Jacques Rivette, 1974, 193 min, 35mm, In French with English subtitles, Cert: 12A
Rivette’s rarely seen yet biggest commercial hit, is an exhilarating combination of the themes of theatricality, paranoia and la vie Parisienne, all wrapped up in an extended and entrancing examination of the nature of filmmaking, and film-watching.
Celine, a magician, and Julie, a librarian, meet in Montmartre and wind up sharing the same flat, bed, fiancé, clothes, identity and imagination. Soon, thanks to a magic sweet, they find themselves spectators, then participants, in a Henry James-inspired ‘film-within-the film’, a melodrama unfolding in a mysterious suburban house with the ‘Phantom Ladies Over Paris’, a sinister man and his child. The atmosphere, however, is more Lewis Carroll, with Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier as twin Alices. The four main actresses improvised their own dialogue in collaboration with Rivette and scriptwriter Eduardo de Gregorio.
Acknowledged by director Susan Seidelman as a huge influence on her own hit film Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Celine and Julie Go Boating was Rivette’s greatest commercial and critical success – its freewheeling, playful spirit still capturing the imagination of new audiences today.
Commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution, The End of St Petersburg secured Vsevolod Pudovkin’s place as one of the foremost Soviet film directors. His sophisticated analysis of the Revolution sits within a brilliant and dramatic reconstruction of the major events.
Paul Robinson’s compelling score has overt Russian leanings with the shadow of Shostakovitch not far behind the surface, together with arrangements from Red Army Ensemble material and Russian folk song.
Screening from 35mm, this celebrated but under-seen John le Carré adaptation stars Richard Burton as British Agent Alec Leamas.
Summoned to London after the death of one of his operatives, Leamas is seemingly fired by his chief. But it’s a ruse to entice the East Germans into thinking he will be defect, and soon Leamas finds himself a pawn in the deadly power game between countries.
Continuing our monthly screenings from real 35mm film and screening as part of Scalarama, Sean Penn’s gorgeous and heart-breaking film is based on the real life of Christopher McCandless – an American university graduate who decide to abandon all his material possessions and head into the wilderness to try and survive on his own.
Meeting various people along the way Chris longs for the isolation and serenity of the wild, but he finds that nature can be a merciless companion.