Sunday, 28 August 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 263: Tue Sep 20

Counting (Cohen, 2015): Barbican Cinema, 6.30pm


Here is the Barbican introduction:
Independent American filmmaker Jem Cohen’s latest feature offers a diary of urban life in 15 chapters. Hypnotically capturing the ephemera of cities such as New York, St. Petersburg and Istanbul, his wandering camera gazes with forensic fascination upon the world around it, finding connections, beauty, and many cats, within the everyday. We’re pleased to be joined by Jem Cohen for a ScreenTalk after the screening, alongside Gareth Evans.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 262: Mon Sep 19

Belladonna of Sadness (Yamamoto, 1973): Barbican Cinema, 8.30pm


This masterpiece of Japanese animation screens as part of the 'Head Trips: Films for the Innder Eye' season at the Barbican. You can find the full details here.

New York Times review:
To summarize this film is to present a solid argument that it’s one of the most unusual ever made: “Belladonna of Sadness,” is a 1973 Japanese erotic animated musical inspired by the 19th-century French historian Jules Michelet’s account of witchery in the Middle Ages.
The reality of the movie, directed by Eiichi Yamamoto, is odder still. Opening with a jazz-rock song and lyrical, static imagery of attractive Western figures in watercolor, it features narration telling of Jean and Jeanne, young French provincial marrieds “smiled upon by God.” 

But not for long. Jeanne is subjected to a brutal, surrealistically rendered gang rape by the village lord and his claque. The film then lays out an imaginative, and sometimes overwrought, narrative exegesis, positing that the power of feminine sexuality is essentially demonic. While weaving thread one afternoon, post-trauma, Jeanne is visited by a small, phallus-shaped imp.

“Are you the Devil?” she asks.“I am you,” he replies. Thus begins Jeanne’s triumph and ruin. “Belladonna of Sadness” is compulsively watchable, even at its most disturbing: The imagery is frequently graphic, and still, after over 40 years, it has the power to shock. The narrative, however implausible, is seductive. And the meticulously executed visual freakouts are awe-inspiring: The Black Death, which, of course, spices up the story line, gets its own four-minute production number. The variety of graphic modes — with references to fashion magazines, pop art, psychedelia, underground comics, arty pornography and much more — is dizzying.

“Belladonna of Sadness” is undoubtedly a landmark of animated film, and arguably a masterpiece. But it’s a very disquieting one. After experiencing the picture, you are left with the nagging suspicion that its retrograde ideology and its ravishing imagery are not contradictory attributes but are, rather, inextricably codependent.Glen Kenny
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 261: Sun Sep 18

Lust For Life (Minnelli, 1956): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 3.50pm


This screening is part of the Kirk Douglas season at BFI Southbank and is also being shown on September11th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Vincente Minnelli's 1956 biography of Vincent van Gogh, adapted from the Irving Stone book. Basing his mise-en-scene on the colors of van Gogh's paintings, Minnelli anchors the film in a dazzlingly schizophrenic, first-person point of view. Kirk Douglas stars; his knotty, passionate self-destructiveness has seldom been put to better use.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 260: Sat Sep 17

Chinatown (Polanski, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 6pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Classic Film Season at the Prince Charles. Details here.

Time Out review:
'The hard-boiled private eye coolly strolls a few steps ahead of the audience. The slapstick detective gets everything wrong and then pratfalls first over the finish line anyway. Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is neither - instead he's a hard-boiled private eye who gets everything wrong. Jake snaps tabloid-ready photos of an adulterous love nest that's no such thing. He spies a distressed young woman through a window and mistakes her for a hostage. He finds bifocals in a pond and calls them Exhibit A of marital murder, only the glasses don't belong to the victim and the wife hasn't killed anyone. Yet when he confronts ostensible black widow Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) with the spectacular evidence, the cigarette between his teeth lends his voice an authoritative Bogie hiss. Throughout, Gittes sexes up mediocre snooping with blithe arrogance and sarcastic machismo. It's the actor's default mode, sure, but in 1974 it hadn't yet calcified into Schtickolson, and in 1974 a director (Roman Polanski), a screenwriter (Robert Towne) and a producer (Robert Evans) could decide to beat a genre senseless and dump it in the wilds of Greek tragedy. 'You see, Mr Gits,' depravity incarnate Noah Cross (John Huston) famously explains, 'most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they're capable of anything.' As is Chinatown. The last gunshot here is the sound of the gate slamming on the Paramount lot of Evans' halcyon reign, and as the camera rears back to catch Jake's expression, the dolly lists and shivers - an almost imperceptible sob of grief and recognition, but not a tear is shed.'Jessica Winter

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 259: Fri Sep 16

El Sur (Erice, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.45pm


This classic Spanish film from the 1980s is on an extended run at BFI Southbank. You can find all the 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 2016 - Day 258: Thu Sep 15

The Magic Christian (McGrath, 1969): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm


This is a Scalarama event. Here is the introduction:
Join Roz Kaveney and friends for an experimental broadcast on London’s arts radio station, Resonance FM, a recorded ‘live’ DVD commentary for the Peter Sellars and Ringo Starr starrer ‘The Magic Christian’.

With streaming online services becoming the way that most of us watch films, DVD commentaries are becoming, if not a thing of the past, then certainly increasingly rare. That means there are thousands of movies – some obscure, some not so obscure – which won’t benefit from having people talking, gossiping, showing off and occasionally making salient cultural observations over the top of them.

That’s where ‘Music for Films: Box Set’ comes in. Resonance FM’s flagship show of tangential and digressive conversation (often about film music) plans to make DVD commentaries for every single one of them, starting with ‘The Magic Christian’, partly scripted by Terry ‘Easy Rider’ Southern from his comic novel, with Pythons Graham Chapman and John Cleese also having a hand in the screenplay (Cleese makes a cameo as a snidely smooth auctioneer).

It’s a film depicting the other side of the swinging Sixties, not the love and peace version but the one where people all wanted to get filthy rich and screw the other fellow, damnit. ‘The Magic Christian’ is old fashioned in some of its attitudes yet oddly prescient of modern, hypercapitalist London.
Be part of starting our ‘Box Set’ by watching the film and commenting along with us.

(When we’ve run the film once, we’ll show it again without people talking. This is a special service for people who actually want to see the film).

Film Comment review:
“Everyone has their price,” Sir Guy Grand (Peter Sellers) assures Youngman (Ringo Starr), the hirsute vagrant he’s plucked out of a park and made his heir. Establishing an instant rapport, the pair play increasingly complex pranks upon London’s unswinging posh set, culminating with the launch of The Magic Christian (a supposedly transatlantic luxury liner whose sham maiden voyage is afflicted by choppy seas, a drunken captain, and Yul Brynner in drag) and their inviting people to fish pound notes from a vat filled with feces, blood, and vomit. Though in Terry Southern’s original novel Sir Guy was more interested in “making it hot” for the middle class and lampooning prim bourgeois taste, Joseph McGrath’s movie version remains an acerbic, late-Sixties dark comedy classic.

Violet Lucca

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 257: Wed Sep 14

Psychomania (Sharp, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm


BFI introduction to this screening in the cinema's 'Cult' strand:
One of the weirdest films about young undead bikers on the rampage you’ll ever see, and the only one to feature George Sanders and Beryl Reid as toad-worshipping Satanists. With the secret of eternal life in their grasp, The Living Dead motorcycle gang and their splendidly stony-faced leader Tom (Henson) return from the grave to commit shocking acts of hooliganism in a supermarket. Depraved.

Plus tonight's entertainment also includes a Dreyer short from 1948!

They Caught the Ferry
De nåede færgen. Dir Carl Theodor Dreyer. 11min. English subtitles
Two lovers in a hurry tear through town on a motorbike in this amazing dreamlike parable of road safety. Could that be Death up ahead, out for a casual spin in his hearse?

Psychomania (fully remastered) is released Mon 19 Sep on BFI Flipside Blu-ray and DVD.

Here (and above) is the Psychomania trailer.