Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 206: Sat Jul 26

The Lady From Shanghai (Welles, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3.50 & 8.45pm

I have written a feature about the drama both on and off the screen involving this brilliant movie here at the Guardian Film website. The restoration is being shown on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The weirdest great movie ever made (1948), which is somehow always summed up for me by the image of Glenn Anders cackling "Target practice! Target practice!" with unbalanced, malignant glee. Orson Welles directs and stars as an innocent Irish sailor who's drafted into a bizarre plot involving crippled criminal lawyer Everett Sloane and his icily seductive wife Rita Hayworth. Hayworth tells Welles he "knows nothing about wickedness" and proceeds to teach him, though he's an imperfect student. The film moves between Candide-like farce and a deeply disturbing apprehension of a world in grotesque, irreversible decay—it's the only true film noir comedy. The script, adapted from a novel by Sherwood King, is credited solely to Welles, but it's the work of many hands, including Welles, William Castle, Charles Lederer, and Fletcher Markle.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 205: Fri Jul 25

Blackmail (Hitchcock, 1929): Walthamstow Assembly Hall, 7.30pm

Here is the Barbican introduction to the night's entertainment:
This year's Walthamstow Get Together series opens with a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's 1929 silent film Blackmail at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall.

The screening will be accompanied live by the Forest Philharmonic, conducted by Timothy Brock, performing the 2012 score written by Neil Brand, who will also introduce the evening.

Based on the play by Charles Bennett – who also collaborated with Hitchcock on The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much – Blackmail (1929) is acknowledged as the first British sound feature film. Alice has stabbed to death a man who tried to rape her. Her boyfriend Frank, a policeman, covers it up; but Tracey, the local petty thief, tries to blackmail the couple. This leads to Tracey’s attempted arrest and a spectacular police chase which ends on the roof of the British Museum.

Get there early (from 5.30) for some great street food and drink from the Real Food Festivals. Hitchcock was notoriously fond of good food and drink and, in keeping with his East London roots, there will be street food trucks including Bell & Brisket (salt beef bagels), Born & Raised (British and East End themed pizzas) as well as Wondering Wine, a vintage Citroen H Van wine bar – particularly fitting as -like many of the characters in his film- Alfred Hitchcock was always partial to a good drink too...

Chicago Reader:
Alfred Hitchcock's 1929 masterpiece, his last silent, follows the plight of a murderer caught between her blackmailer and her detective boyfriend. For all the experimental interest of the sound version that followed (the first full-length talkie released in England), this is more fluid and accomplished. Apart from two suspenseful set pieces—an attempted date rape in an artist's studio that ends with the murder of the artist-rapist, and a chase through the British Museum, Hitchcock's first giddy desecration of a national monument—what most impresses is the masterful movement back and forth between subjective and objective modes of storytelling, as well as the pungent uses of diverse London settings. As someone who's always preferred Lang's treatment of serial killers to Hitchcock's, I would opt for this thriller over the much better known The Lodger as Hitchcock's best silent picture, rivaled only by his less characteristic but formally inventive The Ring.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the famous murder scene.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 204: Thu Jul 24

Jealousy (Garrel, 2013): Cine Lumiere, 6.30pm

This new film by Philippe Garrel is on an extended run at Cine Lumiere. Details here.

Here is their introdcution to the movie:
Written and directed by Philippe Garrel, Jealousy is a wickedly ironic palimpsest that sketches present-day Paris onto passions of past decades. Shot in glorious black and white by Willy Kurant (Masculine Feminine), this sharp, vigorous film, takes a fresh look at the professional and emotional cross-currents between two romantically entwined theatre actors, with a beautiful score by Jean-Louis Aubert. Louis leaves his wife Clothilde and daughter Charlotte for theatre actress Claudia. Though she can’t get any work, their passion carries them through. However, it’s not long before the outside world creeps back in…

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 203: Wed Jul 23

Some Like It Hot (Wilder, 1959): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.15 & 8.40pm

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

Chicago Reader review:
In many ways, the ultimate Billy Wilder film (1959), replete with breathless pacing, transvestite humor, and unflinching cynicism. Most of it is hilarious, but there is something disquieting in the way Wilder dances around his sexual theme—the film never really says what it's about, which might be just as well. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are the two musicians who disguise themselves as members of an all-girl orchestra in order to escape from gangster George Raft; Marilyn Monroe is the band's star, um, vocalist. With Pat O'Brien, Nehemiah Persoff, and Joe E. Brown, who gets the famous punch line.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 202: Tue Jul 22

Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

This screens as part of the cinema's Classic Films season. Details here.

Time Out review:
One of Bergman's warmest, and therefore finest films, this concerns an elderly academic - grouchy, introverted, dried up emotionally - who makes a journey to collect a university award, and en route relives his past by means of dreams, imagination, and encounters with others. It's an occasionally over-symbolic work (most notably in the opening nightmare sequence), but it's filled with richly observed characters and a real feeling for the joys of nature and youth. And Sjöström - himself a celebrated director, best known for his silent work (which included the Hollywood masterpiece The Wind) - gives an astonishingly moving performance as the aged professor. As Bergman himself wrote of his performance in the closing moments: 'His face shone with secretive light, as if reflected from another reality...It was like a miracle'. 
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 201: Mon Jul 21

Out of the Blue (Hopper, 1980): BFI Southbank NFT2, 8.30pm

This film, part of the Dennis Hopper season at BFI Southbank, also screens on 25th July. You can find full details here.

Time Out review:
From its horrific opening - truck driver Hopper drunk at the wheel with daughter Linda Manz ploughs into a school bus full of screaming children - you're left in no doubt that you're in for an edgy experience. The teenage Manz, in a quite sensational performance under Hopper's direction, embodies the nihilistic ethos of punk in a way that other mainstream projects (Foxes, Times Square) couldn't begin to achieve. Manz impassively (and why not, with mum a junkie and dad an incestuous paedophile) observes life in small-town America's roadhouses and bowling alleys, embittered by the death of Elvis and Sid Vicious, and interested only in the drum kit at which she flails away in her bedroom. If ever there was a movie about Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll, this is it, a film of and about extremes, directed by an extremist.
Rod McShane

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 200: Sun Jul 20

Mona Lisa (Jordan, 1986): Rio Cinema, 12.15pm

The Rio cinema presents a double-bill dedicated to the late Bob Hoskins. The finale is The Long Good Friday, details of which you can find here, but they start with this much-praised drama.

Chicago Reader review:
A film tailor-made for Bob Hoskins, the appealing British actor who suggests an unlikely cross of James Cagney and Ed Asner. He's an ex-con who gets a job as chauffeur and protector to an elegant black call girl (Cathy Tyson); he's awed by her beauty and poise, and when she asks him to find an old girlfriend from her streetwalking days, he charges into London's sexual underworld like a knight on a quest. Director Neil Jordan (Danny Boy, The Company of Wolves) does a good job of re-creating the dark romanticism of American film noir, and if the project does feel a little like a hand-me-down, it is graced by Jordan's fine, contemporary feel for bright, artificial colors and creatively mangled space. Hoskins delivers a classic star turn, capitalizing on his instant likability to draw us into a characterization of unexpected depth and dignity, and Michael Caine makes the most of a brief appearance as a satanic crime lord. With Robbie Coltrane and Clarke Peters.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 199: Sat Jul 19

Catch Us If You Can (Boorman, 1965): Hollywood Spring Cinema, 7.30pm

The venue is the coolest new cinema in town. The movie is a delight: a rare screening of John Boorman's surprising road movie, a mordant and critical look at Britain in the 60s. And an interesting comparison to A Hard Day's Night, re-released at the BFI this summer.

BFI review:
John Boorman
's first feature touches on mid-60s themes: the commodification of youth culture, the manipulative role of the 'media industry', the all-pervasiveness of images and advertising, and the resulting sense of alienation. Early scenes of youthful energy (the Dave Clark Five running around parks, playing on the rides) suggest a retread of A Hard Day's Night (d. Richard Lester, 1964), but here the songs are non-diegetic. As stunt man Steve and model Dinah are both in the 'image' business, they drive around London in a E-type Jag to 'groovy' music, just as in the TV commercial 'Let's Go With Shell!'

Shot on location, the film makes skilful use of symbols - Dartmoor ponies, water, the tidal island - compare Cul-de-sac (d. Roman Polanski, 1966). The snow-covered Devon landscape is contrasted with the ad agency in Manny Wynn's crisp B/W images. Peter Nichols' screenplay taps into '60s anti-establishment themes - a Utopian quest is destroyed by army and big business. But 'Utopia' is an illusion - there is no 'island' or escape from the media's manipulative influence; materialist Zissell 'walks' to the island. Dinah says, "you arrived - but you missed the journey". Only romantics make 'the journey', and are inevitably disillusioned: a bleak message.
The US title, Having a Wild Weekend, may have led audiences to expect aMonkees-type romp, rather than a film that shifts into melancholy. It becomes a critique of the vacuity of the opening images. For a 'pop' film, that is radical.
Roger Philip Mellor
Here is one of the musical highlights.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 198: Fri Jul 18

Colors (Hopper, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This film is being shown as part of the Dennis Hopper season at BFI Southbank and also screens on July 28th and 29th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Dennis Hopper's fourth feature as a director—after Easy Rider (1969), The Last Movie (1971), and Out of the Blue (1980)—is the first in which he doesn't appear as an actor. It's also the first that doesn't improve on its predecessor, except perhaps from a commercial standpoint. Sean Penn and Robert Duvall as a younger and older cop taking on the LA gangs is the hot subject, and all the elements—script (Michael Schiffer), cinematography (Haskell Wexler), and score (Herbie Hancock)—combine to provide a lively, authentic surface and an aggressively hip attack on the material. But narrative continuity and momentum have never been among Hopper's strong points, and this time the choppiness of the storytelling diffuses the dramatic impact without offering a shapely mosaic effect (as in the previous films) to compensate for it. Too many thematic strands—the contrast between Penn's sadism and Duvall's leniency, Penn's courting of a Chicano waitress (Maria Conchita Alonso), the individual gang skirmishes—get curtailed before they can bear much fruit, and too much of the energy gets lost or wasted in the patchwork editing. Considering how good so many of the pieces of this film are—Duvall is especially fine—it's a pity they don't add up to more.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 197: Thu Jul 17

No1: Rollerball (Jewison, 1975):
The Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road, Dalston, N1 4BL, 7pm

This film is brought to you by a new London-based science fiction film club, run by SF specialists The Space Merchants.

Here is their introduction:
Norman Jewison’s dystopian Rollerball portrays a near-future in the aftermath of the Corporate Wars, in which nations have crumbled and conglomerates rule. In place of freedom the people are given bread and circuses: material comfort and Rollerball itself. Played on a circular, slanted track by men on skates and motorbikes, this extreme sport is the ultimate extrapolation of the primitive blood lust implicit in many team sports. James Caan is outstanding as Jonathan E, star player with the Houston team.
In the elegant detachment of Jewison’s direction, emphasised by the stark, alienating use of classical music, there are echoes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Notwithstanding the brilliantly staged arena sequences, Rollerball is essentially about freedom versus conformity and the corruption of unfettered capitalism, with Caan leading an existential rebellion in the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 which leads to a chilling, apocalyptic finale. Certainly the most prophetic film of the 1970s, Rollerball has an intelligence and power overlooked by those who simply denounce its brutal violence.
Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2: Golden Eighties (Akerman, 1986): ICA Cinema, 7pm

Film-maker Carol Morley will introduce the latest in the A Nos Amours film club's complete retrospective of Chantal Akerman's work.

Chicago Reader review:
Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman) made this independent work from a work-in-progress known as The Eighties (the English title of the finished film is Window Shopping). Forty minutes of videotaped auditions and rehearsals for Akerman's shopping center musical are followed by three production numbers—in radiant 35-millimeter—from the film. The subject is first and foremost Akerman's love of actors and the filmmaking process, and second the process itself—the intermediary steps between conception and perfection, from physical materials to cinematic illusions. If you don't know Akerman's work, this is an excellent place to start: it's a very funny, very idiosyncratic piece from one of the most sympathetic of modernist filmmakers.

Dave Kehr

Here is the ICA introduction:
Film collective A Nos Amours continues a retrospective of the complete film works of Chantal Akerman with an exuberant and sparky musical, at once homage to classic era MGM musicals, and an expression of a highly European sensibility: satirical, teasing, resigned.

Chantal Akerman devoted enormous energy to this long cherished project. Not only would she write and direct, but she wrote the lyrics to the songs. Set in an other-worldly shopping mall called the Toisson d’Or (which translates as The Golden Fleece), perhaps modelled on the mall of the same name in Brussels.

Golden Eighties interweaves tales of love, longing, disappointment and heartbreak. It offers song and choreographed - if not quite dance-like - movement. Akerman is working as ever with ordinary material, arranged and framed with precise purpose.

The musical numbers here touch on economic woes, recession, sexual positions, and can be catty and sarcastic – far removed from the sentimental world of MGM musicals, but not so far removed from the musicals of Jacques Demy or especially Renoir’s odd valedictory song and dance segment in Le Petit Théâtre de Jean Renoir.

Shot with distinctive Fujicolor film stock, lit without shadows, stuck in an interior studio world as if exterior did not exist, jam-packed with infuriatingly catchy tunes, this is an astonishing work from an artist who began as a structuralist, albeit a structuralist with a gift for narrative.

Here is the opening to the film.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 196: Wed Jul 16

Marketa Lazarova (Vlaeil, 1967): Riverside Studios, 7pm

Voted the greatest Czech film ever made, this dark and passionate medieval epic chronicles the rivalry between two warring clans, the Kozlíks and the Lazars, and the doomed love affair of Mikolás Kozlík and Marketa Lazarová. Adapted from Vladislav Vanèura’s classic novel, this fierce 13th Century epic is a meticulously designed evocation of the period. Impressively ambitious and multi-layered, it is the crowning achievement of Vláèil’s career and is one of the great cornerstones of world cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Czech filmmaker Frantisek Vlacil (1926-'99) may have been eclipsed in the West by his countrymen Milos Forman and Jiri Menzel, but his body of work from the 60s and 70s has earned him a solid reputation at home: Marketa Lazarova (1966), which kicks off a weeklong Vlacil retrospective at Facets Cinematheque, was recently voted the greatest Czech film of all time in a national critics' poll. Adapted from an experimental novel by Vladislav Vancura, it concerns the feud between two pagan clans that have fallen under the dominion of Christian German overlords in the 13th century. One clan has converted to Christianity, and its patriarch has pledged his virginal daughter Marketa (Magda Vasaryova) to a convent; the other, brutish and superstitious, abducts the young woman during a skirmish with its rivals. Episodic in structure, the film proceeds like a folk saga, but its flashbacks, flash-forwards, and abrupt cuts give it a hallucinatory quality. The iconography recalls Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, Bergman's The Seventh Seal, and Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, and the compositions can be bluntly symbolic and self-consciously arty. Yet Vlacil shot the film on location, insisting on historical authenticity, and his raw realism turns the countryside into a bleak hunting ground where new and ancient feuds settle into a tentative peace.

Ted Shen

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 195: Tue Jul 15

Le Week-end (Michell, 2013): Riverside Studios, 7.30pm

Writer Hanif Kureshi will be at this cinema for a Q&A after the screening.

Time Out review:
After ‘The Mother’ and ‘Venus’, this is the third collaboration between ‘Notting Hill’ director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi. It’s their strongest yet, and once again they offer a late-life dash for love and happiness. ‘Le Week-End’ tells of Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan), a married couple who head to Paris for a break, but find themselves facing up to personal and professional ennui. It’s lightly played, often very funny and shot all over Paris with energy and wit, and boosted by superb, inquiring turns from Broadbent and Duncan. It deals head-on with its sad-faced subject without leaning on sentimentality or misery, or offering easy answers. Michell and Kureishi insert a winning dose of magic into the realism in the form of Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), a wealthy old friend that the couple bump into. The meeting inspires an awkward, near-surreal dinner-party scene and allows Michell to close the film with an uplifting nod to Godard’s ‘Bande à Part’. Delightful.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 194: Mon Jul 14

The Last Movie (Hopper, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This is showing as part of the Dennis Hopper season at the BFI and also screens on 20th July. Here are the details.

Chicago Reader review:
The least that can be said for Dennis Hopper's 1971 drama is that no other studio-released film of the period is quite so formally audacious. After Easy Rider, Hopper was given carte blanche by Universal Pictures to make this disjointed epic in Peru; although it was given a special prize at the Venice film festival, the film was withdrawn from circulation in the U.S. after a couple of weeks and has rarely been screened since. After working in a western directed by Samuel Fuller (playing himself), during which one of the lead actors (Dean Stockwell) has been killed, an American stunt man (Hopper) remains behind with a Peruvian woman. He is eventually drafted into an imaginary movie being made by the Indian villagers and is also enlisted in a scheme to find gold in the mountains. The curious thing about this freewheeling allegory is that it is simultaneously about many things (the fakery of moviemaking, mutual exploitation, ugly Americans in the third world, Hopper as Jesus) and nothing at all.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the opening of The Last Movie.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 193: Sun Jul 13

The Inner Scar (Garell, 1972): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

This is part of a Philippe Garell season at the Cine Lumiere.

Here is the cinema's introduction to today's screening: A highly experimental film consisting of no more than 23 camera shots, La Cicatrice intérieure features Pierre Clémenti (nude) and the Andy Warhol superstar Nico (dressed in a loose robe) and a few others, including Philippe Garrel. It resembles nothing so much as one of Warhol’s earlier films, except that it is more episodic. The people, never more than two at a time, move through a variety of landscapes, from glacial to nearly tropical – always in some way deserted. A fascinating and restrained experiment in visual rhetoric.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 192: Sat Jul 12

Goltzius & The Pelican Company (Greenaway, 2012): BFI Southbank, 5pm

Peter Greenaway will be at BFI Soutbank today for a Q&A for his latest film. The movie will also be screened at the BFI in a short run in their Studio screen. Details here.

Here is the BFI introdcution:
We welcome one of the most daring British directors – recently awarded a BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema – to discuss his new work. ‘It is a curiosity that every new visual technology in its infancy seems to gravitate towards erotica and pornography,’ says Greenaway of his new film – a typically controversial tale that explores the relationship between art, sex and the printing press.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 191: Fri Jul 11

Boyhood (Linklater, 2014): Rio Cinema, 1.15pm, 4.45pm & 8.15pm

For those of you unable to make the recent special BFI screening, the much anticipated Boyhood goes on general release today.

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 (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 190: Thu Jul 10

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Lau Kar-Leung, 1978): BFI Southbank, 8.40pm

This film, which screens as part of the Century of Chinese Cinema season, also screens on 6th July. Details here.

Here is the BFI introduction: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is the masterpiece of the great director and fight choreographer Lau Kar-leung, and arguably the greatest martial arts film of all time. Lau’s godbrother Gordon Liu stars as San Te, who is drawn into rebellion against the oppressive Manchu government. Wounded, he flees to the Shaolin Temple and spends years mastering his martial arts skills... Lau emphasises his discipline and dedication, but this doesn’t stop the film from being spectacular and riotously entertaining.

Time out review:
The first half hour is standard Shaw Bros melodrama: vignettes from the Manchu army's subjugation of Canton in the early Qing Dynasty, following the usual script, staged on the usual sets with all the usual 'guest stars' and extras. But once the wounded hero (Liu) reaches the Shaolin Temple and - one year of sweeping floors later - starts learning the monks' secret knowledge of martial arts, the movie becomes extraordinary. The temple has 35 training rooms, each one dedicated to the perfection of a physical skill, a mental reflex or a spiritual insight. Once our boy graduates cum laude the abbot pragmatically expels him for insubordination, freeing him to rally anti-Manchu resistance in the province and turn the whole of Guangdong into a 36th 'chamber' of Shaolin. Fine myth making, anchored in a heroic central performance.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 189: Wed Jul 9

Spring in a Small Town (Fei Mu, 1948): BFI Southbank, 8.50pm

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 188: Tue Jul 8

The Red Shoes (Powell & Pressburger, 1948): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.20pm

This film, which screens as part of the Gotta Dance! season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on July 5th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Trilby-based ballet film (1948) has been the cult property of dance freaks for far too long. A look beneath its lushly romantic surface reveals a dark, complex sensibility, and that surface, rendered in the somber tones of British Technicolor, reflects a fantastically rich cinematic inventiveness. Moira Shearer is the ballerina who, following the outlines of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, trades her life for her art; Anton Walbrook, as her impresario, is perhaps the most forceful embodiment of the shaman figures–magical, outsized, sinister–who haunt Powell and Pressburger's work. The Red Shoes remains the best known of Powell and Pressburger's 18 features, yet it's only the tip of the iceberg–beneath it lies the most commanding body of work in the British cinema. With Marius Goring and Robert Helpmann.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 187: Mon Jul 7

Play It Again Sam (Ross, 1972): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.40pm

This is part of a Woody Allen season at Prince Charles. Details here.

Time Out review:
Allen's neurosis is not to everyone's taste, but this movie - based on his own stage play about a film critic with seduction problems who takes Bogart as a role model - shows him at his best, exploring the gap between movie escapism and reality. It's not really as pretentious as that, and anyway, in contrasting his chaotic life with the Bogart image, Allen forgets the contrast between his chaos and our prosaic lives. No doubt someone somewhere takes Woody as his mentor and fails to be funny, just as Woody here stumbles after Bogey's cool. Still, the working out of the parallels with Casablanca are masterly, and there are plenty of good sight gags and one-liners. Much better than Allen's previous self-directed effort, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex.
Steve Grant

This is the bind date scene.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 186: Sun Jul 6

The Trip (Corman, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm

This film, showing as part of the Dennis Hopper BFI Southbank season, also screens on July 12. Full details here.

Time Out review:
An earlier Corman picture, The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, had uncannily predicted the rise and fall of a Timothy Leary-type hero, whose desire to see beyond human limits was punished by humiliation as a sideshow freak and by self-inflicted blindness. The Trip, a definitive commercial for acid scripted by Jack Nicholson, is in contrast boundlessly optimistic. Its advertising director hero, Fonda, takes a trip with no retribution at all: no death, no disillusionment, but much bikinied girls on sea shores, swirling psychedelia, and mumbling of 'Wow!' by the obligatory Dennis Hopper in the land of a thousand visual clichés. Despite the hedonistic panache, its lack of a comeuppance means it now lacks credence (as it once lacked a censor's certificate). Rich pickings for the pathologist of '60s life-styles, but it took Coppola to work out that the best movies were about bad trips, not good ones.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 185: Sat Jul 5

A Hard Day's Night (Lester, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT 1 4.15 & 6.30pm; NFT 8.40pm

The film debut of the Beatles is back for an extended run at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
Though A Hard Day’s Night was initially conceived merely as a vehicle to exploit the staggering success of the Fab Four, Richard Lester’s kinetic direction – partly influenced by the French New Wave – and Alun Owen’s witty, Oscar®-nominated script ensure that the film endures as a scintillating blend of marvellous music and gently satirical comedy. Made at the peak of Beatlemania, it chronicles a couple of days in the life of the band as they leave Liverpool for London to perform on a TV special; prisoners of their own celebrity, beset by hysterical fans, clueless hacks, uncool toffs, a perpetually fretful manager and the regrettable presence of Paul’s ‘clean’ but meddling grandfather (the great Wilfrid Brambell), all they want is some time for themselves... The dry Scouse humour is spot-on (‘I fought the war for your sort’ – ‘I bet you’re sorry you won!’), the cameos are many and delightful, and John, Paul, George and Ringo ooze youthful irreverence and utterly unforced charm. A joy.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) are the original trailers.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 184: Fri Jul 4

West Side Story (Wise, 1961): Royal Albert Hall, 7.30pm

This Royal Albert Hall presentation of the classic musical proved so popular that it's back for another run until July 6. All the details of the five screenings are here.

Time Out review:
This beautifully restored fiftieth anniversary version of ‘West Side Story’ is being re-released ahead of the BFI’s major survey of the Hollywood musical this autumn. Re-heating ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the distressed, red-brick pressure cooker of late-’50s New York City, cine-chameleon Robert Wise and choreographer Jerome Robbins made a fine fist of transplanting the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim Broadway behemoth to the screen. Set in a world populated by finger-clicking, stoop-dwelling greasers, a senseless turf war between rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, complicates a star-crossed romance between Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer).

The sins of the father take a back seat to race and gender tensions, as this version examines the notion of dangerously overzealous family pride via the internal dynamics of roving street gangs. A mercurial opening salvo delivers ominous aerial shots of the NYC skyline that are worthy of Antonioni. The camera then dips down on to a basketball court and introduces a beef between Russ Tamblyn’s charismatic Riff and George Chakiris’s highfalutin Bernardo (replete with dodgy Shinola suntan).

Although it’s impossible to fault the euphoric dance sequences and ultra-melodic tunes, the dramatic scenes linking the big numbers all fall flat and the illicit affair at the film’s core remains fatally underdeveloped until its fudged finale. Special mention, though, should go to Boris Leven’s neo-expressionist production design and Daniel L Fapp’s forceful cinematography: the crooked angles, pointed shadows and great swashes of red all heighten the mood of rabid fury.

David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 183: Thu Jul 3

Night Tide (Harrington, 1963): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

This film (also being screened on July 5) is being shown as part of the BFI Southbank Dennis Hopper season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Dennis Hopper had his first starring role in this odd and arresting black-and-white mood piece about a young sailor who falls in love with a carnival worker who may be a mermaid. Made in 1960 but not released until 1963, it was the first feature of Curtis Harrington. A poetic, low-budget independent effort, it can't be called an unqualified success but certainly deserves to be seen. At moments it evokes some of the early magic of Jacques Demy, and as with Demy's first feature, Lola, it's questionable whether Harrington ever topped it in his subsequent, more commercial efforts.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 182: Wed Jul 2

Strangers in Paradise (Lommel, 1984): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

This is the first night of the Duke Mitchell Film Club fest. More details of the full weekend here.

Here is the Duke Mitchell introduction to this 30th anniversary screening:
What do you get if you cross a time-travelling cryogenically frozen hypnotist , evil Nazis, musical songs, the internet and small-town folk from America who want to cure the homosexuals, the punks, the gamblers and the prostitutes? A forgotten masterpiece that’s what! 

Forget the brilliant charms of ‘The Room’ , leave behind the eye-watering excesses of ‘The Apple’ – this Summer the ONLY film you need to see is the 30th Anniversary Screening of ‘Strangers in Paradise’ proudly brought to you by The Duke. Film director Ulli Lommel (yes, that Ulli Lommel!) stars as Jonathan Strange, a hypnotist with the power to control the minds of men! When he finds himself hunted down by Hitler and his cronies, wanting to exploit his powers for the good of the Nazi party, Jonathan has himself cryogenically frozen – only to be revived in the 1980s by others who want to use his unique powers… 

Combining musical brilliance with outrageous scene-chewing acting, this under-appreciated film is a mind-boggling experience just begging to be re-discovered. Only ever released on VHS in any country, this screening is THE official UK 30th Anniversary Screening of an overlooked classic which you may never, EVER see again at the cinema!

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 181: Tue Jul 1

Beetlejuice (Burton, 1988): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

This is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Classic Film season. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
An appealing mess. Director Tim Burton joins forces with writers Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren, and Larry Wilson, and a cast headed by Michael Keaton as the eponymous lead—a scuzzy miniature "bio-exorcist"—to create a rather original horror comedy out of what appears to be a strong first-draft script and a minuscule budget (1988). Faces stretch like Silly Putty and a ghost couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) try to oust a yuppie couple (Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O'Hara) from their New England mansion. The pasteboard special effects, which have a special charm of their own, make up in verve and imagination what they sometimes lack in polish, and Keaton has such a time with his extravagant turn as a demonic hipster bum that one can forgive the less inspired contributions of Glenn Shadix, Sylvia Sidney, and Dick Cavett, among others.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 180: Mon Jun 30

The Song of Songs (Mamoulian, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This is part of the Passport to Cinema season at BFI Southbank. The film also screens on 29th June when Dominic Power will be introducing the movie. Details here.

BFI introduction: The Song of Songs marks a (temporary) break in the relationship between Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg. Dietrich plays Lily Czepanek, an orphaned country girl who comes to Berlin and is caught between an artist (Brian Aherne) who cannot commit himself, and a ruthless aristocrat (Lionel Atwill) bent on possessing her. Rouben Mamoulian’s erotic, psychological melodrama provides Dietrich with one of her most complex and satisfying roles.

Here (and above) is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 179: Sun Jun 29

My Name is Jonah (Healy/Sapienza, 2014): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is the first night of the Duke Mitchell Film Club fest. More details of the full weekend here.

Here is the Duke Mitchell introduction to tonight's entertainment:
Are you ready to meet Jonah? Then get ready as The Duke brings you face-to-face with the most mysterious icon ever to emerge from New York in the European Premiere of ‘My Name Is Jonah’. At once a portrait and a gateway into the weird and wonderful world of Jonah this film tells the story of the man who’s a martial artist, an adventurer, a vigilante and an internet icon! You will be hard pressed to believe your eyes as Jonah’s story slowly reveals a man who has been dressing as Punisher, Robin Hood, Sinbad, Highlander and more to create the most outrageous holiday cards found on the face of the Universe, all the while living a life that most of us dream of involving swords, karate, Russian brides and much, much more. Charismatic, mysterious, unpredictable and just a little quirky, Jonah is a true wonder – as are the people who surround him. So this June, do not miss your one and only UK chance to meet Jonah, to enter his world and who knows maybe even hear a masterful song from his harmonica!

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 178: Sat Jun 28

Night Moves (Penn, 1975): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

Chicago Reader review:
Released in 1975, near the end of Arthur Penn's most productive period (which began in 1967 with Bonnie and Clyde), this haunting psychological thriller ambitiously sets out to unpack post-Watergate burnout in American life. Gene Hackman plays an LA detective tracking a runaway teenager (Melanie Griffith in her screen debut) to the Florida Keys while evading various problems of his own involving his father and his wife. The labyrinthine mystery plot and pessimistic mood suggest Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald, and like them screenwriter Alan Sharp has more than conventional mystery mechanics on his mind. One of Penn's best features; his direction of actors is sensitive and purposeful throughout. With Jennifer Warren, Susan Clark, Edward Binns, Harris Yulin, Kenneth Mars, and James Woods.
Jonathan Rosenabum

This is part of the Gumshoe America season at the Barbican Cinema.

Here (and above) is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 177: Fri Jun 27

The Travelling Players (Angelopoulos, 1975):
Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H, 5.30pm 

Time Out review:
Made, incredibly, under the noses of the military police during the Colonels' regime, Angelopoulos' film examines, with a passionate radicalism, the labyrinth of Greek politics around that country's agonising civil war. This is done through the eyes of a troupe of actors, whose pastoral folk drama Golfo the Shepherdess is continually interrupted as they become unwitting spectators of the political events that ultimately polarise them. This slow, complex, four-hour film will obviously provide problems for people raised on machine-gun cutting techniques. Editing is very restrained, and some takes last up to five minutes, but the stately pace of the film soon becomes compulsive; and the shabby provincial Greece of rusting railway tracks and flaking facades which the slow camera examines is visually beguiling. The closing passage, when one of the actors is buried after being executed, and his colleagues spontaneously raise their hands above their heads to applaud not a performance but a life, is an incredibly moving moment.
David Perry

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 176: Thu Jun 26

The Hired Hand (Fonda, 1971): The Montpelier, 43 Choumert Rd, SE15

The Days Are Numbers film club are hosting this event.

Chicago Reader review:
Peter Fonda's first venture as a filmmaker (1971) is close in spirit to his father's pastoral dramas. Seven years after he abandoned his wife and son to become an outlaw with Warren Oates, Fonda returns home and takes a menial job on what was once his own ranch. The back-to-the-land sentiments often have a dilettantish, posthippie feel, but Verna Bloom has great authority as the wife and Fonda's direction is appealingly modest and lanky.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 175: Wed Jun 25

The American Friend (Wenders, 1977): Riverside Studios, 6.15pm

Chicago Reader review:
Gripping 1977 American thriller from Wim Wenders that turns back on itself with deadly European irony. Dennis Hopper is an international art smuggler, Bruno Ganz is a Hamburg craftsman. Together they commit a murder and briefly become friends. The film has a fine grasp of tenuous emotional connections in the midst of a crumbling moral universe. Wenders's films (Kings of the Road, Alice in the Cities) are about life on the edge; this is one of his edgiest.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 174: Tue Jun 24

Omar (Abu-Assad, 2013): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film also screens on June 4th, 25th and 27th and, on the first of those dates, director Hany Abu-Assad will be present for a Q&A. Details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
Omar, a young Palestinian activist, finds himself in a ‘catch-22’ situation: he’s arrested by Israelis in the wake of a soldier’s death and released on condition that he will inform on his friends. At the same time he has to deal with a love triangle, and fight to keep his childhood friendships alive in a dangerous climate of mistrust, providing a heady mix of political thriller and stormy romance.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 173: Mon Jun 23

Amour (Haneke, 2012): Phoenix Cinema, 7pm

Introduced by Observer film critic Mark Kermode, and followed by a Q&A with psychoanalyst Margot Waddell and film theorist Laura Mulvey.

Chicago Reader review:
Love is measured in devotion, and devotion in the minutes and hours of suffering, in this harrowing and moving romance from Austrian master Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, Cache). Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play a long-married couple trying to adjust as the wife, a piano teacher, suffers a series of strokes that leave her paralyzed and finally bedridden. Anger, humiliation, and despair all take their toll, but Riva, extraordinary in the role, also communicates the class, intelligence, and beauty that the husband still sees. His tireless attention to her as her body breaks down and her spirit wilts is a thing of wonder to Haneke, who has put his finger on a very particular kind of heartbreak: seeing a lover give up not on you but on the life you've shared.
JR Jones

Here is the trailer.