Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 45: Sat Feb 14

Venus In Furs (Franco, 1969): Barbican Cinema, 9.25pm

Valentine's Day is a date when most of the independent film houses in the capital pull out the stops. Josh Saco, who produces the Cigarette Burns screenings, has won hands down this year.

Here is the Cigarette Burns Facebook page devoted to tonight's screening. 

The American Genre Film Archive will be supplying a rare, original 35mm release print and Stephen Thrower will be providing the introduction.

Barbican introduction:
This gorgeous, dreamlike tale of erotic obsession from Spanish director Jess Franco was inspired by a conversation with legendary jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, who described to him one of the long reveries he experienced while playing a solo.

A trumpet player in an Istanbul jazz venue witnesses the murder of a beautiful blonde jet-setter at the hands of three thrill-seeking aristos (among them depraved, blood-supping playboy Klaus Kinski). Haunted by the memory of this incident, he moves to Rio and begins an affair with a nightclub singer but becomes increasingly obsessed with a mysterious woman who is a dead-ringer for the murdered Wanda.

A winning combination of softcore grindhouse and avant-garde techniques, this film is as free-form as great jazz and features a lively jazz-influenced score by British musician Manfred Mann and his band, some of it performed on screen.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 44: Fri Feb 13

Au Revoir Les Enfants (Malle, 1987): BFI Southbank, NFT Studio, 8.50pm

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

Time Out review:
If the popular image of a boarding-school movie is all jolly hockey sticks, midnight feasts and well-bred brats on broomsticks, this reissue of Louis Malle’s stark 1987 memoir set in a Catholic school during the Nazi occupation of France provides a timely corrective.

The writer-director reimagines his young self as Julien Quentin, a scrappy but soulful 12-year-old who becomes fascinated by the boy in the next bed: Jean Bonnet, a sullen, dark-haired youth who doesn’t know the hymns, doesn’t take communion and doesn’t appear to have any parents. Will Julien keep his new classmate’s secret, even as the Nazis step up their search for France’s remaining renegade Jews?

It’s this ever-shifting balance of power that is the film’s greatest strength: Julien is just old enough to understand Jean’s plight, but still young enough to act unpredictably if things don’t go his way. Crisply photographed and directed with understated grace, the film can feel a little standoffish given the emotive subject matter. But with strong performances from the young leads and a vice-like air of mounting tension, it’s well worth revisiting.

Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 43: Thu Feb 12

The Honeymoon Killers (Kastle, 1969): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

This is part of the My Twisted Valentine season at the Barbican. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Leonard Kastle, a composer who turned filmmaker for this single feature (1970), brings a spare dignity and genuine depth of characterization to his exploitation subject—the series of murders committed by Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck in the late 40s. Fernandez (Tony LoBianco) is a third-rate gigolo who seems deeply in love with the dominating Beck (Shirley Stoler, the concentration camp guard of Seven Beauties); together they seduce and kill elderly, lonely women.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 42: Wed Feb 11

Croupier (Hodges, 1988):
Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Sq, WC1H OPD, 2.30pm

This is a screening organised by the London Screen Study Collection, created at Birkbeck College to promote public awareness of and research into London's screen history. You can find all the details of the current season, titled In And Out of the Tube, here. 

Time Out review:
It's pitiful that no British distributor had the imagination to give Mike Hodges' 1997 film a proper release. An interior thriller set in the seductive nocturnal world of London's casinos and after-hours drinking clubs, it's every bit as compelling as the fashionable Get Carter. Jack (Clive Owen) wants to be a writer, but it's only when he falls back on his old skills as a croupier and accepts a job at the Golden Lion that the novel starts to write itself. A wideboy colleague suggests a theme ('I wanna fuck over the world'); and a beautiful gambler (Kingston) initiates a plot when she propositions him outside the casino. Only the central character presents problems: Jack's girlfriend Marion (McKee) is horrified that the fictional 'Jake' is such a callous operator. Croupier is as much about writing as it is about gambling. It bills itself, quite properly, as 'a film by Mike Hodges and Paul Mayersberg'- the man who wrote The Man Who Fell to Earth. Almost every exchange of dialogue is punctuated with Jack's internal commentary: 'In life there is a choice: be a gambler or a croupier,' he muses. 'I was hooked on watching punters lose.' Not since Casino has a film leaned so heavily on voice-over, but in many ways Mayersberg and Hodges use it more inventively than Scorsese, not only to draw parallels between the dealer (who must never gamble) and the author (who also looks down on his subjects), but as an integral element in an unravelling game of karma, conscience and duplicity. Superbly played - Owen has never been better - and directed with a mature, imperturbable calm, this is cinema worth seeking out.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the opening sequence.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 41: Tue Feb 10

Blue Valentine (Cianfrance, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema 8.45pm

This film is part of the Bloodies & Broken Hearts season at the Prince Charles. Cinema members can see this film for £1. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling tear up the screen as mismatched lovers, shown in alternating sequences as a giddy young couple forging a much-compromised emotional bond on their earliest dates and then years later as bitterly divided spouses with a young daughter. They're just getting by on his wages as a boozy house painter and hers as a nurse, and his close, intuitive relationship with the little girl seems to be the only glue holding it all together. In a desperate move, husband and wife retreat for a romantic evening alone in a crummy hotel with theme rooms; theirs is the "future room," a garish space-age pad, and—wouldn’t you know it?—the future arrives. The performances are so gripping that the movie works despite its diagrammatic structure, which focuses on ironic rhymes between past and present and omits the entirety of the couple’s marriage.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 40: Mon Feb 9

Rome, Open City (Rossellini, 1945): BFI Soutbabnk, NFT1, 6.10pm

This film screens as part of the Passport to Cinema season at the BFI and tonight is introduced by screenwriter, director and producer Mamoun Hassan. There are more screening on 15th and 17th February and you can find all the details here.

I haven't seen this since my post-graduate days at Derby Lonsdale College in the mid-1980s but found it a real eye-opener at the time and wouldn't disagree with this ecstatic review in Chicago Reader. Director Roberto Rossellini was a pioneer and this film, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes, brought the attention of the world to the development of the hugely influential neorealism era in Italian cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Roberto Rossellini's 1946 story of a group of workers and a priest in 1943-'44 Rome, declared an “open city” by the Nazis, was begun only two months after the liberation. Its realistic treatment of everyday Italian life heralded the postwar renaissance of the Italian cinema and the development of neorealism; the film astonished audiences around the world and remains a masterpiece. With Anna Magnani, Aldo Fabrizi, and Maria Michi.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 39: Sun Feb 8

The Beast (Borowczyk, 1975): Rio Cinema, 2.45pm

This screens in a Walerian Borowczyk double-bill with Goto, Island of Love.  

Time Out review:
Once upon a time, in the 18th century, a beast lived in the woods of an aristocratic estate. And this beast, possessed of a giant phallus and an insatiable lust, set upon the beautiful young lady of the house. But the lady was of an even greater sexual appetite, and laid the beast to eternal rest. Two centuries later, the tale of the beast would return in the dreams of an American heiress contracted to carry the male descendant of the same crumbling aristocratic family... Borowczyk's all-out assault on social conventions and repressed desires, an outrageously ironic blend of French farce and surrealist poetry, can be seen as signposting both the peak of his sexual fables (Blanche, Immoral Tales) and his subsequent decline into ephemeral soft porn. Its shameless shuffling of equine couplings, pederastic priests and priapic black manservants earns it nul points for political correctness. But seen from its own amoral perspective, aided by Borowczyk's remarkable sense of framing and rhythm, La Bête is that rare achievement, a truly erotic film.

Here and above is a extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 38: Sat Feb 7

Merrily We Go To Hell (Arzner, 1932): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

This is part of the Hollywood Pre Code Films season at the Cinema Museum. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The death throes of the Jazz Age, as filmed by the only female director of 1930s Hollywood, Dorothy Arzner. Sylvia Sidney is a socialite, Fredric March the alcoholic journalist she falls in love with. This 1932 picture is very highly regarded in some quarters, including Arzner's—she felt it was her best work. With Adrienne Allen, Kent Taylor, and Cary Grant.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 37: Fri Feb 6

Darkman (Raimi, 1990): Prince Charles Cinema, 11.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Late Night at the Prince Charles season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Writer-director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead and its sequels) hit the big time with this 1990 fantasy-thriller about a scientist (Liam Neeson) disfigured by villains who transforms himself into a grisly avenger, unable to feel pain and getting angrier by the minute. Raimi's flair for jazzy visual effects and extravagant action sequences, combined with direction that's full of punch and energy, makes this the best pop roller-coaster ride around. Unlike Tim Burton's Batman, this shows a sensibility that really likes and understands comic books (although echoes of such film classics as Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame aren't far behind, and be prepared for a fair amount of nastiness and gore). Frances McDormand plays the hero's dour girlfriend, and Raimi collaborated with Chuck Pfarrer, Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin, and Joshua Goldin on the script. With Colin Friels and Larry Drake.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 36: Thu Feb 5

Selma (DuVernay, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm

Here is a chance to catch one of the most anticipated films of the year before its release.

Chicago Reader review:
Martin Luther King is the central character but not the central focus of this docudrama about the historic marches King led through Alabama in 1965, which helped bring about the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The film is less concerned with him than with the operational mechanics of the civil rights movement; critic Glenn Kenny has aptly compared this to Steven Soderbergh’s Che, with which it shares a process-oriented view of history. Shifting perspective between multiple characters, screenwriter Paul Webb invites us to consider the events in the context of media culture and federal politics as well as black historical experience; by contrast, director Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere) avoids “big picture” thinking, staging many principal scenes as chamber drama. This is lucid in its political analysis and sobering in its depictions of racially motivated violence, though it sometimes comes off as stolid. With David Oyelowo (as King), Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Common, and Tom Wilkinson.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 35: Wed Feb 4

The Wings of the Dove (Softley, 1997):
irkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Sq, WC1H OPD, 2.30pm

This is a screening organised by the London Screen Study Collection, created at Birkbeck College to promote public awareness of and research into London's screen history. You can find all the details of the current season, titled In And Out of the Tube, here.

This afternoon's movie is the subject of an excellent BFI Modern Classics monograph by Robin Wood. More details of that publication here.

Time Out review:
'Kate Croy (Helena Bonham Carter) loves Merton (Linus Roache), a comparatively impoverished, 'progressive' journalist, but the aunt on whom she depends (Charlotte Rampling) prefers a wealthier suitor and forbids them to meet. Reluctant to lose either her lover or her allowance, Kate takes advantage of her blossoming friendship with visiting American heiress Milly (Elliott), travelling with her to Venice and, unknown to her aunt, inviting her 'friend' Merton to join them. But things get still more complicated when it looks like Milly is starting to fall for Merton herself. For the early London scenes, Hossein Amini's adaptation of Henry James' novel (updated to 1910) seems merely an imaginatively designed Edwardian costumer about frustrated love. In Venice, however, it soon becomes noticeably more interesting, with Kate's motives and methods turning increasingly murky as she appears to drive Merton into Milly's arms. The familiar Jamesian conflict of American innocence and Old World intrigue emerges, darker and crueller than a conventional romantic triangle, and a palpable sense of anguish, guilt and confusion takes hold. The performances are sensitive and sturdy, most impressively so in a beautifully judged sex scene (between Merton and Kate) that is authentically despairing.'
Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 34: Tue Feb 3

Yojimbo (Kurosawa, 1961): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is part of the Classic Films season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa has any number of dramatic and cinematic cliches (both American and Japanese) to overcome—and does so brilliantly—in this action-packed, highly comic 1961 translation of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest to the samurai movie tradition. Toshiro Mifune is again incomparable as the masterless samurai who wanders into a small war between two rival gangs and proceeds to set things right by further stirring them up. In Japanese with subtitles.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the Criterion trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 33: Mon Feb 2

Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

What better way to celebrate Groundhog Day than watching Groundhog Day . . . What better way to celebrate Groundhog Day than watching Groundhog Day . . . What better way to celebrate Groundhog Day than watching Groundhog Day . . .

New Statesman film critic, Ryan Gilbey, has written a BFI Modern Classics monograph on Groundhog Day which I can highly recommend. Here is an extract from a feature he wrote for the Observer on the film:

'[Groundhog Day] has emerged as one of the most influential films in modern cinema - and not only on other movies. Tony Blair did not refer to Jurassic Park in his sombre speech about the Northern Ireland peace process. Dispatches during the search for weapons of mass distraction made no mention of Mrs Doubtfire . And the Archbishop of Canterbury neglected to name-check Indecent Proposal when delivering the 2002 Richard Dimbleby Lecture. But Groundhog Day was invoked on each of these occasions.

The title has become a way of encapsulating those feelings of futility, repetition and boredom that are a routine part of our lives. When Groundhog Day is referred to, it is not the 2 February celebration that comes to mind, but the story of a cynical TV weatherman, Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, who pitches up in Punxsutawney to cover the festivities. Next morning, he wakes to discover it's not the next morning at all: he is trapped in Groundhog Day. No matter what crimes he commits or how definitively he annihilates himself, he will be returned to his dismal bed-and-breakfast each morning at 5.59am  . . .'

Here all the Ned Ryerson scenes, here are all the Ned Ryerson scenes, here are all the Ned Ryerson scenes . . .

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 32: Sun Feb 1

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Andersen, 2003): Rio Cinema, 1.15pm

This screens as part of the L.A. season at the Rio Cinema to coincide with the release of Inherent Vice. There's a great essay on this film by Guardian writer John Patterson here.

Chicago Reader review:
This brilliant and often hilarious video essay (2003) by Thom Andersen (Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer) assembles clips from 191 movies set in Los Angeles, juxtaposing their fantasies with the real city as seen by a loyal and well-informed native. That might sound like a slender premise for 169 minutes, but after five viewings I still feel I've only scratched the surface of this epic meditation. Andersen focuses on the city's people and architecture, but his wisecracking discourse is broad enough to encompass a wealth of local folklore, a bittersweet tribute to car culture, a critical history of mass transit in southern California, and a song of nostalgia for lost neighborhoods and lifestyles. Absorbing and revelatory, this is film criticism of the highest order.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 31: Sat Jan 31

Beyond Clueless (Lyne, 2014): Rio Cinema, 2pm

This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Charlie Lyne.

Rio Cinema introduction:
A crowdfunded delight which reads between the lines of some 270 American teen movies made from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s. It's a wittily edited non-stop stream of clips from countless depictions of teenage life - the jocks, the geeks, the skaters, the mean girls and the masturbators - through high school and beyond. It offers a vibrant, funny, subversive analysis and a compelling case that there is a very dark and poisonous heart to these candy-coloured teenage confections. The hypnotic narration is spoken by cult teen movie actress Fairuza Balk and the superb and the superbly sinister original soundtrack is by British indie band Summer Camp.

Guardian review:
Maybe there is nothing beyond Clueless: maybe Amy Heckerling’s 1995 high-school homage to Jane Austen is the ultimate teenage film. It could be a fault in this hypnotic, narcotic and dreamlike cine-essay about the contemporary American teen movie phenomenon that it does not distinguish between good teen movies and bad ones, and doesn’t question all that closely the genre’s white heterosexual world. But 24-year-old critic and film-maker Charlie Lyne has cleverly – actually, no, make that brilliantly – exploited the “fair use” rule in US copyright law, which allows you to quote short movie clips without payment in non-fiction features, and used that to create a continuous cinephile collage of teen movie fragments, a sort of “Histoire(s) Du Cinema D’Ado”: the result is something so weirdly consistent in style, casting and production values that it looks like one epic, evolving production in an airless eternal present.

Fairuza Balk (from satirical teen movie The Craft) narrates, in a kind of incantatory prose-poem, chorically pointing out the conventions. This is a genre in which twentysomething actors pass for teens, written by thirtysomethings who never forgot their teen angst. The teen movie is not history written by the winners, but rewritten by the losers, or perhaps it is truer to say – by the writers. 

One of the extraordinary things about Beyond Clueless is the reminder of all today’s A-list actors who started out as eerily, almost waxily young stars in teen films. Some are dead. Some are hugely famous. There is pathos in seeing, with a start of recognition and realisation, that some never made it: the dream of fame was not realised for them, and that the whole thing looks like a dream anyway. I am disappointed that Charlie Lyne did not use the opening credits from Get Over It (2001): one of the great tracking shots of modern times.
Peter Bradshaw

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 30: Fri Jan 30

Limelight (Chaplin, 1952): Classic Cinema Club, Ealing Town Hall, 7.30pm

We are talking top ten territory here. And one of my favourite reviews too.

Chicago Reader review:
Charles Chaplin's 1952 film is overlong, visually flat, episodically constructed, and a masterpiece—it isn't “cinema” on any terms but Chaplin's own, but those are high terms indeed. An autobiographical fantasy, it tells of an aging vaudeville clown, Calvero, and his friendship with a young ballerina (Claire Bloom). Buster Keaton appears as an old crony, in a lovely hommage, and there are many antique music-hall numbers interspersed among the personal meditations on life, death, and the transcendence of art. The final shot is among the most eloquent and moving images I know, a picture of the soul in flight.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 29: Thu Jan 29

Christiane F (Edel, 1981): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

This film is part of the Berlin Calling season at the Barbican. Full details here.

Time Out review:
A European box-office phenomenon on the strength of aghast multi-media exposure for the true confessions tale of a 13-year-old girl turned hooker to support her heroin habit. As Awful Warnings go, it's way above the Reefer Madness class, though its lurid drama-doc sheen - and insistent use of David Bowie's Heroes - create some ambivalent tensions between medium and message. Finally, the film's very relentlessness (whether calculated or naive) ensures a 'correct' gut reaction to the spectacle of a near-zomboid alternation of fix and hustle: there's only so much cautionary misery you want rubbed into your face, and this fruitfully goes beyond. Cursory on causes, but devastating on effects.
Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 28: Wed Jan 28

Duck Soup (McCarey, 1933): BFI Southbank, 3, 6.40pm & 8.45pm

This film, part of the Marx Brothers season is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
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 an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 27: Tue Jan 27

Die Marquise von O... (Rohmer, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This film, part of the Eric Rohmer season, is also being shown on 29th January when the screening  will be introduced by Geoff Andrew. Here are the details.

Chicago Reader review:
Eric Rohmer's detailed, infinitely subtle 1976 retelling of a Heinrich von Kleist story about an Italian aristocrat who discovers, unaccountably, that she's pregnant. Rohmer deals with grand passions—love and hate, dignity and humility, forgiveness and contrition—but in an understated way that makes the emotion seem that much more true. The film's slow, stately pace and the quiet way in which it makes its points give it the aura of a neoclassical dream, a fading vision of the virtue of gentility.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 26: Mon Jan 26

No1: The Last Picture Show (Bogdanovich, 1971): Stratford Picturehouse, 6.30pm 

It was the music that got me the first time I saw this film, back in the days when BBC2 were showing films worth watching on a Sunday evening. The soundtrack to this achingly sad drama set in 1950s American small-town wasteland, coming out of cars and home radios, is the country music that was prevalent pre-rock and roll in the States.

The music elicits the mood of stultifying lives the characters lead; the only escape is the army, an affair or the picturehouse. The last film screened at the cinema, symbol of a dying town and of an era, is Howard Hawks' Red River. Impossible, naturally, but a romantic gesture from cinephile director Peter Bogdanovich and one of the many memorable scenes in this key 1970s movie.

The acting from Timothy Bottoms, Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion, Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges, here in his first Hollywood role, is uniformly excellent in a film made with real passion and commitment. Geoffrey Macnab writes here in the Independent about the film's lasting impact.

And here (and above) is Sam the Lion's famous monologue.


No2: I Saw the Devil (Ji-woon, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's 'A Taste of Revenge' season. You can find full details here.

Time Out review:
Korean revenge movies reached their apotheosis with Park Chan-wook’s violent but sophisticated trilogy – ‘Sympathy for Mr Vengeance’, ‘Old Boy’ and ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’ –  the last two of which starred Choi Min-sik. In director Kim Jee-woon’s monotonously brutal cat-and-mouse movie, Choi plays Kyung-chul, an amoral serial killer who abducts and butchers the pregnant wife of special agent Soo-hyeon (Lee Byung-hyun). Consumed by revenge, Soo-hyeon initiates an interminable game of catch-and-release, repeatedly capturing and maiming his prey, but refusing to kill him until the ‘most painful moment’.

A remorseless catalogue of calculated violence, casual cannibalism and sexual sadism, this inflicts over two hours of suffering on the audience – a cruelty compounded by the fact that its banal point is made early: per Nietzsche’s dictum, ‘He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.’ Choi’s ferociously deranged performance eclipses that of handsome Lee, as does Choi Moo-seong’s, as Tae-ju, the seedy hotel owner with a taste for human flesh. 

Nigel Floyd

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 25: Sun Jan 25

In the Mouth of Madness (Carpenter, 1995): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.50pm

This film , in the Cult strand at BFI Southbank, also screens on 29th January. Full details can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
Director John Carpenter turns gothic and modernist at the same time in this scary if overloaded paranoid story (1995) by Michael De Luca, about an insurance adjuster (Sam Neill) hired to track down a best-selling horror author (Jürgen Prochnow) who finds himself trapped inside the occult fantasy world of the writer. Carpenter establishes an unnerving atmosphere through elliptical suggestions and various shock cuts, conjuring up a semimythological world inspired by the tales of H.P. Lovecraft. Even if the old-fashioned horror thrills don't always mesh with the self-referential modernist conceits, he keeps things moving and provocative throughout. With Julie Carmen and Charlton Heston.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 24: Sat Jan 24

The King and the Mockingbird (Grimault, 1980): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

This film, one of my personal highlights of 2014 when it was reissued, also screens at Cine Lumiere on Sunday 18th January. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
Thirty-two years in production and mauled by its producers, 1980’s ‘The King and the Mockingbird’ (‘Le Roi et L’Oiseau’) could have been a spectacular misfire. Instead it’s just a wonderful spectacle: a hugely ambitious loose adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale that’s enthralled just about every French child since its first release. The despotic ruler of a fictional kingdom pines after a shepherdess who lives in a painting on his wall; she in turn loves the chimney sweep in the neighbouring canvas. With the help of Mr Bird, a mockingbird who lives up to his name by incessantly taunting the otherwise feared king, the two conspire to flee the kingdom.
The bold design is a curious hybrid of Bavarian opulence and sci-fi polish (and an influence on Studio Ghibli’s ‘Castle in the Sky’). Meanwhile the taut adventure story – penned by the great poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert – doubles up as a cautionary tale on the dangers of totalitarianism. An established masterpiece in its homeland, Paul Grimault’s film remains little known across the channel. Lyrical, satirical and hugely entertaining, it deserves a wider audience; hopefully, with this welcome re-release, it will find one.
Alex Dudok de Wit

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 23: Fri Jan 23

Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2013): Hackney Picturehouse, 10.50pm

This Coen Brothers film also screens on Saturday 24th January at this venue. Details here.

Once you have seen the last scene in this fascinating movie I defy you not to want it watch again. And here's a a chance to do so again, two years after its release. Spoiler alert: Guardian critic and writer Dorian Lynskey was very intrigued by what the directors pulled off in the denoument to the movie and you can read his musings here. But don't try and do so till you have seen the film.

Chicago Reader review:
From a distance, this feature by Joel and Ethan Coen might resemble the brothers' 1991 farce Barton Fink: like the earlier movie, it evokes a specific showbiz milieu (Greenwich Village in the early 60s) as it follows an aspiring artist (a down-and-out folkie played by Oscar Isaac) who's based on a real-life figure (singer-guitarist Dave Van Ronk). Yet the broad, black humor of the Coens' early features (Blood Simple, Raising Arizona) has ripened over the years into a sadder, more philosophical brand of comedy (A Serious Man) that puts them in a class with Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch (yeah, you heard me). Their theme here is the same as in Fink—the fraught relationship between art and commerce—but their key insight is noticeably more mature: a good artist must be in the right place at the right time to succeed, whereas a truly great one makes that time and place his own.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 22: Thu Jan 22

D'Est (Akerman, 1993): ICA Cinema, 7pm

This is the latest screening in the A Nos Amours film club's full Chantal Akerman retrospective.

Here is the ICA introduction:
D’Est is a wordless winter travelogue through the countries of Eastern Europe, from East Germany, through Poland and the Baltic states, across Russia towards Moscow and its cavernous terminal stations. The Soviet era has gone, a collapse leaving behind a seemingly stunned, endless waiting populace. The film begins with a series of late summer images, at the beach, or lazily in the park. Winter threatens. Long lines of anonymous people, suggestive of resignation and an unfathomable fortitude. Akerman’s camera tracks these lines, catching the stamp of frozen feet, the hunch of shoulders bearing the cold.

Domesticity life is a silent one though sentimental songs can be played on a gramophone and may be company of a sort. Sausage and bread and salt are on the supper menu for one. Even the grand terminal stations of the capital serve only to lend the waiting crowds a new kind of insignificance. Bleak, for sure, but beautiful image-making and laying our of materials, the deft and caring work of a great artist.

It is hard not to think of Samuel Beckett in this absorbing study of human futility, especially the exchange from Endgame: Clov: “If I don't kill the rat, he'll die”… Hamm: “That's right.”

Chicago Reader review:
Chantal Akerman's haunting 1993 masterpiece documents without commentary or dialogue her several-months-long trip from east Germany to Moscow—a tough and formally rigorous inventory of what the former Soviet bloc looks and feels like today. Akerman's penchant for finding Edward Hopper wherever she goes has never been more obvious; this travelogue seemingly offers vistas any alert tourist could find yet delivers a series of images and sounds that are impossible to shake later: the countless tracking shots, the sense of people forever waiting, the rare plaint of an offscreen violin over an otherwise densely ambient sound track, static glimpses of roadside sites and domestic interiors, the periphery of an outdoor rock concert, a heavy Moscow snowfall, a crowded terminal where weary people and baggage are huddled together like so many dropped handkerchiefs. The only other film I know that imparts such a vivid sense of being somewhere is the Egyptian section of Straub-Huillet's Too Early, Too Late. Everyone goes to movies in search of events, but the extraordinary events in Akerman's sorrowful, intractable film are the shots themselves—the everyday recorded by a powerful artist with an acute eye and ear.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

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

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 21: Wed Jan 21

Topsy-Turvy (Leigh, 1999): Genesis Cinema, 7pm

Badlands Collective screening + Q&A with director Mike Leigh

Here is the Genesis Cinema introduction:
Following the success of Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, now is the ideal time to revisit his 1999 film Topsy-Turvy, the director’s first period biopic and one of his grandest achievements. Both an exploration and celebration of the collaborative spirit in which his films are made, this richly entertaining and moving take on Gilbert & Sullivan’s production of The Mikado shares with Mr. Turner a vivid sense of period detail, a deft avoidance of biopic clichés and tremendous performances from Leigh’s regular ensemble. Topsy-Turvy is a thrillingly adventurous and satisfying picture, and The Badlands Collective is proud to present this screening on 35mm and pleased to host a Q&A with the director Mike Leigh after the film.

Chicago Reader review: 
For all his versatility as a writer-director, I was surprised to learn that Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies) had made a film about the genesis of Gilbert and Sullivan's mid-1880s comic opera The Mikado. Yet this 160-minute "backstage musical" is about something he knows intimately--the complex of personal, organizational, artistic, and cultural factors that go into putting on a show. Leigh begins with leisurely character sketches of composer Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner) and librettist William Gilbert (Jim Broadbent), two very different men whose collaboration appears to be at an end. Only after Gilbert's wife (Lesley Manville) drags him to a Japanese exhibition in London does The Mikado (and this movie) begin to take shape, and after that the film keeps getting better and better. The actors and actresses in the stage production, including Leigh regular Timothy Spall, all sing in their own voices, and Leigh's flair for comedy and sense of social interaction shine as he shows all the ingredients in The Mikado beginning to mesh. Thoroughly researched and unobtrusively upholstered, this beautifully assured entertainment about Victorian England is a string of delights. With Ron Cook, Wendy Nottingham, Eleanor David, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson, Dorothy Atkinson, and many Leigh standbys, including Alison Steadman and Katrin Cartlidge. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 20: Tue Jan 20

A Night at the Opera (Wood, 1935): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This film, part of the Marx Brothers season at BFI Southbank, also screens on 25th and 26th January. Full details here.

Time Out review:
The Marx Brothers at the turning point, just before their gradual descent into mediocrity at the hands of MGM, who wanted their comedy to be rationed and rationalised. It's a top budget job, opulent and meticulous, with its fair share of vices: this is the first Marx Brothers film where you really feel like strangling the romantic leads. But it has even more virtues: there's no Zeppo, the script's generally great (Kaufman and Ryskind), Dumont's completely great, and the Brothers get to perform some of their most irresistible routines - the stateroom scene and all.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 19: Mon Jan 19

Meek's Cutoff (Reichardt, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's 'While We Sweat Water and Blood' season devoted to films by female directors. Full details here.

Meek's Cutoff is the movie I was most impressed by at the 2010 London Film Festival. The film, which takes as its starting point the fate of a number of the wagons that branched off from the Oregon Trail in 1845, is at once mysterious, tense, thought-provoking and, in parts, stunningly beautiful. The ending is the most ambiguous I've seen since John Sayles' notoroious denoument to Limbo (1999) and destined to be a major talking point for anyone who sees Kelly Reichardt's film.

Chicago Reader review:
Imagine a collaboration between John Ford and Wallace Stevens and you might get a sense of what Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy) pulls off here: a sincere re-creation of the pioneer experience, brought to life through careful, often unexpected detail. A small group of settlers, led by the self-mythologizing scout Meek, gets lost in the Oregon desert on its way west. The ensuing tension brings out everyone's worst qualities, which start to undermine the already fragile social dynamic. Given the emphasis screenwriter Jon Raymond places on religious fervor, naivete, and xenophobia, the film makes for an effective allegory about the United States' ongoing misdirection in confronting other cultures. Yet Reichardt keeps this so hypnotic from shot to shot that you can easily get wrapped up in it as a sensory experience. As the title character, Bruce Greenwood gives a fascinating and understated performance; the cast also includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, and Shirley Henderson.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 18: Sun Jan 18

Goodbye to Langauge 3D (Godard, 2014): Rio Cinema, 4.30pm

A rare chance to see director Jean-Luc Godard's latest, and much-discussed film. There are a number of articles about this film circulating, one of the most interesting by David Bordwell which you can read here. The film is screening in a double-bill at the Rio with Godard's Detective (1985), which starts at 2.30pm.

Goodbye to Language review:
Yes, the rumours were true – Jean-Luc Godard has made a feature in 3D, but it’s not 3D as Michael Bay would recognise it. While JLG’s latest disquisition on language, politics and the image very much follows on from his recent features, Goodbye to Language pushes his formal explorations into exciting new territory. There’s a hint of a narrative, involving a married woman and a single man, but this is above all an essay in fragmentation, taking in wordplay, literary and musical quotation, toilet humour, abundant allusion to science fiction – and even a mischievous moment of costume drama. Often using electrically saturated colours, Godard flouts illusionism with some visual flourishes that are all the more magical for their lo-fi simplicity. All this, and a charismatic debut from the film’s true star – a dog named Roxy. Godard is as provocative as ever, but it’s a long time since we’ve seen him so exuberant.
Jonathan Romney

Here (and above) is the trailer.


Detective review:
Jean-Luc Godard's 1985 deconstruction of film noir has the lightness and comic zip of some of his 60s features, though the mix of elements isn't quite as rich. The action is largely restricted to a Parisian hotel, where house detective Laurent Terzieff and his skulking assistant Jean-Pierre Léaud make a halfhearted attempt to solve a two-year-old murder; fight promoter Johnny Hallyday tries to train his new discovery on a minimal budget; married couple Nathalie Baye and Claude Brasseur struggle to work out the kinks in their relationship; and Mafia chieftain Alain Cuny discusses philosophy with a tiny French schoolgirl. The finely layered Dolby sound track is full of such wonderfully Godardian experiments as moving the background score to the foreground while the voices cower beneath blasts of Schubert, Wagner, and Ornette Coleman.
Dave Kehr

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 17: Sat Jan 17

Claire's Knee (Rohmer, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This film, part of the Eric Rohmer season, also screens on 19 January. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The penultimate entry (1970, 106 min.) in Eric Rohmer's series of “Six Moral Tales,” and the loveliest, most crystalline of the lot. With his serenely precise plot structures and camera placements, Rohmer is the greatest logician of the movies; he treats the mysteries of love as if they were math problems, but with such generous concern that he never betrays the humanity of his characters. And so it is appropriate that the hero of his masterpiece is a man who focuses all his learning—cultural, moral, philosophical—on the apparently trivial problem of whether or not to touch the knee of a teenage girl he has met on a vacation. With Jean-Claude Brialy, Beatrice Romand, and Aurora Cornu.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 16: Fri Jan 16

Re-Animator (Gordon, 1985): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm

This film, part of the Cult starnd at BFI Southbank, also screens on 15 January. Full details here.

Time Out review:
When cleancut med student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) advertises for a roommate, little does he suspect how spectacularly his life - and the laws of creation - are about to be turned upside down. He soon wishes he'd heeded the caution of girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton), who can obviously spot a crazed re-animator when she sees one. In no time at all, Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) has brought Dan's dead cat twitching back to life with a syringe full of green gloop. The dean (Robert Sampson) fails to see the beneficial side and expels Dan and West, who promptly turn Burke and Hare in the university morgue. Mayhem ensues as the dead run amok. Dr Hill (David Gale), a rival for Megan's affections, loses his head - and then finds it again. The injection of humour into HP Lovecraft's 1922 tale is what saves this splatterfest from being mere fodder for gorehounds.
Nick Roddick

Here (and above) is the opening to the film.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 15: Thu Jan 15

City of Lost Souls (Von Praunheim, 1983): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

Here is the Barbican introduction:
This underground, trans-spectacular punk musical from 1983 centres on a group of American ex-pats in bohemian West Berlin.

These various ‘lost souls’ are drawn into the orbit of one Angie Stardust, a black singer and drag artist from Harlem, and the cast of unapologetic misfits includes: the glamorous Southern transvestite Tara O’Hara, sexual trapeze artists Tron von Hollywood and Judith Flex, a quasi-cult leader and practitioner of erotic black magic, Gary Miller, and Lila, a trashy, spotlight-seeking Southern blonde played by celebrated punk singer Jayne County.

Directed by Rosa von Praunheim, the film is a hysterical, historical document of a particular time and place. Emerging as a genuine cult classic it is screening here from a recent re-master.

We are pleased to be joined by Juliet Jacques, journalist, cultural critic and author of Trans: A Memoir (Verso, 2015) to introduce this screening. 

Chicago Reader review:
West German filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim (
Red Love, Army of Perverts) lights out for the territory again, the sexual terra incognita of underground Berlin. It's a musical that takes place mostly in a hamburger joint and a hotel, with an all-glitter-dust assortment of uninspired talents (American expatriates stranded in Berlin) waiting for their big break on the nightlife scene. With Jayne County, Angie Stardust, and La Habana (1983).Pat Graham

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 14: Wed Jan 14

Valley Girl (Coolidge, 1983): ICA Cinema, 8pm

This evening's entertainment is part of the London Short Film Festival and full details of all the screenings in the season can be found here. Jennifer Reeder will screen four of her short films before the ICA shows her movie choice, Valley Girl, after which she will lead a discussion on the movie.

Here is the ICA introduction:
Jennifer Reeder is a filmmaker and visual artist from Ohio. She constructs very personal narratives about landscapes, coincidence and trauma. Reeder's work draws on influences from the John Hughes canon of eighties and nineties teen films, and specifically on one of her own adolescent favourites, Valley Girl.
And I Will Rise, If Only To Hold You Down (2012, 25 mins.)
Girls Love Horses (2013, 13 mins.)
A Million Miles Away (2014, 28 mins.)
Seven Songs About Thunder (2010, 20 mins.)

Valley Girl (Martha Coolridge, US 1983, 99 min): A young Nicholas Cage is a punk from the city, who meets Julie, a girl from the valley. They are from different worlds and find love, in spite of her shallow friends. Includes a new wave soundtrack including The Plimsouls, Sparks, The Psychedelic Furs, Modern English, and Men At Work.
Jennifer Reeder will intro and discuss the film, over 30 years since its release.

Chicago Reader review:
Director Martha Coolidge turned a short-lived fad into a genuine sleeper, an exploitation film that thoroughly transcends its origins to become a highly appealing romantic comedy (1983). Pert, toothy Val gal Deborah Foreman falls in love with Hollywood punk Nicolas Cage, who suggests a lobotomized Robert Mitchum; the star-crossed lovers are threatened by peer pressure and cultural incompatibility, but true feeling triumphs in the end. Coolidge hasn't made a campy, condescending comedy, but a satiric romance, in which the background gags and caricatures contribute to a sense of significant conflicts and solid emotions. It's irresistible. With Elizabeth Daily, Michael Bowen, Lee Purcell, Colleen Camp, and Frederic Forrest.

Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 13: Tue Jan 13

I Am Here (Holmes, 2014): ICA Cinema, 6.45pm

This film is being shown as part of the London Short Film Festival and full details of all the screenings can be found here.

Here is the ICA introduction:

This afternoon we’re excited to present the UK premiere of David Holmes’ directorial debut, I Am Here, starring Edward Hogg & Liam Cunningham, and shot by Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love). A surreal dream-like short about a man who wakes to find himself stranded in a strange new world, I Am Here is the latest development in Holmes’s eclectic career.

Belfast born David Holmes began DJ-ing from the age of 15, releasing his own music and mixes from 1995 and forming The Free Association in 2002, mixing northern soul and psychedelic funk, and producing work for U2, Doves, Manic Street Preachers and Primal Scream.

In 1998 he was commissioned to create the soundtrack for Steven Soderburgh’s Out of Sight, and has since worked with Soderburgh on the Oceans film series and Haywire (2012), as well as Steve McQueen’s Hunger, and 2014’s massively critically acclaimed ’71.

David Holmes and film critic Mark Kermode will take the stage following the screening, to discuss inspirations from the world of film and music.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 12: Mon Jan 12

To Have and Have Not (Hawks, 1944): Greenwich Picturehouse, 1pm

This film, which is being shown on 35mm, also screens at Hackney Picturehouse on 8 January and Ritzy Cinema on 20 January. Click on the links for more details. 

There's some fascinating work on the movie by academics Catherine Grant and Ian Garwood.
Here is Grant's tribute to Lauren Bacall and you can find Garwood's video and accompanying text featuring the film here.

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

Here (and above) is an extract.