Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 78: Thu Mar 19

The Romance of Astrea & Celadon (Rohmer, 2007): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film is as part of the Eric Rohmer season and also screens on 15 March. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
French filmmaker Eric Rohmer closed out his long and brilliant career with this charming, leisurely romantic comedy (2007), adapted from Honore d'Urfe's 17th-century novel L'Astree. The film revisits themes from Rohmer's earlier works but also continues his millennial experiment in fastidious costume drama, begun in 2001 with The Lady and the Duke. The fifth-century shepherd Celadon (Andy Gillet), accused of infidelity and spurned by his true love, Astrea (Stephanie Crayencour), plunges into the river to drown himself, but he's picked up downstream by a trio of lightly draped nymphs, who spirit him away to their community. Sharp ideas about love (from Celadon's brother and a clownish shepherd) and spiritual fidelity (from Celadon and a druid high priest) sustain the midsection of the movie before Rohmer wraps up with some foolishness involving Celadon in drag. Tales like these can often come off as flutey, but this one is elevated by its high intellectual tone, the luxuriant landscapes, and Rohmer's spare, unadorned style.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 77: Wed Mar 18

The Deep Blue Sea (Davies, 2011):
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.

Chicago Reader review:
Rachel Weisz delivers a wrenching performance as a young Londoner driven to suicide by her sexless marriage to an aging judge and her doomed affair with a dashing former RAF pilot. Terence Rattigan based his 1952 play on his own unhappy experience being jilted by a younger man, yet The Deep Blue Sea has become a classic drama of female desire; the heroine's passion is so great it overwhelms her spouse (played here by Simon Russell Beale), her lover (Tom Hiddleston), and, very nearly, herself. It's an excellent property for director Terence Davies, whose painterly period dramas (The House of Mirth, The Long Day Closes) often center on big-hearted dreamers cramped by their colorless surroundings.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 76: Tue Mar 17

No1 Je Tu il Elle (Akerman, 1974):
Picturehouse cinemas across London. Details here.

'Comparable in force and originality to Godard or Fassbinder, Chantal Akerman is arguably the most important European director of her generation'. J Hoberman

Chicago Reader review of Je Tu il Elle:
Chantal Akerman directed and plays the lead in this early (1974) black-and-white feature that charts three successive stages of its heroine's love life. In the first part she lives like a hermit, eating only sugar, compulsively rearranging the furniture in her one-room flat, and apparently writing and rewriting a love letter; in part two she hitches a ride with a truck driver and eventually gives him a hand job; in part three she arrives at the home of her female lover, and they proceed to make frantic love. This is every bit as obsessive and as eerie as Akerman's later Jeanne Dielman and Toute une nuit, though not as striking on a visual level; as in all her best work, however, the minimalist structure is both potent and haunting.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here and above is an extract.


No2: Life of Riley (Resnais, 2013): Cine Lumiere, 6.30pm

The last film from Alain Resnais runs at the Cine Lumiere from 13 March to 19 March and is also on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
At the Berlinale, weeks before he died, Alain Resnais’ final film won the nonagenarian a Silver Bear for opening new perspectives in cinema. A faithful yet mischievous adaptation of a play by his friend Alan Ayckbourn, it charts the responses of three couples – especially the women – to the news that their friend George Riley (never seen in the film) has just months to live. Stressing the theatrical artifice of a storyline which is itself about amateur dramatics and role-playing, Resnais elicits excellent performances from his cast, who speak French while inhabiting a surreal Yorkshire of the mind comprised of stylised sets, cartoons and roadscapes. A wise, witty, admirably airy look at life, love and death by one of film’s greatest modernists.
Geoff Andrew, Senior Film Programmer

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 75: Mon Mar 16

Dressed To Kill (De Palma, 1980): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film, being screened from 35mm, is part of the Prince Charles' De Palma Selectrospective. Full details here.

Observer review:
Of the generation of confident, bearded, cine-literate film-school graduates dubbed the Movie Brats who set out to take over Hollywood in the 1970s (Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, Milius, Lucas et al), none was more technically accomplished or referential than Brian De Palma. His  work has been prolific and uneven, with mainstream successes like The Untouchables (1987) and Mission: Impossible (1996), and mainstream failures, most notably The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). His best films were made between his version of Stephen King's Carrie (1976) and the Vietnam-set Casualties of War (1989). His most daring films are two brilliant thrillers – Dressed to Kill (1980) and Blow Out (1981).

The Blow Out DVD appeared earlier this year. Dressed to Kill, his masterly homage to Psycho (with major references to Vertigo and North By Northwest), is out this week accompanied by revealing interviews with De Palma, his producer and stars. This ingenious erotic thriller full of unexpected shocks is best seen with no foreknowledge and even better at a second viewing. Angie Dickinson gives her finest performance as a frustrated middle-class wife and mother, Michael Caine plays her sympathetic shrink, Nancy Allen is a call girl who witnesses an appalling murder, and Dennis Franz is a cynical homicide cop. There's a brilliantly sustained eight-minute sequence of a pick-up at New York's Metropolitan Museum with no dialogue but with a Bernard Herrmann-type score by Pino Donaggio, who began his movie career composing the music for Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now in 1973.
Philip French

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 74: Sun Mar 15

The 400 Blows (Truffaut, 1959): Rio Cinema, 2pm

This screens at the Rio as part of a double-bill with Au Revoir Les Enfants.

Chicago Reader review:
'More conventional than Godard and more sentimental than Chabrol, Francois Truffaut spearheaded the breakthrough of the French New Wave with this highly autobiographical first feature (1959). Jean-Pierre Leaud is the wide-eyed boy who flees his battling parents only to find himself irrevocably alone. Distinguished by its intensity of feeling and freewheeling use of the wide-screen frame, the film ranks among Truffaut's best.'
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 73: Sat Mar 14

Far From the Madding Crowd (Schlesinger, 1967): Barbican Cinema 3, 4 & 7.30pm

This film's re-release got its premiere at last year's London Film Festival.

BFI introduction to LFF screening:
1967 saw Julie Christie and Terence Stamp immortalised by The Kinks in ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and cast as lovers in Thomas Hardy’s epic love story. Headstrong and independent, farmer Bathsheba Everdene is among the most modern of 19th-century heroines and Christie’s performance beautifully underlines her as a woman at odds with the conventions of the time. The film contains a number of stand-out set-pieces, such as Stamp’s seductive, almost Freudian display of swordsmanship. But what resonates so deeply is the way in which Schlesinger and cinematographer Nicolas Roeg frame the passions and tragedy at the film’s heart with the patterns of rural life and the harsh, sodden beauty of the Dorset landscape. Almost 50 years on, this restoration reveals the film as an immersive piece of cinema with Hardy’s cruel ironies and bleak lyricism fully intact.
Robin Baker

John Patterson wrote an excellent article in the Guardian on this re-release. You can read the full article here. This is an extract:

Schlesinger’s Hardy was derided back then for its casting of Julie Christie and Terence Stamp, mere months after they’d been name-checked in the Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset, and who then seemed more Swinging London than Wailing Wessex. Time and distance have eradicated that feeling, however, and I delighted in the credits as they unfolded: not just Terry and Julie, but Peter Finch and eternal peasant-pagan Alan Bates, all perfectly cast; Stamp in particular, as the vile Sergeant Troy, whose name should really be “destroy”.

But behind the camera too, there is joy to be had. Frederic Raphael’s screenplay, tied to Hardy as it must be, keeps the screenwriter’s more irritating locutions and “sparkling dialogue” tendencies in check, and serves Hardy admirably in terms of scale and pacing, while making hay of double entendres such as Troy’s leering “I’ll unfasten you in no time”. But perhaps the heart of the movie is the relationship between production designer Richard Macdonald – the man responsible for Joseph Losey’s eye-popping “mise-insane” films during the 60s – and cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, at the height of what I think of as his Red Period as a cameraman. Best of all is to see a large-scale British period movie in which millions and millions of MGM’s dollars are clearly and effectively visible on the screen.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 72: Fri Mar 13

Go Tell It To The Judge (Barraclough, 1977): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This is one of the films from the season devoted to documentary filmmaker Jenny Barraclough at BFI Southbank.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Jenny Barraclough learned her craft on two TV series that broke the mould – Granada’s tough, investigative World In Action and BBC’s ‘human interest’ series Man Alive. During the 70s she was continually drawn to those who battled for justice against those in power, and the heroic ‘little people’ caught up in world crises. It’s clear that she delighted in irreverence – whether sharing a telling, intimate moment in the life of an Indian movie star, or observing Mrs Thatcher in her kitchen. In 1989 Barraclough set up a production company with BBC producer George Carey, through which she made, among others, The Plague (RTS Best Documentary Series), Lost Civilizations (Best Series Emmy), and Frontiers (Best series ACE). Above all, Barraclough’s films are deeply humane and demonstrate two constants – support for those who fall through the cracks, and a talent for finding the humour beneath big stories.

Tonight's films are Go Tell It To The Judge: A small group of residents from a remote Pacific island travel to London to seek justice as their home is literally being mined from under them. This extraordinary inside story of the longest and most expensive case in British legal history had such impact that it actually altered the outcome of the case, and includes one of the first attempts at reconstruction within the documentary genre.

... and Iron In The Soul: Presented by Stuart Hall, this powerful film with a wonderfully rich cast of characters tells the dramatic history of the English Caribbean and the mixed legacy of the British Empire. It includes an early planter’s scandalous diary detailing his sexual exploits and brutal methods of punishment; the little-known story of the poor whites known as ‘the Redlegs’; and the famous cricketer who took the world by storm and beat his old master.

Here (and above) is an extract from Barraclough's Man Alive film on Hyde Park.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 71: Thu Mar 12

A Couch in New York (Akerman, 1996): ICA Cinema, 7pm

This is part of the complete Chantal Akerman retrospective from the A Nos Amours film club.

Here is their introduction to tonight's film:
The plot of Un divan à New York can read like the outline of a 50s melodrama: a dour New York psychoanalyst Henry (William Hurt) decides to house swap his Fifth Avenue apartment for a place in Paris. He ends up in the bohemian home of a dancer named Béatrice (Juliette Binoche). She is as insouciant as he is dour, and messy as he is tidy.

But Henry’s patients love Béatrice, and she finds she really can help them. Coming home, Henry finds his world in superb shape. Even his dog is happier. Henry has the wit to lie on her couch.
Akerman’s confection has a lightness that is hard to catch if in a hurry. 

Good to watch some Lubitsch beforehand to get into the mood. Then think of Peter Bogdanovich talking about Lubitsch’s style (and imagine that he is describing Akerman: “Something light, strangely indefinable, yet nonetheless tangible… one can feel this certain spirit; not only in the tactful and impeccably appropriate placement of the camera, the subtle economy of his plotting, the oblique dialogue which had a way of saying everything through indirection, but also - and particularly - in the performance of every single player, no matter how small the role." (read the whole article here.)

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 70: Wed Mar 11

The Mother (Michell, 2003):
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:
Anyone who thought the film Calendar Girls bottled it will find this an altogether meatier proposition. Scripted by the congenitally unsentimental Hanif Kureishi, The Mother gives Anne Reid the role of a lifetime as the recently widowed May, who comes down to stay with her middle class son in London and can't find the courage to leave. Even then, it's only her son's friend Darren (Daniel Craig) who sees May as a person, not an antiquated nuisance. They become friends and, secretly, lovers. Reid is wonderful, subtly revealing a difficult, longtime repressed woman coming out of her shell under the attentive curiosity of the younger man. The director, Roger Michell, treats the sex scenes just so, with frankness, humour and compassion. It's only in the wider social realm that this affair assumes the status of taboo. May's grown children busily set about fixing her up with a likely partner never imagining the object of her real heart's desire lies so close to home. Very handsomely shot, the film exists in an altogether different zone to Michell's Notting Hill - this is a London natives may actually recognise. It's a shame, though, that the melodramatic showdown at the end of the movie smacks of nothing more than bad faith.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 69: Tue Mar 10

Life of Riley (Resnais, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT 3, 6pm & NFT2, 8.40pm

Here is the BFI introduction:
At the Berlinale, weeks before he died, Alain Resnais’ final film won the nonagenarian a Silver Bear for opening new perspectives in cinema. Life of Riley screens at the BFI from 6th to 19th March.

'A faithful yet mischievous adaptation of a play by his friend Alan Ayckbourn, it charts the responses of three couples – especially the women – to the news that their friend George Riley (never seen in the film) has just months to live. Stressing the theatrical artifice of a storyline which is itself about amateur dramatics and role-playing, Resnais elicits excellent performances from his cast, who speak French while inhabiting a surreal Yorkshire of the mind comprised of stylised sets, cartoons and roadscapes. A wise, witty, admirably airy look at life, love and death by one of film’s greatest modernists.'
Geoff Andrew, Senior Film Programmer

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 68: Mon Mar 9

The War Game (Watkins, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT, 6.10pm
+ Culloden (1964) & Forgotten Faces (1961)

A triple bill of early work by Peter Watkins, one of cinema’s great provocateurs, that takes in the past, near-present and future as part of the BFI's Passport to Cinema season: Forgotten Faces recreates the Hungarian revolution on the streets of Canterbury; Culloden is an as-it-happens faux documentary about the Jacobean uprising; The War Game (banned for 20 years by the BBC) is a haunting film about the aftermath of nuclear war.

A comment on The War Game by Jonathan Rosenbaum:
Watkins's The War Game (1965), probably his best-known film—a terrifying 47-minute pseudodocumentary that imagines the immediate effects of a nuclear strike on Britain—won a well-deserved Oscar for best documentary, yet it was banned from worldwide TV broadcasting for 20 years by the BBC, which rationalized its suppression by calling it an artistic failure. That only encouraged supporters to be hyperbolic. Kenneth Tynan, probably the greatest theater critic of the second half of the 20th century, saw it at a private screening and wrote in the London Observer, "I suspect that it may be the most important film ever made. We are always being told that works of art cannot change the course of history. Given wide enough dissemination, I believe that this one might....The War Game is more than a diagnosis; it is a work of art. It precisely communicates one man's vision of disaster, and I cannot think that it is diminished as art because the vision happens to correspond with the facts. Like Michelangelo's 'Last Judgment,' it proposes itself as an authentic documentary image of the wrath to come—though Michelangelo, of course, was working from data less capable of verification." Watkins's gargantuan Web site (; he's now based in Lithuania, where his Lithuanian wife works as a freelance translator and editor) quotes portions of this review and several others, positive and negative, though it fails to cite Tynan by name—just as it fails to cite the names of most of the actors in his films.

You can find Rosenbaum's full feature on Peter Watkins here

Here (and above) is an extract from Culloden.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 67: Sun Mar 8

A Scandal in Bohemia (Elvey, 1921): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

Here is the Barbican introduction:
Three classic episodes from the Stoll series of short films, starring Eille Norwood as Holmes and Hubert Willis as Dr Watson: A Scandal in Bohemia (1921), The Man with the Twisted Lip (1921) and The Final Problem (1923). 

+ live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne

Special thanks to curator Bryony Dixon (BFI National Archive)

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 66: Sat Mar 7

Ghostbusters (Reitman, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4pm

This is an exclusive screening for BFI Members and their guests.

Chicago Reader review:
Essentially a $30 million version of Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy but not at all a bad time, thanks mainly to Bill Murray's incredibly dry line readings and director Ivan Reitman's maintenance of a moderately coherent tone and plotline (1984). Murray is the leader of a team of parapsychologists (his partners are Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, both curiously underutilized) who hire themselves out to trap domestic spooks; their toughest client is Sigourney Weaver, who sees a vision of the apocalypse in her refrigerator. Reitman (Meatballs, Stripes) is adept at low-key improvisational comedy.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 65: Fri Mar 6

The Ice Forest (Noce, 2014): Cine Lumiere, 8.50pm

This film is part of the 'Cinema Made in Italy' season at Cine Lumiere and was chosen for screening by Film London chief executive Adrian Wootton. Full details of the season can be found here.

Here is the Cine Lumiere introduction:
A mystery lurks behind the apparent tranquillity of an Alpine village. As a storm approaches menacingly in the background, Pietro, a young expert technician, comes to the valley to repair a malfunction at the high-altitude electrical plant. He is suddenly involved in a strange disappearence. When the young man figures out the origin of the secrets hidden in the heart of the valley, the tensions explode with extreme cruelty and spark a play of distorting mirrors in which everyone falls under the lens of suspicion.

The film will be preceded by an introduction and followed by a Q&A with Claudio Noce

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 64: Thu Mar 5

Four of the Apocalypse (Fulcio, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm

Another great screening in the new Cult strand at BFI Southbank.

Here is their introduction to the evening's entertainment:
Of Fulci’s three forays into the western genre, Four of the Apocalypse is undoubtedly the most impressive, proudly showcasing his unruly approach to narrative and affection for eye-popping violence. A gambler, a prostitute, an alcoholic and a gravedigger flee a vigilante attack on their frontier town, only to find themselves at the mercy of a sadistic outlaw named Chaco.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 63: Wed Mar 4

Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960): Dominion Theatre, 7.30pm

A screening of Psycho with a live score, featuring one of the greatest soundtracks in cinema history. This promises to be one of the film highlights in London this year.

Here is the Dominion Theatre introduction:
Apollo are delighted to present a live, high-definition screening of the iconic Hitchcock film, Psycho on March 4th here at the Dominion Theatre. The screening will be accompanied on stage by a live 40-piece orchestra. An incredible live experience not to be missed. Celebrated as one of Hitchcock’s finest cinematic works, Psycho is consistently hailed as a groundbreaking film which set the template for a whole new genre of hugely successful psychological thrillers.
The score has become infamous in its own right, and Hitchcock himself remarked that “33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music”. Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack will be performed live by the Cinematic Sinfonia and conducted by Anthony Gabriele.

Chicago Reader review:
A dark night at the Bates Motel, in the horror movie that transformed the genre by locating the monster inside ourselves. Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece blends a brutal manipulation of audience identification and an incredibly dense, allusive visual style to create the most morally unsettling film ever made. The case for Hitchcock as a modern Conrad rests on this ruthless investigation of the heart of darkness, but the film is uniquely Hitchcockian in its positioning of the godlike mother figure. It's a deeply serious and deeply disturbing work, but Hitchcock, with his characteristic perversity, insisted on telling interviewers that it was a "fun" picture.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is music expert Howard Goodall's introduction to the brilliance of Herrmann's work on this seminal movie.

For anyone interested in looking in more depth at the film (and this volume is truly in-depth) the BFI book by celebrated British film critic Raymond Durgnat called A Long Hard Look At Psycho is a must by the way.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 62: Tue Mar 3

White Bird in a Blizzard (Araki, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

Your chance to grab a special preview screening of Gregg Araki's new movie.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Director Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin) explores his favourite obsessions – sex, mortality and adolescence – in this impressionistic adaptation of Laura Kasischke’s novel. Kat (Woodley) is a sexually adventurous teen dealing with the fallout from her mother’s unexplained disappearance. Featuring a deliciously unhinged performance from Eva Green, White Bird in a Blizzard is rebellious in its examination of the agonies and ecstasies of young adulthood.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 61: Mon Mar 2

Queimada (Pontecorvo, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm

This film will be introduced by the excellent Richard Combs.

Chicago Reader review:
The title of Gillo Pontecorvo's monumental 1969 film about 19th-century colonialism and revolution was going to be “Quemada”—Spanish for “burned”—until Spanish authorities pressured him into substituting Portugal as the imperial power. In his favorite performance, Marlon Brando plays an English agent sent to a Caribbean island circa 1840 to foment a slave revolt; a decade later he returns to crush the rebellion for a sugar company. Cut by 20 minutes, retitled Burn!, and dumped, the film never had a chance to reach a wide public. This restored version has the drawback of Brando being dubbed into Italian, but it's still remarkable—conceptually and intellectually more ambitious than Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers, even if not as successful. Brando departs from habit in playing someone intelligent but callous rather than dumb but sensitive.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 60: Sun Mar 1

No1: Monsieur Klein (Losey, 1976): Odeon Tottenham Court Road, 4.15pm

This film is screening as part of the Festival of the Moving Image. Full details here.

Time Out introduction to festival:
Organised and hosted by students at University College London, the weekend-long Festival of the Moving Image will this year focus on the theme of truth and lies. Opening with last year’s jawdropping Edward Snowden documentary ‘
Citizenfour’, the festival also features a Q&A with Mike Leigh following a screening of his Oscar-nominated ‘Secrets and Lies’, plus a showing of excellent Belgian comedy ‘Toto the Hero’ with an introduction by the director. But we’re most excited about the Monday night event, in which Stanley Kubrick’s regular producer Jan Harlan will discuss the great man’s approach to art and filmmaking, followed by one of his very finest films, Paths of Glory.

Sunday's main presentation is a rare screening of Joseph Losey's Monsieur Klein.

Chicago Reader review:
Alain Delon stars as an art dealer in occupied Paris who discovers that his identity is being siphoned off by a Jewish refugee with his name. Although cast as a thriller, Joseph Losey's 1976 film is more intellectually than emotionally involving. As in The Servant, Losey is concerned with the shifting relationship of victim and oppressor, and the theme is drawn with tremendous care and subtlety. A little more passion, though, would have been appreciated.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2: Innocent Sorcerers (Wajda, 1960):
Reel Islington Film Festival, Resource For London, 356 Holloway Rd, N7 6PA, 5pm

This screens as part of the Reel Islington film festival. Full details can be found here.

Here is their introduction to tonight's screening:
Andrzej Wajda made this provocative film about contemporary youth in post-war Warsaw from a script co-written by Jerzy Skolimowski. A vivid portrait of a new and relentless post-war milieu, portrayed with compelling lead performances. Followed by a discussion with Jazzwise Magazine writer Selwyn Harris on the film’s infamous soundtrack. Selwyn is the producer of a recent highly acclaimed 4-CD box set release on Jazz on Film Records ( titled Jazz in Polish Cinema. The box set features the first ever release of the complete original soundtrack of Innocent Sorcerers.

Chicago Reader review:
A 22-year-old Jerzy Skolimowski coscripted this minor Andrzej Wajda feature (1960), a modish comedy about a hip young doctor who moonlights as a jazz drummer. The film serves as a fascinating document of Polish youth culture during the least repressive years of the communist era, as well as a rough draft for the freewheeling comedies Skolimowski would soon direct himself (Walkover, Identification Marks: None). Wajda, for all his talent, has never had much flair for comedy, and this feels weirdly studied for a movie about youthful exuberance. But there are passages of genuine spontaneity, especially in an extended confrontation between the hero and a young woman he's trying to bed; it recalls the famous bedroom showdown in Godard's Breathless, released earlier that same year.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is a montage of scenes from the film.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 59: Sat Feb 28

La Haine (Kassovitz, 1995):
Reel Islington, Resource for London, 356 Holloway Rd, London, N7 6PA, 2pm

This screens as part of the Reel Islington film festival. Full details can be found here.

Here is their introduction:
This French film raises issues about police brutality, criminality and disaffected youth in the surburbs of Paris that are relevant in cities across the world.  The film will be followed by a discussion of the themes raised by the film, with a focus on how they manifest in the Islington and Holloway community.  There will also be a short presentation by Richard Frankland from Prospex.

Richard “Beef” Frankland is the CEO of Prospex, a youth work charity based in Holloway North London. He has been involved in Youth Work for over 30 years in various ways from volunteering to full time. His youth work experience has seen him run youth clubs, work in uniformed organisations, as the Youth Pastor at Morden Baptist Church, teaching RE and music in a primary school, detached work, social action projects in the UK and abroad and running Prospex since 2007. Prospex works with disadvantaged young people through its Street Teams, Youth Hubs and One2One support and works with around 360 young people on a weekly basis.

Time Out review:
Twenty-four hours in the Paris projects: an Arab boy is critically wounded in hospital, gut-shot, and a police revolver has found its way into the hands of a young Jewish skinhead, Vinz (Cassel), who vows to even the score if his pal dies. Vinz hangs out with Hubert (Koundé) and Saïd (Taghmaoui). They razz each other about films, cartoons, nothing in particular, but always the gun hovers over them like a death sentence, the black-and-white focal point for all the hatred they meet with, and all they can give back. Kassovitz has made only one film before (the droll race-comedy Métisse), but La Haine puts him right at the front of the field: this is virtuoso, on-the-edge stuff, as exciting as anything we've seen from the States in ages, and more thoroughly engaged with the reality it describes. He combats the inertia and boredom of his frustrated antagonists with a thrusting, jiving camera style which harries and punctuates their rambling, often very funny dialogue. The politics of the piece are confrontational, to say the least, but there is a maturity and depth to the characterisation which goes beyond mere agitprop: society may be on the point of self-combustion, but this film betrays no appetite for the explosion. A vital, scalding piece of work.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 58: Fri Feb 27

Cockfighter (Hellman, 1974): Genesis Cinema, 7pm

This Warren Oates double-bill (Cockfighter is showing with Drum) is presented by the Good, Bad, Unseen Film Club.

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

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 57: Thu Feb 26

Cathy Come Home (Loach, 1966): The Russet, 17 Amhurst Terrace, E8, 7.45pm

The Cinereal film club present a monthly 16mm film screening at The Russet arts cafe. Tonight's is Ken Loach's groundbreaking TV play Cathy Come Home.

Here is the Cinereal introduction:
Jeremy Sandford‘s drama about a young family’s slide into homelessness and poverty was a defining moment in 1960s television, demonstrating how far drama could influence the political agenda. The controversy generated by Cathy Come Home led to public outrage at the state of housing in Britain, and gave a welcome boost to the (coincidental) launch of the homelessness charity Shelter a few days after the play was first broadcast, as part of the BBC’s The Wednesday Play strand.

With its abandonment of the confines of the studio in favour of location filming, and its innovative use of documentary techniques – owing something to the Free Cinema movement associated with filmmakers like Lindsay Anderson and Karel ReiszCathy played an important part in the development of television drama at a time when writers were attempting to take the form into a new territory, distinct from its theatrical origins. Loach himself had been attempting to break free of the usual restrictions of TV drama since the early ’60s, notably with the series Diary of a Young Man (BBC, 1963) and an earlier Wednesday Play, ‘Up the Junction’ (BBC, tx. 3/11/1965), which also starred Carol White (as did his first cinema release, Poor Cow (1967)).

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 56: Wed Feb 25

My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

This is the second film in the VITO Project, monthly screenings inspired by Vito Russo's groundbreaking film The Celluloid Closet.

Here is the Cinema Museum introduction:
ReShape and the Cinema Museum present the VITO Project, a series of free monthly screenings bringing generations of LGBTs together to provide an alternative space to mix, watch films and share ideas. We will be screening My Own Private Idaho (1991), directed by Gus Van Sant and starring River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo and William Richert. This was chosen by the audience at the showing of The Celluloid Closet (1995), and will be followed by an onstage discussion.

Chicago Reader review:
Gus Van Sant's 1990 feature, his best prior to Elephant, is a simultaneously heartbreaking and exhilarating road movie about two male hustlers (River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves) in the Pacific northwest. Phoenix, a narcoleptic from a broken home, is essentially looking for a family, while Reeves, whose father is mayor of Portland, is mainly fleeing his. The style is so eclectic that it may take some getting used to, but Van Sant, working from his own story for the first time, brings such lyrical focus to his characters and his poetry that almost everything works. Even the parts that show some strain—like the film's extended hommage to Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight—are exciting for their sheer audacity. Phoenix was never better, and Reeves does his best with a part that's largely Shakespeare's Hal as filtered through Welles.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 55: Tue Feb 24

Aurélia Steiner (Vancouver) & Aurélia Steiner (Melbourne) [Duras, 1979]:
Cine Lumiere, 6.45pm

This is an A Nos Amours film club presentation and here is their website article on tonight's Duras double-bill:
Marguerite Duras is a celebrated pillar of modernist French writing – above all perhaps for Moderato Cantabile, her superb novel of 1958, or L'amant (The Lover), her memoir of 1984. But she also made distinctive, experimental, intensely authored films, notably India Song of 1975. Her screenplay for Alain Resnais's masterpiece Hiroshima mon amour in 1959 earned her an Oscar nomination - astonishing for such a peerless exercise in rigorous high-brow intention. Duras - whether working with words, images or both together - is a screen poet, peerless at registering poignant, nuanced sadness. She disposes of the burden of the heavy furniture of naturalism, character and plot, aiming instead for purity, rhythm and clarity.

Cine Lumiere introduction:
Marguerite Duras is known best as a pillar of modernist French writing. But she also made distinctive experimental films, notably India Song in 1975, in which she detaches a voiced text from image, an effect that makes for a prayerful, meditative mood. She uses the same process in these two Aurelia Steiner films, blending her words to the images photographed by Pierre Lhomme, casting an incantatory spell, in which we experience a state of waking dream.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 54: Mon Feb 23

Rolling Thunder (Flynn, 1977): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film is part of the Taste of Revenge season at the Prince Charles. More details here.

Guardian review:
Rolling Thunder was written by Paul Schrader and – like Sydney Pollack's The Yakuza, written by Schrader and his brother Leonard – it signposts themes and imagery that would obsess Schrader in his own movies: Vietnam veterans, samurai ethics, and orgasmic explosions of cathartically violent revenge. Oh, and horribly mutilated hands. POWs Rane (William Devane) and Voden (Tommy Lee Jones) return to Texas after years of torture in a Hanoi prison. Rane's wife leaves him and his young son barely knows him. Rewarded by his hometown with a silver dollar for every day of his captivity, Rane is soon robbed of it by four men who kill his family and torture him (severing his hand in the kitchen-sink Dispose-All) to learn the money's whereabouts. Rane – now hook-handed, seething, armed to the teeth and partnered by Jones – spends the rest of the movie exacting his bloody revenge, and it's no less savage today than it seemed 30-odd years ago, climaxing with a pile of corpses in a Juárez whorehouse, as all movies should. Would it surprise you to learn that Tarantino loves it?
John Patterson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 53: Sun Feb 22

Diamonds Are Forever (Hamilton, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

The Prince Charles Cinema continues its full 007 Retrospective showing every James Bond movie over the coming months. You can see all the details of the screenings here.

The press reviews of the films don't normally capture the excitement of this retrospective for Bond fans and I have been recommending the Blogalongabond series by Neil Alcock (aka @theincrediblesuit on Twitter). Here is his take on tonight's movie.

Here's Xan Brooks with an excellent critique of Diamonds Are Forever for the Guardian series My Favourite Bond film:
No doubt each era gets the Bond it deserves. Cubby Broccoli's franchise started out in the early 60s fired by a sleek moral certitude, prowling a world of clearly defined good and evil before slipping into jokey self-parody during the mid-to-late 70s. Diamonds, though, is the missing link, the crucial transition; ideally placed at the turn of the decade and implicitly haunted by noises off in the nation at large. It's a Bond film in which the old glamour has lost its sparkle and the resolute hero has lost his way. It's jaded, uncertain and disillusioned. It's vicious, mordant, at times blackly comic. It's oddly brilliant, the best of the bunch: the perfect bleary Bond film for an imperfect bleary western world.
You can read the full article here.

The influential American critic Andrew Sarris also loved the film and wrote a most readable review which you can find here.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 52: Sat Feb 21

Deep Red (Argento, 1975): Barbican Cinema, 7.30pm

Coinciding with Deep Reds 40th anniversary Goblin will be playing their original score live to a screening of the film at the Barbican.

Here is the Barbican introduction:
Along with 
Suspiria, Profondo Rosso is perhaps Argento’s most celebrated film and a total classic of the giallo horror subgenre in its own right. Its score is synth-heavy characterised by a chilling central theme.

Having been dissatisfied with the original soundtrack, Argento called local band Cherry Five in at short notice. They renamed themselves Goblin, and, legend has it, wrote the new soundtrack in one night. Originally inspired by bands like King Crimson and prog-era Genesis, Goblin’s unique sound is instantly recognisable and has earned them a cult status all of their own.

Time Out review:
Dario Argento's Deep Red is arguably the crowning achievement of the Giallo movement, a folm of breathless intensity, knowing strangeness and still unsettling brutality which also manages to be a sly, subversive and hugely enjoyable satirical attack on Italy's Catholic obsession with gender roles and sexual norms.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 51: Fri Feb 20

Borderline (Macpherson, 1930): Tate Modern, 6.30pm

This is screening as part of 'The Black Subject: Ancient and Modern' season at the Tate. You can find all the details here.

Here is the Tate's introduction to this groundbreaking film:
Borderline (1930) is a silent film with an explicit theme of racial prejudice and an implicit homoerotic subtext. Directed by Kenneth Macpherson, editor of the influential intellectual film journal Close Up (1927–33) it is highly influenced by the psychological realism of GW Pabst and Sergei Eisenstein’s montage.  Borderline tells the story of a tense, inter-racial love triangle and its deadly consequences. Macpherson embellishes this story by portraying the extreme psychological states of the characters. The result is a unique and complex matrix of racial and sexual tension moving between the boundaries of black and white, male and female and the conscious and the unconscious. This version of the film includes a score by jazz musician Courtney Pine. 

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Prof. Laura Marcus (Oxford University) and writer and critic Prof. Sukhdev Sandhu (NYU), chaired by Tate curator Sonya Dyer. 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 50: Thu Feb 19

The Apartment (Wilder, 1960): Ritzy Cinema, 6pm

Ritzy Cinema introduction to tonight's special Guardian Film event:
Join the Guardian Film team as they discuss the nominations, give their verdicts and make their predictions ahead of this year’s Oscars ceremony. The panel will introduce a special screening of this surprisingly dark comedy with a heart of gold, and discuss what makes it one of the best Oscar winners of all time.
Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead the pack for this year’s Academy Awards, scoring nine nominations apiece. But who will be the winners and losers on 22 February? Will Michael Keaton, nominated for the first time this year, take the Best Actor gong, or will it go to British actors Benedict Cumberbatch or Eddie Redmayne? Can Linklater’s Boyhood take the top prize? Why wasn’t Inherent Vice nominated, and what happened to The Lego Movie? And most importantly of all, who will make this year’s Oscars selfie? Join the debate with Peter Bradshaw, Catherine Shoard, Henry Barnes and Andrew Pulver.

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 49: Wed Feb 18

It Follows (Mitchell, 2014): BFI Southbank, 8.45pm

This screening, a special preview of the much-heralded new horror film, will feature a Q&A with the director David Mitchell and actress Maika Monroe. Full details here.

BFI review (for London Film Festival):
Horror cinema has a long history of chastening the sexually active teenager, with the old sex equals death adage firmly established in the pantheons of genre cliché. Taking the skewed morals of the slasher heyday and subverting them into an entirely fresh and stimulating meditation on sexual paranoia, David Robert Mitchell’s remarkable shocker has the power to provoke and terrify in equal measures. For 19-year-old Jay, an exploratory sexual encounter subsequently turns into a living nightmare when she begins to experience strange visions and the unfathomable sense that she is being followed. Terrified and helpless, Jay must find a way to pass on the curse that has seemingly befallen her. The suburban milieu evokes John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween, and the cyclical persistence of the horror undeniably recalls Hideo Nakata’s Ring, yet It Follows remains a defiantly original piece of work, impeccably realised and with enough subtext to keep your mind buzzing for days.

Michael Blyth

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 48: Tue Feb 17

Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is screening as part of the cinema's Classic Films season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Michelangelo Antonioni's sexy art-house hit of 1966, which played a substantial role in putting “swinging London” on the map, follows a day in the life of a young fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who discovers, after blowing up his photos of a couple glimpsed in a park, that he may have inadvertently uncovered a murder. Part erotic thriller (with significant glamorous roles played by Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Verushka, and Jane Birkin), part exotic travelogue (featuring a Yardbirds concert, antiwar demonstrations, street mimes, one exuberant orgy, and a certain amount of pot), this is so ravishing to look at (the colors all seem newly minted) and pleasurable to follow (the enigmas are usually more teasing than worrying) that you're likely to excuse the metaphysical pretensions—which become prevalent only at the very end—and go with the 60s flow, just as the original audiences did'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailerHere is the famous Yardbirds scene.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 47: Mon Feb 16

Fish Tank (Arnold, 2009): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This excellent British film is part of the While We Sweat Water and Blood season at the Prince Charles of films directed by women. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
British filmmaker Andrea Arnold made her feature debut with Red Road (2006), an eerie, low-budget suspense story about a woman stalking, seducing, and finally exacting her revenge against the man who ruined her life. This excellent follow-up, set against a similar landscape of shabby council estates, unfolds as a conventional coming-of-age story, yet Arnold hasn't altered her persuasively jaundiced view of men, who seem as pitifully helpless against their horndog urges as the women foolish enough to care for them. The heroine (Katie Jarvis) is a moody, restless 15-year-old without much in the way of role models: her father is long gone and her mother (Kierston Wareing) is a clueless party girl. The only person who seems to understand the angry teen is mom's new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender of Hunger), though their friendship oscillates between intimate and vaguely creepy. 123 min.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 46: Sun Feb 15

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Hunt, 1969): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

The Prince Charles Cinema continues its full 007 Retrospective showing every James Bond movie over the coming months. You can see all the details of the screenings here.

The press reviews of the films don't capture the excitement of this retrospective for Bond fans and I am recommending the Blogalongabond series by Neil Alcock (aka @theincrediblesuit on Twitter). Here is his take on On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Here (and above) is the trailer.