Capital Celluloid intermission

Entertainment venues in the capital will be closed from Wednesday December 16 for the forseeable future owing to the latest coronavirus restrictions and thus we will be closing down Capital Celluloid for now. Keep safe and look forward to bringing you the best of the repertory London film scene when it’s wise to do so.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 134: Fri Dec 18

Entertainment venues will be closed from Wednesday so this screening will be cancelled.

A Christmas Story (Clark, 1983): Prince Charles Cinema, 1.30pm

This 35mm screening is of a quirky, popular holiday hit from the director behind Black Christmas and the excellent Murder By Decree. All in all, highly recommended.

Chicago Reader review:
As a follow-up to his excoriated Porky's and Porky's II, director Bob Clark teamed with nostalgic humorist Jean Shepherd for this squeaky clean and often quite funny 1983 yuletide comedy, adapted from Shepherd's novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. The bespectacled young hero (Peter Billingsley) lives with his parents and younger brother in northeast Indiana and craves a BB gun for Christmas; the old man (Darren McGavin in one of his best roles) wins a newspaper contest and insists on displaying his prize—a table lamp shaped like a woman's leg in fishnet stockings. Shepherd provides the voice-over of the grown hero narrating, and his prominence on the sound track forces Clark to focus on visual humor, resulting in some wild Our Gang-style slapstick.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 133: Thu Dec 17

Entertainment venues are closed from Wednesday so this screening will be cancelled.

Carol (Haynes, 2015): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

This beautifully crafted film is well worth catching in this 35mm presentation.

Chicago Reader review:
Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven (2002) slayed critics with its provocative presentation of modern racial and sexual issues through the lens of a high-Hollywood 50s melodrama. Haynes returns to that formula with this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, which deals with a lesbian affair. Cate Blanchett is the title character, a New York wife and mother struggling to escape from her straight marriage, and her mix of bravado and vulnerability has seldom been used to greater effect; Kyle Chandler is moving as her anguished husband, who refuses to accept the truth about her sexuality and leverages custody of her daughter against her. Unfortunately their fine work is weighed down by Rooney Mara's inert performance as Carol's young lover, a countergirl at Bloomingdale's who suggests a doll with the battery removed. As a love story this left me unsatisfied, though I enjoyed the lush period trappings (from costumer Sandy Powell and production designer Judy Becker) and the flattering sense of how enlightened I am compared to people in the 1950s.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 132: Wed Dec 16

Entertainment venues will be closed from Wednesday so this screening will be cancelled.

Dance, Girl, Dance (Arzner, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6pm

This 35mm presentation (part of the Big Screen Classics season) is also being shown on December 21st. Full details here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
Focusing on the professional and romantic rivalry between two very different dancers – a cynical chorus girl working in a burlesque joint (Lucille Ball) and an idealistic aspiring ballerina (Maureen O’Hara) – this classic comedy-drama is at the same time a proto-feminist landmark in directly addressing the issue of the male gaze. Fine performances ensure that the film is far more than a simplistic statement.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 131: Tue Dec 15

 35 Shots of Rum (Denis, 2008): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm

This 35mm presentation, which is also being screened on December 8th and 20th (details here), is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank (all the films can be found here).

Chicago Reader review: A handsome black widower (Alex Descas) and his lovely college-age daughter (Mati Diop) inhabit a self-contained world of tranquil domesticity and affection in a gray suburban high-rise outside of Paris. A goodhearted but insecure woman down the hall (Nicole DoguĂ©) lives in the abject hope of winning the widower's heart, and a sweetly melancholic young man upstairs (GrĂ©goire Colin) harbors similar feelings for the young woman. It's a given that the father-daughter bubble must eventually burst, but the smart writer-director Claire Denis (Beau Travail) has other, subtler things on her mind than Electra-complex melodrama. This 2008 feature is beautiful but very quietly so, and definitely not for the ADHD set. Cliff Doerksen

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 130: Mon Dec 14

Rancho Notorious (Lang, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm

This 35mm presentation, which also screens on December 9th, is part of the Marlene Dietrich season at BFI Southbank (full details here).

Chicago Reader review: A perversely stylized western by Fritz Lang (1952), his last and best. The combination of unrestrained Technicolor and painted backdrops removes any sense of reality from the proceedings, which are set in a safe haven for gunslingers (operated by Marlene Dietrich. Arthur Kennedy arrives, looking for the man who killed his fiancee, as an insistently repeated theme song pounds out a quintessential Lang chorus of “hate, murder, and revenge.”  Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 129: Sun Dec 13

The Magnificent Ambersons (Welles, 1942): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3pm

This 35mm presentation (part of the Big Screen Classics season) is also being shown on December 18th and 22nd. Full details here.

Personally, this is my favourite film by 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).

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 128: Sat Dec 12

James Bond all-dayers ... at Screen on Green Islington and all other Everyman Cinemas

Everyman Cinemas across London are celebrating a James Bond Takeover on Saturday December 12th and 13th. You can find all the details of all the films here.

The press reviews of the films don't capture the excitement of the Bond films and I am recommending the Blogalongabond series by Neil Alcock (aka @theincrediblesuit on Twitter). Here is his take on DR NO (screening at Screen on the Green on December 12th at 5.30pm)

Here (and above) is the Dr No trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 127: Fri Dec 11

 Destry Rides Again (Marshall, 1939): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.05pm

This screening (also being presented on December 4th, 19th, 28th and 30th) is part of the Marlene Dietrich season runnign right through December at BFI Southbank (details here).

Time Out review:
Marvellous comedy Western, with Stewart's pacifist, reputedly wimpy marshal taming the lawless town of Bottleneck by means of words and jokes rather than the gun Donlevy's villain repeatedly provokes him to use. What is remarkable about the film is the way it combines humour, romance, suspense and action so seamlessly (with individual scenes - Dietrich singing 'See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have', Stewart's delicious parable about a homicidal orphan, Mischa Auer losing his pants - indelibly printed in the memory). Flawless performances, pacy direction and a snappy script place it head and shoulders above virtually any other spoof oater.

Here (and above) is the trailer.


Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 126: Thu Dec 10

Witness for the Prosecution (Wilder, 1957): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.45pm

This screening (also being presented on December 17th and 27th) is part of the Marlene Dietrich season runnign right through December at BFI Southbank (details here).

Chicago Reader review:
Billy Wilder's 1957 adaptation of Agatha Christie's famous stage thriller. The artificial plotting is all Christie's, but the film eventually becomes Wilder's—thanks to a trick ending that dovetails nicely with a characteristic revelation of compassion behind cruelty. His theatrical mise-en-scene—his proscenium framing—serves the material well, as does Charles Laughton's bombastic portrayal of the defense attorney. With Tyrone Power (nicely feckless), Marlene Dietrich, and Elsa Lanchester.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 125: Wed Dec 9

 Sebastiane (Jarman, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.55pm


This film is being screened (also on December 3rd and 13th) as part of the BFI"s Big Screen Classics season. Full details can be found here.

Time Out review:
Not exactly typical of the British independent cinema, this not only tackles an avowedly 'difficult' subject (the relationship between sex and power, and the destructive force of unrequited passion), but does so within two equally 'difficult' frameworks: that of exclusively male sexuality, and that of the Catholic legend of the martyred saint, set nearly 1,700 years ago. Writer/director Jarman sees Sebastian as a common Roman soldier, exiled to the back of beyond with a small platoon of bored colleagues, who gets selfishly absorbed in his own mysticism and then picked on by his emotionally crippled captain. It's filmed naturalistically, to the extent that the dialogue is in barracks-room Latin, and carries an extraordinary charge of conviction in the staging and acting; it falters only in the slightly awkward elements of parody and pastiche. One of a kind, it's compulsively interesting on many levels.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 124: Tue Dec 8

A Foreign Affair (Wilder, 1948): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 2.30pm

This screening (also being presented on December 12th, 18th and 28th) is part of the Marlene Dietrich season runnign right through December at BFI Southbank (details here).

Chicago Reader review:
An archetypal Billy Wilder plot, pitting idealism (a naive Iowa congresswoman, played by Jean Arthur) against cynicism (an ex-Nazi chanteuse, embodied, of course, by Marlene Dietrich) in the ruins of postwar Berlin. Caught between is John Lund, an American officer. Wilder's strategy is to play a bubbly romantic comedy in a mise-en-scene of destruction and despair. As usual, it's more clever than meaningful, but this 1948 film is one of his most satisfactory in wit and pace. With Millard Mitchell.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.