Thursday, 27 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 130: Thu May 11

Bolweiser (Fassbinder, 1977): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 6th and you can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
Marvellous performance from Elisabeth Trissenaar - justifiably compared to Garbo and Dietrich - as the enigmatically errant wife of a provincial stationmaster, doting but hardly of the stallion breed. In mood, something of a cross between Fear of Fear and Chinese Roulette as Fassbinder continues his Sirkian task of exploring the cheerless grey world of petit bourgeois morality (the time is just after the First World War), highlighting a series of melodramatic sexual betrayals in order to dissect (with surprising compassion) the tissue of lies and deceptions that makes them inevitable while simultaneously keeping society going (towards the fascism that clearly lies just ahead). A feature drawn from the original two-part, 200-minute TV film.

Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 129: Wed May 10

Chinese Roulette (Fassbinder, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.15pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 3rd and 5th and you can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
Made after Fassbinder disbanded his 'stock company' of actors, Chinese Roulette is quite different from his earlier bourgeois satires. The script is boldly non-naturalistic: a crippled girl connives to get herself, both her parents and their respective lovers to a country house all at the same time, for a weekend of intense embarrassments. And the style, all double reflections and shifting points of view, suspends the cast like flies in an amber of deceptions, neuroses and panics. The humour fits the cruelty as a boot fits a groin.

Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is the opening scene.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 128: Tue May 9

The Edge of Seventeen (Fremon Craig, 2016): Rooftop Cinema, Bussey Building, Peckham, 8.30pm

I have been to screenings at the excellent Rooftop Film Club and was very impressed. Seating is in directors' chairs and there's lovely food and drink and blankets to keep warm in cool weather. Here is a list of their upcoming attractions.

Chicago Reader review:
A garrulous, unpopular high school student (Hailee Steinfeld) seethes when her studly brother (Blake Jenner) begins dating her only friend (Haley Lu Richardson). This is the first feature by writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig, and despite the conventional teenpic narrative, her protagonist is richly conceived: in contrast to the stereotypical four-eyed nerd, she's uncool in the way that most teenagers are, hovering awkwardly outside of social circles and storing up bitterness for every perceived slight. Steinfeld (True Grit) is well cast in the role, proving she can shine with the right material; the supporting cast includes Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, and Hayden Szeto.

Leah Pickett

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 127: Mon May 8

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (Blackburn, 1975): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm

This 16mm screening is part of the Cigarette Burns season 'Into The Woods' at the Barbican. You can find all the details of the season here.

Barbican introduction:
When angelic Lila Lee's gangster father is killed, she is lured to the town of Astaroth on the promise of their being reunited. On the way, Lila gets lost in the woods and is attacked by forest-dwelling creatures. The mysterious Lemora comes to her rescue and, taking Lila under her wing, escorts her onwards to Astaroth. Inevitably things do not go quite to plan… This obscure little independent American film, a City of the Dead inspired fairy-tale, features the singular and legendary Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith in one of her most loved roles.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 126: Sun May 7

The Killing (Kubrick, 1956): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm

This 35mm screening is part of a Stanley Kubrick season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Arguably Stanley Kubrick's most perfectly conceived and executed film, this 1956 noirish thriller utilizes an intricate overlapping time structure to depict the planning and execution of a plot to steal $2 million from a racetrack. Adapted by Kubrick from Lionel White's 
Clean Break, with an extraordinary gallery of B players: Sterling Hayden, Marie Windsor, J.C. Flippen, Elisha Cook Jr., Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Ted de Corsia, Joe Sawyer, and the unforgettable Timothy Carey. Orson Welles was so taken with this film that after seeing it he declared Kubrick could do no wrong; not to be missed.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 125: Sat May 6

A Canterbury Tale (Powell & Pressburger, 1943): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 3.30pm

This 35mm screening of one of the most extraordinary films ever made in Britain is part of the 'Girls Like Us' season at BFI Southbank. You can find the full details of the season here. This film is also being shown on May 13th. Details here.

Critic and novelist Xan Brooks has written a beautiful piece on Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's film for the Guardian which you can read here.

Chicago Reader review:
Very nearly plotless, this 1944 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger represents one of the few times the narrative cinema has approached the lyrical ideal. Crossing wartime Britain, a group of travelers—including an American GI, a young woman from London, and an English officer—linger in a small farming village, ostensibly to solve a peculiar mystery (someone is putting glue in the local girls' hair), but really because of the spell (quite literal, in P and P's mystical vision) cast upon them by the countryside. Over the hill lies Canterbury Cathedral, and as parallels begin to emerge with Chaucer's pilgrims, the characters find themselves being drawn to it, for a soft-pedaled climax that represents the fulfillment of their individual quests. Strange and wonderful.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) ... an extract ... and all you could wish for from a film.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 124: Fri May 5

Killer's Kiss (Kubrick, 1955): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm

This 35mm screening is part of a Stanley Kubrick season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find all the details of the season here.

Time Out film review:
Written, edited, shot, produced and directed by Kubrick for a mere $75,000, his second feature is a moody but rather over-arty B thriller whose prime pleasures lie in the high contrast b/w camerawork (Kubrick had been a top photographer for Look). The story is nothing original - a down-at-heel boxer (Smith) falls for a night-club dancer (Kane) after saving her from being raped by her boss (Silvera), who consequently determines to put an end to their romance - but Kubrick makes the most of flashback and dream sequences, and a surreal climactic fight in a warehouse full of mannequins. The dialogue was post-synched, making for a certain stiltedness in the performances, but at least the brief running-time ensures that the film's more pretentious moments tend to flash past, rather than linger as in Kubrick's later work. (Incidentally, the film - and a fictionalised account of its making - became the subject of Strangers Kiss in 1983).
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 123: Thu May 4

Satan's Brew (Fassbinder, 1976): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 9th and you can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
The scurrilous movie that marked a turnaround in Fassbinder's film-making practice, following the disbandment of his 'stock company' of actors as a theatre troupe. The familiar faces are still around, this time distorted by pebble glasses, pustules or gross make-up, but there's a new sense of liberation from theatrical stylisation gusting through the proceedings. The plot is a benignly black celebration of the art of literary theft: Kurt Raab plays a clapped-out writer who regains his stride when he begins 'accidentally' reproducing the complete works of Stefan George. He is surrounded by freaks, perverts and grotesques, and so hardly anyone notices. It's no accident that this frolicsome tale reverses Fassbinder's standard 'victim' formula: it transpires that the tyrannical Raab is secretly a masochist, and one who actively enjoys being victimised. Bouncy.

Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 122: Wed May 3

The Tarnished Angels (Sirk, 1957): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.15pm

This film, part of the Big Screen Classics season at BFI Southbank (inspired by Rainer Werner Fassbinder's favourite films list) will be introduced by BFI programmer-at-large Geoff Andrew. This fabulous movie can also be seen on May 1st, 19th and 22nd. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Douglas Sirk took a vacation from Ross Hunter and Technicolor for this 1958 production, though he retained Rock Hudson, who turns in an astonishingly good performance as a journalist fascinated by the sordid lives of a trio of professional stunt fliers (Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, and Jack Carson). Based on a minor novel by William Faulkner (Pylon), the film betters the book in every way, from the quality of characterization to the development of the dark, searing imagery. Made in black-and-white CinemaScope, the film doesn't survive on TV; it should be seen in a theater or not at all. Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 121: Tue May 2

Fear of Fear (Fassbinder, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this 35mm  screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 7th and you can find all the details here. Tonight's presentation is introduced by Dr Mattias Frey of the University of Kent.

BFI introduction:Overwhelmed by anxiety, a middle-class wife and mother (Carstensen) tries alcohol, Valium and listening to Leonard Cohen, but nothing seems to help – least of all the interfering in-laws who accuse her of not being ‘normal’. With echoes of Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, this disturbing account of one woman’s struggle to conform deserves to be much better known.

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 120: Mon May 1

Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven (Fassbinder, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 5.45pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details of the season can be found here. This film is also being screened on May 6th and you can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Superior 1975 Fassbinder film, with the wonderful Brigitte Mira (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) as a hausfrau whose husband goes insane, killing his boss's son and throwing himself into the jaws of the assembly line. She becomes a symbol to the left wing and a freak to the right. No other director understands the strength of mediocre minds as does Fassbinder; when his films don't slip into derision, they can be ineffably moving, as this one is. The ending is impossible, but it is perfect (which may be why it's impossible).
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the opening.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 119: Sun Apr 30

Eight Hours Don't Make a Day (Fassbinder, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 12.30pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details of the season can be found here.

BFI Southbank introduction:
Thanks to a new restoration premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Fassbinder’s controversial five-part TV series can be seen again at last. Aimed at a mass audience, this entertaining soap opera of working-class life revolves around an extended family of three generations who struggle to balance the demands of the workplace with the pressures of family life. Based on extensive research among factory workers and trade unionists, it was deliberately more optimistic than Fassbinder’s cinema features, encouraging social solidarity. The abrupt cancellation of the highly successful series (three more episodes had been planned) was, in Fassbinder’s view, politically motivated.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 118: Sat Apr 29

Fox and His Friends (Fassbinder, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 20th. You can find all the information here.

Time Out review:
One of Fassbinder's excellent melodramas. The director himself plays a working-class man who wins a small fortune on the lottery and is destroyed by men who befriend him on Munich's gay community. It's his usual vision of exploitation and complicity hidden under the deceiving mantle of love, but Fassbinder's precision, assured sense of milieu, and cool but human compassion for his characters, make it a work of brilliant intelligence. And the director himself is superb as the none-too-intelligent hero.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 117: Fri Apr 28

Mulholland Dr (Lynch, 2001): Close-Up Cinema, 7.30pm

This 4k re-release screening is also being shown at Close-Up Cinema on April 29th. You can find the full details here.

Mulholland Drive is the cinematic re-release of the year so far. There's a terrific piece on the movie written to coincide with the re-release you can find here by Robert Bright in The Quietus. And if you can't catch the film at Close-Up here are details of the other screenings in London.

Close-Up introduction:
"Like Billy Wilder’s film named after another iconic Hollywood street, Mulholland Drive tells a sordid tale of the industry of illusion and its boulevards of broken dreams – but for David Lynch, these dreams fold into dreams within dreams within dreams. Originally intended as a pilot for a television series, Lynch’s möbius riddle was rejected by TV executives. In restructuring it for the silver screen, Lynch crafted one of his finest masterworks. When the perky, wholesome Betty Elms lands in Hollywood for what could be her big break, she meets “Rita,” an ostensible femme fatale who is rendered identity-less because of amnesia from a car accident. Lynch’s (and Hollywood’s) dazzling dream factory sets to work with mysterious objects, startling visions, amusing detours and revelatory alterations in acting styles and character identities. The noir cracks open and gives way to a multi-toned, terrifyingly beautiful hallucination that is as much a complex reflection on Hollywood as it is an endlessly transforming psychological puzzle. Cinematic archetypes – including all versions of the female presented or rejected by Hollywood – double, reflect and regenerate into uncanny metaphors in Lynch’s subconscious minefield where the fluid layers of identity, nostalgia, desire, deception and projection could be in the minds of the characters, the audience, or a complete fabrication by dark, unknown forces behind the scenes … or well beyond."
Harvard Film Archive

Here (and above) is the trailer for the re-release.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 116: Thu Apr 27

Housekeeping (Forsyth, 1987): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

This is a 35mm screening presented by 'Celluloid Sorceress' Nikki Williams. The film's editor Michael Ellis will be joining Williams to discuss Housekeeping, his work with director Bill Forsyth and other aspects of his 50-year career.

Chicago Reader review:
In his first American picture (1987) Scottish director Bill Forsyth adapts Marilynne Robinson's acclaimed novel about two orphaned sisters (played by Sara Walker and Andrea Burchill) who share their ramshackle house with their eccentric aunt (Christine Lahti). The setting is the Pacific northwest in the 1950s, and Forsyth does a remarkable job with period detail and the beautiful natural settings, assisted by his own UK crew of cinematographer Michael Coulter, production designer Adrienne Atkinson, costume designer Mary-Jane Reyner, and editor Michael Ellis. But the most impressive thing about this haunting fable is Forsyth's fluidity and grace as a storyteller, which gives this understated tale some of the resonance one associates with Terrence Malick's Badlands and Days of Heaven. The story suggests a kind of feminist version of Huckleberry Finn, with the sisters playing Huck and Tom to their aunt's Jim; the performances by all three actresses are impeccable. A film to be savored rather than gulped.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 115: Wed Apr 26

Alien (Scott, 1979): Picturehouse Central, 7pm

Picturehouse Central are showing this sci-fi classic in 70mm. The film is also being screened on May 7th and 11th and you can find all the details here.

Time Out review:
In the wake of the huge commercial success of Alien, almost all attention has perversely focused on the provenance of the script (was it a rip-off of It, the Terror from Beyond Space? Of Van Vogt's fiction? Was former John Carpenter collaborator Dan O'Bannon sold out by producers Walter Hill and David Giler's rewrites?). But the limited strengths of its staple sci-fi horrors - crew of commercial spacecraft menaced by stowaway monster - always derived from either the offhand organic/ Freudian resonances of its design or the purely (brilliantly) manipulative editing and pacing of its above-average shock quota. Intimations of a big-budget Dark Star fade early, and notions of Weaver as a Hawksian woman rarely develop beyond her resourceful reaction to jeopardy.
Paul Taylor

Here (and above) is the (brilliant) trailer.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 114: Tue Apr 25

Zardoz (Boorman, 1974): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm

This screening is part of the Cinematic Jukebox season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Probably John Boorman's most underrated film—an impossibly ambitious and pretentious but also highly inventive, provocative, and visually striking SF adventure with metaphysical trimmings (1974). Set in a postapocalyptic society in 2293, it stars Sean Connery as a warrior and noble savage with dawning awareness; interestingly enough, the plot in many ways resembles that of Boorman's best film, Point Blank.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 113: Mon Apr 24

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Forman, 1975): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.35pm

This BFI release, to mark Jack Nicholson's 80th birthday on September 22nd, is on an extended run from April 14th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This slick and entertaining 1975 film of Ken Kesey's cult novel will inevitably disappoint admirers of director Miloš Forman's earlier work. Jack Nicholson plays McMurphy as if he were born to it, and the supporting cast provides fine, detailed performances. But there is little of Forman's real personality in the film, which smooths over the complexities of his Czechoslovakian work in favor of some mighty simpleminded conceptions of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. With Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Michael Berryman, Scatman Crothers, and Sidney Lassick.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the new trailer.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 112: Sun Apr 23

The Fireman's Ball (Forman, 1967): Close-Up Cinema, 7pm

This screening is part of the Close-Up cinema season on Milos Forman and the British Free Cinema movement, in collaboration with the Czech Centre London.

Tonight's film is introduced by Dr David Sorfa, a senior lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh and managing editor of the journal Film-Philosophy. David Sorfa has written on Michael Haneke, Jan Švankmajer and Czech cinema as well as a broad range of other film subjects and has a particular interest in film-philosophy and film adaptation. He discusses The Fireman’s Ball on the occasion of the recent Blu-ray release of the film.

The Fireman's Ball is part of a double-bill with:
Together (Lorenza Mazzetti, 1952 | B/W | 35mm)
Together is set in London's East End, with its bombsites, narrow streets, riversides, warehouses, markets and pubs. It follows two deaf-mute dockers who are completely cut-off from the outside world and are constantly pursued by groups of jeering children. Its modern depiction of everyday working-class life and its new approach to realism were inspired by Italian neo-realism and by the techniques used by Mazzetti's Free Cinema friends.

Chicago Reader review of The Fireman's Ball:
Milos Forman's 1967 film of little people confronting little disasters, as the annual ball of a small Czech town goes hopelessly wrong. With Loves of a Blonde
, it's the best work Forman's done, rooted in a social reality that has eluded him in his American projects, and directed with a nonlinear suppleness that suggests the formal achievement of Jacques Tati. From a script by Forman, Jaroslav Papousek, and Ivan Passer; photographed by Miroslav Ondricek.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 111: Sat Apr 22

The Red Shoes (Powell & Pressburger, 1948): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.15pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Classic Film season at the Prince Charles Cinema. You can find the full details of the season here.

Two things fascinate me about this great film: firstly, no one mentions that it could all be the feverish dream of one of the central characters; see if you can spot the key moment I mean. Secondly, the character of Lermontov, superbly played by Anton Walbrook, who is one of Powell & Pressburger's greatest creations. Enjoy. Here are extracts featuring the aformentioned Lermontov.

Chicago Reader review:
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Trilby-based ballet film (1948, 133 min.) has been the cult property of dance freaks for far too long. A look beneath its lushly romantic surface reveals a dark, complex sensibility, and that surface, rendered in the somber tones of British Technicolor, reflects a fantastically rich cinematic inventiveness. Moira Shearer is the ballerina who, following the outlines of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, trades her life for her art; Anton Walbrook, as her impresario, is perhaps the most forceful embodiment of the shaman figures–magical, outsized, sinister–who haunt Powell and Pressburger's work. The Red Shoes remains the best known of Powell and Pressburger's 18 features, yet it's only the tip of the iceberg–beneath it lies the most commanding body of work in the British cinema. 
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 110: Fri Apr 21

Across 110th Street (Shear, 1972): Regent Street Cinema, 7.30pm

Come to the bar early at Regent Street Cinema for special drinks offers and live DJ sets from Soul Jazz Records as they continue their blaxploitation season.

Chicago Reader review:
Extremely seedy and violent, this 1972 feature by Barry Shear and cinematographer Jack Priestley makes extraordinary use of Harlem locations in telling the story of three punks who rip off $300,000 from the syndicate's numbers bank. Anthony Quinn is the beleaguered police detective with too many skeletons dangling in too many closets, and Anthony Franciosa is the mob's enforcer. Grim, and not for the weak stomached. With Yaphet Kotto, Richard Ward, and Antonio Fargas.

Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 109: Thu Apr 20

A Real Young Girl (Breillat, 1976): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm

This 35mm screening is part of the Barbican's 'Cinema Matters: What the Movies Do To Us' season. You can find details of all the films here.

Barbican introduction:
A Real Young Girl is one of only a small clutch of films showing teenage female sexuality from the inside, and is notable for its audacious approach to its subject – in terms of explicit imagery, but also in daring to depict aspects of the heroine’s sexuality that are not comfortably titillating. Completed in 1976, it was banned in France for over 25 years and only released onto the festival circuit in 2000.
France 1976 Catherine Breillat 93 min 35mm presentation  

Begun back when mainstream movies allowed the occasional glimpse of breast but certainly no pubic hair, this pioneering experimental short explicitly shows the director and her partner making love. Conceived as a celebration of everyday sex, it consists of collaged sequences, some hand-painted and etched. “It’s different from any pornographic work you’ve ever seen… and there’s no objectification of fetishization of the woman.” (Carolee Schneemann) 

US 1964-1967 Dir Carolee Schneemann 25 min 16mm presentation 

+ Dyketactics    
A sensual, evocative collage of over 100 images selected for their representation of the sense of touch, this experimental short broke new ground in its exploration of lesbian identity and desire. In the words of the director, “I wanted to make a lesbian commercial.” 
US 1974 Dir Barbara Hammer 4 min 16mm presentation

Chicago Reader review:
The theories about sexuality and trauma artfully advanced in this previously unreleased 1975 debut of director Catherine Breillat (Romance, Fat Girl) are more nuanced and intuitive than those of most schools of psychology. Alice (Charlotte Alexandra) is as fixated on her genitals as are the men who expose theirs to her, in fantastic and realist sequences that blur the line between what she desperately wants, what repulses her, and what she actually experiences. While her mother aggressively does housework, complaining all the while about her life, Alice sunbathes and flirts—or more—with her father, who's having an affair. It's as if she's biding her time until she manages to seduce one of his dreamier employees or, better yet, escapes by returning to school at the end of the summer vacation. Periodically she takes flight in her imagination or on her bike, where she's always removing her underwear so she or someone else can insert something into her vagina. “Disgust makes me lucid,” she says in voice-over after vomiting on herself. “It was at that very moment that I decided to write my diary because I couldn't sleep—that would have meant giving in; it would have meant obeying.” Breillat wrote the screenplay based on her novel Le soupirail.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 108: Wed Apr 19

The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook, 2016): Rio Cinema, 8.15pm

Straying into new film territory here, try and seek out the director's cut which the Rio Cinema are screening from April 14th. Full details here.

Time Out review:
Decadence is both the subject and the style in ‘Oldboy’ director Park Chan-wook’s elegant, intensely romantic adaptation of Sarah Waters’s spicy bestseller ‘Fingersmith’. Shifting the action from Victorian England to pre-war Korea under Japanese rule, Park has created a film that delights in ornate furnishings, flowing gowns and sensuous sexual imagery, but reminds us that these things are just surface – the stuff that really matters is always kept hidden. Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) is a proper Dickensian orphan: raised by a Fagin-like madam on the streets of Seoul, she’s an experienced thief and con artist. So when smooth huckster Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) needs an eager young crook to impersonate a lady’s handmaiden as part of a scam he’s planning, Sook-hee steps up. Her mission: to encourage the innocent, unworldly Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) to disobey her cruel uncle Kouzuki (Jo Jin-woong) and run away with the dashing Fujiwara – bringing her fortune along with her, of course. And then Sook-hee starts falling in love… The cinematic equivalent of drinking three glasses of champagne in the bath, ‘The Handmaiden’ is a film to luxuriate in. Park has always been a visual master – even his infuriating American debut, 2013’s ‘Stoker’, had that going for it – but he’s outdone himself here. Waters’s labyrinthine plot is handled with the utmost care, and the characters – particularly the seemingly fragile Hideko – are beautifully sketched and performed. But it’s in probing beyond the pretty exterior that ‘The Handmaiden’ truly succeeds: it may seem to be a film about wealth, artifice and cruelty, but what resonates is the love story, and the liberated ideals underpinning it (the film’s stark anti-pornography stance is unexpected but strangely affecting). It doesn’t all work – the pace can be a little slow, and there are definitely points where Park tries to have his tasty feminist cake and eat it. But this is smart, sumptuous and wonderfully indulgent, best watched on a wet Sunday with an entire box of chocolates.
Tom Huddleston

Friday, 31 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 107: Tue Apr 18

The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Straub/Huillet, 1968):
BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.40pm

BFI introduction to this film in the Big Screen Classics season:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder acknowledged the influence of Jean-Marie Straub’s early work on his own developing style. This portrait of Bach exemplifies the rigorous, politicised aesthetic of Straub and his partner Daniele Huillet, who alternate performances of the composer’s music (filmed as simply as possible) with a narration compiled from contemporary sources to provide a sociopolitical context.
+ The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp
1928. Dir Jean-Marie Straub. 28min
This triptych stars Fassbinder and several of his regular collaborators.
The other screening of this film on Wednesday 26th April 18:00 will be introduced by Manuel Ramos-Martinez, Goldsmiths.

Time Out film review:
'A film about the past which is lucid can help people of the present to achieve that necessary lucidity.' Straub's account of Bach is nothing if not lucid: it documents the last 27 years of its subject's life (through the mediating eyes of his wife) principally in terms of his music. The music itself obviates any need for a 'drama' to present Bach; Straub celebrates its range and complexity while showing it always in performance, to emphasise the nature of Bach's work as musician/conductor. A narration (compiled from contemporary sources) sets the man in his economic and social context. With his minimalist's sensitivity to nuance and inflection, Straub eschews pointless cutting and camera movement. The beautiful result has the air of a crystal-clear meditation.
Tony Rayns

Here (and above) is an extract.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 106: Mon Apr 17

A Star is Born (Cukor, 1954): Regent Street Cinema, 8.30pm

Welcome to the reason this blog exists. In December 2010 I watched this film, a movie I went to see when restored and re-released in cinemas in 1983, on television. I thought afterwards how much I would love to see this movie on the big screen again and that prompted an idea to write a daily blog picking a film to see in London. The purpose of starting the blog was to highlight to film lovers the best movies on the capital's repertory cinema circuit.

What writing the blog has also done is reinvigorate my moviegoing. The act of putting this small contribution to the London film scene together has resulted in encouraging me to go and see more movies. I hope the blog has had that impact on others too. This brilliant restoration of one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time comes highly recommended. Many believe Judy Garland gave her greatest performance in this film and one critic has called Mason's the best supporting performance by a male actor in modern Hollywood. Try and get to see A Star is Born where it should be seen - in a cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Even in this incomplete restoration George Cukor's 1954 musical remake of the 1937 Hollywood drama is devastating. Judy Garland plays a young singer discovered by aging, alcoholic star Norman Maine (James Mason), who helps her to fame as "Vicki Lester" even as his career slips. Garland gives a deeply affecting performance--halting, volatile, unsure of herself early on and unsure of Norman later--and her musical numbers are superb. Yet the film's core is its two-character scenes, in which small shifts in posture subtly articulate the drama's essence. Cukor gives his preoccupation with self-image a surprisingly anti-Hollywood spin: despite the many industry-oriented group scenes, the characters seem fully authentic only when they're alone with each other. The scenes of Lester acting seem tainted with artifice, and her a cappella performance of her current hit for Norman on their wedding night further separates the public from the private. Later, reenacting the production number shot that day, she uses a food cart for a dolly and a chair for a harp; Cukor's initial long take heightens the intimacy between her and Norman, just as the household props implicitly critique studio artificiality. All that matters, Cukor implies, is what people can try to become for each other. The film was badly mangled when Warner Brothers cut a half hour shortly after its release; this 1983 35-millimeter restoration replaces some footage, offering stills when only the sound track could be found. Fortunately these slide shows are confined to early scenes, giving some sense of what was lost. 
Fred Camper 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

If you want to read an excellent account of the film, its making and the background to the 1983 restoration I can recommend Ronald Haver's book A Star is Born. Full details here.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 105: Sun Apr 16

Martha (Fassbinder, 1973): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 20th. You can find all the information here.

Time Out review:
The everyday fascism Fassbinder dissects often rests on the simple observation that there are elements of sado-masochism even in such respectable bourgeois relationships as true romance and happy-ever-after marriage. Here, his script an adaptation of a story by Cornell Woolrich, he takes the staples of the Sirk melodrama (love at first sight, a big-dipper courtship, a honeymoon drive) and stands them on their heads, combining '40s costumes and movie references with recognisably real locations and high colour photography. He forces to their logical extremes the attitudes implicit in the woman's weepie and the little woman's traditional craving for a strong and competent man, pushing a sentimental romance into a high camp study of SM, full of images of vampirism, claustrophobia and haunted house genre movies. With no explicit references to a world beyond the screen, with indulgently aesthetic settings and outlandishly theatrical performances (notably from Margit Carstensen as the perennially hapless victim), he creates a dazzling baroque abstraction with unsettling relevance to even the most mundane domestic partnerships. 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 104: Sat Apr 15

1900 (Bertolucci, 1976): Regent Street Cinema, 2pm

This 35mm screening is part of Kino Klassika's 'World to Win' season. Bringing together provocative films by directors such as Andrzej Wajda, Bernardo Bertolucci and Ken Loach, the season offers a touring programme to reach audiences across the UK. You can read the full details here.

If you purchase the ‘Supper Club’ ticket for this event then you will enjoy a KinoVino reception, serving a rustic Italian buffet and wine. KinoVino, launched in 2015, is rapidly gaining recognition as one of London’s most original projects, that unites food and film. Featured in British Vogue and named one of 10 best supper clubs by TimeOut London, KinoVino marries best of world cinema with some of the most innovative menus inspired by the films. For each edition, its founder, Alissa Timoshkina, creates an immersive experience where film, food and wine are curated under one theme, with the original room decor and tablescapes reflecting and enhancing the theme of the night. 

Regent Street Cinema introduction:
Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 (Novecento) presents a sweeping political epic of Italian history from 1901, the year Verdi died, up to the Liberation in 1945.The film follows the stories of Alfredo Berlinghieri, the son of a wealthy landowner, and Olmo Dalco, whose family works on the Berlinghieri estate. Born on the same day, the two are bound by a close childhood friendship but are separated by social chasms and opposite destinies as they grow up during the turbulent interwar years. 1900 presents a critique of Italy’s unequal social structure, which remained unchanged through half a century of war, racism, and liberation.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 103: Fri Apr 14

Effi Briest (Fassbinder, 1974): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.50pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 19th . You can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1974 film of Fontane's 19th-century social novel is an interesting experiment with shifting narrative forms, moving from the compulsive psychological realism of its source to Brechtian distancing devices, often in the same scene. The slow, deliberate pace is sometimes taxing, but this story of a 16-year-old girl locked in the boredom of a loveless marriage is perfectly suited to Fassbinder's stifling mise-en-scene. With Hanna Schygulla and Wolfgang Schenck.
Dave Kehr 

Here (and above) is an extract.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 102: Thu Apr 13

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Fassbinder, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.30pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 17th and 24th. You can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
A lesbian love triangle becomes a schema of sexual power plays in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most harshly stylized and perhaps most significant film (1972). The action is confined to a single set—the apartment of fashion designer Margit Carstensen, decorated with desiccated mannequins and a mammoth painting of fleshy, galloping nudes—where the three characters (one is a mute) scheme, complain, and attempt to seduce. With Irm Hermann and Hanna Schygulla.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract. 

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 101: Wed Apr 12

Beware of a Holy Whore (Fassbinder, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.10pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details of the season here. Tonight's screening is introduced by season programmer Margaret Deriaz.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1970 film about a movie crew trapped in a Spanish seaside hotel, waiting first for the star (Eddie Constantine) to arrive and then for the director (Lou Castel) to find his inspiration. This edgy, violent, impacted movie was based on incidents that occurred during the shooting of Fassbinder's Whity, and survivors claim that it more or less accurately records the paranoia and desperate needfulness that reigned on Fassbinder's sets. It was also the last film of his ragged avant-gardist period; with the subsequent Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, he moved into an emulation of a Hollywood director's distance and control. With Hanna Schygulla, Ulli Lommel, and Magdalena Montezuma.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 100: Tue Apr 11

The Merchant of Four Seasons (Fassbinder, 1971): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm

The excellent Rainer Werner Fassbinder season continues at the BFI Southbank with this screening. Full details here. Tonight's film can also be seen at BFI Southbank on April 16th and 28th. You can find all the information here.

Chicago Reader review:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder has a genius for detailing the pain of suppressed emotional states, and even at its most achingly deliberate, his style in dealing with the petit bourgeois mentality is a source of endless fascination. This 1971 feature, originally shot for German television, chronicles the struggles of a fruit peddler to build a semblance of a life for himself and his wife—with whom he maintains only the barest contact—in postwar Germany. With Hans Hirschmuller, Irm Hermann, and Hanna Schygulla.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 99: Mon Apr 10

Threads (Jackson, 1984): Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm

This film is part of the 'What London watches: Ten Films That Shook Our World' season at the Barbican. You can find the full details here.

Barbican introduction:
A devastating speculative account of the effects of a nuclear attack on Sheffield at the onset of World War III, BBC drama Threads was nominated for seven BAFTA awards after its 1984 release.  Preparing for their marriage, Jimmy and Ruth (Reece Dinsdale and Karen Meagher) are almost oblivious to the international political tensions caused by the USSR’s invasion of Iran. But when Sheffield – home to vast resources and an RAF base – is bombed by a thermonuclear device, they must learn to survive as their home is turned into a desolate wasteland. Probably one of the most authentic portrayals of nuclear winter onscreen, Threads is horrifying and fascinating, brutal and powerful – a stark warning to humanity of the real, human effects of nuclear war.

Here is Guardian Film critic Peter Bradshaw's take in the newspaper's .Horror: the film that frightened me most. series.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2017 - Day 98: Sun Apr 9

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Lynch, 1992): Curzon Soho, 3pm

This is the fifth screening in the Curzon Soho Enthusiasm season, dedicated to screening from prints. Here is the cinema's introduction to the event (full details here):

Following on from our ‘Hollywood Babylon’ double–bill of Rabbit's Moon and Lost Highway back in February, ENTHUSIASM returns to the sun-bleached driveways of Los Angeles with a special 16mm presentation of Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s landmark experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) - followed by a rare 35mm screening of David Lynch’s misunderstood masterpiece Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992).

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 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 (and above) is the trailer.