Sunday, 26 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 127: Thu May 7

Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, 1939): Regent Street Cinema, Time to be decided



This is the opening night of a new cinema, in a theatre dubbed “the birthplace of British cinema”, one which screened the UK’s first moving image – and its first X-rated film. Shira MacLeod, the Regent Street Cinema’s director, has revealed it will be the only movie theatre in the UK to show moving image media “from 16mm and 35mm to Super 8 film, to the latest in 4K digital film”.

The restored cinema, which also houses the original organ used to accompany silent movies, will feature “cutting-edge British and world cinema, retrospectives and classic repertory titles, documentaries, experimental moving image and animation”, Ms MacLeod has said in an article in the Independent you can read here.

The first screening, Only Angels Have Wings, is a major American movie and a pivotal film in the great Howard Hawks's career. Indeed, Robin Wood, in his BFI book on Hawks, describes the movie as a "completely achieved masterpiece". Cary Grant leads a group of pilots who regularly take their life in their hands flying mail planes across the Andes. They are joined by a sparky Jean Arthur, who drops in for a steak but fascinated by the life and times of Grant's team stays on and witnesses the adventures of one of Hawks's archetypal male groups. Only Angels Have Wings mixes tragedy and comedy in typical Hawks style and has an atmosphere all its own. Here is the justly celebrated piano-playing sequence with Grant and Arthur.

Chicago Reader review:
Howard Hawks's 1939 film represents the equilibrium point of his career: the themes he was developing throughout the 30s here reach a perfect clarity and confidence of expression, without yet confronting the darker intimations that would haunt his films of the 40s and 50s. The setting is a South American port where a group of fliers, led by Cary Grant, challenges the elements nightly by piloting mail across a treacherous mountain range. This all-male existential ritual (Grant almost seems the high priest of some Sartrean temple) is invaded by an American showgirl (Jean Arthur) who stops off for a steak and remains, fascinated by the heightened, heady atmosphere of primal struggle. The film's moral seriousness (which sometimes approaches overt didacticism) is balanced by the usual Hawks humor and warmth, and as Grant and Arthur are drawn into a romance, the film moves toward a humanistic softening of its stark premises.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 126: Wed May 6

Look Back in Anger (Richardson, 1959): ArtHouse Crouch End, 8.30pm


Chicago Reader review:
Tony Richardson directed this competent 1959 adaptation of John Osborne's archetypal (and, alas, archetypally misogynist) Angry Young Man play. Richard Burton (a bit too old for his role) is the antiestablishment Jimmy Porter, Mary Ure is his dumped-on wife, and Claire Bloom is her best friend (and his lover). Probably still watchable today, if only for the brittle dialogue and kitchen-sink realism, but undoubtedly dated as well. Nigel Kneale wrote the script; with Edith Evans and Donald Pleasence
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 125: Tue May 5

Alphaville (Godard, 1965): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm


This is part of the Eye on I season at the ICA. All four films are essential viewing. Details here.

Chicago Reader review of Alphaville:
The unadorned streets of Paris become Alpha 60, Capital of Pain, in Jean-Luc Godard's smoky, acrid 1965 science fiction film. It's the most political of Godard's films before his complete radicalization, and probably his most anguished. The terrain crossed by special agent Lemmy Caution (B movie star Eddie Constantine) is relentlessly sterile and oppressive, a wilderness of glass-box architecture and endless white corridors. The view of technology as inherently evil is too facile for Godard's fine, paradoxical mind, and the film as a whole is light on insight. But it remains an outstanding example of the filmmaker's power to transform an environment through the selection of detail: everything in it is familiar, but nothing is recognizable. With Anna Karina and Akim Tamiroff.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Here is academic Colin MacCabe's introduction to Alphaville.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 124: Mon May 4

The Stranger (Welles, 1946): Curzon Bloomsbury, 3pm


This film is part of a weekend of screenings devoted to director Orseon Welles at Curzon Bloomsbury. You can find the full details on this page on the cinema's website.  This film is part of a double-bill with Too Much Johnson.

Chicago Reader review:
Orson Welles's 1946 film reproduces his personal themes of self-scrutiny and self-destruction only in outline, though it is an inventive, highly enjoyable thriller. FBI investigator Edward G. Robinson tracks a Nazi war criminal (Welles) to his lair, a small town in Connecticut where he lives with his unknowing American wife (Loretta Young) and teaches at a prep school. Welles rolls out all his technical thunder for the chase finale, but the most impressive scenes in the film may be those that depict daily life in the village; wrapped in snow, the setting has the magic hush of The Magnificent Ambersons. Welles has said that he made the film to prove he could shoot a conventional Hollywood feature; the proof is there but it did him no good. With Billy House; John Huston contributed, anonymously, to the script. 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 123: Sun May 3

Les Diaboliques (Clouzot, 1955): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


This is part of the Sunday French Classics season at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
The notoriously ruthless 1955 thriller by France's most neurotic director, Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear). Clouzot cast his own wife, Vera, as an invalid who plots the murder of her husband, assisted by his mistress (Simone Signoret). Set in the rotting confines of a private school for boys, the film is cruel, sour, and—unfortunately—very effective.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 122: Sat May 2

Chimes at Midnight (Welles, 1966): Curzon Bloomsbury, 3pm


This film, Orson Welles' personal favourite, starts a weekend of screenings devoted to the director at Curzon Bloomsbury. You can find the full details on this page on the cinema's website. This will be the first screening of the restored 50th anniversary edition (out on DVD on 29 June).

Chicago Reader review:
Orson Welles's 1966 version of the Falstaff story, assembled from Shakespearean bits and pieces, is the one Welles film that deserves to be called lovely; there is also a rising tide of opinion that proclaims it his masterpiece. Restrained and even serene (down to its memorably muddy battle scene), it shows Welles working largely without his technical flourishes—and for those who have never seen beyond his surface flash, it is ample proof of how sensitive and subtle an artist he is. With Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Margaret Rutherford, and Jeanne Moreau.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the memorable battle scene.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 121: Fri May 1

8½ (Fellini, 1963): BFI Southbank, NFT2 2.30pm + NFT1 5.40 & 8.25pm


This classic movie starts an extended run at BFI Southbank tonight. Full details of the dates here.

Chicago Reader review:
If what you know about this exuberant, self-regarding movie comes from its countless inferior imitations (from Mazursky’s Alex in Wonderland and The Pickle to Allen’s Stardust Memories to Fosse’s All That Jazz), you owe it to yourself to see Federico Fellini’s exhilarating, stocktaking original... It’s Fellini’s last black-and-white picture, and conceivably the most gorgeous and inventive thing he’s ever made — certainly more fun than anything he’s made since.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the new BFI trailer.