Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 66: Tuesday Mar 6

Decasia (Morrison, 2002) & The Fall of the House of Usher (Epstein, 1928):
BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This is a BFI Passport to Cinema screening with talk from Dominic Power. This is the BFI inroduction to the night: Decasia is a unique visual experience that explores the raw material of film itself. It consists of nitrate archive footage collected by Morrison that has been naturally damaged and decayed by the process of time. With a powerful score by Michael Gordon, the film is a hypnotic and absorbing experience. Teamed with Epstein's haunted and haunting The Fall of the House of Usher, this is a double bill about the decay and renewal of cinema. The Fall of the House of Usher will feature live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.

Chicago Reader review of Decasia:

'Filmmaker Bill Morrison spent two years foraging through the film archives of the University of South Carolina, the Library of Congress, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York to assemble this 70-minute collage of hallucinatory images produced by the decomposition of nitrate film stocks. At times it threatens to contract into an artifact of academic obsession, but ultimately it connotes an epic struggle between the human need to create history and the power of time and entropy to erase it. Because Morrison selected partially decayed footage, each shot crackles with tension between representational content and the bubbles, scratches, and blotches eating everything away: a pair of lovers are hounded by swarming black dots, miners swing picks at a wall of bubbling gray, a boxer punches at a column of roiling nitrate. Accompanied by a pulsing, rather cacophonous symphonic score by minimalist composer Michael Gordon, the film asks us to embrace not only the death of beauty but the beauty of death.' J R Jones 

Here is an extract. Looks amazing.

======================================================

Chicago Reader review of The Fall of the House of Usher:

'Jean Epstein's 1928 experimental effort combined Poe's story with another Poe classic, "The Oval Portrait." Henri Langlois called the film the "cinematic equivalent of Debussy. An absolute mastery of editing and rhythm in which slow motion, superimpositions . . . and the mobile camera combine to play a totally ungratuitous role." Luis Buñuel worked on this as a second assistant to Epstein shortly before making his own first film.' Dan Druker    


Here is an extract.                                

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 65: Monday Mar 5


The highlight of the week. A rare screening of a brilliant silent film with Lon Chaney and a young Joan Crawford directed by the legendary director Tod Browning of Freaks fame. Do not miss if you get the chance to get down to Soho for this. One thing is for sure: you'll get a friendly welcome from the Society Film Club - you can find out more about the people behind the club here and you can find out more about tonight's screening on their Facebook page here.

Time Out review:
'As with Browning's Freaks, one wonders how MGM ever got conned into making this resplendent study in morbid psychology. As much a casebook as a horror movie, it tells the truly marvellous tale of Alonzo the Armless Wonder (Chaney, of course), who uses his feet to perform a circus knife-throwing act. Only masquerading as armless (wanted by the police for a strangling, he's concealing the telltale evidence of a hand with two thumbs), he falls for pretty Estrellita (Crawford), the bareback rider. But she has a trauma about being touched by men, so he besottenly decides to have his arms amputated, only to find a handsome strong man emerging as a successful rival for her heart, cue for a fiendishly vengeful Grand Guignol finale staged during the strong man's act. One of the great silent movies, astonishing in its intensity, this is by far the best of the remarkable series of Browning/ Chaney collaborations.'
Tom Milne

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 64: Sunday Mar 4

Shane Briant double-bill: Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 3pm

Another great double-bill from the Classic Horror Campaign, a pressure group trying its best to get horror films back on our TV screens. You can find out more about them via this Facebook page. And more about this afternoon's brilliant double-bill here.


Demons of the Mind (Sykes, 1972),
& Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Clemens, 1974)

The highlight here is definitely Captain Kronos.

Here's the Time Out review:

'Even by latter-day Hammer standards, writer-director Brian Clemens transfuses movie vampire lore outrageously, and introduces conventions from a host of other pulp forms. Kronos is an unmistakably Germanic comic strip hero with a crusading zeal for his profession (Stan Lee out of Lang's Siegfried). By medieval standards he's distinctly cosmopolitan - carries a samurai sword, smokes dope, meditates; is accompanied on his travels by the scholarly Hieronymous Grost as he rescues distressed damsels from pillory or despatches bullies in Falstaffian taverns. Though Clemens manages sly quotes from the likes of Nosferatu and The Seventh Seal, the film has absolutely no pretensions beyond being a thoroughly endearing entertainment, and succeeds admirably despite the pastiche of incongruous conventions.'
Rod McShane


Here is the trailer

=========

Time Out review of Demons of the Mind:

'Peter Sykes' first feature, an exotic Wildean horror story, visually as extravagant and tantalising as a decadent painting: rose petals drop lightly over corpses, an emaciated and incestuous brother and sister communicate through a keyhole dividing their sickrooms, a father hunts and shoots his children in the woods. These are some of the surreal fragments around which the plot revolves, and the script by Christopher Wicking is a striking attempt to introduce new themes and ideas to British horror.'
David Pirie

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 63: Saturday Mar 3

The Parson's Widow (Dreyer, 1920): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm
This film, part of the Carl Theodore Dreyer season at the BFI, also screens on Tuesday March 6.
Details here.

BFI introduction to the film: Dreyer's first great film, a lovely comedy of manners set in 17th-century rural Norway, charts the intrigue that arises when a young curate awarded a living at a parsonage finds himself also having to wed his predecessor's widow. In pretending his fiancée is his sister and moving her in as housemaid, the new parson seriously underestimates his elderly wife... Inventive, often ribald comedy turns steadily into a lyrical, wondrously touching tale of bitter conflict yielding to compassionate understanding.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 62: Friday Mar 2

Mysteries of Lisbon (Ruiz, 2010): BFI Southbank, Studio 6pm
This film is on an extended run at the cinema until March 20. Details here.

Time Out review:


'Set in Lisbon around the turn of the twentieth century (but always skipping back and forth in time), this colossal journey begins with a young orphan named João wondering if he’ll ever know who his parents are. The man who runs the orphanage is the benevolent Father Dinis (Adriano Luz), a man revealed as João’s life-long protector and who, it transpires, has been intricately involved in the messy business of João’s parentage. Another man, a drunken, belching gypsy known as Knife-Eater (Ricardo Pereira), is given a passage into high society under the alias of Alberto de Magalhães when Dinis (now playing the master of disguise) buys his loyalty away from a nobleman who has paid him to slay João at birth.

The production design and costumes are immaculate, while Ruiz’s camera glides around soirées, ducks under tables and peers from behind curtains. The suggestion is that it’s a world any innocent bystander can infiltrate, but also that immersing yourself in other people’s petty affairs can be surprisingly engrossing if you view them from the correct vantage point. So actually, we’re not just asking you to make room for Ruiz’s breathtaking soap opera, but to block-book a week, a month, a year to (re)discover the largely unknown back catalogue of this quietly virtuoso and sadly departed filmmaker. '
David Jenkins 


Here
is the trailer.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 61: Thursday Mar 1

Bedazzled (Donen, 1967): BFI Southbank, 8.40pm NFT3
This film, which is screening as part of the Peter Cook season, is also being shown on Mar 4 at 6.10pm

At the conclusion of this 1967 movie, Peter Cook playing the devil (aka George Spiggott) delivers a tirade against God, who has refused him entry into heaven, which has proved somewhat prescient. He screams: "OK. You've asked for it. I'll cover the world in Tatstee-Freezes [a fast-food emporium] and Wimpy Burgers. I'll fill it full of concrete runways, motorways, aircraft, television and automobiles . . . advertising, plastic flowers, frozen food and supersonic bangs. I'll make it so noisy and disgusting that even you'll be ashamed of yourself."

Predictions of ecological disaster are not the main reason to see Bedazzled, however. It is quite simply extremely funny: a much-underrated comedy with any number of brilliant scenes. The sequence with Dudley Moore as a nun (desperately blowing raspberries) is one of my very favourite comedy moments.


Chicago Reader review:

'Long before he became the male Sandy Duncan, Dudley Moore was half—with Peter Cook—of a brilliant comedy duo. Stanley Donen found the perfect format for their talents in this 1967 reshuffling of Faust: Moore is a cook in a fast-food joint granted seven wishes by the devilish Mr. Spiggott (Cook) in exchange for his insignificant soul. The film is bright, inventive, and pointed—one of the finest and funniest comedies of the 60s. With Raquel Welch and Eleanor Bron.'
Dave Kehr


Here's an extract in which Peter Cook (as the devil) explains to Dudley Moore (the poor soul who has sold his soul) just what was so boring about heaven when he, as Lucifer, was still ensconsed there.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 60: Wednesday Feb 29

Repo Man (Cox, 1984): ICA Cinema, 11.30pm


Midnight Movies are back and here's their introduction to the night: Midnight Movies comes to the ICA, celebrating their 4th birthday in true '80s style with cult classic Repo Man and a pre-screening party. Join us in the ICA Bar from 10pm with a Straight To Video DJ/VJ set, cocktails and cake before taking your seats for Alex Cox's Repo Man, starring Emilio Estevez as a punk rocker who discovers drugs, money, women and extraterrestrial phenomena in his new job as a repossession agent. Dress code: Punk rocker '80s - and win an amazing prize bounty!

Chicago Reader review:

'Alex Cox's 1984 punk comedy is set in a rotting Los Angeles, where a disaffected adolescent (Emilio Estevez) finds an outlet for his aggression and an answer to his boredom in an apprenticeship with a professional car repossessor (Harry Dean Stanton). Cox's style is a step beyond camp into a comedy of pure disgust; much of the film is churlishly unpleasant, but there's a core of genuine anger that gives the project an emotional validation lacking in the flabby American comedies of the early 80s. The narration seems deliberately crude and jerky, as if the nihilism of the tale had infected its telling, and there's an unfortunate late turn into science fiction spoofiness. But Stanton, strange and wonderful, bridges it all with his uncrackable conviction.' Dave Kehr

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 59: Tuesday Feb 28

Devil Story (Launois, 1985):
The Jackalope 98 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16, 7.30pm
More details on Facebook here.


I know little about this film and so I'm going to hand you over to the Filmbar70 film club for an introduction to their Anti-Masterpiece Theatre season:

This is an excursion into filmic delirium fuelled by inventive incompetence and juvenile excess. Join us as we mine the ruptures in the celluloid continuum to bring forth offerings both ridiculous and sublime that transcend the conventions of cinematic quality.

For our inaugural event we present Bernard Launois' Devil Story, a horror film so staggeringly off the scale in terms of ineptitude it's hard to believe these 'film-makers' had ever seen a film before. And yet, via some magic, alchemical reaction, something extraordinary emerges. What we have here is a gothic, magical, modern/historical, monster mash gore movie. And how many of those have you seen?


A deformed Nazi attired maniac roams the French countryside, bloodily dispatching weekend campers. An owl hoots. A horse whinnies. A couple find themselves stranded in a gothic pile, owned by a Southern fried redneck. An owl hoots. A ship emerges from a cliff. A horse whinnies. An Egyptian goddess, complete with bandage bound sidekick, arises to stalk the Earth. An owl hoots. A horse whinnies. That bleeding' owl keeps on a-hooting...


So come along, order yourself a pint of crème de menthe and be beholden to the simply wondrous and unique Devil Story. Starts 8pm. Asolutely NO money.

Don't miss the trailer here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 58: Monday Feb 27

Faust (Murnau, 1926): Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm

This special screening features the Philharmonia Orchestra performing the world premiere of Aphrodite Raickopoulou's new soundtrack score. They are conducted by Emmy Award winner Benjamin Wallfisch, with live piano improvisations by Gabriela Montero. This epic masterpiece is introduced with a foreword by actor Hugh Grant.

More details on the wonderful Silent London blog here.

Chicago Reader review:

'The great F.W. Murnau directed only one real blockbuster in Germany, just before coming to America to make his masterpiece, Sunrise; extravagant in every sense, Faust (1926) is laden with references to Dutch, German, and Italian painting and was rivaled only by Fritz Lang's Metropolis in driving the UFA studio toward bankruptcy. Like Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, this extraordinary piece of artistry and craftsmanship integrates its dazzling special effects so seamlessly that they're indistinguishable from the film's narrative, poetry, and, above all, metaphysics. It's based mainly on the first part of Goethe's play, and though some of the performances (notably Emil Jannings's Mephisto) can be ham-fisted, particularly when the film tries its hand at low comedy, Camilla Horn makes a striking Marguerite, and Gösta Ekman is certainly a boldly sculptured presence as Faust.' Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the opening

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 57: Sunday Feb 26

Laura (Preminger, 1944): BFI Southbank on extended run from 24 Feb - 23 March

New Statesman film critic Ryan Gilbey wrote a love-letter of a review of this classic film noir in last week's issue of the magazine. He said:

'This is no ordinary flick we're talking about. This is the sort of movie you see once, it changes you forever. Sent my head spinning it did, faster than a turntable cranked by "Goose" Gossage on a caffeine jag. Felt like I'd been bashed on the nut with a bottle of Black Pony -- the same one that turns up in Laura's drinks cabinet after she's been bumped off.

Don't get me wrong. I may have been a green teen but I'd seen a few films noir before. Nothing like Laura, though. Nothing so twisted. Nothing that left me feeling as clammy as a clam in a clambake. You'd have to be on the wrong end of a Mob hit, five fathoms deep and with a bullet in your frontal lobe, not to notice something very fishy is up in the movie's world of creepy guys and shifty gals.'

You can read his review in full here


There's another great review in Little White Lies by Matthew Thrift here

Suffice to say you should go and see it. And before you do, the trailer is here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 56: Saturday Feb 25

Theorem (Pasolini, 1968): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm
A Little Film Club screening: more details here at the Little Joe magazine website.

A Little Film Club will alternate between the Cinema Museum in Kennington and the Rio cinema in Dalston and develops the concept of the magazine into an unique space for the exhibition and discussion of films that inspire alternative discourse. Incorporating an eclectic programme of films mapping the subterranean queer canon of cinema, the screenings will be complimented by extended introductions, discussions and social events.

Tonight's screening is introduced by John David Rhodes, senior lecturer in Literature and Visual Culture at Sussex University and author of Stupendous, Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome.

Time Out review:

'In Theorem, Pasolini achieved his most perfect fusion of Marxism and religion with a film that is both political allegory and mystical fable. Terence Stamp plays the mysterious Christ or Devil figure who stays briefly with a wealthy Italian family, seducing them one by one. He then goes as quickly as he had come, leaving their whole life-pattern in ruins. What would be pretentious and strained in the hands of most directors, with Pasolini takes on an intense air of magical revelation. In fact, the superficially improbable plot retains all the logic and certainty of a detective story. With bizarre appropriateness, it was one of the last films made by Stamp before he virtually disappeared from the international film scene for some years.' David Pirie

An extract

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 55: Friday Feb 24

The Phantom of the Opera (Julian, 1925): The Ivy House, 40 Stuart Rd, SE15 7.30pm
With live score by Igor Outkine. Check out the details on the Facebook page here.

Chicago Reader review:

'Critics rank this 1925 feature by Rupert Julian well below Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but Lon Chaney's performance as the hideous organist prowling the sewers beneath the Paris Opera is still a cornerstone of gothic horror. Chaney based his death's-head make-up on a description from the Gaston Leroux source novel, though as film historian David J. Skal has observed, viewers at the time would have been more immediately reminded of the disfigured men who came home from World War I. Aside from the famous unmasking scene, the movie's most striking moment is the two-strip Technicolor sequence in which the Phantom, clad in the scarlet robes of Poe's Red Death, terrorizes a masked ball; the image seals Chaney's reputation as the grim reaper of the Jazz Age.' JR Jones

You can catch glimpses of Lon Chaney in this trailer.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 54: Thursday Feb 23

The Lifetaker (Papas, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.40pm

This is a screening from The Flipside team at the BFI.

I asked Will Fowler from The Flipside for the history and the ideas behind their screenings. He told me: "Our first Flipside was back in late 2006 when we screened the mondo-style documentary Primitive London. The drive for the slot is really to show films and TV programmes that are held in the BFI National Archive but rarely or indeed never shown in the cinemas at BFI Southbank.

"And these could be things that might not automatically be considered similar or comparable but that at some level do all sit in the margins of cinema and TV history- old Rupert Bear television episodes, the shocking horror film Corruption starring a rather blood thirsty Peter Cushing as well as genre pictures, 'curates eggs', the weird and wonderful.  

"I think our favourites tend to be things that sit on genre borders.  Art pictures that feature horror or exploitation elements like the film The Lifetaker, starring the old Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, that we are showing on 23 February when Peter Duncan will be a guest. We like to make our screenings enjoyable and accessible and invite the directors or actors but we don't mess around with the conventional cinematic viewing experience - there are no new soundtracks - we're also traditionalists!"

There's an excellent interview with Sam Dunn here which gives more background and you can get details of the titles on special offer via the BFI website here.
Here's the team's introduction to this night: Unfairly dismissed by critics at the time of release, this haunting collision of exploitation and art film still packs a punch. Bored, beautiful young wife Lisa (Lea Dregorn) spends her days in luxurious, lonely solitude at her rich older husband's vast country mansion. Spying youthful Richard (a pre-Blue Peter Peter Duncan) in the woods one day, she takes him home for a night of fiery passion. But when her ex-mercenary hubby (Terence Morgan) returns home unexpectedly, the stage is set for some strange - and increasingly violent - tests of masculine prowess.'
 

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 53: Wednesday Feb 22

The Duke Mitchell Film Club presents Rajnikanth Madness Night:
King's Cross Social Club, 2 Britannia St, WC1, 7pm


Let the Duke take the mic and introduce the night: A unique combination of bona fide action star and matinee idol, Rajinikanth is the biggest name ever to emerge from Tamil cinema: his films have been known to play 800 consecutive days to full houses not only in India but all over the world.

By way of an introduction, the Duke has picked his craziest, most action packed film: wall-to-wall fights, crazy stunts, outrageous fashions and unbelievable sets including a revolving disco! To top all that the films’ plot is the amalgamation of EVERY BRUCE LEE FILM EVER MADE!

If that wasn't enough we also have the choicest cuts of Indian psychedelia, Indian Grindhouse trailers of an unimaginable kind and a quiz with prizes! Most important of all it's absolutely FREE!
 


You can find out more here.
You will see great dancing, great action and great fights. Go.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 52: Tuesday Feb 21

Targets (Bogdanovich, 1967):
The Jackalope, 98 Stoke Newington Church St, London, N16

The Exploding Head Film Club continue to prove how much they've been missed since their absence with a great follow up to The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue screening a fortnight ago. This is influential director Peter Bogdanovich's film debut and a rare chance to see a movie which has been out of circulation for a very long time. You can find out details of tonight's presentation via the club's Facebook page here.

Time Out review:

'Boris Karloff in effect plays himself as Byron Orlok, a horror star on the point of retiring, who suddenly confronts the reality of contemporary American horror in the form of a psychopathic sniper (O'Kelly) picking off anyone he can see with a vast artillery of weapons. Bogdanovich was given the money to make the film by Roger Corman, who also allowed him to use extensive footage from Corman's Poe movie The Terror in the sequences at the drive-in cinema where the confrontation takes place. The result is a fascinatingly complex commentary on American mythology, exploring the relationship between the inner world of the imagination and the outer world of violence and paranoia, both of which were relevant to contemporary American traumas. It was Bogdanovich's first film, and despite his subsequent success, he has yet to come up with anything half as remarkable.'
David Pirie


Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 51: Monday Feb 20

Sebastiane (Jarman, 1976): Riverside Studios Cinema, 7pm

This is part of the Deep Desires and Broken Dreams gay movies season at the Riverside (details here) and is one of the most original movies to have emerged from 70s British cinema. The highlight of the week and a film well worth catching at this very rare screening.

Time Out review:

'Not exactly typical of the British independent cinema, this not only tackles an avowedly 'difficult' subject (the relationship between sex and power, and the destructive force of unrequited passion), but does so within two equally 'difficult' frameworks: that of exclusively male sexuality, and that of the Catholic legend of the martyred saint, set nearly 1,700 years ago. Writer/director Derek Jarman sees Sebastian as a common Roman soldier, exiled to the back of beyond with a small platoon of bored colleagues, who gets selfishly absorbed in his own mysticism and then picked on by his emotionally crippled captain. It's filmed naturalistically, to the extent that the dialogue is in barracks-room Latin, and carries an extraordinary charge of conviction in the staging and acting; it falters only in the slightly awkward elements of parody and pastiche. One of a kind, it's compulsively interesting on many levels.'
Tony Rayns

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 50: Sunday Feb 19

Quatermass and the Pit (Ward Baker, 1967) & The Devil Rides Out (Fisher, 1968):
Roxy Bar & Screen, 128-132 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB

A superb double-bill from the Classic Horror Campaign, a pressure group trying its best to get horror films back on our TV screens. You can find out more about them via this Facebook page. And more about this afternoon's brilliant double-bill here.


Time Out review of Quatermass and the Pit:


'The third and most interesting of Nigel Kneale'sQuatermass parables, scripted without interference by Kneale himself from his original TV series, so that his richly allusive web of occult, anthropological, religious and extraterrestrial speculation emerges intact as excavations at a London underground station turn up what appears to be an unexploded Nazi bomb, but proves to be a mysterious space craft.'
David Pirie


Here is the trailer


=========================================================


Time Out review of The Devil Rides Out:


'Over the years, this film's reputation has grown enormously, and its cult status must be as high as any horror movie. Richard Matheson, who scripted it, was able to improve immeasurably on Dennis Wheatley's ponderous novel, and it is consequently the best film that Fisher and Hammer ever made, an almost perfect example of the kind of thing that can happen when melodrama is achieved so completely and so imaginatively that it ceases to be melodrama at all and becomes a full-scale allegorical vision. Christopher Lee has never been better than as the grim opponent of Satanism, and the night in the pentacle during which the forces of evil mobilise an epic series of cinematic temptations rediscovers aspects of mythology which the cinema had completely overlooked.'
David Pirie


Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 49: Saturday Feb 18

Deep Red (Argento, 1975): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

The impressive Cigarette Burns film club have come up with another superb midnight movie to add to the great list of recent late-night highlights at the Rio Cinema's Dalston HQ. You can read more details about the evening here on the club's Facebook page.

Time Out review:

'Dario Argento's Deep Red is arguably the crowning achievement of the Giallo movement, a folm of breathless intensity, knowing strangeness and still unsettling brutality which also manages to be a sly, subversive and hugely enjoyable satirical attack on Italy's Catholic obsession with gender roles and sexual norms.' 


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 48: Friday Feb 17

The Vampire Lovers (Ward Baker, 1970): The Flicker Club, Vault at Old Vic Tunnels, 7.30pm

Flicker Club introduction: We are thrilled and slightly scared to announce that the Flicker Club has formed an unholy alliance with the mighty Hammer studios, Britain's legendary house of horror. We will be resurrecting bloody classics like The ReptileFrankenstein Created Woman and The Vampire Lovers and bringing them face to face with their 21st century counterparts: Wake WoodLet Me In and the eagerly awaited The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe. All the details are here.

Many of the screenings will include special guests and tonight's is Vampire Lovers star Madeleine Smith, who will read from the Gothic novella Carmilla by Richard Sheridan Le Fanu.

Time Out review:

'The film which made Ingrid Pitt a major horror movie cult figure (she plays a voracious lesbian vampire). Based on Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, it is well mounted and enjoyable, with solid performances: the pre-credits sequence, in particular, has a dreamy beauty . . . overall it marks the point at which vampirism in British movies became so overtly erotic that the films virtually ceased to be about anything except sex.'
David Pirie

Here is that opening

Monday, 13 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 47: Thursday Feb 16

Performing Sexuality: a four-film feast at BFI Southbank, 8.40pm, NFT2
with introduction by Barbara Hammer

The films:
Flaming Creatures (USA 1963, Jack Smith, 43min)
Chumlum (USA 1964, Ron Rice, 26min)
Fuses (USA 1965, Carolee Schneeman, 18min)

& D
yketactics (USA 1974, Barbara Hammer, 4min)

BFI Southbank introduction to Performing Sexuality programme: Smith's frenzied, whirling, decadent tableux of sexual misfits directed a flamethrower at the moral guardians of the establishment, and was seized by the police at its premiere. Inspired by, and featuring Smith, Rice's Chumlum is a sublime kaleidoscope of flesh and fabric, bringing drag glamour into the perceptual realm of the psychedelic. Schneeman's erotic classic Fuses meanwhile aims to move beyond fetishism in an investigation of the correspondence between the intimate act of lovemaking and its representation on screen. We are delighted to welcome filmmaker Barbara Hammer to introduce this programme which will also include her pioneering lesbian work Dyketactics (US 1974, 4min) in the programme. Presented in association with Tate Modern, whose full retrospective ‘Barbara Hammer: The Fearless Frame' runs 3-26 Feb 2012 (tate.org.uk).

Time Out review of Flaming Creatures:

'One of the legendary maudit films, Smith's extravaganza of underground pleasure(ing)s doesn't quite stand up to its chequered fame. Shot in murky black-and-white, it visibly belongs to the early '60s, but nevertheless appears to originate from some arcane time pocket of the '20s, populated by vampy drag queens and draggy vampires, guests at a boisterous but strangely innocent orgy orchestrated with pulpy pop ditties and flapper anthems. Admittedly, it now comes across as an archive piece, and proves that boredom has always been a factor in the avant-garde's articulation of perverse desire. But as a missing link between prehistoric cine-camp and the dazed excesses of Warhol and the infinitely more trenchant George Kuchar, it is of academic interest at the very least.'


Watch the amazing trailer here

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 46: Wednesday Feb 15

Heart, Beating in the Dark (Nagasaki, 2005): ICA Cinema, 6.15pm

Time Out review:

'Over two decades ago, Shunichi Nagasaki made ‘Heart, Beating in the Dark’, a scurrilous, shocking, subversive Super 8 movie about a young couple on the run. Now, offered the chance to remake it, he avoids mere reiteration and has the now middle-aged actors from the first film not only meeting up with each other again for the first time in ages, but also meeting another young couple on the run - and trying to influence their lives so that they don’t make the same mistakes as the characters they once played. A complex, multi-layered meditation on life and art, society and behaviour, age and audacity; profoundly ambitious and highly rewarding.'
Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 45: Tuesday Feb 14

Harold and Maude (Ashby, 1971): Rio Cinema, 6.45pm

Treats galore tonight around London on Valentine's evening but this is much the most inspired and original choice.

Time Out review:

'Like Bob Rafelson, a director similarly obsessed with the trials and tribulations of the children of the rich, Ashby forever treads the thin line between whimsy and absurdity and 'tough' sentimentality and black comedy. Harold and Maude is the story of a rich teenager (Cort) obsessed with death - his favourite pastime is trying out different mock suicides - who is finally liberated by his (intimate) friendship with Ruth Gordon, an 80-year-old funeral freak. It is most successful when it keeps to the tone of an insane fairystory set up at the beginning of the movie.'
Phil Hardy


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 44: Monday Feb 13

Bonjour Tristesse (Preminger, 1958): Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London, W1B, 7pm

This is a Society Film Club @Sanctum Soho screening and you can find out more about the people behind the club here. You can find about tonight's screening at their Facebook page here.

This is not the best-known Otto Preminger movie by some way but certainly deserves re-evaluation. Here's a review by Fred Camper on the Chicago Reader website which hails the movie a masterpiece.

Chicago Reader review:

'Jean-Luc Godard conceived Jean Seberg's character in Breathless as an extension of her role in this 1958 Otto Preminger film: the restless teenage daughter of a bored, decaying playboy (David Niven), she tries to undermine what might be her father's last chance for happiness, a romance with an Englishwoman (Deborah Kerr). Arguably, this is Preminger's masterpiece: working with a soapy script by Arthur Laurents (by way of Francoise Sagan's novel), Preminger turns the melodrama into a meditation on motives and their ultimate unknowability. Long takes and balanced 'Scope compositions are used to bind the characters together; Preminger uses the wide screen not to expand the spectacle, but to narrow and intensify the drama. With Mylene Demongeot, Geoffrey Horne, and Juliette Greco; photographed in Technicolor (apart from a black-and-white prologue and epilogue), mainly on the Riviera, by Georges Perinal.' Dave Kehr


Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 43: Sunday Feb 12

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Fisher, 1959): The Flicker Club, Vault at Old Vic Tunnels, 7.30pm

Flicker Club introduction: We are thrilled and slightly scared to announce that the Flicker Club has formed an unholy alliance with the mighty Hammer studios, Britain's legendary house of horror

Starting on Friday, February 10th, we will be resurrecting bloody classics like The Reptile, Frankenstein Created Woman and The Vampire Lovers and bringing them face to face with their 21st century counterparts: Wake Wood, Let Me In and the eagerly awaited The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe. All the details are here.

Many of the screenings will include special guests and tonight's is actor and author Mark Gatiss, who will read from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel.


Time Out review: 

'The best Sherlock Holmes film ever made, and one of Hammer's finest movies. Fisher, at the peak of his career, used Conan Doyle's plot to establish a stylish dialectic between Holmes' nominally rational Victorian milieu and the dark, fabulous cruelty behind the Baskerville legend. This opposition is expressed within the first ten minutes, when he moves from the 'legend' with its strong connotations of the Hellfire Club (the nobleman tormenting a young girl with demonic satisfaction) to the rational eccentricities of Baker Street. Holmes is indeed the perfect Fisher hero, the Renaissance scholar with strong mystical undertones, and Cushing gives one of his very best performances, ably supported by Morell (who does not make the usual mistake of overplaying Watson). Lee is in equally good form as the Baskerville heir, and Jack Asher's muted Technicolor photography is superb.'
David Pirie


Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 42: Saturday Feb 11

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Lynch, 1992): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8pm
This film also screens at the BFI on February 26 at 8.20pm. Details here.

Panned at the time of release by the mainstream critics, this is one of Lynch's finest works and a film that has grown in reputation over the years.

Time Out review: 

'A bleak, heartrending study of familial abuse, teenage desperation and small-town claustrophobia, it's certainly David Lynch's most emotionally extreme film, and perhaps his most heartfelt and sympathetic. The score by Angelo Badalamenti is one of the finest in recent memory, and the cast are astonishing.'
Tom Huddleston

You can read a more expansive review by Huddleston at the notcoming.com website here.
Here's a flavour:

'This blending of the absurd and the horrifying to dreamlike and disturbing effect has become Lynch’s hallmark, from the chickens in Eraserhead to the hobo behind the diner in Mulholland Drive. Nowhere else in his work does he use the technique as effectively as in Fire Walk With Me. Sudden tonal shifts from joy or security to overwhelming sadness, unease, terror and back again are perhaps the film’s most effective emotional weapons, and Lynch deploys them mercilessly.'

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 41: Friday Feb 10

Marx Reloaded (Barker, 2011): ICA cinema until February 16, Various times. Details here.

NB: The ICA had added another screening on Friday 10th at 4pm as this run is proving so popular.

Here's a fascinating doc featuring many leading Marxist philosophers and their take on the current world recession. It's only £5 (free for ICA members) and features Slavoj Žižek. You can read director Jason Barker's essay on Marx and his film here at the Guardian's website.


Time Out review:

'Filmmaker Barker revisits Karl Marx’s theories in this lively doc. The idea is to apply Marxist thought to the 2008-9 recession. Obviously Barker is not the first to have had this idea, but he does have a wealth of academic commentators to offer pertinent thoughts. The theory of commodity fetishism is just one of the ideas explored via talking heads and – most entertainingly – animation starring Marx himself. Some passionately posit that Communism could be the answer to the world’s economic and environmental challenges, others are more sceptical, although you get the feeling that Barker – a writer, lecturer, translator and doctor of philosophy – has sympathy with the former notion.  The film’s low budget origins are evident but there are enough interesting ideas to make this well worth a watch for those with an interest in philosophy, politics and the general state of the world as we know it.'
Anna Smith 


Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 40: Thursday Feb 9

The Room (Wiseau, 2003): Prince Charles Cinema, February 9-13, Various times

Move aside The Sound of Music and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Room is the modern-day Plan 9 From Outer Space and a movie so awful it now has a cult following, a following so large that the Prince Charles has 15 screenings planned over the next five days - and most of them are sold out. If you want some background to the film it's all here in a fine piece which appeared in the Telegraph in 2009. If you want a flavour of the movie here is an extract.

The Prince Charles have regular monthly screenings of The Room but the cause of all the excitement this time is that the director, Tommy Wiseau, is in town and will be delivering a live intro and be around for a Q&A after every screening. You can get all the details here via the cinema website.


Chicago Reader review:

'Written, produced, and directed by Tommy Wiseau, this inept 2003 melodrama has become a Rocky Horror-style cult favorite in Los Angeles and other cities. Wiseau stars as an eerily placid and good-natured banker whose live-in girlfriend is secretly getting it on with his best friend, though the filmmaker often strikes out in different directions, only to bump into the wall and come back. As someone who's watched more bad movies than you can imagine, I'm mostly immune to the so-bad-it's-good aesthetic, though I can see how, viewed in a theater at midnight after a few drinks, this might conjure up its own hilariously demented reality. Poignantly, Wiseau has now positioned the movie as a "black comedy."
JR Jones

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 39: Wednesday Feb 8

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Durkin, 2011): On general release

On a quiet night on the repertory front here's a recommendation for a film released on Friday February 3 and out on general release. This was one of the hits of the London Film Festival and widely regarded as an impressive debut movie from Sean Durkin.

If you missed critic Danny Leigh's take on BBC Film 2012 on Wednesday night then here's a chance to catch his rave review. You can watch it here on BBC i-player (from 17:00).

Chicago Reader review:

'The horror aesthetic of B-movie producer Val Lewton—that the unseen is more frightening than the seen—is carried to a merciless extreme in this unnerving debut feature by writer-director Sean Durkin. An alluring young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) escapes from the wilderness dominion of a charismatic cult leader (John Hawkes) and hides out with her older sister (Sarah Paulson) and brother-in-law (Hugh Dancy) at their secluded vacation home. As the narrative slips back and forth between her increasingly awkward stay with the couple and her gradual initiation into the cult two years earlier, Durkin reveals how the sisters have been pulled in opposite directions by the death of their parents. But the story structure also nurtures a creeping, finally unbearable dread that may have you looking over your shoulder all the way home.'
JR Jones


Here is the trailer.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 38: Tuesday Feb 7

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (Grau, 1974):
The Jackalope
98 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16, 8pm

The Exploding Head Film Club is back - and with a bang. The return couldn't be more impressive with one of the great cult movies and one very rarely seen. Here is the Exploding Head club's Facebok page for more details.

Time Out review:

'Although made in the Lake District with a mainly dubbed cast, Arthur Kennedy as a very American English policeman, and a plot indebted to Night of the Living Dead, this works against all the odds. Through intelligent handling of locations, England becomes a very bleak place indeed, full of sinister quietness. Hero and heroine, thrown together by chance, find themselves pursued by both police and an army of cannibalistic living dead through this increasingly nightmarish landscape. It's a film of unrelieved blackness, from the seedy photographer who snaps his junkie wife cowering in the bath to homicidal babies, from mongol child at a petrol station to Kennedy's brutal sergeant. It's all the more absurdly fatalistic for refusing to draw political, moral or social conclusions.'
Verina Glaessner



Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 37: Monday Feb 6

Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953): Riverside Studios Cinema, 6.10pm

Chicago Reader review of a film regularly voted one of the best of all time:


'The film that introduced Yasujiro Ozu, one of Japan's greatest filmmakers, to American audiences (1953). The camera remains stationary throughout this delicate study of conflicting generations in a modern Japanese family, save for one heartbreaking moment when Ozu tracks around a corner to discover the grandparents, alone and forgotten. A masterpiece, minimalist cinema at its finest and most complex.'
Dave Kehr


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 36: Sunday Feb 5

Night of the Trailers: Roxy Bar & Screen, 7pm

What do you need to know? This is run by the brilliant Duke Mitchell film club team. They've found some of the most amazing and bizarrer trailers you're ever likely to see. You only have to look at the trailer for this Night of the Trailers evening to know this will be a lot of fun.

The trailer for the Night of the Trailers is here. The Facebook page for the event can be found here. 

Here's the introduction from the Duke himself: Welcome to the first ever Night Of The Trailers event, an evening dedicated to those short bursts of cinematic tease that explode onto the screen before the main feature. Only this time there isn’t a main feature, this time it’s just non-stop trailers all night long!

Yes come along for an evening of Coming Attractions as I guide you through the world of the film trailer, from the stylish to the raw to the downright bizarre you’ll see trailers for films you’ve never heard of, from directors long forgotten and from genres you didn’t know existed! I’ve got trailers from the 1930s right up to modern day, trailers from all around the world and from every different type of genre imaginable in this unique one off event.

Some of the highlights to look forward to include: a trailer I created myself for a film that’s so amazing it just has to be seen to be believed, a long lost Grindhouse trailer that’s never been seen by anyone anywhere since its release back in 1976, I’ll also be counting down my Top 5 trailer discoveries of the past year as I guide you through the evening.

So come along an enjoy these, and much more, in an evening of the unexpected and unknown as we take a trip through the Night Of The Trailers.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 35: Saturday Feb 4

Teenage Wasteland: Hackney Picturehouse, 12.45pm till (very) late.

A day-long celebration of the teenage movie, with live comedy, a frat party and screenings of great coming-of-age films. This is the latest event from critic Charlie Lyne (AKA Ultra Culture) and with his pedigree this is sure to be one of the highlights of the movie-going year in London in 2012.

Times and ticket details here. And you can find Charlie's introduction to the whole day (and night) at his website here.

12.45pm Double-Bill:
10 Things I Hate About You (Junger, 1999) & Not Another Teen Movie (Gallen, 2001)

4.30pm:
Scream 2 (Craven, 1997)

4.45pm:
Mallrats (Smith, 1995)

7pm:
Election (Payne, 1999)

9.15pm:
Surprise Film (???????)

10pm:
Frat Party (it's toga chic dress code, and it's a party NOT  a movie)

You can get an all-day ticket for £25 - a bargain if you ask me.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 34: Friday Feb 3

The Insect Woman (Imamura, 1963): ICA Cinema, 7.30pm
This film is on every night at the ICA through to February 9. Details here.

The ICA introduction: A new restored digital print of a rarely seen classic. The late great Shohei Imamura, Palme D'or winner and most consistently provocative and productive member of the Japanese New Wave made this blistering and innovative film while at the height of his powers. Imamura saw himself as much as an anthropologist as a story-teller famously stating "I like to make messy films . . . I am interested in the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure . . .  I ask myself what differentiates humans from other animals. What is a human being?"

This is The Story of Film author Mark Cousins' favourite film and here he explains why:

'The Insect Woman, by Imamura Shohei, isn't all that well known, but should be. It's about a lower class Japanese woman who struggles through life, has a child, and works as a maid for a posher woman. It's shocking - at one point the Japanese woman seems to suckle her dad. In another, we see a child scald herself with boiling soup. But there are two reasons why I love it. Firstly, its style. The Insect Woman is one of the most beautiful films ever made. It's shot very widescreen, and the compositions are breathtaking. The scalding scene is done in two amazing shots, one far away from the kid, one from above the stove, with the child out of focus below. The second reason I like it is because of what it says about people. The first shot is an insect scuttling across the land. Then we cut to the woman doing the same. For the rest of the film she scuttles, feral, determined not to give up. To use an insect as a metaphor for a woman is unflattering in a way, but Imamura loves her for her unstoppability, her survival instinct, her glorious forward propulsion. The film moves me to tears and thrills me with its pictorial beauty.'

Here is the trailer.