Saturday, 30 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 187: Thu July 5

Do The Right Thing (Lee, 1989): Clapham Picturehouse, 8.45pm
Film blogger Ashley Clark (aka Permanent Plastic Helmet) is hosting this evening and by rights it should be a blazing hot day. Then again . . .

Chicago Reader review:
'With the possible exception of his cable miniseries When the Levees Broke, this 1989 feature is still Spike Lee's best work, chronicling a very hot day on a single block of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, when a series of minor encounters and incidents lead to an explosion of racial violence at an Italian-owned pizzeria. Sharp and knowing, though not always strictly realistic, it manages to give all the characters their due. Bill Lee's wall-to-wall score eventually loses some of its effectiveness, and a few elements (such as the patriarchal roles played by the local drunk and a disc jockey) seem more fanciful than believable. But overall this is a powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick—funky, entertaining, packed with insight, and political in the best, most responsible sense.' Jonathan Rosenbaum
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 186: Wed July 4

Lance Loud! A Death in the American Family (Alan & Susan Raymond, 2003):
Tate Modern, 6.30pm
Here is the Tate's introduction to a fascinating documentary: In 1973, An American Family was the most controversial and talked-about television programme of its era. Anticipating the current deluge of ‘reality TV’ programming by three decades, producer Craig Gilbert’s innovative series is a landmark of non-fiction film made in the style of cinema vérité. It marks a critical moment in postwar American culture. Drawing on numerous precedents in observational filmmaking – from Frederick Wiseman and Jean Rouch to Andy Warhol – the programme chronicles seven months in the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. The Louds were selected as an emblematic nuclear family pulled apart by the cultural shifts that marked America’s transition into the 1970s. Filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond captured 300 hours of film that were edited to 12 one-hour episodes aired weekly on PBS.
From the first broadcast on 11 January 1973, the series quickly became a national media event viewed by an audience of 10 million people. The ensuing depictions of divorce, West Coast affluence, and open homosexuality provoked a fervent public debate about the nation’s value system, its attitudes towards family and sexuality, and about television’s role in depicting and constructing the American character. An American Family was among the first television series to transform ‘ordinary people’ into media celebrities. During the series’s second episode, Lance Loud, who had left Santa Barbara to pursue a more bohemian life in Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel, became arguably the first openly gay man on American television. His richly comic, tragic life spoke volumes about popular culture, sexuality, fame and family life during a transitional period in which the camera came to dominate our daily lives.
On 22 December 2001, aged 50, Loud died of liver failure caused by hepatitis C and HIV co-infection. Having lived his youth onscreen in living rooms across America, several months before his death Loud asked Alan and Susan Raymond to film one final episode in the Loud story. The resulting documentary, Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family, commemorates the 30th anniversary of the original broadcast and explores Loud’s legacy, revisiting the original series and examining the intervening years of Loud’s life leading up to his final months. Near the end of his life Loud wrote: ‘Make no mistake. This is not to emphasize the sadness of my demise but rather emphasise the love of my family and friends.’

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 185: Tue July 3

Lost In America (Brooks, 1985): Lumiere Cinema, 88 Chatsworth Rd, E5, 8.30pm FREE
This is a rare screening of a great American satire from the mid-80s.


Chicago Reader review:
'In the tradition of Keaton, Tashlin, and Tati, Albert Brooks makes comedies that are not only brilliantly funny but also pursue a radical formal inventiveness: with its use of long takes, stripped-down imagery, and superrealism, Lost in America could pass for the work of Jean-Marie Straub, if Straub had a sense of humour. Brooks plays a hapless yuppie who, with his wife (Julie Hagerty), sets out on a belated cross-country journey to find himself (the spirit of Easy Rider is invoked as the couple set off in their Winnebago); they make it as far as Las Vegas, where Hagerty, finally snapping after a lifetime of obedient conformity, blows their entire $200,000 nest egg at a roulette wheel.'
Dave Kehr
Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 184: Mon July 2

The Warriors (Hill, 1979): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

Time Out review:
'From its powerhouse opening, in which all the gangs of New York gather in tribal splendour in Riverside Drive Park, to the last ditch stand in dilapidated Coney Island, Hill has elevated his story of a novice gang on the run into a heroic epic of Arthurian dimensions, with sex as sorcery and the flick-knife as sword. Anyone expecting gritty realism will be disappointed, because Hill is offering something better: shooting entirely on NY locations at night, he has transformed the city into a phantasmagoric labyrinth of weird tribes in fantastic dress and make-up who move over (and under) the streets as untouched as troglodytes by the civilisation sleeping around them. The novice gang from Coney accidentally encounters some middle class swingers on the subway, and the two groups stare at each other like aliens from different galaxies (while the gang's new female recruit has to be gently restrained from instinctively putting a hand up to straighten her hair). Mixing ironic humour, good music, and beautifully photographed suspense, it's one of the best of 1979.' David Pirie


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 183: Sun July 1

????????????????????: A Super Secret Special Screening from Cigarette Burns
Venue: Juno134-135 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1, 4pm


We don't know the title of the film but we know in our hearts it will be a fabulous one. As part of the East London Film Festival those good people at the Cigarette Burns film club are showing a surprise movie. Like the London Film Festival's surprise screening no one knows what it will be until the credits start to roll. So will the audience feel like it did when the LFF put on No Country For Old Men or will it feel like it did when Brighton Rock started. My guess is the former.
Here's master of ceremonies Josh Saco's introduction to the evening: For our second year running, we're back with East End Film Festival's Cine East strand. Last year we packed out The Old Blue Last with some Japanese insanity, this year we'll... well you'll just have to show up to find out. We're not telling you what we're showing, but it'll be good, stupid, and fun. And you're likely not to have seen it before. There are more details on Facebook here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 182: Sat June 30

Heathers (Lehmann, 1988) & Society (Yuzna, 1989):
Midnight Movies Nightcap Double Bill at Roxy Bar & Screen, London Bridge, 11.30pm


Here's the Midnight Movies introduction to the evening: Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1989! Midnight Movies returns to London nightlife with a double-bill of cult 80s social satires HEATHERS and SOCIETY as they launch their monthly NIGHTCAP events at new host venue, Roxy Bar and Screen. Nightcap will celebrate all forms of after dark cinema in an interactive, social atmosphere, including rare musical gems, cocktail specials and prizes.
 
The Midnight Movies team recently selected their perfect double-bill in Little White Lies' Midnight Movies issue, and with Nightcap they bring the dream to life by screening two of the most satirical teen films the 80s ever created: Michael Lehmann's HEATHERS and Brian Yuzna's SOCIETY. Will sociopathic couple Veronica (Winona Ryder) and J.D. (Christian Slater) topple the Heathers, a triumvirate of power-hungry, croquet-playing bitches? Or will Bill Whitney (Baywatch's Billy Warlock) discover the real reasons why he will never quite fit into Society? It all gets rather messy...

Time Out review of Heathers:
'A wicked black comedy about teenage suicide and pernicious peer-group pressure, this refreshing parody of high-school movies is venomously penned by Daniel Waters and sharply directed by Lehmann. The Heathers are three vacuous Westerburg High school beauties who specialise in 'being popular' and making life hell for socially inadequate dweebettes and pillowcases. Having sold out her former friends in these categories, Veronica (Winona Ryder) becomes an honorary member of the select clique - but turns monocled mutineer. Aided by handsome rebellious newcomer JD (Christian Slater), she devises a drastic plan to undermine the teen-queen tyranny, but underestimates JD's ruthlessness: the scheme backfirs dangerously. The compromised ending (forced on the film-makers by New World) is a serious let-down, but there is some exceptional ensemble acting, several stylish set pieces, and more imaginative slang than you could shake a cheerleader's ass at. More crucially, the film uses an intimate knowledge of teen-movie clichés to subvert their debased values from the inside.'
Nigel Floyd
Here is the trailer

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

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 181: Fri June 29

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Bunuel, 1972):
BFI Southbank, 2,30, 6.10 & 8.30pm
This celebrated film's re-release is getting an extended run at BFI Southbank. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'Luis Bunuel's 1972 comic masterpiece, about three well-to-do couples who try and fail to have a meal together, is perhaps the most perfectly achieved and executed of all his late French films. The film proceeds by diverse interruptions, digressions, and interpolations (including dreams and tales within tales) that, interestingly enough, identify the characters, their class, and their seeming indestructibility with narrative itself. One of the things that makes this film as charming as it is, despite its radicalism, and helped Bunuel win his only Oscar is the perfect cast, many of whom bring along nearly mythic associations acquired in previous French films. Frightening, funny, profound, and mysterious.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 180: Thu June 28

Swingers (Liman, 1996): Stratford East Picturehouse, Cocktails 7.30pm Film: 8.30pm

If you've never seen Swingers before, then you're in for a treat my friends. If you have seen it, you'll know it's an hilarious - and painfully accurate - deconstruction of the dating game: a how-to manual for getting back on the horse after being ungamely bucked. It's also one of the coolest movies ever made, with a soundtrack to die for, pin-sharp style, quotable dialogue and a Vegas setting that channels a finger clickin', Martini sippin' Rat Pack vibe. Plus, it's the thinnest Vince Vaughn has ever been on film. Thince. Obviously we can't enforce a dress code, but you'll want to rock up wearing some smart threads if you want to impress all the fly fellas and beautiful babies in attendance. Then you can sit down and crumple your nice outfit when the film begins at 8.30pm. At least you'll have a nice buzz going from the cocktails and the swing music.

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

Time Out review:
'This first feature follows Mike (Favreau) as he gets back into the dating game after the abrupt and unwelcome termination of a six-year relationship. An out-of-work New York actor looking for a break in LA, he's dragged out of his mope by pals Rob (Livingston), Charles (Desert), Sue (Van Horn) and, especially, the irrepressible Trent (Vaughn), who insists they chase down some honeys in Vegas. Wiser, and poorer, they return to trawl the Angelino hotspots. Love it and loathe it, this film wants it both ways. We're supposed to be appalled at the callous chauvinism of the predatory male, but also to get off on his jive, sharp suits and cool car. We do, too. It's a bit smug, a bit smarmy, but you should still see this movie, and here are ten reasons why: (i) Vince Vaughn - a louche, lanky ego salesman, he's the definitive '90s lounge lizard. (ii) Jon Favreau - a subtler actor than Vaughn, he spends the entire picture sulking, and still has you pulling for him. Plus, he wrote the script, and (iii) this is the most quotable movie since Clueless. (iv) It boasts the best answerphone gag in the history of the movies. Bar none. (v-x) Ninety minutes spent learning how not to pick up girls. This is what the movies were made for, isn't it?'
Tom Charity


This scene will give you some of the flavour of this great movie. Click here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 179: Wed June 27

Into the Abyss (Herzog, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT Studio, 8.50pm


Time Out review:


'Think of Herzog and you think of monomania. He tends towards stories of single-minded individuals embarking upon insane projects to bend an indifferent world to their desires, or facing off against preposterous odds in pursuit of brute survival. Beneath such tales is the tug of ecstasy – a rapturous state of standing outside the self whose dark twin is a kind of obscene oblivion, an intimation of existential futility that links Kaspar Hauser and the unknown artists of last year’s ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’. ‘Into the Abyss’ is a Herzog film focused not on an individual but a situation: the conviction of two men for the horribly banal 2001 murder of a Texan nurse, her son and his friend, and the impending execution of one of those convicted. As well as interviewing the prisoners, Herzog talks to their loved ones; to the victims’ families; and to people in Texas’s capital punishment system. The result is gripping, moving and revelatory, an unabashed if implicit critique of the death penalty. The abyss looms dark indeed but the picture pulses with the insistent peculiarities of life as it is lived by wilful individuals. For while Herzog shows appropriate sobriety, he couldn’t make a solemn film if he tried: the most moving observation comes in an anecdote about a squirrel and a golf cart.'Ben Walters
Here is the trailer.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 178: Tue June 26

Jaws (Spielberg, 1975):
Empire Leicester Square; Brixton Ritzy and Vue Islington, Finchley Road and Fulham Broadway

Time Out review:
'Is there such a thing as a perfect film? One that knows what it wants to achieve and does it, flawlessly, artfully and intelligently? If so, then ‘Jaws’ is as good a candidate as any. Thirty-seven years on (and reissued in a new HD print), this tale of an island community terrorised by a killer shark still feels timeless and terrifying. The characterisation is precise and acutely observed (it’s one of the great guys-on-a-mission flicks), the dialogue is witty and wise, and the plot fits together like a finely crafted watch. The performances – not just leads, but the kids, townsfolk and the grief-stricken mother too – are impeccable. Best of all is Steven Spielberg’s direction: the camera moves like a predatory animal, gliding eerily across the surface of the vast Atlantic, creating sequences of almost unbearable suspense (never mind that the scariest scene was shot in a swimming pool). It’s no wonder a generation of holidaymakers still thinks twice before stepping into the water.'
Tom Huddleston


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 177: Mon June 25

Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993): Rooftop Film Club, Queen of Hoxton pub, 9pm

I went to a screening of Stand By Me last summer at this venue and was very impressed. Seating in directors' chairs; lovely food and drink and blankets to keep warm in cool weather. Here is a list of their upcoming attractions.


Time Out review:
'School's breaking up for the summer of '76. The seniors debate party politics while next term's freshmen run the gauntlet of brutal initiation rites, barely comforted by the knowledge that they'll wield the stick one day. No one's looking much farther ahead than that. This has a free-wheeling, 'day-in-the-life-of' structure which allows writer/director Linklater, in his second feature, to eavesdrop on an ensemble cast without much in the way of dramatic contrivance. There's a quirky counter-cultural intelligence at work: sympathy for those on the sidelines, and a deadpan pop irony which places this among the hippest teenage movies. While the camera flits between some two dozen youngsters (played by uniformly excellent unknowns), Linklater allows himself to develop a handful of stories. Seriously funny, and shorn of any hint of nostalgia or wish-fulfilment, this is pretty much where it's at.'
Tom Charity


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 176: Sun June 24

McCabe & Mrs Miller (Altman, 1971): BFI Southbank, 8.40pm
This great western is screening as part of the Warren Beatty season.

Chicago Reader review:
'Still Robert Altman's best moment, this 1971 anti-western murmurs softly of love, death, and capitalism. Warren Beatty is the two-bit gambler who falls in with whorehouse proprietress Julie Christie; together they grope toward money and oblivion.'
Dave Kehr


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 175: Sat June 23

West Side Story (Wise, 1961): Royal Albert Hall, 2.30 & 7.30pm
This film is showing from Friday to Sunday June 22-24 with the screenings accompanied by a live score courtesy of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. It is the 50th anniversary of this great Hollywood musical.

Time Out review:
'This beautifully restored fiftieth anniversary version of ‘West Side Story’ is being re-released ahead of the BFI’s major survey of the Hollywood musical this autumn.

Re-heating ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the distressed, red-brick pressure cooker of late-’50s New York City, cine-chameleon Robert Wise and choreographer Jerome Robbins made a fine fist of transplanting the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim Broadway behemoth to the screen. Set in a world populated by finger-clicking, stoop-dwelling greasers, a senseless turf war between rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, complicates a star-crossed romance between Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer).

The sins of the father take a back seat to race and gender tensions, as this version examines the notion of dangerously overzealous family pride via the internal dynamics of roving street gangs. A mercurial opening salvo delivers ominous aerial shots of the NYC skyline that are worthy of Antonioni. The camera then dips down on to a basketball court and introduces a beef between Russ Tamblyn’s charismatic Riff and George Chakiris’s highfalutin Bernardo (replete with dodgy Shinola suntan).

Although it’s impossible to fault the euphoric dance sequences and ultra-melodic tunes, the dramatic scenes linking the big numbers all fall flat and the illicit affair at the film’s core remains fatally underdeveloped until its fudged finale. Special mention, though, should go to Boris Leven’s neo-expressionist production design and Daniel L Fapp’s forceful cinematography: the crooked angles, pointed shadows and great swashes of red all heighten the mood of rabid fury.'

David Jenkins


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 174: Fri June 22

Asshole (Mukherjee, 2010): Watermans, High St, Brentford, 8pm
The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director and is screening as part of the Indian Film Festival which runs from 20 June- 3 July. Details here.

Time Out review:
'Described by its director Kaushik Mukherjee (Q) as a ‘rap musical’, Bengali film ‘Asshole’ (‘Gandu’ in its original language) is perhaps the most controversial - and arguably the bravest - selection made by this year’s London Film Festival selectors. Focusing on disenchanted Kolkata youths Gandu (Anurata Basu) and Rickshaw (Joyraj Bhattacharya) and featuring explicit language, graphic drug abuse and scenes of hardcore sex, it’s easy to see why an India-wide ban and press walkouts followed initial screenings. However, underneath the moral furore lies a highly transgressive, visually spectacular assault on the senses. A mess from start to finish, ‘Asshole’ nevertheless guarantees a unique ride.'
Daniel Green

Here is the trailer.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 173: Thu June 21

Sleep Furiously (Koppel, 2008): N21 Film Festival, Winchmore Hill. Details here.
This film is introduced by my Guardian colleague and Silent London blogger, Pamela Hutchinson, and is screening as part of the N21 Film Festival. Commemorating the centenary of Henrietta Cresswell’s book,“Winchmore Hill : Memories of a Lost Village”, and bringing back cinema to the area for the first time in 53 years, this unique Film Festival explores Winchmore Hill’s transition from a village to a suburb.


Five-star Time Out review:

'The ambiguous title of this ruminative, patchwork debut film from director Gideon Koppel is borrowed from the grammatically correct, though entirely nonsensical sentence, ‘Colourless green ideas sleep furiously’, which was constructed by linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky. Maybe it’s unintentional, but that notion – of an unfathomable harmony between chaos and stability – permeates every scene of this wonderful film: a tubby fellow in a yellow baseball cap struggles to herd sheep, but his strained efforts deliver a mesmerising, rustic ballet for Koppel’s sympathetic camera. Sheep saunter across a rain-drizzled mountainside, but, remarkably, their strict formation begins to form beautiful abstract shapes on the landscape. There’s an intensely moving shot of a female choir conductor as she delivers musical cues through wild facial movements: as a kind of punchline, she rolls her eyes as the choir reaches the end of the piece.

Rather than telling a story, Koppel paints a portrait of a community (the town of Trefeurig in Wales, to be exact), loosely linking his vivid (and often very funny) sketches of country life with the ambling journey of a mobile library. There are scraps of dialogue here and there, but words are not important. It’s more about rituals and process, a paean to old-fashioned methods like farming, baking and rope-making that are slowly being crushed by the wheels of progress. It never rests on tweeness or sarcasm and the sheer ingenuity of the filmmaking produces something altogether deeper, moodier, more compassionate and joyful. The lilting strains of Aphex Twin work wonders on the soundtrack, as does the abrupt, consistently surprising editing, which effortlessly transports the viewer from place to place, life to life. This is as fully formed and unique a debut movie as you could ever hope to see.'
David Jenkins
Here is the trailer.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 172: Wed June 20

Brand X (Chamberlain, 1970): Tate Modern, 6.30pm

This is an intriguing one. An experimental satire on TV made by artist, film maker and friend of Andy Warhol Wynn Chamberlain, this was presumed lost for many years. Tonight the film's director and star, Taylor Mead, will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening.

A New York Times feature by Rachel Wolff (the full version of which you can read here) gives some background to the film's history, which the writer describes as: "A satirical take on television, with fake programs and commercials, “Brand X” anticipated TV and movie comedies of the next decade like “Saturday Night Live,” “SCTV” and “The Kentucky Fried Movie,” though in a more absurdist vein and with a more political view."
Wolff added: "The film, which featured Abbie Hoffman, Sam Shepard, Sally Kirkland and the Warhol superstars Ultra Violet, Candy Darling and Taylor Mead, was released in 1970 in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Vincent Canby endorsed it in The New York Times as “a tacky, vulgar, dirty, sometimes dull, often hilarious movie” with the tone of “a liberated college humor magazine.”
Here is the Tate's introduction to the evening's entertainment: Described by Jonas Mekas as ‘propaganda for the politics of joy and disorder’, Wynn Chamberlain’s Brand X is a cinematic masterpiece of 1960s counterculture that was almost lost until Chamberlain recently recovered the last surviving print. This special screening of the film is followed by a discussion with Chamberlain, Taylor Mead, cultural historian Steven Watson and Tate curator Stuart Comer. Starring a glittering array of celebrites, including Abbie Hoffman, Sally Kirkland, Taylor Mead, Sam Shepard and Ultra Violet, the film skewers the political sphere and the media through a series of faux TV skits inspired by a snowbound weekend spent watching television. Chamberlain’s previous attempt at filmmaking was sabotaged by house guest Andy Warhol, who appropriated Chamberlain’s cache of 16 mm film stock to make his renowned film Sleep (1963). His second effort, Brand X is an exuberant testament to the playfully political approach of the underground and its interface with an increasingly voracious mass media.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 171: Tue June 19

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Roeg, 1976):
Haymarket Cineworld 11.15am, 2.15pm, 5.15pm and 8.15pm
Gate Cinema, Notting Hill 3pm
The Lexi Cinema 6.30pm
Ritzy Cinema, Brixton 6.30pm
Phoenix Cinema, 8.30pm


Taking place every Tuesday from June 5 to July 3 inclusive, the Made In Britain season is a joint venture between StudioCanal and the Independent Cinema Office that aims to "give audiences across the country the opportunity to enjoy five restored classic British films on the big screen". An eclectic selection from across the decades, all of which have received digital restoration but not aired theatrically for a while, the vintage quintet comprises: post-war Ealing comedy Passport To Pimlico (Henry Cornelius, 1949); undead Cornish tin mine Hammer horror The Plague Of The Zombies (John Gilling, 1966); essential, David Bowie-as-extraterrestrial sci-fi The Man Who Fell To Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976); comedic Charles Laughton/John Mills-starring theatrical adaptation Hobson's Choice (David Lean, 1954); and the hugely influential, alien remains in the London Underground feature Quatermass And The Pit (Roy Ward Baker, 1967). Full details here.

Time Out review: 'Nicholas Roeg's hugely ambitious and imaginative film transforms a straightforward science fiction story (novel, Walter Tevis) into a rich kaleidoscope of contemporary America. Newton (David Bowie), an alien whose understanding of the world comes from monitoring TV stations, arrives on earth, builds the largest corporate empire in the States to further his mission, but becomes increasingly frustrated by human emotions. What follows is as much a love story as sci-fi: like other films of Roeg's, this explores private and public behaviour. Newton/Bowie becomes involved in an almost pulp-like romance with Candy Clark, played out to the hits of middle America, that culminates with his 'fall' from innocence. Roeg, often using a dazzling technical skill, jettisons narrative in favour of thematic juxtapositions, working best when exploring the clichés of social and cultural ritual. Less successful is the 'explicit' sex Roeg now seems obliged to offer; but visually a treat throughout.' Chris Peachment
Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 170: Mon June 18

Psychomania (Sharp 1971): The Alibi Film Club, 91 Kingsland High St, Dalston, E8. 8pm FREE


Time Out review:
'The first British Hell's Angels pic, and just about the blackest comedy to come out of this country in years. It features a bike gang called The Living Dead, whose leader (Henson) discovers the art of becoming just that. So he kills himself and is buried along with his bike, until he guns the engine and shoots back up through the turf; two victims later, he drives to a pub and calls his mother (Reid), a devil worshipper ensconced in her stately old dark house with Sanders as her sinisterly imperturbable butler, to say he's back. This level of absurdity could be feeble, but Sharp knows how to shoot it straight, without any directorial elbows-in-the-ribs. Consequently, much of the humour really works, even though the gang as individuals are strictly plastic.' David Pirie


Here is the BBC's take on the movie.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 169: Sun June 17

Shadows (Cassavetes, 1959): Genesis Cinema, 3.30pm

Chicago Reader review:
'John Cassavetes's first feature (1959), shot in 16-millimeter, centers on three siblings living together in Manhattan; the oldest, a third-rate nightclub singer (Hugh Hurd), is visibly black, while the other two (Ben Carruthers and Lelia Goldoni) are sufficiently light skinned to pass for white. This is the only Cassavetes film made without a full script (it grew out of acting improvs), and rarely has so much warmth, delicacy, and raw feeling emerged so naturally and beautifully from performances in an American film. It's contemporaneous with early masterpieces of the French New Wave and deserves to be ranked alongside them for the freshness and freedom of its vision; in its portrait of a now-vanished Manhattan during the beat period, it also serves as a poignant time capsule. With Tony Ray (son of director Nicholas Ray), Rupert Crosse, Dennis Sallas, Tom Allen, and Davey Jones—all very fine—and a wonderful jazz score by Charles Mingus. It's conceivable that Cassavetes made greater films, but this is the one I cherish the most.' Jonathan Rosenabum


Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 168: Sat June 16

Hellraiser (Barker, 1987): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm
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 and on their Facebook page.


Here is their introduction to the night: Although some may feel the franchise has been tarnished by following sequels (currently at eight and counting), this is a golden opportunity to see Clive Barker's debut feature length original masterpiece. Following the fates of Larry (a man so vanilla he makes natural yogurt seem interesting), Julia (beautiful, icy, obsessive), Frank (crooked and twisted as a Tim Burton tree) and Kirsty (Larry's final girl esque daughter), Hellraiser explores the line between pleasure and pain and trips the light fantastic over that line frequently. Involving human sacrifices, slinky PVC clad villains and an intense gothic romance, Hellraiser stands up to the test of time admirably. The most intriguing aspect of Hellraiser is perhaps its juxtaposition of beautiful (a time lapse scene of a blooming flower) and horrific (the hammer killings of Julia's conquests, in an attempt to help her regenerating lover). Sometimes the two combine, such as in a scene where a sheet covering what we assume to be a body, starts to bloom bloodstains, like some sort of sinister daguerreotype developing. Made with a $1,000,000 budget, every cent is put to good use, with graphic gore that outstripped what was being done with bigger budgets towards the end of the 1980s. It is no happy accident that Pinhead, the leader of the cenobites, the slinky denizens of hell, became one of the last iconic horror icons. Hellraiser offers one of the first real sexualised body horrors, managing to both nod to older Edgar Allen Poe style gothic horror and be at once highly original.


Time Out review:
'In the bare bedroom of a London suburban house, bored sensualist Frank Cotton solves the mystery of a Chinese puzzle-box and enters a world of exquisite cruelty presided over by the Cenobites, glamorous sadists with a penchant for ripped flesh, steaming viscera and flayed muscle. Later, restored to life by his brother Larry's blood, Frank rises half-formed from a pool of slime. When Larry's wife (and Frank's ex-lover) Julia agrees to provide the human meat he needs to put flesh on his bones, the three become involved in an infernal triangle... Barker's dazzling debut as a director creates such an atmosphere of dread that the astonishing visual set pieces simply detonate in a chain reaction of cumulative intensity. His use of the traditional 'teenage screamer' heroine (Larry's daughter) tends to undercut the unsettling moral ambiguities of the adult triangle, and the brooding menace of the Cenobites is far more terrifying than the climactic rollercoaster ride. These are small quibbles, however, in a debut of such exceptional promise. A serious, intelligent and disturbing horror film.' Nigel Floyd


Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 167: Fri June 15

The Apartment (Wilder, 1960): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 2pm, 6pm & 8.30pm
The re-released Billy Wilder classic is on an extended run at BFI Southbank till June 28. Details here.


Time Out review:
'Re-teaming actor Jack Lemmon, scriptwriter Iz Diamond and director Billy Wilder a year after ‘Some Like It Hot’, this multi-Oscar winning comedy is sharper in tone, tracing the compromises of a New York insurance drone who pimps out his brownstone apartment for his married bosses’ illicit affairs. The quintessential New York movie – with exquisite design by Alexandre Trauner and shimmering black-and-white photography – it presented something of a breakthrough in its portrayal of the war of the sexes, with a sour and cynical view of the self-deception, loneliness and cruelty involved in ‘romantic’ liaisons. Directed by Wilder with attention to detail and emotional reticence that belie its inherent darkness and melodramatic core, it’s lifted considerably by the performances: the psychosomatic ticks and tropes of nebbish Lemmon balanced by the pathos of Shirley MacLaine’s put-upon ‘lift girl’.'
Wally Hammond

Here is an extract.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 166: Thu June 14

Eastern Plays (Kalev, 2009): Riverside Studios Cinema, 8.30pm
This film is screening as part of the Bulgarian Film Festival. More details here.

Time Out review:
A thoughtful and evocative meditation on a forgotten generation struggling to find meaning in post-Soviet Bulgaria. The story is delicately constructed around the life of Itso (the nickname of the director Kalev Christov, who plays himself), an apathetic artist and heroin addict who supplements his failed methadone treatment with alcoholism, and whose dour mental state mirrors the bleak city scapes of Sofia. His brother Georgi, meanwhile, looks to the local neo-Nazi gangs for acceptance. A subtle and well-crafted tale.
Sarah Lohmann

Here is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 165: Wed June 13

Death Watch (Tavernier, 1979): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.50 and 8.20pm
This film is on an extended run at BFI Southbank from 4-14 June. Details here.

Little White Lies magazine review: 

'This fascinating and flawed fifth feature from Bertrand Tavernier combines ’80s class-war politics and media exploitation with an homage to such kitchen sink sci-fi as Godard’s Alphaville and Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451. Set in a semi-dilapidated Glasgow of the future, well-to-do author Katherine Mortenhoe (the always- scintillating Romy Schneider) is selected as a patsy by an ethically unscrupulous TV network to star in their hit reality series, Death Watch. In this proposed future, all diseases have been cured and so the (predominantly bourgeois) viewing public have become numbed to the experience of watching someone die. With a video camera surgically implanted into his left eye, ace investigative reporter Roddy (Harvey Keitel) wheedles his way into Katherine’s life after she’s been diagnosed with some spurious, life-threatening illness and, at the wont of his sleazy paymaster, Vincent (Harry Dean Stanton), keeps the camera rolling. While it’s easy to draw parallels between Death Watch and the largely execrable deluge of reality TV that fugs up our dials, this presents a more flagrantly voyeuristic take on the phenomenon. Tavernier and writer David Rayfiel (adapting DG Compton’s 1973 novel, ‘The Unsleeping Eye’) are interested in the willingness of cultural elites to abuse and disavow the taboo of death for their own ill-gotten gains. It’s a metaphor that Tavernier cleverly stretches to both the police and government as the grubby Glasgow he depicts is rife with fear, crime, poverty and death.'
David Jenkins

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 164: Tue June 12


Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Mamoulian, 1931): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm
This film is part of the Passport to Cinema season, will be introduced by Julian Petley and include a screening of the short 2001 version of the story directed by Paul Bush. Details here.

I finally got to see this film last year and was struck by its extraordinary opening, a virtuoso sequence in which the camera represents what Dr Jekyll witnesses and only "sees" the central character when he looks into a mirror. It is the best version of the story committed to celluloid and well worth seeking out.


Chicago Reader review:
'Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, this 1932 screen adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic is a remarkable achievement that deserves to be much better known. Fredric March won a well-deserved Oscar for his performance as the lead, and Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart play the two women who match the opposite sides of the hero's nature. The transformations of Jekyll are a notable achievement for March and Mamoulian alike, and the disturbing undercurrents of the story are given their full due (as they weren't in the much inferior 1941 Victor Fleming version with Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner). Mamoulian was at his peak in the early 30s, as this film shows.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is an excerpt from the film.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 163: Mon June 11

The Parallax View (Pakula, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 9pm
This film, part of the Warren Beatty season, is also screening on June 5 at 6.30pm. Details here.

Time Out review:

'A thriller about a journalist, alerted to the mysterious deaths of witnesses to the assassination of a presidential candidate, who embarks on an investigation that reveals a nebulous conspiracy of gigantic and all-embracing scope. It sounds familiar, and refers to or overlaps a good handful of similar films, but is most relevantly tied to Klute. Where Klute was an exploration of claustrophobic anxiety, The Parallax View is inexorably agoraphobic. Its visual organisation is stunning as the journalist (Beatty) is drawn into an increasingly nightmarish world characterised by impenetrably opaque structures, a screen whited out from time to time, or meshed over with visually deceptive patterns. It is some indication of the area the film explores that in place of the self-revealing session with the analyst in Klute, The Parallax View presents us with the more insecurity-inducing questionnaire used by the mysterious Parallax Corporation for personality-testing prospective employees. Excellent performances; fascinating film.' Verina Glaessner
Here's an introduction to the film by director Alex Cox on the BBC series Moviedrome.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 162: Sun June 10

 Le Cercle Rouge (Melville, 1970): Cine Lumiere, 2pm


Chicago Reader review:

'Jean-Pierre Melville's austere heist film, made in 1970, was his next to last; it opens with a Buddhist aphorism about fate binding two men to meet again, and ends with a police chief pronouncing all men ultimately guilty. Two prisoners return to society—Corey (Alain Delon) has served his sentence and is released, while Vogel (Gian Maria Volonte) escapes from a speeding train. They team up with a sharpshooting ex-cop to mount an exquisite jewel theft. Melville renders the taciturn crooks and corrupt inspectors with the nocturnal blue palette that is his signature. Key action points are edited with finesse, but the denouement, with its dutiful hail of gunfire, is heartless and mechanical. '
Bill Stamets

Here is a flavour of the movie.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 161: Sat June 9

The Brothers Quay short films: Deptford Film Club at St Nicholas Church, Deptford Green, 1-5pm

The Deptford Film Club pop-up cinema are at the local church this time - in the crypt. Read on for their introduction to the afternoon's unsettling entertainment:

St Nicholas’ Church’s family community festival is on Saturday June 9! Lovely cream teas, bouncy castles, face painting and fun for all the family. But all is not well: wander down into the subterranean crypt and you’ll find some real freaky stuff.
Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the short films of the Brothers Quay – stop-motion animators extraordinaire. Over four hours from 1pm to 5pm, witness a series of fascinating and deeply unsettling films that feel like  half-remembered dreams and long-suppressed childhood memories. Dialogue-free and usually non-narrative experience, these films rivet the attention through hypnotic control of décor, music and movement.
If you watch them all you’ll make yourself ill, so do feel free to see a couple, escape for a cuppa, and then come back for more. We won’t be offended.

“Thirteen Kafkaesque pieces of puppetry that defy all categorisation, comprehension or reason. Unsettling, baffling and darkly brilliant.” FILM 4

“A grasp of the uncanny that rivals Luis Buñuel and Lewis Carroll” BFI

“It’s probably not a good idea to watch [this] if you are feeling even slightly on edge. Actually, you may not want to watch it if you are feeling happy. But you should certainly watch it.” ELECTRIC SHEEP

“For the sake of your sanity, don’t watch them all in one go.” DIGITAL FIX

You can sample one of the short films here.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 160: Fri June 8

Nil By Mouth (Oldman, 1997): Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, 7pm

The Museum of London Docklands has a cinema club screening on the first Friday of each month. This month's is Gary Oldman's harrowing directorial debut.

Time out review:
'The actor Gary Oldman's debut as writer/director is so uncompromisingly honest, it makes other portraits of working-class life look like sour caricature or misplaced idealism. Oldman grew up in south east London, the setting for this tale of macho violence, drunkenness, drug addiction and petty crime, and very clearly knows what he's talking about. He's helped, of course, by stunning performances from his entire cast, most notably Winstone as the volatile but self-pitying Ray, given to beating up his long-suffering wife (Burke) and threatening her irresponsible junkie brother (Creed-Miles). There's no sermonising or romanticising here, just a sad, clear-eyed acknowledgement that domestic abuse and crime create a vicious circle from which many barely even try to escape. Shot and scripted in a deceptively casual, bleakly 'realist' style, it's the closest Britain has produced to a Cassavetes film, and as such, profoundly humane.' Geoff Andrew

Here is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 159: Thu June 7

Sparrows Can't Sing (Littlewood, 1963): Sugarhouse Studios, 107 High St, Stratford, 7pm
This screening of the legendary Joan Littlewood film will be followed by a Q&A with a surprise guest

Here is the Sugarhouse Studios film club's introduction to the evening: Sparrows Can’t Sing is based on the play of the same name set against the fast-changing backdrop of London’s East End, as post-war deprivation gave way to major urban development. Ostensibly a romantic comedy, as national treasure Barbara Windsor tries to dodge her husband who’s back on leave from national service, the story was developed through workshops at left-wing Stratford East’s Joan Littlewood Theatre, a Socialist-based theatre which set the standard for new playwrights tackling working class issues.

Here is Barbara Windsor singing the theme tune.