Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 184: Fri Jul 5

The Man Without Desire (Brunel, 1923): Birkbeck Institute of Moving Image, 6.30pm

This is a 35mm screening with piano accompaniment.

Birkbeck Institute introduction:
A mourning lover reawakens after 200 years to search for his beloved. Filmed in Berlin and on location in Venice, this romantic time-travel fantasy has an exotic atmosphere rare in the British silent era, thanks to the group of bohemian artists and skilled technicians Brunel assembled for his debut feature, with cameraman Henry Harris fresh from working on Abel Gance's J'accuse. It helped launch the screen career of Ivor Novello, although by a cruel irony Brunel was denied the opportunity to direct Novello's biggest hit, The Rat. A rare chance to see this on 35mm with live accompaniment by Costas Fotopoulos.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 183: Thu Jul 4

The Lighthouse (Saakyan, 2006): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm

This film is part of the Restored strand at BFI Southbank.

Time Out review:
Impressive allegory of war – notably in how it affects communities of the elderly, infirm, children and women left bereft by the absence of their menfolk, either through battle, exile or death – set in an undefined region of the Caucasus, but making clear references to the genocidal Armenian experience. Lena (the expressive Anna Kapaleva) journeys by train to her  mountain village, in the aftermath of an unspecified war hinted at by government radio broadcasts, to encourage her grandparents’ departure but finds herself stranded. Beautifully shot in muted colour tones (replete with some extraordinary mordant, misty time-lapse shots of  the helicopter-gun-ship strewn landscape), this atemporal requiem, assuredly directed by Mariya Saakyan,  is played out with a Kusturica-style heightened naturalism, stripped bare of his carnival-esque levity, and deepened by affecting poetic musings on familial and cultural loss. 
Wally Hammond

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 182: Wed Jul 3

 The Driver (Hill, 1978): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


This is a 16mm screening and part of The Nickel's season of road movies at the cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
An audacious, skillful film noir (1978) by Walter Hill, so highly stylized that it's guaranteed to alienate 90 percent of its audience. There's no realism, no psychology, and very little plot in Hill's story of a deadly game between a professional getaway driver (Ryan O'Neal) and a detective obsessed with catching him (Bruce Dern). There is, however, a great deal of technically sophisticated and very imaginative filmmaking. The cross-references here are Howard Hawks, Robert Bresson, and Jean-Pierre Melville: a strange, heady, and quite effective range of influences. With Isabelle Adjani, Ronee Blakley, and Matt Clark.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the season trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 181: Tue Jul 2

Alps (Lanthimos, 2011): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm


There is another screening of this film on July 18th and is part of the Yorgos Lanthimos season at the Prince Charleds Cinema. Full details here.

Time Out review:
In a gymnasium, a handful of odd people calling themselves ‘Alps’ hangs out, connected by a fixation with the mundane details of the lives of people at death’s door – including a promising teenage tennis player in intensive care. Weird hobby? Exploitative enterprise? Search for identity? Greek filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos might be best suited to a form that doesn’t really exist: the cinematic novella. Both 2009’s ‘Dogtooth’, about a perversely insulated nuclear family, and this follow-up have much to recommend them. They cultivate queasy suspense from banalities and unfurl with a dry-as-dust deadpan absurdism that covers a multitude of sins. They have a powerful feeling for the ways in which social and linguistic structures underwrite arbitrary but binding – even reassuring – power games. And they have a juggling, discombobulating way with intimate deceptions, sudden violence and nuggets of Hollywood fandom.
Ben Walters

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 180: Mon Jul 1

Eraserhead (Lynch, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This genuine cult movie, which also screens on July 14th and 27th, is part of the excellent Discomfort Movies season at BFI Southbank. Tonight will feature an extended introduction from season curator Kimberley Sheehan.

This film takes me back to an era before video, DVD and social media when print and word-of-mouth were the main forms of communication where a film was concerned. Lynch's debut was a must-see back in the late 1970s and it was fitting that the movie had its premiere at a midnight screening at the Cinema Village in New York as the midnight-movie circuit was responsible for popularising this indefinable work. Eraserhead is a seminal work in the history of independent film and is as much a must-see now for anyone interested in what film can achieve.

Chicago Reader review:
David Lynch describes his first feature (1977) as “a dream of dark and troubling things,” and that's about as close as anyone could get to the essence of this obdurate blend of nightmare imagery, Grand Guignol, and camp humor. Some of it is disturbing, some of it is embarrassingly flat, but all of it shows a degree of technical accomplishment far beyond anything else on the midnight-show circuit. With Jack Nance and Charlotte Stewart.'
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the original trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 179: Sun Jun 30

The Tree of Life (Malick, 2011): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.15pm


This is a 35mm screening.

Chicago Reader review:
A masterpiece, this fifth feature by Terrence Malick manages to reconcile the emotional force of his 70s classics, Badlands and Days of Heaven, with the epic naturalism of his more recent comeback films, The Thin Red Line (1998) and The New World (2005). Brad Pitt gives an impressively sober, tight-lipped performance as the rigid 1950s patriarch of a little family in Waco, Texas, a decent but angry man whose strict treatment of his three young sons is countered by the love and Christian grace of his ethereal wife (Jessica Chastain). Interspersed with this humble family conflict are scenes of the world's creation that Malick concocted with the legendary special effects artist Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey). These audacious sequences can't help but evoke the metaphysical questing of 2001, and in fact The Tree of Life often feels like a religious response to Stanley Kubrick's cold, cerebral view of our place in the universe. Not to be missed.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 178: Sat Jun 29

El Sur (Erice, 1983): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm


This film is also screened on June 22nd at Close-Up Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
On the surface, despite the presence of a different fictional source (a story by Adelaida Garcia Morales) and scriptwriter (Jose Luis Lopez Linares), Victor Erice's second feature seems to bring back some of the haunting obsessions of his first, the wonderful Spirit of the Beehive (1973): the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the magical spell exerted by movies over childhood, and a little girl's preoccupation with her father and the past. But as English critic Tim Pulleine has observed, a reference to Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt in El sur (South, 1983) points to an elaborate system of doubling and duplication that underlies the film's structure as a whole, operating on the level of shots and sequences as well as themes (north and south, father and daughter, real and imaginary). Although this subtle spellbinder ends somewhat abruptly, reportedly because the film's budget ran out, it seems to form a nearly perfect whole as it is: a brooding tale about an intense father-daughter relationship and the unknowable past, mysterious and resonant, with the poetic ambience of a story by Faulkner.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 177: Fri Jun 28

Snake Eyes (De Palma, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm

This film is part of the Nicolas Cage season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Brian De Palma's coldly executed techno-thriller opens with a signature sequence: a continuous Steadicam shot starts outside an Atlantic City sports arena, then snakes its way along corridors, up stairs and down an escalator, to reveal the packed crowd awaiting the start of a heavyweight boxing match. We're following flamboyant Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage), a corrupt cop who revels in the fact that he sees every angle. Inside, his old pal, Navy commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise), is keeping an eye on Secretary of Defence Kirkland, who has a ringside seat courtesy of arena owner and munitions tycoon Gilbert Powell (John Heard). Minutes later, the odds-on favourite hits the canvas, a shot rings out, and Kirkland is fatally wounded. Santoro immediately seals the crowd inside the arena and, using TV and surveillance camera playback, scans the screens for clues as to the killer's identity. As Santoro interviews key witnesses, the film turns into Rashomon with action replays, as we see flashbacks from multiple points of view. The film echoes the technical wizardry and complex plotting of De Palma's best film, Blow Out. Edgy suspense and powerful kinetic energy are generated by the intriguing revelations and razor-sharp editing, while the truth behind its convoluted conspiracy has a surprisingly serious political and emotional undertow.
Nigel Floyd

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 175: Thu Jun 27

Pastoral: To Die in the Country (Terayama, 1974): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm


ICA introduction:
This event will celebrate the semicentennial of Shūji Terayama’s film Pastoral: To Die in the Country (Den-en ni shisu, 1974). Pastoral is a playfully painful, shrewdly surreal investigation into the mutability of memory & identity. At the foot of Mt. Fear, in a fever dream idyll of the countryside, a boy longs to escape a present that never was. Shūji Terayama (1935-1983) is considered an icon of the post-war avant-garde movement in Japan. Before establishing himself as a filmmaker and the leader of angura theatre troupe Tenjō Sajiki, Terayama broke into public consciousness as a poet. Pastoral shares its title and key themes with Terayama’s final tanka collection, Den-en ni shisu (1965). Rather than an ‘adaptation’, the film is an experiment in melding poetry with film to create a new way of expression. A screening of the film will be preceded by a polyphonic recital of Terayama’s poetry, co-directed by Kaisa Saarinen and Alan Fielden & in collaboration with performance artist Noe Iwai. The dialogue of poetry and cinema in Pastoral will be expanded into a trilogue of forms through this hybrid performance.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 174: Wed Jun 26

Permanent Vacation (Jarmusch, 1980): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.45pm


This presentation is also screened on June 10th. Details here.

Time Out review:
Jim Jarmusch's 16mm feature debut, made not long after the writer/director graduated from film school, is an oblique study of a young man (Chris Parker) adrift on the streets of New York. As he roams, he has chance encounters with a car thief, a saxophone player and a grizzled war veteran, among others. Learning their stories, he begins to seem more and more isolated. Even his relationship with his girlfriend (Leila Gastil) is coming under strain. Perhaps the film doesn't have quite the charm of its successor, Stranger Than Paradise, but Jarmusch's freewheeling episodic approach to storytelling is already evident.
Geoffrey Macnab

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 173: Tue Jun 25

Terence Davies Trilogy (Davies, 1976-1983): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This is a 35mm presentation.

The highlight of the week, the month, no the year ... without a doubt. The three films that make up the triogy, Children (1976),  Madonna And Child (1980) and Death And Transfiguration (1983) are a fictional account of Davies’s life follows his alter ego from birth to death and examine the clash between his strict Catholic upbringing and his masochistic sexual fantasies. A remarkable achievement by one of Britain's greatest directors and a landmark film in post-War British cinema. Highly recommended.
Tony Paley

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 172: Mon Jun 24

Midsommar (Aster, 2019): Prince Charles Cinema, 2.45pm

Time Out review*:
Unusually for a horror director, Ari Aster knows the real world is awful enough. Life doles out plenty of pain. ‘Hereditary’, his 2018 feature debut and one of the scariest movies in a decade, basically went: My grief over a family tragedy is so unbearable, it must be caused by witches. (When that turned out to be the case, you weren’t shocked so much as relieved.) ‘Midsommar’, Aster’s ruinous, near-psychedelic latest, goes something like this: My grief over a family tragedy is so unbearable, it’ll make me cling to a bad boyfriend. If that doesn’t sound like horror to you, allow me to introduce you to many toxic relationships. And if you’re still unconvinced, Aster will hit you over the head with a giant hammer wielded by Swedish pagan cultists.
Joshua Rothkopf

*review in full here

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 171: Sun Jun 23

12 Angry Men (Lumet, 1957): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.40pm

This is a 35mm screening.

Time Out review:
Sidney Lumet's origins as a director of teledrama may well be obvious here in his first film, but there is no denying the suitability of his style - sweaty close-ups, gritty monochrome 'realism', one-set claustrophobia - to his subject. Scripted by Reginald Rose from his own teleplay, the story is pretty contrived - during a murder trial, one man's doubts about the accused's guilt gradually overcome the rather less-than-democratic prejudices of the other eleven members of the jury - but the treatment is tense, lucid, and admirably economical. Henry Fonda, though typecast as the bastion of liberalism, gives a nicely underplayed performance, while Lee J Cobb, E G Marshall and Ed Begley in particular are highly effective in support. But what really transforms the piece from a rather talky demonstration that a man is innocent until proven guilty, is the consistently taut, sweltering atmosphere, created largely by Boris Kaufman's excellent camerawork. The result, however devoid of action, is a strangely realistic thriller.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 170: Sat Jun 22

 Nahla (Beolufa, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

This film, which also screens on July 6th, is part of the Pan-African film season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
A cult film for all lovers of Algerian cinema, Beloufa’s first and only feature paints a magnificent portrait of a star caught up in the turmoil of the war in Lebanon. Yasmine Khlat, later to become an acclaimed writer, won Best Actress at Moscow Film Festival 1979 for her portrayal of the eponymous singer.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 169: Fri Jun 21

One Way or Another (Gomez, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.15pm

This great film, which also screens on June 2nd, is part of the Pan-African film season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This extraordinary film, the first Cuban feature by a woman, has been celebrated as feminist by some critics, partly for its story but also for its narrative style. It follows the relationship between schoolteacher Yolanda (Yolanda Cuellar) and factory worker Mario (Mario Balmaseda), but instead of imposing a patriarchal authorial voice, director Sara Gomez provocatively combines fiction sequences with documentary footage, and her playful use of form is both startling and purposeful. The film begins abruptly, as if in midscene, with a documentarylike record of a workers' meeting; the credits are followed by an actual documentary segment on housing development in the early 60s, complete with didactic voice-over. Sections that seem to be dramatic are later revealed to be documentary, while other apparently dramatic scenes are interrupted by discursive sequences. The film's form questions itself, as do the characters: Mario, torn between machismo and his growing revolutionary commitment, turns a malingering worker in to the group, but then worries that doing so was “womanly.” Most importantly, the editing encourages an active viewing process—when the lovers meet a man named Guillermo, a title asks “Who is Guillermo?” and the film then cuts to a slightly closer shot of the same title—just as the overall film encourages us to seek wider interpretations. Sadly, Gomez died in 1974 while the film was being edited, and it wasn't completed until three years later.
Fred Camper

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 168: Thu Jun 20

Eva (Losey, 1962): Cinema Museum, 7pm


Cinema Museum introduction:
Wonder Reels return to the Cinema Museum with their unique events featuring live performances from outstanding London musicians followed by a 35mm screening of a full feature film chosen with the artist in mind. The event will start with British-Italian producer Nathalia Bruno, who will be playing one of her haunting experimental art pop sets as DRIFT. The concert will be followed by a 35mm projection of Joseph Losey’s 1962 Eva, in which Jeanne Moreau appears as the ultimate femme fatale wandering through the ghostly streets of Venice. Doors open at 18.30, live performance from 19.00, film from 20.00.

Time Out review:
The film is set in Venice, in the season that most suits that city (winter), shot in Jospeh Losey's characteristic baroque style of the period, and features Stanley Baker as the upstart Welsh novelist, engaged to an empty marriage but gradually ensnared into an amour fou by the ferocious, loose temptress Eve. Love hardly enters into it; it is corruption by power, money and bad faith that are Losey's obsessions, and they are dwelt upon insistently with more sheerly scathing disaste than he allowed himself subsequently. The film undoubtedly belongs to Jeanne Moreau who, in one of her finest performances, gives a portrait of terrifying honesty - the heartless self-possession of a woman who does nothing unless for money or whim. The figures of alienation wandering through an elegant landscape may be familiar from the Antonioni trilogy of the period, but the pessimism, energetic misanthropy and disenchantment with the world are all Losey's own.
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 167: Wed Jun 19

The Big Steal (Segel, 1949): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


This is a 16mm presentation of a great Don Siegel film.

Time Out review:
Reuniting the team of Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and ace-scriptwriter Daniel Mainwaring after the classic noir-romance Out of the Past, this takes a typical thriller situation (for that matter, a common Don Siegel motif: society's outsider up against authority) and turns it into a fast-moving, witty parody. Mitchum is the GI framed for a payroll robbery, on the run from dumb officer William Bendix, falling in love with the delectable Greer, and in pursuit of the real culprit. Dialogue sparkles, the Mexican locations are atmospherically shot by Harry Wild, and Siegel handles the action with characteristic pace and vigour. The numerous plot twists are in themselves an exhilaratingly tongue-in-cheek exaggeration of noir conventions, while remaining central to the excitement of the film. Vigorous, playful stuff.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 166: Tue Jun 18

Mortu Nega (Gomes, 1988): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 9pm

This 35mm presentation, also being screened on June 30th, is part of the Pan-African film season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the best contemporary war films I know is this singular 1988 feature, the first by Guinea-Bissau filmmaker Flora Gomes (Po di sangui). The first half, as elemental and as unadorned as Samuel Fuller’s The Steel Helmet, concentrates on women fighting alongside guerrillas at the end of Guinea-Bissau’s war of independence in 1973, attacked by Portuguese helicopters as they travel on foot close to the border. The second half, more diffuse and at times more rhetorical, deals with the ambiguous conditions of the war’s aftermath. The title means “those whom death refused,” and true to that notion the heroine (Bia Gomes) has been fighting for about a decade. Gomes (no relation to the director) manages to convey the loss of her children in a wordless and underplayed moment that shook me to my core. Flora Gomes appears in a cameo as president of a postwar sector.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 165: Mon Jun 17

The Heartbreak Kid (May, 1972): Garden Cinema, 3.30pm


This Elaine May-directed film is so rarely seen that it's not to be missed. The Heartbreak Kid is a melancholic tale that turns the rom-com genre on its head and also gets a screening at the cinema on June 22nd. Details here.

The screening on Thursday 20 June, will be introduced by Julie Lobalzo Wright. The matinee screening on Monday 17 June, will be introduced by Darren Richman. Afterwards, he and Devorah Baum will hold a post-screening discussion. 

 

Julie Lobalzo Wright is an Assistant Professor in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick. She has taught and researched film and television stardom, animation, and Hollywood musicals. Her next project is a book length study of Barbra Streisand that will focus on the authorship of her star image throughout her career.


Devorah Baum is the author of a number of books including On Marriage (Hamish Hamilton) and The Jewish Joke (Profile). With Josh Appignanesi she is co-director of the films The New Man and Husband. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, Granta, Tate Etc and the Financial Times. She is Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Southampton.


Darren Richman is a writer and journalist. He has a monthly column in The Jewish News and his writing has appeared in The Guardian, Little White Lies and The Daily Telegraph. Between 2014 and 2018, he had a regular column for The Independent in which he championed obscure or forgotten films. He co-wrote My Life as Pat Sharp, a spoof memoir published in November 2020 by Little Brown.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 164: Sun Jun 16

Marius and Jeannette (Guédiguian, 1997): Cinema Museum, 2pm


This is a 35mm screening.

Time Out review:
Set in l'Estaque, an impoverished, industrialised area of Marseilles, this funny, tender, enchanting film starts as if it's going to be a familiar misfits-meeting-cute romance. Soon after her feisty temper costs her her supermarket job, single mother Jeannette (Ariane Ascaride, the writer/director's wife) embarks on a relationship with the equally wacky Marius (Gerard Meylan), a taciturn security guard at a disused cement works. He's accepted by her kids and friends, but when he disappears for a few days, Jeannette suspects his no-show is simply another example of male unreliability, and it's left to her neighbours to investigate. In fact, while the faltering central romance gives the film a semblance of narrative structure, Robert Guédiguian's prime concern is how community and friendship make economic and emotional hardship bearable. That Marius is called 'Marius' is probably no accident, since the celebratory account of working class life in all its variety recalls Pagnol's classic Marseilles trilogy, albeit without the overheated theatricality and pathos. Less love story than love letter to a particular, Mediterranean way of life, this is peopled with credible individuals as proud, perverse and needy as they are brave, tolerant and likeable.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 163: Sat Jun 15

Muna Moto (Pipa, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 5.30pm

This film is screening as part of the Pan-African film season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
Dikongué Pipa’s masterpiece of subversive modernity, a non-linear tale of a love made impossible by social and economic pressures, was Cameroon’s first feature film. Awarded the top prize at FESPACO 1976, its haunting images revealing the devastating consequences of a community’s refusal to deviate from tradition resonated strongly with audiences.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 162: Fri Jun 14

Rio Bravo (Hawks, 1959): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.30pm

This Howard Hawks masterpiece is my favourite film. Indeed, I wrote about the movie in the 'My favourite film' season in the Guardian. My conclusion was: 'Over the course of Rio Bravo we are treated to an entertainment masterclass, a high watermark of Hollywood cinema in its heyday. I may not go as far as Quentin Tarantino, who declared that he would show the film to any new girlfriend and end the relationship if she did not declare her undying love for Hawks's classic, but it is the movie I return to again and again, to revisit old friends and remind myself what form optimism takes in a work of art.'

Chicago Reader review:

Howard Hawks's finest western (1959), and perhaps his finest film—but who wants to quibble on this level? John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan hole up in a sheriff's office, there to protect a prisoner from a band of hired guns outside. But the subtly stylized setting soon becomes an arena for a moral battle, as the characters discover and test their resources of trust, skill, and courage, values poised against encroaching chaos. It's American filmmaking at its finest—clean, clear, and direct—and it's also the most optimistic masterpiece on film, valiantly shoring fragments against human ruin. Superb in every respect, from Wayne's performance to Russell Harlan's brilliant night photography. With Angie Dickinson.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

 

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 161: Thu Jun 13

Miracle in Milan (De Sica, 1951): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

This presentation, part of the BFI Southbank's Italian Neorealism season, is also being screened on June 30th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Vittorio De Sica’s 1951 follow-up to The Bicycle Thief welds a Rene Clair-inspired social fantasy to the precepts of neorealism. Based on a novel by Cesare Zavattini, the film tells of the fight between a band of shantytown poor and the industrialist who wants to explore for oil beneath their village. The leader of the revolutionaries is a visionary young man armed only with his ideals and, for a while, a magic dove. Though the fight proves hopeless, they all fly off on broomsticks to a better life—implying that magic is the only means of rectifying social ills.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 161: Wed Jun 12

Le Samourai (Melville, 1967): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm


This 35mm screening is also being shown on July 9th. Details here.

Time Out review:
Jean-Pierre Melville's hombres don't talk a lot, they just move in and out of the shadows, their trenchcoats lined with guilt and their hats hiding their eyes. This is a great movie, an austere masterpiece, with Alain Delon as a cold, enigmatic contract killer who lives by a personal code of bushido. Essentially, the plot is about an alibi, yet Melville turns this into a mythical revenge story, with Cathy Rosier as Delon's black, piano-playing nemesis who might just as easily have stepped from the pages of Cocteau or Sophocles as Vogue. Similarly, if Delon is Death, Francois Périer's cop is a date with Destiny. Melville's film had a major influence in Hollywood: Delon lying on his bed is echoed in Taxi Driver, and Paul Schrader might have remade Le Samourai as American Gigolo. Another remake is The Driver, despite Walter Hill's insistence that he'd never seen it: someone on that movie had to have seen it.
Adrian Turner

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 160: Tue Jun 11

The Machine that Kills Bad People (Rossellini, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This presentation, part of the BFI Southbank's Italian Neorealism season, is also being screened on June 5th, 19th and 27th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This rarely shown early film by Roberto Rossellini (1948), one of his few comedies, anticipates with remarkable prescience the conceits of Godard and others about photography in the 60s. A professional small-town photographer finds that he has the power to kill his subjects by taking their picture, turning them into statues of themselves. Rossellini left this project before it was finished, and it was edited and released a few years later without his approval—but it still comes across as a remarkably suggestive fable.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 160: Mon Jun 10

Bellissima (Visconti, 1951): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This presentation, part of the BFI Southbank's Italian Neorealism season, is also being screened on June 4th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Perhaps the most unjustly neglected of Luchino Visconti’s early films is this hilarious 1951 comedy, tailored to the talents of Anna Magnani, about a working-class woman who is determined to get her plain seven-year-old daughter into movies. A wonderful send-up of the Italian film industry and the illusions that it fosters, delineated in near-epic proportions with style and brio.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is a trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 159: Sun Jun 9

Bless Their Little Hearts (Woodberry, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This film, which also screens on June 20th, is part of the Pan-African film season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Scripted and photographed by Charles Burnett and directed by his former film-school classmate Billy Woodberry, this wonderful neorealist look at a working-class black family in South Central LA (1984) is worthy of being placed alongside Burnett's Killer of Sheep. Passionately recommended.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 158: Sat Jun 8

North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959): Prince Charles Cinema, 5.45pm

This is part of an Alfred Hitchcock season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Cary Grant, a martini-sodden advertising director, awakes from a middle-class daydream into an underworld nightmare when he's mistaken for a secret agent (1959). A great film, and certainly one of the most entertaining movies ever made, directed by Alfred Hitchcock at his peak. With Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, and Leo G. Carroll.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 157: Fri Jun 7

Rome 11:00 (De Santis, 1952): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the BFI Southbank's Italian Neorealism season, is also being screened on June 4th, 16th and 24th. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
This often-overlooked neorealist work reconstructs a tragic accident that occurred in Rome in 1951, when 200 women queuing for a low-paying typist job were injured. Combining scathing social comment with meticulous research, this kaleidoscope of stories portrays the lives of those afflicted by unemployment in the city. De Santis’ efforts to promote social reform resulted in the film being boycotted by both the government and the media.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 156: Thu Jun 6

Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950): Mildmay Club, Newington Green, 7pm

This is a 16mm presentation from the fabulous Cine-Real team. Enjoyment is guaranteed. And don't miss the chance to enjoy one of their always entertaining screenings in a fabulous new venue, the Mildmay Club on Newington Green, one of the few surviving working men's clubs in London and host of a series of great artistic and social activities.

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 2024 — Day 155: Wed Jun 5

Tenebrae (Argento, 1982): Prince Charles Cinema, 1pm


This film is part of a Dario Argento season at the Prince Charles Cinema.

Screen Slate review:
Anthony Franciosa plays Peter Neal, an American mystery writer who travels to Rome in promotion of his latest novel, but must confront the influence his lurid fiction has when a black-gloved murderer begins mutilating people. Genre film actor John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, Black Christmas) and frequent Dario Argento collaborator (and former spouse) Daria Nicolodi (Deep Red, Phenomena, Opera) also star as Neal's agent and assistant who become embroiled in the investigation — Nicolodi in particular gives an impressive performance (with an even more impressive scream) that elevates an admittedly thin role. Tenebrae is often regarded as a giallo comeback for the filmmaker, a return to the subgenre he helped define, following his foray into supernatural horror with Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980). However, it is also a self-reflexive examination of his own career, and the accusations of misogyny often directed at him. Argento was never one to conceal his more perverse preoccupations; if there is an opportunity to capture the strangling of a beautiful woman on screen, he will not only take it but provide the grip of his own hand in front of the camera. At the same time, the technical focus in Tenebrae — from rather majestic (and now infamous) crane shots to the general construction of the plot itself (essentially a way to move from one intricate and gorgeous murder set-piece to another) feels like an acknowledgment of responsibility: like pulling back the curtain on the machinations in place that not only punish women, but turn such punishment into spectacle. Tenebrae is essential Argento: perhaps the auteur's clearest articulation of his own psychological and stylistic obsessions, but with a more critical eye. We long to see men who dehumanize and kill women eventually fall on the sword themselves. In Argento's world those glimmers of hope are there if you look: the impalement will just most likely involve a stiletto.
Stephanie Monahan

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 154: Tue Jun 4

The Runner (Naderi, 1984): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.15pm

This film is part of the Restored strand at BFI Southbank.

Time Out review:
An astonishing piece of film-making in which Amir Naderi's harsh account of modern poverty supports passages of extravagant but unsentimental lyricism. Amiro (Nirumand) is an illiterate ten-year-old orphan living in a rusting tanker hulk, beached in a Persian Gulf shantytown. Life is a struggle, and garbage-picking and peddling water just about pay for a watermelon diet. Bigger boys try to steal his empty bottles, a man snatches the block of ice he needs to cool the water he sells. Amiro learns to fight back. He's a runner, and he wants to run with the best of them. Young Nirumand gives a performance to make Rossellini weep, and the soundtrack is a joy.
Pierre Hodgson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 153: Mon Jun 3

Death Game (Traynor, 1977): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This is a 35mm presentation.

Movies Are Dead film club introduction:
We are proud to present another little-seen genre classic on 35mm: the ultimate 1970s psychological thriller, Death Game. John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson favourite Seymour Cassel stars as George Manning, a family man whose perfect life is turned into a nightmare of sex and torture when he allows himself to be seduced by two beautiful young women, played by Sondra Locke and Colleen Camp, who show up at his door on a rainy night with mysterious intentions. A heady combination of Věra Chytilovás's Daisies and Michael Haneke's Funny Games run through the sleaziest of 42nd Street grindhouse filters, this remake of the 1973 sexploitation flick Little Miss Innocence was itself remade twice, including by Eli Roth with Keanu Reeves and Ana de Armas in 2015's Knock Knock. But the unhinged and superbly made Death Game is the definitive version of this lurid tale – don't miss this ultra-rare opportunity to catch it at the Prince Charles Cinema!

Here (and above) is the trailer.

********************

No 2: Stromboli (Rossellini, 1950): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 12noon

Chicago Reader review:
Roberto Rossellini's first filmic encounter with Ingrid Bergman, made in the wilds in 1949 around the same time the neorealist director and the Hollywood star were being denounced in the U.S. Senate for their adulterous romance. Widely regarded as a masterpiece today, the film was so badly mutilated by Howard Hughes's RKO (which added offscreen narration, reshuffled some sequences, and deleted others) that Rossellini sued the studio (and lost). The Italian version, which Rossellini approved, has come out on video, and this rarely screened English-language version is very close to it. A Lithuanian-born Czech refugee living in an internment camp (Bergman) marries an Italian fisherman (Mario Vitale) in order to escape, but she winds up on a bare, impoverished island with an active volcano, where most of the locals regard her with hostility. The film is most modern and remarkable when the camera is alone with Bergman, though Rossellini wisely shows neither the wife nor the husband with full sympathy. Eschewing psychology, the film remains a kind of ambiguous pieta whose religious ending is as controversial as that of Rossellini and Bergman's subsequent Voyage to Italy (though its metaphoric and rhetorical power make it easier to take). Rossellini's blend of documentary and fiction is as provocative as usual, but it also makes the film choppy and awkward; the English dialogue is often stiff, and Renzo Cesana as a pontificating local priest is almost as clumsy here as in Cyril Endfield's subsequent Try and Get Me! Nor is the brutality of Rossellini's Catholicism to every taste; Eric Rohmer all but praised the film for its lack of affection toward Bergman, yet the film stands or falls on the strength of her emotional performance—and I believe it stands.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 152: Sun Jun 2

Blue (Jarman, 1993): Prince Charles Cinema, 4.15pm


For Pride Month, Funeral Parade Queer Film Society are presenting Blue, Derek Jarman’s deeply personal swansong. The film will be intoduced by Sarah Cleary.

Time Out review:
The screen is a perfect blue throughout as Derek Jarman faces up to AIDS, the loss of loved ones, the breakdown of the body, blindness, his own approaching fall into the void. The film embodies the spiritual transcendence which Cyril Collard sought to convey in the last reel of his anguished melodrama Savage Nights, crucially in the serene contemplation of the screen itself, but also in Jarman's beautiful poetry. Extracts from the film-maker's diary supply an ironic commentary on the 'progress' of his illness so that the movie becomes a juxtaposition between the finite and the infinite, the sublime and the ridiculous. Greatly helped by Simon Fisher Turner's soundtrack. Moving beyond words.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 151: Sat Jun 1

Gummo (Korine, 1997): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10pm


This is a 35mm screening.

Chicago Reader review:
Written and directed by Harmony Korine, who wrote Kids, this poetically disjointed narrative (1997) also follows young people engaged in nihilistic activities and has an ambiguous relationship to both documentary and fiction filmmaking—but none of the earlier movie's prurience or condescension. Killing cats is a pastime and source of income for two boys (Jacob Reynolds and Nick Sutton) who sniff a lot of glue in a town identified as Xenia, Ohio. Much of their behavior and the behavior of other people in the movie was surely guided if not predetermined by Korine, yet few of the performers appear to be actors in scripted roles. In one scene a woman (who was previously shown mothering a doll) shaves off her eyebrows. Filling one hand with shaving cream and trying to use the other to keep her bangs out of the way as well as wield a razor, she exhibits a startling absence of intelligence. Crooned ballads and metal music enhance scenes of perversely enchanting power, and a voice-over tells us in gory detail how a tornado devastated Xenia years before, as if to explain the strangely passive violence in a town where everyone's reason for existence seems to be breaking taboos. The director of photography is Jean Yves Escoffier.

Lisa Alspector

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 150: Fri May 31

La Terra Trema (Visconti, 1948): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8pm

This presentation, also screening on May 26th, is part of the Italian Neorealism season at the cinema. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Luchino Visconti's second feature (five years after Ossessione in 1942) was an improvised drama produced by the Communist Party, filmed with and among Sicilian fishermen in the village of Aci-Trezza. An overwhelmingly stark chronicle of a family which strives but fails to break out of the poverty trap - they try to cut out the middlemen by embarking in what one might call 'free enterprise', with disastrous results - La Terra Trema‚ stands as a masterpiece of neo-realism, a social conscience cinema of proletarian ways and means. Yet, despite this, it's no less 'operatic' than the director's later decadent melodramas: it surges with great tides of emotion. The film is distinguished by its vivid camerawork, at once poetic and 'documentary'. (Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli, it may be noted, served as assistant directors.) Visconti only finished the film by selling some of his mother's jewellery and an apartment in Rome. Yet, true to his breeding, he brought home one of the boys from the film and installed him as his butler.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 149: Thu May 30

Bitter Rice (De Santis, 1949): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.15pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on May 22nd, is part of the Italian Neorealism season at the cinema. Full details here.

New Yorker review:
The early-generation genre mashup “Bitter Rice,” from 1949, fuses the class-based politics—and the on-location authenticity—of neorealism with a smoldering romantic melodrama. It’s centered on the seasonal employment of migrant farmworkers—all women—in the rice paddies of northern Italy. A jewel thief and housemaid named Francesca (Doris Dowling), who’s hiding a stolen necklace, takes refuge with a crew of farmhands, working alongside them and living with them in requisitioned military barracks. Francesca is befriended by a younger laborer named Silvana (Silvana Mangano), but tension arises when they both fall for an earnest army officer (Raf Vallone). Then a sharp operator named Walter (Vittorio Gassman)—Francesca’s partner in crime, lover, and employer—shows up at the farm. The film’s team of six screenwriters reveal, with journalistic avidity, details of the landowners’ predatory chicanery, conflicts between union and non-union workers, farmhands’ secret communications by way of song, and the women’s day-to-day lives and grim backstories. The director, Giuseppe De Santis, films the turbulent action with a blend of intimacy and spectacle, in exhilaratingly spontaneous dance scenes and shocking outbursts of violence alike.
Richard Brody

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 148: Wed May 29

Lola Montes (Ophuls, 1955): Cine Lumiere, 6.10pm


This film, a masterpiece by any standards, is also screening at Cine Lumiere on May 26th when it will be introduced by Academy Awards-nominated composer Gary Yershon. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A baroque masterpiece by Max Ophuls, his last film (1955) and his only work in color and wide-screen. The producers were expecting a routine melodrama with Martine Carol (a bland French star of the period); when they saw what Ophuls had made—with its exquisite stylization, elaborate flashbacks, and infinite subtlety—they cut it to ribbons. The film was restored in the 60s and impressed some critics, including Andrew Sarris, as "the greatest film ever made," and certainly this story of a courtesan's life is among the most emotionally plangent, visually ravishing works the cinema has to offer. With Peter Ustinov, Anton Walbrook, Ivan Desny, and Oskar Werner.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 147: Tue May 28

The Small Back Room (Powell, 1949): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm


This film, here screened in the Restored strand at BFI Southbank, is a new BFI National Archive restoration for the most underrated work in the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger canon. Tonight's presentation will be introduced by the BFI conservation team.

Chicago Reader review:
Cut to ribbons by its original American distributor, this 1949 film remains the most elusive of Michael Powell's mature works. David Farrar stars as a crippled, alcoholic bomb expert who tries to solve the secret of a new Nazi device—small bombs made to look like toys that explode when children pick them up. With Kathleen Byron, memorable as the mad nun of Powell's Black Narcissus, and Jack Hawkins, Anthony Bushell, and Michael Gough.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 146: Mon May 27

O Lucky Man! (Anderson, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 7.20pm

This presentation is part of the Lindsay Anderson season (full details here) at BFI Southbank. Information about the other screenings of this film on May 12th and 18th can be found here.

Chicago Reader review:
The gradations of sham and corruption and the quirky contours of modern society, as revealed in the epic wanderings of Lindsay Anderson's modern Candide/Everyman (Malcolm McDowell). Mick Travers (now Travis), the vicious public school of If . . . behind him, learns the bitter lesson of how to play the game for all it may (or may not) be worth in this valiant, comic, yet quietly sad three-hour journey to a kind of wisdom. Fuzzy in its particulars, the film makes up for it with standout performances from Ralph Richardson, Rachel Roberts, and Arthur Lowe.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 145: Sun May 26

Something to Live For (Stevens, 1952): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm

This rarely screened film is part of the excellently programmed 'Never on Sunday' strand at the Close-Up Cinema. Full details here. The film will be introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht.

Close-Up Cinema introduction:
This crowning jewel of American cinema, nearly as good as the best of Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman, is one of the least known masterpieces of the 1950s. Imagine Ray Milland’s alcoholic in The Lost Weekend rehabilitated, seasoned, married with two kids and holding down a nine-to-five job in advertising. Yet something is missing in his life, which has now come to resemble an advertisement. Serving a good cause in his spare time, when an Alcoholics Anonymous rescue call comes in, he rushes to help the troubled drinker only to discover it’s a she: Joan Fontaine as a has-been actress. He saves her, they fall for each other, she brings back the vitality to his life, which according to his own wife (played by Teresa Wright) has become far too sober. Afterwards their lives improve but the pain and loss remain. Dwight Taylor’s sensitive script, originally titled Mr and Miss Anonymous, was based on his mother, an actress and alcoholic. Stevens got on board when he was still editing A Place in the Sun. The direction, in its accomplished sense of cluttered space, entanglement and inescapabilty, is full of artistry. The vulnerable characters are trapped in bars, hotel rooms, offices, and elevators, searching for a romance that is lost before it’s found. The romantic dream fails but the stage show with which the film ends is just beginning. Is this a triumph for artificiality and conformity? Stevens’s dark and tender film leaves you with this thought as no other film does.
Ehsan Khoshbakht

Here (and above) are the opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 144: Sat May 25

Britannia Hospital (Anderson, 1982): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.35pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Lindsay Anderson season (full details here) at BFI Southbank. Information about the other screening of Britannia Hospital.... on May 14th can be found here.

This is an extract from Jonathan Coe’s article on Lindsay Anderson in the Guardian in 2005. You can read the full article here:
Britannia Hospital was the film that almost killed off Anderson's directorial career in the UK. Released in 1982, just as the Falklands War triggered an unexpected wave of British jingoism, this venomous state-of-the-nation movie ran counter to the mood of the times just as emphatically as If ... had caught it 14 years earlier. I have a vivid memory of seeing it at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue during its (extremely short) London release. Sitting with my then-girlfriend in an almost empty auditorium, I realised after about 10 minutes that I had brought her to the date movie from hell. The film spares nobody: neither the hospital management who will stop at nothing (even murder) to ensure the smooth running of a ludicrous royal visit, nor the petty, self-interested trade unionists who are bent on disrupting it. Private health care, the delusions of science, the complicity of the media and the fantasy of Empire are all comprehensively dumped upon. Coaxing Brechtian, anti-realist performances out of his cast - and using that cast to collapse the stifling distinction between high and low culture (Robin Askwith shares the screen with Joan Plowright) - Anderson produced a shockingly truthful caricature of Britain on the cusp of the Thatcher revolution.

Here (and above) is the trailer.


Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 144: Fri May 24

Devil and the Deep (Gering, 1932): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


This is a Women and Cocaine presentation at the Cinema Museum and here is their introduction:

This May we celebrate Tallulah Bankhead, a star whose outrageous behaviour inspired her good friend Marlene Dietrich to declare she was “the most immoral woman who ever lived”. Devil and the Deep (1932) follows a Naval commander as he sets out for revenge after learning of his wife’s affair. The film was marketed with the tagline “Twenty men sent to the bottom of the sea-for one woman’s sin!” Tallulah stars alongside a stellar cast that features Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and Charles Laughton in his first American role.

The film will be preceded by a short introduction, and followed by a raffle. Women and Cocaine Presents is a film night at The Cinema Museum to celebrate the Fierce and Liberated women of Pre code cinema. From the period of 1930 to 1934, before the introduction of censorship, women were depicted in roles with a frankness and sex-positivity that remains rare even today. These newly independent women pushed gender boundaries as they pursued their own economic freedom and excitement, defying the previous Victorian ideals of domesticity, sexual purity and religion. Hollywood soon caught on and began to represent these women on screen, and each month we celebrate a different woman from that era.

“My father warned me about men & booze, but he never mentioned a word about women & cocaine” – Tallulah Bankhead.