Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 175: Fri Jun 24

Ratctcher (Ramsay, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.45pm

This 35mm screening is part of the 'Focusing on Women's Contribution to Film' season at the Prince Charles. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This impressive 1999 debut feature by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar) extends the visual acuity and emotional power of her astonishing shorts Small Deaths and Gasman. Seeking refuge from a stultifying home life, a 12-year-old boy (William Eadie) searches for adventure at a nearby canal, where he befriends a vulnerable, sexually exploited 14-year-old (Leanne Mullen). Their relationship is understated yet emotionally truthful, exploring their alternating fear and exhilaration. Sometimes Ramsay relies too heavily on metaphor (the mounting garbage that surrounds their economically ravaged community) to balance out her work, and the children's bleak home lives are too recognizable from the work of Alan Clarke and Mike Leigh. But the film becomes almost abstractly beautiful in its final half hour; with its fluent images and sensitivity to mood, it signaled the start of a promising career.
Patrick Z. McGavin

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 174: Thu Jun 23

Poor Cow (Loach, 1967): Barbican Cinema, 6.15pm

To launch the new digital restoration of Ken Loach's Poor Cow, the Barbican Cinema present this special screening with star Terence Stamp and the author of the book on which it was based, Nell Dunn, for a ScreenTalk after the film.

BFI Screenonline analysis:
Poor Cow
was Ken Loach's first feature film, and was based on the novel by Nell Dunn, who also wrote Loach's earlier Wednesday Play, Up The Junction (BBC, tx.3/11/1965). Throughout his career, Loach has been a collaborative filmmaker, often working with the same team. Carol White, Poor Cow's star, was already well-known as a result of her starring roles in Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home (BBC, tx. 16/11/1966). Uncharacteristically, Loach - who has generally preferred lesser-known actors - also used other 'names', notably Terence Stamp, in Poor Cow.

White plays the appropriately named Joy, free-spirited, resilient and flirtatious, despite being caught in a web of circumstances largely outside her control, relating to her gender and class. Loach shows characteristic sympathy for the characters and their situation. The opening song, written for the film and sung by Donovan, urges the audience "Be not too hard, for life is short, and nothing is given to man".

Loach has acknowledged the influence of Italian neo-realist film-making, of which probably the best-known example is Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette, Italy, d. Vittorio de Sica, 1948): "Those classic post-war Italian films just seem to have an immense respect for people. They give people space and they're concerned with their concerns." This could be a motto for Loach's own film-making, with his compassionate observation of the ways in which ordinary people deal with difficult social circumstances. Poor Cow shares this socio-political concern with the effects of poverty and poor housing on the lives of its characters.

As with Loach's earlier work, the stylistic techniques are inventive. The use of Joy as a narrator on the soundtrack reflects the first-person narration of the original novel. The film also makes occasional use of intertitles, more commonly associated with silent films. This risks distancing the viewer from their involvement in the story, but is effective in adding an ironic note, exemplified by "The world was our oyster... And we chose Ruislip".

The continuity of the story is sometimes broken: Loach uses montage techniques, juxtaposing observational shots of characters not connected with the main story, for example in the pub where Joy works. As is common in Loach's work, the film is at the same time the story of an individual and a demonstration of the way everyone is connected with the wider community.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 173: Wed Jun 22

The Frightened Woman (Schivazappa, 1969): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

This is part of the She’s So Giallo (Women of 1970s Italian Thrillers) season at the Barbican curated by Josh Saco, aka Cigarette Burns Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Here is the Barbican introduction:
Philippe Leroy
stars as Dr Sayer, a rich philanthropist who has a dark secret to hide in Piero Schivazappa’s pop art thriller. When Maria (Dagmar Lassander), a journalist, drops by Sayer's mansion to pick up some documents, she soon finds herself victim to his unpleasant and degrading games. But the tables are turned as Maria subverts the doctor's game and becomes the manipulator.

We're delighted to have Virginie Sélavy, editor of Electric Sheep Magazine, introduce this screening.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 172: Tue Jun 21

Frankenstein (Whale, 1931): Barbican Cinema, 6.15pm

Here is the Barbican introduction:
Would genetically modified people be Frankenstein monsters? With advances in medical technology, it has already become possible to make in vitro interventions on human embryos - prompting the thought that human beings could be engineered genetically. Many are afraid of this possibility: why? What are the possibilities, the potentials, the risks? Will future humanity be a genetically engineered one? Philosopher AC Grayling explores James Whale’s iconic horror Frankenstein.

Time Out review:
A stark, solid, impressively stylish film, overshadowed (a little unfairly) by the later explosion of Whale's wit in the delirious Bride of Frankenstein. Karloff gives one of the great performances of all time as the monster whose mutation from candour to chill savagery is mirrored only through his limpid eyes. The film's great imaginative coup is to show the monster 'growing up' in all too human terms. First he is the innocent baby, reaching up to grasp the sunlight that filters through the skylight. Then the joyous child, playing at throwing flowers into the lake with a little girl whom he delightedly imagines to be another flower. And finally, as he finds himself progressively misjudged by the society that created him, the savage killer as whom he has been typecast. The film is unique in Whale's work in that the horror is played absolutely straight, and it has a weird fairytale beauty not matched until Cocteau made La Belle et la Bête. Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 172: Mon Jun 20

Voyage To Italy (Rossellini, 1954): Regent Street Cinema, 6.30pm

Chicago Reader review:
'Roberto Rossellini's finest fiction film and unmistakably one of the great achievements of the art. Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders play a long-married British couple grown restless and uncommunicative. On a trip to Italy to dispose of a piece of property, they find their boredom thrown into relief by the Mediterranean landscape—its vitality (Naples) and its desolation (Pompeii). But suddenly, in one of the moments that only Rossellini can film, something lights inside them, and their love is renewed as a bond of the spirit. A crucial work, truthful and mysterious.'

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 171: Sun Jun 19

Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky, 1966): Regent Street Cinema, 7.55pm

Chicago Reader review:
Andrei Tarkovsky's first major film (1966, though banned and unseen until 1971), cowritten by Andrei Konchalovsky, about a 15th-century icon painter. This medieval epic announced the birth of a major talent; it also stuns with the sort of unexpected poetic explosions we've come to expect from Tarkovsky: an early flying episode suggesting Gogol, a stirring climax in color. Not to be missed.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the incredible opening scene.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 170: Sat Jun 18

Wanda (Loden, 1970): Whitechapel Gallery, 3.30pm

I wrote about this extraordinary movie for the Guardian here when it was screened at the London Film Festival two years ago. This rare screening will be introduced by Isabelle Huppert.

New Yorker review:
The actress Barbara Loden’s only film as a director, from 1970, is a harrowing, epiphanic masterwork. She also stars as the title character, Wanda Goronski, a pallid wraith in an anthracite landscape. Reduced to apathy by the drudgery and banality of a mining town, she flees her husband and young children and rides off with a buttoned-down, steely-eyed drifter (Michael Higgins). Unbeknownst to her, he is a robber on the run as well as a fussy, domineering brute who improves her manners and her wardrobe even while launching her on a criminal path. Though suspicious from the start, Wanda is ready for anything that makes her feel alive—and the movie matches her in au­dacity and sensibility. Loden’s indelible depiction of Wanda’s degradation, resistance, and resignation blends intense psychological realism with a spontaneous, quasi-musical mastery of form. Her rough-grained images, with their attention to place, light, and detail, have an intimate, sculptural texture; they seem to bring matter to life and to glow with the characters’ inner radiance.
Richard Brody

Here (and above) is a video essay by Adrian Martin and Cristina Alvarez Lopez.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 169: Fri Jun 17

Under The Skin (Adler, 1997): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm

Time Out review:
Iris (Morton) has always been jealous of sister Rose (Rushbrook), but when their mother (Tushingham) dies, she's thrown into numb, furious confusion. Rejecting her old life (Rose and boyfriend Gary), Iris turns instead to the discomfort of strangers. At first glance, writer/director Adler's film seems extremely thin. Morton has charisma in spades and wears oddball clothes well. Such blasted poise proves irresistible to Adler, whose frenetic camera feasts on Morton as if she were a piece of meat. We never believe Iris is part of a community; she's more a wandering Lolita, slumming it among ignorant, treacherous low life. And though the sexual commentary is clearly intended to be cold, it's also tiresome. Are the sex scenes exploitative? Who can say. In the last third, however, Adler's strategy becomes clear: she's been playing a waiting game. Rose acquires an integrity that goes beyond mere respectable virtue, and when Iris's grief thaws, her helpless, animal-like pain is overwhelming. More surprisingly, our sense of the will-o'-the-wisp mother gathers force, the 'story' of her complex mothering told through the daughters' pinches, pokes and eventual tender fumblings towards each other. In its own twisty way, then, the film avoids both sentimentality and art-school cool, and with the help of superlative performances from Morton and Rushbrook, digs deep into the psyche.
Charlotte O'Sullivan

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 168: Thu Jun 16

Kings of the Road (Wenders, 1976): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Wim Wenders Selectrospective at the Prince Charles Cinema, You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader:
The first masterpiece of the New German Cinema. Wim Wenders's existentialized road movie (1975) follows two drifters—an itinerant movie-projector repairman and a child psychologist who has followed his patients by dropping out—in a three-hour ramble through a deflated Germany, touching on their private pasts and their hopes for the future. It's full of references to Hawks, Ford, and Lang, and one scene has been lovingly lifted in its entirety from Nicholas Ray's The Lusty Men. As the hommages indicate, one of the subjects is the death of cinema, but this isn't an insider's movie. Wenders examines a played-out culture looking for one last move. An engrossing, enveloping film, made with great craft and photographed in highly textured black-and-white by Robby Müller.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 167: Wed Jun 15

Journey to the Shore (Kurosawa, 2015): Regent Street Cinema, 6.30pm

Variety review:
A piano teacher goes on a second honeymoon of sorts with her missing husband when he returns as a ghost in “Journey to the Shore,” Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s return to human drama in the vein of “Tokyo Sonata,” albeit with a spiritual dimension. Traversing East Japan from small towns to remote hamlets, the film’s winding, episodic form ultimately conveys an obvious message, but the way in which its motley characters work through feelings of loss, regret and acceptance have a hushed, timorous sentiment that’s uniquely Japanese. Fans of Kurosawa’s earlier psycho-thrillers may desire more eeriness and visual panache, but those who’ve accepted the helmer’s conscious change of tune and pace should be gently touched.
Guy Lodge

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 166: Tue Jun 14

To The Wonder (Mallick, 2012): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

Don't miss the 35mm screening of this great movie in the Terrence Mallick season at the Prince Charles Cinema.

Little White Lies review:
It’s been referred to as a ‘B-side’ to The Tree Of Life’s operatic prime cut, but that description infers that To The Wonder is some kind of funky doodle not deemed good enough as a standalone work. No, these two films operate better as a monumental double A-side, both evolved out of the same miasmic primordial yolk and constructed with an insouciant rigour that’s bound to leave the righteous slack-jawed in awe.

While Tree Of Life presented Earth as a place of rhapsodic enchantment, To The Wonder gives us a modern-day world on the cusp of devastation. Taking place among the prefab tract houses of a dusty Oklahoman berg where every hour is magic hour, To The Wonder is less interested in the consolations of spirituality and the dynamics of love than it is the emotional barricades that prevent us from living a life of sublime indifference.

Ben Affleck essays Neil, a commitment-shy environmental health officer whose internal anxieties prevent him from truly accepting childlike Russian-French nymphet Marina (Olga Kurylenko) into his cold heart. A patina of dread and disquietude – both spoken and concealed – encases the action. Characters grapple with metaphysical conundrums and paradoxical homilies to come to terms with the preciousness of existence. They even begin to realise that the universal constant of romantic relationships may just be losing its place at the top of the chain of human responsibility.

With this more insidiously dour and subtly opaque affair, Malick again acts as head curator of a luxuriant flick-book of divine images, all of which have been immaculately beat-matched via the breathtaking, elliptical editing. His partner in cinematographic crime, Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki, locates tumbling cosmic depths in the most mundane of moments: a meadow of ambling bison mutates into a vision of chaos and claustrophobia; the shifting sands near Mont Saint-Michel; a night-time visit to a washing-machine outlet becomes a trial of enforced domesticity; Marina euphorically flits, jerks and prances, her façade of innocence a physical manifestation of the idea that Neil is unable to get close to her, to consume her.

Weaving in tandem to this is the story of a priest (Javier Bardem) who’s straying from the flock. He surveys the lives of impoverished locals just as Neil finds toxic chemicals leaking from local industrial plants. To The Wonder ponders how different life might be if we could comprehend the awesomeness of a world we take for granted. We might wrestle with our own doubts about this film, but how fitting is that for a film about doubt?

Its utter earnestness leaves it wide open to criticism, but to bemoan the superficial quality of the performances, the script or the story would be to miss the point of the film entirely. Malick doesn’t make films anymore. He builds cathedrals.
David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 165: Mon Jun 13

The Ladies Man (Lewis, 1961): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This rarely seen film is part of the 'Grin, Guffaw and Giggle' season at the Prince Charles. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the stranger chapters in Jerry Lewis's continuing psycho-biography, the most direct and intimidating confrontation between his perpetual preadolescent character and the wide world of sex. Jerry bungles into a plot line that might have been lifted from an ancient stag movie: he's the handyman at a women's boardinghouse. But Jerry resists the fleshy temptations of the opposite sex with all the blind determination of a six-year-old. An interesting, if not screamingly funny, film (1961), enlivened by some of Lewis's most audacious camera work and a spectacular three-story cutaway set that impressed Godard so much he borrowed it for Tout va Bien.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 164: Sun Jun 12

Dog Days (Seidl, 2001): Regent Street Cinema, 7pm

This remarkable and rarely seen film screens at the Regent Street Cinema in 35mm.

Time Out review:
Lord knows what they're putting in the water in Austria these days, but it ain't happy pills! Like Michael Haneke's Code Unknown, Seidl's first fiction film cuts back and forth between half-a-dozen characters who may occasionally cross paths. There's the mental girl who hitches rides from the supermarket and proceeds to provoke and insult her benefactors; the security advisor plying for trade; the sexist asshole insanely jealous of his girl; the divorcee still living with her alienated husband. Seidl has a couple of controversial documentaries to his name (Werner Herzog is a big fan) and he apparently used an improvisational method here, although it's framed with careful ironic poise. Seidl himself is a lot like the crazy hitcher: pushing and humiliating his characters and his audience alike. There are a couple of extremely explicit orgy scenes, one featuring the Austrian National Anthem. They're probably meant as shock therapy. 
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 163: Sat Jun 11

The Exquisite Corpus (Tscherkassky, 2015):
ICA Cinema, 4pm

+ Close-Up Cinema 8.30pm

ICA Cinema introduction:
The ICA in association with MUBI and LSFF present a screening of Austrian analogue filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky’s work, featuring the UK premiere of The Exquisite Corpus (2015).
Having premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year and after travelling through New York, Toronto or Melbourne, The Exquisite Corpus is a found footage work using various erotic films and advertising rushes. It plays on the “cadavre exquis” technique used by the Surrealists, drawing disparate body parts and constellating magical creatures. Myriad fragments are melted into a single sensuous, humorous, gruesome, and ecstatic dream.

The screening is followed by a Q&A with Peter Tscherkassky and director Peter Strickland.

Full programme:
L´Arrivee, 1998, 35mm, black & white, no sound, 2 min 09 sec 
Outer Space, 1999, 35mm, black & white, sound, 9 min 58 sec   
Dream Work, 2001, 35mm, black & white, sound, 11 min   
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine, 2005, 35mm, black & white, no sound, 17 min
The Exquisite Corpus, 2015, 35mm, black & white, no sound, 19 min

The film is also being shown at Close-Up Cinema tonight and here are the details of their programme.

Reverse Shot review:
Peter Tscherkassky’s The Exquisite Corpus, a 20-minute sensory spectacle was a true anomaly at Cannes, a blatantly experimental work whose aesthetic and thematic pleasures are inextricably linked to its author’s analog approach and sense of formal foreplay. Constructed from strips of vintage erotica and associated paraphernalia, the film centers its threadbare narrative around a literal nightmare of sexual indulgence. In the initial footage a nudist couple stumbles upon a naked and unconscious woman on the beach. Proceeding from this setup (which seems to nod to the aesthetics of silent cinema) is an eruption of heavily manipulated images, presumably memories or death-rattle hallucinations from the mind of the unresponsive girl, which Tscherkassky edits into a cascade of overlapping limbs and disassociated debaucheries. Superimpositions stack one atop the other, creating a kind of carnal conniption where divergent figures and detached narratives collapse into single frames that flicker and fragment in a display of accumulating sensation. I was reminded of Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures on more than one occasion, and at its hallucinatory best, The Exquisite Corpus approaches a similar plane of enraptured physicality.
Jordan Cronk

Here (and above) is an extract

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 162: Fri Jun 10

In the Realm of the Senses (Oshima, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This film is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank and this 35mm screening is introduced by Helen de Witt, BFI head of cinemas.

Chicago Reader review:
Nagisa Oshima's depiction of the obsessive lovemaking between a prostitute and the husband of a brothel keeper, which leads ultimately to the death of the man (with his own consent), is one of the most powerful erotic films ever made, but it certainly isn't for every taste. Based on a true story that originally made headlines in Japan in the 30s, which turned the woman into a tragic public heroine, the film concentrates on the sex so exclusively that a rare period shot—the man observing a troop of soldiers marching past—registers like a brief awakening from a long dream. This 1976 feature is unusually straightforward for Oshima, and those who are put off are likely to be disturbed more by the content than by the style. But the film is unforgettable for its ritualistic (if fatalistic) fascination with sex as a total commitment. With Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda as the couple, and Aio Nakajima as the brothel keeper.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 161: Thu Jun 9

Sabotage (Hitchcock, 1936): Phoenix Cinema, 10.30am

This was one of my five picks for the Guardian of underrated Alfred Hitchcock films not to be missed during the BFI Southbank retrospective of 2012. You can read my thoughts on the quintet of movies via the web here and this is what I had to say about Sabotage:

'Darker in tone and more harrowing than its reputation allows, Sabotage is arguably the most underrated of Hitchcock's still undervalued British period. A loose adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel The Secret Agentabout a shadowy network of anarchists, the film deserves to be remembered for much more than Hitchcock famously regretting his decision to let the bomb go off at the end of one of the director's most celebrated and manipulative suspense sequences. The movie's central couple run a cinema, which Hitchcock uses to masterful effect in an intriguing and rich sequence contrasting Walt Disney on the screen with the heartbreak of the wife following the tragedy at the centre of the narrative. The scene involving the "murder" (or is it "willed suicide"?) of her husband foreshadows the most brutal and shocking killing in Hitchcock's canon 30 years later, that of the East German agent Gromek in Torn Curtain (1966).'

is the famous bus bomb scene (Warning: spoiler)

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 160: Wed Jun 8

No1: Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993): Rooftop Film Club, Queen of Hoxton, 9pm

Time Out review:
School's breaking up for the summer of '76. The seniors debate party politics while next term's freshmen run the gauntlet of brutal initiation rites, barely comforted by the knowledge that they'll wield the stick one day. No one's looking much farther ahead than that. This has a free-wheeling, 'day-in-the-life-of' structure which allows writer/director Linklater, in his second feature, to eavesdrop on an ensemble cast without much in the way of dramatic contrivance. There's a quirky counter-cultural intelligence at work: sympathy for those on the sidelines, and a deadpan pop irony which places this among the hippest teenage movies. While the camera flits between some two dozen youngsters (played by uniformly excellent unknowns), Linklater allows himself to develop a handful of stories. Seriously funny, and shorn of any hint of nostalgia or wish-fulfilment, this is pretty much where it's at. 
Tom Charity 

Here (and above) is the trailer.


No2: Heat (Mann, 1995): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

This film (screening in 35mm) is part of the Michael Mann season at the Prince Charles. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
Investigating a bold armed robbery which has left three security guards dead, LA cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), whose devotion to work is threatening his third marriage, follows a trail that leads him to suspect a gang of thieves headed by Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro). Trouble is, McCauley's cunning is at least equal to Hanna's, and that makes him a hard man to nail. Still, unknown to Hanna, McCauley's gang have their own troubles: one of their number is a volatile psychopath, while the businessman whose bonds they've stolen is not above some rough stuff himself. Such a synopsis barely scratches the surface of Mann's masterly crime epic. Painstakingly detailed, with enough characters, subplots and telling nuances to fill out half a dozen conventional thrillers, this is simply the best American crime movie - and indeed, one of the finest movies, period - in over a decade. The action scenes are better than anything produced by John Woo or Quentin Tarantino; the characterisation has a depth most American film-makers only dream of; the use of location, decor and music is inspired; Dante Spinotti's camerawork is superb; and the large, imaginatively chosen cast gives terrific support to the two leads, both back on glorious form.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 159: Tue Jun 7

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Argento, 1971): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm

This is part of the She’s So Giallo (Women of 1970s Italian Thrillers) season at the Barbican curated by Josh Saco, aka Cigarette Burns Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Cigarette Burns introduction:
Lost for nearly 30 years and regarded as  Dario Argento’s masterpiece, Michael Brandon and Mimsy Farmer star in this rarely seen cult horror. Roberto (Brandon), a drummer in a rock band, finds himself embroiled in a nightmare when he is framed for killing a mysterious man who has been stalking him. But Roberto’s troubles get worse when he’s blackmailed by an unknown killer who is knocking off his friends, one by one. Turning to his wife, Nina (Farmer), Roberto struggles to identify who he can really trust. Featuring a playful score by Ennio Morricone’s and innovative cinematography from Franco Di Giacomo, this suspense-filled drama has rightly cemented itself as one of Argento's greatest giallo features.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 158: Mon Jun 6

Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

The Prince Charles' latest 70mm presentation is Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, on an extended run from June 4th to 20th. 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 (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 157: Sun Jun 5

Morris from America (Hartigan, 2016): Picturehouse Central, 1.30pm

This film is being shown at Picturehouse Central's Sundance Film Festival in London season. There is another screening on June3rd. Full details here.

Variety review:
Chad Hartigan’s “This Is Martin Bonner” (2013) established him as a subtle, original filmmaking voice attuned to stories of uprooting and dislocation, and he wrings a more accessible and no less specific variation on the same theme with “Morris From America,” a warm and winsome portrait of an African-American teenager adjusting uneasily to his new life in Heidelberg, Germany. Set to the pulsing hip-hop music that fuels Morris’ dreams and offers him refuge in a place that can seem friendly and threatening by turns, this coming-of-age dramedy explores how the challenges of being young, black and misunderstood can be compounded in a foreign environment, but goes about it in a grounded, character-driven way that never smacks of manipulation or special pleading.
Justin Chang

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 156: Sat Jun 4

Wiener-Dog (Solondz, 2016): Picturehouse Central, 3.30pm

This film is being shown at Picturehouse Central's Sundance Film Festival in London season. There is another screening on June 3rd. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Who would make an entire movie about man's best friend? Not misanthropic writer-director Todd Solondz, it turns out. Boasting a canine cast of exquisitely neurotic Dachshunds—all bearing the same pinched demeanor as Jane Adams in Happiness (1998)—Wiener-Dog follows the trajectory of one dog traipsing into a series of domestic traps only Solondz could devise. As a warning to animal lovers, the title character sometimes has more in common with a tube of meat meant to be gnashed by life's vicissitudes. But en route to the harshest, most unremittingly bleak film of his career, Solondz unleashes some of his sharpest commentary on human mortality and regret.

Ironically scored to lullabies and Debussy's "Clair de lune," Wiener-Dog is subdivided into four short segments (split by a jokey animated intermission). The bookends have the toughest stuff: A delicate nine-year-old thrills to his new pet, but must learn about spaying from his uptight yogacized mother (a fearless Julie Delpy), using racist language that wins the award for worst parenting ever. Later on, the extraordinary Ellen Burstyn, hidden behind shades and a frown, carelessly strokes her companion animal (dubbed Cancer) until she's unexpectedly visited by a group of sweet-voiced redheaded angels who taunt her with the kinder life she could have led. It's the scariest scene of Solondz's work to date: the essence of his worldview distilled into one nightmarish moment of supernatural comeuppance.
Why are we watching this? It's a question that comes up often with this indie stalwart, and Wiener-Dog, as polished as it is (these vignettes are lensed by Carol's Edward Lachman), won't convince doubters. But there's a deeper value here, teased out in themes that few filmmakers apart from Sweden's savage Roy Andersson would dare: the ephemerality of existence, the need to emotionally invest in these fragile four-legged totems. Ultimately, Wiener-Dog is about art itself.

Danny DeVito plays a passé screenwriter and film-school teacher who sees his legacy becoming a joke among glib students, while elsewhere, a contemporary artist (furious at comparisons to Damien Hirst) turns flesh and blood into animatronic puppets. The final canvas is the pavement itself—you know it's coming but brace yourself.
Joshua Rothkopf 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 155: Fri Jun 3

Winter's Bone (Granik, 2010): Picturehouse Central, 6.15pm

This is being shown at Picturehouse Central's Sundance Film Festival in London season. It is being screened in the 'Road to Stardom' strand, a programme dedicated to showcasing notable films discovered by the Sundance Film Festival that feature stars and filmmakers who have since achieved global recognition.

Chicago Reader review:
Writer-director Debra Granik made her feature debut with Down to the Bone (2004), a stark working-class drama with Vera Farmiga giving a breakout performance as a coke-addicted young mother. Farmiga has since moved on to more upscale projects, but with this second feature Granik steps even farther down the economic ladder, to the piss-poor Ozarks. A 17-year-old girl (Jennifer Lawrence) struggles to care for her mentally incapacitated mama and two younger siblings. The situation grows even more bleak after her daddy, busted for cooking crystal meth, signs their home over to a bail bondsman and then disappears; she needs to find him before the family is evicted, but the murderous meth dealers he supplied want him to stay lost. The social detail of a 21st-century mountain community is completely persuasive, heightening the drama immeasurably; the movie wouldn't be half as suspenseful if Granik hadn't sealed us into this little envelope of wilderness and poverty. 
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 154: Thu Jun 2

Candyman (Rose, 1992): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film screens (35mm) in the Cult strand and can also be seen on June 5th. Details here.

Time Out review:
This faithful, scary and visually imaginative adaptation of Clive Barker's story 'The Forbidden' casts Virginia Madsen as a Chicago doctoral student researching an urban myth about a hook-handed killer called Candyman. A series of murders in the city's run-down projects are linked with stories about a figure who appears when you say his name five times in front of a mirror. But are the frightened residents and elaborate graffiti proof that Candyman exists, or simply evidence of their wish to believe in the bogeyman? Following up on Paperhouse, Bernard Rose stages the suspense and horror with skill and panache, making this one of the best sustained horror movies for some years.
Nigel Floyd

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 153: Wed Jun 1

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.55 & 8.40pm

This film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank from a new 35mm print. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
For better or worse, one of Steven Spielberg's best films (1977), and perhaps still the best expression of his benign, dreamy-eyed vision. Humanity's first contact with alien beings proves to be a cause for celebration and a form of showbiz razzle-dazzle that resembles a slowly descending chandelier in a movie palace. The events leading up to this epiphany are a mainly well-orchestrated buildup through which several diverse individuals—Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Melinda Dillon—are drawn to the site where this spectacle takes place. Very close in overall spirit and nostalgic winsomeness to the fiction of Ray Bradbury, with beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond that deservedly won an Oscar. This is dopey Hollywood mysticism all right, but thanks to considerable craft and showmanship, it packs an undeniable punch.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 152: Tue May 31

Warlock (Dmytryk, 1959): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

This 4K screening, introduced by Sir Christopher Frayling, is part of the 'Ride Lonesome: Psychological Western' season at BFI Southbank.

Time Out review:
An incredibly overwrought Freudian Western, with Henry Fonda as the notorious killer hired by the cowardly citizens of Warlock to defend them from a vicious gang. Fonda brings with him his lifelong partner (and possible lover), the blond, neurotic, club-footed Anthony Quinn. After a few rousing shoot-outs, one of the opposition (Richard Widmark) joins them, and he is appointed sheriff. Enter Dorothy Malone, whose fiancé has been murdered by Quinn, and she falls in love with Widmark, whom she hopes will avenge her. It all ends with a Viking-style funeral, and with Fonda starting to think beyond his guns. Edward Dmytryk (after the blacklist days, at least) was usually one of Hollywood's dullest directors, but not here. The movie is overlong yet dynamic, juxtaposing moments of repose, when the script shuffles relationships like a stacked deck, and bursts of action which have something of the operatic stylisation of Sergio Leone.
Adrian Turner

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 151: Mon May 30

Alice in the Cities (Wenders, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Wim Wenders Selectrospective at the Prince Charles Cinema, You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Wim Wenders's roughly styled but sensitive 1974 film about fading cultural identities. Long-faced Rüdiger Vogler, a Wenders favorite, is a German photojournalist in search of the Real America. While in New York, he reluctantly accepts responsibility for Alice, a nine-year-old German girl abandoned by her mother. Together they return to Europe in search of the girl's grandmother, remembered, dimly, as living in a small village. Which one, they don't know. Without a place to stop, the characters continue to move—restlessly, desperately, the end point always out of sight.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 150: Sun May 29

Gabrielle (Chereau, 2005): Cine Lumiere, 4pm

This is part of the Isabelle Huppert retrospective at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Though based on a short story by Joseph Conrad, Patrice Chereau's Gabrielle brings to mind the plays of Strindberg and Albee. Chereau was a man of the theater before becoming a film director, and this highly stylized portrait of a loveless marriage at the beginning of the 20th century merges a claustrophobic theatricality with dazzlingly cinematic wide-screen compositions (the sumptuous cinematography is by Eric Gautier). The narrative is propelled by the decision of Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert in a superb performance) to return to her befuddled husband, Jean (Pascal Greggory), after a passionate dalliance with another man. By the time she declares that she's repelled by the very idea of her husband's sperm inside her, their bourgeois household has become a minefield.
Richard M. Porton

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 149: Sat May 28

I Shot Jesse James (Fuller, 1949): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.50pm

This is part of the 'Ride Lonesome: Psychological Western' season at BFI Southbank. There is another chance to catch this 35mm screening of Sam Fuller's debut film on Sunday 29th May. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Samuel Fuller's directing debut (1949) is one of the most impressive on record, passionate and intense. Its protagonist is Robert Ford, the "dirty little coward / who shot Mr. Howard" in the back. Filmed almost entirely in close-up—the style that Jean-Luc Godard would later call "cine-fist"—this is agonizing, claustrophobic, and brilliant.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 148: Fri May 27

Day of the Outlaw (De Toth, 1959): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This is part of the 'Ride Lonesome: Psychological Western' season at BFI Southbank. There is another chance to catch this 35mm screening on Monday 30th May. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Arguably Andre de Toth's greatest film, this 1959 western combines a hostage situation with a bleak, snowbound terrain to produce a gripping vision of hopeless entrapment. Robert Ryan stars as a rancher who's about to start a gunfight over land when a motley gang of outlaws led by Burl Ives ride in and take over the town. Because it's at the end of the trail, the outlaws become "prisoners of a white silence," in de Toth's words: isolated, surrounded by snow, they're about to run wild with the townswomen when Ryan leads them on a false escape route through the mountains. Their final ride is one of the most despairing visions in all cinema: the turning course followed by the men seems to twist back on itself, and the stark black-and-white background of rock and snow forms a closed, lifeless world excluding all human warmth.

Fred Camper

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

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 147: Thu May 26

Love And Friendship (Stillman, 2016): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

Director Whit Stillman will be at the BFI for a Q&A after his much-praised new film. Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny are paired up by Stillman once more (The Last Days of Disco) in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan. Taking up residence with her in-law’s following an intrigue, Lady Susan is delightful, irresistible and entirely without need of scruples as she sets about making a match for her daughter Frederica – never forgetting about her own requirements, of course.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 146: Wed May 25

Manhunter (Mann, 1986): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film is part of the Michael Mann season at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Time Out review:
'Michael Mann hits top form with this splendidly stylish and oppressive thriller adapted from Thomas Harris' Red Dragon. The plot is complex and ingenious: FBI forensics expert Will Graham (William Peterson), blessed (and tormented) by an ability to fathom the workings of the criminal mind through psychic empathy, is brought back from voluntary retirement to track down a serial killer, the 'Tooth Fairy'. Focused on the anxiety and confusion of the hunter rather than his psychotic prey, the film functions both as a disturbing examination of voyeurism, and as an often almost unbearably grim suspenser. Mann creates a terrifying menacing atmosphere without resorting to graphic depiction of the seriously nasty killings: music, designer-expressionist 'Scope photography, and an imaginative use of locations, combine with shots of the aftermath of the massacres to evoke a world nightmarishly perceived by Graham's haunted sensibility. The performances, too, are superior, most memorably Cox's intellectually brilliant and malevolent asylum inmate. One of the most impressive American thrillers of the late '80s.'
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 145: Tue May 24

The New World (Malick, 2005): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of a full Terrence Malick season at the Prince Charles. You can find all the details here.

The Guardian's John Patterson hailed tonight's film the best of the first decade of the millennium – and by some way. This is his article in full and here is an extract:

'It may seem like an exaggeration, but with The New World cinema has reached its culmination, its apotheosis. It is both ancient and modern, cinema at its purest and most organic, its simplest and most refined, made with much the same tools as were available in the infancy of the form a century ago to the Lumières, to Griffith and Murnau. Barring a few adjustments for modernity – colour, sound, developments in editing, a hyper-cine-literate audience – it could conceivably have been made 80 years ago (like Murnau and Flaherty's Tabu). This is why, I believe, when all the middlebrow  Oscar-dross of our time has eroded away to its constituent molecules of celluloid, The New World will stand tall, isolated and magnificent, like Kubrick's black monolith.'

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

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 144: Mon May 23

It Happened One Night (Capra, 1934): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

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

Chicago Reader review:
Reporter Clark Gable chases spoiled heiress Claudette Colbert across most of the eastern seaboard, pausing long enough between wisecracks to set the definitive tone of 30s screwball comedy. Even though Frank Capra's 1934 film won all five of the top Oscars, it's still pretty good. This is Capra at his best, very funny and very light, with a minimum of populist posturing.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 143: Sun May 22

The Passenger (Antonioni, 1975): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm

Don't miss the chance to see this movie screened from a 35mm print.

Chicago Reader review:
A masterpiece, one of Michelangelo Antonioni's finest works (1975). Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider star as a journalist who trades one identity for another and the woman who becomes his accomplice (and ultimately the moral center of his adopted world). Less a thriller (though the mood of mystery is pervasive) than a meditation on the problems of knowledge, action for its own sake, and the relationship of the artist to the work he brings into being. Next to this film,
Blowup seems a facile, though necessary, preliminary. By all means go.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 142: Sat May 21

Theatre of Blood (Hickox, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This fondly remembered horror film is part of the Shakespeare on Film season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

BFI Southbank intro:
The Bard’s penchant for cruelty is gleefully exploited in this devilishly macabre black comedy of terrors. Vincent Price is Edward Lionheart, a vengeful actor seeking bloody payback on the critics who so callously denied him the recognition he felt he deserved. Featuring a slew of inventive death scenes inspired by Shakespeare plays, this campy slice of Grand Guignol was a personal favourite of Price himself.
Michael Blyth

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 141: Fri May 20

Close Up (Gidal, 1983): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm

Close-Up Cinema introduction:
Peter Gidal
 and Mark Webber will introduce a screening of Gidal’s feature-length film Close Up to coincide with the publication of Flare Out: Aesthetics 1966–2016, a collection of essays by one of film’s great polemicists. Gidal was a central figure during the formative years of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative and made some its most radical works. His cinema is anti-narrative, against representation, and fiercely materialist.
In Close Up, Peter Gidal’s political, ultra-leftist practice is augmented by the disembodied voices of two Nicaraguan revolutionaries heard of the soundtrack. These voices punctuate a film whose representation of a room, an inhabited space, is one in which the viewer must consciously search for recognition, for meaning-making. The image-content is muted and abstract, but fascinating, with moments of (no-doubt) inadvertent beauty.
"Close Up is crystal hard, intransigent, and film in extremis. In short, one of the best 'political' films made in this country." – Michael O’Pray

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 140: Thu May 19

La Ceremonie (Chabrol, 1995): Cine Lumiere, 8.50pm

This film is part of the Isabelle Huppert season at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Time Out review:
When Catherine (Jacqueline Bisset) takes on Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) as housekeeper, her family's impressed by Sophie's aura of quiet responsibility, even though they're not convinced she knows how to serve dinner correctly. Snobbish but liberal, they nevertheless treat her generously. Only when she starts to consort with postmistress Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert), a gossip whom husband Georges (Jean-Pierre Cassel) suspects of opening the family mail, do they find real cause for complaint. But by then the women have a secret bond which excludes them from the safe cosseted world of Sophie's employers. Claude Chabrol's adaptation of Ruth Rendell's A Judgement in Stone benefits from the director's immaculate sense of social and psychological detail. The film's strong points are not mystery, suspense or even surprise, but Chabrol's flair for characterisation, careful pacing and solid evocation of bourgeois complacency and anti-bourgeois hatred creates a palpable sense of unease that fully justifies the shockingly violent finale. Ledoyen, the daughter of the household, is a discovery; Bisset returns to form; and Huppert, unusually vivacious, is terrific.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 139: Wed May 18

The Tall T (Boetticher, 1957) & Ride Lonesome (Boetticher, 1959):
BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.10pm

This brilliant (35mm) double-bill is part of the 'Ride Lonesome: Psychological Western' season at BFI Southbank and also screens on May 29th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review of The Tall T:
One of the best of the Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher B westerns (1957), in which the action is almost entirely psychological (Scott tries to pry Maureen O'Sullivan away from the outlaws—Richard Boone, Henry Silva, Skip Homeier—who are holding her for ransom) and the landscape is deftly stylized into dark interiors (caves, a fateful well) that punctuate the wide-open spaces. Boone makes one of the most memorable of Boetticher's witty, intelligent villains; no other western director so seductively gave evil its due.
Dave Kehr

Chicago Reader review of Ride Lonesome:
Budd Boetticher stretched the format of his Randolph Scott westerns into CinemaScope with this 1959 entry in the cycle, and in some respects the narrative seems drawn out as well: there is hardly any pretense of action or suspense as the characters move, almost aimlessly, through an open landscape, testing each other's strengths and weaknesses through conversations that become psychological chess games. Scott, as usual, is looking for the man who murdered his wife; his companions are two wisecracking outlaws (James Coburn and Pernell Roberts) and a woman whose husband has been killed by Indians (Karen Steele).
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer for The Tall T.


Subsequent to the initial posting for today's pick this message was sent out by the Prince Charles Cinema: Next Wednesday 18th May's screening of THE PASSION OF ANNA has been cancelled. The print has been taken out of service by the distributor.
The Passion of Anna (Bergman, 1969): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This (35mm) screening is part of a short Ingmar Bergman season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Ingmar Bergman's 1970 film about the impossibility of purity and consistency in a world where to live is to contradict yourself. The passion of the title is not sexual, but the ability to live with the contradictions of life and to bear them without resignation. A tentative, plotless film that pulses with the rhythms of life rather than the rhythms of drama.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the brilliant trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 138: Tue May 17

The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

This (35mm) screening is part of the Terrence Malick season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

The Thin Red Line confused Jonathan Romney so much when he was the Guardian's chief film critic that he said he wasn't sure whether it was worth one star or five so he put a row of question marks at the top of his review which you can read in full here.

Here is the Chicago Reader review:
There's less sense of period here and more feeling for terrain than in any other World War II movie that comes to mind. Terrence Malick's strongest suits in his two previous features, Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978)—a painterly sense of composition and a bold and original use of offscreen narration—are enhanced here, first by a successful wedding of ecology and narrative (which never quite happened in Days of Heaven) and second by the notion of a collective hero, which permits the internal monologues of many characters in turn. I haven't read the James Jones novel this is based on,  which some feel is his best, but Malick clearly is distancing the material philosophically and poetically, muting the drama periodically and turning it into reverie. This may have its occasional dull stretches, but in contrast to Saving Private Ryan it's the work of a grown-up with something to say about the meaning and consequences of war. The fine cast includes Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Nick Nolte, John C. Reilly, and, in tiny parts, John Travolta and George Clooney.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 137: Mon May 16

Duck Soup (McCarey, 1933): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

Duck Soup is the greatest of the Marx Brothers' movies - and is being screened in the Clasic Film season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review of Duck Soup:
The Marx Brothers' best movie (1933) and, not coincidentally, the one with the strongest director—Leo McCarey, who had the flexibility to give the boys their head and the discipline to make some formal sense of it. Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly, brought in by Margaret Dumont to restore order to the crumbling country of Freedonia; his competition consists of two bumbling spies, Chico and Harpo, sent in by the failed Shakespearean actor (Louis Calhern) who runs the country next door. The antiwar satire is dark, trenchant, and typical of Paramount's liberal orientation at the time.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the famous lemonade vendor scene.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 136: Sun May 15

Truly Madly Deeply (Minghella, 1990): ArtHouse Crouch End, 3pm

Juliet Stevenson will be on stage for a Q&A following the screening of this British classic, starring the late Alan Rickman.

Chicago Reader review:
An English feature written and directed by playwright Anthony Minghella, about a young woman (Juliet Stevenson) stricken by the death of her cellist lover (Alan Rickman) who appears to be revisited by his ghost, this comes across as an English realist variation on the sort of quasi-supernatural stories that producer Val Lewton specialized in during the 40s: that is, the supernatural elements are used to enhance the realistic psychology rather than the other way around. If the relatively prosaic Minghella, making his movie debut, lacks the suggestive poetic sensibility of Lewton, he does a fine job in capturing the contemporary everyday textures of London life, and coaxes a strong performance out of Stevenson, a longtime collaborator. Full of richly realized secondary characters and witty oddball details (e.g., the home video tastes of her late lover's ghostly male companions), this is a beguiling film in more ways than one.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.