Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 15: Sun Jan 15

She Dies Tomorrow (Siemetz, 2020): ICA Cinema, 4.30pm

This screening will feature an introduction from writer and critic Lillian Crawford and is part of the Beyond Interpretation season curated by Chris Cassingham in partnership with the National Film and Television School and the ICA. Full details here.

Observer review:
Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is convinced that she will die tomorrow. Gripped by this morbid knowledge she floats around her sparsely decorated Los Angeles home in a dreamlike stupor, drinking white wine, stroking the walls and browsing ceramic urns on the internet. She plays Mozart’s Requiem on repeat. Her scientist friend Jane (Jane Adams) attempts to reassure her but Amy’s paranoia is catching and it’s not long before Jane too is certain of her own impending death. Jane’s pyjama-clad attendance at a house party has a knock-on effect, propelling each guest to make his or her final arrangements. Hallucinatory neon reds, blues, greens and purples wash over terrified faces. This is an audacious cinematic rendering of anxiety as contagion from US writer-director Amy Seimetz. Alternately hilarious and spine-tingling, it recalls David Lynch’s Twin Peaks in its serious, penetrating sense of doom.
Simran Hans

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 14: Sat Jan 14

Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

This David Lynch classic is also being screened at Close-Up Cinema on January 7th. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review: 
It's personal all right, also solipsistic, intransigent, and occasionally ridiculous. David Lynch's 1986 fever-dream fantasy, of a young college student (Kyle MacLachlan) returned to his small-town roots and all manner of strangeness, is replete with sexual fear and loathing, parodistic inversions (of Capra, Lubitsch), and cannibalistic recyclings from Lynch's own Eraserhead and Dune. The bizarrely evolving story—MacLachlan becomes involved with two women, one light and innocent (Laura Dern, vaguely lost), the other dark and sadomasochistic (Isabella Rossellini), as well as with a murderous psychopath (a brilliantly demented Dennis Hopper)—seems more obsessive than expressive at times, and the commingling of sex, violence, and death treads obliquely on familiar Ken Russell territory: it's Crimes of Passion with the polarities reversed. Still, the film casts its spell in countless odd ways, in the archetype-leaning imagery, eccentric tableau styling, and moth-in-candle-flame attraction to the subconscious twilight.
Pat Graham

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 13: Fri Jan 13

The Idiot (Kurosawa, 1951): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 7.45pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on January 21st, is part of the Akira Kurosawa season. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:

Kurosawa's adaptation from his favourite novelist Dostoevsky has an undeserved reputation as a failure. True, it has a plot which is at first extremely difficult to follow if you don't know the novel, but its literal faithfulness (transferred from St Petersburg to modern Hokkaido) hardly deserves rebuke. The acting has an eerie, trance-like quality; and the perpetually snowbound sets and locations, warmed by scarcely adequate fires and bulky clothing, together with a continually turbulent music soundtrack, make up the perfect expressionist metaphor for the emotional lives of Dostoievsky's characters. Tom Milne has noted similarities to Dreyer's Gertrud; like that film, it repays the initial effort required to get into it.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 12: Thu Jan 12

A Matter of Life and Death (Powell/Pressburger, 1946): Castle Cinema, 7.30pm

This 16mm presentation by the Cine-Real team is also screening on January 8th. Full details can be found via this link.

Chicago Reader review:
This enduring 1946 Technicolor fantasy by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger began as a propaganda piece meant to cement wobbly British-American postwar relations, and some of that theme survives, notably in the climactic trial scene set in heaven. But the rest is given over to a delirious romanticism, tinged with morbidity, mysticism, and humor. David Niven is the British fighter pilot who misses his appointment with death, falling in love with a Wac (Kim Hunter) on his borrowed time. Powell had more and bigger ideas than any other postwar British director: his use of color and bold graphic images is startling and exhilarating, as is his willingness to explore the subsidiary themes of Pressburger’s screenplay, never sacrificing creative excitement to linear plot. And yet, for all its abstraction, the film remains emotionally specific and affecting.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 11: Wed Jan 11

And God Created Woman (Vadim, 1956): Cine Lumiere, 6.30pm

This 35mm presentation, also being screened on January 8th, is part of the Jean-Louis Trintignant season at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The eternal feminine, circa 1957, in the person of an amoral young woman (Brigitte Bardot) who plows her way through a succession of men—innocent Jean-Louis Trintignant, wealthy Curt Jurgens, misogynist Christian Marquand. The first feature of director Roger Vadim, this was an inspiring example to the young French critics who would soon emerge as the New Wave; produced cheaply and independently, it pointed to a way around the closed-off system of production that was then the French cinema. Today it has turned largely to camp, though Bardot remains a startlingly frank erotic presence.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 10: Tue Jan 10

Scandal (Kurosawa, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.45pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on January 24th, is part of the Akira Kurosawa season. You can find the full details here.

BFI review:
The first of two films Kurosawa made for the Shochiku studio (alongside the Dostoevsky adaptation The Idiot in 1951), this punchy social drama takes a righteous swipe at the gutter press, as Toshiro Mifune’s up-and-coming painter is snapped by the paparazzi while sitting on a hotel balcony with a famous singer (played by Yoshiko Yamaguchi), the photo inspiring a fabricated story in a popular gossip magazine. Needless to say, the outraged artist refuses to take things lying down and vows to take the magazine’s editor to court. A lesser-known work from the master, Scandal is nonetheless worth checking out not only as an example of Kurosawa’s technical virtuosity and strong compositional approach, but for its critique of some of the less palatable aspects of westernisation.
Jasper Sharp

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 9: Mon Jan 9

Tropical Malady (Weerasethakul, 2004): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This film, which is also being screened on January 7th, is part of the Sight and Sound Greatest Films poll season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The third work and second narrative feature of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Blissfully Yours), the prodigiously gifted Thai filmmaker who studied painting and filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute—a spellbinding, beautiful, enigmatic film with a mysterious, allusive two-part structure. The first section tracks the hesitant, playful relationship between a shy provincial ice cream truck driver (Sakda Kaewbuadee) and a dashing soldier (Banlop Lomnoi); the astonishing second section is set deep in the Thai jungle and includes an abstract, wordless pursuit of a ghost tiger. The two parts are linked by lyrical compositions and an almost painful sense of longing and regret. Viewers open to a new way of imagining film are sure to be enthralled by this singular young voice.
Patrick McGavin

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 8: Sun Jan 8

The Blue Kite (Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1997): ICA Cinema, 6.15pm

This is the latest in the ICA's Celluoid on Sunday 35mm screenings.

Time Out review:
About the experiences of a Beijing family - seen largely through the eyes of its youngest member, Tietou - between 1953 and 1967, Tian's epic domestic drama is a direct, honest account of how Mao's policies affected the lives of ordinary people. While the steadily darkening tale makes for a film at least partly about death and absence, it focuses not on those who are exiled or die, but on those left behind. Tian's method is understatement, with the result that the trials faced by Shujuan (Lu Liping), her brothers and sister, her three husbands and her son Tietou become all the more plausible and affecting. There's an immense amount of telling detail, and Tian manages to express both sympathy and righteous anger without once resorting to bombast or sentimentality. A masterly blend of the personal and the political.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 7: Sat Jan 7

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977):
Islington Screen on Green, 10.30pm

Those wonderful programmers at Everyman Screen on the Green are putting on a 35mm Steven Spielberg season (full details here) with the arrival of The Fabelmans due later in January. This film is also being screened on January 11th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
For better or worse, one of Steven Spielberg's best films (1977), and perhaps still the best expression of his benign, dreamy-eyed vision. Humanity's first contact with alien beings proves to be a cause for celebration and a form of showbiz razzle-dazzle that resembles a slowly descending chandelier in a movie palace. The events leading up to this epiphany are a mainly well-orchestrated buildup through which several diverse individuals—Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Melinda Dillon—are drawn to the site where this spectacle takes place. Very close in overall spirit and nostalgic winsomeness to the fiction of Ray Bradbury, with beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond that deservedly won an Oscar. This is dopey Hollywood mysticism all right, but thanks to considerable craft and showmanship, it packs an undeniable punch.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 6: Fri Jan 6

Symptoms (Larraz, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This film, also being screened on January 15th, was chosen by director Mark Jenkin as part of his 'The Cinematic DNA of Enys Men' season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Time Out review:

Made by a Spanish director working for an English company, with Angela Pleasence running mad in an old dark house and giving murderous vent to her sexist grievances, this is the finest British horror movie from a foreigner since Polanski’s Repulsion. The comparison is inevitable, because thematically the films have a good deal in common, charting the gradual mental dissolution of their spectral heroines. Symptoms imitates, but also improves on its original in a multiplicity of ways. The muted love affair between Pleasence and Lorna Heilbron is etched with enormous suggestiveness, and Larraz’s eye for visual detail is mesmerising.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 5: Thu Jan 5

 The Leopard (Visconti 1963): BFI Southbank, NFR3, 6.40pm

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 4: Wed Jan 4

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Akerman, 1975):
BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm 

Rare chance to see the film voted No 1 in the recent Sight and Sound Greatest films of All-Time poll. The movie is also being screened on January 28th. Details here. Jeanne Dielman was chosen by director Mark Jenkin as part of his 'The Cinematic DNA of Enys Men' season. Full details here.

Jenkin stated: "It took a reference to Jeanne Dielman in an Enys Men review to make me consider the impact of this film upon my own work. The confrontational camera, the sparse dialogue, the performances devoid of grand gesture or faux emotion are all there, but the gradual subversion of a strict routine is the obvious starting point when it comes to its influence."

Chicago Reader review:
Chantal Akerman’s greatest film—made in 1975 and running 198 minutes—is one of those lucid puzzlers that may drive you up the wall but will keep you thinking for days or weeks. Delphine Seyrig, in one of her greatest performances, plays Jeanne Dielman, a Belgian woman obsessed with performing daily rounds of housework and other routines (including occasional prostitution) in the flat she occupies with her teenage son. The film follows three days in Dielman’s regulated life, and Akerman’s intense concentration on her daily activities—monumentalized by Babette Mangolte’s superb cinematography and mainly frontal camera setups—eventually sensitizes us to the small ways in which her system is breaking down. By placing so much emphasis on aspects of life and work that other films routinely omit, mystify, or skirt over, Akerman forges a major statement, not only in a feminist context but also in a way that tells us something about the lives we all live.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 3: Tue Jan 3

One Wonderful Sunday (Kurosawa, 1947): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on January 15th, is part of the Akira Kurosawa season. You can find the full details here.

BFI introduction:

If this story of one young penniless couple spending a day together initially bears some resemblance to the work of the Italian Neorealists, as it develops there are echoes of Frank Capra – a director beloved by Kurosawa – with Isao Numasaki and Chieko Nakakita channelling James Stewart and Jean Arthur. The film’s climax is bold, breaking the fourth wall and employing Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony to heighten the film’s emotional heft.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 2: Mon Jan 2

No Regrets for Our Youth (Kurosawa, 1946): BFI Southhbank, NFT1, 12.45pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on January 10th, is part of the Akira Kurosawa season. You can find the full details here.

BFI introduction to 10 essential Kurosawa films:
Inspired by several real-life incidents, No Regrets for Our Youth is an intelligent and balanced drama about wavering ideologies and personal allegiances set between 1933-46, the years of imperial Japan’s increasing militarisation through to its wartime defeat. Yukie is the privileged daughter of a Kyoto University law professor who is controversially removed from his post for his leftist beliefs. The film portrays her relationships over the years with 2 of his former students, both rival for her affections, and her love affair and ensuing marriage to one of them, who is arrested for his anti-government activities and subsequently disappears from public view. Kurosawa’s oeuvre is not particularly regarded for its focus on sympathetic female characters, but the central turn by Setsuko Hara (better known for her work with Yasujiro Ozu) in his fifth feature (and first of the postwar period) showcases another side to the director, and also counts as his most overtly political work.
Jasper Sharp

Here (and above) is a video of extracts from the film.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 1: Sun Jan 1

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (Kurosawa, 1945): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 4.20pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on January 11th, is part of the Akira Kurosawa season. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa’s slimmest feature, running only an hour, is also one of the best of his early period. Made in 1945 but not released until 1953, it’s about a celebrated Japanese general fleeing another general who happens to be his brother. Based on Kanjincho, a Kabuki drama that’s said to be as well-known in the East as Robin Hood is in the West, this film is pitched as a parody of Kabuki, meant to undermine the feudal values of the original.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.