Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 154: Tue Jun 12

Piranha (Dante, 1978): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm

On the occasion of this great Jaws rip-off movie's 40th anniversary here's a rare 35mm screening at the Prince Charles Cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
A rip-off of Jaws from Roger Corman's New World Pictures, with all the New World virtues intact: it's a fast, well-made, entertaining film with enough cheap thrills for the action trade and plenty of in-jokes for the cognoscenti. Bradford Dillman accidentally releases a tank full of mutant piranhas into a mountain stream, and as they swim downriver, they attack Keenan Wynn, a summer camp counseled by Paul Bartel (director of Eating Raoul and Death Race 2000), and a beach resort managed by New World stalwart Dick Miller. Director Joe Dante betrays hardly a trace of human values, but his cutting is the most evocatively Eisensteinian to be seen since Russ Meyer's Vixen
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 153: Mon Jun 11

Buffalo '66 (Gallo, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

This 35mm 20th anniversary screening is part of the 'Cinematic Jukebox' season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:Vincent Gallo's directorial debut is one of a kind, an eccentric, provocative comedy which laces a poignant love story with both a sombre, washed-out naturalism and surreal musical vignettes. Throwing out the standard repetitions of shot/reverse shot, Gallo brings an individual film grammar to the screen, a beguiling mix of formal tropes and apparently impetuous conceits. If not autobiographical, then at least deeply personal, the film follows one Billy Brown (Gallo) out of prison and back to his hometown, Buffalo, NY. There he kidnaps a girl, Layla (Christine Ricci) a busty, blonde in two-inch skirt and dazzling fairy tale slippers, and entreats her to play his loving wife for his parents' benefit. The homecoming goes a long way to explain Billy's aggressive insecurity: his indifferent mom (Anjelica Huston) is a rabid football obsessive, while his dad (Ben Gazzara) is taciturn and hostile, though taken with Layla. The cruel caricature of this sourly funny episode is tempered by Layla's sweetness. Billy's turmoil is redeemed in her simplicity. You may scoff at such blatant male wish-fulfilment, but when Billy finally opens himself to the threat of intimacy, it's a heart-rending moment. A brave, honest, stimulating film, this reaches parts other movies don't even know exist.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 152: Sun Jun 10

The Asphalt Jungle (Huston, 1950): Regent Street Cinema, 1.30pm

This screening of the film noir classic is from a 35mm print.

Chicago Reader review:
John Huston's bleak, semidocumentary account of a jewel heist and its moral consequences. One of the first big caper films, this 1950 feature contributed much to the essence of the genre in its meticulous observation of planning and execution. But Huston's interest remains with his characters, who dissolve as tragically as the prospectors of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and the adventurers of The Man Who Would Be King. The film has been remade at least three times, as The Badlanders, Cairo, and Cool Breeze.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 151: Sat Jun 9

Mademoiselle (Richardson, 1966): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm

This 35mm presentation will also be screened on July 13th and 30th (details here).

This erotically charged and austere study of criminology is written by star Jeanne Moreau’s regular collaborator Marguerite Duras, from an original screenplay by Jean Genet. Moreau plays a repressed school teacher unleashing her frustrations upon her fellow villagers in rural France. By prioritising natural sounds over incidental music, director Tony Richardson builds an odd, hyper-real atmosphere, against which Moreau gives one of her most intense performances.

Harvard Film Archive review:
Tony Richardson
’s deliciously wicked film – with a script begun by Jean Genet but completed by the director when the playwright disappeared after only a week – stars Jeanne Moreau as the ostensibly prim schoolmistress of a small French village. Beneath Mademoiselle’s breast, however, bubbles a hotbed of repressed passion, which she releases in random acts of secret and rather symbolic violence around the village: opening the floodgates to drown the farm animals, setting barns and homes aflame. The villagers pin the crimes on a sexy, newly arrived Italian lumberjack; Mademoiselle pins her hopes on seducing him. Richardson’s sumptuous mise-en-scène, marked here by his exclusive use of stationary camera compositions, creates narrative tableaux of classic proportions and an ample canvas for Moreau to paint her luscious performance on.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 150: Fri Jun 8

Liquid Sky (Tsukerman, 1982): ICA Cinema, 8.30pm

Here is the ICA introduction to this restoration of a cult classic, which also screens at the cinema on June 9th and 12th (details here):
The newly restored cult classic Liquid Sky is back at ICA for its European premiere, 35 years after its original release. The radical film, directed by Slava Tsukerman, was completely restored in 2017 from the director’s original 35mm negative print, and returns with visceral glory. The independent sci-fi stars American actress Anne Carlisle, co-writer of its screenplay, in a dual role as Margaret and Jimmy. Invisible aliens overtake Margaret’s body after landing on the rooftop of the aspirational fashion model’s downtown New York apartment. Meanwhile, her abusive alter ego Jimmy wallows in the excesses of New York's new wave fashion and music scenes. The aliens kill anyone Margaret sleeps with, at the point of orgasm, to feed on their endorphins, and are covertly studied by a scientist living in a nearby building, intent on exposing the extra-terrestrial activity. A time capsule of postmodern punk, Liquid Sky has long been out of circulation and scarcely available on cropped and murky VHS and DVD editions. With its distinctive Fairlight CMI synthesiser soundtrack, influential costume design by Marina Levikova-Neyman and colour restoration supervised by director of photography Yuri Neyman, the clarity of its original release returns to this underground classic.
Time Out review:
Film-maker Tsukerman's personal comment on, er, the State of Western Man, magnified through a thoroughly unpleasant bunch of New York junkies, poseurs and twits. Claiming to subvert a host of Hollywood verities, Tsukerman unleashes a parasitic alien being on the New York smack'n'sex demi-monde. Junkies and sex fiends start dropping like flies, and not even the Bruno Ganz-alike scientist can stop the voracious bug. Tsukerman stops short of his original intention of offing the whole cast, allowing for an extraordinary fairy-tale ascension at the end, but his aim of highlighting social malaise gets happily mislaid in a bizarre, often hilarious melee of weird drugs, weird sex and off-the-wall camp SF. 
Close Encounters for acid casualties.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 149: Thu Jun 7

The Passionate Friends (Lean, 1949): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm

This 35mm presentation is also being screened at the Prince Charles Cinema on June 5th. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
This unheralded ’40s melodrama is the lead title in the Lean centenary season at BFI Southbank, which adds to the argument that the emotional precision and sharp technical dexterity of Lean’s earlier, more modest offerings represent a more lasting legacy than his later spectaculars. An enterprising criss-cross time structure shapes Ann Todd and Trevor Howard’s turbulent relationship, as their romance comes back to haunt them after World War II since she’s settled for a staid but secure marriage to banker Claude Rains. It’s adapted from a 1913 HG Wells novel, but the storytelling looks decidedly modern, and Lean’s direction works the material for all its expressive worth, even if Todd’s glacial screen persona and an opaquely written central role hardly bring out the best in each other. Rains steals the show, his clipped exterior masking unexpectedly touching feelings for his errant spouse. An illuminating reissue.

Trevor Johnston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 148: Wed Jun 6

They Drive By Night (Walsh, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

This 35mm screening, which is part of the Ida Lupino season (full details here), is also being shown on Saturday June 2nd in NFT1. You can find the full details by clicking on this link.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1940 feature begins as a fast, growly proletarian drama of an independent trucker (George Raft) fighting to build his business, but breaks midway and becomes a high bourgeois melodrama about an ambitious woman (Ida Lupino) on trial for killing her husband. The switch may not make sense on first viewing, but director Raoul Walsh brings a thematic (and rhythmic) continuity to it: the same obsessional intensity that makes Raft an admirable figure in the first half is seen in the second, applied to Lupino, as something psychotic. Walsh may not have been directly responsible for the structure (the second half is a remake of an earlier Warners melodrama, Bordertown), but his personal response to the material puts it across. With Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, and Alan Hale.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 147: Tue Jun 5

Never Fear (Lupino, 1949): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm

This 35mm screening, which is part of the Ida Lupino season (full details here), is also being shown on Sunday June 3rd. You can find the full details by clicking on this link.

Chicago Reader review:
Ida Lupino's first official directing credit (her previous year's work on 
Not Wanted had been credited to Elmer Clifton) attaches to this story of a dancer who refuses to be defeated in her battle with a crippling disease. Lupino's perennial regard for female resourcefulness and strength is embodied in the stricken dancer's insistence on pursuing her career and romantic goals, despite the deflationary expectations of the men in her life. With Sally Forrest, Keefe Brasselle, and Hugh O'Brien.
Pat Graham

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 146: Mon Jun 4

Xtro (Davenport, 1982): Institute of Light, 7.30pm

This cult British sci-fi film screening is a Cigarette Burns film club production. Which means you're guaranteed a killer evening. The film's prioducer, Mark Forstater, is the special guest.

Time Out review:
A British horror picture incompetent enough to be prime drive-in fodder, if only we had such a thing, this throws together in random fashion a mish-mash of all the half-remembered elements from recent hungry alien films. Telekinesis, melting telephones, randy au pair girls getting sliced in the shower, pumas in the living-room, and - nastiest scene of the month - a woman giving birth to a fully-grown man, who then bites off his own placenta. The Xtro creature is a warty lizard which snatches family men off to its space craft for three years at a stretch; but its greatest service to mankind seems to be a taste for eating the drivers of Volvo estate cars, which is very heartening.
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 145: Sun Jun 3

Le Bonheur (Varda, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 4.10pm

This screening, which is also being shown on June 6th and 21st (details here), is part of the Agnes Varda season at BFI Southbank. Full details of the season can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
A beautiful and disturbing 1965 feature by Agnes Varda about family happiness, full of lingering and creepy ambiguities. A happily married carpenter (Jean-Claude Drouot) with a beautiful wife (Claire Drouot) and two small children (Sandrine and Oliver Drouot) falls in love with a beautiful postal clerk (Marie-France Boyer), who becomes his mistress. After the wife dies for mysterious reasons (whether by accident or suicide isn't clear), his idyllic family life continues with the postal clerk. Provocative and lovely to look at, this is one of Varda's best and most interesting features (along with Cleo From 5 to 7 and Vagabond).
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 144: Sat Jun 2

Outrage (Lupino, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

This 35mm screening, which is part of the Ida Lupino season (full details here), is also being shown on Tuesday June 5th, when it will be accompanied by an introduction to the season by Geoff Andrew. You can find the details of that evening's presentation here.

New York Times review:
“Outrage,” a Hollywood movie from 1950, looks intimately, painfully, and analytically at what we now know to call rape culture. Lupino approaches the subject of rape with a wide view of the societal tributaries that it involves. She integrates an inward, deeply compassionate depiction of a woman who is the victim of rape with an incisive view of the many societal failures that contribute to the crime, including legal failure to face the prevalence of rape, and the over-all prudishness and sexual censoriousness that make the crime unspeakable in the literal sense and end up shaming the victim. Above all, she reveals a profound understanding of the widespread and unquestioned male aggression that women face in ordinary and ostensibly non-violent and consensual courtship. Her movie is about the experiences of one young woman and, yes, about the experience of all women. The emotional power and political vision of “Outrage” arise as much from Lupino’s inspired images as from the wise and insightful script and the delicately controlled yet freely expressive performances—not the work of great actors but of attentive and sensitive ones who have the benefit of Lupino’s discerning direction. It’s a haunting, infuriating movie—and it’s not available on DVD or, to the best of my knowledge, on streaming services. Lupino is among the greats, and her directorial career is sadly under the radar.
Richard Brody

You can read a fuller review of the film by Brody here and his video essay on the movie via the link here.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 143: Fri Jun 1

The Bad and the Beautiful (Minnelli, 1952): Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image, 6pm

This 35mm screening is part of the excellent 'Cinephiles' strand at the Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image (in the Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H OPD). You can see the full Birkbeck programme here.

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

Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 142: Thu May 31

Repo Man (Cox, 1984): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of a 'Take Two' special at Close-Up Cinema with film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review: 
'Alex Cox's 1984 punk comedy is set in a rotting Los Angeles, where a disaffected adolescent (Emilio Estevez) finds an outlet for his aggression and an answer to his boredom in an apprenticeship with a professional car repossessor (Harry Dean Stanton). Cox's style is a step beyond camp into a comedy of pure disgust; much of the film is churlishly unpleasant, but there's a core of genuine anger that gives the project an emotional validation lacking in the flabby American comedies of the early 80s. The narration seems deliberately crude and jerky, as if the nihilism of the tale had infected its telling, and there's an unfortunate late turn into science fiction spoofiness. But Stanton, strange and wonderful, bridges it all with his uncrackable conviction.' 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 141: Wed May 30

Courier (Shakhnazarov, 1986): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Kino Klassika 'Youth on the March: the rise of the Soviet New Wave' season, tracing the clash of generations from the thaw to Perestroika, and curated by renowned film critic and journalist Konstantin Shavlovsky. Unlike the classic films of the French New Wave, these films are still unknown outside Russia. Most will be shown for the first time, certainly for the first time in their original formats. Full details of the season can be found by clicking here

Kino Klassika introduction: 
Russia’s equivalent of the Breakfast Club, this witty comedy follows teenager Ivan as he rebels against tradition and expectation, surrounded by the exciting new world of Western influence: Adidas, skate-culture, breakdancing and pop music. 

Here (and above) is an extract. 

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 140: Tue May 29

Medium Cool (Hexler, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This 35mm presentation is is part of the The Spirit of '68 season at BFI Southbank. You can find all the details of the season here.

Time out review: 
Focusing on a news cameraman's responses and responsibilities to the world framed through his lens - in particular, the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention and its attendant political riots, during which parts of the film were shot - ace liberal cinematographer Haskell Wexler's feature debut as director is a fascinating though not wholly successful fusion of cinéma-vérité and political radicalism. Already under the FBI's gaze for his civil rights and socialist documentaries, Wexler was actually accused of inciting the Chicago riots (the script was registered a year before); later he would again be subpoenaed over Emile de Antonio's film on the Weather Underground, which he shot. Recent movies owing a sizeable debt to Medium Cool include Newsfront and Circle of Deceit.
Paul Taylor

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 139: Mon May 28

Phantom Thread (Anderson, 2017): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm

This 70mm presentation is on an extended run at the Prince Charles till June 11. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
An icy romance in the Kubrick vein, this drama from Paul Thomas Anderson stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a tyrannical dress designer in 1950s London and Vicky Krieps as the poor waitress he adopts as his muse. Though they eventually marry, their relationship is no love match but a muted power struggle, as deadly as the clash between the oil tycoon (also played by Day-Lewis) and the Christian evangelist in Anderson's There Will Be Blood (2007). Anderson has trouble coaxing this struggle to any sort of emotional climax; its fanciful, symbolic ending is the sort critics will praise for its careful ambiguity even as they overlook its narrative desperation. This is being heralded as Day-Lewis's farewell to the screen, though the most finely etched portrayal comes from Lesley Manville as the designer's hard-bitten production manager.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer)

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 138: Sun May 27

River's Edge (Hunter, 1986): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.20pm

This 35mm presentation, which is also being screened on May 23rd (details here),  is part of the 'Lost in America' season at BFI Southbank. You can find all the details of the season, taglined 'The Other Side of Reagan's 80s' here.

Chicago Reader review:
Something very odd about this 1986 feature: a teen problem drama fighting David Lynch battles with its own right-thinking consciousness. Teenpic auteur Tim Hunter (
Tex) isn't one to shirk his sentimental lessons, but the cautionary outlines of his story, about a gang of high school drifters who try to cover up a murder by a hulking 16-year-old psycho, have a hard time pushing through the surreal atmospherics of the images (by Blue Velvet cinematographer Frederick Elmes: maybe they should have called this Nightmare on Elmes Street or Blue Velveteen?). It's not easy keeping track of all the contradictory tensions, and the film seems forever on the verge of spinning totally out of control, though whose
 control—Hunter's? Elmes's? anyone's?—it's hard to say. Still, it's more a success than a failure, if only because the confusions are so protean.
Pat Graham

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 137: Sat May 26

The Reckless Moment (Ophüls, 1949): Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, 1pm

This free 35mm screening is part of the Birkbeck Institute of Moving Image's event 'Focus on James Mason' (full details here).
Birkbeck Institute of Moving Image introduction:
A consideration of the work of James Mason, which will include a 35mm screening of The Reckless Moment(Max Ophüls, 1949). Sarah Thomas (University of Liverpool) and Adrian Garvey (Queen Mary University of London) will discuss the actor’s rise to fame as a Gainsborough brute, his uneasy transition to Hollywood, and his long career as a distinguished character actor. Covering performance, stardom, gender, genre and industry, we will examine the homme fatal persona and the struggles for independence Mason faced, which are exemplified in Ophüls’ fusion of melodrama and film noir.We will also mark the publication of Sarah’s study of the actor, a new volume in the BFI Film Stars series.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1949 melodrama from Max Ophuls's postwar Hollywood period is usually overlooked in favor of the masterpieces he would realize upon returning to Europe (
Lola Montes, The Earrings of Madame de . . . ). But it's one of the director's most perverse stories of doomed love, with Joan Bennett as a bored middle-class housewife whose daughter accidentally kills her sleazy suitor, and James Mason as an engagingly exotic Irishman who attempts to blackmail the mother. Naturally, they feel a certain attraction. Ophuls spins a network of fine irony out of the lurid material; Bennett is surprisingly effective as a typical Ophuls heroine, discovering a long-suppressed streak of masochism.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is Mark Cousins' introduction to the film on the sadly missed Moviedrome television series.