Sunday, 30 August 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 254: Fri Sep 11

Death Line (Sherman, 1972): Prince Charles Cinema, 11.30pm


This film is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's late-night season. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
'One of the great British horror films, Death Line is a classic example of what Hellraiser director Clive Barker calls 'embracing the monstrous'. The film's basic premise is a gruesome one: following a cave-in during the construction of an underground tunnel in 1892, successive generations of plague-ridden cannibals have survived and developed their own subterranean culture. Forced out of hiding by the death of his wife, the sole surviving cannibal begins abducting passengers from Russell Square tube station. The disgust provoked by the corpse-filled underground world inhabited by the cannibal is offset by the tenderness with which he treats his dying wife, and by the unutterable sadness of his lonely plight. The film's great achievement is in eliciting sympathy for a creature whose residual capacity for human feeling amid such terrible degradation is ultimately more moving than horrifying.'
Nigel Floyd

Here is the celebrated long take from this genuine British horror classic.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 253: Thu Sep 10

Juliet of the Spirits (Fellini, 1965): Gosh Comics, 1 Berwick St, W1F, 7.30pm


This is a Scalarama season screening presented by the Black Decagon Film Club. You can find all the details here on the club's Facebook page.

Time Out review:
What [Federico Fellini's previous film] did for its bourgeois film-director hero, Juliet of the Spirits does for his female opposite number, a repressed, paranoid, bourgeois housewife (played, of course, by Fellini's wife). That's to say it's a gaudy, hyperbolic pageant, in which a 'reality' composed of séances, film-star neighbours, tyrannous relatives, and a large helping of Catholic guilt is gradually invaded by 'flashbacks' and 'fantasies'. The overall charm just about carries the glibness of the psychological payoff, and the way that different veins of imagery interlock gives the film a cogency that later Fellini has woefully lacked.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 252: Wed Sep 9

Fat City (Huston, 1972): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm



This movie, which also screens on 3rd, 11th and 24th September, is part of the New Hollywood season at Close-Up Cinema through September and October. You can find all the details here.

John Huston is much better known for The Dead, African Queen and The Maltese Falcon but Fat City is surely, along with Wise Blood (1979), his finest work. Don't miss the chance to see a rare screening of this wonderful slice of Hollywood melancholia in which Stacy Keach gives the performance of a lifetime as a struggling boxer giving it one last try and Jeff Bridges shines as a naive up-and-coming fighter. Watch out, in particular, for the final scene of this movie and an audacious, haunting shot a minute from the end.

Time Out review:
'Marvellous, grimly downbeat study of desperate lives and the escape routes people construct for themselves, stunningly shot by Conrad Hall. The setting is Stockton, California, a dreary wasteland of smoky bars and sunbleached streets where the lives of two boxers briefly meet, one on the way up, one on the way down. Neither, you sense instantly, for all their talk of past successes and future glories, will ever know any other world than the back-street gymnasiums and cheap boxing-rings where battered trainers and managers exchange confidences about their ailments, disappointments and dreams, and where in a sad and sobering climax two sick men beat each other half to death for a few dollars and a pint of glory. Huston directs with the same puritanical rigour he brought to Wise Blood. Beautifully summed up by Paul Taylor as a "masterpiece of skid row poetry".'
Tom Milne


Spoiler alert - here's that final scene.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 251: Tue Sep 8

L'Atalante (Vigo, 1934): David Lean Cinema, Katharine Street, Croydon, 7.30pm


This screening, part of the Scalarama season, will be from a 35mm print.

Chicago Reader review:
'Jean Vigo's only full-length feature (1934), one of the supreme masterpieces of French cinema, was edited and then brutally reedited while Vigo was dying, so a “definitive” restoration is impossible. (The reassembled version released in France in 1990 is almost certainly the best and most complete we'll ever be able to see—it's wondrous to behold.) The simple love-story plot involves the marriage of a provincial woman (Dita Parlo) to the skipper of a barge (Jean Daste), and the only other characters of consequence are the barge's skeletal crew (Michel Simon and Louis Lefebvre) and a peddler (Gilles Margaritis) who flirts with the wife at a cabaret and describes the wonders of Paris to her. The sensuality of the characters and the settings, indelibly caught in Boris Kaufman's glistening cinematography, are only part of the film's remarkable poetry, the conviction of which goes beyond such categories as realism or surrealism, just as the powerful sexuality in the film ultimately transcends such categories as heterosexuality, homosexuality, and even bisexuality. Shot by shot and moment by moment, the film is so fully alive to the world's possibilities that magic and reality seem to function as opposite sides of the same coin, with neither fully adequate to Vigo's vision. The characters are at once extremely simple and extremely complex (richest of all is Simon's Pere Jules, as beautiful a piece of character acting as one can find anywhere), and while the continuity is choppy in spots—a factor skillfully cloaked by Maurice Jaubert's superb score—the film's aliveness and potency are so constant that this hardly seems to matter. A major inspiration to subsequent generations of filmmakers, yet no one has ever succeeded in matching it.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 250: Mon Sep 7

The Thing (Carpenter, 1982): Picturehouse Central, 8.30pm


This is part of a strand entitled Culture Shock, a series of films dedicated to cult and genre films at Picturehouse Cinemas. Tonight's movie was voted No6 in Time Out's 100 best horror films.

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.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 249: Sun Sep 6

Meshes of the Afternoon (Deren/Hammid, 1943) & Morvern Callar (Ramsay, 2002)
ICA Cinema, 6.15pm



This is part of the Onwards & Outwards season, a nationwide programme of screenings, talks, and events, which aims to establish a dialogue around the conditions of production that women face when attempting to use the moving image as a means of expression.

Here is the ICA introduction to today's special screening:
Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid's experimental investigation of deeply personal psychology, combined with their self-sufficient production ethics, would serve as inspiration for Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar. Using repetitive structures and iconic imagery, they construct a hallucinatory narrative that delves into the intimate subjectivity of its characters. Meshes Of The Afternoon was one of the key films which influenced Lynne Ramsay to study filmmaking rather than still photography.

Continuing her distinctive, and personal approach to filmmaking, Ramsay followed her debut feature Ratcatcher with an adaptation based of the novel Morvern Callar written by Alan Warner. The story follows a young woman in Scotland, played by Samantha Morton, who wakes on Christmas morning to find her boyfriend has committed suicide. Discovering his bank card and the text of his first novel, she decides to take his money and publish the novel under her name.
"I was interested in [Morvern Callar] because it isn't a very straight narrative, it is original in terms of character, it's original in terms of plot in some ways as well. That's a major risk because the reason conventional narratives are liked is because they work, and they've always worked. People like to be led like that. But that doesn't mean that there isn't another way of doing it. I enjoy experimenting and taking risks with the form." Lynne Ramsay, Vertigo
Chicago Reader review of Morvern Callar:
Morvern Callar (cult fave Samantha Morton) is an inarticulate grocery store clerk in a Scottish hamlet—dead-end girl in a dead-end job in a dead-end town. She seems frozen, unable to act, but when she does it's sudden and startling. An unexpected influx of cash sends her and her best friend, Lanna, who's noisier but equally feckless, on an aimless Spanish beach trip full of joyless sex, drug taking, and drunken Brits. It's not what Morvern wants—not that she knows what she wants—and when the accidental tourist becomes an accidental celebrity, things get even more disturbing. Fans of director Lynne Ramsay's first movie, the bleak Ratcatcher, won't be surprised that this little existential exercise makes The Stranger look like a funwagon






Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 248: Sat Sep 5

Penda's Fen (Clarke, 1974): Whitechapel Gallery, 3pm


This is part of the Scalarama film season. You can find all the details for the September screenings if you click on the link here

Here is the Whitechapel Gallery introduction to today's event:
A rare 16mm screening of Alan Clarke’s remarkable 1974 BBC Play for Today, one of the masterworks of British television drama. The screening will be introduced by its writer, David Rudkin, who will also be in conversation. The afternoon is opened with live music by multi-instrumentalist Bird Radio. The event also marks the launch of The Edge Is Where the Centre Is, a major new book exploring the making of the film, edited by Sukhdev Sandhu and published in association with Seen Studio.

Time Out review of Penda's Fen (the magazine voted the film at No76 in their top 100 British films list here):
This remarkable feature length television film – commissioned for the legendary 1970s ‘Play for Today’ single drama series – is often described as a step ‘off piste’ for its director Alan Clarke. That’s a misleading reading, however. The work’s qualities of resistance, questioning and personal and public transformation are entirely in keeping with the normally urban-centric filmmaker’s milieu. But the real credit lies with its writer David Rudkin. An astonishing playwright with a visionary reach and a genuine sense of ‘deep England’ and its radical potential, Rudkin here crafts a multi-layered reading of contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and metaphysical fault lines. Fusing Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with a heightened socialism of vibrantly localist empathy, and pagan belief systems with pre-Norman histories and a seriously committed – and prescient – ecological awareness, ‘Penda’s Fen’ is a unique and important statement, rumoured soon – finally – to be available on DVD
Gareth Evans

Here (and above) is a pretty terrifying extract.