Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2020 – Day 7: Tue Jan 7

In Name Only (Cromwell, 1939): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.40pm


This 35mm presentation (which also screens on January 24th) (is part of the Carole Lombard season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

BFI introduction:
Cary Grant is Alec Walker, a wealthy man who finds out that he’s actually married to a society schemer (Francis). When he meets widowed mother Julie (Lombard) while in the countryside he falls in love. The incredibly strong performances by all three leads make this a compelling love triangle to watch unfold.
Miriam Bale


Here (and above) is an extract.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2020 – Day 6: Mon Jan 6

My Man Godfrey (La Cava, 1936): BFI Southbank, NFT 2, 6.10pm


This film (which also screens on January 3rd, 22nd and 26th) is part of the Carole Lombard season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Gregory La Cava's improvisational style received its highest critical acclaim for this 1936 film, a marginally Marxist exercise in class confusion during the Depression. Carole Lombard is the bubbleheaded heiress who needs an oppressed proletarian to round out a scavenger hunt; she picks up tramp William Powell and lets him stay on to be her butler. Meanwhile, mad poet Mischa Auer assumes the role of the intelligentsia under late capitalism by imitating a gorilla. With Alice Brady, Eugene Pallette, and Gail Patrick.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.


Capital Celluloid 2020 – Day 5: Sun Jan 5

King Kong (Cooper/Schoedsack, 1933): Regent Street Cinema, 2.30pm


Rare chance to see this genuine cinema classic from a 35mm print.

Chicago Reader review:
The ape on the Empire State Building is only the most famous image from the careers of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, the Brothers Grimm of the movie business (The Most Dangerous GameSheDr. Cyclops). With the restoration of some long-censored footage, Kong can be seen in all of his Freudian fairy-tale glory—his rambunctious sexuality (stripping Fay Wray and giving her a curious sniff) and his destructive infantilism (if it looks good, eat it). Willis O'Brien did the stop-action animation for this 1933 feature, which is richer in character than most of the human cast. With Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2020 – Day 4: Sat Jan 4

Swing High, Swing Low (Leiden, 1937): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 2.45pm


This 35mm presentation, which also screens on January 18this part of the Carole Lombard season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.


Swing High, Swing Low is a bittersweet romance that was thought to be a little dated at the time of its making. But now it looks great. Fred MacMurray is an ex-soldier who can toot a mean horn, which carries him from a Panama honky-tonk to a class joint in New York. Feckless and unused to success, the trumpeter goes on the skids and a deserted Carole Lombard has to rescue him from himself. The story is nothing special. But the acting is. MacMurray and Lombard move from flirtation into real love and then something much darker when things go wrong, and the transitions are expertly done. MacMurray is even a convincing trumpeter. And a critic has called Swing High, Swing Low Lombard's "most flawlessly romantic picture", orchestrated by a gay director who, like Cukor, understood women. Mitchell Leisen was a director who could make things look good, kept plots rolling along pacily, cherished his casts and was never afraid of exploring the many aspects of romance. Only when he tackled big themes did his films become heavy-handed.
Derek Malcolm 

Here (and above) you can watch extracts from the film.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2020 – Day 3: Fri Jan 3

Hands Across the Table (Leisen, 1935): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm


This 35mm presentation (which also screens on January 11th) is part of the Carole Lombard season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Mitchell Leisen could mount a romantic comedy with the best of them (Easy LivingMidnight), though he seemed to prefer projects with weirdly mixed tones, often forcing screwball comedy on a melodramatic situation, as he did in Arise My LoveRemember the Night, and this 1935 feature. Carole Lombard stars as a gold-digging manicurist; she has her sights set on crippled millionaire Ralph Bellamy, but an impoverished Fred MacMurray enters the picture and complicates her plan. The film seems to be toying with dangerous mutations of emotions, as calculation turns to pity and aggression to love, yet Leisen doesn't seem completely in control of his themes, and the film leaves a queasy sense of incompletion. A compelling oddity.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2020 – Day 2: Thu Jan 2

Duel (Spielberg, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the ‘American New Wave’ season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
Steven Spielberg's first film, superbly scripted by Richard Matheson, made for TV but booking its own place on the big screen: an absolute cracker about a salesman driving along the highway who gradually realises that the huge petrol tanker playfully snapping at his heels - apparently driverless - has more sinister designs. There are no explanations and no motivations, except perhaps for a hint of allegory in the script (the motorist's name is Mann) and an intriguing visual suggestion that this is the old, old battle between the shining, prancing, vulnerable knight and the impervious, lumbering dragon. Simply a rivetingly murderous game of cat and mouse that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2020 – Day 1: Wed Jan 1

The Good, the Bad & The Ugly (Leone, 1966): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the £1 Members Films season - full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Sergio Leone's comic, cynical, inexplicably moving epic spaghetti western (1966), in which all human motivation has been reduced to greed—it's just a matter of degree between the Good (Clint Eastwood), the Bad (Lee Van Cleef), and the Ugly (Eli Wallach). Leone's famous close-ups—the "two beeg eyes"—are matched by his masterfully composed long shots, which keep his crafty protagonists in the subversive foreground of a massively absurd American Civil War. Though ordained from the beginning, the three-way showdown that climaxes the film is tense and thoroughly astonishing.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 366: Tue Dec 31

When Harry Met Sally (Reiner, 1989): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.45pm


An appropriate annual New Year's Eve screening of this re-released crowd-pleaser, the Prince Charles Cinema trumping the other venues showing the movie by screening on 35mm. The film is also being shown on February 15th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Too often dismissed as the bland, cutesy, cakey-bakey face of the modern romcom, the late Nora Ephron was an unacknowledged genius when it came to screenplay construction – and ‘When Harry Met Sally’ remains her finest work. This is a film where everything works: Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan’s just-this-side-of-smug central couple, the gorgeous photography of New York through the changing seasons, even Harry Connick Jr’s jazz-lite soundtrack. And it’s all rooted in that flawless script. The story is simple: Crystal and Ryan meet after college, and loathe one another on sight. As the years pass the random meetings pile up, and dislike turns to reluctant friendship. But, as the film insistently, infamously asks, can men and women ever really be just friends? It’s not just that Ephron poses these kinds of obvious-but-important questions. It’s that she does so while circumventing romantic clichés left and right, creating unforgettably loveable characters and throwing in some of the most fluid, insightful and witty set-piece conversations ever written (the diner orgasm is the most famous, but it’s the tip of a very large iceberg). ‘Perfect’ is a big word to use about any film, but in this case no other will do.
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 365: Mon Dec 30

The Colour of Pomegranates (Parajanov, 1968): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


Here is the feature I wrote for the Guardian on this unique movie.

Chicago Reader:
The late Sergei Paradjanov's greatest film, a mystical and historical mosaic about the life, work, and inner world of the 18th-century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, was previously available only in the ethnically “dry-cleaned” Russian version—recut and somewhat reorganized by Sergei Yutkevich, with chapter headings added to clarify the content for Russian viewers. This superior 1969 version of the film, found in an Armenian studio in the early 90s, shouldn't be regarded as definitive (some of the material from the Yutkevich cut is missing), but it's certainly the finest we have and may ever have: some shots and sequences are new, some are positioned differently, and, of particular advantage to Western viewers, much more of the poetry is subtitled. (Oddly enough, it's hard to tell why the “new” shots were censored.) In both versions the striking use of tableaulike frames recalls the shallow space of movies made roughly a century ago, while the gorgeous uses of color and the wild poetic conceits seem to derive from some utopian cinema of the future, at once “difficult” and immediate, cryptic and ravishing. This is essential viewing.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 364: Sun Dec 29

The Dreamlife of Angels (Zonca, 1998): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 2pm


This 35mm presentation, which is also being screened on December 20th (details here), is part of the Maurice Pialat and the New French Realism season. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This first feature by Erick Zonca (1998) is more typical than exceptional as an example of French cinema's recent trend toward realistically depicting regional life, and its sex scenes have been trimmed to satisfy the puritanical, studio-run Motion Picture Association of America (which wouldn't dream of interfering with the genocidal mayhem of the blockbusters). But this story of the wavering friendship between two young working-class women who meet at a clothing factory in Lille (Elodie Bouchez and Natacha Regnier) is well worth a look, above all for its nuanced performances. Bouchez and Regnier deservedly shared the best-actress prize at Cannes for their efforts here, and most of the secondary characters are equally well realized (I especially liked the concert and nightclub bouncer played by Patrick Mercado). But what really holds this film together is its fidelity to the ways people live and relate to one another, a realism seldom offered by commercial American fare.
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 363: Sat Dec 28

A Star is Born (Cukor, 1954): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4.40pm


This personal top ten film of mine is part of the Musicals season (full details here) and is also being shown on December 16th and 22nd (full information here).

Welcome to the reason this blog exists. In December 2010 I watched this film, a movie I went to see when restored and re-released in cinemas in 1983, on television. I thought afterwards how much I would love to see this movie on the big screen again and that prompted an idea to write a daily blog picking a film to see in London. The purpose of starting the blog was to highlight to film lovers the best movies on the capital's repertory cinema circuit.

What writing the blog has also done is reinvigorate my moviegoing. The act of putting this small contribution to the London film scene together has resulted in encouraging me to go and see more movies. I hope the blog has had that impact on others too. This brilliant restoration of one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time comes highly recommended. Many believe Judy Garland gave her greatest performance in this film and one critic has called Mason's the best supporting performance by a male actor in modern Hollywood. Try and get to see A Star is Born where it should be seen - in a cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Even in this incomplete restoration George Cukor's 1954 musical remake of the 1937 Hollywood drama is devastating. Judy Garland plays a young singer discovered by aging, alcoholic star Norman Maine (James Mason), who helps her to fame as "Vicki Lester" even as his career slips. Garland gives a deeply affecting performance--halting, volatile, unsure of herself early on and unsure of Norman later--and her musical numbers are superb. Yet the film's core is its two-character scenes, in which small shifts in posture subtly articulate the drama's essence. Cukor gives his preoccupation with self-image a surprisingly anti-Hollywood spin: despite the many industry-oriented group scenes, the characters seem fully authentic only when they're alone with each other. The scenes of Lester acting seem tainted with artifice, and her a cappella performance of her current hit for Norman on their wedding night further separates the public from the private. Later, reenacting the production number shot that day, she uses a food cart for a dolly and a chair for a harp; Cukor's initial long take heightens the intimacy between her and Norman, just as the household props implicitly critique studio artificiality. All that matters, Cukor implies, is what people can try to become for each other. The film was badly mangled when Warner Brothers cut a half hour shortly after its release; this 1983 35-millimeter restoration replaces some footage, offering stills when only the sound track could be found. Fortunately these slide shows are confined to early scenes, giving some sense of what was lost. 
Fred Camper 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

If you want to read an excellent account of the film, its making and the background to the 1983 restoration I can recommend Ronald Haver's book A Star is Born. Full details here.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 362: Fri Dec 27

Broadway Rhythm (Del Ruth, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 2.30pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the BFI musicals season (details here). The screening on a 35mm Technicolor dye transfer print from the BFI National Archive.

BFI introduction:
This backstage musical puts emphasis on the numbers rather than narrative logic, but it’s packed with extraordinary delights. Enjoy Lena Horne’s sensational renditions of ‘Somebody Loves Me’ and ‘Brazilian Boogie’, as well as pianist Hazel Scott’s dazzling performance. The contortionist number featuring the Ross Sisters will leave you slack-jawed and breathless. And, oh, the Technicolor!
Robin Baker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 361: Thu Dec 26

Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.05pm


The Prince Charles Cinema are having £1 members’ screenings on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. You can find all the films, including this one, on offer here.

Chicago Reader review:
Danny Boyle's second feature (1996), a lot more stylish and entertaining than Shallow Grave. Far from nihilistic, though certainly calculated to butt up against various puritanical norms, this feel-good jaunt about young Scottish heroin addicts and their degradation and betrayals of one another draws a lot of its energy from Richard Lester movies of the 60s and 70s and from A Clockwork Orange (the novel as well as the movie). Adapted by John Hodge from Irvine Welsh's popular pidgin-English novel (which had already been successfully adapted for the stage) and partially redubbed for American ears, it floats by almost as episodically as 94 minutes of MTV.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 360: Wed Dec 25

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

The repertory cinemas are closed today but you can catch my twitter recommendations for great movies on the television over the holiday period via my twitter handle @tpaleyfilm and the hashtag #bestxmasholidayfilmonTVtoday.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 359: Tue Dec 24

It's A Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.30pm & 6pm


Christmas Eve and It’s A Wonderful Life at the Prince Charles is always one of the best screenings of the year. The 6pm showing is already sold out — but don’t worry if you can’t get along on December 24th their are plenty of other screenings of this bona fide great film (regardless of Christmas or not). You can find the full details here (and most are from 35mm).

Chicago Reader review: 
The film Frank Capra was born to make. This 1946 release marked his return to features after four years of turning out propaganda films for the government, and Capra poured his heart and soul into it. James Stewart stars as a small-town nobody, on the brink of suicide, who believes his life is worthless. Guardian angel Henry Travers shows him how wrong he is by letting Stewart see what would have happened had he never been born. Wonderfully drawn and acted by a superb cast (Donna Reed, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Lionel Barrymore, Gloria Grahame) and told with a sense of image and metaphor (the use of water is especially elegant) that appears in no other Capra film. The epiphany of movie sentiment and a transcendent experience.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 358: Mon Dec 23

Gremlins (Dante, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8pm


The screening of the new 4K release of this modern Christmas classic at BFI Southbank is on an extended run. You can find the full details here

Chicago Reader review:
E.T. with the lid off (1984). At the center of this horror comedy is a tidy family parable of the kind so dear to the heart of producer Steven Spielberg: the cute little whatzits who turn into marauding monsters when they pass through puberty (here gooily envisioned as “the larval stage”) are clearly metaphors for children, and the teenager (Zach Galligan) whose lapse of responsibility unleashes the onslaught is a stand-in for the immature parents of the 80s (Poltergeist). But Spielberg's finger wagging is overwhelmed by Joe Dante's roaring, undisciplined direction, which (sometimes through sheer sloppiness) pushes the imagery to unforeseen, untidy, and ultimately disturbing extremes. Dante is perhaps the first filmmaker since Frank Tashlin to base his style on the formal free-for-all of animated cartoons; he is also utterly heartless. With Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, and more movie-buff in-jokes than Carter has pills.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 357: Sun Dec 22

Scrooge (Hurst, 1951): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm



This movie, the best film version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, also screens at BFI Southbank on December 20th and 21st - full details here. Tom Charity's review below is an honest and excellent one but I defy you not to be moved by Sim's central performance and it is this Ghost of Christmas Future that has haunted me since I saw this film as a ten-year-old. 

Time Out review:
Surprisingly, there isn't a film version of the Dickens novella which merits the imprimatur 'classic'. The Muppets had a good stab at it, and Bill Murray was well cast in the otherwise scattershot Scrooged. On the plus side, this version is cast like an engraved illustration: Miles Thesiger, Mervyn Johns, Michael Hordern, Kathleen Harrison, Ernest Malleson, Hermione Baddeley and, above all, the splendidly aloof Alastair Sim, who feasts on Dickens' best lines ('I expect you want the whole day off tomorrow?'), greets each new ghost with a weary shiver, and handles his giddy rebirth with aplomb. A jobbing director who knew how to point a camera, Brian Hurst never betrayed much facility for cutting or movement. He stages the action competently, but the transitions between scenes are so choppy you wonder where the ads are. Add to this a prosaic adaptation by Noel Langley which gets bogged down in the backstory (the relatively dull visitation from the ghost of Christmas Past which explains how nice Ebenezer - a bashful George Cole - fell from the path of righteousness), some rather depressed-looking spirits, and the cringeworthy sentimentality of the Tiny Tim scenes, and you have what Scrooge himself might call 'Ho-hum-bug'. 
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 356: Sat Dec 21

Le Garcu (Pailat, 1995): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This 35mm screening (also being presented on December 18th) is part of the Maurice Pialat season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Maurice Pialat's last feature (1995) was cowritten by him and his wife, Sylvie Danton, and features a performance by their four-year-old son, Antoine; starring Gerard Depardieu again, it's a brutal self-portrait of a troubled and violent man.

Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 355: Fri Dec 20

Show Boat (Whale, 1936): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.15pm


This 35mm screening (also being presented on December 21st) is part of the Musicals season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
James Whale's brilliant and surprisingly delicate 1936 rendition of the Kern and Hammerstein musical, which was based on an Edna Ferber novel, is infinitely superior to the dull 1951 MGM Technicolor remake and, interestingly enough, less racist. The rendition of “Old Man River” by Paul Robeson, magnificent throughout, is a high point, occasioning a montage sequence that shows Whale at his most expressionistic and inventive.

Jonathan Rosenbaum



Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 354: Thu Dec 19

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Hunt, 1969): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.10 & 6.10pm


This 50th anniversary screening is also being shown on December 28th at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

The press reviews of the films don't capture the excitement of this retrospective for Bond fans and I am recommending the Blogalongabond series by Neil Alcock (aka @theincrediblesuit on Twitter). Here is his take on On Her Majesty's Secret Service.


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 353: Wed Dec 18

So That You can Live (Cinema Action Collective, 1982): Deptford Cinema, 7.15pm


This is part of the So That You Can Live: The Oppositional Films of Cinema Action season at Deptford Cinema. You can find all the details at the foot of the preview here.

Wavelength Docs introduction:
The residues of history in the Welsh landscape plus the traditions of working class knowledge and solidarity are examined in this searching, moving film by political film collective Cinema Action. Charismatic union convener Shirley Butts assumes the focus, but her daughter's attempts to find work also feature as she reads from Raymond Williams and stares out at an imposing London skyline. The film developed out of an earlier project called The Social Contract. Shirley's daughter reads from The Country and the City by Raymond Williams and original music by Robert Wyatt and Scritti Politti also features. Visually, it occasionally recalls Godard's Two or Three Things I Know About Her. In many ways Cinema Action's master piece, it was broadcast on the opening night of Channel 4 in 1982 (BFI)

Monday, 9 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 352: Tue Dec 17

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm & NFT2, 8.30pm



Chicago Reader review:
Jacques Demy's 1964 "film opera," with music by Michel Legrand, has a reputation for sappiness it doesn't deserve. The chief feature of Demy's direction is his deft avoidance of the pat, the obvious, and the sentimental, which is no mean feat when you're dealing with material as self-consciously simple as this. Catherine Deneuve loses her fiance to the draft; he's wounded and doesn't write, so she reluctantly marries someone else.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 351: Mon Dec 16

West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty (Hondo, 1979):
BFI Southbank, NFT2. 8.40pm


BFI introduction:
This rarely screened MGM-inspired Med Hondo musical was, in its day, the most expensive African film ever made. Adapted by writer Daniel Boukman from his own work, and seven years in the making, this vast musical fresco covers hundreds of years of history from enslavement to 20th-century immigration. It’s set on an enormous slave ship and boasts a dazzling array of brilliant choreography, wide-ranging musical styles, sharp satire and captivating and poignant lyricism. The BFI are presenting this film from a 35mm print.

Here is an extract from an article by Philip Concannon (you can read it in full here) on the 'African musical masterpiece you've never seen':
West Indies should have been instantly hailed as a classic and as a new benchmark for African cinema, but after its mixed reception in France the film never achieved a wide release and it gradually slipped out of circulation. Its reputation continued to shrink as it failed to receive any kind of home video release over the next four decades, and even an admirably wide-ranging list of 50 great foreign-language film musicals compiled by Vulture Magazine in 2015 failed to mention Med Hondo’s magnum opus. When Med Hondo passed away earlier this year, it’s likely that many people recognised his name more from his career as a voice actor – dubbing the likes Eddie Murphy and Morgan Freeman for the French market – than for his brilliant but obscure films. Hondo’s debut feature, Soleil O (1967), recently found a new audience after being restored by the World Cinema Foundation, and one can only hope that his other masterpieces – such as West Indies and Sarraounia (1986) – will be next in line for restoration and redistribution. The time for Med Hondo to be widely recognised as a visionary filmmaker, and for West Indies to enter the canon as one of the most vital screen musicals, is long overdue.

Here (and above) is film of the director Med Hondo in his prime.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 350: Sun Dec 15

Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983): ICA Cinema, 12.30pm


From the ICA’s film archives, come a curated selection of cult classics and rare finds in original format 35mm as part of the ICA Cinema’s monthly members' screenings ... David Cronenberg's shocker is the latest.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1983 shocker by David Cronenberg comes about as close to abandoning a narrative format as a commercial film possibly can: James Woods plays the programmer of a sleazy Toronto cable channel who stumbles across a mysterious pirate emission—a porno show called “Videodrome” that features hideous S and M fantasies performed with appalling realism. Knowing a ratings winner when he sees one, Woods sets out to find the producer and quickly becomes involved with a kinky talk-show hostess (Deborah Harry), expanding rubber TV sets, a bizarre religious cult, and—almost incidentally—a plot to take over the world. Never coherent and frequently pretentious, the film remains an audacious attempt to place obsessive personal images before a popular audience—a kind of Kenneth Anger version of Star Wars. 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.r
ers’ Screeni

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 348: Sat Dec 14

No1 The Silence Before Bach (Portabella, 2007): Close-Up Cinema 8pm


This is part of the most complete and ambitious retrospective of radical Catalan filmmaker Pere Portabella’s work. You can find the full details here. Poet and writer Irene Solà who will introduce the two films by Pere PortabellaPoetes Catalan and Die Stille Vor Bach.

Chicago Reader review:
Though Pere Portabella is a major talent in experimental narrative film, working atypically in 35-millimeter, he's still relatively unknown because his early features could be shown only clandestinely in Franco's Spain and none is commercially distributed. 
The Silence Before Bach is his most pleasurable and accessible film to date, above all for its diverse performances of the title composer's work. Gracefully leapfrogging between fact and fiction in at least two centuries and several countries, it recalls some playful aspects of his Warsaw Bridge
 (1989) while juxtaposing past and present as if they were attractions in a theme park.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer


************

No 2 The Magnificent Ambersons (Welles, 1942): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 4.10pm



This 35mm screening, in the Big Screen Classics strand, is also being shown at BFI Southbank on December 15th. You can find the details here.

Personally, this is my favourite film by Orson Welles and my appreciation and understanding of its richness has been aided in no small part by two great books, This Is Orson Welles by Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, which contains a condensed version of the original script, and the BFI Film Classics monograph The Magnificent Ambersons by VF Perkins. The website Frequently Asked Questions About Orson Welles is well worth a look if you want to find out more about this film and the legends that have grown up around it.

Chicago Reader review:
Orson Welles's second completed feature (1942) and arguably his greatest film (partisans of Citizen Kane notwithstanding). By far his most personal creation, this lovingly crafted, hauntingly nostalgic portrait of a midwestern town losing its Victorian innocence to the machine age contains some of Welles's most beautiful and formidable imagery, not to mention his narration, a glorious expression of the pain of memory. A masterpiece in every way (but ignore the awkward ending the studio tacked on without Welles's approval).


Here (and above) is the famous snow ride scene.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 347: Fri Dec 13

The Apartment (Wilder, 1960): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.35pm


This 35mm screening will also be shown at the Prince Charles on December 18th. Details here.

Time Out review:
Re-teaming actor Jack Lemmon, scriptwriter Iz Diamond and director Billy Wilder a year after ‘Some Like It Hot’, this multi-Oscar winning comedy is sharper in tone, tracing the compromises of a New York insurance drone who pimps out his brownstone apartment for his married bosses’ illicit affairs. The quintessential New York movie – with exquisite design by Alexandre Trauner and shimmering black-and-white photography – it presented something of a breakthrough in its portrayal of the war of the sexes, with a sour and cynical view of the self-deception, loneliness and cruelty involved in ‘romantic’ liaisons. Directed by Wilder with attention to detail and emotional reticence that belie its inherent darkness and melodramatic core, it’s lifted considerably by the performances: the psychosomatic ticks and tropes of nebbish Lemmon balanced by the pathos of Shirley MacLaine’s put-upon ‘lift girl’. 
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.