Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 51: Tue Feb 20

Big Trouble in Little China (Carpenter, 1986): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

Time Out review:
'Ready, Jack?' asks Kurt Russell's Chinese buddy before another fraught round of mayhem beneath the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown. 'I was born ready', comes back the growled response; and it is this level of conscious self-mockery which saves the John Wayne posturing and genre high kicks from being just another climber on the Raiders of the Lost Ark band wagon. Russell is the T-shirted bozo trucker, who only has to fire his gun into the ceiling for the plaster to fall on his head. Down the mean catacombs and underground streams of Chinatown he goes, in search of something or other and encountering every Chinese cliché known to man: devil women, 900-year-old sages, water tortures, black magic monsters. The icing on all this cake is a load of kung-fuey, which in spite of three nifty warlords who come equipped with their own static electricity and interesting hats, isn't really up to the mark established in the meanest of Hong Kong martial arts movies. Carpenter has always been a skilful genre mechanic, breathing life into old forms; if he stubs his toes up against the bamboo curtain this time, there is still more enjoyable sly humour than in most slug-fests.
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 50: Mon Feb 19

Caravaggio (Jarman, 1986): Rio Cinema, 6.30pm

Through the Looking Glasses Presents: Derek Jarman's Caravaggio followed by an in person Q&A with the actor Garry Cooper and soundtrack composer Simon Fisher Turner.

Time Out review:

As Caravaggio (excellently played by Terry) lies dying at Porto Ercole in 1610, his mind drifts back over a short life of extraordinary passion: his relationship with his model, Ranuccio Thomasoni, who posed perhaps as the muscular assassin in so many 'martyrdom' pictures, and the other apex in the triangle, Lena, who is Ranuccio's mistress and Caravaggio's model for the Magdalene and the dead Virgin. Jarman proposes a murderous intensity as the mainspring for both Caravaggio's love life and for his furious painting, and it certainly carries great weight of conviction. For all the melodrama of the story, however, he has elected a style of grave serenity, composed of looks and glances, long silences in shaded rooms, sudden eruptions of blood. It all works miraculously well, even the conscious use of anachronisms and the street sounds of contemporary Italy.
Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 49: Sun Feb 18

The Room (Wiseau, 2003): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.15pm, 3pm & 5.45pm

Move aside The Sound of Music and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Room is the modern-day Plan 9 From Outer Space and a movie so awful it now has a cult following, a following so large that the Prince Charles has nine screenings planned over the weekend - and most of them are sold out. If you want some background to the film it's all here in a fine piece which appeared in the Telegraph in 2009. If you want a flavour of the movie here is an extract.

The Prince Charles have regular screenings of The Room but the cause of all the excitement this time is that the director, Tommy Wiseau, is in town and will be delivering live intro and be around for a Q&A after every screening. You can get all the details here via the cinema website.

Chicago Reader review:
'Written, produced, and directed by Tommy Wiseau, this inept 2003 melodrama has become a Rocky Horror-style cult favorite in Los Angeles and other cities. Wiseau stars as an eerily placid and good-natured banker whose live-in girlfriend is secretly getting it on with his best friend, though the filmmaker often strikes out in different directions, only to bump into the wall and come back. As someone who's watched more bad movies than you can imagine, I'm mostly immune to the so-bad-it's-good aesthetic, though I can see how, viewed in a theater at midnight after a few drinks, this might conjure up its own hilariously demented reality. Poignantly, Wiseau has now positioned the movie as a "black comedy."
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 48: Sat Feb 17

Working Girls (Arzner, 1931): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm

This 35mm presentation, also screening on February 10th, is part of the Dorothey Arzner season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Senses of Cinema review extract:
Dorothy Arzner’s Working Girls is an astonishingly fresh Pre-Code film made by a very smart lesbian feminist director. Given the circumstances, it is surprising that the film was ever made; even so, Paramount gave the film a rather limited national release. It is a miracle that the film even survives. This makes any public screening of Working Girls all the more important. Arzner was way ahead of her time. Let’s hope she finally finds her winking, knowing audience.
Gwendolin Audrey Foster

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 47: Fri Feb 16

Victor/Victoria (Edwards, 1982): Garden Cinema, 8.30pm

Chicago Reader review of Victor/Victoria (1982):
Blake Edwards's 1982 sex comedy has the most beautiful range of tones of any American film of its period: it is a work of dry wit, high slapstick, black despair, romantic warmth, and penetrating intelligence. A tale of transvestism in the Paris of the 1930s is used as a study of socially fixed identities turned gloriously fluid, which Edwards sees as the only way of surviving in a churning, chaotic world. It is a direct thematic and stylistic sequel to 10, with the shallow, telescoped images of the earlier film giving way to deep-focus compositions and a corresponding shift in interest from beautiful surfaces to soulful interiors. Very personal and very entertaining, with Julie Andrews, James Garner, and a brilliant Robert Preston.
Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 46: Thu Feb 15

Petulia (Lester, 1968): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the John Barry season at BFI Southbank, also screens on February 3rd. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the finest films of and about the 60s, Richard Lester's romantic comedy tells the story of the relationship between a recently divorced surgeon (George C. Scott) and an unhappily married San Francisco socialite (Julie Christie) and takes deft, unexpected turns into the tragic and terrifying. Lester's volatile, quick-cut style finds its most expressive application in his description of a world fatally fragmented into rich and poor, past and present, compassion and indifference. Scott has never been more powerful or so subtle: his weary but still hopeful physician is a Shakespearean figure, cloaked in a majestic sadness. But the film belongs to Christie, who earns the Oscar she won for Darling with a plangent portrayal of a woman struggling to transcend her own shallowness. With Richard Chamberlain, Shirley Knight, Arthur Hill, and Joseph Cotten; the excellent screenplay is the work of Lawrence Marcus, and Nicolas Roeg did the cinematography (1968). 105 min.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 45: Wed Feb 14

One from the Heart: Reprise (Coppola, 1982): Prince Charles Cinema, 1pm

This unfairly maligned movie is back in a great 4K restoration and in a modified version via its director Francis Ford Coppola. The film also screens on February 16th and 27th. Full details here. Here's New Yorker critic Richard Brody's take.

Time Out review:
Apparently Francis Ford Coppola got his inspiration while wandering the back streets of Tokyo with a copy of Goethe's Elective Affinities, pondering the Kabuki and his alimony payments. He saw a sequence of brilliant tableaux: a hoary yarn about love lost and refound, spun with high-tech artifice and elaborate theories about colour. Fortunately the movie outgrew its origins with barely a stretch mark in sight, to become a likeable, idiosyncratic musical, its few remaining pretensions (dud symbolism just when you most expect it) so bare-faced they're almost winning. The human element keeps the film modest. Coppola shows an affection for the commonplaceness of his new romantic couple (Frederick Forrest and Terri Garr) surprising after his previous ones from the heart of darkness: they smooch, quarrel, cheat on each other (respectively with Natassja Kinski and Raul Julia), and live to smooch again over a long Fourth of July weekend in a Las Vegas confected entirely in the sets and mixing-boards of Zoetrope studios. The result, crafted with the help of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, looks terrific: walls dissolve, scenes play in wry tandem, and the dance routines move nimbly into neon-tinged fantasies. At times the project seems in danger of being scuppered by its own lavishness; the saving grace is a light heart.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 44: Tue Feb 13

Queen Christina (Mamoulian, 1933): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

Funeral Parade Queer Film Society presents Rouben Mamoulian’s Queen Christina, a historical biopic stars Greta Garbo as a bisexual, cross-dressing monarch.

Time Out review:
On the face of it, this is the usual historical hogwash, made to the traditional recipe (prepare a literate but daft script around the concepts of love, honour and duty; stir in two gooey-eyed stars, one of whom may be miscast and a bad wearer of costumes; bring to the boil, stirring in teaspoonfuls of C Aubrey Smith, rhubarbing peasants, snow, ducks, and Gothic lettering; serve with naive music). But Queen Christina is lifted far above its origins, partly by Mamoulian (who moulds potentially stodgy scenes with his finicky regard to detail), and partly by Garbo herself: she turns her character into a living entity, extracts real emotion from the script's purple clumps ('Snow is like a wild sea. One can go and get lost in it...'), and glides through Mamoulian's winding camera movements with grace, wit and beauty. She plays the 17th century Queen of Sweden, whose career comes unstuck when she falls for the Spanish Ambassador (a touching but inadequate performance from John Gilbert, her old cohort from the silents).
Geoff Brown

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 43: Mon Feb 12

Anybody's Woman (Arzner, 1930): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This 35mm presentation, which is part of the Dorothey Arzner season at BFI Southbank, also screens on February 9th. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
Arzner always insisted on the importance of the screenwriter. Her collaborations with Zoe Akins demonstrated the value and potency of the relationship between director and writer. Anybody’s Woman tells the story of broken-hearted lawyer Neil and cynical burlesque performer Pansy, who drunkenly marry and decide to make their mismatched marriage work. This quintessentially pre-Code film marked the second collaboration for the director, writer and star.

Here (and above) is an introduction to Dorothy Arzner's film career.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 42: Sun Feb 11

Padre Padrone (Tavianis, 1977): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3.20pm

This classic, which launched the Tavianis on the international stage and is being shown from a 4K digital restoration, is part of the Taviani Brothers season, and also screens on February 22nd. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Neo-neorealism from the Taviani brothers, who emerged from the obscurity of Italian television to take the grand prize at Cannes with this 1977 study of a boy growing up under the geographical and familial oppression of Sardinia. Its sense of loneliness is frighteningly profound, while its simple, straightforward style depends on a shrewd choice of telling, sometimes surreal detail.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 41: Sat Feb 10

Born to Boogie (Starr, 1972) + Stardust (Apted, 1974): Cinema Museum, 6pm

Cinema Museum introduction:
Lost Reels continues its series of double bills with two quintessential but rarely screened British pop films from the 1970s. British cinema and pop music have long had a symbiotic relationship, and this was never truer than in the 1970s, a decade that saw numerous film/rock star crossover projects and a dramatic musical evolution from glam rock to punk. Rock and Roll, a “16mm” double bill by Lost Reels, showcases two quintessential features from the first half of the decade: Born to Boogie (1972), a concert film / fantasy featuring Marc Bolan and T-Rex directed by Ringo Starr; and Stardust (1974), the rise-and-fall of a Beatle-esque band, directed by Michael Apted featuring real-life musicians David Essex, Adam Faith, Dave Edmunds and Keith Moon.

Chicago Reader review of Born to Boogie:
British glam rocker Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex are captured at the height of their fame in this 1972 concert movie by Ringo Starr. Two shows staged for the film at Wembley stadium yield spirited performances of “Jeepster,” “Baby Strange,” “Telegram Sam,” and “Bang a Gong (Get It On),” punctuated by agreeably silly vignettes reminiscent of Magical Mystery Tour. There’s a rollicking studio jam session with Bolan backed by Starr on drums and Elton John on piano; the oddest segment is a picnic where a butler flips burgers for a table of nuns while Bolan plays an acoustic guitar medley, accompanied by a string quartet. JR Jones


Time Out review of Stardust:
Enjoyable attempt at the impossible task of reflecting the whole sprawl of '60s British pop through the rise and fall of one rock star. Ray Connolly's script for this sequel to That'll Be the Day functions on numerous levels: as a piece of nostalgia for over 25s; as wish fulfilment for Essex's teenage fans, in which he becomes the greatest rock'n'roll singer in the world; and, God help us, as a would-be art movie, with its central relationship between Essex's singer and roadie Adam Faith more than reminiscent of The Servant. The script is at its best when knocking the stuffing out of the music industry and its myths, less successful when asking us to believe in the fictional achievements of its central character (3,000,000 fans and a Time magazine cover). Best are Adam Faith, Keith Moon's anarchic 
performance and Dave Edmunds' music. Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer for Stardust.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 40: Fri Feb 9

The Whisperers (Forbes, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6pm

This film, part of the John Barry season at BFI Southbank, also screens on February 24th. You can find all the details here.

BFI introduction:
Bryan Forbes’ film about loneliness, paranoia and poverty, set in a bleakly monochrome Oldham, could hardly have been less ‘summer of love’. Barry’s score is affecting and super-minimal, with dripping taps, crying babies and acres of silence behind it. The cast, including cameos from Leonard Rossiter, Ronald Fraser and Michael Robbins, is almost wholly mean-spirited, although Edith Evans was nominated for an Oscar for her striking performance.

Here (and above) are the opening titles.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 39: Thu Feb 8

The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran, 1993): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.20pm

This 35mm presentation also screens on February 28th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A beautiful first feature (1993) by Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung, shot on a French soundstage and set in two bourgeois Saigon households in 1951 and ’61. The central character, inspired by Tran’s mother, is a servant girl, played as a ten-year-old by Lu Man San and as a young woman by Tran’s wife, Tran Nu Yen-khe, and the main focus is on everyday household chores and sensual discoveries, all made mesmerizing by elaborately choreographed camera movements that link interiors and exteriors in the same fluid itineraries. The first household contains an unhappy family, the second a wealthy Europeanized composer, and, perhaps significantly, only the first seems to have much connection with the surrounding neighborhood. The Vietnam war is dealt with so elliptically that it figures only as offscreen sirens and overhead planes. This stylish period piece won the Camera d’Or at the 1993 Cannes film festival and was nominated for an Oscar.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 38: Wed Feb 7

Riddles of the Sphinx (Mulvey/Wollen, 1977): Tate Britain, 7pm

Tate Britain introduction:
Riddles of the Sphinx
, made by Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen in 1977, portrays the experience of motherhood through the prism of psychoanalysis, using experimental film techniques and staging to address the difficulties of affective labour, seen through the narrative of a mother caring for her young daughter. The narrative of Anna is combined with other voices and images from outside the film's narrative world, which question and disrupt pre-supposed meanings and symbols of the woman within and without the screen; from the mythical enigma of the Sphinx to the appearances of the artist Mary Kelly and Mulvey herself.

The screening will be followed by conversation between Professor Griselda Pollock and Professor Laura Mulvey.

Time Out review:
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's second film places the simple story of a mother/child relationship in the wholly unexpected context of the myth of Oedipus' encounter with the Sphinx; its achievement is to make that context seem both logical and necessary. First off, the story: a broken marriage, an over-possessive mother, a growing awareness of feminist issues, a close female friend, and a newly questioning spirit of independence. Then, underpinning it, the myth, which introduces a set of basic questions about the female unconscious. The mixture of feminist politics and Freudian theory would be enough in itself to make the film unusually interesting, but various other elements make it actively compelling: the beautiful, hypnotic score by Mike Ratledge, the tantalising blend of visual, aural and literary narration in the telling of the story, and the firm intelligence that informs the film's unique and seductive overall structure.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 37: Tue Feb 6

You Only Live Twice (Gilbert, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

This film is part of the John Barry season at BFI Southbank.

BFI introduction:
Fresh from his success with Michael Caine in Alfie, Lewis Gilbert directed Sean Connery’s superspy as he teams up with the Japanese Secret Service to stop a series of space hijackings and the dastardly doings of Donald Pleasance’s Blofeld – arguably the ultimate Bond villain. The opening notes of Nancy’s Sinatra’s title song make for the most recognisable Bond motif of all. And as if that weren’t enough, Barry rises magnificently to the task of scoring the scenes in outer space.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 36: Mon Feb 5

Four in the Morning (Simmons, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the John Barry season at BFI Southbank, also screens on February 13th. You can find all the details here.

BFI introduction:
Set against the backdrop of a foggy River Thames, two parallel stories of couples in crisis unfold just as the police find the body of an unidentified young woman. This fragile, understated film has a gorgeous, low-key woodwind-led soundtrack to match. Four In The Morning provided an intriguing, misty flipside to a nascent swinging London and gave Judi Dench her first starring role.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 35: Sun Feb 4

Days of Heaven (Malick, 1978): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 1.50pm

This Terrence Malick classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

Time Out review:
Asking a colleague how anyone could encapsulate the exquisite, earthy poetry of Terrence Malick’s cinema in a mere 180 words, he responded: ‘It’s easy! “Blah, blah, magic hour. Blah, blah, voiceover. Blah, blah, the awesome power of nature. Hyperbolic sign off”.’ Fans of the director’s small but perfectly formed oeuvre will know that these are all indeed typical Malick motifs. But fans will also know that they were put to their most sublimely sensuous and conveniently approachable use in ‘Days of Heaven’, his peach-hued masterwork from 1978 which opens ahead of the BFI’s full Malick retrospective. Richard Gere and Brooke Adams take time out from life to frolic in the swaying wheatfields of the Texas Panhandle, hawkishly overseen by Sam Shephard’s tragic Jay Gatsby figure who eventually lets his suspicions get the better of him. Theirs is a tale of almost biblical profundity: a furtive love allowed to bloom momentarily in this glowing, golden paradise before commerce, responsibility, law and violence put a heartbreaking end to their innocent bliss. Visually and thematically, it’s still one of the most beautiful films ever made.
David Jenkins

Take a look at the wonderful opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 34: Sat Feb 3

The Ipcress File (Furie, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm

This film, part of the John Barry season at BFI Southbank, also screens on February 10th. You can find all the details here.

BFI introduction:
Sidney J Furie’s stylish espionage thriller has its roots in British ‘kitchen sink’ cinema. The Toronto-born director had cut his teeth on unromantic London-set movies (The Young Ones, The Boys, The Leather Boys), so was well-placed to capture on screen Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer, the working-class anti-hero of the British establishment’s spy fraternity. Barry’s stunning score turned an obscure Hungarian instrument, the cimbalom, into the default sound of the Cold War.

Here (and above) is Barry's evocative theme music over the opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 33: Fri Feb 2

Never Let Go (Guillermin, 1960): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.10pm

This 35mm presentation, part of the John Barry season at BFI Southbank, also screens on February 11th. Full details here.

BFI introduction:
In what was only Barry’s second film, Never Let Go’s brassy, swinging score made it a musical twin to the better-known Beat Girl. This terrific, hard-edged crime drama is largely set in a now-vanished district of West London. It sees Peter Sellers running a car racket, Adam Faith as his car-stealing accomplice, Carol White as his teenage moll and a sweaty, hapless Richard Todd as his unfortunate victim.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 32: Thu Feb 1

Tristana (Bunuel, 1970): Cine Lumiere, 3.30pm

This film, part of the Catherine Deneuve season at Cine Lumiere, also screens on other dates including Sunday 28th January when the movie will be introduced by film critic and programmer Roberto Oggiano. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Luis Buñuel’s 1970 masterwork, adapted from a novel by Benito Perez Galdos. Catherine Deneuve is a young woman unhappy with the constraints of turn-of-the-century Spanish society; her mild revolt is rewarded by an amputated leg. Buñuel conjures with Freudian imagery, outrageous humor, and a quiet, lyrical camera style to create one of his most complex and complete works, a film that continues to disturb and transfix.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.


Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 31: Wed Jan 31

Darkness, Darkness, Burning Bright (Rouard, 2022): Cafe Oto, 7.30pm

Cafe Oto introduction:
Sonic Cinema presents a unique screening of Gaëlle Rouard’s atmospheric film diptych Darkness, Darkness Burning Bright, projected by the artist from her personal 16mm print.

Unfolding across two acts, Prelude and Oraison, Darkness Darkness, Burning Bright is a personal and poetic work full of expressive solarized nightscapes and pastoral unreality. The film draws us into a  crepuscular landscape, where animals and plants appear luminous and rendered in chiaroscuro, with the movements playing out through a series of tableau vivant composed from the combination of photochemically manipulated still and moving images. Produced using found sounds and drawing on the traditions of musique concrète and cinéma pour l’oreille (cinema for the ear), Rouard’s soundtrack oscillates between supporting ambience and pronounced narrative emphasis. Gaëlle will be in conversation with Simon Field following the screening.

Programmed by Oliver Dickens for Sonic Cinema.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 30: Tue Jan 30

Secrets and Lies (Leigh, 1996): ICA Cinema, 6.45pm

This is the third night in the exciting 'Last Movies' season at the ICA Cinema. Full details of all the screenings in the five-month long repertoire can be found here.

Last Movies remaps the first century of cinema according to what a selection of its key cultural icons saw just before dying. Conceived and created by Stanley Schtinter to enable an audience ‘to see what those who see no longer saw last,’ the ICA hosts a five-month programme to coincide with the publication of his book of the same title, described by Alan Moore as ‘Profound and riveting . . . a remarkable achievement,’ and by Laura Mulvey as ‘deeply thought-provoking.’

According to Erika Balsom, Last Movies ‘abandons all those calcified criteria most frequently used to organise cinema programmes ... period, nation, genre, director, star, theme: nothing internal to these films motivates their inclusion, their ‘quality’ least of all ... Last Movies embraces chance.’

Introduction to tonight’s screening:
In March 1997, an affluent San Diego suburb became a site of international intrigue, as 39 members of a religious group, Heaven’s Gate – early adopters of the internet who believed the Hale Bopp comet was hiding a spaceship destined for heaven – were found dead, covered in purple shrouds wearing brand new Nike trainers (the ‘Decade’ model was cancelled shortly afterwards, making it the most sought-after trainer in this world and the next). Receipts from the days leading up to their ‘exit’ showed $417.27 spent at a pizza parlour, and a trip to the cinema to see Mike Leigh’s Hackney-based drama on class and race, the Timothy Spall and Brenda Bleythn starring Secrets & Lies.

An extended excerpt of Brian de Palma’s Carlito’s Way will be screened in advance of Secrets & Lies, tethered to Last Movies through a relation to Hackney-cartoonist Mel Calman, who passed away watching it only minutes away from the ICA at the Empire Cinema on Leicester Square (cutting the movie at the point he crossed over).

Adrian Dannatt, professional obituary-writer and child star of Just William, joins Stanley Schtinter to discuss the legacy of Heaven’s Gate, in a freewheeling conversation on art, religion, the south coast of America in the 1960s, the East End of London in the 1990s and ... those trainers.

Here (and above) is the trailer for Secrets and Lies.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 29: Mon Jan 29

The Thing (Carpenter, 1982): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.45pm

This film is part of the 'Scala: Sex, drugs and rock and roll cinema' season at BFI Southbank. The movie also screens on January 13th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Time travel has many enticing possibilities, but one of the most enjoyable would be to travel back to 1982 and tell John Carpenter that his new movie would someday score sixth place in a list of the 100 best horror movies – even beating his own iconic ‘Halloween’. Like many future horror classics, ‘The Thing’ was hated on first release, dismissed as an ‘Alien’ clone more interested in pushing the boundaries of SFX than in character or tension. It was a disastrous flop, and threatened Carpenter’s once unassailable reputation as the king of the new horror. It’s hard to imagine now: with the benefit of hindsight (and, more importantly, repeat viewings), ‘The Thing’ has emerged as one of our most potent modern terrors, combining the icy-cold chill of suspicion and uncertainty with those magnificently imaginative, pre-CG effects blowouts.
Tom Huddleston

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 28: Sun Jan 28

8 1/2 (Fellini, 1963): Prince Charles Cinema, 12.40pm

This 35mm presentation is also being screened on February 12th and 29th. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
If all you know about this exuberant, self-regarding 1963 film is based on its countless inferior imitations (from Paul Mazursky's Alex in Wonderland and The Pickle to Woody Allen's Stardust Memories to Bob Fosse's All That Jazz), you owe it to yourself to see Federico Fellini's exhilarating, stocktaking original, an expressionist, circuslike comedy about the complex mental and social life of a big-time filmmaker (Marcello Mastroianni) stuck for a subject and the busy world surrounding him. It's Fellini's last black-and-white picture and conceivably the most gorgeous and inventive thing he ever did—certainly more fun than anything he made after it. (The only Fellini movie that's about as pleasurable is The White Sheik.)
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 27: Sat Jan 27

The Loveless (Bigelow/Montgomery, 1981): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

Time Out review:
'Man, I was what you call ragged... I knew I was gonna hell in a breadbasket' intones the hero in the great opening moments of The Loveless, and as he zips up and bikes out, it's clear that this is one of the most original American independents in years: a bike movie which celebrates the '50s through '80s eyes. Where earlier bike films like The Wild One were forced to concentrate on plot, The Loveless deliberately slips its story into the background in order to linger over all the latent erotic material of the period that other films could only hint at in their posters. Zips and sunglasses and leather form the basis of a cool and stylish dream of sexual self-destruction, matched by a Robert Gordon score which exaggerates the sexual aspects of '50s music. At times the perversely slow beat of each scene can irritate, but that's a reasonable price for the film's super-saturated atmosphere.
David Thompson

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 26: Fri Jan 26

Murders in the Rue Morgue (Florey, 1932) +  Mad Love (Freund, 1935):
Cinema Museum, 7pm

Founded in 1966, the Gothique Film Society specialises in double bills ‘for the connoisseur of the macabre’. This is their latest at the Cinema Museum.

Muders in the Rue Morgue review (from Chicago Reader):
After a star-making performance in Dracula, Bela Lugosi passed up Frankenstein to star in this loose adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story (and boy, was he sorry). As the oily Dr. Mirakle, Lugosi presides over a live-gorilla act at a carnival in mid-19th-century Paris; by night he kidnaps young women and injects them with simian blood, a fiendish experiment whose aim was lost on me. Directed by Robert Florey, this 1932 feature turned out to be a minor entry in Universal’s horror cycle, though it’s a good opportunity to see Lugosi’s ham still fresh from the tin.
JR Jones


Mad Love review (from Chicago Reader):
This atmospheric 1935 chiller, a remake of the silent expressionist film The Hands of Orlac, was directed by the great cinematographer Karl Freund, who shot Metropolis, The Last Laugh, and a dozen other classics, then spent his twilight years shooting I Love Lucy. Peter Lorre (in his first American role) plays a mad surgeon who grafts the hands of a psychopath onto a crippled concert pianist. The film is worth seeing for a number of reasons, but its latter-day reputation rests on Pauline Kael’s theory that Gregg Toland, the photographer, used this film to try out the effects he later applied to Citizen Kane.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer for Mad Love.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 25: Thu Jan 25

Basket Case (Henenlotter, 1982): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

This screening is part of the 'Scala: Sex, drugs and rock and roll cinema' season at BFI Southbank.

Time Out review:
A freak-show revenge plot that puts small ugly creatures like ET and Ewoks back where they belong: in baskets. Much of the suspense lies in the question: what is in the basket? It eats junk food in quantity, flaps its little lid, belches, and goes walkabout with deadly effect. Its custodian is a painfully fresh-faced nerd strangely adrift among the big-city low-life; and the secret of the wicker world is soon revealed to be the victim of extremely prejudicial surgery by a nympho doctor and desperate veterinarian. In a flashback, the nerd rescued his brother from a black plastic bag; now is the hour of their revenge ... Same old gore and poignancy, but some garish characters and the nightmare quality of the New York hotel give it more low budget charm than it deserves.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 24: Wed Jan 24

Boardinghouse (Wintergate, 1982): Genesis Cinema, 8.45pm

Genesis Cinema introduction:
Boardinghouse is a 1982 supernatural slasher film directed, written by, and starring musician John Wintergate (who plays two different roles and created the film’s special effects). It was the first ever shot-on-video horror film to be blown up to 35mm and released theatrically in the USA. We don’t think Boardinghousehas ever officially been certified for a UK release.

In celebration of its unicorn status, Token Homo is showing the original theatrical cut of BOARDINGHOUSE, preserved from a 35mm release print. A longer cut exists based on the original 3/4” master tape. That version plays with the ‘Horror Vision’ gimmick, warning of extreme violence by flashing a gloved fist up on screen (proving you can have too much of a good thing…).

“This unworldly slasher transforms into a sleazy, hallucinogenic maelstrom of gore, sex, chainsaws, pie fights, killer refrigerators, jacuzzis, beds that eat people, a new wave band called 33 1/3, and a leading lady known only as Kalassu.” – AGFA

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 23: Tue Jan 23

The Beast (Borowczyk, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm

This film is part of the 'Scala: Sex, drugs and rock and roll cinema' season at BFI Southbank. The movie also screens on January 16th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Once upon a time, in the 18th century, a beast lived in the woods of an aristocratic estate. And this beast, possessed of a giant phallus and an insatiable lust, set upon the beautiful young lady of the house. But the lady was of an even greater sexual appetite, and laid the beast to eternal rest. Two centuries later, the tale of the beast would return in the dreams of an American heiress contracted to carry the male descendant of the same crumbling aristocratic family... Borowczyk's all-out assault on social conventions and repressed desires, an outrageously ironic blend of French farce and surrealist poetry, can be seen as signposting both the peak of his sexual fables (Blanche, Immoral Tales) and his subsequent decline into ephemeral soft porn. Its shameless shuffling of equine couplings, pederastic priests and priapic black manservants earns it nul points for political correctness. But seen from its own amoral perspective, aided by Borowczyk's remarkable sense of framing and rhythm, La Bête is that rare achievement, a truly erotic film.
David Thompson

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 22: Mon Jan 22

The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (Herzog, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.40pm

This screening is part of the Werner Herzog season at BFI Southbank and the film is on an extended run at the cinema. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Where others see freakshows, Werner Herzog finds poetry and wonder. These days, the German’s best films are documentaries. Earlier in his career, he made dramas with all the immediacy and sense of exploration of his later, now more familiar non-fiction. Based on true events, 1974’s ‘The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser’ begins with the old idea of the wise fool and takes it somewhere more mysterious and moving. Herzog cast wide-eyed, childlike Bruno S, a troubled street musician, as Hauser, a young man who appeared in the town square of Nuremberg in 1828 unable to speak and clutching a mysterious letter containing his name. After learning to talk, Kaspar told of being raised in a tiny cellar by an unknown captor. Herzog asks more questions about the people whom Kaspar encounters than he answers about Kaspar himself, although he’s far from an academic creation. His experiences over the few years we spend with him – as polite German society variously treats him as a freak, an experiment and worthy of care and respect – are full of sadness and intrigue. The conflict between logic and the unknowable is as fascinating and exciting for us as it clearly is for Herzog.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.