Monday, 23 May 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 167: Wed Jun 15

Journey to the Shore (Kurosawa, 2015): Regent Street Cinema, 6.30pm



Variety review:
A piano teacher goes on a second honeymoon of sorts with her missing husband when he returns as a ghost in “Journey to the Shore,” Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s return to human drama in the vein of “Tokyo Sonata,” albeit with a spiritual dimension. Traversing East Japan from small towns to remote hamlets, the film’s winding, episodic form ultimately conveys an obvious message, but the way in which its motley characters work through feelings of loss, regret and acceptance have a hushed, timorous sentiment that’s uniquely Japanese. Fans of Kurosawa’s earlier psycho-thrillers may desire more eeriness and visual panache, but those who’ve accepted the helmer’s conscious change of tune and pace should be gently touched.
Guy Lodge

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 166: Tue Jun 14

To The Wonder (Mallick, 2012): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm


Don't miss the 35mm screening of this great movie in the Terrence Mallick season at the Prince Charles Cinema.

Little White Lies review:
It’s been referred to as a ‘B-side’ to The Tree Of Life’s operatic prime cut, but that description infers that To The Wonder is some kind of funky doodle not deemed good enough as a standalone work. No, these two films operate better as a monumental double A-side, both evolved out of the same miasmic primordial yolk and constructed with an insouciant rigour that’s bound to leave the righteous slack-jawed in awe.

While Tree Of Life presented Earth as a place of rhapsodic enchantment, To The Wonder gives us a modern-day world on the cusp of devastation. Taking place among the prefab tract houses of a dusty Oklahoman berg where every hour is magic hour, To The Wonder is less interested in the consolations of spirituality and the dynamics of love than it is the emotional barricades that prevent us from living a life of sublime indifference.

Ben Affleck essays Neil, a commitment-shy environmental health officer whose internal anxieties prevent him from truly accepting childlike Russian-French nymphet Marina (Olga Kurylenko) into his cold heart. A patina of dread and disquietude – both spoken and concealed – encases the action. Characters grapple with metaphysical conundrums and paradoxical homilies to come to terms with the preciousness of existence. They even begin to realise that the universal constant of romantic relationships may just be losing its place at the top of the chain of human responsibility.

With this more insidiously dour and subtly opaque affair, Malick again acts as head curator of a luxuriant flick-book of divine images, all of which have been immaculately beat-matched via the breathtaking, elliptical editing. His partner in cinematographic crime, Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki, locates tumbling cosmic depths in the most mundane of moments: a meadow of ambling bison mutates into a vision of chaos and claustrophobia; the shifting sands near Mont Saint-Michel; a night-time visit to a washing-machine outlet becomes a trial of enforced domesticity; Marina euphorically flits, jerks and prances, her fa├žade of innocence a physical manifestation of the idea that Neil is unable to get close to her, to consume her.

Weaving in tandem to this is the story of a priest (Javier Bardem) who’s straying from the flock. He surveys the lives of impoverished locals just as Neil finds toxic chemicals leaking from local industrial plants. To The Wonder ponders how different life might be if we could comprehend the awesomeness of a world we take for granted. We might wrestle with our own doubts about this film, but how fitting is that for a film about doubt?

Its utter earnestness leaves it wide open to criticism, but to bemoan the superficial quality of the performances, the script or the story would be to miss the point of the film entirely. Malick doesn’t make films anymore. He builds cathedrals.
David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 165: Mon Jun 13

The Ladies Man (Lewis, 1961): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This rarely seen film is part of the 'Grin, Guffaw and Giggle' season at the Prince Charles. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
One of the stranger chapters in Jerry Lewis's continuing psycho-biography, the most direct and intimidating confrontation between his perpetual preadolescent character and the wide world of sex. Jerry bungles into a plot line that might have been lifted from an ancient stag movie: he's the handyman at a women's boardinghouse. But Jerry resists the fleshy temptations of the opposite sex with all the blind determination of a six-year-old. An interesting, if not screamingly funny, film (1961), enlivened by some of Lewis's most audacious camera work and a spectacular three-story cutaway set that impressed Godard so much he borrowed it for Tout va Bien.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 164: Sun Jun 12

Dog Days (Seidl, 2001): Regent Street Cinema, 7pm


This remarkable and rarely seen film screens at the Regent Street Cinema in 35mm.

Time Out review:
Lord knows what they're putting in the water in Austria these days, but it ain't happy pills! Like Michael Haneke's Code Unknown, Seidl's first fiction film cuts back and forth between half-a-dozen characters who may occasionally cross paths. There's the mental girl who hitches rides from the supermarket and proceeds to provoke and insult her benefactors; the security advisor plying for trade; the sexist asshole insanely jealous of his girl; the divorcee still living with her alienated husband. Seidl has a couple of controversial documentaries to his name (Werner Herzog is a big fan) and he apparently used an improvisational method here, although it's framed with careful ironic poise. Seidl himself is a lot like the crazy hitcher: pushing and humiliating his characters and his audience alike. There are a couple of extremely explicit orgy scenes, one featuring the Austrian National Anthem. They're probably meant as shock therapy. 
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 163: Sat Jun 11

The Exquisite Corpus (Tscherkassky, 2015): ICA Cinema, 4pm


More details of this screening to come soon ...

Reverse Shot review:
Peter Tscherkassky’s The Exquisite Corpus, a 20-minute sensory spectacle was a true anomaly at Cannes, a blatantly experimental work whose aesthetic and thematic pleasures are inextricably linked to its author’s analog approach and sense of formal foreplay. Constructed from strips of vintage erotica and associated paraphernalia, the film centers its threadbare narrative around a literal nightmare of sexual indulgence. In the initial footage a nudist couple stumbles upon a naked and unconscious woman on the beach. Proceeding from this setup (which seems to nod to the aesthetics of silent cinema) is an eruption of heavily manipulated images, presumably memories or death-rattle hallucinations from the mind of the unresponsive girl, which Tscherkassky edits into a cascade of overlapping limbs and disassociated debaucheries. Superimpositions stack one atop the other, creating a kind of carnal conniption where divergent figures and detached narratives collapse into single frames that flicker and fragment in a display of accumulating sensation. I was reminded of Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures on more than one occasion, and at its hallucinatory best, The Exquisite Corpus approaches a similar plane of enraptured physicality.
Jordan Cronk

Here (and above) is an extract

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 162: Fri Jun 10

In the Realm of the Senses (Oshima, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This film is part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank and this 35mm screening is introduced by Helen de Witt, BFI head of cinemas.

Chicago Reader review:
Nagisa Oshima's depiction of the obsessive lovemaking between a prostitute and the husband of a brothel keeper, which leads ultimately to the death of the man (with his own consent), is one of the most powerful erotic films ever made, but it certainly isn't for every taste. Based on a true story that originally made headlines in Japan in the 30s, which turned the woman into a tragic public heroine, the film concentrates on the sex so exclusively that a rare period shot—the man observing a troop of soldiers marching past—registers like a brief awakening from a long dream. This 1976 feature is unusually straightforward for Oshima, and those who are put off are likely to be disturbed more by the content than by the style. But the film is unforgettable for its ritualistic (if fatalistic) fascination with sex as a total commitment. With Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda as the couple, and Aio Nakajima as the brothel keeper.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 161: Thu Jun 9

Sabotage (Hitchcock, 1936): Phoenix Cinema, 10.30am


This was one of my five picks for the Guardian of underrated Alfred Hitchcock films not to be missed during the BFI Southbank retrospective of 2012. You can read my thoughts on the quintet of movies via the web here and this is what I had to say about Sabotage:

'Darker in tone and more harrowing than its reputation allows, Sabotage is arguably the most underrated of Hitchcock's still undervalued British period. A loose adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel The Secret Agentabout a shadowy network of anarchists, the film deserves to be remembered for much more than Hitchcock famously regretting his decision to let the bomb go off at the end of one of the director's most celebrated and manipulative suspense sequences. The movie's central couple run a cinema, which Hitchcock uses to masterful effect in an intriguing and rich sequence contrasting Walt Disney on the screen with the heartbreak of the wife following the tragedy at the centre of the narrative. The scene involving the "murder" (or is it "willed suicide"?) of her husband foreshadows the most brutal and shocking killing in Hitchcock's canon 30 years later, that of the East German agent Gromek in Torn Curtain (1966).'

Here
is the famous bus bomb scene (Warning: spoiler)