Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 172: Sun Jun 22

No1: Safe (Haynes, 1995): Hackney Picturehouse, 8pm

This is screened as part of the Anxiety Arts Festival.  Details of their excellent film programme can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
An unsettling work (1995) by subversive American independent Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), his first film in 35-millimeter and best film overall. It's been described as a movie about "environmental illness," but don't let that fool you: the alienation of one suburban housewife in southern California, effectively captured by Julianne Moore, may take physical form, but its sources are clearly spiritual and ideological. Haynes does a powerful job of conveying his hatred for the character's Sherman Oaks milieu (where he himself grew up) through his crafty and at times almost hallucinatory layering of sound and image. (Though Haynes's methodology is his own, you may be reminded at times of Michelangelo Antonioni and Chantal Akerman.) He also offers a scathing (if poker-faced) satire on New Age notions of healing. This creepy art movie will stay with you.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


No2: Spring in a Small Town (Fei Mu, 1948): BFI Southbank, 4.10, 6.10 & 8.30pm

This film, the highlight of the Century of Chinese Cinema season, starts an extended run at BFI Southbank on June 19. Details here.

Time Out review:
The crowning achievement of one of China's finest directors, this unique film both reflects and dissects the mood of helpless impotence which afflicted many Chinese in the years after the war. After a 10-year absence, a doctor visits a married couple living in a bomb-scarred country town. The husband is a broken man, close to suicide; the wife was once his lover and they start to drift back into an affair under the nose of her husband. The sense of frustration and enervation is palpable, underlined by Fei's brilliant idea to use dissolves within scenes, but the counter-current of renascent desire (sparked by Wei Wei's phenomenal performance as the wife) makes this also a very sensual movie.
Tony Rayns

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 171: Sat Jun 21

Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1947): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

"And then I saw her, coming out of the sun ..."

This film, a candidate for the greatest of all film noirs, is screening as part of the Gumshoe America season at the Barbican. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The most delicate and nuanced of film noirs (1947), graced with a reflective lyricism that almost lifts it out of the genre. Robert Mitchum, a former private eye, has taken refuge from life as the owner of a small-town gas station. A gangster (Kirk Douglas) presses him back into service to search for his wandering mistress (Jane Greer). This is no expressionist thunderstorm of guilt and fate, but a film of small, finely textured effects, centered on subtle grades of morality. The cool, feathery photography is by Nicholas Musuraca; the director is Jacques Tourneur. With Rhonda Fleming, Steve Brodie, and Richard Webb.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 170: Fri Jun 20

Palo Alto (Coppola, 2013): Hackney Picturehouse, 8.45pm

This film is screening as part of the East End Film Festival. Full details here.

Here is the East End Film Festival introduction:
Based on James Franco’s book of the same name, Gia Coppola’s directorial debut charts the lives of a group of teenagers growing up in Franco’s home suburb in California. Centring on April (Emma Roberts), a teenager who embarks on an increasingly complex affair with her high school soccer coach (Franco), Teddy, the artistically minded classmate who casts longing glances at her from afar, and his best friend Fred, whose increasingly outlandish behaviour threatens to result in terrible consequences, Palo Alto, is a brilliantly drawn vision of confused youth. Attuned to the insecurities of teenage life, it’s loaded with powerful performances, and seems destined to become one of the iconic American high school films.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 169: Thu Jun 19

The Second Game (Porumboiu, 2014): Rich Mix Cinema, 9pm

Here is the East End Film Festival introduction: A timely film in a World Cup year, Romanian New Wave auteur Corneliu Porumboiu’s (12:08 East of Bucharest, Police, Adjective) The Second Game takes us back to 3rd of December 1988, a night in which the director’s father filmmaker was acting as the referee in a football match between two Bucharest teams, Steaua and Dinamo. 25 years later, the two sit down to re-watch the match together. The result is a commentary on father-son relations, the transition from a dictatorship to democracy, and the numerous ways that the beautiful game can act as a vehicle for hopes, fears and memories of those that watch it. A glorious film. 

Here is an excerpt.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 168: Wed Jun 18

Ratcatcher (Ramsay, 1999): Barbican Cinema, 6.30pm

Lucy Bolton, Film Studies Lecturer at Queen Mary University, will introduce this screening.

Time Out review:
Set in and around a Glasgow tenement block during a dustman's strike in the mid-'70s, Ramsay's astonishingly assured feature debut centres on a 12-year-old (Eadie, excellent) who, haunted by the (secret) role he played in a pal's accidental death by drowning, gradually retreats into a private world of solitude, strange friendships and consoling dreams of a new home for his family. That's about it, story-wise, but Ramsay's bold visual sense, droll wit and tender but unsentimental take on the various characters and their relationships makes for a distinctly poetic brand of gritty realism, and one of the most impressive first features by a British director in some years.
Geoff Andrew

Here is an excerpt.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 167: Tue Jun 17

Tip Top (Bozon, 2013): Barbican Cinema, 6.30pm

This film screens as part of the East End Film Festival. Full programme here.

East End Film Festival introduction: French director and raconteur Serge Bozon (La France) returns with a sly, satirical take on the cop thriller. Two internal affairs investigators (Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain) join forces with a small provincial police department to investigate the murder of an Algerian informant, only to find themselves being spied upon by another officer, which reveals an increasingly bizarre series of facts about their private lives. Funny, inventive and off the wall, this is an adaptation of the Bill James novel of the same name, and is worth the price of admission for Isabelle Huppert’s wild performance alone. 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 166: Mon Jun 16

The Dance of Reality (Jodorowsky, 2013): Barbican Cinema, 6pm

East End Film Festival introduction: Filmmaking legend Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain) returns with his first feature film in 23 years. A poetic reflection on the filmmaker’s own childhood in a town on the edge of the Chilean desert, The Dance of Reality is a trademark mixture of classical biography, strange mythology, and sections of off-kilter poeticism. It ranks as another great Jodorowsky film about an utterly unique figure finding their place in the world, and seeing what lies beneath it; except this time, it’s explicitly about himself.  The EEFF hopes to welcome Alejandro Jodorowsky to London for this screening.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 165: Sun Jun 15

No1: P3ND3jO5 (Perrone, 2013): Rio Cinema, 2.30pm

This screens as part of the East End Film Festival.

Argentinian writer and film scholar Fernando Sdrigotti has written a detailed piece on the film here.

Here is the Rio Cinema introduction: Veteran indie filmmaker Raul Parrone is one of Argentina's most inventive, innovative directors. Making films full of improvisation, non-professional actors and a feel for the underground, with P3nd3jo5 (pendejos is slang for dumbass, and potentially much worse) he's returned with a film that's destined to become a kind of cult classic. A silent film based in Buenos Aires, shot in black and white and featuring a soundtrack of Puccini, punk and modern electronics, his stylish, gritty and utterly unique take on the city's skater scene takes in to tales of love, and one of violence and organised crime. A genuinely fresh, exciting take on urban youth.

Here (and above) is the trailer.   


No2: His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940): Riverside Studios Cinema, 6pm

Chicago Reader review:
Most of what Robert Altman has done with overlapping dialogue was done first by Howard Hawks in this 1940 comedy, without the benefit of Dolby stereo. (The film, in fact, often circulates in extremely poor public-domain prints that smother the glories of Hawks's sound track.) It isn't a matter of speed but of placement—the dialogue almost seems to have levels in space. Hawks's great insight—taking the Hecht-MacArthur Front Page and making the Hildy Johnson character a woman—has been justly celebrated; it deepens the comedy in remarkable ways. Cary Grant's performance is truly virtuoso—stunning technique applied to the most challenging material. With Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy, a genius in his way too.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 164: Sat Jun 14

Cockfighter (Hellman, 1974): Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington St, EC2A 9pm

This film screens as part of the East End Film Festival. Full programme here.

Chicago Reader review:
Except for Iguana, which is almost completely unknown, this wry 1974 feature is probably the most underrated work by Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop). Shot by Nestor Almendros on location in Georgia (partly in Flannery O'Connor's hometown, which seems appropriate), it follows the absurdist progress of a man who trains fighting cocks (Warren Oates in one of his best performances) and who takes a vow of silence after his hubris nearly puts him out of the game, though he continues to narrate the story offscreen. Produced by Roger Corman as an exploitation item for the drive-ins, this performed so badly in that capacity that it was recut and retitled more than once (as Born to Kill, Wild Drifter, and Gamblin' Man). But as a dark comedy and closet art movie, it delivers and lingers. With Richard B. Shull, Harry Dean Stanton, Millie Perkins, and Troy Donahue.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 163: Fri Jun 13

No1: Theatre of Blood (Hickox, 1973): ICA Cinema, 8.55pm

This screening follows a discussion led by film critic Mark Kermode at 6.45pm - Who Needs the Professionals Now That Everyone’s a Critic?

Here is the ICA introduction:
Mark Kermode introduces Douglas Hickox's 1973 Theatre of Blood, in which a Shakespearean actor takes poetic revenge on the critics who denied him recognition. Bumping off his detractors with executions inspired by the Bard, Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) stages a beheading in the manner of Cymbeline, a stabbing inspired by Julius Caesar, and even an untimely removal of a pound of flesh improvised from The Merchant of Venice. With one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled for a horror film including Diana Rigg, Harry Andrews, Jack Hawkins and Arthur Lowe, Theatre of Blood is a deliciously macarbe cult classic.

Here are the gorgeous opening credits.


No2: Opening Night (Cassavetes, 1977): Hackney Picturehouse, 9pm

This is screened as part of the Anxiety Arts Festival.  Details of an excellent programme here.

Chicago Reader review:
For all of John Cassavetes's concern with acting, this 1977 film is the only one of his features that takes it on as a subject; it also boasts his most impressive cast. During the New Haven tryouts for a new play, an aging star (Gena Rowlands), already distressed that she's playing a woman older than herself, is traumatized further by the accidental death of an adoring teenage fan (Laura Johnson). Fantasizing the continued existence of this girl as a younger version of herself, she repeatedly changes her lines onstage and addresses the audience directly, while the other members of the company—the director (Ben Gazzara), playwright (Joan Blondell), costar (Cassavetes), and producer (Paul Stewart)—try to help end her distress. Juggling onstage and offstage action, Cassavetes makes this a fascinating look at some of the internal mechanisms and conflicts that create theatrical fiction, and his wonderful cast—which also includes Zohra Lampert as the director's wife, assorted Cassavetes regulars, and cameos by Peter Falk and Peter Bogdanovich as themselves—never lets him down.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 162: Thu Jun 12

Boyhood (Linklater, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1 6.30pm

Director Richard Linklater will be at the BFI to discuss his highly acclaimed new film.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Working with the same actors for over ten years from 2002 onwards, Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, School of Rock) has created a unique and captivating film that observes the lives of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), his man-child father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) and his single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) from Mason’s schooldays to his first experiences in college. This brave experimental approach in long form storytelling within a feature film results in a diverting picture of American childhood accompanied by a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's ‘Yellow’ to Arcade Fire's ‘Deep Blue’.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 161: Wed Jun 11

Lolita (Kubrick, 1962): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

This screens as part of the Stanley Kubrick season at the Prince Charles.
Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Keeping his misanthropic tendencies somewhat in check, Stanley Kubrick made a solid film (1962) out of Vladimir Nabokov's notorious and brilliant novel. James Mason is the pederastic representative of Old Europe, yearning after the 14-year-old flower of American girlhood, Lolita (Sue Lyon). Where Nabokov was witty, Kubrick is sometimes merely snide, but fine performances (particularly from Peter Sellers, as the ominous Clare Quilty) cover most of the rough spots. With Shelley Winters.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 160: Tue Jun 10

Celine and Julie Go Boating (Rivette, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

This screens as part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Film Classics season.

Chicago Reader review:
Jacques Rivette's comic feminist extravaganza is as scary and unsettling in its narrative high jinks as it is exhilarating in its uninhibited slapstick (1974). Its slow, sensual beginning stages a meeting between a librarian (Dominique Labourier) and a nightclub magician (Juliet Berto). Eventually, a plot within a plot magically takes shape—a somewhat sexist Victorian melodrama with Bulle Ogier, Marie-France Pisier, Barbet Schroeder (the film's producer), and a little girl—as each character, on successive days, visits an old dark house and the same events take place. The elaborate Hitchcockian doublings are so beautifully worked out that this movie steadily grows in resonance and power. The four main actresses scripted their own dialogue with Eduardo de Gregorio and Rivette, and the film derives many of its euphoric effects from a wholesale ransacking of the cinema of pleasure (cartoons, musicals, thrillers, and serials).
Jonathan Rosenabum

You can find the trailer via this link.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 159: Mon Jun 9

The Smiling Lieutenant (Lubitsch, 1931): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This film is being shown as part of the Passport to Cinema season. The movie is introduced tonight by Nathalie Morri and also screens on June 14th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This rarely shown Ernst Lubitsch musical (1931), derived from the Oscar Straus operetta The Waltz Dream, matches up Viennese lieutenant Maurice Chevalier with both Claudette Colbert (as leader of an all-woman orchestra, whom he fancies) and Miriam Hopkins (as a king's unglamorous daughter, whom he doesn't know how to refuse). Eventually everything gets resolved when Colbert teaches Hopkins how to "jazz up" her lingerie (this is pre-Production Code, in the best sense), but before this happens, the proceedings are a bit brittle—not exactly dark and funereal like Lubitsch's later The Merry Widow, but still rather heartless, what with Chevalier's forced gaiety and his sexual rejection of Hopkins. This was shot in Paramount's Astoria studio, which may explain why some of the interiors feel cramped, but it's quintessential Lubitsch in the way it suggests sexual dalliance with the brightening or darkening of a gas lamp outside a bedroom.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is an excerpt.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 158: Sun Jun 8

Swandown (Kotting, 2012): Barbican Cinema, 8pm

Director Andrew Kötting and writer Iain Sinclair are on hand for the final screening in Sinclair's superb year-long 70x70 film season.

Time Out review:
British filmmaker Andrew Kötting started out by capturing his own performance art pieces on camera. You can sense those roots here, as he and writer Iain Sinclair journey from the Sussex coast to London in a swan-shaped pedalo that Kötting liberates from a Hastings seaside attraction.

He and Sinclair travel by sea, river and canal, ending with Kötting banging against the barriers of the Olympic site (Sinclair vanishes for the last few days). The voyage is linear, but there’s nothing straightforward about Kötting’s use of sound and image as he mixes visual formats, introduces fictional elements and crafts a soundscape of chat, found noises, ghost voices (some of them from his earlier odyssey, ‘Gallivant’) and Pogues founder Jem Finer’s music. Alan Moore and Stewart Lee are among those who guest in the swan, with Lee deadpanning to Moore: ‘So, have you done anything like this before?’ as we see them pedalling with a swan’s bill above their heads.

What’s it all about? Kötting has a strong sense of the ridiculousness, while Sinclair (more muted than one might expect) is more poetic, only occasionally letting loose his noted disdain for the Olympic project. But what’s most pleasing is Kötting’s reluctance to foist a single agenda on us, whether that’s the physical achievement of their trip, his sense of the absurd or Sinclair’s spiritual utterings. 

It’s a calm, resigned, mystical work that sits back and lets the world work its strange magic on us. Sinclair talks of him and Kötting becoming ‘flesh radios’ as they navigate the waterways and tune into the frequency of people and places. In spirit, however, this is resolutely more Resonance FM than Radio 1.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 157: Sat Jun 7

No1: The Boss (Di Leo, 1973): Hollywood Spring Cinema, 6 Well Street, E9 7.30pm

This is part of a weekend at Hollywood Spring, featuring selections and special screenings from some of the city's top film clubs – Cigarette Burns Cinema, Filmbar 70, Nobody Ordered Wolves, Off the Cuth and the Exploding Head Film Club. All the details are here.

The Cigarette Burns presentation features hidden classics from the criminally neglected Italian genre. Mafia vs police in a Fernando Di Leo double bill, featuring Quentin Tarantino's inspiration for Pulp Fiction, The Boss.

Here is an extract.


No2: 70x70 Season Finale: Directed by Iain Sinclair: Barbican Cinema 2pm

The finale event of Iain Sinclair's year-long 70th birthday celebrations – his epic, citywide, film curatorial and writing project entitled 70x70 (full film listings here).

Iain is joined in discussion by fellow travellers Chris Petit (director of Radio On) and fellow walker/writer Robert Macfarlane who recently described Sinclair as 'a national treasure'. The discussion will be chaired by Gareth Evans.
Event running time approx. 150 min
Film programme:
1 Dublin
UK 1964 Dir Iain Sinclair 15 min

2 Ah! Sunflower (Allen Ginsberg in London)
'In my early twenties, returning to London from Dublin, I was faced with the challenge I thought I wanted: to make a coherent documentary on Allen Ginsberg’s summer stop-over in 1967... Ah! Sunflower is an awkward, youthful exercise; a brightly coloured chart presenting discriminations of failure. But also a small historic record, glimpses of the real: we were there, we logged a piece of it.'
UK 1967 Dir Robert Klinkert and Iain Sinclair 30 min

3 Hackney 8mm Diary Films
'Moving to new territory initiated a project of mapping, recording, documenting. The plainest sequences, in the spirit of early cinema, citizens walking under railway bridges and the like, now carry the most potent charge.'
UK 1969–1975 Dir Iain Sinclair 30 min

4 Maggot Street/Maggid Street
'A film in two forms: the 8mm silent original from 1972: an alchemical fable, assembled rather than edited (or edited in camera), and running for as long as slow-projection will allow. The second version, reduced, finessed by footage of book-wrapping rituals in Rodinsky’s room (shot by Chris Petit) and Dave McKean provided titles and graphics. The first version is what it is: documentation of an era. The second remains, definitively, a work-in-progress.'
UK 1972 Serially revised (with Dave McKean graphics and John Harle sounds) Dir Iain Sinclair (with Renchi Bicknell, Brian Catling, Tom Baker) 30 min

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 156: Fri Jun 6

Pluto (Su-Won Shin, 2012): ICA Cinema, 9pm

This South Korean movie (a Crystal Bear winner at the Berlin Film Festival) screens at the ICA until June 17th. Full details here.

Here is the ICA introduction:
Pluto is a story of the extremes that elite high school seniors are prepared to go to guarantee entry into prestigious universities, and asks what could possibly turn an innocent boy into a monster. June, a transfer student into an elite school, is driven to despair by the year’s first examination results. One day he discovers that a mysterious clique of fellow students are sharing secret notebooks, which contain important exam information. In order to get his hands on the notebooks he begs the members of the secret circle to include him. They task him with a series of missions to earn them, with devastating consequences.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 155: Thu Jun 5

Letter From an Unknown Woman (Ophuls, 1948):
Arthouse Cinema, 159 Tottenham Lane, N8 9BT, 6pm

This screening will be introduced by novelist Linda Grant and Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw.

Chicago Reader review:
One of my all-time favorites (1948), a breathtaking, bitter, exquisitely orchestrated exploration of love and selfishness by Max Ophuls. Joan Fontaine has never been better or lovelier, as she masterfully incarnates the young girl whose lifelong infatuation with a gifted, callow concert pianist (Louis Jourdan) leads to great sorrow. A graceful and ironic film that never once falls captive to its own cliches.
Don Druker

Here and above is an excerpt.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 154: Wed Jun 4

No1: Sympathy for the Devil (Godard, 1969): ICA Cinema, 9pm

This is the penultimate screening of the year-long 70x70 film season. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London. Here is a full list of the excellent programme, which finishes this month.

Here is Iain Sinclair's introdcution: 'Sympathy for the Devil was a 16mm polemic shot on 35mm. The contradictions begin there. At £150,000, it was Godard’s most expensive feature, made in a city he disliked and a language he pretended, when it suited him, not to speak. 

The sight of his new young wife, Anne Wiazemsky (fresh from her radiant debut, co-starring with a donkey in Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar), wandering about South London and West London, spraying slogans on corrugated fences, was profoundly depressing. The film became a documentary about futility, ugliness, poor light, the insolent rhetoric of scrapyards, gun-waving black freedom fighters (jobbing actors).

Swinging London: the psychedelic gibbet. A colour-supplement commission dressed up as a movie. Photographers shooting photographers. Antonioni’s BlowUp, made two years before Godard hit town, predicts riverside expansionism and the future location of the Thames Barrier. A city of moneyed immigrants. Russians with good English tailoring eating Italian food.

Godard’s more troubled raid tracks around a notable English monument, the Rolling Stones. More stone than roll: even then. Smoking defiantly, prematurely jaded musicians fiddle with a demon-summoning song, while the camera loops lethargically around them. A more unreal and therefore truer account of the psychosis of celebrity, of (simulated) Dionysiac madness, than Antonioni’s guitar-wrecking performance by the Yardbirds.'

and above is the trailer.


No2: The Battle of the River Plate (Powell & Pressburger, 1956):
Stratford East Picturehouse, 6.30pm

This is part of a Powell & Pressburger season at Stratford Picturehouse.

Chicago Reader review:
Michael Powell's 1956 war movie, called Pursuit of the Graf Spee in the United States and originally called The Battle of the River Plate in the UK, is mainly distinguished by its lack of action: a crippled German battleship has to put in at a neutral port in South America, while the local British authorities use fair means and foul to keep her pinned down. Though it's mostly a waiting game, the film is tense and involving, thanks to Powell's fluid shifting of the point of view—you root for the Germans as much as for the Allies. It isn't one of Powell's best films, though as an inactive actioner, it's typical of his contrary-minded approach to moviemaking—he sets himself impossible problems and then solves them, brilliantly. With Anthony Quayle, Peter Finch, and John Gregson. 119 min.
Dave Kehr

Here is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 153: Tue Jun 3

Liebelei (Ophuls, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film screens as part of The World Before the War season at BFI Southbank and is introduced by Laura Mulvey.

Time Out review:
What is eternity?' a young girl asks her soldier lover. What indeed? As in Ophüls' Lola Montès, La Ronde and Madame de... this early German melodrama - which treats the passionate, whirlwind love affair between a young lieutenant and a shy sensitive fräulein - acknowledges both the liberating joy of love and its sad transience. For humans are never entirely free of their past, and young Fritz has a skeleton in his closet that makes a mockery of the pair's vows of undying love.Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 152: Mon Jun 2

Applause (Mamoulian, 1929): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This is screening as part of the Passport to Cinema season and is introduced by Geoff Andrew.

Chicago Reader review:
Rouben Mamoulian's 1929 classic tells the story of a chorus-line mama (the great Helen Morgan) trying to keep her daughter out of the sleazy world of burlesque. The film is always used in courses on the history of the movies to show that not all early talkies were static and leaden, and it's true that Mamoulian manages some remarkable moving-camera effects (the only other director doing things of that sort was King Vidor in Hallelujah, also in 1929). Though this is Mamoulian's earliest, it's possibly his freshest film.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 151: Sun Jun 1

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Zemeckis, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 1pm

It’s 1947 in Toontown, near Hollywood, where cartoon characters live alongside humans. Eddie, a Private Eye, is called in by the head of the Maroon Cartoon Studios to do a job and ends up becoming embroiled in the dangerous lives of fun-loving Roger Rabbit and his wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner). This groundbreaking picture won two Oscars® for animation director Richard Williams, who will be at the cinema for a Q&A after the film. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A Hollywood entertainment that lived up to its hype, this zany detective story (1988), set in Tinseltown 1947, follows the efforts of gumshoe Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to clear the name of cartoon character Roger Rabbit when he becomes the main suspect in a murder case. The movie, which combines live action and animation with breathtaking wizardry, was coproduced by the studios of Disney and Steven Spielberg; Robert Zemeckis is the director. As a labor of love it's deeply moving: cartoon characters are treated as a repressed minority threatened by genocide, and gumshoes out of Raymond Chandler (or even Robert Towne) are almost equally archaic. Giving them all one last, delirious fling, the filmmakers create a densely upholstered universe where the denizens of both worlds mingle and learn from one another; a villain from the days of silent movies (Christopher Lloyd's Judge Doom) is thrown in for good measure. Alternately hilarious, frightening, and awesome.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 150: Sat May 31

Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958) & Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960):
Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

This is part of the year-long 70x70 film season. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London. Here is a full list.

Here Sinclair describes the two films he and Anne Sinclair will be introducing at the screening: 

“Touch of Evil has been a point of reference since I saw it on its original release (as a second feature) at the Paris Pullman. Now I appreciate the fact that it was produced by Albert Zugsmith, who also produced – one year later – the exploitation quickie The Beat Generation. From Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh to Steve Cochran, Mamie van Doren, Ray Danton. Films at the end of cycle carry a particular freight. This one shadows the much more  successful (financially) Psycho. Motels with gimpy weirdo handymen. Janet Leigh threatened with gang rape or butchered. I lose interest in Psycho after the death of Leigh: it devolves into television. The opening represents Hitchcock’s response to European cinema and the French critics who championed him. The end reverts to his early German influences, now calculated for architectural shock-horrors.

But what strikes me, years later, when we hit the San Diego Freeway is how new this landscape is and how trivial the human interventions. Oil donkeys nod on low hills. We are in the Mexico of Hank Quinlan. Orson Welles created a sleazy border town out of Venice Beach for his Hollywood swansong. Death comes, with wheezing Shakespearean flourish, among the fouled ponds of the speculative oil field. Nodding donkeys, pumping away, day and night, take the place of actual animals. ‘Your future,’ as Marlene Dietrich said, ‘is all used up.’ In Los Angeles they dig for oil where other cities have allotments.”

Here (and above) is the famous opening to Touch of Evil.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 149: Fri May 30

A Farewell to Arms (Borzage, 1932): BFI Southbank,2.30, 6.30 & 8.45pm

This film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Surrealist film critic Ado Kyrou writes of this 1932 film that director Frank Borzage “changed the impersonal and distant tone of Hemingway's novel and imbued it with a passionate warmth.” That's an understatement—Borzage's passionate spirituality washes over this simple tale of a soldier (Gary Cooper) who deserts during World War I to be reunited with the woman he loves (Helen Hayes). As in all Borzage films, the triumph of love comes at a terrible physical cost, but the final sequences are among the most moving in all his work.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 148: Thu May 29

No 1: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (Borowczyk, 1981):
BFI Southbank, 8.30pm

(This film also screens on Monday May 12 Full details
here. )

This is part of the Walerian Borowczyk season at the BFI Southbank.

BFI review:
Films don’t come much more maudit than Borowczyk’s characteristically perverse take on Robert Louis Stevenson. With revisionist interpretations of Frankenstein and Dracula already under his belt (thanks to Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol), Udo Kier plays Dr Jekyll as a wide-eyed innocent, whose research into “transcendental medicine” leads to him bathing in a fluid that transforms him into a ravening beast with an insatiable sexual appetite and the equipment with which to indulge it, leading to a mounting body count among the guests attending the good doctor’s engagement party to Fanny Osbourne (Marina Pierro).

In an ideal world, this witty, typically fetishistic, wildly imaginative subversion of a stuffily polite literary adaptation would have transformed Borowczyk’s career and reputation. Instead, it was practically buried following a row with his producers, and undeservedly remains one of his most obscure films, lacking even a legitimate DVD release.
Michael Brooke

Here is an extract on YouTube.


No2: Blue Sunshine (Lieberman, 1978): ICA Cinema, 8.40pm

This is a Cigarette Burns production. You will not be disappointed.

Here is the CB introduction:
So here's one that we've been dying to screen for several years, it seems that the time is right to dust off that print and fill the screen with crazy. 

When several old school friends start losing their hair and becoming crazed homicidal maniacs, there must be a connection. But what? Jeff Lieberman throws down a Cronenberg-style mystery thriller, mixing in socio-political elements in a post-war suburban America, politicians with dark pasts, side dealing doctors, and a hero who repeatedly finds himself in rather awkward predicaments. Blue Sunshine is a trip, from the first scene to the climatic final mall-based disco-tastrophe.

Presented in 35mm by Cigarette Burns, and with an introduction from Jon Towlson, author of Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films from Frankenstein to the Present (McFarland & Co, 2014).

Time Out review:
An intriguing premise: what if a certain species of LSD, a decade later, should begin to have an unexpected effect on its users' chromosomes? All over an American city, isolated individuals inexplicably slaughter their loved ones before going on the rampage. The film has a phenomenal opening, and makes the most of its plot possibilities, but the police's continual arrival at the scene of murder just in time to implicate the investigative hero will put a strain on any audience's credulity. Exploitation of a superior kind, nonetheless.
David Pirie

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 147: Wed May 28

No1: The Tales of Hoffmann (Powell & Pressburger, 1951):
Stratford Picturehouse, 6.15pm

This is part of a Powell & Pressburger season at Stratford Picturehouse.

It's also George A Romero's favourite movie.

Time Out review:
Made at the instigation of Sir Thomas Beecham - who conducts the Offenbach operetta - Powell and Pressburger's follow-up to 
The Red Shoes lacks the earlier film's coherence and emotional pull, but is equally lavish in its attempts to combine dance, music and film. Basically a trio of stories (plus prologue and epilogue) in which unrequited love figures strongly, the movie is inevitably uneven, and some have pointed to a rather kitschy element in its equation of Cinema and Great Art. But Powell's eye - aided by Hein Heckroth's designs and Chris Challis's camera - is as sharp and distinctive as ever, revelling in rich colours, fantastic compositions, and swooning movements (most notably in the lavish episode featuring a Venetian courtesan). Sumptuous spectacle.
Geoff Andrew


No2 The Scarlet Letter (Wenders, 1992): Goethe Institute, 7pm

This is part of the More or Less by the Book season at the Goethe Institute.

Time Out review:
Hawthorne's novel offers, however improbable a project, themes that connect with the main lines of Wenders' work: the central figure of the adulteress is an outsider in her own society, and the community of European immigrants are strangers in a strange land. But the movie is as uncharacteristic as you'd expect. Wenders made it (just after The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty) as a kind of exercise in fiction, and it definitely lacks the emotional conviction that usually distinguishes his work. But Wenders' admirers will find a lot to interest them. The only major weakness is Jürgen Knieper's excessive score.
Tony Rayns

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 146: Tue May 27

No1: Satyricon (Fellini, 1969): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

Jean Paul Gaultier has recently confessed to Variety magazine this decadent and audacious adaptation of Petronius’ famous chronicle of degenerate life in ancient Rome to be his favourite film. The movie screens as part of the Gaultier season at the Barbican. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Sprawling and conspicuously undisciplined, this is less an adaptation of Petronius than a free-form fantasia on his themes. Fellini's characteristic delirium is in fact anchored in a precise, psychological schema: under the matrix of bisexuality, he explores the complexes of castration, impotence, paranoia and libidinal release. And he pays homage to Pasolini's ethnographic readings of myths. It's among his most considerable achievements.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2: Mold (Aydin, 2012): Rio Cinema, 6.45pm

This film is screening as part of the London Turkish Film Festival. 

Here is the LTFF introduction:
Hope springs eternal in this Venice Film Festival Best First Feature Film Award winner. Basri is a railway worker whose job is to check miles of track each day. But Basri’s real concern is to find his missing son, a university student, who ‘disappeared’ in police custody 18 years ago. So on the first and 15th day of every month for the last 18 years, Basri has written to the state, appealing to the authorities to find his son. The story is simple but the emotions run deep and there's a superb central performance by Ercan Kesal, best known for his collaborations as both actor and co-writer with Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The Anatolian landscape around the town of Belemedik provides a backdrop of stunning grandeur.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 145: Mon May 26

Wild Boys of the Road (Wellman, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 2.50pm

This is part of the Hollywood Babylon: Early Talkies before the Censor of pre-Code films at the BFI. The pre-Code movies included in the blog are recommended by the London Film Festival programmer Clyde Jeavons. The film also screens on May 28th. Details here.

Here is the BFI introduction:
The pre-Code period coincided with some of the hardest times in America’s history, and the bitter realities were reflected in films like Wellman’s very tough road movie. Here we follow the country’s unemployed youth, who are forced to cross the country in search of work. Almost neo-realist in its vivid, street-level portrait of a failing America, Wellman’s film tested the Code with its angry cynicism at the inability of the government, and its seemingly corrupt institutions, to deal with the unprecedented crisis.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 144: Sun May 25

Impeccables (2013): Rio Cinema, 9.15pm

This film is screening as part of the London Turkish Film Festival.

Ceşme, an Aegean summer resort in Turkey. May. Two sisters from Istanbul, Lale and Yasemin, are staying here, the playground of their childhood. After 5 years of minimal communication, these two women find themselves once again in the summer cottage of their late grandmother. Initially, everything seems fine: the weather is beautiful, the sea is pristine, and the town harbors the tranquility of the off-season... But the usual dynamics of sibling comfort and irritability come to play. Why are these two city women really here? And why do they gradually turn so emotionally vicious towards each other? Once the burden of devastating secrets are revealed, they have to decide whether this will bring them closer than ever or push them apart forever.

Here (and above) is the trailer.