English romanticism and repression, but frankly its their loss: those willing to give themselves over to its intense mood of swooning, tightlipped desperation will find themselves swept up in one of the most vivid and impassioned doomed romances ever committed to celluloid. Note-perfect acting and indelible location photography add to what is, in emotional terms at least, arguably the great director's finest hour.' Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 6: Friday Jan 6

Despair (Fassbinder, 1978): BFI Southbank, Studio, 6.15 & 8.40pm
This film, which has been re-released by Park Circus Films, is screening until January 19 at the BFI. Here's a blog post from Park Circus with some fascinating background on this movie.

Time Out review:

'This indelicate, often deliciously flip 1978 psychodrama from the self-immolating genius of the New German Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, was the director’s first English-language production. With Tom Stoppard roped in for ‘dramatisation’ duties and Dirk Bogarde donning wild screen-print pyjamas as the lipsmacking lead, ‘Despair’ is like a homoerotic ‘Vertigo’ filmed through a disco ball. An intriguing Nabokov adaptation set among a small circle of eccentric petit bourgeois in Weimar-era Berlin, it’s a  work with an interest in – as Bogarde’s repressed, dissident chocolatier announces – ‘dissociation’, or split personalities.

Living in kitsch finery with his dim-witted wife (Andréa Ferréol), who is having a secret affair with her swarthy red-headed boho cousin (Volker Spengler), Bogarde’s Hermann is one day convinced he’s seen his own doppelgänger and hatches an insane, murderous plan to trade one existence for another. Though ostensibly psychological in provenance, the reasons for his desire to become someone else run the gamut from festering middle class ennui to the inexorable rise of the Nazi party (he’s half Jewish). Though Stoppard’s pleasingly ripe dialogue (‘Have you no sense of indecency!’) leavens the film’s supremely serious investigation of a full-scale identity crisis, it’s still tough to take Hermann’s proto-Lynchian scheme seriously.

Composer Peer Raben concocts an apt soundtrack of psychedelic Muzak, while Fassbinder’s regular DoP, Michael Ballhaus, bounces shots off mirrors or refracts them through windows, creating numerous clever visual symmetries which accentuate the central theme. It doesn’t manage to scale the sublime heights of the director’s other ‘body swap’ film of that year, ‘In a Year with 13 Moons’, but it’s still effortlessly literate, gaudily stylish and a very worthy recipient for this glowing HD restoration.
' David Jenkins

Here is an extract.