Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 244: Tue Sep 11

if.... (Anderson, 1968): Curzon Soho 2.30pm

In association with The Oldie magazine, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Lindsay Anderson's if.... Curzon Soho are screening this classic British film from 35mm. It will be followed by journalist Valerie Grove in conversation with co-star David Wood, who will be signing copies of his book Filming if.... in the foyer afterwards.

Chicage Reader review:
Lindsay Anderson indulges his taste for social allegory with a tale of a repressive boys' school rocked by student revolutionaries who listen to African music. Though clearly about Mother England and her colonies, the film found its popular success, in that distant summer of 1969, in being taken quite literally. Anderson deserves credit for sniffing out the cryptofascist side of the student movement, and his presentation of oppression—sexual and social—is very forceful. Yet the film finally succumbs to its own abstraction with an ending that satisfies neither symbolism nor wish fulfillment.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 243: Mon Sep 10

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Meyer, 1965): Regent Street Cinema, 8.30pm

This screening is part of the Scalarama London season this year. You can find details of all the events in the capital during September here. This is part of a double-bill with John Waters' Female Trouble (full information here) and was chosen by Jane Giles, whose book on the Scala Cinema is published to coincide with the Scalarama season.

Time Out review:
This shows Russ Meyer to be a fine action director as well as America's best-known tit man. Though decorated with the usual array of top-heavy starlets - a trio of homicidal disco dancers on rest-and-recreation in the Californian desert (which means fast cars and whatever kinky thrills come their way) - it was in fact made as an exploiter for the Southern states' undemanding drive-in market. A cheap and efficient comic horror movie, it's funniest when its dialogue and characters' behaviour are at their most non sequitur. The twaddlesome plot about the cover-up of a man's murder by the (lesbian) leader of this girlie gang is helped enormously by a brooding music score which sounds as if it had walked in from a paranoid Cold War sci-fi film; and the weirdo desert farmhouse family the trio happen upon pre-dates 
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 
by almost a decade.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 242: Sun Sep 9

La Piscine (Dertay, 1969): Cine Lumiere, 4pm

This screening is part of the Scalarama London season this year. You can find details of all the events in the capital during September here. The film is also part of the 'Stolen Summers' strand in Scalarama, the full list of films for which you can find by clicking here.

The film will be preceded by François Ozon’s short film A Summer Dress (Une robe d’été), 15 mins (cert. 15) and the afternoon will be introduced by Marion Hallet, PhD Candidate in Film Studies at King’s College London.

Guardian review:
Erotic languour turns gradually into fear and then horror in this gripping and superbly controlled psychological thriller from 1969, now on rerelease. 
Alain Delon
 and Romy Schneider play Jean-Paul and Marianne, lovers who appear to be gloriously happy in a sumptuous villa in the south of France: but more reflective moments reveal them both to be anxious and unfulfilled. Then Marianne's ex-lover shows up for a visit: breezy record producer Harry (Maurice Ronet) who makes no secret of his continued desire for Marianne. Meanwhile, Jean-Paul is fascinated by Penelope, the sexy teenage daughter Harry has brought along. The pool itself is the centre for all sorts of sensuality and something in the very lineaments of the pool itself creates their own awful destiny: it is a primordial swamp of desire, a space in which there is nothing to do but laze around, furtively looking at semi-naked bodies.
Peter Bradshaw

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 241: Sat Sep 8

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (Hara, 1987): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3pm

This classic documentary is part of the Open City Documentary Festival screenings at BFI Southbank. You can fin detailsof the full programme here. This afternoon's event includes a Q&A with the director.

Time Out review:
A documentary portrait of Kenzo Okuzaki, a 62-year-old WWII veteran who acquired a prison record (for killing a man and for firing pachinko balls at the Emperor) in the course of his fanatical campaign to lay the blame for Japan's conduct of the war on the Emperor. Here the self-proclaimed messenger of God seeks to uncover what truly happened in New Guinea in 1945, 23 days after the war ended, when two Japanese soldiers were killed by their colleagues in very mysterious circumstances. The outcome of his investigations is gruesomely weird (cannibalism figures heavily), but stranger still is his style of interrogation, a volatile mix of apologetic politeness, deceit (his wife and anarchist friend pose as victims' relatives), and sudden violence, so relentless that one of his many ageing interviewees, fresh from hospital, ends up in an ambulance. Kazuo Hara's fly-on-the-wall documentary fascinates both for its bizarre protagonist, and for its brutally frank portrait of a society constrained by notions of shame rather than guilt. Jigsaw-like in construction, alleviated by mad wit, the film is unlike any other: rough, raw and sometimes surprisingly moving, it's absolutely compelling.
Geoff Andrew

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 240: Fri Sep 7

Punishment Park (Watkins, 1971): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

This screening is part of the Peter Watkins season at Close-Up Cinema, and is also being screened on September 18th.  Full details here.

Time Out review:
Cult British filmmaker Peter Watkins
 made the 1971 pseudo-documentary ‘Punishment Park’ as a reaction to the ‘revolutionary’ events in the United States in the late ’60s, in particular the wave of anti-Vietnam-fuelled activism, as well as protests against the suppression of the Black Panther movement and the shooting by the National Guard of students at Kent State University. Intended as an analysis and illustration of (US) state terrorism, the film imagines a futuristic correction facility out in the Mojave desert, where ‘security risks’ are gathered and sentenced by an unconstitutional court to potentially fatal punishments involving forced treks, without water, through the desert. Seen today, the film can be viewed in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s a prime example of Watkins’ innovative, radical approach to filmmaking. His use of fictional scenarios to examine actual political events and practices – here the reactionary tendencies of the Nixon era – has a hyper-Swiftian effect, whereby artistic exaggeration highlights the real to an intense degree. Likewise, his considered use of non-professionals as actors – real National Guardsmen, draft protesters and black activists – intensifies the emotional atmosphere, the sense of immediacy and the processes of audience identification. Interestingly, the improvised outpourings – ‘the US is as psychotic as it is powerful!’ screams one defandant – now seem very much like historical documents themselves. Finally, and more problematically, there’s the question of whether Watkins’ film succeeds as pure, tensely-structured, drama – will the two groups of dissidents survive? Will they tear themselves apart in trying to do so? Personally, I think not. But this is fascinating, gut-wrenching and thought-provoking filmmaking all the same.
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 239: Thu Sep 6

Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (Hara, 1974): Curzon Bloomsbury, 6.30pm

This screening is part of the Scalarama London season this year. You can find details of all the events in the capital during September here. It is also part of the 'Open City Documentary Festival', detaiuls of which you can find here. The film will be introduced by Kazuo Hara, who will conduct a masterclass on the same night at the cinema (details here).

Curzon Bloomsbury Dochouse introduction:
His most controversial, voyeuristic work, in Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974, Kazuo Hara turns the camera on his ex-wife, radical activist Takeda Miyuki, following her as she navigates new relationships (with a woman, and with a American GI in Okinawa); raises their son; and experiences life as an outspoken feminist in conservative 1970s Japan. While Extreme Private Eros is ostensibly a record of Miyuki’s journey, she proves to be the perfect cinematic device for Hara to reveal the most intimate details of his own fascinating life too, unleashing her opinion of him as a partner, a person, and a filmmaker. Part of Open City Documentary Festival - London's leading documentary festival bringing audiences, filmmakers and industry professionals together for a celebration of creative non-fiction cinema - 4th-9th September.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 238: Wed Sep 5

Themroc (Faraldo, 1973): ICA Cinema, 6.45pm

Made in 1973 with a screenplay comprising just gestures and grunts and lacking any comprehensible dialogue, French filmmaker Claude Faraldo's provocative and subversive satire was the first film to be shown in the UK's Channel 4's red triangle series of controversial films in 1986.

Time Out review:
A quirky, anarchic satire that sees factory worker (Michel Piccoli) cracking up, turning his bedroom into an urban cave, enjoying incest with his sister, and preying on cops for dinner. Some hilarious moments depicting the absurdity of routine life. Joyful and tasteless.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 237: Tue Sep 4

Chameleon Street (Harris, 1989): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.35pm

This extraordinary film is part of the 'Black and Banned' season at BFI Southbank. You can find details of all the films in the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
This highly original existential black comedy (1991) charts the real-life exploits of William Douglas Street (played with a great deal of charisma and wit by writer-director Wendell B. Harris Jr.), a Detroit con man. From the late 70s to the mid-80s Street carried off a number of impersonations, presenting himself as a 
Time magazine reporter, a surgery intern (he performed 23 successful operations), a Caribbean exchange student at Yale, and a civil rights attorney; various other scams landed him in prison. Without wasting any time on facile psychologizing, Harris uses his subject as a means to explore the paradoxes of acting (some of Street's real-life victims play themselves) and the invisibility of blacks in the U.S.; Street is also the source of some very funny comedy. In all, this disturbing yet compelling rogue's progress calls to mind an 18th-century picaresque novel. Harris's eclectic directorial style doesn't always sustain itself, but it's brimming with inventive ideas.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 236: Mon Sep 3

Do The Right Thing (Lee, 1989): Picturehouse Central, 6.30pm

A great chance to see Spike Lee's classic 80s movie at the time of the release of his latest film, BlacKkKlansman, which is on many screens across the capital.

Chicago Reader review:
With the possible exception of his cable miniseries When the Levees Broke, this 1989 feature is still Spike Lee's best work, chronicling a very hot day on a single block of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, when a series of minor encounters and incidents lead to an explosion of racial violence at an Italian-owned pizzeria. Sharp and knowing, though not always strictly realistic, it manages to give all the characters their due. Bill Lee's wall-to-wall score eventually loses some of its effectiveness, and a few elements (such as the patriarchal roles played by the local drunk and a disc jockey) seem more fanciful than believable. But overall this is a powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick—funky, entertaining, packed with insight, and political in the best, most responsible sense.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 235: Sun Sep 2

Unrelated (Hogg, 2007): Lexi Cinema, 4pm

This screening is part of the Scalarama London season this year. You can find details of all the events in the capital during September here. The film is also part of the 'Stolen Summers' strand in Scalarama, the full list of films for which you can find by clicking here. This particular presentation, which features a Q&A with director Joanna Hogg, is part of a double-bill with Eric Rohmer's The Green Ray (at 2pm).

Time Out review:
One villa outside Siena, two fractured and well-heeled families on holiday and a woman who arrives late to the party leaving some of her sorrows behind her in Britain but still carrying excess emotional baggage…

‘Unrelated’ is the first feature from television director Joanna Hogg and is a surprising, sensitive and compelling study of upper middle-class mores and middle-age hang-ups. Hogg casts the unknown Kathryn Worth as Anna, a sad soul and old friend of solid Verena (Mary Roscoe), a no-nonsense home counties sort of lady who’s enjoying a break with her new husband, another male friend and their various teenage children. A hidden trauma is making Anna behave oddly: she drifts towards the kids and away from the adults, and is especially taken by Etonian Oakley (Tom Hiddleston), the oldest, whose maturity isn’t as developed as Anna’s behaviour implies.

The holiday setting offers a theatre in which Hogg plays out this intriguing study of a damaged woman whose surroundings and companions offer her few favours. It’s true that some of the acting and dialogue, at times awkwardly improvised, wanders from the precision shown elsewhere. 

Also, Hogg is better at concealing than she is at revealing: the best moments are quiet and suggestive and a final, emotional unfurling of Anna’s crisis doesn’t offer the power or the satisfaction it should. Mostly, though, Hogg displays a welcome desire to draw on global film influences and ignore the unwritten rules of what British cinema should or should not seek to achieve, especially in the realm of films about the monied and unsympathetic.

Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 234: Sat Sep 1

Day For Night (Truffaut, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

This sumptuous 35mm print of Francois Truffaut's beguiling ode to film-making, part of the BFI Southbank Big Screen Classics strand (details here), can also be seen on September 3rd at the cinema, You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
If we’re to learn anything from François Truffaut’s delicately cynical, New Hollywood-style satire from 1973 on the joys and pains of movie making, it’s that we must view directors as social and professional chameleons. They must tap in to the emotions of their cast and exploit real suffering for the good of their camera. They must stand their ground with money men, sometimes employing visual trickery and snap decisions to preserve their integrity. Most of all, they must suppress the cosmic fury that comes when a leading lady arrives on set drunk or a trained kitten refuses to hit a mark.

It’s a hilarious and informative movie, and in the pantheon of films about filmmaking, it strikes a neat balance between the operatic neuroses of ‘8 1/2’ and the warm, pastel-hued nostalgia of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. Also of interest – and a devious nod back to his ’60s heyday – is the manner in which Truffaut captures these behind-the-scenes shenanigans, employing gliding crane shots and flashes of abrupt editing to make us fully aware of the majestically artificial way the world is depicted by filmmakers.

Truffaut stars as indefatigable director Ferrand, shooting a fusty melodrama called ‘Meet Pamela’ and wearing the same sports jacket, shirt and tie combo as he would in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. He delivers the same coolly detached performance too, though it works a lot better in this context. The fact that his childish lead (Jean-Pierre Léaud, of course) is too often in a strop to concentrate on the part, or that his star (Jacqueline Bisset) is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown are accepted as part and parcel of the business. But as Ferrand makes sure he’s seen in possession of a stack of serious film tomes and has nightmares about being trapped outside a cinema showing ‘Citizen Kane’, the point is that even if the end result is a piece of trash, a director always strives to be an artist.

David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 233: Fri Aug 31

Distant Voices, Still Lives (Davies, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm

This restoration of one of the greatest British films of all-time is on an extended run (details here) at BFI Southbank. This screening includes a Q&A with director Terence Davies.

Chicago Reader review:
It's hard to say what Terence Davies's powerful masterpiece is about—growing up in a working-class family in Liverpool in the 40s and 50s—without making it sound familiar and lugubrious. In fact, this beautiful memoir, conceivably one of the greatest of all English films, is so startling and original that we may not have the vocabulary to do it justice. Organized achronologically, so that events are perceived more in terms of emotional continuity than of narrative progression, the film concentrates on family events like weddings and funerals and on songs sung at parties and the local pub. Davies's childhood, which was lorded over by a brutal and tyrannical father, was not an easy one, yet the delight shown and conveyed by the well-known songs makes the film cathartic and hopeful as well as sorrowful and tragic. (There are some wonderful laughs as well.) Much of the film emphasizes the bonds between the women in the family and their female friends, though there's nothing doctrinal or polemical about its vision, and the purity and intensity of its emotional thrust are such that all the characters are treated with passion and understanding. The sense of the periods depicted—ranging from the blitz to a mid-50s screening of Love Is a Many Splendored Thing at the Futurist Cinema—is both precise and luminous.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer for this superb re-release.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 232: Thu Aug 30

Full Moon in Paris (Rohmer, 1984): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm

This screening is part of the Eric Rohmer season at Close-Up Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Eric Rohmer's shift from a subjective to an objective viewpoint for his “Comedies and Proverbs” series brought with it a gradual darkening of tone: his characters no longer live in a world colored by their personal attitudes and expectations, but are trapped in a universe that blankly refuses to take their desires into account. Full Moon in Paris (1984), the fourth in the series, is bleaker than any of its predecessors: the heroine (Pascale Ogier) lives with a lover in the suburbs of Paris, but takes a small apartment in town as a way of asserting her freedom. But no one is truly free in the network of relationships Rohmer sketches around her, and by asserting her independence she upsets the delicate equilibrium that has provided her with a measure of happiness. With Fabrice Luchine (Rohmer's Perceval), Tcheky Karyo, and Christian Vadim.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 231: Wed Aug 29

Miss Leslie's Dolls (Prieto, 1973): Horse Hospital, 7.30pm

Tonight's presentation at the Horse Hospital from the Erotic Film Society is a rare find, a film thought lost which is to get a DVD/Blu-ray release soon. The Erotic Film Society founder JJ Marsh will introduce the movie.

Here is Network's introduction:

A rare specimen from the more deranged end of the Grindhouse spectrum, Miss Leslie's Dolls is a memorably demented tale of possession and transvestitism from director Joseph G. Prieto (who, if rumour is to be believed, under the name Joseph P. Mawra directed the outrageous 1965 lesbian sexploitation "documentary" Chained Girls). Believed lost for decades, it has been remastered in High Definition from original film elements especially for this release.

Stranded in the backwoods during a thunderstorm, a beautiful teacher and her three promiscuous students take refuge at a lonely house owned by the middle-aged Miss Leslie. Miss Leslie, however, is less a mild-mannered spinster and more an axe-wielding, homicidal cross-dresser intent on transferring his spirit into the nubile body of any girl foolish enough to come visiting...

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 230: Tue Aug 28

Le Doulos (Melville, 1963): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film is part of the Jean Pierre Melville retrospective at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Pierre Melville's existentialized gangster films are one of the glories of the French cinema, American forms played out with European self-consciousness. This 1962 effort stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as an informer on the lam, but plot pales before Melville's detailed noir imagery of dingy hotel rooms, back alleys, and subterranean passages. Melville's love for American films (he was a man of taste as well as talent) was one of the most profound influences on the New Wave generation.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 229: Mon Aug 27

The Trial (Welles, 1962): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

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

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 228: Sun Aug 26

The Aviator's Wife (Rohmer, 1981): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm

This screening is part of the Eric Rohmer season at Close-Up Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A perfect film. Eric Rohmer began his series titled "Comedies and Proverbs" with this 1981 tale of romantic entanglements, disappointments, and ever fresh possibilities, all set in a verdant Paris. Shot in 16-millimeter, the film has a simple, open visual style, yet its construction is extremely complex and pointed, as Rohmer abandons the first-person perspective of the "Six Moral Tales" in favor of an elegant, intertwining pattern of shifting points of view. The title character never appears but instead precipitates a chain of events that pull a young postal worker (Philippe Marlaud), his older girlfriend (Marie Riviere), and a teenage gamine (Anne-Laure Meury) together and apart. Charming, languorous, piercing, discreet—quintessential Rohmer, and more.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 227: Sat Aug 25

Model Shop (Demy, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.15pm

This film, which is part of the Big Screen Classics strand (details here) at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on August 31st. More information here.

Time Out review:
Jacques Demy's only - and underrated - American film may lack the fairytale charm of his finest French work, but the bitter-sweet delicacy of tone and acute feeling for place are at once familiar. Anouk Aimée's Lola, abandoned by her lover Michel, has now turned up in LA where, older and sadder, she works in a seedy photographer's shop, and brings brief respite to a disenchanted young drifter (Gary Lockwood) with whom she has a one night stand. Unlike Antonioni with Zabriskie Point, Demy never even tries to deal with the malaise afflicting American youth in the '60s, but gives us yet another (relatively plotless) tale of transient happiness and love lost. It's also one of the great movies about LA, shown for once as a ramshackle, rootless sprawl, where movement on the freeways (accompanied by the sounds of West Coast band Spirit) is seemingly endless.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 226: Fri Aug 24

Mildred Pierce (Curtiz, 1945): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm

This 4K revival is on an extended run at BFI Southbank from August 17th (full details here) and is part of the Joan Crawford season at the cinema (you can find all the films and events here).

Time Out review:
James Cain's novel of the treacherous life in Southern California that sets house-wife-turned waitress-turned-successful restauranteur (Joan Crawford) against her own daughter (Ann Blyth) in competition for the love of playboy Zachary Scott, is brought fastidiously and bleakly to life by Michael Curtiz' direction, Ernest Haller's camerawork, and Anton Grot's magnificent sets. Told in flashback from the moment of Scott's murder, the film is a chilling demonstration of the fact that, in a patriarchal society, when a woman steps outside the home the end result may be disastrous.


Here (and above) is the trailer.