Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 56: Thu Feb 25

Love (Goulding, 1927): Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm

Here is the Royal Festival Hall introduction to this special screening:

Tonight's performance is a live Philharmonia Orchestra concert screening of the 1927 silent film Love, featuring the world premiere of a new score. The Philharmonia Orchestra provides live accompaniment to a screening of Love, featuring virtuoso violinist Vadim Repin and conducted by Frank Strobel. Aphrodite Raickopoulou has written a new score for this classic silent film, which is based on Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina. The score was written especially for the renowned violinist Vadim Repin, whom Yehudi Menuhin described as 'the best violinist I have ever heard'. Made in 1927 by director Edmund Goulding, Love starred the most celebrated screen couple of the era: Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. The New York Times motion picture critic Mordaunt Hall described Greta Garbo, in this role, as 'a blonde Mona Lisa' and wrote that she 'outshines any other performance she has given to the screen'.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 55: Wed Feb 24

King Lear (Godard, 1987): BFI Southbank,NFT2, 8.30pm

This film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI and is also being shown on February 22nd. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard's zany, English-speaking quasi adaptation of the Shakespeare play has the most complex and densely layered use of Dolby sound in movies. The “itinerary” of the film—one can't quite consider it a plot—involves a post-Chernobyl view of culture in general and Shakespeare's play in particular. Among the performers, mainly used by Godard as a painter might use colors, are stage director Peter Sellars, Molly Ringwald (as Cordelia), Burgess Meredith (as Lear), a semiincoherent Godard (as someone called Professor Pluggy), and, in smaller parts, Norman Mailer, his daughter Kate Miller, film director Leos Carax, and Woody Allen. The film qualifies as a perverse provocation on more than one level—and one of those levels, believe it or not, is Shakespeare. It may drive you nuts, but it's probably the most inventive and original Godard film since Passion.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here and above is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 54: Tue Feb 23

Hail Mary (Godard, 1985): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI and is also being shown on February 27th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Blasphemy is just about the last thing on Jean-Luc Godard's mind in this modern-day (1985) transposition of the nativity story; just as he did in First Name: Carmen, Godard has placed a mythic story in a cramped everyday setting to see if there is still any connection between the immediate and the eternal, the flesh and the spirit, the purely fortuitous and the transcendently ordered. The mysteries are respected, and even evoked with awe during a ravishing centerpiece sequence that cuts between Mary's anguished attempts to understand what is happening to her body and a magisterial series of sunsets and landscapes. The real scandal, for anyone who has followed Godard through his Marxist period, is how much genuine spiritual longing the film contains—no longer content with a materialist analysis of the state of the world, he's attempting here to film the intangible.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 53: Mon Feb 22

Get Carter (Hodges, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Classic Films season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Time out review:
'What would Jesus say?' demands the tapestry mounted over the shabby rooming house bed which, as Jack Carter (Caine) surmises upon his return home from London, has 'seen some action in its time'. The question goes unanswered. Christ has forsaken the grimy muteness of Newcastle, 1971, just as surely as he was airlifted out of Rome in La Dolce Vita a decade earlier - and though they share initials, Carter certainly won't be filling his shoes. A dapper, domineering angel of vengeance, he stands a head above his fellow hoods, but not apart from them. This is movie modernism British-style. The occasional stylistic flourishes suggest the imported influence of the New Wave, the brief bursts of sex, violence and soundtrack funk offer a trendsetting '70s take on the gangster movie. But its prime virtue now, in 2004, looks like its depiction of a nation slowly made to face its own moral and physical dilapidation, hope and glory gone way down and out. Like the train journey opening the film, Mike Hodges' debut offers a tunnel vision of this landscape. He shoots it cold, sparse and ambivalent, the terse, gnomic plotting and dialogue doubtless contributing to the allure of what might otherwise be a relatively plain genre movie. Refusing ever to dwell, it cuts sharp rather than deep, but sharp enough. 

Here's Mark Kermode's thoughts on Get Carter

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 52: Sun Feb 21

Prenom Carmen (Godard, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI and is also being shown on February 18th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard continues the autobiographical fantasy of Every Man for Himself and Passion with a blackly comic tale of a broken-down director (played with great satiric flair by Godard himself) enlisted by his sexpot niece (Maruschka Detmers) as a cover for a bizarre kidnapping scheme. Godard, as usual, proceeds by contradictions: just as he aligns Beethoven's late quartets with the noise of Parisian traffic, so the film becomes more abstract as it becomes more personal, more tragic as it becomes more farcical. Godard uses the plot of Merimee's Carmen as a link between a classical tradition and his own modernist work of the 60s; he is searching for a point of equilibrium between the made and the found, the ordered and the chaotic—a point from which to define an aesthetic for the 80s. With Jacques Bonnaffe and Myriem Roussel (1983).
Davd KehrHere (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 51: Sat Feb 20

The Master (Anderson, 2012): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

I caught the 70mm screening of this movie at the Leicester Square Odeon on release and it's highly recommended, being shown in the same format at the Prince Charles tonight and on February 25th. You can find all the details here.

The Master was the best film of 2012 and if you read one lengthy article on this movie make it J Hoberman's in the Guardian which you can find here.

Chicago Reader review:
'A self-destructive loner (Joaquin Phoenix), discharged from the navy after serving in the Pacific in World War II, flounders back in the States before coming under the wing of a charismatic religious leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) transparently based on L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. This challenging, psychologically fraught drama is Paul Thomas Anderson's first feature since the commanding There Will Be Blood (2007), and like that movie it chronicles a contest of wills between an older man and a younger one, as the troubled, sexually obsessed, and often violent young disciple tries to fit in with the flock that's already gathered around the master. This time, however, the clashing social forces aren't religion and capitalism but, in keeping with the era, community and personal freedom—including the freedom to fail miserably at life. The stellar cast includes Amy Adams, Laura Dern, and Jesse Plemons.'  
JR Jones
Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 50: Fri Feb 19

Penda's Fen (Clarke, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

Time Out review of Penda's Fen
(the magazine voted the film at No76 in their top 100 British films list here):
This remarkable feature length television film – commissioned for the legendary 1970s ‘Play for Today’ single drama series – is often described as a step ‘off piste’ for its director Alan Clarke. That’s a misleading reading, however. The work’s qualities of resistance, questioning and personal and public transformation are entirely in keeping with the normally urban-centric filmmaker’s milieu. But the real credit lies with its writer David Rudkin. An astonishing playwright with a visionary reach and a genuine sense of ‘deep England’ and its radical potential, Rudkin here crafts a multi-layered reading of contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and metaphysical fault lines. Fusing Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with a heightened socialism of vibrantly localist empathy, and pagan belief systems with pre-Norman histories and a seriously committed – and prescient – ecological awareness, ‘Penda’s Fen’ is a unique and important statement, rumoured soon – finally – to be available on DVD
Gareth Evans

Here (and above) is a pretty terrifying extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 49: Thu Feb 18

The Devils (Russell, 1971): Genesis Cinema, 7pm

Rochester Kino screens classic and cult films at various venues including cultural institutes and pop-up settings in London. The events are always introduced by Nick Walker with a brief talk followed by an informal group discussion over refreshments. Rochester Kino's second instalment at Genesis is a rare screening of Ken Russell's The Devils.

Time Out review:
'The unexpurgated cut of Russell's ornate, near-unwatchable taboo-busting masterpiece receives only its third British screening. The only major addition is the infamous 'rape' of Christ, in which the 'possessed' nuns use a life-size statue of the Saviour as a rutting post, but although that sequence may seem relatively tame by modern standards, there's plenty here that's still incredibly shocking. The scenes of plague are truly vile, as are the climatic torture scenes. But what horrifies most is Russell's nihilistic view of the world in general, and humanity in particular: almost without exception, we are shown to be vain, lustful, perverse, self-serving, murderous, disease-ridden, exploitative, decadent, deluded creatures unworthy or incapable of salvation. Approach with extreme caution.'
Tom Huddleston

Here is an extract to give you a flavour.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 48: Wed Feb 17

Full Metal Jacket (Kubrick, 1987): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This movie screens as part of the Stanley Kubrick retrospective (all the films being screened from 35mm) and you can read all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Stanley Kubrick shares with Orson Welles and Carl Dreyer the role of the Great Confounder—remaining supremely himself while frustrating every attempt to anticipate his next move or to categorize it once it registers. This odd 1987 adaptation of Gustav Hasford's The Short-Timers, with script-writing assistance from Michael Herr as well as Hasford, has more to do with the general theme of colonization (of individuals and countries alike) and the suppression by male soldiers of their female traits than with the specifics of Vietnam or the Tet offensive. Elliptical, full of subtle inner rhymes (for instance, the sound cues equating a psychopathic marine in the first part with a dying female sniper in the second), and profoundly moving, this is the most tightly crafted Kubrick film since Dr. Strangelove, as well as the most horrific; the first section alone accomplishes most of what The Shining failed to do. With Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, and R. Lee Ermey.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 47: Tue Feb 16

Lotte in Italia (Godard, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI Southbank.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Made for Italian state television (who refused to broadcast it), this political essay based on an influential text by Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser focuses on contemporary ‘struggles in Italy’ and the social contradictions of a bourgeois young woman drawn to the revolutionary cause. 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 46: Mon Feb 15

Boogie Nights (Anderson, 1997): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 5.40pm

This is part of the BFI Southbank Passport to Cinema ('Stardust Memories: Filmmakers on Filmmaking' season). Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's second feature (1997) is a two-and-a-half-hour epic about one corner of the LA porn industry during the 70s and 80s—a seemingly limited subject that becomes the basis for a suggestive and highly energetic fresco. The sweeping first hour positively swaggers, as a busboy (Mark Wahlberg) is plucked from obscurity by a patriarchal pornmeister (Burt Reynolds at his near best) to become a sex star. Alas, this being the American cinema, tons of gratuitous retribution eventually come crashing down on practically everybody in mechanical crosscutting patterns, and because Anderson has bitten off more than he can possibly chew, a lot of his minor characters are never developed properly. Moreover, just as his first feature, Hard Eight, at times slavishly depended on Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le flambeur, Anderson here attempts to "outdo" Tarantino (in a fabulous late sequence with Alfred Molina) and to plagiarize a sequence from Raging Bull that itself quotes from On the Waterfront, rather than come up with something original. But notwithstanding its occasional grotesque nods to postmodernist convention, this is highly entertaining Hollywood filmmaking, full of spark and vigor.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 45: Sun Feb 14

The Mother and the Whore (Eustache, 1975): Barbican Cinema, 2pm

This 35mm screening is part of the mini My Twisted Valentine season at the Barbican. You can find details of all the screenings here.

Chicago Reader review:
A major work, not because of its exhausting length (217 minutes) or the audacity, brilliance, and total originality of its language, but because of writer-editor-director Jean Eustache's breathtaking honesty and accuracy in portraying the sexual and intellectual mores of its era. This 1973 film "explains" Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, vividly and compellingly dramatizing the confusions, uncertainties, and complexities of thoroughly modern human relationships.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 44: Sat Feb 13

Christmas in July (Sturges, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This film, part of the Preston Sturges season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on February 13th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Preston Sturges's second feature as writer-director (1940) is in many ways the most underrated of his movies—a riotous comedy-satire about capitalism that bites so deep it hurts. An ambitious but impoverished office clerk (Dick Powell) is determined to strike it rich in a contest with a stupid slogan ("If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee, it's the bunk"). He's tricked by a few of his coworkers into believing that he's actually won, promptly gets promoted, and proceeds to go on a shopping spree for his neighbors and relatives. Like much of Sturges's finest work, this captures the mood of the Depression more completely than most 30s pictures, and the brilliantly polyphonic script repeats the hero's dim-witted slogan so many times that it eventually becomes a kind of crazed tribal incantation. As usual, Sturges's supporting cast (including Ellen Drew, William Demarest, and Raymond Walburn) is luminous, and he uses it like instruments in a madcap concerto.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 43: Fri Feb 12

Passion (Godard, 1981): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI and is also being shown on February 17th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard's 1982 film is centered on a Godard-like director (played by Jerzy Radziwilowicz, the Polish star of Man of Iron) who divides his time between re-creating classical painting for a movie he is making and contradictory love affairs with Hanna Schygulla (the wife of a factory owner) and Isabelle Huppert (a virginal proletarian). The film is a study in classical montage, revving up a dialectic between two kinds of filmmaking, two kinds of quests, and two kinds of passion. Godard does not reconcile his contradictions so much as inhabit the spaces between them: the movie is profoundly “in the middle,” always hesitating between two choices, two characters, two subjects. Difficult but fascinating, as always with this crucial filmmaker.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Here the critic Jonathan Romney introduces the movie for Film 4.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 42: Thu Feb 11

Slow Motion (Godard, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT, 8.50pm

This film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI and is also being shown on February 12th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard calls this 1979 production, 
Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie), his “second first film”—which means both a return to narrative after his brilliant documentary-theoretical work in the 70s and a complete clearing of the decks. You feel him questioning his entire life here, his most basic impulses and ideals, and his honesty is devastating; he emerges as a hollow man, trapped between the limitations of his politics and his sexuality, with barely enough ego left to imagine his own death. Of course, the film's substantial artistry belies Godard's self-negation: with his formal, four-part ordering of the narration, the tension he establishes and exploits between sound track and image, and his use of slow motion to analyze and abstract the action, Godard pulls an aesthetic victory from the jaws of utter nihilism. With Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Nathalie Baye, and Marguerite Duras (on the sound track only).
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 41: Wed Feb 10

Numero Deux (Godard, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm

This remarkable film (screened on 35mm) is part of the Jean-Luc Godard season at BFI and is also being shown on Sunday February 7th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Often juxtaposing or superimposing two or more video images within the same 'Scope frame, Jean-Luc Godard's remarkable (if seldom screened) 1975 feature—one of the most ambitious and innovative films in his career—literally deconstructs family, sexuality, work, and alienation before our very eyes. Our ears are given a workout as well; the punning commentary and dialogue, whose overlapping meanings can only be approximated in the subtitles, form part of one of his densest sound tracks. Significantly, the film never moves beyond the vantage point of one family's apartment, and the only time the whole three-generation group (played by nonprofessionals) are brought together in one shot is when they're watching an unseen television set. In many respects, this is a film about reverse angles and all that they imply; it forms one of Godard's richest and most disturbing meditations on social reality. The only full 'Scope images come in the prologue and epilogue, when Godard himself is seen at his video and audio controls. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 40: Tue Feb 9

Le Cercle Rouge (Melville, 1970): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

This film is part of the Classic Films season at the Prince Charles. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Pierre Melville's austere heist film, made in 1970, was his next to last; it opens with a Buddhist aphorism about fate binding two men to meet again, and ends with a police chief pronouncing all men ultimately guilty. Two prisoners return to society—Corey (Alain Delon) has served his sentence and is released, while Vogel (Gian Maria Volonte) escapes from a speeding train. They team up with a sharpshooting ex-cop to mount an exquisite jewel theft. Melville renders the taciturn crooks and corrupt inspectors with the nocturnal blue palette that is his signature. Key action points are edited with finesse, but the denouement, with its dutiful hail of gunfire, is heartless and mechanical. With Yves Montand, Andre Bourvil, and Francoise Perier.
Bill Stamets

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 39: Mon Feb 8

The Lady Eve (Sturges, 1941): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm

This film, part of the Preston Sturges season at BFI Southbank, is on an extended run at the cinema. The screening on February 5th will be introduced by Clare Stewart, head of BFI Festivals. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Preston Sturges extended his range beyond the crazy farces that had made his reputation with this romantic 1941 comedy, and his hand proved just as sure. Henry Fonda is the heir to a massive beer fortune who has spent his life in the scientific study of snakes; Barbara Stanwyck is the con girl who exclaims “What a life!” and sets out to turn Fonda around. Among the faces who crowd the frames are Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest, Eric Blore, Melville Cooper, and Jimmy Conlin.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 38: Sun Feb 7

Remember the Night (Leisen, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This film, part of the Preston Sturges season at BFI Southbank, is also screening on February 10th. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
District attorney Fred MacMurray falls in love with Barbara Stanwyck—a problem, since he's prosecuting her for shoplifting. The loose, graceful script is by Preston Sturges (one of his last before he turned to directing), and it partakes of a softness and nostalgia that seldom surfaced in his own films. Mitchell Leisen, the director, serves the material very well with his slightly distanced, glowing style.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 37: Sat Feb 6

The Last Days of Disco (Stillman, 1998): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

Here is the Barbican introduction to this 35mm screening:
This is the first event curated by this year’s Barbican Young programmers – a group of 16 – 25 year olds who meet each month. This rarely seen and witty ensemble comedy from Whit Stillman (Damsels in Distress) follows the fortunes of Charlotte and Alice, two twenty-somethings who work in publishing by day and by night, frequent the disco club scene of 1980s New York. Starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny. We are thrilled to have director Whit Stillman come along to talk and answer your questions after the screening.

Chicago Reader review:
It's remarkable how over the course of just three “nightlife” features—Metropolitan, Barcelona, and this comedy set in the early 1980s—writer-director Whit Stillman has created a form of mannerist dialogue as recognizable as David Mamet's, a kind of self-conscious, upper-crust Manhattan gab reeking of hairsplitting cultural distinctions. Fortunately, this time around the Ivy League characters project less of a glib sense of entitlement, making them more fun to watch, and Stillman himself gives more evidence of watching rather than simply listening. The characters include two young women in publishing (Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale) who find a flat together, their roommate (Tara Subkoff), an employee at the club where they hang out (the always interesting Chris Eigeman), a fledgling ad executive (Mackenzie Astin), a junior assistant district attorney (Matt Keeslar), and a lawyer (Robert Sean Leonard). Stillman does interesting things with all of them.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 36: Fri Feb 5

The Palm Beach Story (Sturges, 1942): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 2.30 & NFT2, 6.20pm

This film, part of the Preston Sturges season at BFI Southbank, is on an extended run until February 17th at the cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rudy Vallee turns in his best performance as a gentle, puny millionaire named Hackensacker in this brilliant, simultaneously tender and scalding 1942 screwball comedy by Preston Sturges—one of the real gems in Sturges's hyperproductive period at Paramount. Claudette Colbert, married to an ambitious but penniless architectural engineer (Joel McCrea), takes off for Florida and winds up being wooed by Hackensacker. When McCrea shows up she persuades him to pose as her brother. Also on hand are such indelible Sturges creations as the Weenie King (Robert Dudley), the madly destructive Ale and Quail Club, Hackensacker's acerbic sister (Mary Astor), and her European boyfriend of obscure national origins (Sig Arno). The Hackensacker character may be the closest thing to self-parody in the Sturges canon, but it's informed with such wry wisdom and humor that it transcends its personal nature (as well as its reference to such tycoons as the Rockefellers). With William Demarest, Jack Norton, Franklin Pangborn, and Jimmy Conlin.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 35: Thu Feb 4

Tout Va Bien (Godard, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm

The BFI are running a major season devoted to Jean-Luc Godard from January to March. This film is also screens on February 6th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Yves Montand, a former New Wave filmmaker, and his wife, Jane Fonda, get involved in a factory takeover in this 1972 self-styled “commercial” film by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. Actually, it's only a slight step back from Godard's hard-core political tracts, but the few concessions he does make—characters and a story, of sorts—go a long way toward making the rhetoric accessible. Jerry Lewis's famous cutaway set from 
The Ladies' Man is recycled to expose the factory's power structure; long lateral tracks across a bank of supermarket checkout lanes make a wry comment on the ethics of consumerism.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 34: Wed Feb 3

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

This film screens as part of the Stanley Kubrick Retrospective (Part Two 1964-1999) at the Prince Charles Cinema. All the films are 35mm screenings and you can read about them all here.

Chicago Reader review:
All of Stanley Kubrick's features look better now than when they were first released, but Barry Lyndon, which fared poorly at the box office in 1975, remains his most underrated. It may also be his greatest. This personal, idiosyncratic, melancholy, and long (three hours) adaptation of the Thackeray novel is exquisitely shot in natural light (or, in night scenes, candlelight) by John Alcott, with frequent use of slow backward zooms that distance us, both historically and emotionally, from its rambling picaresque narrative about an 18th-century Irish upstart (Ryan O'Neal). Despite its ponderous, funereal moods and pacing, the film is a highly accomplished piece of storytelling, building to one of the most suspenseful duels ever staged. It also repays close attention as a complex and fascinating historical meditation, as enigmatic in its way as 2001: A Space Odyssey. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter; narrated by Michael Hordern.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 33: Tue Feb 2

No1: Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

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

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

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

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

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


No2: The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2015): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30 & 8.45pm

Hou Hsiao-Hsien's latest release has garnered critical acclaim since its release and is on an extended run from January 22nd to February 4th. You can read the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
In the ninth century, near the end of the Tang Dynasty, the governor of a state pulling away from the empire (Chang Chen) is stalked by a beautiful assassin (Shu Qi) who's been trained since childhood by the cunning princess of a rival family (Sheu Fang-yi). The story promises action, but this brooding martial-arts adventure from Hou Hsiao-hsien is largely a pictorial experience: in the glistening black-and-white preface, the killer slashes an opponent's throat and Hou cuts abruptly to a spray of wildflowers. Extreme wide shots place the characters against stunning mountain terrains and inside wild forests, recalling the crystalline detail of classical Chinese paintings; interior scenes unfold in a golden glow, gauzy curtains drifting back and forth over the action, while crickets chirp and tribal drums sound periodically, the hushed tone making the eruptions of swordplay seem even more clangorous. The dazzling 35-millimeter photography is by Mark Lee Ping Bing.
JR JonesHere (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 32: Mon Feb 1

Stop Making Sense (Demme, 1984): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

Chicago Reader review:
Among the greatest concert films ever made, this recording of three Talking Heads shows at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles is a pure celebration of live performance. The film's lack of style is precisely what makes it so profound. Demme's unfussy, straightforward framing captures the concert perfectly, from the biggest gestures down to the tiniest intricacies. In avoiding unnecessary artifice, Demme amplifies the heart of the material, a strategy he's employed throughout his career.
Drew Hunt
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 31: Sun Jan 31

Hidden (Haneke, 2005): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm

This is part of the Michael Haneke season (full details here) at Close-Up Cinema. This film, one of the best of the Noughties, is a 35mm screening.

Chicago Reader review:
This brilliant if unpleasant puzzle without a solution, about surveillance and various kinds of denial, finds writer-director Michael Haneke near the top of his game, though it's not a game everyone will want to play (2005). The brittle host of a TV book-chat show (Daniel Auteuil) and his unhappy wife (Juliette Binoche) start getting strange videos that track their comings and goings outside their Paris home. Once the husband traces the videos to an Algerian he abused when both were kids, things get only more tense, troubled, and unresolved. Haneke is so punitive toward the couple and his audience that I periodically rebelled against—or went into denial about—the director's rage, and I guess that's part of the plan.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 30: Sat Jan 30

No1: Velvet Goldmine (Haynes, 1998): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Rio Cinema's late-night season. Full details here.

Time Out review:
This witty, evocative re-creation of the heady days of glam rock is loosely structured on the lines of a Citizen Kane-style flashback narrative, with a journalist (Christian Bale) sent back from New York to Britain to investigate, ten years on, the disappearance of Bowie-like star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) after an on-stage assassination is revealed to have been a publicity stunt. Partly a film à clef which retranslates real-life events and personalities into a dazzling fiction, partly an unsentimental celebration of an era of (potential) pan-sexual liberation (complete with unexpected but fitting tribute to Oscar Wilde), and partly a typically Todd Haynesian study of transgression, identity and the gulf between private and public image, it's superbly shot, edited and performed, and exhilaratingly inventive throughout.
Geoff Andrew

Here are the opening credits.


No2: British Sounds (Godard, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.50pm

This film (35mm) screens with another provocative 1969 work 'Pravda' as part of the Jean-Luc Godard season that runs from January through to March and the double-bill is also being shown on January 25th. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
The film that was made for and then banned from London Weekend TV. Essentially a documentary, it's a genuine political artefact in which Godard contrives to assault the British sensibility with a series of images and provocations (the slogans flashed on the screen are sometimes humorous and always to the point). The parts where people just talk really work; when Ford Dagenham workers discuss the company-employee situation, the effect is simple and uncluttered but devastatingly effective. Sometimes, however, the control vanishes - the sequence with Essex students making posters, for instance - and this confirms the impression that revolution in Britain will only come from the industrial army who need it, not the middle class academics who play it.

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 29: Fri Jan 29

Vent D'est (Godard, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film (video) screens as part of the Jean-Luc Godard season that runs from January through to March and is also being shown on January 31st. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
Godard's target is representational cinema (Nixon-Paramount/Brezhnev-Mosfilm), and this film is one step in his struggle to create images and sounds that lie outside all ruling hegemonies. It's formulated as a barrage of angry sounds and a trickle of dramatically minimal images, returning constantly to a set of very basic questions: how can you represent oppression without being oppressive? Can you articulate revolutionary ideas without forging a new language to express them? Is any representation of a reactionary society bound to be politically wrong?
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 28: Thu Jan 28

One Plus One/Sympathy for the Devil (Godard, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm

This was the penultimate screening of the year-long 70x70 film season in 2014. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London.

Here is Iain Sinclair's introduction to the movie:
Sympathy for the Devil
was a 16mm polemic shot on 35mm. The contradictions begin there. At £150,000, it was Godard’s most expensive feature, made in a city he disliked and a language he pretended, when it suited him, not to speak. The sight of his new young wife, Anne Wiazemsky (fresh from her radiant debut, co-starring with a donkey in Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar), wandering about South London and West London, spraying slogans on corrugated fences, was profoundly depressing. The film became a documentary about futility, ugliness, poor light, the insolent rhetoric of scrapyards, gun-waving black freedom fighters (jobbing actors). Swinging London: the psychedelic gibbet. A colour-supplement commission dressed up as a movie. Photographers shooting photographers. Antonioni’s BlowUp, made two years before Godard hit town, predicts riverside expansionism and the future location of the Thames Barrier. A city of moneyed immigrants. Russians with good English tailoring eating Italian food. Godard’s more troubled raid tracks around a notable English monument, the Rolling Stones. More stone than roll: even then. Smoking defiantly, prematurely jaded musicians fiddle with a demon-summoning song, while the camera loops lethargically around them. A more unreal and therefore truer account of the psychosis of celebrity, of (simulated) Dionysiac madness, than Antonioni’s guitar-wrecking performance by the Yardbirds.

and above is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 27: Wed Jan 27

A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

This is part of a Kubrick retropsective at the Prince Charles Cinema and here are the details of the other movies being shown in the great director's season (all being screened in 35mm).

Time Out review:
Swap Beethoven for heroin, and Stanley Kubrick’s scandalous 1971 Moog-mare based on Anthony Burgess’s novel might work as a forerunner to ‘Trainspotting’. It presents the wayward travails of Little Alex (Malcolm McDowell) a tearaway who likes nothing more than a bit of the old ultra violence. But after a bungled break-in where he is abandoned by his band of cock-nosed droogs, he is packed off to a hospital to be ‘cured’. The style of filmmaking is at once clinically precise and imaginatively loose. This is down to the multitude of tricks that Kubrick hoists in (slo-mo, fast-forward, cartoon inserts, back projection) to encapsulate the total autonomy these characters have and why they see their behaviour as thrilling. The violence is plentiful and invites a mixture of revulsion and amusement, not least because it is usually overlaid by Walter Carlos’s mad reinterpretations of classical standards. Does it stand up psychologically? Probably not. But as an example of a work in which the filmmaking style matches the tone of the material, it’s peerless.
David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 26: Tue Jan 26

Dangerous Men (Rad, 2005): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

The Duke Mitchell Film Club are the dudes behind this presentation. Here is their introduction to tonight's entertainment:
In 1979, Iranian filmmaker John S. Rad moved to the U.S. to shoot his dream project, a rampaging gutter epic of crime, revenge, cop sex and raw power. Just 26 years later, he completed an American action film masterpiece that the world is still barely ready for today: DANGEROUS MEN.  After Mina witnesses her fiancé's brutal murder by beach thugs, she sets out on a venomous spree to eradicate all human trash from Los Angeles. Armed with a knife, a gun, and an undying rage, she murders her way through the masculine half of the city's populace. A renegade cop is hot on her heels, a trail that also leads him to the subhuman criminal overlord known as Black Pepper.  It's a pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, brain-devouring onslaught of '80s thunder, '90s lightning, and pure filmmaking daredevilry from another time and/or dimension. Blades flash, blood flows, bullets fly and synthesizers blare as the morgue overflows with the corpses of DANGEROUS MEN.

Chicago Reader review:
Shot over several decades, this shoestring production by John S. Rad has built up a cult following on the strength of its singularly perverse vision. It begins as a revenge fantasy—after being raped by two loutish bikers, a woman poses as a prostitute and kills her johns—but any plot momentum is subverted by cutaways that have nothing to do with the action. About halfway through the movie Rad drops the woman altogether, focusing instead on a cop as he tries to track down an albino biker named Black Pepper.
Joshua Katzman

Here (and above) is the trailer.