Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 351: Sat Dec 17

The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT 6.20pm


This 35mm screening is part of the Re-releases strand at BFI Southbank (see here for full details) and this particular film is on from December 16th to the 20th.

Chicago Reader review:
There are no art deco nightclubs, shimmering silk gowns, or slamming bedroom doors to be seen, but this 1940 film is one of Ernst Lubitsch's finest and most enduring works, a romantic comedy of dazzling range that takes place almost entirely within the four walls of a leather-goods store in prewar Budapest. James Stewart is the earnest, slightly awkward young manager; Margaret Sullavan is the new sales clerk who gets on his nerves—and neither realizes that they are partners in a passionate romance being carried out through the mails. Interwoven with subplots centered on the other members of the shop's little family, the romance proceeds through Lubitsch's brilliant deployment of point of view, allowing the audience to enter the perceptions of each individual character at exactly the right moment to develop maximum sympathy and suspense. With Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, Sara Haden, and Felix Bressart.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 350: Fri Dec 16

Patience (After Sebald) (Gee, 2012): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


Time Out review:
German by birth and British by choice, the writer W.G. Sebald was a world-class literary straddler: His dense, hauntingly descriptive work toggled between fiction and memoir, interior and exterior landscapes, the ugly legacy of his native country (specifically WWII and the Holocaust) and the beauty of East Anglia, where he lived for 35 years prior to his death in 2001. Personal and social memory preoccupied him, as did the English countryside; his 1995 novel, The Rings of Saturn, concerned a man named “W.G. Sebald” (himself? an avatar? some combination of the two?) who walks through rural Suffolk and ponders everything from European history to silkworms, encountering a host of interesting (real? imagined?) characters.
Judging from the number of writers, editors and pundits who attest to the greatness of that book’s sprawling psychogeographical magical mystery tour, Saturn is a favorite tome among Sebald’s legion of fans—including documentarian Grant Gee (Meeting People Is Easy), who’s constructed his own memorial collage-cum-tone-poem about the belletrist’s travelogue. Black-and-white shots of pastoral tableaux, lapping waves and the occasional animal corpse are accompanied by philosophical musings from Chris Petit, Rick Moody, Iain Sinclair and others; the protagonist’s route is traced via textual maps; pages of Sebald’s work read aloud butt up against testimonies and a radio interview with the man himself. It’s less a biographical sketch than an attempt at remembrance via a replication of Sebald’s stream-of-consciousness prose, an outside-the-vérité-box effort that obfuscates as much as it fascinates. Look elsewhere if you want a linear timeline of Sebald’s life or don’t possess that titular virtue; everyone else will want to make a beeline to their local bookstore. 
David Fear

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 349: Thu Dec 15

Scrooge (Hurst, 1951): BFI Southbank, Studio, 6.15pm


This movie, the best film version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, also screens at the cinema on December 22nd and 27th (full details here). Tom Charity's review below is an honest and excellent one but I defy you not to be moved by Sim's central performance and it is this Ghost of Christmas Future that has haunted me since I saw this film as a ten-year-old.

Time Out review:
Surprisingly, there isn't a film version of the Dickens novella which merits the imprimatur 'classic'. The Muppets had a good stab at it, and Bill Murray was well cast in the otherwise scattershot Scrooged. On the plus side, this version is cast like an engraved illustration: Miles Thesiger, Mervyn Johns, Michael Hordern, Kathleen Harrison, Ernest Malleson, Hermione Baddeley and, above all, the splendidly aloof Alastair Sim, who feasts on Dickens' best lines ('I expect you want the whole day off tomorrow?'), greets each new ghost with a weary shiver, and handles his giddy rebirth with aplomb. A jobbing director who knew how to point a camera, Brian Hurst never betrayed much facility for cutting or movement. He stages the action competently, but the transitions between scenes are so choppy you wonder where the ads are. Add to this a prosaic adaptation by Noel Langley which gets bogged down in the backstory (the relatively dull visitation from the ghost of Christmas Past which explains how nice Ebenezer - a bashful George Cole - fell from the path of righteousness), some rather depressed-looking spirits, and the cringeworthy sentimentality of the Tiny Tim scenes, and you have what Scrooge himself might call 'Ho-hum-bug'.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 348: Wed Dec 14

My Night with Maud (Rohmer, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm


This film, introduced by BFI Programmer-at-large Geoff Andrew, is part of the cinema's Big Screen Classics season (details here).

Chicago Reader review:
Eric Rohmer's droll and delicate comedy of language (1969), about a devout Catholic (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who delivers an all-night monologue on the philosophy of Pascal to escape being seduced by the lovely atheist Maud (Francoise Fabian). Number three in Rohmer's series of “Six Moral Tales,” it is probably the most pure: the plotline transpires entirely in the central character's mind and is never explicitly acknowledged by Rohmer's direction, which concentrates instead on the elaborate gambits of a style of speech meant to do anything but communicate.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 347: Tue Dec 13

Point Blank (Boorman, 1967): Picturehouse Central, 7pm


To celebrate the release of Paterson, Culture Shock presents a special season curated by acclaimed filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (details here) at Picturehouse Central. This film is showing from a "glorious 35mm print".

Chicago Reader review:
John Boorman's modernist, noirish thriller (1967) is still his best and funniest effort (despite the well-phrased demurrals of filmmaker Thom Andersen regarding its cavalier treatment of Los Angeles). Lee Marvin, betrayed by his wife and best friend, finds revenge when he emerges from prison. He recovers stolen money and fights his way to the top of a multiconglomerate—only to find absurdity and chaos. Boorman's treatment of cold violence and colder technology has lots of irony and visual flash—the way objects are often substituted for people is especially brilliant, while the influence of pop art makes for some lively 'Scope compositions—and the Resnais-like experiments with time and editing are still fresh and inventive. The accompanying cast (and iconography) includes Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, and Carroll O'Connor; an appropriate alternate title might be “Tarzan Versus IBM,” a working title Jean-Luc Godard had for his Alphaville. 
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 346: Mon Dec 12

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.30pm


This 35mm presentation is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Christmas season (details here).
Here's one of the great films set during Christmas, and an opportunity to see Stanley Kubrick's much-underrated final movie.

If you're interested in reading more about this film I can recommend two BFI publications - Michel Chion's Modern Classics monograph on Eyes Wide Shut and the chapter on the film in James Naremore's book titled 'On Kubrick'.

Chicago Reader review:
'Initial viewings of Stanley Kubrick's movies can be deceptive because his films all tend to be emotionally convoluted in some way; one has to follow them as if through a maze. A character that Kubrick might seem to treat cruelly the first time around (e.g., Elisha Cook Jr.'s fall guy in The Killing) can appear the object of tender compassion on a subsequent viewing. The director's desire to avoid sentimentality at all costs doesn't preclude feeling, as some critics have claimed, but it does create ambiguity and a distanced relationship to the central characters. Kubrick's final feature very skillfully portrays the dark side of desire in a successful marriage; since the 60s he'd been thinking about filming Arthur Schnitzler's brilliant novella "Traumnovelle," and working with Frederic Raphael, he's adapted it faithfully--at least if one allows for all the differences between Viennese Jews in the 20s and New York WASPs in the 90s. Schnitzler's tale, about a young doctor contemplating various forms of adultery and debauchery after discovering that his wife has entertained comparable fantasies, has a somewhat Kafkaesque ambiguity, wavering between dream and waking fantasy (hence Kubrick's title), and all the actors do a fine job of traversing this delicate territory. Yet the story has been altered to make the successful doctor (Tom Cruise) more of a hypocrite and his wife (powerfully played by Nicole Kidman) a little feistier; Kubrick's also added a Zeus-like tycoon (played to perfection by Sydney Pollack) who pretends to explain the plot shortly before the end but in fact only summarizes the various mysteries, his cynicism and chilly access to power revealing that Kubrick is more of a moralist than Schnitzler. To accept the premises and experiences of this movie, you have to be open to an expressionist version of New York with scant relation to the 90s (apart from cellular phones and AIDS) and a complex reading of a marriage that assumes the relations between men and women haven't essentially changed in the past 70-odd years. This is a remarkably gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, is likely to grow in mystery and intensity over time.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 345: Sun Dec 11

Fanny and Alexander (Bergman, 1982): Curzon Soho, 2.15pm

 
This 35mm screening, being shown from an original Artifical Eye print, is the first event in the new 'Enthusiasm' repertory season at Curzon Cinemas. Watch this space for more details.

Chicago Reader review:
Ingmar Bergman's 1983 feature, condensed from a much longer TV series, is less an autumnal summation of his career than an investigation of its earliest beginnings: through the figure of ten-year-old Alexander (Bertil Guve), Bergman traces the storytelling urge, developing from dreams and fairy tales into theater and (implicitly) movies. The film doesn't so much surmount Bergman's usual shortcomings—the crude contrasts, heavy symbolism, and preachy philosophizing—as find an effective context for them. Tied to a child's mind, the oversimplifications become the stuff of myth and legend. As in The Night of the Hunter, a realistic psychological drama is allowed to expand into fantasy; the result is one of Bergman's most haunting and suggestive films.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

To launch ENTHUSIASM, a new strand of bold and innovative repertory programming across the Curzon circuit, we are proud to present a special screening of Fanny and Alexander, the Oscar-winning culmination of a lifetime’s work by one of cinema’s greatest artists, Ingmar Bergman. - See more at: http://www.curzoncinemas.com/fannyandalexander#sthash.eFYliQAS.dpuf
To launch ENTHUSIASM, a new strand of bold and innovative repertory programming across the Curzon circuit, we are proud to present a special screening of Fanny and Alexander, the Oscar-winning culmination of a lifetime’s work by one of cinema’s greatest artists, Ingmar Bergman. - See more at: http://www.curzoncinemas.com/fannyandalexander#sthash.eFYliQAS.dpuf
To launch ENTHUSIASM, a new strand of bold and innovative repertory programming across the Curzon circuit, we are proud to present a special screening of Fanny and Alexander, the Oscar-winning culmination of a lifetime’s work by one of cinema’s greatest artists, Ingmar Bergman. - See more at: http://www.curzoncinemas.com/fannyandalexander#sthash.eFYliQAS.dpuf