Friday, 28 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 305: Thursday Nov 3

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941): ICA Cinema, 9.30pm

The ICA are running an Orson Welles season all week. Here are the details.

Chicago Reader review:

'What can you say about the movie that taught you what movies were? The first time I saw Kane I discovered the existence of the director; the next dozen or so times taught me what he did—with lights and camera angles, cutting and composition, texture and rhythm. Kane (1941) is no longer my favorite Orson Welles film (I'd take Ambersons, Falstaff, or Touch of Evil), but it is still the best place I know of to start thinking about Welles—or for that matter about movies in general.'  Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 304: Wednesday Nov 2

Touch of Evil (Welles, 1959): ICA Cinema, 9pm

The ICA are running an Orson Welles season all week. Here are the details.

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 About the original 95-minute 1958 release (superseded since the mid-70s by a 108-minute preview version), Dave Kehr wrote, “Eternal damnation to the wretch at Universal who printed the opening titles over the most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 is the magnificent opening scene. The greatest long-take in cinema history? You decide.

Capital Celluloid - Day 303: Tuesday Nov 1

Rashomon (Kurosowa, 1951) & Villain (Sang-il, 2010): Riverside Studios, 6.30 & 8.25pm

Another clever double-bill from the folk at Riverside Studios.

Chicago Reader review of Rashomon:

'Akira Kurosawa's 1951 film won the grand prize at the Venice film festival, introducing Kurosawa (and through him the Japanese film) to most of the Western world. Set mainly in 12th-century Kyoto, the film, based on a short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, offers the radically different eyewitness accounts of four people (including a dead man) about a violent incident involving ambush, rape, and murder in a forest. The philosophically subversive premise of the story, at least by implication, is that all four narrators are telling the truth; Kurosawa's much more sentimental conclusion, made even worse by a hokey finale, is that everyone lies. This serious limitation aside, the film is still an impressive piece of work, visually and rhythmically masterful. With Toshiro Mifune (as the bandit) and Machiko Kyo.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is the trailer.

Time Out review of Villain:

'Garlanded with awards at Japan’s Academy Awards, ‘Villain’ offers a bleak and rounded, if ultimately conservative, take on a criminal act and its impact on those involved. Following the death of a young woman, police pursue her links to both a humble construction worker (Satoshi Tsumabuki, pictured right) who lives with his grandmother (Kirin Kiki) and a gauche, wealthy dilettante (Masaki Okada); meanwhile, the victim’s father (Akira Emoto) struggles to keep his world from falling apart. Based on a popular novel by Shuichi Yoshida, Lee Sang-il’s picture depicts a generation characterised by loneliness and selfish urges amid a landscape of flash cars, online dating and love hotels, their better instincts only occasionally emerging  through a pricked conscience or the example of elders. The performances and photography are robust and the film does a decent job of humanising those involved, up to a point. But the characterisation is two-dimensional, the storytelling is spotty – a major plot point requires preposterously lax policing – and the relentlessly glum tone proves draining over 140 minutes.' Ben Walters

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 302: Monday Oct 31

Halloween (Carpenter, 1978): The Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, London E5 0PU 7.30pm

Those clever people at the Rooftop Film Club are showing classic horror movies in a church setting over three nights on Halloween weekend ending with this screening of John Carpenter's hugely influential slasher movie. More details here.

Time Out review:

'A superb essay in Hitchcockian suspense, which puts all its sleazy Friday the 13th imitators to shame with its dazzling skills and mocking wit. Rarely have the remoter corners of the screen been used to such good effect as shifting volumes of darkness and light reveal the presence of a sinister something. We know, and Carpenter knows we know, that it's all a game as his psycho starts decimating teenagers observed in the sexual act; and he delights in being one step ahead of expectation, revealing nothing when there should be something, and something - as in the subtle reframing of the girl sobbing in the doorway after she finally manages to kill the killer, showing the corpse suddenly sitting up again behind her - long after there should be nothing. Perhaps not quite so resonant as Psycho to which it pays due homage, but it breathes the same air.' Tom Milne

Here is the trailer. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 301: Sunday Oct 30

Night of the Eagle (Hayers, 1961) & The Innocents (Clayton, 1961):
Rio Cinema, 2pm & 3.45pm

Time Out review of Night of the Eagle:

'Made on a comparatively low budget and adapted from Fritz Leiber's novel Conjure Wife, this is about a hardheaded psychology lecturer in a provincial university who gradually discovers that his wife Tanzie and some of his closest colleagues are practising witchcraft (in furtherance of campus politics). From the opening sequences in which Tanzie (Blair) scrambles frantically round her house searching for a witch-doll left by one of the faculty wives, the whole thing takes off into a kind of joyous amalgam of Rosemary's Baby and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There are one or two irritations in the phony Americanised look of the college students, and in the miscasting of Janet Blair; but Sidney Hayers shoots the whole thing with an almost Wellesian flourish, and the script (by Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson) is structured with incredible tightness as the sane, rational outlook of the hero (Wyngarde) is gradually dislocated by the world of madness and dreams.' David Pirie

Here is an extract

Time Out review of The Innocents:

'Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) isn’t a very experienced governess so she can’t be certain, but surely orphans Miles (Martin Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin) aren’t like other children. They’re polite, of course, to the point of being patronising (‘my dear,’ they call her), and their dark, placid eyes defy suspicion, but there’s something unsettling in his self-possession, macabre in her delights (‘Oh, look, a lovely spider. And it’s eating a butterfly!’). Having already experienced weird apparitions on her arrival at Bly, the beautiful country estate to which the children’s indifferent uncle has consigned them, the governess learns of the violent deaths of her wanton predecessor and her cruel lover, and begins to suspect a supernatural cause for her charges’ unsettling behaviour. And so Miss Giddens’ war on terror begins; but does Bly have nothing to fear but fear itself?

Adapted (by Truman Capote and John Mortimer, among others) from Henry James’s ‘The Turn of the Screw’, Jack Clayton’s 1961 chiller lives up to the story’s title, incrementally tightening the nerves through suggestive technical artistry in a way that few contemporary ghost stories manage. The story’s profound, unsettling ambiguity is perfectly served by Georges Auric’s soundtrack of laughs and whispers and the constricting or fleeting forms at the edges of Freddie Francis’s B&W ’Scope frame (seen here in a new print). Meanwhile, slow fades and a bravura dream sequence hint at the blurring of boundaries – between life and death, rationality and imagination – that so disturbs Miss Giddens, endowed by Kerr with a frisson of hysteria from the start. Whatever is happening, she knows it is ‘something secretive and whispery and indecent’.'
Ben Walters

Here is an extract. 


Capital Celluloid - Day 300: Saturday Oct 29

The Evil Dead (Raimi, 1982): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

The Rio Cinema in Dalston have excelled themselves this Halloween weekend with a great midnight movie shocker tonight followed by a superbly creepy double-bill on Sunday afternoon.

Time Out review:

'Raimi's first feature, a sensationally bad-taste effort which narrates the rapid decline into demonic mental and physical possession of a clean-cut, all-American holiday party holed up in a mountain Tennessee retreat. The woods come alive, devils possess the living, and Tom Sullivan's amazing make-up effects climax with a final fiery exorcism which makes George Romero look like Playschool. Short on characterisation and plot but strong on atmospheric horror and visual churns, this movie blends comic fantasy (EC Tales) with recent genre gems like Carrie and Texas Chain Saw Massacre to impressive effect.' Steve Grant

Here is the original trailer

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 299: Friday Oct 28

The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973): The Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, London E5 0PU

Those clever people at the Rooftop Film Club are showing classic horror movies in a church setting over three nights on Halloween weekend starting with a film which has lost none of its power to shock. More details here.  

Chicago Reader review:

'Doubtless this tale of spirit possession in Georgetown packs a punch, but so does wood alcohol,” wrote Reader critic Don Druker in an earlier review of this. I wouldn't be quite so dismissive: as a key visual source for Mel Gibson's depiction of evil in The Passion of the Christ, as well as an early indication of how seriously pulp can be taken when religious faith is involved, this 1973 horror thriller is highly instructive as well as unnerving. William Friedkin, directing William Peter Blatty's adaptation of his own novel, aims for the jugular, privileging sensation over sense and such showbiz standbys as vomit and obscenity over plodding exposition.' Jonathan Rosenbaum 

The trailer is frightening enough.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 298: Thursday Oct 27

Footnote (Cedar, 2011): Vue, Leicester Square, 2.45pm
This film is also at Vue on Tuesday 25th at 8.45pm. Details here

Footnote is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Time Out review:

'It concerns the intense rivalry between a father and son: Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba and Lior Ashkenazi), both professors in the Talmudic studies department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It begins – dramatically – with the worst day in the former’s life, when he has to attend a ceremony welcoming his son into the Academy, an honour he himself never received. Things improve for Eliezer when he hears that he’s finally going to be  given, after decades of disappointed waiting, the prestigious Israel Prize. It may, as a chapter heading tells us, be the best day of his life, but it’s also the start of a series of events that are not only morally complicated but, perhaps, infinitely sad.


Clearly, this is a film that has been meticulously thought through on every level. So even though many found its orchestral score overly insistent and loud, its tone – reminiscent at times of the late symphonies of Shostakovich, some of which were themselves of course profoundly concerned with Jewish history and suffering – is entirely appropriate to this study of seemingly small-scale familial and academic conflict which nevertheless takes on, for all involved, the dimensions of an epic struggle between the old and the new, truth and falsehood, right and wrong.
' Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer


Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets. 

Capital Celluloid - Day 297: Wednesday Oct 26

This Must Be The Place (Sorrentino, 2011): Vue, Leicester Square, 8.30pm
This film is also at Vue on Thursday 27th at 12.15pm. Details here.

This Must Be The Place is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

BFI introduction:

'Sean Penn is simply astonishing here, playing Cheyenne, a retired , reclusive and oddball rock star (think of Robert Smith from The Cure, crossed with Michael Jackson, replete with the perfectly rendered, high- pitched voice) living just outside Dublin. His father's serious illness forces Cheyenne reluctantly back to America, and onwards to an unusual, offbeat cross-country road trip, in search of someone and something of purpose in his stalled life. This Must Be the Place has a picaresque feel, studded with idiosyncratic encounters, powerful vignettes and wonderful cameos (including one from David Byrne, who also co-wrote the wonderful eclectic roots-and-rock soundtrack). Pleasantly echoing movies like Paris, Texas and True Stories, This Must Be the Place also benefits from a sharp, confident script full of warmth, smart dialogue and, occasionally, laugh-out-loud humour. After a series of impressive Italian films, including the critically lauded Il Divo, director Paolo Sorrentino expands his global horizons to impressive effect with this, his first English-language film, stylishly shot in Ireland and the USA.'
Adrian Wootton

Here is the trailer

Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Capital Celluloid - Day 296: Tuesday Oct 25

Better This World (Galloway & Duane De la Vega, 2011): Vue, Leicester Square, 9pm
This film is also at Vue on Wednesday 26th at 3.45pm. Details here.

Better This World is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Time Out review:

'The stark reality of America’s post-9/11 surveillance state is laid bare in this riveting documentary. David McKay and Bradley Crowder, the ‘Texas Two’, were young activists whose misguided determination to disrupt the 2008 Republican Convention led to their incarceration on domestic terrorism charges. The resulting trials not only exposed a network of law enforcement mishaps, corrupt informants and travesties of justice, but revealed the adolescent machismo of the country’s haphazard resistance movement, all of which is covered here with the pace and intensity of a political thriller. But the film truly hits home in the final stages, as McKay is released on bail pending a retrial and visits his family in full knowledge that he’ll have to give himself up and return to prison: a sequence of astonishing pathos and dignity.' Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer.

Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Capital Celluloid - Day 295: Monday Oct 24

We Can't Go Home Again (Ray, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.30pm
This film is also on BFI Southbank on Thursday 27th at 6.30pm. Details here.

We Can't Go Home Again is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

One of my favourite critics, Geoffrey Macnab, has written about this film for the Guardian. You can read that here.

Chicago Reader review:

'Nicholas Ray ended his Hollywood career with his most expensive production, 55 Days in Peking (1963), and followed it ten years later with his least expensive, an experimental and politically radical independent feature made with his film students. Each movie is a shambles, though if I had to choose between them I'd probably opt for this one, which is certainly the more original. Ray and his students play themselves in docudrama situations that culminate in Ray's (fictional) suicide, and often he combines several images into crowded frescoes. The film reeks of countercultural alienation and anguish, and when it premiered at Cannes in 1973, Ray spoke of trying to make “what in our minds is a Guernica” out of such materials as “a broken-down Bolex” and “a Mitchell that costs $25 out of navy surplus.” He tinkered with the film for years, and the 1976 date commonly assigned to it refers to a second unfinished version, which, lamentably, is unavailable. It's upsetting in many ways, but as a document of its time there's nothing remotely like it.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is a more detailed piece on the film by Jonathan Rosenabum on his website.


Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Capital Celluloid - Day 294: Sunday Oct 23

Michael (Schleinzer, 2011): Curzon Mayfair, Curzon St, 4.15pm
This film is also on at Vue in Leicester Square on Friday 21st at 12.30pm. Details here.

Michael is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Time Out review: 

'Is that the sound of the Austrian Tourist Board finally pulling down the blinds and shutting up shop? Austrian director Markus Schleinzer brings the grim spirit of the country’s notorious child kidnappings to the screen with his debut film, ‘Michael’, and the atmosphere is just as repressive and foreboding as earlier stories of domestic horror and perversion by his compatriots Michael Haneke and Ulrich Seidl.  

Schleinzer’s approach is to mix a portrait of depravity with one of mundanity so that the more time we spend with Michael, the more it’s impossible to unpick one from the other. The mood is strictly anti-climactic, both in particular scenes and in the film as a whole, and Schleinzer concludes his tale in an especially deflating yet appropriate style.' Dave Calhoun

Here is the trailer.

Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Capital Celluloid - Day 293: Saturday Oct 22

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Durkin, 2011): Vue, Leicester Square, 3.15pm
This film is also on at Vue on Friday 21st at 8.30pm and Monday 24th at 3pm. Details here.

Martha Marcy May Marlene is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Time Out review:

'The American indie toast of both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals, Sean Durkin’s unnerving and insidiously offbeat horror-thriller exposes the sinister underside of religious cult deprogramming via an ingeniously suggestive and prickly performance from Elizabeth Olsen. It opens with a dishevelled and volatile Martha (Olsen) seeking refuge with her pedantic older sister (Paulson) and prig hubby (Dancy) in their sterile lakeside retreat. Formally (and, for that matter, atmospherically) we’re deep in ‘Last Year At Marienbad’ country, as the film switches back and forth in time to offer a series of layered and increasingly uncomfortable reveals as to what questionable deeds our multi-monikered heroine has been up to for the last two years. It may be a question of taste, but Dancy felt like the loose-link here: a technically strong performance, but a clichéd take on Brit obstinacy that threatened to cloud more pressing thematic concerns. Still, a very minor quibble for an otherwise majorly impressive and rigorous nightmare movie.' David Jenkins

Great trailer.


Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 292: Friday Oct 21

Two Years At Sea (Rivers, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 9pm
This film is also on at BFI Southbank on Monday 24th at 1.30pm. Details here.

Sandra Hebron, who has decided to quit running the London Film Festival at the end of 2011, has made many excellent changes to the programme and has not been afraid to take risks in her time at the helm. She has placed one of her favourite choices this year, Ben Rivers' first full-length feature film Two Years At Sea from the Experimenta strand, in NFT1 to give the film a higher profile. From reports it definitely deserves to get one. She talks in more detail with David Gitten at the Telegraph here.  “He’s an emerging British filmmaker, and I wanted to treat it as a significant piece of work,” she says.

Two Years At Sea is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Time Out review:

'Much online debate has arisen around the optimal screening conditions for this extraordinary new feature from British film artist, Ben Rivers. Photographed with old Bolex cameras and using artificially scuzzed monochrome 16mm film, when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival it was shown off of a digital print and many took understandable umbrage: the visual grain and the texture of the film are as much what it’s about as its enigmatic subject, a bearded hermit living in the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. Like Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden’, Rivers’s film is about the philosophical imperatives that come with a lonely existence on the outer fringes of society. But this is much more than a simple portrait of outsider eccentricity, as it also offers that rare thing in cinema: a vision of true happiness.' David Jenkins

Here is Ben Rivers talking about the film.

Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Capital Celluloid - Day 291: Thursday Oct 20

The First Born (Mander, 1928): Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, 7.30pm

This film is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to see it this week.

Here is the BFI introduction to this Archive strand gala screening:  

'The plot of The First Born feels not unlike a lost episode of Downton Abbey. However, the film was expertly co-scripted by Alma Reville (Mrs Alfred Hitchcock) and it's hard not to see her influence in raising it beyond old-school melodrama to be a tour de force of late silent British cinema. Sir Hugo Boycott (Miles Mander) and his young bride (a pre-blonde Madeleine Carroll) have a passionate relationship, but it founders when she fails to produce an heir. This is a surprisingly 'adult' film and made with both elegance and invention. Particularly surprising among Mander's sometimes Hitchcockian box of visual tricks is a handheld camera sequence that allows the audience to become voyeur as Boycott stalks the marital bedroom to find his wife in the bath. The story is oddly reflected in reality: the 'first born' is played by Mander's own son and it was well known that the leads were involved romantically - well enough known to bring Mander's wife to the set to demand an explanation. This major new restoration by the BFI National Archive includes reinstated missing footage and the reintroduction of a beautiful range of tints.' Bryony Dixon and Robin Baker

Pamela Hutchinson, who produces the excellent Silent London blog, has written an extensive article for the Guardian on The First Born which investigates the Hitchcock link, delves into the background of the film, provides details of the new score by Stephen Horne and discusses the restoration. You can read that here.

Here is a preview clip of the handheld camera sequence referenced in the introduction above.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 290: Wednesday Oct 19

Wanda (Loden, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.15pm
This film is also on at BFI Southbank on Thursday 20th at 3.30pm. Details here

I saw this landmark American independent film a fortnight ago ahead of a feature I wrote for the Guardian on the movie which you can read here. If I see a better film at the festival this year I will be very surprised. At the time of writing there are some tickets left for the Thursday screening. My advice is to snap them up.

Wanda is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Chicago Reader review:

'Perhaps the most depressing film ever made, this 1971 feature by director-actress Barbara Loden tells of a young, ignorant, emotionally deadened, and hopelessly dreary woman from the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania whose life is a succession of dead ends. Doomed from the start to a life of ignorance and boredom, she's victimized by her surroundings, by men hardly less dreary than she, and by her sex. A brilliantly atmospheric film with a superb performance by Loden.' Don Druker

You can see extracts from the film here in an interview with Loden's husband Elia Kazan.

Here is an article on the excellent Senses of Cinema website about Wanda.

Capital Celluloid - Day 289: Tuesday Oct 18

Dreams of a Life (Morley, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT2 1.15pm
This film is also on at BFI Southbank on Sunday 16th at 9pm. Details here

Every year there's a buzz that develops around some London Film Festival movies. Dreams of a Life is certainly one of those in 2011. Critics I have spoken to who have seen Morely's latest work are hailing it as one of the best documentaries for many years. There is sure to be a big demand for standby tickets for the two screenings at the festival and my strong advice is to get there early. Here is Carol Morley's moving article in the Observer on how and why she made this remarkable film.

The movie is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Time Out review:

'For her first documentary, ‘The Alcohol Years’ (2000), Carol Morley reconstructed her lost weekends in 1980s Manchester by inviting testimonies from those who remembered her youth more vividly than she could. Morley does a similar thing with this haunting, compassionate and inventive new film, employing talking heads and well-crafted reconstructions, to tell of Joyce Carol Vincent, a 38-year-old woman, born in London of Caribbean descent, who in January 2006 was found dead in her Wood Green flat – with the television still on – over two years since she died.

Old friends, boyfriends and colleagues recall Joyce, although nobody from her presumably estranged family appears on camera. Very little about this gregarious, well-spoken woman who looked like Sade and had well-connected friends in the music industry ever suggested she would meet such an end, although there are hints that Joyce kept her lives separate and latterly suffered abuse from a partner. There are no easy answers, and Morley employs the docu-drama format, with Zawe Ashton as Joyce, to spark our imagination and tease out possible realities rather than simply to illustrate her interviews.


After last year’s ‘The Arbor’, again a filmmaker has employed the grey area between drama and documentary to stress the known and unknowable in a person’s life. Lying next to Joyce’s body when she was found was a pile of presents – an image on which Morley lingers to stress that signs of our sociability are not to be believed. In the age of ‘Facebook friends’, it’s a thought well worth pondering.' Dave Calhoun

Here is a clip from the film.

Capital Celluloid - Day 288: Monday Oct 17

Snowtown (Kurzel, 2011): Vue West End, Leicester Square, 8.15pm
This film is also on at Vue West End on Tuesday 18th at 12.15pm. Details here.

The movie is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.

Time Out review:

'The disturbing intensity of Justin Kurzel’s film about Australia’s infamous ‘Bodies in the Barrels’ murders is made bearable only by his controlled direction and mostly oblique presentation of the actual killings. With the exception of one shockingly revealing scene, Kurzel’s probing camera and Shaun Grant’s incisive script focus instead on an Adelaide family afflicted by social deprivation and dysfunctional relationships. These help to explain how vulnerable 16-year-old Jamie Vlassakis (Lucas Pittaway) came under the malign influence of plausible psychopath John Bunting (Daniel Henshall). When Bunting moves in with Jamie's mother, he brings stability to her children's lives – but he also becomes the self-appointed spokesman for the marginalised community, a deprived underclass seething with anti-gay and anti-paedophile prejudices. Kurzel and ‘Animal Kingdom’ cinematographer Adam Arkapaw eschew that film’s flashy affectations and generic trappings, to create something closer to Ken Loach’s sympathetically observed social dramas.'
Nigel Floyd


Here is the trailer.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 287: Sunday Oct 16

Alps (Lanthimos, 2011): Vue West End, Leicester Square, 6.15pm
This film is also on at Vue West End on Tuesday 18th at 12.30pm. Details here.

The movie is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the Festival. Over the next 13 days I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the Festival.

Sight & Sound review:

'Alps feels closer to Lanthimos’s first film Kinetta [than to his second, Dogtooth] in its focus on bizarre group rituals and dynamics – in this case among a small cadre of men and women called Alps (the leader is Mont Blanc), who run a service to impersonate the just-deceased in order to help grieving relatives come to terms with their loss and move on.

In its grasp of off-kilter psychology, the depth and coherence of its absurdist vision, the rigour and precision of its execution, and the brilliance of its governing premise, this was definitely the best film I saw in Venice. Lanthimos deservedly won the Best Screenplay prize, together with his co-writer Efthimis Filippou, and he could well have got the Golden Lion too.'
Kieron Corless

Here is the trailer.

Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Capital Celluloid - Day 286: Saturday Oct 15

I Wish (Kore-eda, 2011): Vue West End, Leicester Square, 6pm
This film is also on at Vue West End on Monday 17th at 3pm. Details here.

The movie is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the Festival. Over the next 15 days I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the Festival.

Time Out review:

'The long shadow of Yasujiro Ozu – and memories of his own ‘Nobody Knows’ – inform this latest masterpiece from one of Japan’s finest living directors. Ryu and Koichi are brothers separated by divorce: stoic, grounded 12-year-old Koichi lives dutifully in coastal Kagoshima with his mother and grandparents, while 10-year-old tearaway Ryu is living it up with his deadbeat musician dad in urban Kyushu. But when Koichi discovers that a new bullet train line is due to open – and that the first two trains will pass each other roughly halfway between the two cities – he spies a chance to reunite the family. With note-perfect performances from its young leads and their sprawling, beautifully sketched gang of friends, lucid photography (including a heartstopping climactic still-frame sequence) and a plot that leads to precisely the right part of nowhere, ‘I Wish’ is perhaps best summed up by its original Japanese title: miracle.'
Tom Huddleston



Here is the trailer.



Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Capital Celluloid - Day 285: Friday Oct 14

The Day He Arrives (Sangsoo, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.45pm
This film is also on at the ICA Cinema on Sunday 16 Oct at 6.45pm. Details here.

The movie is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the Festival. Over the next 15 days I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the Festival.

Sight & Sound review:

'Having long ago moved away from the scripted complexities of his initial hit The Day the Pig Fell Down the Well towards a more semi-improvisatory approach to filming the social life of his often semi-autobiographical protagonists, Hong Sangsoo has hit a productive groove in recent years with tales of brief encounters that often lead to social embarrassment.

But while The Day He Arrives does play narrative games of a similar kind to those that have enlivened his recent films such as Like You Know It All (2009), Oki’s Movie (2010) and HaHaHa (2010), it feels much more sombre in tone, and that’s not just down to the choice of a monochrome palette. The idea of showing the same day re-run with different consequences each time here dodges the moral weight a Kieslowski would give it but finds a rather more poignant sense of dysfunction and melancholy. There’s a feeling about this film that the director is pushing himself harder than ever.'
Nick James



Look at this great trailer to get a feel of the unique tricks pulled in this film.

Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.



Capital Celluloid - Day 284: Thursday Oct 13

Almayer's Folly (Akerman, 2011): Vue West End, Leicester Square, 6.30pm
This film is also on at Cine Lumiere on Fri 14 (8.30pm) and Sat 15th (1.15pm). Details here.

The movie is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the Festival. Over the next 15 days I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the Festival.

Time Out review:

'Returning to feature filmmaking after a lengthy sojourn as a video artist, Belgium’s Chantal Akerman delivers a work as substantive, challenging and unique as her brilliant Proust adaptation from 2000, ‘The Captive’. Billed as a ‘liberal’ take on Joseph Conrad’s little-known first novel, this languid essay in despair sees Stanislas Merhar playing the stuttering, frenzied but ultimately tragic and possibly deranged figure of Almayer, a European ex-pat in Cambodia who idly tends to his failing trading post while ensuring his daughter, Nina (born to a local mother), is instilled with the same enlightened European values as himself. Scenes usually run in single, medium close-up takes (all immaculately framed and executed) and the elliptical narrative can usually be navigated by gauging the griminess of the cast. Tough as the film may be, it still speaks volumes about colonial exploitation and catastrophic clashes of culture, gender and age. The (eight-minute) climactic shot is also sensational.'David Jenkins


Here is Chantel Akerman talking about the film (only in French I'm afraid) at Venice.

Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if the film is sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.



Sunday, 9 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 283: Wednesday Oct 12

The London Film Festival (Wednesday October 12 - Thursday October 27)

Today is the opening day of the London Film Festival. Tonight's opening film and the only movie screened on the first day is the premiere of Fernando Meirelles's 360, which from all accounts is pretty disappointing.

From tomorrow onwards there will be plenty of opportunity to watch the best films from around the world but with 300-plus movies on offer over 17 days on 15 screens and at ten different venues across the capital it's very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume on offer. With its date at the end of the year, London is a "festival of festivals", as the new Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin put it in his preview, so the films shown have mostly been seen and commented on by critics who have watched the features at such high-profile festivals as Cannes, Venice, Toronto and Berlin.

So I'm making it simple with one recommendation a day. I've read the reviews and talked to and listened to the trusted critics all year and I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set. Firstly, there's no point highlighting the major gala films - they sold out some time ago. Secondly, there is little to be gained in paying the higher Festival ticket prices to see films that are out in Britain soon. I will be returning to the London Festival films worthy of seeing and set to be released in the coming months on this blog as and when they get a general release in London.

Here then (from October 13 to October 27) are the films you are likely to be able to get tickets for and the movies you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go the Festival. Here is the LFF's main website for the general information you need. Don't worry if some of the recommended films are sold out as there are always some tickets on offer which go on sale 30 minutes before each screening. Here is the information you need to get those standby tickets.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 282: Tuesday Oct 11

Daughters of Darkness (Kumel, 1970): Barbican, 7pm


Here is the Barbican introduction to the evening: To mark the publication of his latest book, Studies in Terror: Landmarks of Horror, we are delighted to welcome author Jonathan Rigby, who will be joined in conversation by Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentleman, Sherlock, Doctor Who) for a lively and informative chat about their mutual love of screen horror. Then at 8.45pm we have a special screening of one their particular favourites - Harry Kümel’s 1971 classic vampire movie Daughters of Darkness.


Chicago Reader review:

'Harry Kumel's stylish Belgian vampire film with a cult reputation is worth seeing for several reasons, not least of which is Delphine Seyrig's elegant lead performance as a lesbian vampire who operates a luxury hotel. The baroque mise en scene is also loads of fun; with Daniele Ouimet and Andrea Rau.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here is a flavour of the film.

Capital Celluloid - Day 281: Monday Oct 10

Forty Guns (Fuller, 1957): BFI Southbank, NFT3 6.30pm

A strange and exciting western by Sam Fuller. Read this review and I defy you not to go.

Chicago Reader review:

'Samuel Fuller's wild, wonderful, semicoherent black-and-white 'Scope western (1957) was shot in ten days, and in some ways looks it. But it's also the feature that fully announces his talent as an avant-garde filmmaker, even in this unlikeliest of genres. Barbara Stanwyck stars as the “woman with a whip,” the land baroness of Tombstone Territory. She's assisted by the 40 dudes of the title, and Barry Sullivan is the marshal who turns up to challenge her. There's a hilarious romantic subplot involving a female gunsmith (whose sexual initiation is handled through an iris and dissolve that Godard incorporated into Breathless), an endless crane-and-track shot through a western town that defies belief, a lot of delirious violence, perverse sexuality, imaginative visual energy, and several startling plot twists. If you've ever wondered why Godard and other French New Wave directors deify Fuller, this movie explains it all.'Jonathan Rosenbaum


Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid - Day 280: Sunday Oct 9

Homicidal (Castle, 1961) & Madhouse (Clark, 1974): Roxy Bar & Screen, 3pm

This event is organised by the Classic Horror Campaign, a pressure group aiming to bring back regular screenings of horror films to terrestrial television. Here is their Facebook page.

Time Out review of Homicidal:

'One from cult shock-meister William Castle, of The Tingler fame. Castle himself introduces this passably creepy tale about an Old Dark House, a murderous blonde, a paralysed old Swedish woman, and a mysterious young man. Not quite his loopiest film, it cribs brazenly from Psycho, to good effect. This time, the gimmick-fixated maestro didn't go as far as wiring up cinema seats or dangling creepy crawlies from the ceiling; instead, the faint-hearted were offered a 'fright break' in which to make their excuses and leave.' Jonathan Romney


Here is a wonderful news report on the movie. The director offered cinemagoers their money back if they were too frightened to stay after the 'fright break' and see the film's "shocking climax." And here is the Fright Break.

Time Out review of Madhouse:


'Basically an actor's revenge plot in the wake of Theatre of Blood, but reasonably witty in its use of inter-penetrating fantasies born of the Dream Factory. The film has its faults, not least a tendency to allow things to go over the top; but the interweaving of the character of Paul Toombes, fictional veteran star of the Doctor Death series who is no longer able to tell fantasy and reality apart (he is glimpsed roaming Sunset Boulevard in his Doctor Death costume), with the real-life career of Vincent Price (who plays the part), is quite inspired and lends the film some sharp moments. Sequences from The Fall of the House of Usher, The Raven and other Price movies add a deeper piquancy to the mixture. A number of small parts are nicely filled, and in-jokes include the total dispensability of the TV series director: his death goes all but unnoticed.' Verina Glaessner


Here is the inspired trailer.

Capital Celluloid - Day 279: Saturday Oct 8

Barbarella (Vadim, 1968): Cine Lumiere, 8.40pm 

This screening is part of a weekend exploring the links between comic books and movies

Here is the Cine Lumiere introduction to the evening which promises the film plus cosmic party: Adapted from Jean-Claude Forest's bande dessinée, Barbarella is THE cult film of the 60s! Directed by Roger Vadim and starring a glamorous Paco Rabanne-clad Jane Fonda, the film has influenced the history of fashion, music and cinema... The pitch? It's the year 40,000. Hurtling across the galaxy onboard her space ship, Barbarella travels to the planet Lytheon to locate the mad scientist Durand-Durand, inventor of the Positronic Ray, who threatens the balance of the universe...

10pm Cosmic Party details

To celebrate the delirious world of Barbarella, we invite you to a very very kitsch party where fancy dress is a must. Come along dressed as one of the X-Men, Akira, the Scrameustache, Valérian or any cosmic creature you might like... DJ Sacha Dieu, space cocktails, musical drawing events and much much more are lined-up!
The Music DJ Sacha Dieu, known for spinning the records at the notorious Stranger than Paradise burlesque parties, will set the mood.
The Setting VJ Kelly Budges from Your Mum Visuals will take you to the ends of the universe in the blink of an eye, with decorations, props and projections that are truly out of this world.
The Cocktails Fly to the moon with our delicious space cocktails: The Queen of the Galaxy, The Kryptonic, The Red Planet, and the CosmoSpolitan, courtesy of Absolut Vodka.
The Make-Up Let make-up artist Lucy Pook work her magic with her cosmic cosmetics: she can put stardust on your cheeks and paint your lips a fiery Mars-red – or you can choose the Avatar look and turn a bright shade of blue!
The Drawings Photography is tricky when you're travelling at the speed of light... So gravitate towards our cosmic artists, Emeric Tain, Woodrow Phoenix and Steven Appleby, who will draw you and your friends in your costumes!
The Dress Code Glam it up Barbarella style! Fancy dress is a must: come as one of the X-Men, Akira, the Scrameustache, Valérian or any cosmic creature you love...
The Competition Make sure your costume is stellar, because there will be a Mr & Mrs Cosmic beauty pageant: popular vote will determine the lucky winners, who will take home bottles of Absolut Vodka and an amazing set of comic books.
The Show Intergalactic star Agent Lynch will recreate Barbarella's space journey in a dazzling show that will feature a moonwalk through cosmic vapours, space blasters, an astronaut costume, a striptease with pyrotechnics, and more! This is as close as you'll ever get to meeting Barbarella in the flesh without having to travel through time and space to the end of the galaxy...

Here's a flavour of the film.

Capital Celluloid - Day 278: Friday Oct 7

Meshes of the Afternoon (Deren, 1943); BFI Southbank, NFT3 6.30pm

Book launch and lecture by John David Rhodes

Here is the BFI introduction: Tonight we launch the latest in the series of BFI Film Classics - Meshes of the Afternoon, John David Rhodes' illuminating study of Maya Deren's mesmerising short of 1943, which places the film in the context of European modernism and as a pivotal text for the pre- and post-war history of the cinematic avant-garde. Rhodes' book also explores the film's use of point of view, repetition and visual symbolism, and the author will give an illustrated lecture.

Here is the film via YouTube.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 277: Thursday Oct 6

Tyrannosaur (Considine, 2011) + Q&A with Paddy Considine:
BFI Southbank NFT1 8.30pm

There are good reports about this new British movie and if you get there early and queue you may get a ticket on the night via the returns at the BFI's main box office. It's your best bet as there ain't a lot on in rep around town for sure this evening.

Here is the BFI introduction: Paddy Considine’s powerful feature directorial debut (from his own script) is a bleak portrayal of the troubled lives of its Leeds-based characters. The self-destructive Joseph crosses paths with the sympathetic Hannah and they embark on an unlikely friendship that ultimately leads to redemption, as well as relief from their seemingly unrelenting torment. The film is undeniably dark and challenging, but supported by astonishingly strong performances, impressive direction andstunning cinematography.

Here is the trailer.