Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 124: Thursday May 3

Frankenstein (Whale, 1931): Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly Circus, 3.30pm
This horror classic is screening as part of the excellent Sci-Fi London season that runs in the capital from May 1-May 7. The full details of an expansive programme are here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Mary Shelley's modern Prometheus story is altered (giving the monster the brain of a madman) to produce one of the most deservedly famous and chilling horror films of all time (1931). Boris Karloff as the monster and James Whale's direction (he was to top himself with Bride of Frankenstein four years later) combine to create an effectively frightful mood. Even after all these years, it's still not all that camp or funny.' Don Druker

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 123: Wednesday May 2

Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979): Renoir Cinema, 7pm
This is a A Nos Amours film club event hosted by film makers Joanna Hogg and Adam Roberts. The film is also screening at Curzon Richmond on Sunday May 6 at 11.30am. A Nos Amours presents a 35mm screening of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 metaphysical and moral quest Stalker, introduced by Geoff Dyer, author of the recently published book about the film,  ‘Zona’ described by J.Hoberman of the New York Times as an ‘at once audacious post-postmodernist memoir and apr├Ęs-DVD monograph’. 

Here is the Curzon introduction to the evening: Curzon Cinemas is proud to welcome A Nos Amours, a new collective founded by filmmakers Joanna Hogg and Adam Roberts dedicated to programming over-looked, under-exposed or especially potent cinema. A Nos Amours invites filmmakers to advocate and present films that they admire or would like to see on a big screen. For this special event, A Nos Amours presents Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, bringing a 35mm print sourced from Russia especially for this screening. Author Geoff Dyer whose most recent book Zona about the film, will be joining us for an extended intro. To find out more about the collective please check

Chicago Reader review:
'Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 masterpiece, like his earlier Solaris, is a free and allegorical adaptation of an SF novel, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic. After a meteorite hits the earth, the region where it's fallen is believed to grant the wishes of those who enter and, sealed off by the authorities, can be penetrated only illegally and with special guides. One of them (Aleksandr Kaidanovsky), the stalker of the title, leads a writer and a professor through the grimiest industrial wasteland you've ever seen. What they find is pretty harsh and has none of the usual satisfactions of SF quests, but Tarkovsky regards their journey as a contemporary spiritual quest. His mise en scene is mesmerizing, and the final scene is breathtaking. Not an easy film, but almost certainly a great one.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is a trailer/tribute.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 122: Tuesday May 1

Damsels in Distress (Stillman, 2011): Various venues throughout London from Friday April 27.
No apologies for suggesting a trip to see a new film as widely anticipated as this one. In the run-up to the release of Whit Stillman's first movie for 13 years there have been a number of excellent articles welcoming back this distinctive film maker. I especially enjoyed this feature by Michael Newton in the Guardian and this by Richard Brody in the New Yorker. Enjoy. This is the release I have most looked forward to so far in 2012.

Guardian review: 

'Missing, believed defunct, writer-director Whit Stillman returns to the fray like an emissary from an older, gentler, more well-mannered America – a land that surely never existed outside of his own wistful imaginings. Damsels in Distress, his first feature since 1998's The Last Days of Disco, is an unabashed joy, a weightless soap bubble in the guise of a campus comedy. Don't draw too close. A single breath might make it pop.

Stillman's tale comes to us in blushing, hyper-real colours, disporting itself at length around the Arcadian splendour of fictitious Seven Oaks University, where the students mislay their morals amid the Greek Revival architecture. Happily help is at hand in the form of Violet (deliciously played by Greta Gerwig), the wide-eyed queen of the Samaritan set. Violet establishes the "suicide prevention centre", dispenses free donuts and tap-dance lessons and earnestly lobbies for the preservation of the frat-houses on the basis that its boorish members are "morons" and therefore "handicapped". And yet Violet, like everyone else in her orbit, is prone to the odd misstep and tumble. She confuses intrigue with charity and is halfway in love with the boys that she helps. "He's lying," she remarks of one feckless Lothario. "I find that very attractive."

If it's possible for a picture to be at once ideal and imperfect, then Damsels fits the bill. The script meanders from pillar to post. The focus, at times, turns milky and indistinct. No doubt a more ruthless, profit-driven film-maker would have tightened the bolts and press harder on the accelerator. And yet this would have risked destroying the tale's peculiarly airy, buoyant magic. Nobody creates characters as wonderfully wonky as Stillman's: these star-crossed, hopelessly articulate Corinthians have a habit of confounding even themselves. The director keeps them in a holding pattern, testing our patience, pushing us to the brink of exasperation, before pairing them off with a lordly, casual elegance in the final few moments. He leaves them dancing jubilantly over the closing credits, lost in the moment, in harmony at last.' Xan Brooks

Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 121: Monday Apr 30

The Thief of Bagdad (Berger, Powell & Whelan, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm
This is a Passport to Cinema season screening and will be introduced by Ian Christie.

Time Out review:
'A delightful hocus-pocus of colour, dashing adventure, and special effects, this Korda-produced epic for grown-up kids is basically Star Wars meets The Arabian Nights with its plot of an all-seeing eye stolen from a Tibetan temple. The highlight has to be the genie (Ingram) who escapes from the bottle, thoughSabu the elephant boy lends just that dash of imperialist sentiment to lift it into camp. Magical, classically entertaining, and now revalued by Hollywood moguls Lucas and Coppola, it was made fitfully in Britain during the World War II Blitz (but completed in Hollywood) by a team of directors spearheaded by the remarkable Powell.'
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 120: Sunday Apr 29

Black God, White Devil (Rocha, 1964):
Lexi Cinema, 194 Chamberlayne Rd, Kebsal Rise, NW10 3JU
This is a A Nos Amours film club event hosted by film makers Joanna Hogg and Adam Roberts.

Director of screen and opera, Penny Woolcock (The Death of Klinghoffer, Tina Goes Shopping), will introduce Black God, White Devil.  Here is a foretaste of her passion for the film:

“I first saw this delirious film when I was a teenager over forty years ago and I’ve never forgotten Rosa traipsing around a bleak landscape in a stolen wedding veil, crazy Corisco wheeling and brandishing his sword and the music that made me want to turn the world upside down with them…  It has the joy and the horror of revolution and the hallucinatory quality of a very Latin American mix of mysticism and politics. It’s both naturalistic and insane, based on a peasant revolt in the North East of Brazil in the 1940’s; it’s the first spaghetti western, the first magical realist movie, formally inventive and absolutely beautiful. We are so tame these days, so well behaved.”
Time Out review:
'Rocha's first major film introduced most of the methods, themes and even characters that were developed five years later in his Antonio das Mortes. Set in the drought-plagued Brazilian Sertao in 1940, it explores the climate of superstition, physical and spiritual terrorism and fear that gripped the country: the central characters, Manuel and Rosa, move credulously from allegiance to allegiance until they finally learn that the land belongs not to god or the devil, but to the people themselves. The film's success here doubtless reflects the 'exoticism' of its style, somewhere between folk ballad and contemporary myth, since the references to Brazilian history and culture are pervasive and fairly opaque to the uninitiated. But Rocha's project is fundamentally political, and completely unambiguous: he faces up to the contradictions of his country in an effort to understand, to crush mystiques, and to improve.' Tony Rayns
Here is a clip from this remarkable film.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 119: Saturday Apr 28

River's Edge (Hunter, 1986): Sundance London Festival at O2 Cineworld
Director Tim Hunter and star Crispin Glover will be on hand to introduce this US indie classic as the Sundance Festival comes to London from April 27 to 29. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Something very odd about this 1986 feature: a teen problem drama fighting David Lynch battles with its own right-thinking consciousness. Teenpic auteur Tim Hunter (Tex) isn't one to shirk his sentimental lessons, but the cautionary outlines of his story, about a gang of high school drifters who try to cover up a murder by a hulking 16-year-old psycho, have a hard time pushing through the surreal atmospherics of the images (by Blue Velvet cinematographer Frederick Elmes: maybe they should have called this Nightmare on Elmes Street or Blue Velveteen?). It's not easy keeping track of all the contradictory tensions, and the film seems forever on the verge of spinning totally out of control, though whosecontrol—Hunter's? Elmes's? anyone's?—it's hard to say. Still, it's more a success than a failure, if only because the confusions are so protean.' Pat Graham
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 118: Friday Apr 27

Unrelated (Hogg, 2008) & Archipelago (Hogg, 2010):
BFI Southbank NFT2 6.30pm & Studio 8.50pm
These films are screening as part of the Made in Britain season at BFI Southbank. The first in their new annual series is dedicated to contemporary British cinema focuses on women filmmakers with a bold approach to cinematic form and a tangible, demonstrated vision. Full details of the season hereTonight offers cinemagoers a great chance to catch celebrated British director Joanna Hogg's two features.

Jigsaw Lounge website review of Unrelated by Tribune film critic Neil Young:

'This is easily one of the most accomplished and unmissable new releases of 2008: a simple, supremely well-observed story of ordinary human emotions, with performances and dialogue that are, from the first scene to the last, painfully accurate and convincing. Shot in and around Sienna, it's primarily a detailed character-study of Anna (Worth), a mousy woman in her early forties who's experiencing unspecified marital problems. Keen to escape the stresses of home, she visits her long-time best pal Verena (Mary Roscoe) – who's holidaying in a well-appointed villa with her husband, children and some family friends. Feeling awkward among the dull, bourgeois adults, Anna gravitates towards the party's younger members – rapidly, and unwisely, allowing herself to become smitten with flirtatious, twentyish Oakley (Hiddleston). Shot on digital video on what was clearly a minimal budget,Unrelated shows just what can be achieved with the most limited and unpromising means. Hogg clearly has very intimate, first-hand knowledge of the specific social strata she is exploring and dramatising here, and the result is one of those rare works where we feel more like casual eavesdroppers than detached spectators. She's already working on her follow-up – and if this stunning debut (which has inspired comparisons with established masters such as Michael Haneke and Eric Rohmer) is any sort of guide, Hogg may develop into one of the major names in British cinema over the next few years.'

Time Out review of Archipelago: 

'In ‘Archipelago’, the pretty landscapes of Siena give way to the brooding, changing landscapes of a tiny island in the Isles of Scilly. Patricia (Kate Fahy) and her two children, young adults Edward (Tom Hiddleston) and Cynthia (Lydia Leonard), arrive for a break at a holiday cottage. As rain and wind lash against the windows, Patricia grows exasperated at the absence of her husband, who remains an unheard voice on the phone. Good-natured Edward struggles to hide his angst at where his life is heading and assumes a fatherly role while becoming weirdly familiar with Rose (Amy Lloyd), the family’s hired cook. Cynthia, meanwhile, looms like a dark cloud and snaps and lashes out for no clear reason.  Hogg draws another strong performance from Hiddleston, who plays a very different character from the ballsy recent school leaver in ‘Unrelated’, but again elicits internal screams of horror at his inappropriate relationship with someone outside his gang and over whom he holds a power he may not perceive. Most of all, ‘Archipelago’ confirms Hogg as a daring and mischievous artist, and a major British talent whose next move will be intriguing.'
Dave Calhoun
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 117: Thursday Apr 26

The choice tonight is so good I can't decide so TAKE YOUR PICK from:

1 Suspiria (Argento, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT1 9pm

To be more precise, Sonic Cinema: Dario Argento's horror masterpiece Suspiria, reimagined with exclusive live soundtrack from producer and DJ Fake Blood.
Here is the BFI introduction to the evening: Sonic Cinema continues with Dario Argento's 1977 horror masterpiece re-imagined with an exclusive live soundtrack from producer and DJ Fake Blood. While making his name in electronic music as Wiseguys, Black Ghosts, and in his current incarnation as a house and techno superstar, Theo Keating has always been a crate digger extraordinaire. A selection of library music rarities, esoteric electronic music and some of his own compositions will accompan the stunning cinematography of this cult classic.

2 The Call of Cthulu (Leman, 2005) & The Dunwich Horror (Haller, 1960):
Roxy Bar & Screen, London Bridge, 7pm

This is a FilmBar70 H.P. Lovecraft double-bill. Here is the film club's introduction to the evening: Filmbar plunges into the abyssinian abyss to celebrate the poet laureate of shizodelic horror himself – H. P. Lovecraft. Witness unspeakable horrors conjured from unfathomable voids as we screen the only two true adaptations of his work, the meticulous and lovingly fan crafted The Call of Cthulhu and the Corman produced The Dunwich Horror – a Seventies pyschriot that equates Lovecraft's 'otherness' with the uncontrollable eruption of the permissive age. 
Here is FilmBar70's Facebook page with more details and this is the fabulous trailer.

3 Mean Girls (Waters, 2004): Stratford Picturehouse, 8pm
Here is the Picturehouse introduction to the evening: In every programme period we invite a blogger/podcaster/general film-nut to pick a film and present it to the audience. Before Rachel McAdams worked with Woody Allen, before Tina Fey created 30 Rock, before Amanda Seyfried sang ABBA songs and way before Lindsay Lohan sank low enough to star in I KNOW WHO KILLED ME, a magical alignment of the stars occurred in 2004 when Paramount Pictures green-lit a little teen move we know today as MEAN GIRLS. See it presented in all its glory, with an intro from the lovely Sam Cuthbert (you can find him on Twitter @OffTheCuth).

4 Forbidden Zone (Elfman, 1982):
The Montpelier, 43 Choumert Road, Peckham, London, SE15 4AR. 8.30pm FREE

Here is the Days Are Number film club introduction to the evening: Yes that’s right, folks! For our next trick, Days Are Numbers will fearlessly lead you into the heart of the Forbidden Zone thanks to our mucho-exciting screening of Richard Elfman’s riotously salacious cult classic, erm, Forbidden Zone. Days Are Numbers do the greatest trailers. Here's the one for this evening.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 116: Wednesday Apr 25

The Door With Seven Locks (Vohrer, 1962) at:
The Duke Mitchell Film Club Presents: Krimi Night! 7pm
Venue: King's Cross Social Club, 2 Britannia Street, WC1X 9JE
Here's an intriguing one. The brilliant Duke Mitchell Film Club folk are showcasing the Krimi. Any idea what genre that is? No. Neither have I. But if this (unearthed on YouTube) is anything to go by it should be great fun.

Here is their introduction to the evening: April is the month when the Duke has decided to expose that mostunderrated of genres: the Krimi! Simultaneously the forerunner to Giallo and the predecessor of British B mysteries, these fantastic pulp films were a joy to behold: from weird shooting techniques to amazing sets to mind-boggling pace, it's an absolute wonder that they have been laying dormant and unappreciated for so long.
So to introduce you to the genre, the Duke has chosen what might be the craziest, most brilliant krimi of them all: The Door With The Seven Locks! This 1962 West German production based on a novel by the father of the genre, Edgar Wallace, not only has everything from locked room mysteries to an early appearance by Klaus Kinski but also boasts the honor of having five twists in the last six minutes! Put that in your hat and smoke it !
But if that was all, it would not be the Duke. Our Trailer King has been working through the Duke archives, unearthing the most precious gems whilst our Krimi soundtrack with its groovy beats, our rare poster gallery, our short with a twist and of course the magnificient prize-filled quiz will all be making a welcome appearance at what is sure to be one of our most unusual and brilliant nights ever!
So put on your fedora and head on down to the The Duke on the 25th April as you will never experience anything like it!' More details at the Club's Facebook page here. 

Wow! Look at the trailer for tonight's feature here

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 115: Tuesday April 24

This Sporting Life (Anderson, 1963): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm
Screening as part of the Prince Charles Cinema Classics season

Chicago Reader review:
'Lindsay Anderson's debut film (1963) is probably the best crafted of the British "kitchen sink" movies and features a memorable if somewhat theatrical performance by Richard Harris as a rugby star who can't handle success.' Dave Kehr With (a brilliant) Rachel Roberts, Colin Blakely, and Arthur Lowe.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 114: Monday April 23

The Bad and the Beautiful (Minnelli, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT3 6.20 & 8.40pm
This film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank as part of the Vincente Minnelli season until May 3. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:

'Vincente Minnelli will always be known and loved for his musicals (Meet Me in St. Louis, The Band Wagon), but the melodramas he made in the 50s are no less accomplished and often more personal. The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) is superficially a typical Hollywood “inside story” chronicling the ruthless rise of an aggressive producer (Kirk Douglas), loosely based on Val Lewton. But under Minnelli's direction it becomes a fascinating study of a man destroyed by the 50s success ethic, left broke, alone, and slightly insane in the end. Douglas is surprisingly good as Minnelli's manic everyman and is well supported by (believe it or not) Lana Turner and Dick Powell.' Dave Kehr
There's also a terrific (and longer) review by ex-Time Out deputy film editor David Jenkins in Little White Lies magazine here.
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 113: Sunday April 22

To Have And Have Not (Hawks, 1945): Riverside Studios, 6.40pm

Chicago Reader review:
'Howard Hawks's 1944 answer to Casablanca (which he was originally set to direct but lost to Michael Curtiz) is a far superior film and every bit as entertaining. Humphrey Bogart, the captain of a charter boat in a Nazi-held French colonial port, gradually grows into the Hawksian ethos of action and responsibility as he reluctantly enters World War II in order to protect a rummy (Walter Brennan) and win a woman (Lauren Bacall). In many ways the ultimate Hawks film: clear, direct, and thoroughly brilliant.' 
Dave Kehr
Here's a bit of Bacall and Bogey magic. 

PS "was you ever been bitten by a dead bee?"

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 112: Saturday April 21

Pieces (Piquer Simon, 1982): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

This screening is presented by the marvellous Cigarette Burns team. You can find out more about them and this evening's entertainment at their website here.

Time Out review:
'A wildly silly Spanish-made slasher in the 'Halloween' tradition. Packed with eye-rolling performances, nubile teens, doomy synths, buckets of gore and the occasional dizzying non-sequitur ("it's okay, that's just my Kung-fu professor"), Pieces is a trash-hunter's delight.'

You know what to expect.
Here is the great trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 111: Friday April 20

The Raid: Redemption (Evans, 2011) & Hard-Boiled (Woo, 1991):
Ritzy Cinema 9.45 & 11.45pm

A great late-night Friday action double-bill is lined up here.

Already being hailed as one of the best action films of the last decade after a handful of crowd-thrilling festival screenings, Welsh writer/director Gareth Evans’ martial arts blitzkrieg The Raid is a must-see for any self-respecting genre fan.

Time Out review of The Raid: Redemption

'What’s in a subtitle? In the case of The Raid: Redemption, very little. Renamed a few weeks ago to sidestep a copyright dispute, Gareth Evans’s relentless action thriller offers few opportunities for any of its cold-blooded characters to redeem themselves. In the slums of Jakarta, a merciless kingpin (Ray Sahetapy) has commandeered a tenement building and transformed it into his criminal sanctuary. Felons of all walks are welcome to lie low here, provided they can swing the rent. No cops dare enter this nest of murderers and thieves. Until, that is, an elite SWAT team is assembled to penetrate the structure and neutralize its inhabitants, floor by floor. Guess who’s holed up in the penthouse?
The scenario is so ingeniously simple that one could imagine even the lousiest of genre hacks milking it for a few good thrills. Evans, it turns out, is no hack. Expending mere minutes on setup, the Welsh-born director quickly strands his outnumbered police squad in high-rise hell. From here, The Raid proceeds like a lit fuse. The gunfights have a messy elegance—one suspenseful scene finds our heroes betraying their location in a pitch-black corridor with muzzle flare—but the adrenaline rush really kicks in when the machetes come out. (Martial-arts fanatics will recognize the frenetic throws and strikes of silat, the film’s amazing Indonesian fighting style.) The Raid only loses momentum in its homestretch, when the plot twists begin to outnumber the living characters. But by then, your heart may be grateful for the slackening pace.' A A Dowd

Here is the trailer.


Time Out review of Hard-Boiled:

'In essence, John Woo's characteristic take on movies like Die Hard: a supercharged thriller in which a renegade cop and an undercover man take on Triad gun-runners who store their munitions in a hospital morgue. Anyone who saw The Killer will have a fair idea what to expect, from the intense male bonding to the hyper-kinetic editing style. What's new here is a rich vein of anarchic humour (will they evacuate the maternity ward before the hospital blows up?) and a bluesy back-beat of philosophical musings on a cop's sad lot. No surprise that Woo (who cameos as a barman) has been courted by Hollywood.' Tony Rayns

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 110: Thursday Apr 19

A Night To Remember (Ward Baker, 1958): BFI Southbank, NFT Studio, 8.20pm
This re-released classic British docudrama is on an extended run from 15-28 April. Details here.
Dave Kehr, one of my favourite critics, has written an excellent review of the film for his New York Times column here.

Time Out's five-star review: 'We may be sinking under the weight of Titanic memorabilia in this centenary year, but Roy Ward Baker’s terrific 1958 melodrama remains by far the best screen representation of the tragedy. Kenneth More is a paragon of industrial strength stiff-upper-lippedness as Lightoller, the second officer who attempts to hold fast when the big ship starts to go down.‘A Night to Remember’ may lack the glitzy digital effects of the 1997 movie (it’s hard to imagine James Cameron shooting his effects sequences in Ruislip Lido), but it’s a far more gripping and imaginative film, filled with visual detail and inventive camera trickery. Baker cuts to the chase – the iceberg strikes 30 minutes in – and maintains tension with consummate skill: not an easy task when the outcome is already known.Notably, this is also a more politically astute work than either the Cameron film or Julian Fellowes’s idiotic ITV mini series, nailing with broad, confident strokes the class divide which allowed so many to die unnecessarily.'
Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 109: Wednesday Apr 18

Gimme Shelter (Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, 1970):
Curzon Soho, 6.20pm

A rare chance to catch this landmark documentary on the Rolling Stones and the death of the 60s dream

Here is the introduction to the evening: Curzon Cinemas and Canongate Books, in association with GQ, is proud to bring you a rare screening of the Maysles Brothers’ landmark documentary Gimme Shelter followed by Stanley Booth discussing his masterpiece The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones with the writers Geoff Dyer and Mick Brown. Stanley Booth was with the Rolling Stones on their US 1969 tour, which culminated in the notorious free concert at Altamont. The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones gives a remarkable history of the band from their early rhythm‘n’blues days to the end of the 60s. To celebrate the reissue of Booth’s classic book as well as the 50th anniversary of the formation of The Rolling Stones, acclaimed writer and Daily Telegraph journalist Mick Brown, will chair a discussion with Stanley Booth and Geoff Dyer (But Beautiful, Zona, Out of Sheer Rage) after the screening.

Gimme Shelter

Director: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin. USA 1970. 92 mins
In December of 1969, four months after Woodstock, the Rolling Stones gave a free concert in Northern California, at Altamont Speedway. What starts as an electrifying document of the Rolling Stones’ performances on their fiery 1969 American tour, Gimme Shelter switches to an inquiry into the satanic Altamont concert where Hell’s Angels, hired by the group itself, effectively stomped out the last shreds of ’60s Utopia. The film intercuts performances, violence, Mick Jagger’s attempts to cool things down, and a look at the Stones as they watch concert footage and reflect on what happened. Gimme Shelter stands today as a landmark portrait of a band and a generation that changed the stakes forever.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 108: Tuesday Apr 17

Butterfly Kiss (Winterbottom, 1995): Riverside Studios Cinema, 6.30pm

The British road movie is a rare beast but the best are well worth seeking out and Michael Winterbottom's Butterfly Kiss is one of the most impressive and well worth seeking out. BBC Film 2012 critic and Guardian contributor Danny Leigh posits why there are so few in an article here.

Time Out review:

'When punky weirdo Eunice wanders into a service-station in search of a friend, the dowdy girl at the counter, Miriam, is so drawn to the belligerent vagrant that she takes her home. That night, to Miriam's bemusement, Eunice strips off to reveal a bruised, chained, pierced body and seduces her; the next morning, however, finding her guest gone, Miriam feels impelled to head off in pursuit, a move that will draw her into Eunice's brutal world of seedy sexual encounters and habitual murder. This bleak, provocative debut is at once emphatically English and clearly indebted to American crime and road movies. It's an odd, unsettling little movie, graced with an uneven but authentically raw performance from Plummer as the ranting sociopath and a subtler, sometimes touching turn from Reeves as her beguiled accomplice/would-be redeemer.' Geoff Andrew 
Spoiler warning: the only YouTube entry I can find for the film here is the final scene!

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 107: Monday Apr 16

Thief (Mann, 1981) plus Drive (Winding Refn, 2011):
Prince Charles Cinema, 6.20 & 8.45pm

If you see one double-bill this year make it this one.

Time Out review of Thief:

'A silently professional night-time jewel robbery, reduced to near-abstract essentials and paced by a Tangerine Dream score, sets the electric tone for Michael Mann's fine follow-up to The Jericho Mile: a philosophical thriller filled with modernist cool. Caan's the thief, contradictorily building and risking a future mapped out as meticulously as any of his lucrative hi-tech jobs; testing his emotional and criminal independence to the limits; eventually recognising that he's either exercising or exorcising a death wish.'
Paul Taylor 

Here is the brilliant opening. 


Chicago Reader review of Drive:

'Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn made a name for himself with the brutal, proudly amoral Pusher trilogy, then successfully exported his personal brand of mayhem to the UK for the fact-based prison drama Bronson (2008). This feature marks his Hollywood debut, and though it easily surpasses most American action flicks, it suffers from the old commercial imperative of making the protagonist a nice guy, something Refn has seldom bothered with in Europe. Ryan Gosling plays an impassively cool wheelman who divides his time between movie stunt work and criminal jobs as a getaway driver; after falling (unpersuasively) for perky Carey Mulligan and her cute son, he defends them from ruthless crime lord Albert Brooks, who'll do anything to recover the cash-stuffed suitcase her husband stole.'
JR Jones

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 106: Sunday Apr 15

Swoon (Kalin, 1991): Rio Cinema, 4pm
This film is screening as part of the East London Gay Film Festival

Time Out review:

'The story of Leopold and Loeb – two young intellectual aesthetes, from wealthy Jewish families, who murdered a 14-year-old boy for kicks in Chicago in 1924 – has been filmed twice before. Rope located the roots of fascism in Nietzschean discourse. Compulsion was a more muddled ‘true crime’ saga. Kalin’s film is the least naturalistic and most factual. It is also the first to expand on Clarence Darrow’s argument for the defence, that the pair’s homosexuality was a sign of pathological deviance; ergo they were not accountable for their actions. The film’s second half sticks to court transcripts, to diagnose a repressive, racist, homophobic pathology on a wider social scale, endemic to patriarchy itself. Sketched in deft, sharp strokes, this is no more than a postscript to the earlier exploration of the lovers’ sado-masochistic relationship: how Loeb bartered crime for sex, and how their transgressive games escalated to the point of no return. With its sinuous monochrome finish, Swoon is decadent and economical, subjective and detached, fascinating and appalling – conjunctions Sacher Masoch himself might have recognised.'
Tom Charity 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 105: Saturday Apr 14

Ugetsu Monogatari (Mizoguchi, 1953): ICA Cinema, 7.30pm

Chicago Reader review:

'The mood of Kenji Mizoguchi's 1953 masterpiece is evoked by the English translation most often given to its title, “Tales of the Pale and Silvery Moon After the Rain.” Based on two 16th-century ghost stories, the film is less a study of the supernatural than a sublime embodiment of Mizoguchi's eternal theme, the generosity of women and the selfishness of men. Densely plotted but as emotionally subtle as its name, Ugetsu is one of the great experiences of cinema.' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 104: Friday Apr 13

George Romero Trilogy of the Dead: Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

Night of the Living Dead (1968) + Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985)

Time Out have this week published their top 100 horror films. Here is the full list. Night of the Living Dead (No13) and Dawn of the Dead (at No10) figure very high and this evening you can see Romero's truly remarkable trilogy of zombie movies at the Prince Charles Cinema all on one night.

Chicago Reader review of Night of the Living Dead: 'George Romero's gory, style-setting 1968 horror film, made for pennies in Pittsburgh. Its premise—the unburied dead arise and eat the living—is a powerful combination of the fantastic and the dumbly literal. Over its short, furious course, the picture violates so many strong taboos—cannibalism, incest, necrophilia—that it leaves audiences giddy and hysterical. Romero's sequel, Dawn of the Dead, displays a much-matured technique and greater thematic complexity, but Night retains its raw power.' 
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.
Chicago Reader review of Dawn of the Dead: 'George Romero's 1979 sequel to Night of the Living Dead is a more accomplished and more knowing film, tapping into two dark and dirty fantasies—wholesale slaughter and wholesale shopping—to create a grisly extravaganza with an acute moral intelligence. The graphic special effects (which sometimes suggest a shotgun Jackson Pollock) are less upsetting than Romero's way of drawing the audience into the violence. As four survivors of the zombie war barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall, our loyalties and human sympathies are made to shift with frightening ease. Romero's sensibility approaches the Swiftian in its wit, accuracy, excess, and profound misanthropy.' Dave Kehr      
Here is the trailer.   

Chicago Reader review of Day of the Dead: 'Part three of George Romero's “Living Dead” cycle (1985) takes an unexpected turn away from satire and spectacle and into an intimate, discursive tone. The action is largely confined to a huge cavern (shades of Edgar G. Ulmer) where a team of scientists is investigating what makes the zombies tick. But months underground have eaten away at them and their military aides: the chief scientist has embarked on a series of increasingly grotesque and pointless experiments on his zombie specimens, and the chain of military command has passed to a brutal psychopath. As always in Romero's films, the minority characters—a woman, a black, an alcoholic intellectual—provide the only positive contrast to the American nightmare of power lust and compulsive consumption, yet this time the focus is less political than philosophical. Beginning from a position of absolute misanthropy, Romero asks what it means to be human, and the answers are funny, horrifying, and ultimately hopeful.'
Dave Kehr
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 103: Thursday Apr 12

Damsels in Distress (Stillman, 2011): Gate Cinema, 9pm
Director Whit Stillman will be attending the screening for a Q&A. The movie goes out on general release later this month.

This was the Surprise Film at the 2011 London Film Festival, which was a surprise as it would not be to everyone's taste. Personally, I can't wait to see it.

Guardian review:

'Missing, believed defunct, writer-director Whit Stillman returns to the fray like an emissary from an older, gentler, more well-mannered America – a land that surely never existed outside of his own wistful imaginings. Damsels in Distress, his first feature since 1998's The Last Days of Disco, is an unabashed joy, a weightless soap bubble in the guise of a campus comedy. Don't draw too close. A single breath might make it pop.

Stillman's tale comes to us in blushing, hyper-real colours, disporting itself at length around the Arcadian splendour of fictitious Seven Oaks University, where the students mislay their morals amid the Greek Revival architecture. Happily help is at hand in the form of Violet (deliciously played by Greta Gerwig), the wide-eyed queen of the Samaritan set. Violet establishes the "suicide prevention centre", dispenses free donuts and tap-dance lessons and earnestly lobbies for the preservation of the frat-houses on the basis that its boorish members are "morons" and therefore "handicapped". And yet Violet, like everyone else in her orbit, is prone to the odd misstep and tumble. She confuses intrigue with charity and is halfway in love with the boys that she helps. "He's lying," she remarks of one feckless Lothario. "I find that very attractive."

If it's possible for a picture to be at once ideal and imperfect, then Damsels fits the bill. The script meanders from pillar to post. The focus, at times, turns milky and indistinct. No doubt a more ruthless, profit-driven film-maker would have tightened the bolts and press harder on the accelerator. And yet this would have risked destroying the tale's peculiarly airy, buoyant magic. Nobody creates characters as wonderfully wonky as Stillman's: these star-crossed, hopelessly articulate Corinthians have a habit of confounding even themselves. The director keeps them in a holding pattern, testing our patience, pushing us to the brink of exasperation, before pairing them off with a lordly, casual elegance in the final few moments. He leaves them dancing jubilantly over the closing credits, lost in the moment, in harmony at last.' Xan Brooks

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 102: Wednesday Apr 11

La Grande Illusion (Renoir, 1937): BFI Southbank, 6pm
Jean Renoir's anti-war classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank until May 19. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:

A film about war without a single scene of combat, Jean Renoir's 1937 masterpiece about French and German officers during World War I suggests that the true divisions of that conflict were of class rather than nationality. The point is embodied in the friendship between two aristocratic officers, a German (Erich von Stroheim, in his greatest performance in a sound film) and a Frenchman (Pierre Fresnay), both of whom ultimately become sacrificial victims after a nouveau riche Jewish officer (Marcel Dalio) and a French mechanic (Jean Gabin) manage to escape from Stroheim's fortress to freedom. The relationship between the mechanic and a German widow (L'Atalante's Dita Parlo), who barely speak each other's language, is no less moving. The film doesn't have the polyphonic brilliance of Renoir's The Rules of the Game, made two years later, but it's still one of the key humanist expressions to be found in movies: sad, funny, exalting, and glorious.' Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 101: Tuesday Apr 10

Pulp Fiction Tarantino, 1994): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

Time Out review:

'A sprawling, discursive fresco: three stories bookended by a prologue and epilogue. In the first story, a mobster (John Travolta) is charged with looking after the irresponsible wife (Uma Thurman) of his vengeful boss. In the second, a washed-up boxer (Willis) tries to trick the Mob by failing to throw a fight. And in the third, two hitmen (Travolta and Jackson) carry out a job, only to call on the services of a 'cleaner' (Harvey Keitel) when it gets messier than planned. It's the way Tarantino embellishes and, finally, interlinks these old chestnuts that makes the film alternately exhilarating and frustrating. There's plenty of sharp, sassy, profane dialogue, and there are plenty of acute, funny references to pop culture, though the talk sometimes delays the action, and the references sometimes seem self-consciously arch. And there are, too, the sudden lurches between humour and violence - shocking, but without moral depth. What writer/director Tarantino lacks, as yet, is the maturity to invest his work with anything that
might provoke a heartfelt emotional response to his characters. Very entertaining, none the less.' 
Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 100: Monday Apr 9

Pow! Biff! Phew! It's Batman day at The Prince Charles Cinema

Those clever folk at the Prince Charles have picked the best three Batman movies for sure.

Batman (Martinson, 1966) 3pm

Time Out review:

This spin-off from the camp '60s TV series is bolstered with all the major baddies: The Penguin (Meredith), Joker (Romero), Riddler (Gorshin) and Catwoman (Meriwether). With a flip script by Lorenzo Semple Jr, it has a few inspired slapstick sequences (West trying desperately to dispose of a bomb without blowing up nuns, children or animals), but the emphatic senselessness gradually becomes tiresome. More surprisingly, the production work is by and large excellent. Nelson Riddle's musical cues are fun, and the design still looks sleek today - I'd choose Adam West's Batmobile over Michael Keaton's any day. Tom Charity

Here is the trailer.


Batman Begins (Nolan, 2005) 5.50pm

Time Out review:

'Christopher Nolan’s films (‘Following’, ‘Memento’, ‘Insomnia’) are about the dependence of identity on narrative: we know who we are only because of the stories we make of our own lives. With ‘Batman Begins’, Nolan successfully applies this mode to a character who is essentially a self-crafted living legend – and, in the process, reinvigorates a franchise that had been lost in self-pastiche. ‘Batman Begins’ is a film of two halves, if not quite dual identity. Nolan’s touch is more plainly evident in the first hour, a confidently non-chronological narrative covering Bruce Wayne’s privileged childhood, his parents’ murder and the self-doubt that leads him from Gotham’s underworld to a Himalayan backwater, where Liam Neeson pops up to offer enlightenment and ninja training on behalf of mysterious guru-potentate Ra’s al Ghul. Suitably honed, Bruce (Christian Bale) returns home to take advantage of Wayne Enterprises’ curiously neglected combat research facilities. Only then does the familiar pointy-eared persona coalesce and the narrative straighten out accordingly. The latter half offers a more conventional (and cluttered) city-in-peril plot, pitching the novice crimefighter against Cillian Murphy’s psycho psychiatrist, ‘the Scarecrow’, whose fear toxin threatens to plunge Gotham into anarchy.' Ben Walters

Here is the trailer

The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008) 8.30pm

Time Out review:

'Christopher Nolan follows the sombre origin myth of ‘Batman Begins’ with a less introspective, more frenetic sequel. Once again there are lots of ideas on the boil, this time mostly to do with community action and leadership, but an endless flow of bullets, bombs and bat business drowns out most debate. Right from the off, Nolan sidesteps the analyst’s couch and plunges us straight into battle. The challenge that Nolan has set himself is to make a comic book film that’s serious, entertaining and popular. It’s a tall order, but an admirable one. ‘The Dark Knight’ is a film that’s fantastic on the action front, seeds its acrobatics in its own reality, and always feels relevant even when its ideas are drowned out by clatter. That said, every once in a while, you’d like to be able to lean into the screen and tickle somebody’s ribs.'  Dave Calhoun

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 99: Sunday Apr 8

Schwing Along with . . . Wayne's World (Spheeris, 1992): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

Bringing together 90's comedy classic WAYNES WORLD and the PCC's world-famous audience participation, "Schwing Along With Waynes World" will not only feature singing & quoting along with the movie, but will also feature: Fancy-dress & headband-along competitions, free jelly donuts, and a 90s themed 'pre-party' in the bar which will feature the best in 90s music, grunge attire a must, air guitar solos and red solo cups for the first 50 through the door. 

Time Out review: 

'Bill & Ted never quite got beyond cult status, while this low-budget imitator became the US box-office phenomenon of the year. Why? Wayne & Garth don't have the charisma and telepathic rapport that made B & T such a terrific comic duo, and the only significant addition to the B & T lexicon is a new range of sexist epithets and the all-conquering 'NOT!'. And, bizarrely, Wayne (Mike Myers) still lives in his parents' house, though he's clearly well into his thirties. They are the acceptable mascots of Metal; boys you could take home to your parents. Much of the credit for the film's success lies with Spheeris, whose confident if rough-edged direction keeps it on track and cooking. The jokes come thick and fast, mostly deconstructing TV: 'Wayne's World' is a public access TV show hosted by Wayne and his dweebish best friend Garth (Dana Carvey). They play games with film, too: Wayne and Garth's to-camera monologues always hit the spot, and there's a signposted 'gratuitous sex scene'. Lowe is suitably slimy as the TV mogul who offers them fame and wealth without obligation (not!), and the whole thing chunters along nicely to the climax(es)' Dominic Wells

Here are some of the best bits.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 98: Saturday Apr 7

Night of the Black Mass all-nighter: Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 11pm

This is a FilmBar 70 presentation. For more details this is a link to their Facebook page and this one takes you to their website. Here is the Filmbar70 film club's introduction to tonight's all-night feast of films featuring the Devil himself:

What better way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ than to pay homage to his arch-nemesis, the Angel of Light himself – Lucifer. Throughout a night of desecration, death and eventual rebirth, Filmbar70 will be your guide as they enact certain rituals that will make the average Daily Mail reader’s blood BOIL.

Delights of the arcane and enchanted include visitations from mischievous imps, the consumption of dog food by disciples of decadence, ubermensch proto-Nazis being flayed alive and the majestic sight of a computer less advanced than a Commodore 64 unleashing the hordes of Hell. Ladies and gentleman – Filmbar70 bids you to join the coven and partake in the all-night ritual of The Night of the Black Mass.

Demons (1985) – Lamberto Bava
What spawn stalks the pathways of the inferno? Demons, that’s what! When these abominations of unspeakable corruption are unleashed from their fiery torment through the portal of the cinema screen itself, all Hell is let loose! Lamberto, son of the legendary Mario, moves Italian trash into the 1980’s with this adrenaline fuelled, blood soaked cacophony.

Evilspeak (1981) – Eric Weston
Don’t get mad, get EVIL. When uber-nerd Stanley Coopersmith is bullied beyond the brink of sanity, he finds his only friend blinking back at him from the screen of his computer. Yup, Beelzebub goes binary! A bona-fide video nasty upon its initial release, Evilspeak combines ‘state of the art’ computer imagery with copious beheadings – a winning mix indeed.

Satan's Blood (1978) – Carlos Puerto
Satan gets sexy in this Spanish serenade to sacrilegious excess. A truly steamy ride into the rarefied realm of Eurotica, ‘Satan’s Blood ‘is exactly the type of randy provocation that drove the more conservative members of societies’ congregation into a ‘Satanic Panic’ in the heated Seventies.

The Black Cat (1934) - Edgar G. Ulmer
Ulmer’s art deco excursion into necrotica features two legends of monochrome horror locked in a lethal chess game, culminating in the most stylish Black Mass yet witnessed. Haunting and incredibly perverse, ‘The Black Cat’ ranks as the most shocking of the Universal horrors, with Karloff’s suave Satanist setting the template for the urbane acolyte of darkness. 

Fear No Evil  (1981) – Frank LaLoggia
Back to high school with this bizarre labour of love, which mounts a spectacular battle between good and evil on a miniscule budget. Imaginative, inventive and featuring the strangest Satan put to screen, ‘Fear No Evil’ is truly a hidden treasure of the cult film fan.

Here's an extract from The Black Cat.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 97: Friday Apr 6

Under The Clock (Minnelli, 1945): BFI Southbank, NFT2 8.40pm
This is screening at BFI Southbank on April 9 and 13as well. Here are the details.

There are some gems in the Vincente Minnelli season and this is most assuredly one of them.

Chicago Reader review:

'Vincente Minnelli's first non-musical (1945) is a charming and stylish if somewhat sentimental love story about a soldier (Robert Walker) on a two-day leave in New York who meets and marries an office worker (Judy Garland). Filmed on a studio soundstage with enough expertise to make it seem like a location shoot, the film is appealing largely for its performances and the innocence it projects. (Similar qualities can be found, at a half-century remove, in Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise.) In addition to Walker and Garland, Keenan Wynn and Moyna Macgill are well used.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 96: Thursday Apr 5

The Sorcerers (Reeves, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT1 8.45pm

The death of director Michael Reeves shortly after he filmed Witchfinder General was a great loss to British cinema. Here's a link to renowned critic Robin Wood with his In Memoriam article on Reeves in Movie magazine in 1968.

Tonight the Flipside team at BFI Southbank present a Michael Reeves night in NFT 1, focusing on Reeves' film The Sorcerers. Here is their introduction to tonight's presentations:

Swiftly shot on the streets of Swingin' London, The Sorcerers, cinephile Reeves' sleazily psychedelic take on the ‘mad scientist' genre, drew strongly upon the established persona of its elderly star, horror legend Boris Karloff. Here he plays Professor Monserrat, inventor of a bizarre hypnosis machine, that allows him to control and experience the thoughts and feelings of his subject. Bored young mod-around-town Mike is lured away from his dolly birds and out of the local Wimpy Bar to be Monserrat's groovy young guinea-pig. At first, Mike's exploits seem harmless enough, but, as Monserrat's manipulative wife Estelle develops a perverse taste for violence, Mike is pushed ever further towards bloody sensual excesses. Plus Intrusion (UK 1961, 10min), a rare, short, silent amateur thriller, also featuring Ogilvy, shot by Reeves early in his career. Introduced by BFI Archive curators Vic Pratt and Will Fowler. We look forward to welcoming Benjamin Halligan, Michael Reeves' biographer, to introduce the screening.

Here is the trailer.

This is 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."

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.