Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 106: Thu Apr 16

Popcorn (Herrier, 1991): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm

This film, part of the Cult strand at BFI Southbank, also screens on 19th April. You can find all the details here.

Here is the BFI introduction:
The spirit of William Castle haunts this affectionate B-movie tribute, in which an all-night horror marathon at a dilapidated movie theatre becomes a veritable bloodbath for a gang of ill-fated film students. This curious precursor to the self-reflexive horrors that flooded 90s genre cinema is hugely fun and highly inventive.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 105: Wed Apr 15

To Be or Not To Be (Lubitsch, 1942): Barbican Cinema, 1942

This film is in the 'Part Of This Made Me Laugh' season at the Barbican featuring movies chosen and introduced by leading comedy figures. Here are all the details.

Tonight's film will be introduced by Caryn Mandabach.

Chicago Reader:
Ernst Lubitsch directed this 1942 film from his own story about a troupe of Polish actors stranded in the Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II. It could be his finest achievement, and it's certainly one of the most profound, emotionally complex comedies ever made, covering a range of tones from satire to slapstick to shocking black humor. The issues, as the title suggests, are deeply serious, but it's part of the film's strategy—and the strategy it endorses for its characters—never to openly acknowledge them. Jack Benny, as the leader of the troupe, displays an acting talent never again demanded of him; Carole Lombard, in her last film, is kittenish, slinky, and witty as his unfaithful wife. With Robert Stack and Sig Ruman.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 104: Tue Apr 14

California Split (Altman, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This screens as part of the 'A Little Taste of Robert Altman' season at the Prince Charles. Here are the full details.

Chicago Reader review:
Robert Altman's masterful 1974 study of the psychology of the compulsive gambler. Elliott Gould, loose, jocular, and playful, and George Segal, neurotic, driven, and desperate, are really two halves of the same personality as they move from bet to bet, game to game, until they arrive for the big showdown in Reno. As in all Altman films, winning is losing; and the more Altman reveals, in his oblique, seemingly casual yet brilliantly controlled way, the more we realize that to love characters the way Altman loves his, you have to see them turned completely inside out.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 103: Mon Apr 13

Bullets Over Broadway (Allen, 1994): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

This film is in the 'Part Of This Made Me Laugh' season at the Barbican featuring movies chosen and introduced by leading comedy figures. Here are all the details.

Tonight's film will be introduced by the actress Amelia Bullmore.

Chicago Reader review:
Writer-director Woody Allen mounts a lively farce (1994) set in Manhattan in 1928—in a milieu that interfaces prohibition gangsters with Broadway theater—and has a number of amusing things to say about the interactions between art and commerce, both seen here in their crasser forms. Like Husbands and Wives and Manhattan Murder Mystery, though to somewhat less effect, this shows a certain improvement in Allen's work; the material is certainly lively, though the plot becomes a bit mechanical toward the end. The performances, however, are very enjoyable, with first honors going to Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest. Most of the others—John Cusack as the playwright-director hero, Jennifer Tilly as a gangster's moll forced into Cusack's production as an actress, Rob Reiner, Jack Warner, Mary-Louise Parker, and Harvey Fierstein—aren't too far behind.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 102: Sun Apr 12

Calvary (McDonagh, 2014): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is part of the Best of 2014 season at the Prince Charles. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
In this eloquent black comedy from John Michael McDonagh, an Irish priest (Brendan Gleeson) is marked for death by an anonymous man who was serially raped by his pastor as a young boy; as the priest counts down the days to his murder, his conflicts with his parishioners deepen into a colloquy on the nature of sin. The premise of an innocent man taking other people's sins upon himself turns Calvary into a passion play even as it places the movie squarely in the 21st century; the cross shouldered by the priest consists, in no small part, of all the ecclesiastical crimes now tumbling out of the closet.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 101: Sat Apr 11

Bless Their Little Hearts (Woodberry, 1984): Tate Modern, 7pm

This is the second film in the LA Rebellion: Creating a Black Cinema season at the Tate. Full details of the films, which are on till April 25, can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
Scripted and photographed by Charles Burnett and directed by his former film-school classmate Billy Woodberry, this wonderful neorealist look at a working-class black family in South Central LA (1984) is worthy of being placed alongside Burnett's Killer of Sheep. Passionately recommended.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 100: Fri Apr 10

No 1: Killer of Sheep (Burnett, 1978): Tate Modern, 7pm

This is the opening night of the LA Rebellion: Creating a Black Cinema season at the Tate. Full details of the films, which are on till April 25, can be found here.

Here is the Tate introduction to the season:
Pioneering, provocative and visionary, the LA Rebellion films form a crucial body of work in post-war cinema. In the late 1960s a number of African and African American students entered UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, and from the first class through to the 1980s came to represent the first sustained undertaking to forge an alternative Black cinema practice in the United States.

This season will provide the first opportunity in the UK to explore the full extent of this remarkable period and encounter the artists who pioneered counter-cultural and community-based approaches to filmmaking from the 1960s to the 1990s. Ground breaking films range from Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep 1977 to Haile Gerima’s Bush Mama 1975 that are unique reflections on life in the black communities of Los Angeles and recognised as some of the most important films of the 1970s. Drawing on the dynamic social and political climate of the period, the films emerged from the context of the black liberation and anti-Vietnam movements and in solidarity with the international Third Cinema.

Other films re-work conventions of Hollywood cinema to reflect on the black experience from the subtle dramas of Julie Dash to the explosive films of Jamaa Fanaka. Newly discovered masterpieces, from Larry Clark’s Passing Through 1977, one of the best jazz films ever made, to Billy Woodberry’s Bless Their Little Hearts 1984, a remarkable ensemble drama set in south central Los Angeles, have been restored and recognised as landmark films of the period.

Chicago Reader review:
The first feature (1977) of the highly talented black filmmaker Charles Burnett, who set most of his early films in Watts (including My Brother's Wedding and To Sleep With Anger); this one deals episodically with the life of a slaughterhouse worker. Shot on a year's worth of weekends for under $10,000, this remarkable work is conceivably the single best feature about ghetto life. It was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry as one of the key works in American cinema—ironic and belated recognition of a film that, until this recent restoration, had virtually no distribution. It shouldn't be missed.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here and above is the trailer.


No2: The Seventh Bullet (Khamarev, 1972): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

Here is the Cinema Museum introduction to tonight's offering:
A 35mm screening of USSR/Uzbekistan film, The Seventh Bullet / Sedmaya Pulya (1972), directed by Ali Khamraev (84 mins). This special retrospective screening is part of the 7th Asia House Film Festival, supported by Prudential. The films of Uzbek director Ali Khramraev are long overdue discovery in the UK. This stunning “Red Western” is a real revelation. Adapting the gritty nihilism of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns to local landscapes, its story unfolds during the Basmachi Revolt of the 1920s, in which Communist reformers sought to suppress an uprising by the Muslim peoples of Central Asia.

Chicago Reader review:
Uzbek director Ali Khamraev enjoyed his greatest success with this 1972 action movie, a prime example of the "Red westerns" that flourished during the Soviet era. With its dramatic landscapes and tense psychological struggles, the movie might pass for one of the classic Hollywood westerns of Budd Boetticher and Anthony Mann, except that the antagonists here are not cowboys and Indians but valiant soldiers of the Red Army and savage Islamists of the Basmachi Rebellion, which unfolded in Central Asia after the Russian Revolution. The hero is a Soviet officer, assigned to a village in the mountains of Uzbekistan, who returns from an expedition to learn that a fearsome rebel leader has slaughtered several locals and indoctrinated the rest; the officer sets off in hot pursuit, confident that he can win back the villagers by schooling them in the glories of communism. The movie is impressive as genre filmmaking, though ultimately—like many of our westerns—it's most fascinating as an expression of state power.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 99: Thu Apr 9

No1: The Samurai (Kleinert, 2014): Prince Charles Cinema,  9pm

This is a Duke Mitchell Film Club presentation. Here is their introduction:

One of The Duke"s favourite titles from last year, "The Samurai" is about to hit DVD on 13th April so we thought what better way to celebrate its" release than holding a special screening? For those unaware "The Samurai" is a sexually-warped horror film with exquisite moments of pure madness.

On the edge of a dark forest, where the fear of wolves prevents locals from straying too far from home, a young police officer, Jakob receives a package addressed to the ‘Lone Wolf’. As the night shift starts a mysterious caller claims the package belongs to him. Venturing out alone, Jakob unknowingly delivers a samurai sword to a wild-eyed man in a wedding dress, who entices him to participate in a bloody crusade through the village. 

In true Duke Mitchell fashion just showing the film will never be enough: so not only do we have the brilliant and multi-talented director of the film Till Kleinert flying to London for an introduction but we"ve also put together a special, one-time-only pre-show where you"ll be able to watch Till"s favourite trailers, win some freebies and see mind-blowing oddities. We"ll also follow the screening of the film with an extended Q & A as well as the opportunity to get copies of the film early and get them signed! 

So make sure you put 9th April in your calendar and get ready to spend an evening of warped fun with "The Samurai" and Duke himself! 

Here and above is the trailer.


No2: Altman (Mann, 2014): BFI Southbank, Studio, 6.40pm

Here is the BFI Southbank introduction to tonight's screening:
Innovative, influential, independent, the late Robert Altman ranks among the greatest of American filmmakers. Ron Mann’s documentary uses extensive footage of its wittily articulate subject in conversation, home movies or on location, alongside contributions from actors and other collaborators, to explore what was so special about films like The Long Goodbye, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park and other cinematic gems.

Chicago Reader review:
Produced for the Movie Channel, this documentary by Ron Mann (Tales of the Rat Fink) delivers a breezy, insubstantial survey of Robert Altman's long career, from his early years shooting industrials in his native Kansas City, Missouri, to his lifetime achievement award at the 2006 Oscars. Mann punctuates the fast-moving filmography with close-ups of familiar Altman players (Lily Tomlin, Elliott Gould, Sally Kellerman, Lyle Lovett, Michael Murphy) pithily defining the term Altmanesque, though these cameos prove less illuminating than the fond voice-over reminiscences from the director's widow and grown children. Given Mann's cursory treatment of even the landmark films (M*A*S*H, Nashville, Short Cuts, et al), this is most interesting when it explores the least-known periods in Altman's career—his 60s apprenticeship in TV, directing episodes of Combat! and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, or his years in the wilderness between Popeye (1980) and The Player (1992). 
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 98: Wed Apr 8

Camouflage (Zanussi, 1977): BFI Southbank, 6pm

Here is the BFI Southbank introduction to tonight's event:
Krzysztof Zanussi is known for exploring the complexity of moral choices and metaphysical questions in everyday life. We’re delighted that this award-winning director, screenwriter and producer will join us in conversation, following a screening of his film Camouflage, to launch the opening of the Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema programme in the UK, and the opening of the 13th Kinoteka festival.

Film review:
A linguistics competition at a university's summer camp is the backdrop for a wittily satirical drama about the elusiveness of language. An idealistic teacher, Jarosław (Piotr Garlicki), and his more manipulative older colleague, Jakub (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz), assess not only each entry's intrinsic merit, but also whether it ticks sufficient official boxes to be prizeworthy - an experience with which Polish filmmakers were all too ruefully familiar.

Here (and above) is Martin Scorsese's introduction to the series Masterpieces of Polish Cinema.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 97: Tue Apr 7

The Long Goodbye (Altman, 1973): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is part of a mini Robert Altman season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Robert Altman's antiheroic rewrite of Raymond Chandler. Elliott Gould plays Marlowe as a chain-smoking nebbish—an innocent child of the 40s set down in what Altman sees (problematically) as the grown-up, shades-of-gray world of the 70s. The film is so inventive in its situations and humor that its shortcomings—the blunt ideas at its core—don't become apparent before several viewings. Somewhere deep down inside, there's a screenplay by Leigh Brackett (The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo); Altman has lost it in his improvisation, but it does give this 1973 film a firm, classical shape that eludes his other work. With Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, and Nina Van Pallandt.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 96: Mon Apr 6

Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958): Rio Cinema, 4pm

The Rio Cinema, as part of their Alfred Hitchcock at Easter season, are showing a Rear Window/Vertigo double-bill for the 1950s section of the selectrospective. You can find the full details here.

Here is all you need to know about the film and more on the Cinephilia & Beyond website.

Chicago Reader review of Vertigo:
'One of the landmarks—not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art. Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film extends the theme of Rear Window—the relationship of creator and creation—into the realm of love and sexuality, focusing on an isolated, inspired romantic (James Stewart) who pursues the spirit of a woman (the powerfully carnal Kim Novak). The film's dynamics of chase, capture, and escape parallel the artist's struggle with his work; the enraptured gaze of the Stewart character before the phantom he has created parallels the spectator's position in front of the movie screen. The famous motif of the fall is presented in horizontal rather than vertical space, so that it becomes not a satanic fall from grace, but a modernist fall into the image, into the artwork—a total absorption of the creator by his creation, which in the end is shown as synonymous with death. But a thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema.'
Dave Kehr 

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 95: Sun Apr 5

Goldfinger (Hamilton, 1964): 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 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 Goldfinger.

Time Out review:
Guy Hamilton’s Pinewood-produced ‘Goldfinger’ is the first of four James Bond films he directed and the third to star Sean Connery as 007. Any kid growing up in the early ’60s will remember this one for several reasons: Birley Shassey’s screamer of a theme; Bond’s shocking use of a beautiful girl as a human shield; bullion-obsessed baddie Auric Goldfinger’s top hat-wielding henchman, Oddjob; Honor Blackman’s risquely monikered Pussy Galore; and, above all, Bond’s stupendous, gadget-infested silver Aston Martin DB5, the car that spurred a thousand Corgi purchases. Presented here in a newly restored digital print, it should look especially swish on the big screen.
Derek Adams

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 94: Sat Apr 4

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Fisher, 1959): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

Welcome back Cigarette Burns to their spiritual Rio Cinema home. This screening is part of the Film London Sherlock season and is the first UK screening of a new HD remastering of one of Hammer's finest movies and one of the best Holmes adaptations on the big screen. The evening is introduced by critic, writer, and Sherlock Holmes aficionado Kim Newman. You can find out all the details here at the Cigarette Burns Facebook page.

Time Out review:
The best Sherlock Holmes film ever made, and one of Hammer's finest movies. Terence Fisher, at the peak of his career, used Conan Doyle's plot to establish a stylish dialectic between Holmes' nominally rational Victorian milieu and the dark, fabulous cruelty behind the Baskerville legend. This opposition is expressed within the first ten minutes, when he moves from the 'legend' with its strong connotations of the Hellfire Club (the nobleman tormenting a young girl with demonic satisfaction) to the rational eccentricities of Baker Street. Holmes is indeed the perfect Fisher hero, the Renaissance scholar with strong mystical undertones, and Peter Cushing gives one of his very best performances, ably supported by Andre Morell (who does not make the usual mistake of overplaying Watson). Christopher Lee is in equally good form as the Baskerville heir, and Jack Asher's muted Technicolor photography is superb.
David Pirie

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 93: Fri Apr 3

Blade Runner (Scott, 1982):
BFI Southbank and cinemas across the capital and the country. Details here.

A nationwide re-release today for this sci-fi classic.

Chicago Reader review:
Not to be confused with the mislabeled “director's cut” that's been around for 15 years, this seventh edition of Ridley Scott's SF masterpiece (1982) is arguably the first to get it all right, finally telling the whole story comprehensibly. This visionary look at Los Angeles in 2019—a singular blend of grime and glitter that captures both the horror and the allure of Reagan-era capitalism—was a commercial flop when it first appeared. Loosely adapted from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, it follows the hero (Harrison Ford) as he tracks down and kills “replicants,” or androids. Much of the film's erotic charge and moral and ideological ambiguity stem from the fact that these characters are very nearly the only ones we care about. (We never know for sure whether Ford is a replicant himself.) With Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos, Joe Turkel, and William J. Sanderson.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the new trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 92: Thu Apr 2

Jauja (Alonso, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.10pm

Viggo Mortensen stars as a father searching remote Patagonia for his runaway daughter in this special preview screening.

LFF introduction:
Danish engineer Captain Gunnar Dinesen (Viggo Mortenson) is stationed with the Argentine army in a remote corner of Patagonia. When his 15-year-old daughter Ingeborg elopes with a young soldier, the angry and distraught Dinesen begins an epic journey across a harsh, threatening landscape in the hope of tracking the couple down. For his fourth feature, maverick director Lisandro Alonso turns to a difficult period in Argentine history, the brutal 1882 campaign to eradicate the indigenous population from Patagonia. His painterly existential western, framed in a vintage 4:3 ratio, is a fable about filmmaking, colonialism, the formation of nation and a brilliant chronicle of Dinesen’s descent into a single-minded obsession as fierce and foreboding as that of Apocalypse Now’s deranged Kurtz. Mortensen excels as the quixotic Dinesen, who undertakes the arduous journey through mythical landscapes, where his idea of utopia remains forever out of reach.
Maria Delgado

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 91: Wed Apr 1

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Andersson, 2014):
Curzon Bloomsbury, 6pm

Here's a special preview screening of a much-anticipated film which opens on 24 April.

Curzon introduction:
Completing the trilogy comprising Songs From the Second Floor and You, The Living, Swedish director Roy Andersson confirms that he is one of the most singular voices in contemporary cinema with his latest cinematic oddity. Featuring his off-kilter black humour and his trademark tableaux compositions, the film, inspired by Bruegel's painting 'Hunters in the Snow' and Dostoevsky, looks at the tragic consequences of being and questions, given man's inhumanity, what hope there is for our continuing existence. Funny, moving and deliberately provocative, it's like Laurel and Hardy (the film features two travelling practical joke salesman amongst its other coterie of oddballs) coming face to face with Edvard Munch's 'The Scream'. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival (2014) and is destined to become a film that lingers in the collective memory. 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 90: Tue Mar 31

While We're Young (Baumbach, 2014): BFI Southbank, 8.45pm

This much-awited film by Noah Baumbach gets a special preview screening at BFI Southbank.

BFI introduction:
When documentarian-turned-lecturer Josh (Ben Stiller) meets young couple Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), he and his wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) attempt to embrace the New York hipster lifestyle and ditch friends their own age. Though it soon becomes clear that the spontaneity offered is somewhat scripted. Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) explores ambition, social expectations and aging with a cast perfectly suited to the comedy frame.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 89: Mon Mar 30

Suspiria (Argento, 1977): Curzon Bloomsbury, 9pm

The Renoir is reopening as the Curzon Bloomsbury and they have programmed an auteur festival. Here are the full details of this excellent season.

Time Out review:
From his stylish, atmosphere-laden opening - young American ballet student arriving in Europe during a storm - Argento relentlessly assaults his audience: his own rock score (all dissonance and heavy-breathing) blasts out in stereo, while Jessica Harper gets threatened by location, cast, weather and camera. Thunderstorms and extraordinarily grotesque murders pile up as Argento happily abandons plot mechanics to provide a bravura display of his technical skill. With his sharp eye for the bizarre and for vulgar over-decoration, it's always fascinating to watch; the thrills and spills are so classy and fast that the movie becomes in effect what horror movies seemed like when you were too young to get in to see them. Don't think, just panic.Steve Meek
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 88: Sun Mar 29

Different from the Others (Oswald, 1919): Victoria & Albert Museum, 1pm

Here is the V&A introduction:
First released in 1919, this silent film is noteworthy as one of the first sympathetic portrayals of homosexuals in the cinema.
For decades all copies were thought to have been destroyed during the Nazi regime. Accompanied by a new short documentary about artist Sara Davidmann’s project Ken. To Be Destroyed - exploring the family secret of a transgender relative.

Featuring an introduction from curators and a Q&A with Sara Davidmann.
Organised by the V&A’s LGBTQ Working Group, as part of the BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 87: Sat Mar 28

Red Hollywood (Andersen/Burch, 1996/2014):
Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Sq, 11am

This is part of the Essay Film Festival. Full details here.

For this special event Thom Andersen will present a re-mastered and re-edited version of Red Hollywood (1996), a revelatory essay film made in collaboration with Noël Burch, which examines the films made by the victims of the Hollywood Blacklist and offers a radically different perspective on a key period in the history of American cinema. As described by Andersen and Burch, “the victims of the Hollywood blacklist have been canonised as martyrs, but their film work in Hollywood is still largely denigrated or ignoredRed Hollywood considers this work to demonstrate how the Communists of Hollywood were sometimes able to express their ideas in the films they wrote and directed.” Andersen will also introduce an episode from Burch’s series of film historical essays, What Do Those Old Films Mean? (1987).

Chicago Reader review:
A highly illuminating, groundbreaking, and entertaining video documentary by Thom Andersen and Noel Burch about the film work of Hollywood communists—mainly writers, directors, and actors—using commentaries, interviews, and a good many film clips (1995). Many of the clips come from films of the 30s, 40s, and 50s that have received virtually no attention before; this video offers new ways of looking at these films—and also at Hollywood movies in general. Contrary to the received wisdom, many victims of the Hollywood blacklist worked a lot of political and social content into their studio assignments, and the beliefs of these party members and fellow travelers were far from uniform or monolithic. If you've ever wondered about things such as novelist Nathanael West's work as a screenwriter or what communists had to say for and against Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust, this provocative investigation has plenty to impart. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 86: Fri Mar 27

La Regle du Jeu (Renoir, 1939): Curzon Bloomsbury, 6pm

The Renoir is reopening as the Curzon Bloomsbury and they have programmed an auteur festival, starting with what a good few, myself included, consider the greatest film of all-time. Here are the full details of this excellent season.

Chicago Reader review:
'Its Paris opening in 1939 was a disaster: the film was withdrawn, recut, and eventually banned by the occupying forces for its “demoralizing” effects. It was not shown again in its complete form until 1965, when it became clear that here, perhaps, was the greatest film ever made. “The rules of the game,” said Jean Renoir, “are those which must be observed in society if one wishes to avoid being crushed.” His protagonist, a pilot (Roland Toutain), breaks the rules: he believes that his love for a wealthy married woman (Nora Gregor) is strong enough to lift him above society, above morality. At a weekend hunting party, he learns it is not—that nothing is.'
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 85: Thu Mar 26

No1: The Bad and the Beautiful (Minnelli, 1952):
The Russet, 17 Amhurst Terrace, London, E8, 7.45pm

Cine-Real's monthly cinema club at The Russet arts centre is well worth catching and this is an excellent screening, which as usual will be from a 16mm print.

There's plenty of background to this Hollywood "insider" movie and you can find out all the juicy gossip surrounding the film on the Cine-Real site here.

Chicago Reader review:
Vincente Minnelli will always be known and loved for his musicals (
Meet Me in St. Louis, The Band Wagon), but the melodramas he made in the 50s are no less accomplished and often more personal. The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) is superficially a typical Hollywood “inside story” chronicling the ruthless rise of an aggressive producer (Kirk Douglas), loosely based on Val Lewton. But under Minnelli's direction it becomes a fascinating study of a man destroyed by the 50s success ethic, left broke, alone, and slightly insane in the end. Douglas is surprisingly good as Minnelli's manic everyman and is well supported by (believe it or not) Lana Turner and Dick Powell. Scripted by Charles Schnee; with Walter Pidgeon, Barry Sullivan, Gloria Grahame, and Leo G. Carroll.
Dave Kehr

Here's Martin Scorsese's take on one of his favourite films.


No2: Los Angeles Plays Itself (Andersen, 2003): ICA Cinema, 5.30pm

This is screening as part of the Essay Film Festival at the ICA. Full details 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 84: Wed Mar 25

The Thoughts That Once We Had (Andersen, 2014): ICA Cinema, 8.45pm

This is screening as part of the Essay Film Festival at the ICA. Full details here.

ICA introduction:
The UK premiere of Thom Andersen’s new film, The Thoughts That Once We Had is a nuanced exploration of the history of cinema, inspired by the work of Gilles Deleuze. Beautifully edited, it highlights Andersen’s longstanding passion for cinema, playfully moving across decades and genres.

The film will be followed by a discussion with Thom Andersen and Michael Witt, author of Jean-Luc Godard: Cinema Historian.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 83: Tue Mar 24

Helsinki, Forever (Von Bagh, 2008): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm

This is screening as part of the Essay Film Festival at the ICA. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Peter von Bagh uses paintings, historical photos, and archival footage to contemplate the title city in this lovely and lyrical 2008 documentary. Like Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself, the movie also doubles as a critical evaluation of filmmakers who’ve set their stories against the streets and buildings of the city (though the only one of them I know is Aki Kaurismaki). Helsinki can hardly claim a cinematic legacy as vast and deep as LA’s, but von Bagh understands the parallel between the cinema and any great city: both are experienced communally and sometimes magically, linking people to one another and to the past.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 82: Mon Mar 23

No1: Girlhood (Sciamma, 2014): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This film (which also screens on 24 March) is part of the BFI Flare season. You can find full details here.

BFI introduction:
Céline Sciamma (Waterlilies and Tomboy) returns with this glorious coming of age drama about a quartet of young black girls growing up in the working class outskirts of Paris. Marieme is the eldest daughter of a single mother who works nights, leaving her with full responsibility for her younger sisters and an older brother so authoritarian that his behaviour borders on the abusive. At first a lonely, solitary figure among the young girls on her estate, Marieme is soon adopted by a sassy group, and the quartet find strength and power together in a community where rough boys dominate. Less overtly ‘L, B, or T’ than her previous work, Sciamma’s Girlhood is a nuanced examination of female friendship, gender dynamics and identity. Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ provides the backdrop to one of the year’s most electrifying, joyful scenes: ‘eye to eye, so alive, we’re like diamonds in the sky...’.
Tricia Tuttle

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2: The Untouchables (De Palma, 1987): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

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

Time Out review:
Time-honoured mayhem in the Windy City, and if there are few set-ups you haven't seen in previous Prohibition movies, it's perhaps because De Palma and scriptwriter David Mamet have settled for the bankability of enduring myth. And boy, it works like the 12-bar blues. The director's pyrotechnical urge is held in check and trusts the tale; the script doesn't dally overmuch on deep psychology; the acting is a treat. Connery's world-weary and pragmatic cop, Malone, steals the show because he's the only point of human identification between the monstrously evil Al Capone (De Niro) and the unloveably upright Eliot Ness (Costner), and when he dies the film has a rocky time recovering. Costner looks like the kid who got a briefcase for Xmas and was pleased, but painfully learns under Malone's tutelage how to fight dirty. De Niro establishes his corner courtesy of a bloody finger in close-up, and unleashes uncontrollable rage to electrifying effect, most notably at the blood-boltered baseball-bat board meeting. The Odessa Steps set piece at the railway station could maybe do with one more angle to shuffle, and the battle at the border bridge diminishes the claustrophobic grip of the corrupt city, but the narrative thunders to its conclusion like a locomotive.
Brian Case

Here (and above) is the celebrated stairway shootout scene.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 81: Sun Mar 22

Hotel Du Nord (Carne, 1938): Cine Lumiere 2pm

This is part of the Sunday Classics season at the Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Time Out review:
A very likeable film, but for once denied a Jacques Prévert script, Marcel Carné's 'poetic realism' seems a trifle thin and hesitant in this populist yarn about a sleazy Parisian hotel and its inhabitants. While the sad young lovers (Annabella, Aumont) defy their jobless future in a suicide pact, Arletty and Jouvet run cynically away with the film as a pair of hardbitten rogues. But the real star is Trauner, whose studio sets - the mournful canal bank, the little iron bridge, the shabby rooms - are as amazingly evocative as Maurice Jaubert's score.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 80: Sat Mar 21

White Dog (Fuller, 1982): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

We're talking personal top ten territory here, with a rare screening of the brilliant director Sam Fuller's late masterpiece.

Chicago Reader review:
Samuel Fuller's 1982 masterpiece about American racism—his last work shot in this country—focuses on the efforts of a black animal trainer (Paul Winfield) to deprogram a dog that has been trained to attack blacks. Very loosely adapted by Fuller and Curtis Hanson from a memoir by Romain Gary, and set in southern California on the fringes of the film industry, this heartbreakingly pessimistic yet tender story largely concentrates on tragic human fallibility from the vantage point of an animal; in this respect it's like Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar, and Fuller's brilliantly eclectic direction gives it a nearly comparable intensity. Through a series of grotesque misunderstandings, this unambiguously antiracist movie was yanked from U.S. distribution partly because of charges of racism made by individuals and organizations who had never seen it. But it's one of the key American films of the 80s. With Kristy McNichol, Burl Ives, Jameson Parker, and, in cameo roles, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, Christa Lang, and Fuller himself.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 79: Fri Mar 20

Ed Wood (Burton, 1994): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film is part of the 'Class of 94' season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Tim Burton's charming black-and-white fantasy biopic about Edward D. Wood Jr. (Johnny Depp), a writer-director-actor at the lowest reaches of Z-budget filmmaking who won posthumous cult status by virtue of his eccentric personality (as a straight transvestite) and his very personal form of ineptitude. Such a project requires the historical imagination to re-create a time before camp had entered the mainstream sensibility as an attitude of affection; instead Burton and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski opt for a pie-eyed postmodernist fancy that in effect transports today's audience back into the 50s (derisive at a premiere of Bride of the Monster, respectful at a premiere of Plan 9, absurdly set in Hollywood's plush Pantages Theater). As a result Wood's singularly miserable and abject career, which ended in alcoholism and indigence, is magically transformed into the feel-good movie of 1994, budgeted for a cool $18 million and radiating tenderness (at least for the guys; nearly all the women are regarded as betrayers and spoilsports). Yet the movie still manages some remarkable achievements—in particular, a tour de force performance by Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi (whose friendship with Wood becomes the film's emotional center) and some glorious cinematography by Stefan Czapsky.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.