Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 232: Thu Aug 20

45 Years (Davies, 2015): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm

One of the most anticipated films of the year. This is a special preview screening with director Andrew Haigh and stars Tom Courtneay and Charlotte Rampling on hand to discuss the film afterwards. The event is a sell-out but BFI Southbank will get returns so try calling the box office or going along on the night to see if you can get in.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Geoff and Kate Mercer (Courtenay and Rampling) are planning a reception to duplicate their wedding 45 years ago when a letter addressed to Geoff brings back memories of a previous relationship. A study in regret, this Norfolk-set drama from director Andrew Haigh (Weekend) delivers an emotional fragility and tension that wowed critics at its Berlin International Film Festival premiere.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 231: Wed Aug 19

High Hopes (Leigh, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm

This is part of the London on Film season at BFI Southbank. The film also screens on August 16th and 22nd. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Mike Leigh's very watchable up-to-the-minute bulletin from Thatcher England centers on a posthippie working-class couple in London named Cyril (Philip Davis) and Shirley (Ruth Sheen), who are beautifully conceived and realized, as well as on Cyril's mother (Edna Dore), his middle-class sister (Heather Tobias) and brother-in-law (Philip Jackson), and his mother's yuppie next-door neighbors (Leslie Manville and David Bamber), most of whom live around King's Cross. The texture of everyday life in contemporary London is precisely rendered. Leigh, a household name in England because of his extensive theater and TV work and one previous feature (the 1971 Bleak Moments), tends to satirize and even caricature the upper-class characters, but the jabs are generally accurate, and the overall construction of this episodic movie is deft and ingenious, pointing up parallels and contrasts in the sexual habits of his three couples and making interesting connections between other characters as well. Alternately bleak and hilarious, saddening and refreshing, this very political reflection on the state of England today is not to be missed. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 230: Tue Aug 18

Billy Liar (Schlesinger, 1963): Close-Up Film Centre, 8pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Close-Up Film Centre's August season and also screens on 8th August. You can find the details here.

Time Out review:
Released in the wake of the early social realist films of Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson, John Schlesinger’s physical world is the same – northern and working-class – but his approach to social commentary and storytelling, as adapted from Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall’s book and play, is more playful and less concerned with realism than films like ‘Taste of Honey’ and ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’. Schlesinger’s Billy (Tom Courtenay) is a confused young man with too much imagination for considering kitchen sinks: nominally he’s an undertaker’s clerk, but his real job is to carve a parallel, fantasy world for himself, whether leading men to war in a state called Ambrosia or forging himself a career in showbiz. Billy’s endless lies feel less like deceptions and more like an expression of the conflicts within a young man who’s uneasy in a fast-changing world. Funny and unexpectedly poignant.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 229: Mon Aug 17

They Live (Carpenter, 1988): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.35pm

Chicago Reader review:
John Carpenter's 1988 SF action-thriller about aliens taking over the earth through the hypnotic use of TV. The explicit anti-Reagan satire—the aliens are developers who regard human beings as cattle, aided by yuppies who are all too willing to cooperate for business reasons—is strangely undercut and confused by a xenophobic treatment of the aliens that also makes them virtual stand-ins for the Vietcong. Carpenter's wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie's central conceit are explored only cursorily. All in all, an entertaining (if ideologically incoherent) response to the valorization of greed in our midst, with lots of Rambo-esque violence thrown in, as well as an unusually protracted slugfest between ex-wrestler Roddy Piper and costar Keith David.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 228: Sun Aug 16

The Servant (Losey, 1963): Close-Up Film Centre, 8pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Close-Up Film Centre's August season and also screens on 11th August. You can find the details here.

If you want to read an excellent article on this Joseph Losey film I can recommend John Patterson's in the Guardian Guide here.  

He writes: 'Joseph Losey kicked off the 1960s proper with The Servant, an absolutely pivotal movie that exactly caught the spirit of the age as the country shook itself awake after the long frigid winter of 1962-3 and emerged, blinking and disoriented, into the torpid hothouse atmosphere surrounding the Profumo affair.

'The story of an aristocrat (James Fox) taken in by his machiavellian manservant (Dirk Bogarde), its themes of working-class insurgency, upper-class degeneracy and mutually destructive, sexually-driven power-games – already hallmarks of the stage work of first-time screenwriter, Harold Pinter – not to mention a notorious scene that seems to depict incest between a supposed brother and sister, dovetailed in the popular mind with the emerging sex-and-spy scandal whose fumes would finally waft the Conservative party out of power in 1964.

'The Servant was also perhaps the most baroquely stylised movie made in the United Kingdom since the heyday of Powell & Pressburger a decade earlier, but with Powell's optimistic high-Tory stylistic flourishes replaced by Losey's avowedly pessimistic Marxist mannerisms, or, as I prefer to think of them, his mise-in-sane.'

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 227: Sat Aug 15

Sparrows Can't Sing (Littlewood, 1962): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3.30pm

This is part of the London on Film season and the screening includes a Q&A with stars Barbara Windsor and Murray Melvin. Full details here.

BFI Southbank preview:
Joan Littlewood’s only feature paints a vivid picture of London’s East End and its larger-than-life characters (so vivid that it was subtitled for American audiences). When Charlie (James Booth) returns from two years at sea he finds his wife (a terrific performance by Barbara Windsor) has traded in their two-up, two-down for a highrise, and him for a bus driver.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 226: Fri Aug 14

Terence Davies Trilogy (Davies, 1976-1983): Close-Up Film Centre, 8pm

This is part of the Close-Up Film Centre's August season and also screens on 6th and 27th August. You can find the details here.

Time Out review:
Not so much an 'I had it tough' catalogue of economic and physical hardships as a strangely stirring account of human dignity triumphing over emotional and spiritual confusion. And indeed, the form reflects this, transforming Liverpudlian Robert Tucker's development - from victimised schoolboy, through a Catholic closet-gay middle-age, to death in a hospital - into a rich, resonant tapestry of impressionistic detail. There is plenty to enjoy: a bleak, wry wit and an imaginative use of music undercutting the grim but beautiful imagery; flashes of surrealism; and superb performances throughout (none more so than Brambell as the 80-year-old Tucker, wordlessly struggling the last few steps to meet his Maker). But what really elevates the films into their own timeless realm is the luminous attention to faces in close-up: a stylish strategy that turns an otherwise chastening look at a lonely man's life into an uplifting experience. (The film is in three parts: Children, 1974; Madonna and Child, 1980; Death and Transfiguration, 1983.)
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 225: Thu Aug 13

Shoeshine (De Sica, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm

This film is part of the Vittorio De Sica season at BFI Sothbank and also screens on 15th August. You can find full details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
A landmark of neo-realism – and an Oscar®-winner – this tells of two boys who survive by shining shoes but dream of buying a horse; with this in mind, they agree to a shady deal with some older boys, but things go wrong... De Sica elicits robust, utterly plausible performances from his cast while showing the chaos and poverty of post-war Italy in harrowing detail.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 224: Wed Aug 12

Stromboli (Rossellini, 1950): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This screens as part of the Ingrid Bergman Selectrospective at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find full details of the short season here.

Chicago Reader:
Roberto Rossellini's first filmic encounter with Ingrid Bergman, made in the wilds in 1949 around the same time the neorealist director and the Hollywood star were being denounced in the U.S. Senate for their adulterous romance. Widely regarded as a masterpiece today, the film was so badly mutilated by Howard Hughes's RKO (which added offscreen narration, reshuffled some sequences, and deleted others) that Rossellini sued the studio (and lost). The Italian version, which Rossellini approved, has come out on video, and this rarely screened English-language version is very close to it. A Lithuanian-born Czech refugee living in an internment camp (Bergman) marries an Italian fisherman (Mario Vitale) in order to escape, but she winds up on a bare, impoverished island with an active volcano, where most of the locals regard her with hostility. The film is most modern and remarkable when the camera is alone with Bergman, though Rossellini wisely shows neither the wife nor the husband with full sympathy. Eschewing psychology, the film remains a kind of ambiguous pieta whose religious ending is as controversial as that of Rossellini and Bergman's subsequent Voyage to Italy (though its metaphoric and rhetorical power make it easier to take). Rossellini's blend of documentary and fiction is as provocative as usual, but it also makes the film choppy and awkward; the English dialogue is often stiff, and Renzo Cesana as a pontificating local priest is almost as clumsy here as in Cyril Endfield's subsequent Try and Get Me! Nor is the brutality of Rossellini's Catholicism to every taste; Eric Rohmer all but praised the film for its lack of affection toward Bergman, yet the film stands or falls on the strength of her emotional performance—and I believe it stands.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

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

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 223: Tue Aug 11

The Killers (Siegel, 1964): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of a Don Siegel Selectrospective at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find full details of that short season here.

Chicago Reader review:
The second film version (1964) of Ernest Hemingway's short story, directed by Don Siegel with far more energy than Robert Siodmak could muster for his overrated 1946 effort. Siegel turns the story inside out, taking the point of view of Hemingway's two faceless hit men and following their attempt to find out why one of their victims refused to run. It was planned as one of the first made-for-TV movies, but Siegel, with the perversity of a true auteur, went ahead and shot it in 'Scope anyway. Thankfully, Universal decided it was too violent and released it to theaters. With Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, and Ronald Reagan in his final, appropriately loathsome, screen role.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 222: Mon Aug 10

The Leopard (Visconti 1963): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm

A bona fide masterpiece which grows in stature with the passing years and now in a remastered print which simply adds to the beauty of a magisterial work of cinema.

Here is critic Dave Kehr on the film's history, it was butchered on release and only seen in a truncated form for many years, and here is Martin Scorsese talking about his involvement in the restoration. The Leopard is one of the American director's favourite films as evidenced in this list.

Chicago Reader review:
Cut, dubbed, and printed in an inferior color process, the U.S. release of Luchino Visconti's epic didn't leave much of an impression in 1963; 20 years later, a restoration of the much longer Italian version revealed this as not only Visconti's greatest film but a work that transcends its creator, achieving a sensitivity and intelligence without parallel in his other films. Burt Lancaster initiated his formidable mature period as the aging aristocrat Don Fabrizio, who works to find a place for himself and his family values in the new Italy being organized in the 1860s. The film's superb first two hours, which weave social and historical themes into rich personal drama, turn out to be only a prelude to the magnificent final hour—an extended ballroom sequence that leaves history behind to become one of the most moving meditations on individual mortality in the history of the cinema. With Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale. In Italian with subtitles.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 221: Sun Aug 9

God Told Me To (Cohen, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This is part of the Cult Season at BFI Southbank and also screens on 6th August. Full details here.

Time Out review of God Told Me To:
'A delirious mix of sci-fi, pseudo-religious fantasy and horror detective thriller, with Lo Bianco as the perfect existential anti-hero - a New York cop and closet Catholic, guiltily trapped between wife and mistress. His investigations into a bizarre spate of mass murders lead right to the top: Jesus Christ, no less, is provoking innocent citizens to go on a murderous rampage. The wonderfully insane plot - involving spaceships, genetics and police corruption - builds to an ambiguous climax: a 'gay' confrontation which suggests an outrageous alternative to anal intercourse. God Told Me To overflows with such perverse and subversive notions that no amount of shoddy editing and substandard camerawork can conceal the film's unusual qualities. Digging deep into the psyche of American manhood, it lays bare the guilt-ridden oppressions of a soulless society.'
Steve Woolley

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 219: Sat Aug 8

Withnail & I (Robinson, 1987): Somerset House, 7pm

This is part of the Somerset House Film 4 Summer season from August 6th to 19th which is already proving very popular. A number of screenings have sold out but you can get details here and keep checking for returns. Tonight's event is part of a double-bill with An American Werewolf in London.

Time Out review:
That rare thing: an intelligent, beautifully acted, and gloriously funny British comedy. At the butt-end of the '60s, two 'resting' young thesps - Withnail (Grant, a revelation), a cadaverous upper middle class burning-out case with an acid wit and soleless shoes, and the seemingly innocent unnamed 'I' (McGann) - live on a diet of booze, pills, and fags in their cancerous Camden flat, until a cold comfort Lakeland cottage is offered for their use. For all its '60s arcana, this is no mere semi-autobiographical nostalgia trip, but an affecting and open-eyed rites-of-passage movie. Robinson's debut as writer/director (he scripted The Killing Fields) exhibits the value of the old virtues: characterisation, detail, and engagement. His characters are oddball, degenerate even, but rounded - none more so than the elephantine figure of Griffiths as Withnail's gay uncle Monty. Beautifully scripted, indecent, honest, and truthful, it's a true original.
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 219: Fri Aug 7

Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929): BFI Southbank, 2.30, 6.40 & 9pm

This film, voted No1 in the Sight & Sound poll of best documentaries of all time, is part of the 10 Greatest Documentaries of All-Time season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Dziga Vertov's 1929 Russian film amounts to a catalog of all the tricks the movies can perform. As a newsreel cameraman travels through a city (actually an amalgam of Moscow and Odessa), Vertov transforms the images captured by his camera through a kaleidoscope of slow motion, superimposition, animation, and wild montage effects. Vertov's motives were impeccably Marxist-Leninist—he wanted to expose the materialism behind an illusionist medium—but his film set off a storm of debate among his colleagues, who accused him of the bourgeois crime of “impressionism.” The film's real influence did not emerge for another 40 years, when it was taken up by American structuralist filmmakers on one side of the Atlantic and by French neoleftists on the other. The film remains a fascinating souvenir, though its flourishes are now fairly familiar.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 218: Thu Aug 6

Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm

An excellent chance to see one of Alfred Hitchcock's most perfectly realised films, with the bonus being that this is a 35mm screening. This is part of an Ingrid Bergman Selectrospective at the Prince Charles and you can find the full details of that short season here.

Chicago Reader review:
'The Hitchcock classic of 1946, with Cary Grant as a charming and unscrupulous government agent and Ingrid Bergman as a woman of low repute whom he morally blackmails into marrying a Nazi leader (Claude Rains, in a performance that makes a sad little boy of him). The virtuoso sequences—the long kiss, the crane shot into the door key—are justly famous, yet the film's real brilliance is in its subtle and detailed portrayal of infinitely perverse relationships. The concluding shot transforms Rains from villain to victim with a disturbingly cool, tragic force.'
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 217: Wed Aug 5

Cabaret (Fosse, 1972): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is part of the BFI 35mm Collection series at Prince Charles. Full details here.

Time Out review:
A maddening mixture, this adaptation of John Kander's fine musical based on Christopher Isherwood's Berlin stories. Superbly choreographed by Fosse, the cabaret numbers evoke the Berlin of 1931 - city of gaiety and perversion, of champagne and Nazi propaganda - so vividly that only an idiot could fail to perceive that something is rotten in the state of Weimar. Doubling as director, Fosse unfortunately feels the need to put the boot in with some crude cross-cutting (eg from a man being beaten up by Nazis in the street to the leering faces of the cabaret performers) which lands the film in a queasy morass of overstatement.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 216: Tue Aug 4

Umberto D (De Sica, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This film, part of the Vittorio De Sica season, also screens on 1st August. Tonight's presentation will be introduced by film scholar and critic Pasquale Iannone. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Screenwriter Cesare Zavattini likely deserves as much credit as director Vittorio De Sica for such masterpieces of Italian neorealism as The Bicycle Thief (1947) and this 1952 feature about a retired civil servant (schoolteacher Carlo Battisti) who discovers that his meager pension won't pay the rent for his room. He's befriended by a maid in the same flat who's pregnant but unsure of the father's identity; apart from her the only creature he feels close to is his dog, and though he contemplates suicide, he has to find someone to care for it. This simple, almost Chaplinesque story of a man fighting to preserve his dignity is even more moving for its firm grasp of everyday activities. In Italian with subtitles. 89 min.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 215: Mon Aug 3

Rebecca (Hitchcock, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm

This film, part of the Passport to Cinema season, also screens on 2nd August. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'There are too many conflicting levels of authorship—between Alfred Hitchcock, Daphne du Maurier, and David O. Selznick—for this 1940 film to be a complete success, but through its first two-thirds it is as perfect a myth of adolescence as any of the Disney films, documenting the childlike, nameless heroine's initiation into the adult mysteries of sex, death, and identity, and the impossibility of reconciling these forces with family strictures. As a Hitchcock film, it is, with the closely related Suspicion, one of his rare studies from a female point of view, and it is surprisingly tender and compassionate; the same issues, treated from a male viewpoint, would return in Vertigo and Marnie (Laurence Olivier's Maxim becoming the Sean Connery character of the latter film).'
Dave Kehr 

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 214: Sun Aug 2

Chimes at Midnight (Welles, 1966): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This film, increasingly considered Orson Welles' finest achievement, is part of the season devoted to the director's films at BFI Southbank and also screens on 1st and 3rd August. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Orson Welles's 1966 version of the Falstaff story, assembled from Shakespearean bits and pieces, is the one Welles film that deserves to be called lovely; there is also a rising tide of opinion that proclaims it his masterpiece. Restrained and even serene (down to its memorably muddy battle scene), it shows Welles working largely without his technical flourishes—and for those who have never seen beyond his surface flash, it is ample proof of how sensitive and subtle an artist he is. With Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Margaret Rutherford, and Jeanne Moreau.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the memorable battle scene.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 213: Sat Aug 1

Butter on the Latch (Decker, 2013): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.50pm

Director Josephine Decker will be at BFI Southbank for a special double-bill featuring her debut Butter on the Latch and her latest film, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (which screens at 6.10pm). You can find all the details here.

BFI introduction:
Josephine Decker is one of the most exciting new talents to emerge from recent American independent cinema. Fascinated with the deceptive beauty of the American pastoral landscape, Decker uses her blissful cinematic settings to delve into the mysteries of the female mind and body. We’re delighted to welcome Decker to BFI Southbank to discuss her debut features, with special guests, as the Independent Cinema Office launch a UK tour.

BFI review:
Sarah and Isolde are former friends who meet by chance at a music festival in the woods of Mendocino, California. Happy to be away from the urban life that has for too long defined them, in this mystical setting Sarah teaches Isolde old folk songs about myths, such as dragons that entwine themselves in women’s hair. From this point they begin to share their most intimate confidences with one another. The flow of their conversation in this female utopia is easy until Steph, a male camper, arrives. As Sarah’s attraction to him becomes apparent, her bond with Isolde unravels. Decker eschews a conventional narrative and instead creates a phantasmagoria that moves from dreamlike fantasy to improvised vérité, helped in no small part by Ashley Connor’s cinematography. The resulting film boldly invites you to ‘feel’ your way through the drama and heralds a genuinely exciting new filmmaking talent.
Jemma Desai

Here (and above) is the Independent Cinema Office trailer for tonight's double-bill.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 212: Fri Jul 31

Beyond The Lights (Prince-Bythewood, 2014): Ritzy Cinema, 6.30pm

Bechdel Test Fest presents a special screening of Gina Prince-Bythewood's acclaimed music drama. The film will be followed by a panel discussion Beyond 'Black' Film with lead actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ackee and Saltfish/Strolling director Cecile Emeke and film journalist Simran Hans (Little White Lies, Sight & Sound), hosted by Jasmine Dotiwalla.

Observer review:
The cinema release calendar is more crammed than it has ever been, yet good films still slip through the cracks on an alarmingly regular basis. Not even an Oscar nomination and a recent Edinburgh film festival premiere could save Gina Prince-Bythewood’s throbbing, neon-hot musical soap opera Beyond the Lights (Universal, 12) from direct-to-DVD ignominy here, echoing the fate of far too much vital African American fare on our shores. It deserves more generous exhibition, not least as a star-sealing showcase for British ingenue Gugu Mbatha-Raw, whose livewire turn as a Rihanna-esque pop star on the brink of self-destruction marks a more emphatic arrival than last year’s Belle.

There’s nothing here you haven’t seen in countless backstage dramas dating back to the pre-sound era: she’s the supernova for whom money can’t buy inner peace; Nate Parker is the good civilian who might yet be her saviour; a peak-form Minnie Driver is the merciless stage mother driving her to the edge. The devil (or the diva) is in the details, as Prince-Bythewood perceptively probes modern-day definitions and demands of class, race and celebrity within the grand, velvety framework of Hollywood melodrama. Like the star at its centre, it does not suit being ignored.
Guy Lodge

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 211: Thu Jul 30

Bunny Lake Is Missing (Preminger, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This film is part of the Passport to Cinema season at BFI Southbank. The film also screens on 27th July with an introduction by Richard Combs. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This paranoid 1965 thriller by Otto Preminger is one of his most darkly poetic and wrenching films, a reflective mid-60s return to the ghostly film noir style he developed at Fox in the 40s. An American woman living in London (Carol Lynley) believes her four-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. The police can't do much to help because, try as she might, Lynley can't prove to them that she ever had a daughter at all. Gradually it becomes clear that the subject of the investigation is not the missing child but the absence of love in Lynley's own life. As in The Human Factor, Preminger approaches the mystery of human irrationality and emotion through logic and detachment; the effect is stingingly poignant. With Laurence Olivier, Noel Coward, and Keir Dullea. 107 min.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) are the opening titles for the film by Saul Bass.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 210: Wed Jul 29

Wonderland (Winterbottom, 1999): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

This is part of the London on Film season at BFI Southbank. The film also screens on 31st July and tonight's screening includes a Q&A with Ian Hart and Kika Markham. Details here.

Time Out review:
A long weekend in the lives of an extended family of strangers in South London. Dad and mum (Jack Shepherd and Kika Markham) have long since settled for habitual resentment, their general disappointment accentuated by runaway son Darren. They also have three grown daughters: Nadia (Gina McKee) has resorted to the lonely hearts columns; Debbie (Shirley Henderson) is the eldest, with an 11-year-old boy and a good-for-nothing ex (Ian Hart); the youngest, Molly (Molly Parker), is pregnant, and blissfully happy with her partner, Eddie (John Simm). Only Eddie's getting cold feet. Michael Winterbottom's best film by some measure offers an intimate, suburban panorama of London life now. In the past, this director has slapped style over substance with more vigour than sensitivity; here he's opted for handheld 16mm cameras and a skeleton crew to shoot on the streets of Soho and SW1. The result rings true in a way precious few London films have managed, so that the experience of going to the movie in a local cinema practically blurs with what you've seen on screen. Not that the technique obscures the humanity in Laurence Coriat's fine screenplay, which keeps tabs on half-a-dozen emotionally deprived lives, and endows mundane occurrences with an unforced resonance. Shored up with a memorable Michael Nyman score, this achingly tender film makes most new British cinema look downright frivolous. 
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 209: Tue Jul 28

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Powell & Pressburger, 1943):
BFI Southbank, NFT3, 5.45pm

This Passport to Cinema event, postponed in April, includes an introduction by Powell and Pressburger scholar Ian Christie. The film also screens on 25th July. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
It's almost impossible to define this 1943 masterpiece by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It was ostensibly based on a cartoon series that satirized the British military class, yet its attitude toward the main character is one of affection, respect, and sometimes awe; it was intended as a propaganda film, yet Churchill wanted to suppress it; it has the romantic sweep of a grand love story, yet none of the romantic relationships it presents is truly fulfilled, and the film's most lasting bond is one between the British colonel (Roger Livesey) and his Prussian counterpart (Anton Walbrook). Pressburger's screenplay covers 40 years in the colonel's life through a series of brilliantly constructed flashbacks, compressions, and ellipses; Powell's camera renders the winding plot through boldly deployed Technicolor hues and camera movements of exquisite design and expressivity. It stands as very possibly the finest film ever made in Britain. With Deborah Kerr, Roland Culver, and James McKechnie.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 208: Mon Jul 27

The Trial (Welles, 1962): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This film, part of the Orson Welles season at BFI Southbank, also screens on 30th and 31st July. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Though debatable as an adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel, Orson Welles's nightmarish, labyrinthine comedy of 1962—shot mainly in Paris's abandoned Gare d'Orsay and various locations in Zagreb and Rome after he had to abandon his plan to use sets—remains his creepiest and most disturbing work; it's also a lot more influential than people usually admit (e.g., After Hours, the costume store sequences in Eyes Wide Shut). Anthony Perkins gives an adolescent temper to Joseph K, a bureaucrat mysteriously brought to court for an unspecified crime. Among the predatory females who pursue him are Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, and Elsa Martinelli; Welles himself plays the hero's tyrannical lawyer, and Akim Tamiroff is one of his oldest clients. Welles adroitly captures the experience of an unsettling and slightly hysterical dream throughout. Given the impact of screen size on what he's doing, you can't claim to have seen this if you've watched it only on video.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 207: Sun Jul 26

 No1 Providence (Resnais, 1977): Barbican Cinema, 3pm

Here is the Barbican introduction to a special 35mm screening of the Alain Resnais film:
This first English-language film from French director Alain Resnais (Last Night in Marienbad, Hiroshima, Mon Amour) is a typically mesmerising and tricksy affair. An ageing writer, Clive (John Gielgud), roams his shadowy, empty mansion one night composing the plot of his final novel, its characters based on his family, among them son Claud (Dirk Bogarde) and his wife Sonia (Ellen Burnstyn). The following day, the real characters assemble for his birthday lunch, and we see them suddenly without the filter of Clive’s warped imagination.

On the surface a sparkling comedy, it is at base another of the director’s famously knotted, thorny explorations of the distorting processes of memory and time, complete with surreal slips into dream logic, characters whose identities morph and merge, and an unsettling geographic fluidity to the locations. Providence has been chosen for us by artist Tacita Dean, and is screened at her request from an archive 35mm print brought in especially from France. Tacita joins us after the screening for a ScreenTalk.

Chicago Reader review:
Alain Resnais' first feature in English (1977, 110 min.) focuses on the imagination, dreams, and memories of an aging British novelist (John Gielgud) over one night as he mentally composes and recomposes his last book, using members of his immediate family—Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, David Warner, and Elaine Stritch—as his models. Although David Mercer's witty, aphoristic script can be British to a fault, the film's rich mental landscape is a good deal more universal, with everything from H.P. Lovecraft's werewolves to a painted seaside backdrop providing the essential textures. Like all of Resnais' best work, this is shot through with purposeful and lyrical enigmas, but the family profile that emerges is warm and penetrating, recalling the haunted Tyrones in Long Day's Journey Into Night rather than the pieces of an abstract puzzle. The superb performances and Miklos Rozsa's sumptuous Hollywood-style score give the film's conceit a moving monumentality and depth, and Resnais' insights into the fiction-making process are mesmerizing and beautiful.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) are extracts from the film.


No2 Njinga: African Warrior Queen (Graciano, 2013) : Phoenix Cinema 2pm

Phoenix Cinema introduction:
Njinga, an African Warrior Queen of the area now referred to as Congo/Angola, was on her throne at the time as England's James I. This epic historical action-drama tells the astonishing true story of this female general who fought a 40 year war against slavery. The story begins in 1617, the year Njinga's father King Kilwanji dies. The Portuguese army takes advantage of the political confusion and invades Southern Africa so they can kidnap the population and force them to work on sugar plantations in Brazil. Princess Njinga has to fight to gain the throne and then lead her people in a battle for national freedom.

We're delighted to welcome Dr Michelle Asantewa for a Q&A after the screening. This event is an extension of the BFI African Odysseys programme in association with the Phoenix Cinema: Inspirational films by and about the people of Africa, from archive classics to new cinema. Explore the African roots of World Cinema through our monthly programme of Sunday screenings.

Supported by Black History Walks

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 206: Sat Jul 25

Babylon (Rosso, 1981): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This is part of the London on Film series and also screens on 28th July. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Although Babylon shows what it's like to be young, black and working class in Britain, the final product turns dramatised documentary into a breathless helter-skelter. Rather than force the social and political issues, Rosso lets them emerge and gather momentum through the everyday experience of his central character Blue (sensitively played by Forde). A series of increasingly provocative incidents finally polarise Blue and lead to uncompromising confrontation. Although the script runs out of steam by the end, the sharp use of location, the meticulous detailing of black culture, the uniformly excellent performances and stimulating soundtrack command attention.
Ian Birch

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 205: Fri Jul 24

Othello (Welles, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This is part of the Orson Welles season and also screens on 26th July. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
For all the liberties taken with the play, Orson Welles's 1952 independent feature may well be the greatest Shakespeare film (Welles's later Chimes at Midnight is the only other contender)—a brooding expressionist dream made in eerie Moorish locations over nearly three years, yet held together by a remarkably cohesive style and atmosphere. (The film looks better than ever in its 1992 restored version, though it sounds quite different thanks to the restorers' debatable decision to redo the brilliant score and sound effects in stereo, altering them considerably in the process.) The most impressive performance here is Micheal MacLiammoir's Iago; Welles's own underplaying of the title role meshes well with the somnambulistic mood, but apart from some magnificent line readings he makes less of a dramatic impression. With Suzanne Cloutier (as Desdemona), Robert Coote, Fay Compton, Doris Dowling, and Michael Laurence.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 204: Thu Jul 23

The Lady From Shanghai (Welles, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 9.10pm

This film, part of the Orson Welles season at BFI Southbank, also screens on 17th and 25th July. You can find the full details here. I have written a feature about the drama both on and off the screen involving this brilliant movie here at the Guardian Film website. 

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 203: Wed Jul 22

Frenzy (Hitchcock, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm

This 35mm screening is part of the London on Film season at BFI. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This turned out to be Alfred Hitchcock's penultimate film (1972), though there's no sign of the serenity and settledness that generally mark the end of a career. Frenzy, instead, continues to question and probe, and there is a streak of sheer anger in it that seems shockingly alive. The plotting combines two of Hitchcock's favorite themes: the poisoned couple (Marnie, The Man Who Knew Too Much) and the lone man on the run (North by Northwest, Saboteur); its subjects are misogyny and domestic madness. With Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster, Vivien Merchant, and Anna Massey.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 202: Tue Jul 21

All The President's Men (Pakula, 1976): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film screens as part of The Pakula Paranoia Trilogy. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Inevitably softened by hints of self-congratulation concerning the success of Woodward and Bernstein's uncovering of the Watergate affair, Pakula's film is nevertheless remarkably intelligent, working both as an effective thriller (even though we know the outcome of their investigations) and as a virtually abstract charting of the dark corridors of corruption and power. Pakula's visual set-ups are often extraordinary, contrasting the light of the Washington Post newsroom with the shadows in which hides star informant Deep Throat, and dramatically engulfing Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in monumental buildings to stress the enormity of their task.
Geoff Andrew
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 201: Mon Jul 20

Night Moves (Penn, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This is part of the Passport to Cinema season. Tonight's screening will be introduced by Dominic Power, head of Screen Arts at the National Television Film School. The film can also be seen on Sunday 19th July. You can find the full details here.

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 200: Sun Jul 19

Lola (Demy, 1961): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

This screens as part of the French Leading Ladies season at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jacques Demy's first and in some ways best feature (1961), shot in exquisite black-and-white 'Scope by Raoul Coutard, is among the most neglected major works of the French New Wave. Abandoned by her sailor lover, a cabaret dancer (Anouk Aimee) brings up their son while awaiting his return and ultimately has to choose among three men. Chock-full of film references (to The Blue Angel, Breathless, Hollywood musicals, the work of Max Ophuls, etc) and lyrically shot in Nantes, the film is a camera stylo love letter, and Michel Legrand's lovely score provides ideal nostalgic accompaniment. In his third feature and biggest hit, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Demy settled on life's disappointments; here at least one major character gets exactly what she wants, and the effect is no less poignant. With Marc Michel, Jacques Harden, and Elina Labourdette (the young heroine in Robert Bresson's 1945 Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne). In French with subtitles.
Jonathan Rosdenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 199: Sat Jul 18

S.W.A.L.K. [aka MELODY] (Hussein, 1971): BFI Southbank,NFT2, 3.50pm

This is part of the London on Film season and also screens on 3rd July. Details here.

BFI Southbank preview:
Oliver! co-stars Wild and Lester were reunited for Hussein and Alan Parker’s engaging, eccentric child’s-eye-view of Lambeth schooldays. Posh Danny (Lester) and urchin Ornshaw (Wild) are inseparable until Danny falls for classmate Melody, and the pre-teen couple decide to marry. This sweet, uplifting love story has a fab soundtrack by the Bee Gees and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 198: Fri Jul 17

Faces (Cassavetes, 1968): Close-Up Cinema, 8.30pm

This is showing as part of the John Cassavetes season at Close-Up. There are a number of screenings of the film until 31st July and you can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
John Cassavetes's galvanic 1968 drama about one long night in the lives of an estranged well-to-do married couple (John Marley and Lynn Carlin) and their temporary lovers (Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel) was the first of his independent features to become a hit, and it's not hard to see why. It remains one of the only American films to take the middle class seriously, depicting the compulsive, embarrassed laughter of people facing their own sexual longing and some of the emotional devastation brought about by the so-called sexual revolution. (Interestingly, Cassavetes set out to make a trenchant critique of the middle class, but his characteristic empathy for all of his characters makes this a far cry from simple satire.) Shot in 16-millimeter black and white with a good many close-ups, this often takes an unsparing yet compassionate "documentary" look at emotions most movies prefer to gloss over or cover up. Adroitly written and directed, and superbly acted—the leads and Val Avery are all uncommonly good (and the astonishing Lynn Carlin was a nonprofessional discovered by Cassavetes, working at the time as Robert Altman's secretary)—this is one of the most powerful and influential American films of the 60s.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.