Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 141: Fri May 20

Close Up (Gidal, 1983): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm

Close-Up Cinema introduction:
Peter Gidal
 and Mark Webber will introduce a screening of Gidal’s feature-length film Close Up to coincide with the publication of Flare Out: Aesthetics 1966–2016, a collection of essays by one of film’s great polemicists. Gidal was a central figure during the formative years of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative and made some its most radical works. His cinema is anti-narrative, against representation, and fiercely materialist.
In Close Up, Peter Gidal’s political, ultra-leftist practice is augmented by the disembodied voices of two Nicaraguan revolutionaries heard of the soundtrack. These voices punctuate a film whose representation of a room, an inhabited space, is one in which the viewer must consciously search for recognition, for meaning-making. The image-content is muted and abstract, but fascinating, with moments of (no-doubt) inadvertent beauty.
"Close Up is crystal hard, intransigent, and film in extremis. In short, one of the best 'political' films made in this country." – Michael O’Pray

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 140: Thu May 19

La Ceremonie (Chabrol, 1995): Cine Lumiere, 8.50pm

This film is part of the Isabelle Huppert season at Cine Lumiere. Full details here.

Time Out review:
When Catherine (Jacqueline Bisset) takes on Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) as housekeeper, her family's impressed by Sophie's aura of quiet responsibility, even though they're not convinced she knows how to serve dinner correctly. Snobbish but liberal, they nevertheless treat her generously. Only when she starts to consort with postmistress Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert), a gossip whom husband Georges (Jean-Pierre Cassel) suspects of opening the family mail, do they find real cause for complaint. But by then the women have a secret bond which excludes them from the safe cosseted world of Sophie's employers. Claude Chabrol's adaptation of Ruth Rendell's A Judgement in Stone benefits from the director's immaculate sense of social and psychological detail. The film's strong points are not mystery, suspense or even surprise, but Chabrol's flair for characterisation, careful pacing and solid evocation of bourgeois complacency and anti-bourgeois hatred creates a palpable sense of unease that fully justifies the shockingly violent finale. Ledoyen, the daughter of the household, is a discovery; Bisset returns to form; and Huppert, unusually vivacious, is terrific.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 139: Wed May 18

The Passion of Anna (Bergman, 1969): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This (35mm) screening is part of a short Ingmar Bergman season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Ingmar Bergman's 1970 film about the impossibility of purity and consistency in a world where to live is to contradict yourself. The passion of the title is not sexual, but the ability to live with the contradictions of life and to bear them without resignation. A tentative, plotless film that pulses with the rhythms of life rather than the rhythms of drama.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the brilliant trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 138: Tue May 17

The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 8pm

This (35mm) screening is part of the Terrence Malick season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

The Thin Red Line confused Jonathan Romney so much when he was the Guardian's chief film critic that he said he wasn't sure whether it was worth one star or five so he put a row of question marks at the top of his review which you can read in full here.

Here is the Chicago Reader review:
There's less sense of period here and more feeling for terrain than in any other World War II movie that comes to mind. Terrence Malick's strongest suits in his two previous features, Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978)—a painterly sense of composition and a bold and original use of offscreen narration—are enhanced here, first by a successful wedding of ecology and narrative (which never quite happened in Days of Heaven) and second by the notion of a collective hero, which permits the internal monologues of many characters in turn. I haven't read the James Jones novel this is based on,  which some feel is his best, but Malick clearly is distancing the material philosophically and poetically, muting the drama periodically and turning it into reverie. This may have its occasional dull stretches, but in contrast to Saving Private Ryan it's the work of a grown-up with something to say about the meaning and consequences of war. The fine cast includes Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Nick Nolte, John C. Reilly, and, in tiny parts, John Travolta and George Clooney.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 137: Mon May 16

Duck Soup (McCarey, 1933): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.15pm

Duck Soup is the greatest of the Marx Brothers' movies - and is being screened in the Clasic Film season at the Prince Charles Cinema. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review of Duck Soup:
The Marx Brothers' best movie (1933) and, not coincidentally, the one with the strongest director—Leo McCarey, who had the flexibility to give the boys their head and the discipline to make some formal sense of it. Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly, brought in by Margaret Dumont to restore order to the crumbling country of Freedonia; his competition consists of two bumbling spies, Chico and Harpo, sent in by the failed Shakespearean actor (Louis Calhern) who runs the country next door. The antiwar satire is dark, trenchant, and typical of Paramount's liberal orientation at the time.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the famous lemonade vendor scene.

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 136: Sun May 15

Truly Madly Deeply (Minghella, 1990): ArtHouse Crouch End, 3pm

Juliet Stevenson will be on stage for a Q&A following the screening of this British classic, starring the late Alan Rickman.

Chicago Reader review:
An English feature written and directed by playwright Anthony Minghella, about a young woman (Juliet Stevenson) stricken by the death of her cellist lover (Alan Rickman) who appears to be revisited by his ghost, this comes across as an English realist variation on the sort of quasi-supernatural stories that producer Val Lewton specialized in during the 40s: that is, the supernatural elements are used to enhance the realistic psychology rather than the other way around. If the relatively prosaic Minghella, making his movie debut, lacks the suggestive poetic sensibility of Lewton, he does a fine job in capturing the contemporary everyday textures of London life, and coaxes a strong performance out of Stevenson, a longtime collaborator. Full of richly realized secondary characters and witty oddball details (e.g., the home video tastes of her late lover's ghostly male companions), this is a beguiling film in more ways than one.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 135: Sat May 14

Galaxy Quest (Parisot, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm

This 35mm screening is part of the beer and pizza night season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
The series only ran from '79 to '82, but the cast of 'Galaxy Quest' are making a living of sorts on the fan convention circuit. Facing yet more dorky devotees hardly enthuses the show's alien and science officer, Alexander Dane (Rickman), communications officer Gwen DeMarco (Weaver), and commander Jason Nesmith (Allen). Still, they need the money, so they tag along when a dweeby-looking bunch inveigles them into visiting their mock-up of the programme's old vessel, the 'Protector'. But the twist is, this time the ship was actually crafted on a distant planet, where transmissions of 'Galaxy Quest' have been mistaken for historical documents, and the misguided extra-terrestrials have gambled on recruiting heroic Allen and crew to save their world from interstellar rivals. The actors have played this script before, but now it's for real. Gently satirising the Trekkie phenomenon, Parisot's movie works a treat because it's sufficiently knowing to have the references down pat, but affectionate enough to have a soft spot for just about everyone. Effects and production design are also splendidly integrated into the overall enterprise, which is even more enjoyable for being so unexpected.

Trevor Johnston

Here (and above) is the trailer.