Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 95: Wednesday Apr 4

Ways of Seeing (Dibb, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6pm

This seminal work on art and culture had an enormous impact on me when I first saw it in the early 1980s. The series was shown at Tate Britain back then and is still only available to see in rare screenings such as this with the DVD release of the series blocked. You can read a modern-day take on the series via this BFI article by Jonathan Conlin here.

Here's the Wikipedia introduction to the series: Ways of Seeing is a 1972 BBC four-part television series of 30-minute films created chiefly by writer  John Berger and producer Mike Dibb. Berger's scripts were adapted into a book of the same name. The series and book criticise traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images. The series is partially a response to Kenneth Clark's Civilisation series, which represents a more traditionalist view of the Western artistic and cultural canon.

Copyright restrictions surrounding the hundreds of paintings and advertising images quoted in Ways of Seeing have rendered it impossible to release the series on DVD. Though Berger would, perhaps, appreciate the irony, this has caused the original television series to be overshadowed by the tie-in book, with the former enjoyable only in grainy bootleg copies. Here the BFI show all four episodes, back to back. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director Michael Dibb, who remains one of Berger's collaborators, and will be chaired by broadcaster and art historian, Tim Marlow.

Here is an extract from episode three.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 94: Tuesday Apr 3

Vincente Minnelli's set pieces with Richard Dyer: BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm

Okay, it's not a film but this is guaranteed to be an eye-opener. Richard Dyer, one of our foremost film writers and the curator of the Minnelli season at BFI Southbank, introduces the two-month extravaganza with a look at the great Hollywood director's masterful use of the set piece.

Here's the BFI introduction: Shop window displays, stage designs, musical numbers, melodramatic climaxes – Vincente Minnelli is a master of the set piece. They are where his sense of style is at his most burnished, elaborated, intoxicating and even sometimes delirious. They also focus his recurrent concern with illusion and truth, dream and waking life, what is 'set' and what real. This richly illustrated presentation by season curator Richard Dyer is an exploration of this key feature of Minnelli's work.

Here we go: a set piece from An American In Paris.

Footnote: We have bad news. The Jackalope in Stoke Newington has been closed down which means the Exploding Head Film Club has to find a new home and tonight's planned screening of Larry Cohen's God Told Me To has had to be cancelled. If you want to keep in touch with news of a new venue then check out the club's Facebook page here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 93: Monday Apr 2

Letter From an Unknown Woman (Ophüls, 1948): BFI Southbank, NFT 6.10pm

This screening is part of the BFI's Passport to Cinema season and is introduced by Lindsey Moore. The film will also be shown on April 5 at 8.40pm.

Max Ophüls was one of the cinema's greatest directors and this is considered by many to be his most accomplished work. Here is the BFI introduction: Ophüls' exquisite melodrama of unequal passion is set on the eve of a duel, when one of the duellists, a dilettante concert pianist, receives a letter from a woman he has scarcely noticed. With a circular narrative, filmed with Ophüls' trademark long tracking shots and gliding camera, this is a moving masterpiece by a true poet of cinema.

Chicago Reader review:

'One of Max Ophuls's four Hollywood films, this masterpiece nearly defines the film melodrama, complete with the genre's often implausible twists--the lover who fails to remember a former flame, the child a father never knew was his, the train compartment contaminated with typhus. But Ophuls brings to life this story of the tragically selfless love of Lisa (Joan Fontaine) for Stefan (Louis Jourdan), a dissolute pianist in turn-of-the-century Vienna, with imagery that's at once convincingly rapturous and humorously down-to-earth. A key moment in an army officer's courtship of Lisa is interrupted by a marching band--but with the precise choreography of ballet; a romantic "ride" in a fake train car with painted panoramic views is twice interrupted by the changing of backdrops. More deeply, while Ophuls uses camera movements and written narratives to convey love's delirium, the baroque architecture of his frames also imprisons the characters, denying them transcendence, even happiness. Watch for a shot of Lisa waiting on a stairway for Stefan's return: the camera films his entry with a giggling woman from Lisa's point of view, panning right as they enter his apartment. When the same shot is repeated (but from no character's point of view, the stairway now being empty), this time as Stefan enters with Lisa, we understand that their fate is foredoomed both by the artifices of melodrama and by the cycles of human fallibility and misunderstanding, which the form at its best so devastatingly expresses. I for one am always brought to tears.' Fred Camper

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 92: Sunday Apr 1

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (Cahn, 1958) & The Green Slime (Fukasuku, 1969)
Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 3pm

A B-movie sci-fi 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 films here.


You can read a full review of It! here at suite101.com website and of The Green Slime here at wtf-film.com.


Here is the trailer for It! and here is the one for The Green Slime.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 91: Saturday Mar 31

Weekend (Haigh, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 1.50pm

This film, one of the best of last year's crop, is being screened at the BFI Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Director Andrew Haigh, Heat magazine film editor Charles Gant, Weekend star Chris New and film-maker and Weekend producer Tristan Goligher will be there for a Q&A after the screening.

Daily Telegraph review:

'Twentysomething Russell (Tom Cullen) lives, alone and a bit dolefully, on the 14th floor of a Nottingham high-rise. He works as a lifeguard at the local pool and drags himself out one Friday night to dinner with friends, but his heart’s not in it. He’s gay and looking for companionship, which he finds at a club later on, clapping eyes on Glen (Chris New). They go back to Russell’s. Relationships start this way everywhere in the developed world every day. They end this way, too.


Haigh’s film is written with a shrewd, unpretentious feel for the way young people behave when they’re getting to know each other, shot with a keen eye for urban solitude, and completely nails its seemingly modest tasks: frank talk about the challenges and politics of growing up gay, which never underlines itself or comes crashing down on us as a message. It could all be beautifully thought out and still not work without the chemistry and ignition the actors provide. They’re so persuasive as a couple that the future – which poses one huge problem – quivers as they discuss it. Their bond hangs in the balance, but the film’s pure human warmth radiates long after you’ve left.' Tim Robey

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 90: Friday Mar 30

Where Do We Go Now? (Labaki, 2011): Ritzy Cinema, 6.30pm

This is the closing night film in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival; it's a drama about rising tensions in a Lebanese village which will be released in the summer here and is to be introduced by director Nadine Labaki.

Here is the introduction from the Human Rights Film Festival website: On the edge of a cratered road, a cortège-like procession of women solemnly makes its way towards the village cemetery. Takla, Amale, Yvonne, Afaf and Saydeh stoically brave the oppressive midday heat, clutching photographic effigies of their beloved menfolk, lost to a futile, protracted and distant war. Some of the women are veiled, others bear wooden crosses, but all are clad in black and united by a sense of shared grief. As they arrive at the cemetery gates, the procession divides into two congregations; one Muslim, the other Christian. Set against the backdrop of a war-torn country, Where Do We Go Now? tells the heart-warming tale of a group of women determined to protect their isolated, mine-encircled, community from the pervasive and divisive outside forces that threaten to destroy it from within. United by a common cause, the women’s unwavering friendship transcends, against all the odds, the religious fault lines which criss-cross their society and they hatch some extraordinarily inventive, and often comical, plans in order to distract the village’s menfolk and defuse any sign of inter-religious tension. A series of chaotic incidents tests the women’s ingenuity as they manage to successfully stave off the fall-out from the distant war. But when events take a tragic turn, just how far will the women go in order to prevent bloodshed and turmoil?

Here is the trailer.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 89: Thursday Mar 29

The Cremator (Herz, 1969):
The Montpelier, 43 Choumert Road, Peckham, London, SE15 4AR. 8.30pm FREE

Love this trailer for the latest offering from the Days Are Numbers film club. This is part two here: less specific but wonderfully entrancing. As far as the evening's entertainment is concerned here's the Days Are Numbers website film club section and this is their Facebook page.

Chicago Reader review:

'While it's a bit programmatic for my taste, this 1968 black comedy in black and white is undeniably creepy—once director Juraj Herz enters the fractured mind of his protagonist, he refuses to budge. Based on a novel by Ladislav Fuks (who co-wrote the screenplay with Herz) and set in Prague before and during the German occupation, it concerns a smugly bourgeois crematorium operator (Rudolf Hrusinsky) who loses his sanity and drifts into collaboration with the Nazis, ultimately turning on his half-Jewish wife and their children. An outlying figure of the Czech New Wave, Herz demonstrates an undeniable flair for telegraphic, almost subliminal editing and deep-focus mise en scene.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

The screening has been organised by Days Are Numbers, which in their own words is an irreverent, insightful and often incendiary blogsite dedicated to the best in left-of-centre music and films. Co-conspirators Alan and Aneet write about a wide-range of talkies and tunes – from the work of Roger Corman to Italo-disco, throwing in the occasional mix and the odd podcast. Days Are Numbers host their monthly film nights at The Montpelier in Peckham.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 88: Wednesday Mar 28

Lizard in a Woman's Skin (Fulci,1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This screening is presented by the marvellous Cigarette Burns team. You can find out more about them and this evening's entertainment at their website here.

Time Out review:

A classy, Italian-funded London-shot '70s horror movie featuring a pan-European cast of (mostly dubbed) character actors, Lizard in a Woman's Skin is superbly directed and sports a slinky score by the maestro Ennio Morricone. A seedy, psychedelic tale of repressed lesbianism and bloody murder in swinging London, it features an unforgettably intense chase sequence and some remarkably discomfiting dream imagery.

Here is the Cigarette Burns trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 87: Tuesday Mar 27

Poetry (Chang-dong, 2010):
Hampstead Film Society, Hampstead Town Hall Centre 213 Haverstock Hill NW3, 7pm

Time Out review:

Korean actress Yun Jeong-hie came out of retirement to play Mija, a lonely, impoverished grandmother who enrols in a poetry writing course to assuage the daily traumas of caring for her delinquent grandson and the gradual onset of Alzheimer’s. True to the spirit of the title, writer-director Lee organises the sprawling mess of Mija’s personal life with the control and grace of a master, each digression and seemingly arbitrary encounter all building upon his elderly protagonist’s spiralling sense of distress. So relaxed is the pacing, you suspect certain segments would not have worked were it not for Yun’s exhilarating, meticulous central performance. But while Yun’s restrained presence keeps you locked into the drama, the same cannot be said for the male supporting cast, the majority of whom are unambiguously ‘bad’ characters who treat Mija as an aged buffoon. As with Chekhov’s theory of the gun, anyone who starts a film going to poetry classes is eventually going to come up with a poem. The one Mija finally delivers will rip your heart to shreds.
David Jenkins
 

Here is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 86: Monday Mar 26

Absolute Beginners (Temple, 1986):
Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London, W1B, 7pm

Plus Q&A with director Julien Temple.

This is a Society Film Club at Sanctum Soho screening and you can find out more about the people behind the club here. The Society Film Club put on a great night and there couldn't be a better place to see a movie set partly in Soho than in the heart of Soho.

Here is their introduction to the night: Set against the post-war Britain, a time in which pop culture is transforming from jazz to a new generation on the verge of the 60s, a young hip photographer (Colin) falls in love with an aspiring fashion designer (Crepe Suzette). Directed by Julien Temple, Absolute Beginners features David Bowie, Sade, Ray Davies and stars Eddie O’Connell and a break-out performance by Patsy Kensit. The film has become a cult classic, mainly through it’s incredible soundtrack (featuring Bowie, Sade, The Style Council and Ray Davies). Clive Jennings will lead a fascinating conversation with director Julien Temple, Eve Ferret, who appears in the film and Roger Burton, who consulted on the memorable styling, before the screening, with an audience Q & A afterwards.

There is more information here on their Facebook page

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 85: Sunday Mar 25

Faro Document (Bergman, 1969 & 1979):
The Lexi Cinema, 194 Chamberlayne Rd, Kensal Rise, NW10 3JU.

A Nos Amours is a new collective founded by film-makers Joanna Hogg and Adam Roberts dedicated to programming overlooked, underexposed or especially potent cinema. This is the introduction on their website: A Nos Amours is a moveable feast that goes wherever and whenever opportunities arise. A Nos Amours invites film-makers to advocate and present films that they admire or would like to see on a big screen.

‘I love Ingmar Bergman and it’s great to get a chance to see these hard-to-find documentaries on a big screen,’ says actor/writer/director Richard Ayoade (IT Crowd, and Submarine).  Today, Ayoade will introduce a pair of rare documentaries by Bergman, Faro Dokuments 1969 and 1979, in which he lovingly recorded threats to the way of life on the tiny northern island on which made his home.

This is a chance to catch a very rare screening of two Bergman documentaries. It's hard to find much information on the films but a search online did uncover this review:

'In 1969, Ingmar Bergman crafted a little-seen documentary entitled Fårodökument - a sociological portrait of a Scandinavian island called Faro, off the coast of Gotland in southeastern Sweden. Bergman was fascinated by the extremes in climate, which make the island unbearably cold and practically unlivable during the winter but quite mild and pleasant in the summer. The territory thus fell into a critical position, where its summer tourists and a handful of residents enabled the economy to exist on the very edge of sustenance - that is, until many of the younger residents decided to take off for Stockholm and other big cities, and threatened to drive the island completely under. Fårodökument 1979 constitutes a follow-up to that original film, where Bergman (in-between Autumn Sonata and From the Life of the Marionettes at the time) re-visits Faro with his cameras and observes the sociological changes that have occurred in the intervening decade. This yields a series of encouraging onscreen discoveries: the original population size of 673 has remained fairly stable, and many of the teenagers and young adults who yearned for a big city life in the late sixties then changed their minds, deciding to harken back to Faro and do agrarian work with their families - while recognizing augmentative work in other areas as a prerequisite of continued economic stability. In lieu of unearthing the history of the land and the backstories of its residents, Bergman uses his screen time to investigate the interrelationships between Faro's indigenes, their ties to the land, and the components of their lifestyles, from work-related activities (fishing, hunting, construction, agriculture) to leisure. Bergman also touches on the widespread fear of rapidly escalating tourism, and the residents' concomitant need to preserve local culture.' Nathan Southern, Rovi

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 84: Saturday Mar 24

Assault on Precinct 13 (Carpenter, 1976):
The Old Police Station, 114 Amersham Vale, Deptford, SE14 6LG

This evening is a classic example of the pop-up cinema phenomenon. The Vanishing Point, as stated on their website, promote immersive film screenings in strange places, inviting the audience to become lost in the environment with theatrical and musical elements. The events strive to make cinema an interactive, unpredictable and fun experience.

Tonight's action takes place in a disused police station . . . the perfect setting for John Carpenter's taut cops-in-peril action thriller which brilliantly reworks Hawks' Rio Bravo.

Here is a great introduction to the evening by Matthew Thrift on his website and here is the trailer for tonight's event. You can get a feel for the evening via the Vanishing Point's Facebook page too.

Time Out review: 

'Just as Dark Star undercut the solemnity of space movies like 2001 with hilarious astronaut situation comedy, Carpenter's second feature borrows the conventions of protagonists in jeopardy from Night of the Living Dead to produce one of the most effective exploitation movies of the decade. The gimmick is cops and cons besieged in an abandoned LA police station by a group of kamikaze urban guerillas. Carpenter scrupulously avoids any overt socio-political pretensions, playing it instead for laughs and suspense in perfectly balanced proportions. The result is a thriller inspired by a buff's admiration for Ford and Hawks (particularly Rio Bravo), with action sequences comparable to anything in Siegel or Fuller. It's sheer delight from beginning to end.' Rod McShane 

Here is the movie trailer

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 83: Friday Mar 23

Raging Bull (Scorsese, 1980): Hackney Picturehouse, 10.30pm

The Hackney Picturehouse shows great late-night weekend films and in the year when Sight & Sound will be publishing its top ten greatest films of all time list it will be fascinating to see where this movie climbs to this time. It's one of the few modern movies to break into the higher reaches of the poll - which you can link to here - and came joint-sixth in the directors' list in 2002.

Time Out review:

‘You was my brudda. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit… I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum…’ When the washed-up Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) quotes ‘On The Waterfront’ to himself, it tells us as much about his self-pity as the actual parallels with Brando’s Terry Malloy. Not just a contender but a champ, La Motta’s fall stemmed not from outside pressures but inner weaknesses, stunningly realised in De Niro’s colossal performance; both he and Scorsese have arguably never been better. Following from 1941 to 1964 the explosively jealous and narcissistic middle-weight, his brother-manager Joey – Joe Pesci, great in his breakthrough role, first of the badabing pairings with De Niro that would define his career – and Jake’s tenderised wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), ‘Raging Bull’ is a masterclass in pain inflicted on oneself and one’s loved ones, as well as one’s opponents. The use of pop and opera and the black-and-white photography (by Michael Chapman) are exemplary, the actual boxing a compulsive dance of death.' Ben Walters

Here are the opening credits.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 82: Thursday Mar 22

Dorian Gray (Dallamano, 1970): Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 7pm
plus short film The Image, featuring David Bowie 

Here's the Filmbar 70 film club introduction: We cordially invite you to a soirée where portraiture proves to a very dangerous art indeed. In the short The Image, a painter confronts his creation with decidedly lethal results. Featuring the first screen appearance of David Bowie, The Image also has the privilege of being the first British short to be rewarded with an ‘X’ certificate.

For our main feature, we present The Secret of Dorian Gray, a lavish pan-euro production that provides a welter of sophisticated Continental glamour. Wilde’s telling tale is ingeniously translated to that transitional era when the emancipated hedonism of the Sixties gave way to the darker excesses of the Seventies, giving insight into the shallowness of celebrity culture along the way.

Here is a trailer for the evening's events.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 81: Wednesday Mar 21

Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon (Finch, 1991):
Cinema Museum, Dungard Way, London, SE11, 7.30pm

- the screening is followed by a discussion with Popbitch’s Camilla Wright and artist Nina Mae Fowler

Little Joe magazine present a tribute to cinema's most scandalous publication. Here's the Cinema Museum's introduction to the night: First published in 1959, avant-garde film director and occultist Kenneth Anger’s infamous exposé has been banned, debunked by academics and adored by millions. Little Joe pays tribute to Hollywood Babylon with a screening of Nigel Finch’s 1991 BBC Arena documentary, alongside a discussion with Popbitch founder Camilla Wright and artist Nina Mae Fowler about Hollywood’s darker side. The Cinema Museum will display archive material exploring gossip’s role in maintaining the exotic image of the film industry.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 80: Tuesday Mar 20

Elgar (Russell, 1962) & Always on Sunday (Russell, 1965):
The Jackalope 98 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16, 7.30pm FREE

The Scala Forever team, who organised a season of movies in the capital last year recalling the days of the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross, are back with Russell Forever as a tribute to the late, great British film-maker. Here are the details for the full Ken Russell season screenings.

Here's the Exploding Head Film Club introduction to the night: For anyone who thinks that Russell's work is all blood, boobs and bombast, these thoughtful, impassioned, moving films offer a new perspective.

1962's 'ELGAR' was controversial for the way it added fictional recreations to a factual account. Tracking the iconic British composer from his Malvern childhood to the end of his life, this is a heartfelt hagiography with breathtaking monochrome photography of sunlit English lanscapes.

It's 'sheer poetry', says Trevor Johnston in his Time Out write-up here.

'ALWAYS ON SUNDAY', from 1965, is a lighthearted depiction of the life and exploits of French naive painter Henri Rousseau, depicting the famous painter as what one reviewer describes as 'a rarified boob'. Goofy and comical but also deeply moving, this is a key precursor to Russell's more extreme '70s biopics, and features an early collaboration with the great Oliver Reed.


Here is an extract from Elgar. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 79: Monday Mar 19

The Devils (Russell, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT 1, 8pm

The Scala Forever team, who organised a season of movies in the capital last year recalling the days of the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross, are back with Russell Forever as a tribute to the late, great British film-maker. Here are the details for the full Ken Russell season screenings.

This will be the season highlight for many. Tom Huddleston's review in Time Out sums it up well. Go out and beg, borrow or steal a ticket for this event:

'The unexpurgated cut of Russell's ornate, near-unwatchable taboo-busting masterpiece receives only its third British screening. The only major addition is the infamous 'rape' of Christ, in which the 'possessed' nuns use a life-size statue of the Saviour as a rutting post, but although that sequence may seem relatively tame by modern standards, there's plenty here that's still incredibly shocking. The scenes of plague are truly vile, as are the climatic torture scenes. But what horrifies most is Russell's nihilistic view of the world in general, and humanity in particular: almost without exception, we are shown to be vain, lustful, perverse, self-serving, murderous, disease-ridden, exploitative, decadent, deluded creatures unworthy or incapable of salvation. Approach with extreme caution.'

Here is an extract to give you a flavour.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 78: Sunday Mar 18

Imitation of Life (Sirk, 1958): Phoenix Cinema, 2pm FREE

Perhaps Douglas Sirk's finest work and a clever piece of programming for Mother's Day. The bargain, and most certainly, the highlight of the week with an ending that will break your heart.

Chicago Reader review:


'Douglas Sirk's 1959 film was the biggest grosser in Universal's history until the release of Airport, yet it's also one of the most intellectually demanding films ever made in Hollywood. The secret of Sirk's double appeal is a broadly melodramatic plotline, played with perfect conviction yet constantly criticized and challenged by the film's mise-en-scene, which adds levels of irony and analysis through a purely visual inflection. Lana Turner stars as a young widow and mother who will do anything to realize her dreams of Broadway stardom; her story is intertwined with that of Susan Kohner, the light-skinned daughter of Turner's black maid, who is tempted to pass for white. By emphasizing brilliant surfaces, bold colors, and the spatial complexities of 50s moderne architecture, Sirk creates a world of illusion, entrapment, and emotional desperation' Dave Kehr 

You can find the trailer here and these are the wonderful opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 77: Saturday Mar 17

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Ceylan, 2011): Rio and ICA Cinemas et al, All week/Various times

This film is now on general release and I doubt I will see a better new movie this year. I caught it at the Turkish Film Festival last autumn and was most impressed.

This work from an outstanding Turkish director was also very well received at the London Film Festival and was No6 in January Sight & Sound magazine's poll of best films of 2011. The movie was given a five-star review by Time Out magazine:

'Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceyan is unlikely to attract heaving crowds to his sixth film, ‘Once Upon A Time in Anatolia’, but since when was the 51-year-old director of ‘Uzak’, ‘Climates’ and ‘Three Monkeys’ in it for the multiplex? Ceylan is a sly and daring screen artist of the highest order and should draw wild praise with this new film for challenging both himself and us, the audience, with this lengthy, rigorous and masterly portrait of a night and day in the life of a murder investigation on his country’s Anatolian steppes. It’s a mysterious and demanding work, and it marks a distinct progression in Ceylan’s career as he continues to gnaw at the boundaries of film storytelling with humour, grace, empathy and a dry, wry view of everyday life.' Dave Calhoun


Here is the trailer.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 76: Friday Mar 16

Savage Messiah (Russell, 1972):
The Montpelier
, 43 Choumert Road, Peckham, London, SE15 4AR. 3pm FREE

This is the highlight of the RussellForever season for me, a first airing for many a long year of Ken Russell's Henri Gaudier biopic, Savage Messiah.

Here is an extract from Tribune film critic Neil Young's review:

'Vibrantly unconventional biopic, (melo-)dramatising the unorthodox relationship – more inspirational/mental than romantic/sexual – between penniless French sculptor Henri Gaudier (Scott Anthony) and a much older Polish writer Sophie Brzeska (Dorothy Tutin), in Paris and London during the early years of the 20th century. Though not all of Russell’s flashy directorial and gambits pay off, Savage Messiah has a spiky, bracing charm all its own and rivals The Elephant Man among the most convincing, scruffily evocative cinematic visions of bygone London. The air of persuasively percussive exuberance renders the sudden ending (reflecting Gaudier’s fate in the Great War’s trenches) all the more jarringly poignant: a pair of sepia-tinted stills show Anthony-as-Gaudier among his comrades-in-arms, grinning laddishly in uniform, white of tooth and muddy of face.'
You can read it in full here.

Here is the trailer

The screening has been organised by Days Are Numbers.
Days Are Numbers is an irreverent, insightful and often incendiary blogsite dedicated to the best in left-of-centre music and films. Co-conspirators Alan and Aneet write about a wide-range of talkies and tunes – from the work of Roger Corman to Italo-disco, throwing in the occasional mix and the odd podcast. Days Are Numbers host their very own monthly film night at The Montpelier in Peckham.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 75: Thursday Mar 15

Fight Club (Fincher, 1999): Stratford Picturehouse, 8pm

"Why Fight Club? It's not only one of the most bruising assaults on consumer culture since a pissed-off Naomi Klein got a shit toy in her Happy Meal, it's one of the last truly great films of the '90s – a middle-finger to the bullshit, logo-obsessed century it was about to swagger into. I can't think of a movie more in tune with TheShiznit.co.uk's policies of photoshopping funny captions on pictures of Taylor Lautner and making stupid animated gifs of Spider-Man.

Can you believe it's 13 years old? I can't remember a film that proved to be so eerily prescient – predicting the ubiquity of Apple even before the iPod and the rise of grass-roots social anarchy before Anonymous had a name. It delivers its message like a molotov cocktail through a window. Who wouldn't snap up the chance to watch it again, in a cinema environment, with loads of cool people? And me? An idiot, that's who. Are you an idiot? No? Then order your tickets NOW."

That's part of the great introduction to this special screening organised by TheShiznit.co.uk. You can read more here about the night but it's guaranteed to be fun.

Chicago Reader review:

'This exercise in mainstream masochism, macho posturing, and designer-grunge fascism (1999) is borderline ridiculous. But it also happens to be David Fincher's richest movie—not only because it combines the others (Alien 3, Seven, The Game) with chunks of Performance, but also because it keeps topping its own giddy excesses. Adapted by Jim Uhls from Chuck Palahniuk's novel, this has something—but only something—to do with a bored Edward Norton encountering a nihilistic doppelganger (Brad Pitt) who teaches him that getting your brains bashed out is fun. Though you're barely allowed to disagree with him, your jaw is supposed to drop with admiring disbelief at the provocation, and the overall impression of complexity might easily be mistaken for the genuine article. In other words, this is American self-absorption at its finest.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

I do love these opening credits.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 74: Wednesday Mar 14

Lair of the White Worm (Russell, 1988):
Horse Hospital, Colonnade, Bloomsbury, WC1N 1JD, 7pm

The Scala Forever team, who organised a season of movies in the capital last year recalling the days of the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross, are back with Russell Forever as a tribute to the late, great British film-maker. Here are the details for the full Ken Russell season screenings.


Here is the introduction to the evening: Electric Sheep and Strange Attractor are proud to present a rare outing for this unjustly neglected horror romp from the late Ken Russell. Tenuously based on a 1911 novel by Bram Stoker – itself inspired by the ancient tale of the Lambton Wyrm, a staple for every book of true monster stories – this shamelessly camp horror comedy is generally considered to be Russell’s last great film. Our Ken gleefully captures the spirits of Hammer and Carry On, doses them both with LSD and then dangles them over a bottomless pit containing an 80ft phallus while standing at the side pointing and laughing. Featuring a soon-to-be-all-star cast including Hugh Grant, Peter Capaldi and Amanda Donohoe, gags and gore galore, not to mention sex, folk rock and slapstick, THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is a joyful outrage from beginning to end.

Plus talk with BFI archive curators and Flipside programmers Vic Pratt and Will Fowler and a specially filmed video interview with eminent fantasy and horror film reporter and FrightFest head honcho Alan Jones about his experience on the set of the Russell film.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 73: Tuesday Mar 13

Altered States (Russell, 1980): Roxy Bar & Screen, London Bridge, 7pm

The Scala Forever team, who organised a season of movies in the capital last year recalling the days of the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross, are back with Russell Forever as a tribute to the late, great British film-maker. Here are the details for the full Ken Russell season screenings. This is a FilmBar70 presentation. Details here.

This is the FilmBar70 introduction to the night: Detonate the brain, shred the synapse and de-evolve to the time when the human consciousness was but a glint in the primordial soup’s eye. Filmbar70 proudly pays tribute to the iconoclastic Ken Russell with a screening of the monumentally psychedelic ALTERED STATES (USA 1980). We’ve thrown our hat (and the whole bloody kitchen sink) into the ring of Ken Russell Forever, a season dedicated to the wayward genius of British cinema, with a Filmbar favourite that truly reflects Ken’s attitude and scorched earth policy. Featuring a visionary railing against the mundane banalities of life and a doomed, romantic quest to transgress the barriers of taste and decorum in order to reveal an essential ‘truth’, ALTERED STATES is 100% Russell – overblown yet meticulous, vulgar yet intelligent, preposterous yet absorbing. His first Stateside commitment may have been late to the psychedelic party, but represents the last hurrah of American leftfield/mainstream cinema, and fully unleashes his propensity for verbal and visual pyrotechnics. And, most incredibly, William Hurt is not boring in it.

We’re also delighted to present BARTOK, one of the Monitor series of great composers, broadcast in 1964. This subsequently rarely screened doc concerns the Hungarian Béla Bartók, an early 20th Century composer whose work may seem strikingly modern, yet in actuality is deeply rooted in tradition. A major influence on Bernard Herrmann (just compare the score of PSYCHO to Bartók’s 2nd string quartet), Bartók’s fusion of the avant-garde and folk still reverberates in the concert halls of today."

Here is the FilmBar70 trailer for the evening.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 72: Monday Mar 12

Night and the City (Dassin, 1950): Community Film Club, Tate Modern, 6.30pm

Here's a fascinating article by Guardian film editor Andrew Pulver on this movie accompanied by a video in which he revisits the Soho settings of this British film noir. Pulver has also written a BFI Classics book on the film.


Time Out review:

'Bizarre film noir with Widmark as a small time nightclub tout trying to hustle his way into the wrestling rackets, but finding himself the object of a murderous manhunt when his cons catch up with him. Set in a London through which Widmark spends much of his time dodging in dark alleyways, it attempts to present the city in neo-expressionist terms as a grotesque, terrifyingly anonymous trap. Fascinating, even though the stylised characterisations (like Francis L Sullivan's obesely outsized nightclub king) remain theoretically interesting rather than convincing. Inclined to go over the top, it all too clearly contains the seeds of Dassin's later - and disastrous - pretensions.'
Tom Milne


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 71: Sunday Mar 11

Crimes of Passion (Russell, 1984) & Whore (Russell, 1991)
Still Advance film club at Shacklewell Arms, Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB, 2.30pm


Still Advance film club was set up after last year’s Scala Forever season to show fierce independent-minded and arthouse cinema, with a focus on all that is strange, provocative, atypical and intense. You can find out more at stilladvance.wordpress.com 
The Scala Forever team, who organised a season of movies in the capital last year recalling the days of the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross, are back with Russell Forever as a tribute to the late, great British film-maker. Here are the details for the full Ken Russell season screenings.

CRIMES OF PASSION:
A tale of obsession between a career woman leading a double life as a prostitute, a fanatical reverend and a private detective trapped in an unhappy marriage, CRIMES OF PASSION takes on sexuality, religion, split personalities and the masks people wear to succeed. Deliriously nightmarish, satirical and outrageous, it was Russell’s second American production after ALTERED STATES. Shown in its uncut version.

Here is the trailer.


WHORE:
Adapted from London cab driver David Hines’ play Bondage and relocated to the US, WHORE is a virtual one woman show for Theresa Russell, a LA street walker tired of her work. Blackly comic, the film was Russell’s response to PRETTY WOMAN, designed to shatter any notions about the glamour of prostitution. The victim of several BBFC cuts, WHORE showed he hadn’t lost any of his knack for baiting the censors.
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 70: Saturday Mar 10

Gothic (Russell, 1986): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm

The Scala Forever team, who organised a season of movies in the capital last year recalling the days of the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross, are back with Russell Forever as a tribute to the late, great British film-maker. Here are the details for the full Ken Russell screenings. The opening night is a Cigarette Burns film club presentation. Details here.

Time Out review:

'June 16, 1816. The Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva. An illustrious gathering: Lord Byron and his biographer-physician Polidori play host to Shelley, his lover Mary Godwin, and her half-sister ClaireAs a storm gathers, the flamboyant fops and fantasists hold a séance, to test their propensity for wickedness by conjuring into life their innermost demons. With this fictionalised re-creation of the events leading to the writing of Frankenstein, Russell is in his element, revelling in the seething psychodramas, the fetid atmosphere of sexual abandon, the gloops of slime and decaying flesh.'
Geoff Andrew


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 69: Friday Mar 9

Ashes and Diamonds (Wajda, 1958): Polish Film Festival, Riverside Studios, 6.20pm

This classic movie opens the Polish Film Festival at Riverside Studios. Here's the cinema's introduction the the season: The annual Kinoteka Polish Film Festival returns with a special 10th anniversary programme. Bringing to Riverside Studios the best of new Polish cinema and asking ten world renowned British and Polish filmmakers, including Andrzej Wajda, Pawel Pawlikowski, Ken Loach and Nicolas Roeg to choose their favourite Polish films. You can find all the details of the film's screening at the Festival here.


Chicago Reader review:
'One of the first works of the Polish New Wave, Andrzej Wajda's 1958 film is a compelling piece, although it's been somewhat overrated by critics who considered its story of a resistance fighter's ideological struggle as a cagey bit of anti-Soviet propaganda, and hence automatically admirable. Following the art cinema technique of the time, Wajda tends toward harsh and overstated imagery, but he achieves a fascinating psychological rapport with his lead actor, Zbigniew Cybulski—who was known as Poland's James Dean.' Dave Kehr 
Here is the trailer.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 68: Thursday Mar 8

Blank City (Danhler, 2010): ICA Cinema, 7.30pm

Here's the ICA introduction to an American documentary on experimental film-making in New York in the late 70s: In London, Punk was beginning its heady rise. Across the Atlantic, New York City was financially on its knees, but about to witness an unprecedented outpouring of creativity under the No Wave banner. Blank City documents the early years of Debbie Harry, Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie, Lizzie Borden and many more artists, musicians and filmmakers inspired by the likes of Warhol and Basquiat to make art on their own terms with whatever materials they had to hand. What's fascinating is how the lack of resources in a major global city presented a freedom to experiment which saw artists from all disciplines exchange art-forms oblivious to any rules. So musicians turned into filmmakers, while painters picked up guitars. Performance was the key. The desire to express, be seen and heard.
A short lived movement, the No Wave left a still-resonating legacy. Nick Zedd, Richard Kern, Scott and Beth B's films all formed the Cinema of Transgression which can be seen today in the work of filmmakers such as Gaspar Noe and Romain Gavras. An amazing documentary showcasing the heart of the No Wave scene then and now. Essential.

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 67: Wednesday Mar 7

Michael (Schleinzer, 2011): Various cinemas across London.

On a quiet night on the repertory cinema circuit here's a recommendation for an excellent new release out this week. This grim Austrian tale about a man who keeps a young boy captive in his cellar was one of the most best movies at the 2011 London Film Festival. I cannot say I am in a desperate hurry to see it again but that is because of the nature of the story and the disturbing effect rather than any slight on what is an impressive piece of film-making.

It's probably best not to know too much about Michael before seeing the film. The Independent on Sunday film critic Jonathan Romney has summed up its qualities very well here in his column this week. He concludes:

'Schleinzer's cool, clinical direction is very much school-of-Haneke. But while Michael is extremely uncomfortable viewing, the fact that it's never pitched for either pathos or horror makes the film all the more challenging – because it so directly tests our understanding of normality and aberration, humanity and inhumanity.'

Here is the trailer.