Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 24: Fri Jan 24

No1 Sacre GRA (Rosi, 2013): Riverside Studios, 7pm

Here is the DocHouse introduction:
The only documentary ever to win the top prize at Venice Film Festival, Sacro GRA is a poetic and slyly humorous journey around the Grande Raccordo Anulare, Rome's ring-road highway.
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi insightfully and gracefully observes the everyday lives of a gallery of intriguing characters living near the highway's edge. Among them we meet an ageing aristocrat who passes his days sprawled out on a couch amidst a dramatic array of kitsch, a fisherman teaching his Ukrainian girlfriend how to eat a melon, an ambulance driver racing from one accident to another and a botanist trying to save his beloved palm trees from insect infestation.
Beautifully crafted and deeply evocative, Sacro GRA is a repository of the extraordinary stories of those at the edges of the ever-expanding universe of Italy's eternal city.
The screening will be followed by an extended Q&A with Italian director, Gianfranco Rosi in conversation with Nick Bradshaw (Sight & Sound).


No 2 Sing-a-long The Muppets (Bobin, 2011): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

Here's one of the hugely popular sing-a-long events at the Prince Charles Cinema, and one of the best feelgood movies of the last few years.

Time Out review:
If the secret to great comedy is timing, The Muppets must be one of the greatest comic acts of all time. The original ‘Muppet Show’ first screened in 1976, when its unique combination of sweet, surreal and subtly satirical silliness was the perfect panacea for a country (it was shot in Britain, lest we forget) sliding hopelessly into financial meltdown. Now here we are, 35 years later, and The Muppets are back to distract us from another bout of economic misery through the simple application of soulful psychedelic songsmithery and rubber chicken gags (WACKA! WACKA!). 

What follows may be a predictable sort of putting-on-a-show hi-jinks, but in some ways that’s the point: this is cosy-blanket filmmaking, the very definition of that overused term, feelgood. Jason Segel is a charming frontman, and if Amy Adams is at times overshadowed by her co-star (not to mention a legion of limelight-grabbing fuzzy-felt extras), the relationship between them is beautifully sketched.

But the real stars are, of course, the Muppets themselves: Jim Henson may be gone (and Frank Oz’s voice talents are conspicuous by their absence), but ‘The Muppets’ is entirely true to their pioneering spirit, replete with beloved supporting characters, subversive asides, terrible puns and some of the most ludicrous, maniacal musical numbers ever committed to film – one throwaway showcase for a flock of singing chickens may well prove to be the funniest scene of 2012. The result is a film bursting at the seams with sheer, unadulterated joy: watch it, and the world seems just that little bit brighter...
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No3 At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (Marins, 1964): Genesis Cinema, 7pm 

The Good, Bad, Unseen Film Club return with a double-bill entitled Monochrome Madness.
Here is their introduction:

AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL -- Directed by José Mojica Marins (1964)
Directed in 1964 this gem of a movie is not only directed by José Mojica Marins but also stars the man himself as Ze Do Caixao, an evil undertaker who is obsessed with having a child so that can inherit his immortal bloodline. However, things don't go to plan and he reeks havoc on a quiet Brazilian town. A movie banned in its native country for many years and undiscovered in the west for even longer, we are pleased to present this movie in the best print possible - fully uncut for your viewing pleasure. Portuguese language with English subtitles.
View the trailer here.

SINGAPORE SLING -- Directed by Nikos Nikolaidis (1990)
A detective goes on a search for his beloved Laura but stumbles upon a mother and her adult daughter, who spend their days playing incestuous role playing games at their mansion. As the story unravels it is revealed they hold even more murderous and perverse secrets.
Beautifully shot and with superb performances this movie will offend, shock and delight audiences who love cinema that is dark, perverse and with a healthy dose of black humour. We are pleased to show a new HD print in its Uncut glory.
View the trailer here.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 23: Thu Jan 23

News from Home (Akerman, 1976): ICA Cinema, 7pm

This is the latest screening of the complete films of director Chantel Akerman from the A Nos Amours film club.

Chicago Reader review:
An early experimental feature by Chantal Akerman (1976, 85 min.) that juxtaposes images of New York City with the texts of letters written to Akerman by her mother in Belgium and read aloud offscreen by Akerman. This is one of the best depictions of the alienation of exile that I know.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the ICA introduction:
A Nos Amours continues a retrospective of the complete film works of Chantal Akerman with News From Home (1976), a film that engages with her mother, with absence and displacement.

Akerman returned to New York in 1976, having blazed a trail in Europe with her extraordinary Jeanne Dielman. She was travelling with letters her mother had written to her during her first extended stay in the city – in 1972 - when she had encountered and so profoundly engaged with Michael Snow’s work and shot her own Hotel Monterey and La Chambre. These letters would provide the soundtrack for a new film (News From Home): accounts of daily life, life as lived in distant Belgium, invoked by means of observation and parcels of news. These are thoughts and feelings shared by a mother with her very distant daughter (before Skype!).

Image-wise, the new film would show New York, its streets, subways, denizens. There are city streets framed by tall buildings, subways and diners, some tracking, not much. The citizens going about their business take notice or not. Sounds might be in synch or not. This is not a smart city: it is a city of ghettos and decline.

Mother and daughter comment and conjoin: 'I live to the rhythm of your letters', or, 'you always write the same thing and I have the impression you don’t say anything'. Who is addressing whom is no simple matter.  Absence  and displacement are the invariable themes.

Akerman has described her murmuring voiceover as psalmody (the singing of psalms or similar sacred canticles, especially in public worship), which perfectly evokes the prayerful effect, the mingling of longing, the provoking of guilt, and the offer of love. The closing scenes, scenes of departure and voyage, play without the presence of the voice, without complex maternal comfort.  Such an absence allows perhaps for a new note of optimism – to proceed one must depart.

Here (and above is an extract).

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 22: Wed Jan 22

 City Lights (Chaplin, 1931): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.50pm

This film screens as part of the Chaplin season at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Chicago Reader:
Chaplin was never too strong on plot structure—his movies would wander all over the place, lingering here and lingering there—but more often than not he got something better than traditional dramatic unity. City Lights (1931), which wanders between episodes involving Charlie's love for a blind flower girl and his friendship with a drunken millionaire who doesn't know him when he's sober, is a beautiful example of Chaplin's ability to turn narrative fragments into emotional wholes. The two halves of the film are sentiment and slapstick. They are not blended but woven into a pattern as eccentric as it is sublime.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the famous boxing fight scene.



Too Hot to Handle (Young, 1960): Madame Jo Jo's Nightclub (time to be confirmed)

Fascinating screening as part of the year-long 70x70 Iain Sinclair-inspired film season. This is a neo-noir gangster film set in Soho, being screened in the London district's iconic nightclub. More details on the season and this movie via the King Mob website here.

Too Hot to Handle is a 1960 British neo-noir gangster thriller film, starring Jayne Mansfield and Leo Genn. Directed by Terence Young, later involved with some of the early James Bond films. Christopher Lee appears in a small role in the film. 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 21: Tue Jan 21

Leviathan (Castaing-Taylor/Paravel, 2012):
Picturehouses Cinemas nationwide, Various times

This film is screening at every Picturehouse cinema today as part of the chain's Discover Tuesday season. Details here

Chicago Reader review:
For this aggressively arty documentary, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel used tiny watertight cameras to record the sights and sounds of a fishing boat off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts. The footage they've collected is colorful, kinetic, and often disorienting; one lengthy shot captures the roiling water below and then, as the camera lens bounces around, a riot of seagulls in the sky overhead. Apart from a few brief, pedestrian comments from fishermen, the movie unfolds without interviews or narration, a barrage of sensory information—the hum of engines, the dead fish slopping around on deck, the immense power of the sea and rain. You may find this tedious, but you may also leave the theater tasting salt water.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.


The following screening, originally put up for today's pick, has been cancelled.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Cassavetes, 1976): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

Chicago Reader review:
John Cassavetes's first crime thriller, a postnoir masterpiece, failed miserably at the box office when first released in 1976, and a recut, shorter version released two years later didn't fare much better. This is the first, longer, and in some ways better of the two versions; it's easier to follow, despite reports that—or maybe because—Cassavetes had less to do with the editing (though he certainly approved it). A personal, deeply felt character study rather than a routine action picture, it follows Cosmo Vitelli (Ben Gazzara at his very best), the charismatic owner of an LA strip joint—simultaneously an asshole and a saint—who recklessly gambles his way into debt and has to bump off a Chinese bookie to settle his accounts. In many respects the film serves as a personal testament; what makes the tragicomic character of Cosmo so moving is its alter-ego relation to the filmmaker—the proud impresario and father figure of a tattered showbiz collective (read Cassavetes's actors and filmmaking crew) who must compromise his ethics to keep his little family afloat (read Cassavetes's career as a Hollywood actor). Peter Bogdanovich used Gazzara in a similar part in Saint Jack (1979), but as good as that film is, it doesn't catch the exquisite warmth and delicacy of feeling of Cassavetes's doom-ridden comedy-drama. With fine performances by Timothy Agoglia Carey, Seymour Cassel, Azizi Johari, Meade Roberts, and Alice Friedland. 135 min.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 20: Mon Jan 20

The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm & NFT3, 8.40pm

This film, which opens on Friday 17th January in a new restoration, is on an extended run at BFI Southbank until February.

Chicago Reader review:
Charles Laughton's first and only film as a director (1955) is an enduring masterpiece—dark, deep, beautiful, aglow. Robert Mitchum, in the role that most fully exploits his ferocious sexuality, is the evil preacher pursuing two orphaned children across a sinister, barren midwest; Lillian Gish is the widow who protects the children, in a depiction of maternal love worthy of her mentor, D.W. Griffith. Laughton's direction has Germanic overtones—not only in the expressionism that occasionally grips the image, but also in a pervasive, brooding romanticism that suggests the Erl-King of Goethe and Schubert. But ultimately the source of its style and power is mysterious—it is a film without precedent and without any real equals.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 19: Sun Jan 19

No 1 Petulia (Lester, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film, one of the best from the Hollywood of the1960s, is part of the Passport to Cinema season. The movie also screens on Monday 20th January when Richard Combs will present an introduction. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the finest films of and about the 60s, Richard Lester's romantic comedy tells the story of the relationship between a recently divorced surgeon (George C. Scott) and an unhappily married San Francisco socialite (Julie Christie) and takes deft, unexpected turns into the tragic and terrifying. Lester's volatile, quick-cut style finds its most expressive application in his description of a world fatally fragmented into rich and poor, past and present, compassion and indifference. Scott has never been more powerful or so subtle: his weary but still hopeful physician is a Shakespearean figure, cloaked in a majestic sadness. But the film belongs to Christie, who earns the Oscar she won for Darling with a plangent portrayal of a woman struggling to transcend her own shallowness. With Richard Chamberlain, Shirley Knight, Arthur Hill, and Joseph Cotten; the excellent screenplay is the work of Lawrence Marcus, and Nicolas Roeg did the cinematography (1968). 105 min.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.


No2 A Private Function (Mowbray, 1984): Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Rd, NW6 7JR, 5pm

Time Out introduction: Over the next four months, the Tricycle in Kilburn will host a series of great British movies accompanied by directors, writers and cast members, and they’re kicking off with this. Both writer Alan Bennett and star Michael Palin will be on hand – alongside director Malcolm Mowbray and fellow actors Jim Carter and Bill Paterson – to introduce this Yorkshire-set tale of post-war pig theft.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 18: Sat Jan 18

Barton Fink (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1991): Everyman Screen on the Green, 11.30pm

The Everyman Screen on the Green has an excellent season of late-night films. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo) go to 1941 Hollywood in an oddball 1991 horror comedy about a blocked New York playwright (John Turturro) with a studio contract and the apparently normal insurance salesman (John Goodman) who lives next door. This creepy satire is full of laughs and flaky twists, but by the end you may still be scratching your head. As usual the Coen brothers brandish their adolescent smarminess and comic-book cynicism—in this case trumpeting their apparent superiority to Clifford Odets (Turturro), William Faulkner (John Mahoney), and Jewish studio heads (Michael Lerner) while showing a middling ability to ape the moods and stylistic mannerisms of Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick, and David Lynch. Very competently mounted and acted (there are also juicy parts for Judy Davis, Tony Shalhoub, and Jon Polito), this is basically a midnight-movie gross-out in Sunday-afternoon art-house clothing.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 17: Fri Jan 17

The Navigator (Keaton, 1924): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This film, which screens as part of the Buster Keaton season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th January. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Buster Keaton's 1924 film is about a rich young couple, who have never needed to look out for themselves, cast adrift on a deserted ocean liner. The ordinary difficulties of existence are magnified by the fact that all the facilities are intended not for individual needs but to cater to a thousand people. The situation is perfectly suited to Keaton's natural sense of surrealism—everything is too big, too full, and too much. Keaton and his girlfriend (Kathryn McGuire) become two innocents lost in a threatening, mechanistic Eden, alone in their oversized world. A masterpiece, and very, very funny.
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 16: Thu Jan 16

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lewin, 1945): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm

This film, which screens as part of the BFI Gothic season, is also being shown on Saturday January 18th. Details here.

Time Out review:
Generally underrated version of Oscar Wilde's Faustian tale about a young Victorian gentleman who sells his soul to retain his youth, directed with loving care by the equally underrated Lewin (best known, perhaps, for Pandora and the Flying Dutchman). Hatfield - cool, beautiful, and effortlessly suggesting the corruptibility of Dorian's dark soul - is excellent, though even he is overshadowed by the cynical, epigrammatic brilliance of Sanders as Lord Henry. With elegant fin de siècle sets superbly shot by Harry Stradling, and the ironic Wildean wit understated rather than overplayed, it's that rare thing: a Hollywoodian literary adaptation that both stays faithful and does justice to its source.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 15: Wed Jan 15

A Field In England (Wheatley, 2013):

The London Short Film Festival runs from 10th to 19th January. Here is the Little White Lies magazine pick of the top ten screenings.

This is part of the London Short Film Festival and here is the LSFF introduction:
A unique audio and visual spectacular, bringing together the cult film of 2013 and one of the most original electronic post-rock bands of recent years for a marriage made in heaven… or hell! Teeth of the Sea have taken the psychic spectres of A Field in Englandand allied them to the apparitions of their imagination to create a laser-guided metaphysical foray, cinematic in scope. Ben Wheatley’s film is a psychedelic trip into the English Civil War, as a small group of deserters flee from a raging battle through an overgrown field. Teeth of the Sea’s aural and visual remix of Jim Williams’ score and Wheatley’s filmmaking re-interprets the film to extend it in a myriad of directions.

Plus The Quietus present a new series of documentary films, looking at contemporary music figures and their unusual hobbies… See New Order’s Stephen Morris show us around his private tank collection, and more! 

Here (and above) is the A Field in England trailer.



The Hands of Orlac (Wiene, 1924): Barts Pathology Museum, 6.30pm

Barts Pathology Museum have a silent films season in January. Full details here.

Here is Pamela Huntchinson's introduction from here Silent London blog: 'First, a recap. If you don’t know Barts Pathology Museum, that is because it is one of the capital’s best-kept secrets – a stunning Grade II listed 19th-century hall where quirky medical specimens are displayed. The hall has a glass roof, because once upon a time medical students would dissect cadavers there. You can read more about the history of the museum and its many fascinating artefacts on the museum blog, here. Entry to the museum is by appointment only, but the doors are open on selected evenings for a series of lectures and events on subjects ranging from film noir to taxidermy to dentistry. Your humble scribe was there last November, giving an illustrated talk on silent cinema. The January screenings are supported by Hendrick’s Gin, and entry to each film includes a G&T and some delicious, freshly popped popcorn as well as the film. I will be there to introduce the screenings and the the first movie in the series features live musical accompaniment, too.'

Chicago Reader review:
Robert Wiene's legendary 1924 silent—about a pianist (Conrad Veidt) who gets a hand transplant and then discovers he has an impulse to kill—plays a significant role in Malcolm Lowry's novel Under the Volcano. The film's been remade several times, but reportedly this first version is the best of the lot.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 14: Tue Jan 14

The Third Man (Reed, 1949): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

This film is screening as part of the Prince Charles Cinema Classics film season. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
It once was praised as a sharply realistic study of American idealism (in the person of pulp novelist Joseph Cotten) crushed by European cynicism (embodied by war profiteer Orson Welles), but today it's the extravagant falsity that entertains—from Welles's "cuckoo clock" speech to the crazy camera angles and madly expressionist lighting chosen by director Carol Reed. It isn't easy when you're up against the likes of Reed, writer Graham Greene, and producer David O. Selznick, but Welles still manages to dominate this 1949 film, both as an actor and as a stylistic influence. What's missing is the Welles content. With Trevor Howard, Alida Valli, and Bernard Lee.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is Welles's famous "cuckoo clock" speech.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 13: Mon Jan 13

No1 Valley of the Dolls (Robson, 1967): Alibi Film Club, 89 Kingsland High St, E8

Time out review:
Jacqueline Susann's 'exposé' of Hollywood gets the cliché-ridden treatment it deserves from Robson. Parkins, Tate, Duke and Hayward are the actresses whose career vicissitudes take us on the round tour of drink, drugs, sex, disillusion, infidelity, and clawing up to the top or sliding down to the bottom. That said, the film is regarded in some quarters as a marvellous piece of camp. The songs, curiously, are by André and Dory Previn.
Chris Peachment

The brilliant opening credits are here (and above).


No2 The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Dieterle, 1939): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm

This film is screening as part of the BFI Southbank Gothic season and is also being shown on January 3rd and 5th. Details here.

Time Out review:
Although Charles Laughton doesn't attempt the acrobatics that Lon Chaney performed in the silent version, his hunchback comes across as one of the cinema's most impressive 'grotesque' characterisations. Dieterle directs in a way that reminds you of his background as actor/director in the German expressionist cinema: the visuals here impressively recall earlier movies from Metropolis (the crowds) to The Last Laugh (tracking shots through the shadows). Richly entertaining.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 12: Sun Jan 12

No1 Alien Nation (Baker, 1988): Dissenting Academy, 7pm

This is a Cigarette Burns production. Here is their introduction: We welcome in the new year with Savage Cinema and the over looked sci-fi, buddy cop movie - ALIEN NATION. 

It's been three years since the Newcomers first arrived and while some success has been made at integration, we humans, aren't the kindest of folks and so the situation is certainly tense. Sykes (James Cann) teams up with with newcomer San Francisico (Mandy Patinkin) to solve a series of homicides. 

ALIEN NATION went on to spawn a short lived TV series in the states, which I have quite fond memories of...

Roasts and booze will be on hand, all set to the whirring sound of 16mm celluloid… reserve sofas on 02072496430

No 2 Neighbouring Sounds (Filho, 2012) & Gloria (Lelio, 2012): Rio Cinema, 1pm

Here's a great 'South American Ways' double-bill from the Rio. 

Time Out review of Neighbouring Sounds:
'It’s difficult to remember a first feature as bullishly confident as this horror-tinged social melodrama from Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho. The opening credits alone make for a more riveting sequence than many filmmakers manage in their entire career: over a backdrop of clattering, building drums, we’re shown images  of Brazil’s divided past: rich and poor families struggling to survive and make their mark on a new frontier. Cut to a swooping tracking shot of a little girl on rollerskates, and we’re away. The film is set in the ocean-side middle-class suburb of Recife, where dwellings are split between well-off families and their servants. Most of the local houses and tower blocks are owned by Seu Francisco (WJ Solha) who, with his son, Joao (Gustavo Jahn), acts as a largely benevolent overlord in the neighbourhood. But when a series of burglaries set residents on edge, Francisco agrees to employ the services of security expert Cladoaldo (Irandhir Santos) and his gang of no-bullshit community patrolmen. Essentially a bustling portrait of modern Brazil – with nods to past tragedies – ‘Neighbouring Sounds’ derives its power from Filho’s unusual directorial choices. Utilising techniques learned from horror movies – rumbling low-level noise, effective, unexpected shocks – he creates a sense of mounting dread and lurking evil. It doesn’t always work – the film promises a little more than it delivers, and at over two hours there are moments where it drags. But as a statement of intent, ‘Neighbouring Sounds’ is incredibly bold.'
Tom Huddleston

Here and above is the trailer


Hollywood Reporter review of Gloria:
It’s hard to imagine anyone with a heart and a brain not responding to the quiet delights and stunning intimacy of Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s account of the personal evolution of a 58-year-old divorcee, played with scrupulous honesty and intelligence by the wonderful Paulina Garcia. A large part of the cumulative joy of this movie is considering all the ways in which the story might have been mishandled. Midlife sexual desire, second-chance romance, the hunger for companionship, the challenging path toward self-reliance -- these are all potential minefields ready to set off explosions of mawkish cliché. But Gloria is a work of maturity, depth and emotional insight. There’s not a single false note here to push the uplifting empowerment or resilience angles, or the conclusion that having a man is not a requirement in order to feel complete. Yet those nonstrident feminist themes emerge organically, without the need to be articulated.
David Rooney

Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 11: Sat Jan 11

Our Hospitality (Keaton, 1923): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

Chicago Reader review:
Buster Keaton's 1923 film, based on the Hatfield-McCoy feud. With this work, Keaton began to display a dramatic sense to complement his comic sensibility—like The General, it is built with the integrity of a high-adventure story. Of course, Keaton still finds room for his inimitable sight gags and beloved gadgets, here including an early steam locomotive that pulls its carriage train up and down the hills of Pennsylvania with a lovely reptilian grace.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is a trailer for the movie.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 10: Fri Jan 10

Sherlock Jr (Keaton, 1924): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm

This film, which is screening as part of the Keaton season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on January 7th and 12th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1924 comedy finds Buster Keaton anticipating most of the American avant-garde of the 70s: he plays a projectionist who falls asleep during the showing of a detective thriller and projects himself into the action. Keaton's appreciation of the formal paradoxes of the medium is astounding; his observations on the relationship between film and the subconscious are groundbreaking and profound. And it's a laugh riot, too.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract from the film.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 9: Thu Jan 9

No1 Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (Costa, 2001): ICA Cinema, 7pm

'Quite simply a masterpiece, and probably the best documentary of any kind that I have ever seen' - Adrian Martin, Senses of Cinema

Here is the ICA introduction: Pedro Costa joins us for a Q&A and screening of Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?, his revealing study of the filmmaking process which captures Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at work in the editing room on their drama Sicilia!

Pedro Costa was given privileged access to document uncompromising filmmaking duo Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at work, re-editing their film Sicilia! (1999).  Every cut and effect is discussed. Influences from Chaplin to Eisestein are mentioned alonside the ethical and aesthical implications of film technique. Costa later described the film as his first comedy and his first love story.

'As the filmmakers alternately engage in recounting personal anecdotes, gentle natured marital sparring, and professional ruminations over their collaborative cinema, what emerges in Costa's reverent and understated portrait is an affectionate, humorous, and indelible image of profound kinship and creative symbiosis - an idiosyncratic, modern-day love story that fuses passion with politics, creativity with conviction - told from the privileged intimacy of irascible, enduring romantics, intellectual peers, social activists, obsessed cinephiles, ageless idealists, and innovative, mutually-inspiring artists.' (Strictly Film School)

Jonathan Rosenbaum discusses Costa's work in more detail here.


No2 La Belle et La Bete (Cocteau, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm & NFT2, 6.10pm

This classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank from Jan 3. Details here.

Time Out review:
Jean Cocteau's fairytale set standards in fantasy which few other film-makers have reached. Despite the Vermeer-like compositions, he has some trouble capturing the right tone for the 'realistic' scenes, but the sequences in the enchanted castle - wonderfully designed by Christian Bérard complete with fantastic living statuary, and dignified by a Beast at once ferocious, erotic and genuinely tragic - are pure magic. René Clément is credited as co-director, but had very little to do with the mise en scène.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 8: Wed Jan 8

Blue Jasmine (Allen, 2013): Kensington Roof Gardens, 7pm

The key here is the experience as much as the film. Here's the introduction to the night's entertainment:

The Rooftop Film Club is back in an exclusive marquee situated 100ft above Kensington High Street tucked away in the tranquil setting of 1.5 acres of themed gardens. On arrival at The Roof Gardens please give your name at the reception area. Doors are open from 6pm, with your screening starting at around 7pm

Tickets include a glass of wine or a bottle of beer (soft drinks available) and a freshly prepared hot snack (a vegetarian option will be available) grilled on the outdoor coal fire barbecue. We suggest arriving early so that you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your snack and wander around the gardens before the screening begins.

N.B. All screenings are indoors in a heated marquee in The Tudor Garden area of the Kensington Roof Gardens. 

The bonus is the chance to see one of last year's best movies. 

Time Out review:
For Woody Allen fans, watching his recent films has been like prising your eyes open after an earthquake. Will everything be just as it once was? Or will it look like ‘Cassandra’s Dream’, his 2007 low, starring Colin Farrell as a London mechanic? For now we can breathe a sigh of relief. ‘Blue Jasmine’ is Allen’s strongest film overall since ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’, but you have to dig deep in the New Yorker’s back catalogue to find a single performance­­ as affecting and well-judged as the one Cate Blanchett delivers.

Her brittle, shivery Jasmine is a Manhattan socialite whose world crumbles after the collapse of a Ponzi scheme run by her bigger-than-life fraudster husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin). Broke, with nowhere else to go, Jasmine moves in with her down-to-earth sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco. As she tries to get back on her feet, Allen gives us flashbacks to the high life she once shared with Hal in New York.

Some of Allen’s strongest films – such as 1978’s ‘Interiors’ and 1988’s ‘Another Woman’ – have put the gags on hold and found richness in troubled women. ‘Jasmine’ doesn’t steer clear of comedy, but its best humour is of the black, squirming sort, such as when Jasmine’s new dentist boss comes on to her (‘Have you ever got high on nitrous oxide?’). Or when, in the good old days, Ginger and her then-husband (Andrew Dice Clay), a builder, pay Jasmine and Hal an excruciating visit at their luxury home. But there’s no disguising the trauma of its final shot and the interest at its heart: a sad woman in freefall.
Dave Calhoun

Here and above is the official trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 7: Tue Jan 7

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Mamoulian, 1931): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm

This film comes highly recommended, definitely one of the highlights of the Gothic season at BFI Southbank. The movie also screens on January 1st and 10th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, this 1932 screen adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic is a remarkable achievement that deserves to be much better known. Fredric March won a well-deserved Oscar for his performance as the lead, and Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart play the two women who match the opposite sides of the hero's nature. The transformations of Jekyll are a notable achievement for March and Mamoulian alike, and the disturbing undercurrents of the story are given their full due (as they weren't in the much inferior 1941 Victor Fleming version with Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner). Mamoulian was at his peak in the early 30s, as this film shows.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is part of the extraordinary opening to Mamoulain's movie.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 6: Mon Jan 6

No1 Only God Forgives (Winding Refn, 2013): Rooftop Cinema, Kensington, 7pm

The key here is the experience as much as the film. Here's the introduction to the night's entertainment:

The Rooftop Film Club is back in an exclusive marquee situated 100ft above Kensington High Street tucked away in the tranquil setting of 1.5 acres of themed gardens. On arrival at The Roof Gardens please give your name at the reception area. Doors are open from 6pm, with your screening starting at around 7pm

Tickets include a glass of wine or a bottle of beer (soft drinks available) and a freshly prepared hot snack (a vegetarian option will be available) grilled on the outdoor coal fire barbecue. We suggest arriving early so that you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your snack and wander around the gardens before the screening begins.

N.B. All screenings are indoors in a heated marquee in The Tudor Garden area of the Kensington Roof Gardens. 

The bonus is the chance to see one of last year's most talked about films.

Chicago Reader review of Only God Forgives:
After the relatively mild-mannered Hollywood release Drive (2011), Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn returns with a grisly tale of vengeance set in the Bangkok underground. Ryan Gosling is the relative good guy (he refuses to murder a schoolgirl), an American drug smuggler caught up in a war between his dragon-lady mother (Kristin Scott Thomas, outstanding) and an icy crime kingpin who dispatches victims with a samurai sword (Vithaya Pansringarm). As always, Refn's style is captivating—much of the action takes place under infernal red light but the fascination with extreme gore never amounts to more than a fetish, and there's none of the deft characterization that made his revered Pusher trilogy and British biopic Bronson so engaging.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 5: Sun Jan 5

No1 Centro Historico (Erice, Costa, Oliviera, Kaurismaki, 2012)
(plus discussion with Victor Erice and Pedro Costa): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3pm

Here is the BFI introduction:
Made to mark Guimarães’s being made European Capital of Culture, this portmanteau film sees four major directors contributing four very different films about the northern Portuguese city, its culture and its history. Kaurismäki’s bittersweet Tavern Man follows a forlorn bar-owner’s attempts to stay in business; Costa’s hallucinatory Sweet Exorcism explores issues of immigration and militarism in an encounter between a Cape Verdean and a ghostly soldier; Erice’s tender and heart-rending Broken Windows revisits a community of workers that populated a now-closed textile mill; and de Oliveira’s The Conqueror Conquered casts a wry comic eye at the current plight of Portugal’s first king.
Witty, touching and thought-provoking fare, the film will be followed by an on-stage discussion, hosted by Geoff Andrew, Senior Film Programmer at BFI Southbank, with two of the film’s directors: Pedro Costa, best known here for Casa de Lava, Ossos and Colossal Youth, and Víctor Erice, famous for The Spirit of the Beehive, The South and The Quince Tree Sun.

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2 Day for Night (Truffaut, 1973): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

Chicago Reader review:
Francois Truffaut's comic and affectionate 1973 portrait of the joys, tragedies, frustrations, and compromises that surround the shooting of a feature film. An episodic and amiable work, although the sudden reaches for profundity don't quite come off. Truffaut himself plays the director, and his cast includes Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Valentina Cortese, and Jean-Pierre Leaud, whose callowness for once seems intentional.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 4: Sat Jan 4

Playtime (Tati, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.50pm

This Jacques Tati classic also screens at the BFI on Jan 1st. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
My favorite movie, this 1967 French comedy by actor-director Jacques Tati has the most intricately designed mise en scene in all of cinema. The restored 65-millimeter version, with four-track DTS sound, expands the possibilities of becoming lost in Tati's vast frames and creatively finding one's way again. His studio-constructed vision of Paris begins in daytime with nightmarishly regimented straight lines and right angles and proceeds to night with accidental yet celebratory curves of people instinctively coming together. It peaks in an extraordinary sequence, set in a gradually disintegrating restaurant, that comprises almost half the film: once various musicians start to perform, the viewer's gaze inevitably follows the customers in a kind of improvised dance, collecting and juxtaposing simultaneous comic events and details. In this landscape everyone is a tourist, but Tati suggests that once we can find one another, we all belong.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 3: Fri Jan 3

The Canyons (Schrader, 2013): Hackney Picturehouse, 11pm

The Hackney Picturehouse have pulled off a coup here, with the first screenings in the UK of Paul Schrader's new movie The Canyons. The movie is also being screened on January 4th, Details here.

There is plenty of material out there on this movie, some of it pretty negative. It will be fascinating to see what Schrader has for us given his history in the cinema and the backstory to this particular film.

Here are some thoughts (on Letterboxd) on The Canyons by Little White Lies magazine editor David Jenkins:
I have less than nothing of note to add to the (extremely) sage discourse surrounding this strange movie. But I will say this one glib thing: My favourite shot in The Canyons – and this might actually be my favourite shot of any film this year – was the split second close-up of James Deen's feet when he forces the bedroom door open and it's revealed that he's wearing a pair of neon-trimmed AirMax.

My knee-jerk reaction was hilarity, simply because I could not remember having ever seen a film that included a tightly-framed shot of ostentatious cross-training footwear. And in the context of stucco LA mini mansions with minimalist interiors and slick ice-white façades (AKA, Bret Easton Ellis' dream archive), this shot just jarred, beautifully so. Maybe Deen arrived on set wearing those shoes and nobody thought to change them, or maybe there wasn't the budget to change them? So they were left in as a throwaway piece of natural colour. Or maybe Schrader saw them and thought to play the shot as some morose, absurdist, revisionist gag that reframes the generic paranoid urban slasher-type as a perma-scowling gym bunny. 

It's such a lovely touch, and the moment you see it, you're given the opportunity to concoct your own back story. Deen's character had murder on his mind, but not before he'd bench-pressed the equivalent to a small RV. Or imagine if there was a deleted scene in which Deen was choosing what shoes to wear for the deed? Desert boots? Nah, too clumpy. Leather shoes? Nah, too cliché. This has got to be swift and clean. Trainers. Expensive ones, in case I need to sprint back to the car. You can imagine Deen as a runner, not a fighter. (If this reads like an attack, it's not. I liked the film very much.)

Here (and above) is the great trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 2: Thu Jan 2

Kiki's Delivery Service (Miyazaki, 1989): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.20pm

Chicago Reader review:
A distribution deal with Disney made this charming feature-length animation (1989) the first big U.S. success for Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli. The title character, a 13-year-old witch, must spend a year on her own to find herself, and her pilgrimage to a beautifully detailed northern European town brings new friends and challenges. The characters are gently and warmly rendered, and a climactic action sequence involving an unmoored dirigible hints at the stately grandiosity of Miyazaki's masterpiece Howl's Moving Castle (2004).
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 1: Wed Jan 1

Duck Soup (McCarey, 1933) & A Night at the Opera (Wood, 1935):
Rio Cinema, 2.30pm & 4pm

Duck Soup is the greatest of the Marx Brothers' movies - and is being screened in a double-bill with A Night at the Opera.

Chicago Reader review of Duck Soup:
The Marx Brothers' best movie (1933) and, not coincidentally, the one with the strongest director—Leo McCarey, who had the flexibility to give the boys their head and the discipline to make some formal sense of it. Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly, brought in by Margaret Dumont to restore order to the crumbling country of Freedonia; his competition consists of two bumbling spies, Chico and Harpo, sent in by the failed Shakespearean actor (Louis Calhern) who runs the country next door. The antiwar satire is dark, trenchant, and typical of Paramount's liberal orientation at the time.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the famous lemonade vendor scene.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 366: Tue Dec 31

American Hustle (Russell, 2013): Vue Leicester Square, Daily screenings (from Dec 19)

This much-anticipated movie is getting exclusive screenings ahead of its official opening on Jan 1 at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square from December 19 onwards.

Chicago Reader review:
David O. Russell's fictionalized drama about Abscam, the FBI sting operation that nailed more than a half dozen U.S. legislators on bribery and conspiracy charges, made me nostalgic for the 70s—not for all the bad hair, splayed collars, gold chains, and plunging necklines, but for an era when grown-up movies like this one came out almost every week. Scripted by Eric Warren Singer (The International) and given a comic punch-up by Russell, it centers on two con-artists-in-love (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) who are sucked into the operation by a dodgy FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) and forced to entrap the beloved mayor of Trenton, New Jersey (Jeremy Renner, playing a role based on Congressman Frank Thompson). Filled with rich characters and sharp dialogue, the movie turns on questions of friendship and fidelity, both personal and political, with a knockout performance by Jennifer Lawrence as the con man's jealous, ball-busting wife.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 365: Mon Dec 30

No1 The Devil Rides Out (Fisher, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm

Time Out review:
'Over the years, this film's reputation has grown enormously, and its cult status must be as high as any horror movie. Richard Matheson, who scripted it, was able to improve immeasurably on Dennis Wheatley's ponderous novel, and it is consequently the best film that Fisher and Hammer ever made, an almost perfect example of the kind of thing that can happen when melodrama is achieved so completely and so imaginatively that it ceases to be melodrama at all and becomes a full-scale allegorical vision. Christopher Lee has never been better than as the grim opponent of Satanism, and the night in the pentacle during which the forces of evil mobilise an epic series of cinematic temptations rediscovers aspects of mythology which the cinema had completely overlooked.'
David Pirie

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2 Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962): Riverside Studios, 6.30pm

Another chance to see Peter O'Toole's most memorable role as Lawrence in this 1962 epic, one of the greatest films ever made.

Chicago Reader review:
David Lean's 1962 spectacle about T.E. Lawrence's military career between 1916 and '18, written by Robert Bolt and produced by Sam Spiegel, remains one of the most intelligent, handsome, and influential of all war epics. Combining the scenic splendor of De Mille with virtues of the English theater, Lean endeared himself to English professors and action buffs alike. The film won seven Oscars, including best picture and direction, yet the ideological crassness of De Mille and most war movies isn't so much transcended as given a high gloss: the film's subject is basically the White Man's Burden—despite ironic notations—with Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, and Omar Sharif called upon to represent the Arab soul, and Jose Ferrer embodying the savage Turks. The all-male cast helps make this one of the most homoerotic of all screen epics, though the characters' sexual experiences are at best only hinted at.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the famous officers' bar scene.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 364: Sun Dec 29

The Apartment (Wilder, 1960): Curzon Richmond, 1.40pm

Time Out review:
Re-teaming actor Jack Lemmon, scriptwriter Iz Diamond and director Billy Wilder a year after ‘Some Like It Hot’, this multi-Oscar winning comedy is sharper in tone, tracing the compromises of a New York insurance drone who pimps out his brownstone apartment for his married bosses’ illicit affairs. The quintessential New York movie – with exquisite design by Alexandre Trauner and shimmering black-and-white photography – it presented something of a breakthrough in its portrayal of the war of the sexes, with a sour and cynical view of the self-deception, loneliness and cruelty involved in ‘romantic’ liaisons. Directed by Wilder with attention to detail and emotional reticence that belie its inherent darkness and melodramatic core, it’s lifted considerably by the performances: the psychosomatic ticks and tropes of nebbish Lemmon balanced by the pathos of Shirley MacLaine’s put-upon ‘lift girl’.
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 363: Sat Dec 28

Unfortunately, this screening has been postponed at late notice. Here's the Everyman Cinema tweet on the evening of the performance.

THX1138 (Lucas, 1971): Screen on the Green, Islington, 11.30pm

The Screen on the Green has some superb Saturday midnight movies. This is a corker.

Chicago Reader review:
The surprising thing about George Lucas's first feature (1971), a dystopian SF parable now digitally enhanced and expanded by five minutes, is how arty it seems compared to his later movies: off-center 'Scope compositions reminiscent of Antonioni, striking white-on-white costumes and sets, a highly inventive sound track by cowriter Walter Murch. Yet the film is just as claustrophobic as Star Wars, and its ideas are equally shopworn, drawing on Orwell, Huxley, Kubrick, and Godard's Alphaville. A young Robert Duvall plays the title drone, who escapes from a totalitarian society after he and fellow cipher Maggie McOmie discover sex. Lucas's use of northern California locations is inventive.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.