Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 121: Tue Sep 14

After Hours (Scorsese, 1985): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm


This is a 35mm presentation.

Chicago Reader review:
Martin Scorsese transforms a debilitating convention of 80s comedy—absurd underreaction to increasingly bizarre and threatening situations—into a rich, wincingly funny metaphysical farce. A lonely computer programmer (Griffin Dunne) is lured from the workday security of midtown Manhattan to an expressionistic late-night SoHo by the vague promise of casual sex with a mysterious blonde (Rosanna Arquette). But she turns out to be a sinister kook whose erratic behavior plunges Dunne into a series of increasingly strange, devastating incidents, including encounters with three more treacherous blondes (Verna Bloom, Teri Garr, and Catherine O'Hara) and culminating in a run-in with a bloodthirsty mob of vigilantes led by a Mr. Softee truck. Scorsese's orchestration of thematic development, narrative structure, and visual style is stunning in its detail and fullness; this 1985 feature reestablished him as one of the very few contemporary masters of filmmaking.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 120: Mon Sep 13

Wings of Desire (Wenders, 1987): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm


This screening is part of the Wim Wenders on 35mm season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Wim Wenders's ambitious and audacious feature (1987) focuses mainly on what's seen and heard by two angels (Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander) as they fly over and walk through contemporary Berlin. These are the angels of the poet Rilke rather than the usual blessed or fallen angels of Christianity, and Wenders and coscreenwriter Peter Handke use them partially to present an astonishing poetic documentary about the life of this city, concentrating on an American movie star on location (Peter Falk playing himself), a French trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin), and a retired German professor who remembers what Berlin used to be like (Curt Bois). The conceit gets a little out of hand after one of the angels falls in love with the trapeze artist and decides to become human; but prior to  this, Wings of Desire is one of Wenders's most stunning achievements, certainly in no way replaceable by City of Angels
, the ludicrous 1998 Hollywood remake.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 119: Sun Sep 12

Beautiful Thing (MacDonald. 1996): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.25pm

This 35mm presentation on the 25th anniversary of the film's release is part of the Unicorn Nights strand at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Time Out review:

A real winner this, from producer Tony Garnett and Channel 4: an 'urban fairytale' set in darkest Thamesmead, South London. Jamie (Berry) is in love with next-door neighbour Ste (Neal), but he's terrified his mum will find out, and Ste has plenty of troubles of his own. It may sound like a feelgood movie, but throw in the timeless tunes of Mama Cass, a funny romantic screenplay by Jonathan Harvey (skillfully adapting his own play), and a formidable performance from Linda Henry as Jamie's independent-minded mother, and you have the likeliest gay crossover hit since My Beautiful Laundrette
.
Tom Charity


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 118: Sat Sep 11

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

This is a 35mm presentation at the Prince Charles Cinema and also being screened on September 13th. You can find the details here.

Chicago Reader review: 
'What can you say about the movie that taught you what movies were? The first time I saw Kane I discovered the existence of the director; the next dozen or so times taught me what he did—with lights and camera angles, cutting and composition, texture and rhythm. Kane (1941) is no longer my favorite Orson Welles film (I'd take Ambersons, Falstaff, or Touch of Evil), but it is still the best place I know of to start thinking about Welles—or for that matter about movies in general.'   

Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 117: Fri Sep 10

Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, 2001): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This 35mm presentation is part of an extended run for the film at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:

I'm still trying to decide if this piece of hocus-pocus (2001) is David Lynch's best feature between Eraserhead and Inland Empire. In any case, it's immensely more likable than his other stabs at neonoir (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway), perhaps because it likes its characters and avoids sentimentalizing or sneering at them (the sort of thing that limited Twin Peaks). Originally conceived and rejected as a TV pilot, then expanded after some French producers stepped in, it has the benefit of Lynch's own observations about Hollywood, which were fresher at this point than his puritanical notations on small towns in the American heartland. The best-known actors (Ann Miller, Robert Forster, Dan Hedaya) wound up relatively marginalized, while the lesser-known talents (in particular the remarkable Naomi Watts and the glamorous Laura Elena Harring) were invited to take over the movie (and have a field day doing so). The plot slides along agreeably as a tantalizing mystery before becoming almost completely inexplicable, though no less thrilling, in the closing stretches—but that's what Lynch is famous for.
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 116: Thu Sep 9

Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This film, part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank, is also beign shown on September 25th & 28th plus October 5th. Another screening on Wednesday 15 September will be introduced by Geoff Andrew, Programmer-at-Large.

Chicago Reader review:

The most densely allegorical of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces (1954), moving from psychology to morality to formal concerns and finally to the theological. It is also Hitchcock's most innovative film in terms of narrative technique, discarding a linear story line in favor of thematically related incidents, linked only by the powerful sense of real time created by the lighting effects and the revolutionary ambient sound track. James Stewart is the news photographer who, immobilized by a broken leg, dreams stories about the neighbors in his courtyard and demands that they come true. With Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 115: Wed Sep 8

The Long Goodbye (Altman, 1973): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.40pm

This 35mm screening is part of the ‘Elliot Gould in the 70s’ season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details of the season here.

Time Out review:
Despite cries of outrage from hard-line Chandler purists, this is, along with Hawks' The Big Sleep, easily the most intelligent of all screen adaptations of the writer's work. Altman in fact stays pretty close to the novel's basic narrative (though there are a couple of crucial changes), but where he comes up with something totally original is in his ironic updating of the story and characters: Gould's Marlowe is a laid-back, shambling slob who, despite his incessant claim that everything is 'OK with me,' actually harbours the same honourable ideals as Chandler's Marlowe; but those values, Altman implies, just don't fit in with the neurotic, uncaring, ephemeral lifestyle led by the 'Me Generation' of modern LA. As Marlowe attempts to protect a friend suspected of battering his wife to death, and gets up to his neck in blackmail, suicide, betrayal and murder, Altman constructs not only a comment on the changes in values in America over the last three decades, but a critique of film noir mythology: references, both ironic and affectionate, to Chandler (cats and alcoholism) and to earlier private-eye thrillers abound. Shot in gloriously steely colours by Vilmos Zsigmond with a continually moving camera, wondrously scripted by Leigh Brackett (who worked on The Big Sleep), and superbly acted all round, it's one of the finest movies of the '70s. 
Geoff Andrew 

Here (and above) is the trailer. Here
 is the theme tune, sung by Jack Sheldon.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 114: Tue Sep 7

The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm


This 35mm presentation is also being screened at BFI Southbank on September 19th and October 4th. You can find all the details here.

Monthly Film Bulletin review:
One of the most gratifying reflections on the virtually impenetrable web of duplicity and murder that constitutes the plot of The Big Sleep is that, from Howard Hawks’ point of view, it really doesn’t matter who killed Owen Taylor. What does matter – and this despite the superb, spare evocation of desolation, rainy nights and an all-pervasive sense of genuine evil – is the illusion of suspense that the film so brilliantly sustains. However many times one sees the film and comes away baffled by exactly who did what to whom, it still regularly leaves one with the exhilarating feeling that perhaps next time all will indeed be satisfactorily resolved. (Notwithstanding the scriptwriters’ famous bafflement over the fate of Owen Taylor, the plot, which is clearly divided in two, can in fact be explained in a logical, if ultimately rather tortured fashion.) The film’s strength, as Hawks himself observed, derived in large part form a structure of self-contained, set-piece episodes, almost all of which are memorable for a different reason: the jungle meeting between Marlowe and General Sternwood; the sustained ’horse-racing’ conversation between Marlowe and Vivian at Mars’ club; the poisoning of Harry Jones seen through frosted glass; the confusion, worthy almost of the Marx Brothers, when more and more guns are produced at Joe Brody’s apartment. Quite outside the plot itself, the film turns on the way Hawks juxtaposes his male and female characters. There are a superabundance of vivacious women: the librarian; the cigarette girl and the waitress at Mars’ club; Agnes; Mona; Carmen (despite her instability) and, of course, Vivian Rutledge herself. The Hawksian women – tough, individual, opinionated – are all doers; in contrast, with the exception of Eddie Mars, the seedy gallery of male crooks are on the whole so entangled in the webs of their own intrigues and ambitions that they can only react to events. Although it was not seen as such by many of its early reviewers, The Big Sleep is also, of course, a witty, literate entertainment and one that has endured in the popular imagination not only for the famous Bogart-Bacall exchanges (loaded as they were in 1946 – and indeed as they remain today – with a delicious, explicitly, sexual charge), but also in a film that has ironically very little to do with the spirit of Chandler’s rather moralistic first novel, for the carefully placed Chandlerisms, the apposite, self-protective wisecracks and the tart summaries of character (“I assume”, Sternwood remarks of his daughters, “they have all the usual vices”). The plethora of killings now seems on the whole less horrific than it once did, while the film’s tone of escalating absurdity in a genuinely dark world grows if anything even more sprightly as the years go by.
John Pym

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 113: Mon Sep 6

Autumn Tale (Rohmer, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.50pm

This 35mm presentation is part of the Eric Rohmer season at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
At once complex and gentle, this 1998 feature concludes Eric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons series and is one of the best films of his career. It’s about the perils and rewards of rediscovering love in middle age, though, characteristic of Rohmer, it has important young characters as well. Beautifully capturing the southern Rhone valley, it focuses on lifelong best friends — a bookseller (Marie Riviere) and a wine grower (Beatrice Romand) — and the efforts of the bookseller and a young friend of the wine grower (Alexia Portal) to find their friend a lover. Riviere and Romand are both seasoned Rohmer actors, and even played together once before in Summer (1986); the charisma generated by them and Alain Libolt — one of the prospective boyfriends, who looks like Charles Boyer — is central to the film’s success, along with the casual precision and growing momentum of Rohmer’s script and direction.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 112: Sun Sep 5

There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.35pm

This is a 35mm presentation.

Time Out review:
We begin down a hole. It’s 1898 in the Southern Californian desert and Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a lithe, daddy-long-legs of a man, a lone-gun silver prospector whose tools, as he scratches around in the dark, are a pickaxe, a rope, some dynamite and sheer will. The scene, like many in the film, is gruelling, elemental, horrific even. He falls, breaks his leg and gains a limp that will stay with him for the rest of this bold, epic film. We hop forward to 1902, and Plainview is digging again, only now he’s on the hunt for something else: oil. He strikes black and brandishes his filthy hands to his accomplices. The dirt under his nails is a badge of honour, and one never to be removed; he wears it years later, even when he’s moping around a mansion, his mind driven loopy by success and paranoia. Another hop and it’s 1911, and we reach the meat of the movie. A smarter Plainview, a fedora on his brow, is in the shadows of a meeting of folk in Little Boston, California on whose land he wants to dig. ‘I’m an oil man…’ he implores, the first noise we hear from his mouth, not a word wasted, barely a breath not invested in his success. His voice is simple but mellifluous, its stresses and dips unusual but alluring. It’s the first hint in this long, odd and stunning film that this character – this wicked creation, this symbol of a nation, this quiet monster – will lodge in your psyche long after the movie cuts dead on an ending that’s strange and sudden, irritating and pleasing. On one level, Plainview is a pure businessman – ruthless, self-centred, adaptable. On another, he’s a mystery – sexless, rootless, unfathomable, silent. The questions roll off the screen. Does he care for his adopted son, HW (Dillon Freasier) or does he see him only as a useful face to have around during negotiations? Are we meant to root for Plainview’s individualist tendencies against the expansion of the Standard and Union oil companies? No – as soon as the film hints this is going to be the tale of an underdog, Plainview does something awful. Faceless, corporate behaviour begins to look benign. On yet another level, Plainview reflects, then and now, the power of the church; it’s a local pastor, Eli Sunday (a wily Paul Dano) who leads him to the loot. It’s the same pastor whose pockets he must line and religion he must embrace. This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s foundation myth – taken from Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel ‘Oil!’, which in turn was inspired by men like Edward Doheny, the oil man who went from rags to riches and died in 1935 in the same mansion where Anderson shot his final scenes. Anderson’s story is precisely dated, stretching from 1898 to 1927, and mostly lingers around 1911 as Plainview builds a gushing derrick. But the beginning of his film feels like the beginning of the world for all its sense that nothing came before. Anderson is arguing that this chasm in the earth, and similar chasms, were the birthplace of America. Little Boston becomes a theatre for his Genesis, or for Exodus, from which the film takes its name. It’s stressed by the primal buzz of Jonny Greenwood’s wonderful score that’s set to the film’s first image of a barren hillside. Day-Lewis’s performance is as good as the awards suggest: it’s big, it’s wild, yet it’s also restrained by the sparing talk of his character and framed by a film whose ambitions are bigger than his acting. That Anderson, the film’s writer-director, whose ‘Boogie Nights’ was a riot but ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ both noble failures, has come to make this intelligent and enthralling masterpiece is both a little surprising and intensely satisfying.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 111: Sat Sep 4

American Graffiti (Lucas, 1973): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.50pm

This is a 35mm presentation and also being shown on September 9th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review: A brilliant work of popular art, it redefined nostalgia as a remarketable commodity and established a new narrative style, with locale replacing plot, that has since been imitated to the point of ineffectiveness. Dave Kehr
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 110: Fri Sep 3

Vivre sa Vie (Godard, 1962): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

Time Out review: Twelve Brechtian tableaux chronicle the life and death of a whore, starting out as a documentary on prostitution, ending as a Monogram B movie. In retrospect, Godard expressed doubts about the cheap gangster pyrotechnics as being merely a nod to cinephilia. But like the highly stylised prostitution scenes, they are in fact a distantiating device forcing a more direct confrontation with the film's true subject: the enigmatic beauty and troubling presence of Karina, and the mystery of Godard's own passionate involvement with her. This film, as Godard has noted, was the first stage in the inevitable dissolution of their marriage, as described in Pierrot le Fou; and every scene in the film obliquely pinpoints that crisis as originating in the awareness that, as director to star actress, he found himself rapturously but humiliatingly playing client to her prostitute. Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 109: Thu Sep 2

Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.40pm

On the 50th anniversary of its release here's the cult classic back in the cinema.

Time Out review:
Having just driven 1,500 miles non-stop from California to Colorado, Sarafian's sullenly uncommunicative anti-hero pauses long enough to grab a supply of bennies, accept a bet that he won't make it back in 15 hours, and zooms off again. It's a marvellous idea: a strange, obsessive odyssey by a man driven like the lemmings by an inexplicable need to keep on going. Then the script starts explaining in embarrassing memory flashes, the echoes of Easy Rider multiply, bits of mysticism and a blind black DJ called Super-Soul are injected, and the woodenness of both direction and Newman's performance becomes increasingly apparent. Marvellously shot on location by John A Alonzo, though.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 108: Wed Sep 1

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Durkin, 2011): Picturehouse cinemas, various times


Time Out review:
'The American indie toast of both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals, Sean Durkin’s unnerving and insidiously offbeat horror-thriller exposes the sinister underside of religious cult deprogramming via an ingeniously suggestive and prickly performance from Elizabeth Olsen. It opens with a dishevelled and volatile Martha (Olsen) seeking refuge with her pedantic older sister (Sarah Paulson) and prig hubby (Hugh Dancy) in their sterile lakeside retreat. Formally (and, for that matter, atmospherically) we’re deep in ‘Last Year At Marienbad’ country, as the film switches back and forth in time to offer a series of layered and increasingly uncomfortable reveals as to what questionable deeds our multi-monikered heroine has been up to for the last two years. It may be a question of taste, but Dancy felt like the loose-link here: a technically strong performance, but a clich├ęd take on Brit obstinacy that threatened to cloud more pressing thematic concerns. Still, a very minor quibble for an otherwise majorly impressive and rigorous nightmare movie.'
David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 107: Tue Aug 31

McCabe & Mrs Miller (Altman, 1971): ICA Cinema, 4pm

This film (also being screened on August 21st) is part of the ICA's 1971: The Year Hollywood Went Independent season. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Still Robert Altman's best moment, this 1971 antiwestern murmurs softly of love, death, and capitalism. Warren Beatty is the two-bit gambler who falls in with whorehouse proprietress Julie Christie; together they grope toward money and oblivion.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 106: Mon Aug 30

Casino (Scorsese, 1995): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.30pm


Love the opening titles (here); love the cast; love the soundtrack ... 

This great film, part of an extended run for this movie starting on August 27th, screens on 35mm as part of the Classic Film season at Prince Charles Cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Simultaneously quite watchable and passionless, Martin Scorsese's three-hour dissection of power in Las Vegas (1995), set principally in the 1970s, sometimes comes across like an anthology of his previous collaborations with Robert De Niro—above all GoodFellas, though here the characters are high rollers to begin with. By far the most interesting star performance is by Sharon Stone as a classy hooker destroyed by her marriage to a bookie (De Niro, in the least interesting star performance) selected by the midwest mob to run four casinos. There's an interesting expositional side to the film, with De Niro and Joe Pesci's characters both serving as interactive narrators, but the film never becomes very involving as drama, With James Woods, Don Rickles, Alan King, Kevin Pollak, and L.Q. Jones. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 105: Sun Aug 29

Mr Skeffington (Sherman, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 11.30am

This film in the Bette Davis season at BFI Southbank is a 35mm presentation.

Time Out review:
Take a large stock of hankies with you: this monumental soaper drips interminably on. It's a simple tale of a vain society gal (Bette Davis, who else?) who secures a financially wonderful but loveless marriage to a Jewish stockbroker (Claude Rains). After a stay in a concentration camp, he goes blind; then she catches diphtheria, and realises that he loves her after all, and... oh well, for the rest you can use your imagination, which is more than writers Julius and Philip Epstein (ex-Casablanca) did. Vincent Sherman
 cradles this arrant tosh with the tenderest of loving camera movements, and almost smothers it to death in the process.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 104: Sat Aug 28

Flame in the Streets (Ward Baker, 1961): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.10pm


Time Out review:
A relatively early attempt to come to terms - in melodramatic form - with racism and the aspirations of black immigrants in Britain. John Mills owns a furniture factory and is proud of his tolerance, endorsing a Jamaican's candidacy as shop steward. However, enlightened shop floor attitudes are one thing; his daughter marrying a black is quite another. It's a bit like a social thesis - Discuss - but its background of poor housing and gangs of teddy boys roving the streets like the Ku Klux Klan is convincing enough.
Adrian Turner

Here (and above) is an extract.