Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 77: Sat Mar 18

Radio On (Petit, 1979): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

The director Chris Petit introduces this British road movie classic (which is also being screened at Close-Up on March 25th. Details here.)

Chicago Reader review:
A British film about alienation, asphalt, and narrative disconnections, coproduced by Wim Wenders's German company. Director Christopher Petit, a former film critic, slips into Wenders's style—the cool, austere black-and-white images, the blank underplaying—as if he were taking it for a test drive: he wants to see what it can do, what its strengths are and where its weaknesses lie. Seizing on an archetypal Wenders situation—a car trip that becomes a metaphor for an emotional pilgrimage—Petit inspects and abstracts Wenders's ideas. The film is dull and distant, though not objectionably so—it seems to be the effect Petit has in mind. The relationships between his isolated, distracted characters are reproduced in the movie's low-key appeal to its audience. With David Beames and Lisa Kreuzer (1979).
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 76: Fri Mar 17

First Name: Carmen (Godard, 1983): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

This film, which also screens on March 19th, is part of the year-long Jean-Luc Godard season at Close-Up Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jean-Luc Godard continues the autobiographical fantasy of Every Man for Himself and Passion with a blackly comic tale of a broken-down director (played with great satiric flair by Godard himself) enlisted by his sexpot niece (Maruschka Detmers) as a cover for a bizarre kidnapping scheme. Godard, as usual, proceeds by contradictions: just as he aligns Beethoven’s late quartets with the noise of Parisian traffic, so the film becomes more abstract as it becomes more personal, more tragic as it becomes more farcical. Godard uses the plot of Merimee’s Carmen as a link between a classical tradition and his own modernist work of the 60s; he is searching for a point of equilibrium between the made and the found, the ordered and the chaotic—a point from which to define an aesthetic for the 80s.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 75: Thu Mar 16

The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969): Prince Charles Cinema, 2.45pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on March 5th, is part of the Sam Peckinpah season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Sam Peckinpah's notorious western depicted an outlaw gang, made obsolete by encroaching civilization, in its last burst of violent, ambiguous glory. By 1969, when the film was made, the western was experiencing its last burst as well, and in retrospect Peckinpah's film seems a eulogy for the genre (there is even a dispassionate audience—Robert Ryan's watchful Pinkerton man—built into the film). The on-screen carnage established a new level in American movies, but few of the films that followed in its wake could duplicate Peckinpah's depth of feeling. With William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Strother Martin, and Albert Dekker; scripted by Walon Green and Peckinpah from a story by Green and Roy N. Sickner, and photographed by Lucien Ballard.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 74: Wed Mar 15

Belle de Jour (Bunuel, 1967): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.30pm

This film (also screening on March 5th) is part of the Luis Bunuel season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Time Out review:
One of the sly, Spanish provocateur’s greatest popular successes, ‘Belle de Jour’ is a mischievously deadpan and classically cool 1967 adaptation of Joseph Kessel’s ‘cheap’ fictionalised tale of a Parisian doctor’s wife who secretly volunteers for the two-till-five shift at an upmarket brothel. It opens with French cinema’s prim, fair Miss Frigidaire, Catherine Deneuve, being roughly trussed and stripped by her husband, before ‘the little whore’  is whipped and distainfully left for the carnal satisfaction of his two coachmen. As Luis Buñuel and his scriptwriter Jean-Claude Carrière make clear, this is a mere fantasy in the head of their masochistic heroine. Nevertheless, it was received as a confrontational ‘liberationist’ shock  at the time. If, for us jaded children and grandchildren of the ’60s, 40 years of bombardment by explicit sexual imagery has made that impact unrecoverable, the undiminished power of the film resides more in the mesmeric audacity of Buñuel’s method. The productive friction – be it between the salacious material and the ‘chaste’ formality of  how it’s observed;  the ersatz ‘elegance’ of the salon and the perverse etiquettes of the Yves Saint Laurent-clothed, cigarette-chewing prostitutes and their clients; or the hallucinatory melding of fantasy and reality –  still generates heat like a nuclear reactor.

Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 73: Tue Mar 14

Naked Lunch (Cronenberg, 1991): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This film also screens on March 10th and 16th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This David Cronenberg masterpiece (1991) breaks every rule in adapting a literary classic—maybe “On Naked Lunch” would be a more accurate title—but justifies every transgression with its artistry and audacity. Adapted not only from William S. Burroughs’s free-form novel but also from several other Burroughs works, this film pares away all the social satire and everything that might qualify as celebration of gay sex, yielding a complex and highly subjective portrait of Burroughs himself (expertly played by Peter Weller) as a tortured sensibility in flight from his own femininity, proceeding zombielike through an echo chamber of projections (insects, drugs, typewriters) and repudiations. According to the densely compacted metaphors that compose this dreamlike movie, writing equals drugs equals sex, and the pseudonymous William Lee, as politically incorrect as Burroughs himself, repeatedly disavows his involvement in all three
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 72: Mon Mar 13

Beau Travail (Denis, 1999): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm

This movie, which is introduced by Catherine Wheatley, Reader in Film Studies at King’s College London, is part of the Sight and Sound Greatest Films poll season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A gorgeous mirage of a movie (1999), Claire Denis' reverie about the French foreign legion in eastern Africa, suggested by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Foretopman, benefits especially from having been choreographed (by Bernardo Montet, who also plays one of the legionnaires). Combined with Denis' superb eye for settings, Agnes Godard's cinematography, and the director's decision to treat major and minor elements as equally important, this turns some of the military maneuvers and exercises into thrilling pieces of filmmaking that surpass even Full Metal Jacket and converts some sequences in a disco into vibrant punctuations. The story, which drifts by in memory fragments, is told from the perspective of a solitary former sergeant (Denis Lavant, star of The Lovers on the Bridge) now living in Marseilles and recalling his hatred for a popular recruit (Gregoire Colin) that led to the sergeant's discharge; the fact that his superior is named after the hero of Jean-Luc Godard's Le petit soldat and played by the same actor almost 40 years later (Michel Subor) adds a suggestive thread, as do the passages from Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd. Most of all, Denis, who spent part of her childhood in Djibouti, captures the poetry and atmosphere—and, more subtly, the women—of Africa like few filmmakers before her. A masterpiece. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 71: Sun Mar 12

The Image Book (Godard, 2018): Cine Lumiere, 3.30pm

This screening is part of the Jean-Luc Godard seasom at Cine Lumiere. Details here.

Spinning ever further from his New Wave narrative roots, Jean-Luc Godard revisits the approach of his pioneering Histoire(s) du Cinéma in a collaborative venture with Fabrice Aragno, Jean-Paul Battaggia and Nicole Brenez. Emerging from a flash storm of spoken and written screen texts, artworks, film and TV clips is a suggestive, polyphonic discourse about the contemporary condition. It takes in those recurrent Godard themes – film history and the Holocaust – as well as an extended contemplation of the Middle East and the West’s incapacity to understand it as anything but an indefinable ‘other’. With a characteristically fragmented soundtrack, including sonic radicals Alfred Schnittke and Scott Walker, this tonic workout for the mind, eyes and imagination shows Godard, at 87, as intransigently and vitally confrontational as ever.
Jonathan Romney

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 70: Sat Mar 11

Intolerable Cruelty (Coens, 2003): Everyman Screen on the Green, 10.30pm

This screening is part of the Coen Brothers on 35mm season at the Screen on the Green. The film also screens on March 15th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Hitherto, notwithstanding the odd lift from Sturges and Capra, Hammett and Homer, the Coen Brothers have always worked from their own material. Here, however, they've taken and tampered with what could have been a reasonable, if fairly standard script for one of those Hawksian screwball romances where the love impulse is expressed through conflict. Some have been unimpressed by the result, which is admittedly broader than the the brother' finest work, but the movie still has that Coen feeling - in spades. As hotshot Beverly Hills divorce lawyer Miles Massey (George Clooney) and gold-digging divorcee Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones) lock horns in a thoroughly amoral battle of wills, wealth, deceit and desire, the Coens provide a distinctively wacky series of variations on generic themes, not only by seasoning the script with typically over-ornate and/or absurd dialogue ('Objection, your honour - he's strangling the witness!'), but by hyping up the Hollywood clichés with deliciously ironic over-the-top direction. Far from striking a note of redemption, for example, Massey's 'Changed Man' speech (sappy, horrendously attenuated hogwash from start to finish) is simply the clearest example of the movie's refusal to entertain the idea of including even a single second of heartfelt emotion. The leads strike just the right note of callow glamour, and receive admirable support from Geoffrey Rush's daytime TV sleazebag, Cedric the Entertainer's ass-nailer, and Billy Bob Thornton's ineffably boring Doyle of Doyle Oil. Those unable to appreciate the unashamedly absolute cynicism will almost certainly include Simon and Garfunkel fans, but I for one found it inventive and hilarious.
Geoff Andrew 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 69: Fri Mar 10

 Obedience (Milgram, 1965): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

Tonight’s UK premiere of this film will be introduced by Peter Conheim 

“The legendary and controversial experiments on "obedience to authority" conducted by psychologist Stanley Milgram at Yale University in the United States have been analysed and reproduced many times by others. They have also inspired films (notably Michael Almeryeda's Experimenter, 2015), but nothing fascinates and disturbs as much as the film documenting the real experiments, Obedience by Milgram himself. Attempting to answer the questions left open by the Nuremberg trial, by the 1961 trial against the Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann and by Hannah Arendt's fundamental writings on Eichmann which introduced the concept of "banality of badly,” Milgram conducted a series of experiments that matched “teachers” (community members who had responded to an ad convinced they were participating in a memory study) and “students.” The "teachers" were assigned the task – by a white-coated "experimenter" – of quizzing students on a predetermined set of questions and answers. If the student answered correctly, he moved on to the next question. If the student gave an incorrect answer, he received a painful electric shock from a "power generator" controlled by the teacher, with the voltage (and pain) increasing with each incorrect answer.  Generally only seen in educational contexts, Obedience has been fully restored and is now being publicly screened for the first time.”  Peter Conheim

Some outtakes from the film will be screened for the first time after the main feature.

Here (and above) is an introduction to the experiment.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 68: Thu Mar 9

The Comedy (Alverson, 2012): Castle Cinema, 6.45pm

This film is part of the Jellied Reels film club strand at Castle Cinema. More details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder presented his early stage dramas with a company called the Anti-Theater; similarly, this provocative indie feature might be described as an anti-film. The characters—a circle of overprivileged, nihilistic New York hipsters in their mid-30s—are deliberately unlikable, and there’s no recognizable narrative structure that might explain their ugly behavior. Instead director Rick Alverson presents their heedless lives as case studies in first-world arrogance and cultural insensitivity. The dialogue consists mainly of would-be ironic insults and vulgarities; the “comedy” is that there’s nothing funny about them. In a bold move, Alverson has filled the cast with the sort of counterculture heros his characters would likely admire: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!), stand-up comic Neil Hamburger (billed here under his real name, Gregg Turkington), and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 67: Wed Mar 8

Kansas City Bomber (Freedman, 1972): Genesis Cinema, 8.30pm

Hosting tonight’s film will be cult film fanatic Katy Bulmer (Loose Willis) who will be joined on stage by FIST CLUB co-creator Daisy Lang (Rocky Rhodes aka Big Dick Energy) and professional wrestler Beau Belles (Sally Altan). Together, they’ll screen Raquel Welch’s roller-derby classic, KANSAS CITY BOMBER (1972), and discuss why watching violent women, non-binary and gender non-conforming characters on screen is a radical act.

In KANSAS CITY BOMBER, Raquel Welch plays roller-derby skater K. C. Carr who tries to balance her personal life with dreams of stardom.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 66: Tue Mar 7

Thief (Mann, 1981): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

Time Out reviewA silently professional night-time jewel robbery, reduced to near-abstract essentials and paced by a Tangerine Dream score, sets the electric tone for Michael Mann's fine follow-up to The Jericho Mile: a philosophical thriller filled with modernist cool. Caan's the thief, contradictorily building and risking a future mapped out as meticulously as any of his lucrative hi-tech jobs; testing his emotional and criminal independence to the limits; eventually recognising that he's either exercising or exorcising a death wish. Paul Taylor

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 65: Mon Mar 6

Sunrise (Murnau, 1927): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 2pm

This film is being screened as part of the Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All-Time Poll season. You can find all the details here. The movie is also screened on March 13th.

Chicago Reader review:
The best foreign film ever made in the United States. German director F.W. Murnau was given a free hand by William Fox for his first Hollywood production; it’s breathtaking to see the full range of American technology and American budgets in the service of a great artist’s personal vision. The story is essentially An American Tragedy with a happy ending—it would be hard to imagine anything more elemental and more potentially pompous. Yet the miracle of Murnau’s mise-en-scene is to fill the simple plot and characters with complex, piercing emotions, all evoked visually through a dense style that embraces not only spectacular expressionism but a subtle and delicate naturalism. Released in 1927, the last year of silent film, it’s a pinnacle of that lost art.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 64: Sun Mar 5

 Spring Night, Summer Night (Anderson, 1967): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

Peter Mandelson’s grandfather Herbert Morrison, deputy Prime Minister in Clement Attlee’s landmark post-War Labour government, famously carried his Desert Island Discs choices in his wallet, expecting the call to appear on the programme. It was an invitation that sadly was never extended to him and I thought of that tale when I was actually asked to contribute to the most famous of all movie polls, run by Sight & Sound magazine. All those years of trawling the previous decades choices with rapt fascination, reading the articles on the canon and the time keeping that running list of my ten all-time favourites that were inevitable mixed up with the greatest in my head was not wasted. Now, though, I was going to be forced to think about it and make a definitive list. Others were doing the same, prompting responses varying widely from “it’s a bit of fun” to “it’s agony”. 

The more I thought about it the more I wanted my contribution to be just that, a genuine heartfelt one, made up of the films I desperately wanted people to see but had not been considered in the previous voting, and modestly hoping for a re-evalution of the choicesI made two rulesAll of the films in my list (reproduced below) would deserve to be part of the Sight & Sound Greatest poll conversation and all the choices would not have received a single vote in the 2012 poll.

Some in this list are simply neglected favourites but in other cases there are very good reasons some of these films have been overlooked. Jean Grémillon, for instance, faded from view after an ill-fated directorial career, and has only resurfaced in the last decade with devoted retrospectives and DVD releases. The heartbreaking Remorques is one of his masterpieces. The Alfred Hitchcock melodrama Under Capricorn, which quickly disappeared after bombing at the box office and the subsequent dissolving of the director’s production company, deserves high rank in the Master’s work but languishes in limbo, only seen at major retrospectives. The Exilesand Spring Night, Summer Night are both once lost American independent classics only just receiving their due after recent rediscovery. White Dogafter a desultory release overshadowed by misguided accusations of racism, was not in circulation for many years. Warhol's Vinly, based on Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, was shown in 2013 from (fortuitously I later discovered) 16mm in an ICA gallery and felt thrillingly authentic, the sound of the whirring projector and the artist’s singular framing combining to create a mesmeric experience. Here is the full list:

Remorques/Stormy Waters (Jean Grémillon, 1941)

Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock, 1949)

The Exiles (Kent Mackenzie, 1961)

La Baie des anges/Bay of Angels (Jacques Demy, 1963)

Vinyl (Andy Warhol, 1965)

Spring Night, Summer Night (Jospeh L. Anderson, 1967)

Heroic Purgatory (Yosgishige Yoshida, 1970)

Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, 1971)

White Dog (Sam Fuller, 1982)

Three Times (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2005)

The ten I chose (above) should all ideally be seen screened so continue to keep an eye on this blog and the listings at Close-Up Cinema in Shoreditch. Tonight’s film is also being screened on March 11th

Chicago Reader review: This 1967 independent production marks the sole directorial effort by Joseph L. Anderson, a longtime professor at Ohio University and coauthor of Donald Richie’s famous study The Japanese Film: Art and Industry. Shot and set in Appalachian Ohio, it tells of a poor young man in love with his half sister. The first of its two parts takes place in early spring, unfolding over a long night that culminates with the two siblings having sex and the brother running away from home; the second takes place five months later as the brother uneasily returns. The documentary-style portraits of the characters’ impoverished neighbors display the influence of Italian neorealism, and the shadow-heavy photography at times evokes German expressionism. Yet the storytelling, full of characters killing time, anticipates such other American indie features as Eagle Pennell’s The Whole Shootin’ Matchand Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep. Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 63: Sat Mar 4

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Schrader, 1985): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.10pm

Time Out review:
Paul Schrader’s lifelong cinematic search for God’s loneliest man reached its apogee with this 1985 examination of Japanese author and eccentric Yukio Mishima (full title: ‘Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters’). Part straight biopic, part stylised interpretation of Mishima’s headspace, the film is a breathless plunge into the creative soul that was unparalleled until Todd Haynes’s ‘I’m Not There’. Mishima was a fairly unsavoury character: unbearably self-important, obsessed with surface beauty and eager to turn back the clock on Japan’s modernisation.But in Schrader’s hands he becomes likeable, even laudable, possessed of a dry wit, a grandiose sense of personal honour and a restless dedication to his art. And it’s how Schrader depicts this art that provides the film’s most astonishing moments, recreating key scenes from Mishima’s novels on stunningly designed, luridly textured soundstages and exploring the parallels between personal and artistic development. Graced with a throbbing orchestral score from Philip Glass and John Bailey’s luminous photography, this is appropriately monumental filmmaking.
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 62: Fri Mar 3

The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer, 1962): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.40pm

This film is a 35mm presentation.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the strangest and most mercurial movies ever made in Hollywood (1962). A veritable salad of mixed genres and emotional textures, this exciting black-and-white cold war thriller runs more than two hours and never flags for an instant. Produced by director John Frankenheimer and screenwriter George Axelrod, the film was made with an unusual amount of freedom, which pays off in multiple dividends. It’s conceivably the only commercial American film that deserves to be linked with the French New Wave, full of visual and verbal wit that recalls Orson Welles. Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey, both brilliantly cast, have never been better; Sinatra and Janet Leigh have never been used as weirdly; and the talented secondary cast—including James Gregory, James Edwards, Leslie Parrish, John McGiver, and Khigh Dhiegh—is never less than effective. A powerful experience, alternately corrosive with dark parodic humor, suspenseful, moving, and terrifying.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 61: Thu Mar 2

King Kong (Cooper/Schoedsack, 1933):  Prince Charles Cinema, 1.15pm

This is a rare chance to see this genuine cinema classic from a 35mm print.

Chicago Reader review:
The ape on the Empire State Building is only the most famous image from the careers of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, the Brothers Grimm of the movie business (The Most Dangerous GameSheDr. Cyclops). With the restoration of some long-censored footage, Kong can be seen in all of his Freudian fairy-tale glory—his rambunctious sexuality (stripping Fay Wray and giving her a curious sniff) and his destructive infantilism (if it looks good, eat it). Willis O'Brien did the stop-action animation for this 1933 feature, which is richer in character than most of the human cast. With Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 60: Wed Mar 1

Madame De (Ophuls, 1953): Cine Lumiere, 4.20pm

Chicago Reader review:
Certainly one of the crowning achievements in film (1953). Max Ophuls's gliding camera follows Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer, and Vittorio De Sica through a circle of flirtation, passion, and disappointment, a tour that embraces both sophisticated comedy and high tragedy. Ophuls's camera style is famous for its physicalization of time, in which every fleeting moment is recorded and made palpable by the ceaseless tracking shots, yet his delineation of space is also sublime and highly charged: no director has better understood the emotional territory that exists offscreen.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is a short extract with director Paul Thomas Anderson talking about the movie.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 59: Tue Feb 28

Batman (Burton, 1989) + Batman Returns (Burton, 1992):
Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10pm

This double-bill is a 35mm presentation.

Chicago Tribune review (of Batman Returns):
Given a free hand to create the sequel to Batman, director Tim Burton has come up with a far more personal film than his 1989 original. There are flashes of commercially oriented action and humor, but the overall feeling is one of a languid depression sprung straight from the heart of its author. In fact, ''Batman Returns'' is so personal that it owes much more to ''Edward Scissorhands,'' Burton`s 1990 Christmas fantasy about a lonely young man with knifeblades for fingers, than it does to the comic book hero created by Bob Kane. Not only is the theme identical-that of the misunderstood man-boy, whose knowledge of the dark side of life has made him unlovable, he fears, to other human beings-but so are the tattered leather costumes, the exaggerated, expressionistic set design, the swelling, highly emotional score by Danny Elfman, and many of the more self-pitying lines of dialogue.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer for Batman.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 58: Mon Feb 27

Ms 45 (Ferrera, 1981): Prince Charles Cinerma, 8.45pm

Chicago Reader review:
After being raped twice in one night, a mute seamstress transforms herself into a leather-clad avenger and goes on a killing spree against lecherous males. A camp premise, but the movie, directed in 1981 by Abel Ferrara, is anything but: the cruddy, low-key lighting, the sleazy New York City locations, the vividly rendered violence, and the weird intensity of the lead actress (one Zoe Tamerlis) add up to a vision so oppressively bleak it’s barely tolerable. In other words, check it out.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 57: Sun Feb 26

Red Beard (Kurosawa, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 5.25pm

This 35mm presentation (also screening on February 11th)
is part of the Akira Kurosawa season. You can find the full details of the Kurosawa programme here.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa’s 1965 film stars Yuzo Kayama as an impetuous young doctor coming into conflict with his aging superior in an impoverished clinic in early 19th-century Japan. As the older doctor, Toshiro Mifune is superb; and though the film has been criticized for its excessive sentimentality by some, it’s a masterful evocation of period and a probing study of the conflict between responsibility and idealism. A mature work that merits the term most apply to it: Dostoyevskian.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 56: Sat Feb 25

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975): BFI Southbank, 3.30pm

This movie, which is also being screened on February 11th, is part of the Sight and Sound Greatest Films poll season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
All of Stanley Kubrick's features look better now than when they were first released, but Barry Lyndon, which fared poorly at the box office in 1975, remains his most underrated. It may also be his greatest. This personal, idiosyncratic, melancholy, and long (three hours) adaptation of the Thackeray novel is exquisitely shot in natural light (or, in night scenes, candlelight) by John Alcott, with frequent use of slow backward zooms that distance us, both historically and emotionally, from its rambling picaresque narrative about an 18th-century Irish upstart (Ryan O'Neal). Despite its ponderous, funereal moods and pacing, the film is a highly accomplished piece of storytelling, building to one of the most suspenseful duels ever staged. It also repays close attention as a complex and fascinating historical meditation, as enigmatic in its way as 2001: A Space Odyssey. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter; narrated by Michael Hordern.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 55: Fri Feb 24

The Producers (Brooks, 1967): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

This presentation is part of the Mel Brooks season - further details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A home movie by Mel Brooks—not only the first picture he directed, but evidently the first he’d ever seen (1967). Everything that can go wrong in an amateur film does go wrong, from the timing to the structure to the pitch of the performances (Zero Mostel assumes the scale of Mount Rushmore), yet there are a few solid laughs in Brooks’s bombs-away satire of backstage Broadway. Mostel is a sharpie who sells 25,000 percent of a play he’s sure will be a flop; Gene Wilder is his nebbish partner, still sweetly effective at this early stage in his career.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 54: Thu Feb 23

La ciénaga (Martel, 2001): Castle Cinema, 6.45pm

This presentation by Jellied Reels also screens on February 9th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This astonishing 2001 debut by Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (The Holy Girl) manages to sustain tension and anxiety throughout. At their run-down country estate, a middle-aged couple drink away the hot, sticky days, ignoring their bored adolescent children. An accident next to the murky swimming pool sends the mother to her bed, while the other members of the family wander around, taking potshots at dogs and wild animals in the surrounding swamplands or flopping down on unmade beds, oblivious to ringing phones and doorbells and one another. After the mother’s cousin arrives from town with her own brood, violence seems not just possible but probable. This has the power of great literature, and it’s remarkably assured in its juggling of two large families. Every shot is dense with life, with children and animals running in and out, yet the movie is highly focused, a small masterpiece.
Meredith Brody

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 53: Wed Feb 22

Major Dundee (Peckinpah, 1965): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

This film is part of the Sam Peckinpah season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Director Sam Peckinpah went over budget during production of this 1965 epic western and was fired, so this restoration, based on a scholarly assessment of his intentions, can’t really be considered a director’s cut. But it’s 12 minutes longer, its story is easier to follow, and its score is closer to what Peckinpah had in mind. Still as flawed as its title hero and a bit out of control, it’s a powerful and provocative account of a disgraced Union officer (Charlton Heston) reluctantly joining forces with Confederate prisoners (including Richard Harris) to kill or capture an Apache who led a massacre in New Mexico. It may not approach The Wild Bunch, but after the soldiers cross into Mexico the film takes on weight and flavor that suggest major Peckinpah, and both Harris and Heston (who gamely gave up his salary to keep Peckinpah on board, at least for a while) contribute some of their finest work.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.