Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 199: Sat Jul 18

S.W.A.L.K. [aka MELODY] (Hussein, 1971): BFI Southbank,NFT2, 3.50pm


This is part of the London on Film season and also screens on 3rd July. Details here.

BFI Southbank preview:
Oliver! co-stars Wild and Lester were reunited for Hussein and Alan Parker’s engaging, eccentric child’s-eye-view of Lambeth schooldays. Posh Danny (Lester) and urchin Ornshaw (Wild) are inseparable until Danny falls for classmate Melody, and the pre-teen couple decide to marry. This sweet, uplifting love story has a fab soundtrack by the Bee Gees and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 198: Fri Jul 17

Faces (Cassavetes, 1968): Close-Up Cinema, 8.30pm


This is showing as part of the John Cassavetes season at Close-Up. There are a number of screenings of the film until 31st July and you can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
John Cassavetes's galvanic 1968 drama about one long night in the lives of an estranged well-to-do married couple (John Marley and Lynn Carlin) and their temporary lovers (Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel) was the first of his independent features to become a hit, and it's not hard to see why. It remains one of the only American films to take the middle class seriously, depicting the compulsive, embarrassed laughter of people facing their own sexual longing and some of the emotional devastation brought about by the so-called sexual revolution. (Interestingly, Cassavetes set out to make a trenchant critique of the middle class, but his characteristic empathy for all of his characters makes this a far cry from simple satire.) Shot in 16-millimeter black and white with a good many close-ups, this often takes an unsparing yet compassionate "documentary" look at emotions most movies prefer to gloss over or cover up. Adroitly written and directed, and superbly acted—the leads and Val Avery are all uncommonly good (and the astonishing Lynn Carlin was a nonprofessional discovered by Cassavetes, working at the time as Robert Altman's secretary)—this is one of the most powerful and influential American films of the 60s.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 197: Thu Jul 16

Society (Yuzna, 1989): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm


This film screens in the Cult strand at BFI Southbank and can also be seen on 19th July. You can find all the details here.

Time Out review of Society:
'A bizarre fable that starts like a TV soap but soon darkens into a disturbing thriller about an idyllic Beverly Hills community where something is subtly skewed. Handsome teenager Bill (Billy Warlock) feels uncomfortable with his affluent peers. But the usual teen insecurities take on a more sinister aspect when his sister's ex-boyfriend Blanchard plays him a clandestine recording of her 'coming out' party which suggests perverse, incestuous sexual initiation; but when Bill's shrink later plays the tape back to him, he hears only innocuous conversation. How does this connect with rich kid Ted's exclusive teen clique, or Blanchard's death in a road accident? Is there a dark conspiracy, or is Bill losing his marbles? First-time director Yuzna is happier with the sly humour and clever plot shifts than with the appropriately iconic but sometimes dramatically unconvincing cast. He nevertheless generates a compelling sense of paranoid unease, and shifts into F/X overdrive for an unforgettable horror finale. Suffice it to say that the 'surrealistic make-up designs' by Screaming Mad George (who did the cockroach sequence in Nightmare on Elm Street 4) will stretch even the most inelastic mind.'

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 196: Wed Jul 15

Macbeth (Welles, 1948): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm


This film is part of the Orosn Welles season at BFI Southbank. The movie also screens on 18th July and you can find full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Orson Welles's 1948 production, made on a short schedule and a tiny budget for Republic Pictures. (Some 20 minutes of footage and the original Scottish-accented sound track were replaced in the 80s in a UCLA Film Archive restoration, though it's still the least of Welles's Shakespearean adaptations.) Welles makes no serious attempt to present the language of the play; instead, this one is all atmosphere and movement, filmed on forthrightly stagy sets with a restlessly tracking camera. Welles's Macbeth is no more than adequate, though his rise and fall follows the personal, punitive patterns of all Welles films, and Jeanette Nolan's Lady M is a near disaster. Still, there is force in this rough, hasty rendering; the sheer speed of the pacing gives it a quality of crushing delirium.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the opening to the film.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 195: Tue Jul 14

Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958): BFI Southbank, NFT1 6.30 & 8.45pm


This classic noir is on an extended run at BFI Southbank as part of the Orson Welles season. Here are full details of all the screenings.

Chicago Reader review:
After seeing the work print of his last Hollywood feature, Orson Welles wrote a lengthy memo requesting several changes in editing and sound—work that was carried out in 1998 by producer Rick Schmidlin and editor Walter Murch with myself as consultant. About the original 95-minute 1958 release (superseded since the mid-70s by a 108-minute preview version), Dave Kehr wrote, "Eternal damnation to the wretch at Universal who printed the opening titles over the most brilliant establishing shot in film history—a shot that establishes not only place and main characters in its continuous movement over several city blocks, but also the film's theme (crossing boundaries), spatial metaphors, and peculiar bolero rhythm." These titles now appear at the film's end—yielding a final running time of 111 minutes—and in the opening shot Henry Mancini's music comes exclusively from speakers in front of the nightclubs and from a car radio. Other changes involve different sound and editing patterns and a few deletions, all of which add up to a narrative that's easier to follow, but there's no new or restored footage. To quote Kehr again, "Welles stars as the sheriff of a corrupt border town who finds his nemesis in visiting Mexican narcotics agent Charlton Heston; the witnesses to this weirdly gargantuan struggle include Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Akim Tamiroff, and Joseph Calleia, who holds the film's moral center with sublime uncertainty."
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here (and above) is the new BFI trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 194: Mon Jul 13

Charley Varrick (Siegel, 1973): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This is part of the Universal Archives season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Don Siegel wants to turn the tables on the paranoid fantasies that have animated some of his best films (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Madigan, Dirty Harry), but he never lets this get in the way of his impressive sense of humor and undisputed mastery at constructing an action film. Walter Matthau stars as a small-timer who unwittingly rips off a Mafia bank in a routine, low-budget heist and spends the rest of the film outwitting hit man Joe Don Baker and Mafia lieutenant John Vernon. This 1973 feature is one of the finest examples of action montage from its period, a dynamite piece of work.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 193: Sun Jul 12

Love Streams (Cassavetes, 1984): Close-Up Film Centre, 8pm


This is showing as part of the John Cassavetes season at Close-Up. There are a number of screenings of the film until 2nd August and you can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
John Cassavetes's career of risk taking comes to a climax in this rich, original, emotionally magnificent 1984 film about a brother who is unable to love (Cassavetes) and a sister who loves too much (Gena Rowlands). For half its length the film follows their separate experiences—he as a celebrated novelist living a life of desperate dissolution in Los Angeles; she as a wife and mother undergoing a painful divorce in Chicago—and then brings them together for a rocky reunion. At the climax they trade roles, and each is alone again in a new way. Cassavetes follows his vision to the limit, a course that takes him through extravagance, indulgence, and hysteria—yet for all of his apparent disdain for classical construction, there isn't a moment in the film that doesn't find its place in a grand design. With Seymour Cassel and Diahnne Abbott.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.