Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 42: Mon Feb 11

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Milestone, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This 35mm presentation, which is also being shown on February 24th, is part of the Barbara Stanwyck season. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Superb performance by Stanwyck (as coldly calculating as she was in Double Indemnity) as the apex of a traumatic triangle comprising the two men who (maybe) saw her club her wealthy aunt to death when they were children. Now a tycoon in her own right, bonded to one of the witnesses (Kirk Douglas) in a guilt-ridden marriage, she finds the other (Van Heflin) resurfacing in her life as both promise of escape and threat to security - and the stagnant waters begin to stir again with murderous crosscurrents of fear and desire. A gripping film noir, all the more effective for being staged by Lewis Milestone as a steamy romantic melodrama.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 41: Sun Feb 10

Blow up (Antonioni, 1966): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.05pm

This 35mm presentation, also being screened on February 3rd and 7th, is part of the Michelangelo Antonioni season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Michelangelo Antonioni's sexy art-house hit of 1966, which played a substantial role in putting "swinging London" on the map, follows a day in the life of a young fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who discovers, after blowing up his photos of a couple glimpsed in a park, that he may have inadvertently uncovered a murder. Part erotic thriller (with significant glamorous roles played by Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Verushka, and Jane Birkin), part exotic travelogue (featuring a Yardbirds concert, antiwar demonstrations, street mimes, one exuberant orgy, and a certain amount of pot), this is so ravishing to look at (the colors all seem newly minted) and pleasurable to follow (the enigmas are usually more teasing than worrying) that you're likely to excuse the metaphysical pretensions—which become prevalent only at the very end—and go with the 60s flow, just as the original audiences did.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 40: Sat Feb 9

Sweet Dream (Yang, 1936) + Fisherman’s Fire (Ahn, 1938): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.50pm

This double-bill, which includes Fisherman’s Fire on 35mm, is part of the ‘Early Korean Cinema’ season at BFI Southbank and also screens on February 15th. Details hereThe screening on Friday 15th February will be introduced by Chung Chong-hwa, Korean Film Archive.

BFI introduction:
Sweet Dream follows a bored housewife as she abandons her family to search for love and excitement in 1930s Seoul ... Fisherman’s Fire is the tale of a young woman who is seduced away from her poor fishing village only to become a bar girl (gisaeng) in the city. 

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 39: Fri Feb 8

Belle de Jour (Buñuel, 1967): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

This classic surrealist film is part of the Luis Buñuel season at Close-Up Cinema and is also being screened on February 3rd. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Though it may not reach the level of sublimity of his three last features, Luis Buñuel recounts the story of a frigid upper-class housewife (Deneuve), devoted to her husband (Jean Sorel), who secretly works at a high-class brothel every weekday afternoon in order to satisfy her masochistic impulses. Placing the heroine’s fantasies, dreams, and recollections on the same plane as her everyday adventures, Buñuelcomes closer to the French New Wave than he did before or after, and much of his secondary cast reinforces this association (including Michel Piccoli, Macha Meril, and, most memorably, Pierre Clementi as a dandyish gangster), but there are also many explicit visual and aural echoes of his surrealist beginnings (Un chien andalou and L’age d’or). Haunting, amusing, provocative, teasing, and elegant in its puzzlelike ambiguities, this is essential viewing. With Genevieve Page, Francisco Rabal, Georges Marchal, and Francoise Fabian (a couple of years before Eric Rohmer “discovered” her in Ma nuit chez Maud).

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 38: Thu Feb 7

A Touch of Sin (Zhangke, 2013): Genesis Cinema, 9pm

Genesis Cinema introduction:
We welcome the Chinese New Year in collaboration with Christine Ni and a screening of Zhang-Ke Jia's exceptional 
A Touch of Sin. Xueting Christine Ni was born in Guangzhou, during China's "re-opening to the West". As an adolescent, she emigrated with her family to England. After graduating in English Literature and realising that her experiences gave her a unique a cultural perspective, bridging the Eastern and Western, she began translating original works of Chinese fiction. Since 2010, Christine has written extensively on Chinese culture and China's place in Western pop media, presenting publicly in collaboration with companies, theatres, institutions and festivals. Having worked on manhua, documentaries and science fiction, she continues her cultural translation of China, with a mission to help improve understanding of Chinese heritage, culture and innovation, and introduce its wonders to new audiences.

Chicago Reader review:
Jia Zhang-ke's films are valued most here in the West for their glimpses of a changing China and their acute observations of predatory global capitalism; one comes to them expecting a large story writ small. This drama (2013), collecting four tales of deadly violence across mainland China, lives up to that expectation to some extent, though limiting each protagonist to a more compact time frame heightens one's sense of them as individuals, and their impulsive actions remind us of the power of human agency. A former soldier seething over political graft in his little village, a transient who develops a serious gun fetish, a woman whose affair with a married man turns sour, a young man sinking into despair as he bounces from one dead-end job to the next—Jia's primary concern here is the solitary suffering of his characters, punished to the point where they can’t take anymore.

JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 37: Wed Feb 6

Red Desert (Antonioni, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm

This film, part of the Michelangelo Antonioni season at BFI Southbank, is also being shown on February 9th and 23rd. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Michelangelo Antonioni's first color feature (1964) uses colors expressionistically, and to get the precise hues he wanted, he had entire fields painted. The film came at the end of his most fertile period, just after L'Avventura, La Notte, and Eclipse
, and it isn't as good as the first and last of these, but the ecological concerns look a lot more prescient today. Monica Vitti plays a neurotic married woman briefly attracted to industrialist Richard Harris, and Antonioni does eerie, memorable work with the industrial shapes and colors that surround her; she walks through a science fiction landscape dotted with structures that are both disorienting and full of possibilities. Like any self-respecting Antonioni heroine, she's looking for love and meaning and mainly finding sex. But the film's most spellbinding sequence depicts a pantheistic, utopian fantasy of innocence, which she recounts to her ailing son.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 36: Tue Feb 5

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Capra, 1933): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

This screening, which is also being presented on February 2nd and 25th, and is part of the Barbara Stanwyck season at BFI Southbank. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Frank Capra's very atypical drama about an American missionary (Barbara Stanwyck) taken prisoner by a Chinese warlord (Nils Asther) is not only his masterpiece but also one of the great love stories to come out of Hollywood in the 30s—subtle, delicate, moody, mystical, and passionate. Joseph Walker shot it through filters and with textured shadows that suggest Sternberg; Edward Paramore wrote the script, adapted from a story by Grace Zaring Stone. Oddly enough, this perverse and beautiful film was chosen to open Radio City Music Hall in 1933; it was not one of Capra's commercial successes, but it beats the rest of his oeuvre by miles, and both Stanwyck and Asther are extraordinary.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 35: Mon Feb 4

Gigi (Minnelli, 1959): Curzon Soho, 6.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of the season (details here) celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Curzon Soho and was the film which premiered in the UK at the cinema, then known as the Columbia. Gigi star Leslie Caron will be on hand to introduce the film.

Chicago Reader review:
Lerner and Loewe turned Colette's novel into the archetypal "Gallic romp," but while their score often falters, Vincente Minnelli's mise-en-scene does not (1958). It's easy to drift away from the story and become absorbed in Minnelli's impossibly delicate textures, but there is a little something here for everybody. Maurice Chevalier sings the Humbertian anthem "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," Louis Jourdan and Leslie Caron make competent lovers, and it's Academy Awards (nine to be exact) all around. With Hermione Gingold, Jacques Bergerac, and Eva Gabor.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 34: Sun Feb 3

He Who Gets Slapped (Sjostrom, 1924): Barbican Cinema, 4pm

This masterpiece of silent cinema will be screened in 35mm and accompanied by composer and pianist Taz Modi.

Chicago Reader review:
Victor Sjostrom's 1924 silent film features a rare restrained performance by Lon Chaney, as a disgraced scientist who works as a circus clown while plotting his revenge. Sjostrom is probably best known to most filmgoers for his performance as the old man in Ingmar Bergman's 
Wild Strawberries, but as a director, both in Sweden and the U.S., he pioneered a naturalistic style that is still unsurpassed in its grace and lyric subtlety.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 33: Sat Feb 2

Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 1pm

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

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

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

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

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

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 32: Fri Feb 1

Ladies of Leisure (Capra, 1930): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6pm

This 35mm screening is the first film in the Barbara Stanwyck season at BFI Southbank. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A young Barbara Stanwyck, in her third feature film, is the highlight of this early talkie (1930) by Frank Capra. She's a Broadway baby who falls in love with playboy Ralph Graves; they can't marry because his family objects to her past. The melodrama doesn't bring out the best of Capra's talents, and much of the film is stiff and uninteresting. But Stanwyck, still in the process of assembling her screen persona, has a softness and vulnerability she would later shuck; she's like a tough-talking Janet Gaynor.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the opening.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 31: Thu Jan 31

Zombie /aka Zombi 2/Zombie Flesh Eaters (Fulci, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film is part of the 'Terror Vision' strand at BFI Southbank. More details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
Initially billed as a sequel to Dawn of the Dead (despite no connection to Romero’s classic), Lucio Fulci’s film takes place on a Caribbean island, where a young woman stumbles upon an outbreak of the undead as she’s searching for her missing father. Boasting some of the director’s most outré set-pieces (zombie vs shark, anyone?), this eye-popping shocker gained infamy in the UK as an official video nasty.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 30: Wed Jan 30

Séance on a Wet Afternoon (Forbes, 1964): Regent Street Cinema, 12pm & 3.30pm

This rare screening is from a 35mm print.

Time Out review:

Kim Stanley
 can hardly be known to most of today's cinema audiences: she appears in only four films, and her fame rests on her stage work (even that is pretty sparse). She plays degenerating women, yet her technique is not the Mad Medusa writ large, such as Swanson in Sunset Blvd. or Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She's creepier than that, and more believable. In the movie, she is married to a meek and mild Attenborough - a childless marriage in a gloomy Victorian house. She concocts a scheme to kidnap a child, and then gain notoriety by discovering the child's whereabouts through psychomancy. Her performance is utterly superb, and so too is Attenborough's: with his leather crash helmet, goggles and clapped-out motor-bike, he looks like a reject Hell's Angel from Orphée.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 29: Tue Jan 29

Quick Change (Franklin/Murray, 1990): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10pm

This rare screening will be from a 35mm print.

Chicago Reader review:
A delightful “small” picture in an era when such things are no longer supposed to exist, this quirky comedy follows the adventures of a trio of bank robbers (Bill Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid) who pull off an ingenious job but then find it difficult to get out of New York City; Jason Robards plays the police chief who is alternately hot and not so hot on their trail. Based on a novel by Jay Cronley, the screenplay by Howard Franklin, codirected by Franklin and Murray (both making directorial debuts), manages to live up to the demands of a thriller without sacrificing character to frenetic pacing, and the film exudes a kind of sweetness that never threatens to become either sticky or synthetic. All the lead actors are funny and creative while keeping their characters life-size (to my taste, this is Murray's best work), and they're given a very pleasant backup by Bob Elliott (of the former radio team Bob and Ray), Philip Bosco, Phil Hartman, Kathryn Grody, and Tony Shalhoub, among others (1990).

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 28: Mon Jan 28

Women of Niskavouri (Vaala, 1938): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

This film is part of the ‘Drifting Shadows: Masterpieces of Finnish Cinema’ season at Close-Up Film Centre. You can find all the details here.

Close-Up Cinema introduction:
Adapted from a play by novelist Hella Wuolijoki (who initially wrote under a male pseudonym) this is Valentin Vaala's pivotal work of the 1930s and the first in a series of five films chronicling the life of a wealthy farm household across decades and generations. Compared to an equally successful series of "provincial comedy-dramas" made by Marcel Pagnol in France, Vaala's work proves to be visually more adventurous with its camera movements and faster pace.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 27: Sun Jan 27

2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.25pm

This is a 70mm screening on an extended run from January 13th to March 31st. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Seeing this 1968 masterpiece in 70-millimeter provides an ideal opportunity to rediscover this mind-blowing myth of origin as it was meant to be seen and heard, an experience no video setup, no matter how elaborate, could ever begin to approach. The film remains threatening to contemporary studiothink in many important ways: Its special effects are used so seamlessly as part of an overall artistic strategy that, as critic Annette Michelson has pointed out, they don't even register as such. Dialogue plays a minimal role, yet the plot encompasses the history of mankind (a province of SF visionary Olaf Stapledon, who inspired Kubrick's cowriter, Arthur C. Clarke). And, like its flagrantly underrated companion piece, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, it meditates at length on the complex relationship between humanity and technology—not only the human qualities that we ascribe to machines but also the programming we knowingly or unknowingly submit to. The film's projections of the cold war and antiquated product placements may look quaint now, but the poetry is as hard-edged and full of wonder as ever.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 26: Sat Jan 26

Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1957): Prince Charles Cinema, 2.20pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Akira Kurosawa Selectrospective at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa's best film is also his most Americanized, drawing on classical Hollywood conventions of genre (the western), characterization (ritual gestures used to distinguish the individuals within a group), and visual style (the horizon lines and exaggerated perspectives of John Ford). Of course, this 1954 film also returned something of what it borrowed, by laying the groundwork for the "professional" western (Rio Bravo, etc) that dominated the genre in the 50s and 60s. Kurosawa's film is a model of long-form construction, ably fitting its asides and anecdotes into a powerful suspense structure that endures for all of the film's 208 minutes. The climax—the battle in the rain and its ambiguous aftermath—is Kurosawa's greatest moment, the only passage in his work worthy of comparison with Mizoguchi.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 25: Fri Jan 25

A Chump at Oxford (Goulding, 1939): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm

This 35mm screening, which is also being shown on January 14this one of a number of Laurel and Hardy shorts and features on at BFI Southbank in January to coincide with the release of the new movie ‘Stan and Ollie’. You can find all the details here. The film will be accompanied by the short, the Laurel and Hardy Murder Case (also being screened from a 35mm print).

Chicago Reader review:
One of the last of the first-class Laurel and Hardy features (1939), this is an amiably sloppy affair about two street cleaners who win scholarships to Oxford. Stan has a chance to stretch out a little in a double role, and there is a recap of the classic butler-maid routine from the 1928 From Soup to Nuts. With James Finlayson, Wilfrid Lucas, and Peter Cushing in his punk days; directed by Alf Goulding.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 24: Thu Jan 24

King of New York (Ferrara, 1990): Genesis Cinema, 6.40pm

Genesis introduction:
The monthly Cult Classic Collective screening with Nick Walker of Rochester Kino returns to the Genesis with Abel Ferrara's 
King of New York. The screening will be introduced by Nick and will be followed by a salon discussion upstairs at the bar where you will have a chance to discuss this great film with fellow fans and first-time viewers!

Film Comment review:
The relation between images, politics and morality is explored with aplomb by Abel Ferrara in King of New York. Beyond good and evil indeed: Ferrara’s film doesn’t necessarily ask us to identify with its irredeemable crooks, but it does make painfully clear how, when God is dead and the almighty dollar rules, the supposed “good guys” are often just as bad as their villainous counterparts. King of New York screened at the 2016 Vienna Film Festival in the context of a tribute to Christopher Walken, and his performance here as fresh-out-the-joint hipster kingpin Frank White lives and dies on Walken’s unparalleled capacity to play low-key menacing and enticingly lively. His sauntering—across the floor of a crowded, expensive restaurant; right past the hood standing guard outside a mafia-run card game; from the living room of his room in the Plaza Hotel to the balcony where he can survey his kingdom-to-come—radiate an infectious, weirdo gracefulness, and Laurence Fishburne chips in a career-best turn as White’s most trusted trigger-man, a swaggering volcano of lewd disses, glimmering gold caps, and remorseless killings. To see King of New York on celluloid unlocks its startling alternations between warm, honey-gold interior scenes suffused with lavish, late-’80s Manhattan decadence and ice-cold, dark and dank exterior scenes with a vacuum-like atmosphere (the unnerving backdrop for the film’s climactic chase/shootout, with amoral cops David Caruso and Wesley Snipes trying to cover their own asses by rubbing out Walken and Fishburne). A dialectical masterpiece that’s even better and less silly than I remembered, King of New York is anchored by a complex moralism with a dash of fatalistic cynicism that cuts awfully deep in a year of police shootings, dashed political dreams and, of course, more of the same ol’-same ol’.
Dan Sullivan
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 23: Wed Jan 23

The Others (Amenábar, 2001): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This 35mm screening includes an introduction by Anna Bogutskaya, Events Programmer at BFI Southbank.

Time Out review:
There are 50 doors in the house. Grace (Nicole Kidman) locks each one behind her, and insists the servants do the same. The curtains must be kept closed at all times. Her two children, Anne and Nicholas, are photo-sensitive, Grace explains: allergic to the sun. They live in an isolated Jersey manse, praying for the day Grace's husband will return from WWII, with only the domestic help for company: Lydia (Elaine Cassidy) is a mute, Mr Tuttle (Eric Sykes) busies himself around the grounds, while Mrs Mills (Fionnulka Flanagan) seems unimpressed with her new employer's ways. It's to the redoubtable Mrs Mills that Anne turns when her mother refuses to countenance her stories of a mystery interloper, a lodger who makes himself at home without ever showing his face. Reminiscent of Jack Clayton's Henry James adaptation 
The Innocents, this intelligent chiller relies on atmosphere and suggestion rather than gross-out gore. It's a surprise just how confident and controlled Amenábar's first Hollywood venture turns out to be. Subtle, too. Absence makes the heart beat faster: the absence of light, the corporeal absence of loved ones. Shrewdly cast, Kidman is pitch perfect. It's a clammy, ingenious film, one of the best studio movies of the year.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 22: Tue Jan 22

New York, New York (Scorsese, 1977): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.20pm

This 35mm presentation is part of a Martin Scorsese season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
Martin Scorsese's tribute/parody/critique of the MGM musical is a razor-sharp dissection of the conventions of both meeting-cute romances and rags-to-riches biopics, as it charts the traumatic love affair between irresponsible but charming jazz saxophonist Robert De Niro (dubbed by George Auld) and mainstream singer Lisa Minnelli. On an emotional level, the film is a powerhouse, offering some of the most convincingly painful rows ever shot; as a depiction of changes in American music and the entertainment world, it is accurate and evocative; and as a commentary on showbiz films, it's a stunner, sounding echoes of Minnelli's own mother's movies and career (particularly A Star Is Born) as well as other classics like On the Town and the first A Star Is Born (in which Stander also appeared). Superbly scored, beautifully designed by Boris Leven to highlight the genre's artificiality, and performed to perfection.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 21: Mon Jan 21

Our Relations (Lachman, 1936): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm 

This 35mm screening, which is also being shown on January 11th, is one of a number of Laurel and Hardy shorts and features on at BFI Southbank in January to coincide with the release of the new movie ‘Stan and Ollie’. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the best Laurel and Hardy features, this 1936 effort casts them as two pairs of twins—desperately respectable family men Stan and Ollie, and their black-sheep brothers, two drunken sailors in town for a spree. Though the mistaken identity gags grow somewhat facile and tiresome, the character work (always the richest vein in their films) is lovingly detailed. With Alan Hale, James Finlayson, and Sidney Toler.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.