Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 204: Wed Dec 8

The Long Darkness (Kumai, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the Japan season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on December 19th. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
The Long Darkness offers an understated and poignant account of the romance between two young people as they strive to overcome the traumas of the past. One of the more personal works by distinguished political filmmaker Kei Kumai, this very touching film – shot atmospherically in black-and-white in locations ranging from Tokyo to the inhospitable northern snowscapes – deserves to be more widely known.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 203: Tue Dec 7

Hunted (Crichton, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the 'Projecting the Archive' season at BFI Southbank, will be introduced by BFI curator Josephine Botting.

Time Out review:
A child stumbles on an edgy, well-dressed man in an abandoned warehouse. The man grabs the boy and drags him from the building, leaving the body of a murdered man lying in the rubble. From this taut beginning, the film (set in Glasgow and the surrounding country) develops into a study of the pair on the run and of the demons that pursue them. Bogarde, in one of his earlier starring roles, is persuasive as the jealous husband who has stepped outside the law, and his gradual redemption and growing fondness for young Robbie (Jon Whitely) is believable and touching. Crichton's direction produces a tense, forbidding atmosphere with imagery occasionally echoing that of Laughton's Night of the Hunter. Melodramatic but compelling

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 202: Mon Dec 6

Woman of the Lake (Yoshida, 1966): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the Japan season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on December 15th. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
In the 1960s and 70s, the husband-and-wife team of director Kijû Yoshida and actor Mariko Okada realised a remarkable sequence of films that probed questions of gender and sexuality in Japan. This poetic and sensuous example of their work together, based on a novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata, charts the consequences of photographs bearing witness to an extra-marital affair falling into the wrong hands ...

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 201: Sun Dec 5

Straits of Hunger (Ushida, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4.30pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the Japan season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on December 18th. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
Veteran director Tomu Uchida made his own contribution to 1960s modernism with this epic thriller, which dramatises an apocalyptic crime and its aftermath as an extended allegory for the catastrophe of Japan’s involvement in World War Two and its subsequent revival and rehabilitation. Uchida’s grainy, newsreel-inspired images and astonishing performances from Rentarô Mikuni and Sachiko Hidari give the film a terrific immediacy.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 200: Sat Dec 4

Black Rain (Imamura, 1989): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 5.50pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the Japan season at BFI Southbank, is also being screened on December 28th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Not to be confused with the Ridley Scott thriller released the same year, this black-and-white 1989 feature by Shohei Imamura takes on the unpredictable physical and psychological aftereffects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Based on a celebrated novel by Masuji Ibuse, it focuses on a young woman who’s just moved to a village across a wide bay from the city when the bomb falls. Most of the plot unfolds years later, yet Imamura repeatedly returns to the bombing’s immediate aftermath, and one of the more striking of these traumatic and haunting flashbacks is boldly rendered just with sound effects and changes in lighting. Imamura’s style here, for all its inventiveness, is uncharacteristically subdued and sober. Like his last work—a devastating episode in the anthology film September 11—this is one of the few movies that’s addressed Hiroshima without blinking.
Jonathan  Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 199: Fri Dec 3

Araya (Benacerraf, 1959): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

This screening is part of Human Resources, a season of films exploring the depiction of work and labour on screen. The season is curated by Ryan Ninesling, an MA student in Film Studies, Programming, and Curation, in partnership with the National Film and Television School, Close-Up Film Centre, and the Genesis Cinema.

Close-Up introduction:
A landmark work of Latin American feminist cinema and the only feature film by pioneering documentarian 
Margot Benacerraf, Araya is a poetic, visually arresting look at life on Venezuela’s Araya Peninsula, where generations of labourers have depended on mining the arid region’s salt pans for their livelihood. With industrial mechanization threatening to eradicate this difficult way of life, Benacerraf takes a final glance at the day-to-day routines of three families of salineros, capturing the strain of their work amidst the breathtaking but harsh landscape. From the salt miners to the fishermen who feed them, the film is a captivating, unsentimental tribute to the tenacity of their spirits.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 198: Thu Dec 2

Funeral Parade of Roses (Matsumoto, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm

This presentation, part of the Japan season at BFI Soutbank, also includes a pre-recorded intro by Professor Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano, Kyoto University. The film is also being shown on December14th and 27th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Like Nagisa Oshima's contemporary Diary of a Shinjuku Thief, this still extraordinary film was a response to the 1968 student riots. But Toshio Matsumoto goes further than Oshima - into Shinjuku 2-chome, Tokyo's gay ghetto, to enact a queer revamp of the Oedipus myth. Popular young trannie Eddie (Peter, later the Fool in Ran) throws himself into affairs with a black GI and a Japanese hippie to drown out his memories of killing his mother when he caught her inflagrante with a stranger. Then he shacks up with Gonda, manager of the gay bar Genet, only to find out that the man is his long-lost father. Matsumoto splinters the story's time-frame, splashes captions across the frame and cuts in bits of ciné vérité and interviews with the cast - making it one of the most formally advanced films of the psychedelic decade.

Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 197: Wed Dec 1

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm

Here's one of the great films set during Christmas, and an opportunity to see Stanley Kubrick's much-underrated final movie in an original 35mm print.

If you're interested in reading more about this film I can recommend two BFI publications - Michel Chion's Modern Classics monograph on Eyes Wide Shut and the chapter on the film in James Naremore's book titled On Kubrick. And also Robert P Kolker and Nathan Abrams' illuminating 2019 book Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film.

Chicago Reader review:
Initial viewings of Stanley Kubrick's movies can be deceptive because his films all tend to be emotionally convoluted in some way; one has to follow them as if through a maze. A character that Kubrick might seem to treat cruelly the first time around (e.g., Elisha Cook Jr.'s fall guy in The Killing) can appear the object of tender compassion on a subsequent viewing. The director's desire to avoid sentimentality at all costs doesn't preclude feeling, as some critics have claimed, but it does create ambiguity and a distanced relationship to the central characters. Kubrick's final feature very skillfully portrays the dark side of desire in a successful marriage; since the 60s he'd been thinking about filming Arthur Schnitzler's brilliant novella "Traumnovelle," and working with Frederic Raphael, he's adapted it faithfully--at least if one allows for all the differences between Viennese Jews in the 20s and New York WASPs in the 90s. Schnitzler's tale, about a young doctor contemplating various forms of adultery and debauchery after discovering that his wife has entertained comparable fantasies, has a somewhat Kafkaesque ambiguity, wavering between dream and waking fantasy (hence Kubrick's title), and all the actors do a fine job of traversing this delicate territory. Yet the story has been altered to make the successful doctor (Tom Cruise) more of a hypocrite and his wife (powerfully played by Nicole Kidman) a little feistier; Kubrick's also added a Zeus-like tycoon (played to perfection by Sydney Pollack) who pretends to explain the plot shortly before the end but in fact only summarizes the various mysteries, his cynicism and chilly access to power revealing that Kubrick is more of a moralist than Schnitzler. To accept the premises and experiences of this movie, you have to be open to an expressionist version of New York with scant relation to the 90s (apart from cellular phones and AIDS) and a complex reading of a marriage that assumes the relations between men and women haven't essentially changed in the past 70-odd years. This is a remarkably gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, is likely to grow in mystery and intensity over time.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 197: Tue Nov 30

Onibaba (Shindo, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.50pm

This 35mm presentation (also being shown on November 19th) is part of the Japan season at BFI Southbank. Full details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
A creepy, interesting, and visually striking 1964 feature by Kaneto Shindo, set in the 16th century in the midst of a civil war, about two poor women who live in the marshes and support themselves by luring wounded samurai to their deaths and then selling their possessions. Things get more complicated when the partnership is threatened by the younger of the two women becoming romantically involved with a neighbor, and the film builds to a macabre and eerie climax.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 196: Mon Nov 29

The Pleasure Girls (O'Hara, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This screening is part of director Edgar Wright's London After Dark season. Full details here.

Edgar Wright introduction:
A most entertaining example of the ‘young girl moves to the big city’ genre that was so common in 1960s British cinema. This one is a little more wholesome and affectionate than its racy title and poster suggests, but as a snapshot of mid-60s London just before the scene explodes, it’s truly fascinating. It features a cast of very fresh famous faces such as Francesca Annis and Ian McShane, a pre-Doctor Who Anneke Wills, Hammer glamourpuss Suzanna Leigh and the darkly charismatic (when is he not?) Klaus Kinski.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 196: Sun Nov 28

Police Python 357 (Corneau, 1976): Cine Lumiere, 2pm

This film (also screening on 30th November) is screened from a rare 35mm print and is part of the Simone Signoret season. Full details here.

Cine Lumiere introduction:
A police inspector is having a secret relationship with a woman. When she is murdered by his boss, all eyes turn on him…. Establishing Corneau as one of France’s most promising young directors in the 1970s, 
Police Python 357 is a suspenseful crime thriller, a very popular genre in 1970s France. Set in Orléans, it united once more on the big screen the great actors and life partners Simone Signoret and Yves Montand.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 195: Sat Nov 27

Pierrot Le Fou (Godard, 1965): Cine Lumiere, 4pm

This presentation is part of the Jean-Paul Belmondo season. Full details here.

When Pierrot Le Fou, which will surely come to be seen as one of Jean-Luc Godard's finest, was re-released in 1989 after many years out of circulation, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum had this to say in an article in Chicago Reader : "Looking at Pierrot Le Fou again almost a quarter of a century after it was made, 20 years after its initial U.S. release, is a bit like visiting another planet; it’s an explosion of color, sound, music, passion, violence, and wit that illustrates what used to be regarded as cinema."

It's impossible for me to give a swift synopsis for Pierrot Le Fou in which Jean Paul Belmondo, ostensibly escaping stifling domesticity, and Anna Karina, fleeing a group of gangsters, depart Paris for the south of France suffice to say that it is brimming with ideas and scenes of extraordinary complexity. My abiding memories of seeing this the first time was of the vitality and colour - I was reminded when viewing it again last year that this was also a caustic commentary by the director on his relationship with Karina. Still, a huge treat and a film you will not forget in a hurry.

If I had to pick one excerpt it would be this one in which fellow director Sam Fuller is asked what is the meaning of cinema: "Film is like a battleground", recounts the American filmmaker. "Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion.

Chicago Reader review of Pierrot Le Fou:
"I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple," Jean-Luc Godard said of this brilliant, all-over-the-place adventure and meditation about two lovers on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina). Made in 1965, the film, with its ravishing colors and beautiful 'Scope camerawork by Raoul Coutard, still looks as iconoclastic and fresh as it did when it belatedly opened in the U.S. Godard's misogynistic view of women as the ultimate betrayers is integral to the romanticism in much of his 60s work—and perhaps never more so than here—but Karina's charisma makes this pretty easy to ignore most of the time. The movie's frequent shifts in style, emotion, and narrative are both challenging and intoxicating: American director Samuel Fuller turns up at a party scene to offer his definition of cinema, Karina performs two memorable songs in musical-comedy fashion, Belmondo's character quotes copiously from his reading, and a fair number of red and blue cars are stolen and destroyed.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 194: Fri Nov 26

Yearning (Naruse, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 9pm 

This 35mm presentation is part of the Japan season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This late masterpiece (1964) is about a war widow whose beverage store is being supplanted by a supermarket. The film clarifies why Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Yasujiro Ozu are all better known than Naruse: his turf is the lower middle class, and his chronically unfulfilled characters are typically unexceptional. Yet one can’t predict what any of them will do from one moment to the next, and despite the seeming simplicity of this tragic story, its psychological complexity is bottomless. No less remarkable are the abrupt, unsentimental editing and the remarkable mise en scene (in black-and-white ‘Scope), which shows the characters’ increasing entrapment even as it moves from claustrophobic interiors to scenic wide-open spaces.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 193: Thu Nov 25

Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950): Castle Cinema, 7.30pm

This 16mm screening, from the ever popular Cine-Real duo, is also being shown on 21st and 28th November. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Billy Wilder's searing, funny, morbid look at the real tinsel beneath the phony tinsel (1950). Aging silent-movie vamp Gloria Swanson takes up with William Holden, a two-bit screenwriter on the make, and virtually holds him captive in her Hollywood gothic mansion. Erich von Stroheim, once her director, now her butler, is the other figure in this menage-a-weird. A tour de force for Swanson and one of Wilder's better efforts.'
Dan Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 192: Wed Nov 24

Inherent Vice (Anderson, 2014): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.25pm

This is a 35mm presentation.

Chicago Reader review (in full here):
Inherent Vice would be a landmark in movie history even if it weren't good. More than just an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel—indeed the first official Pynchon adaptation, period—the film engages with the author's literature on the whole, attempting a filmic analogue to his virtuosic prose. Arguably the James Joyce of postmodern American fiction, Pynchon created a new kind of epic novel with V. (1963) and Gravity's Rainbow (1973), combining literary references high and low, probing considerations of postwar history, goofy counterculture humor (frequently about drugs and sex), and flights of formal experimentation. His books can be overwhelming on a first read, as they feature dozens (sometimes even hundreds) of characters and interweave multiple conspiracy plots, some of which touch on real historic events. How could one make a movie that conveys the depth of Pynchon's literature, to say nothing of his polyphonous language?
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 191: Tue Nov 23

The Confession (Costas-Gavras, 1970): Cine Lumiere, 5.45pm

This film is part of the Simone Signoret season at Cine Lumiere. Details here.

Criterion Collection synopsis:
The master of the political thriller, Costa-Gavras became an instant phenomenon after the mammoth success of Z, and he quickly followed it with the equally riveting The Confession. Based on a harrowing true story from the era of Soviet bloc show trials, the film stars Yves Montand as a Czechoslovak Communist Party official who, in the early fifties, is abducted, imprisoned, and interrogated over a frighteningly long period, and left in the dark about his captors’ motives. Also starring Simone Signoret and Gabriele Ferzetti, the film is an unflinching, intimate depiction of one of the twentieth century’s darkest chapters, told from one bewildered man’s point of view.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 190: Mon Nov 22

Carlito's Way (De Palma, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm

This 1990s classic screens as part of a Brian De Palma season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details can be found via this link here.

Carlito's Way is a masterpiece in several senses of the word: not only this great director's most exciting and moving film since Blow Out (1981) but also, in its own terms, a perfect, elegiac tribute to a rich American genre. As a contemporary gangster movie it shares much with another De Palma movie, Scarface 
(1983). Both stories are set in a gaudy milieu of seedy nightclubs and disco music; both feature Al Pacino as a street hood who has worked his way up the criminal ladder and is trying, in his own peculiar way, to live out the American Dream of success and personal fulfilment. And both films feature extraordinary set-pieces of violent action. But whereas Tony in Scarface was an excessive, foul, animalistic figure, Carlito Brigante is cool, almost serene, and above all intent on going straight. His problem, a classic one for the genre, is that whatever he does, trouble finds him and sticks to him. The film records his desperate efforts to be free and to win the love of Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) – doomed efforts, as De Palma boldly tells us by showing the murder of Carlito in the film's opening moments. Beautifully adapted by David Koepp (Death Becomes Her [1992]) from two novels by Edwin Torres, this sad, haunting story gives De Palma the scope to reveal the poetic, reflective side of his art as never before. Less bombastic than his previous films, it gives a poignancy to the smallest gestures and the most stereotypical events and characters. Although De Palma and Pacino are said to have clashed over Scarface, their work here produces one of the finest collaborations between a director and an actor I have ever seen. It is truly the performance of Pacino's career to date; free of the mannered exhibitionism that wins him Oscars, it is based on an intense concentration of energy within the film frame that is absolutely riveting to behold. On every level, Carlito's Way is one of the great films of the '90s.
Adrian Martin

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 189: Sun Nov 21

The Best Year of Our Lives (Wyler, 1946): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.25pm

This 35mm screening is presented by the Badlands Collective.

Chicago Reader review:
This 1946 domestic epic about three World War II veterans returning to civilian life, 172 minutes long and winner of nine Oscars, isn’t considered hip nowadays. Its director, William Wyler, and literary source, MacKinlay Kantor’s novel Glory for Me
 (adapted here by Robert Sherwood), are far from fashionable, and the real veteran in the cast, Harold Russell, who lost his hands in the war, has occasioned outraged reflections from critic Robert Warshow about challenged masculinity and even sick jokes from humorist Terry Southern. But I’d call this the best American movie about returning soldiers I’ve ever seen—the most moving and the most deeply felt. It bears witness to its times and contemporaries like few other Hollywood features, and Gregg Toland’s deep-focus cinematography is one of the best things he ever did. The rest of the cast—including Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Fredric March, Cathy O’Donnell, Virginia Mayo, Hoagy Carmichael, and Ray Collins—is strong too.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 188: Sat Nov 20

Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm

This 35mm presentation is part of the Quentin Tarantino season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the detals via this link here.

Time Out review:
'A sprawling, discursive fresco: three stories bookended by a prologue and epilogue. In the first story, a mobster (John Travolta) is charged with looking after the irresponsible wife (Uma Thurman) of his vengeful boss. In the second, a washed-up boxer (Willis) tries to trick the Mob by failing to throw a fight. And in the third, two hitmen (Travolta and Jackson) carry out a job, only to call on the services of a 'cleaner' (Harvey Keitel) when it gets messier than planned. It's the way Tarantino embellishes and, finally, interlinks these old chestnuts that makes the film alternately exhilarating and frustrating. There's plenty of sharp, sassy, profane dialogue, and there are plenty of acute, funny references to pop culture, though the talk sometimes delays the action, and the references sometimes seem self-consciously arch. And there are, too, the sudden lurches between humour and violence - shocking, but without moral depth. What writer/director Tarantino lacks, as yet, is the maturity to invest his work with anything that  might provoke a heartfelt emotional response to his characters. Very entertaining, none the less.' 
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.