Friday December 7 – Thursday December 13

Featured Film:

Burning at the Northwest Film Forum

There are a lot of films of interest out this week, including award-hopefuls The Favorite and At Eternity’s Gate, both of which aren’t bad at all, and Peter Bogdanovich’s fine Buster Keaton doc The Great Buster, which continues into a second week at the Grand Illusion. And Roma, of course, Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix movie has a decent shot at being the first true foreign language film to win the Best Picture Oscar, and it’s playing at the Cinerama and, of all places, the Crest. I haven’t seen Roma yet (it’s planned for later tonight), so if I had to pick one essential movie to see on Seattle Screens this week (and I do, that’s what this space is for), it’d be Lee Changdong’s Burning, playing exclusively at the Northwest Film Forum.

I’m not even sure if Burning is a very good movie. It’s made with exceptional craft though, a slow-ahem-burning psychological thriller about a disaffected young man who comes to believe that a rich guy (Steven Yeun, in a performance sure to get plenty of deserved award recognition in coming weeks) is both an arsonist and has done something to the woman the young man loves. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, with lots of added Murakami in-jokes and shades of William Faulkner, it’s the most diabolically engrossing film of the year.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wife (Björn Runge) Fri-Thurs 
Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Fri-Thurs 
Kedarnath (Abhishek Kapoor) Fri-Thurs 
Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) Fri-Thurs 
Default (Choi Kook-hee) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Roll with Me (Lisa France) Weds Only

Central Cinema:

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Sellick, 1993) Sat-Tues 
Krampus (Michael Dougherty, 2015) Sat-Tues 

Cinerama:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Sun 
Holiday Film Series Mon-Weds Full Program

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Mowgli (Andy Serkis) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Banjara (Mushtaq Pasha) Fri-Thurs
2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Liyana (Aaron Kopp & Amanda Kopp) Fri-Thurs 
Maria by Callas (Tom Volf) Fri-Thurs 
Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984) Sat Only 
The Mercy (James Marsh) Tues Only 
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Weds Only 
Cat Video Fest 2018 Thurs Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Great Buster (Peter Bogdanovich) Fri-Thurs 
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Fri-Thurs 
Mikey (Dennis Dimster, 1992) Sat Only VHS  
Dial Code Santa Claus (René Manzor, 1989) Tues, Next Fri & Thurs Only   
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Fri-Thurs  

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs  
2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs 
Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Sat Only Our Review Our Other Review Dubbed
Kedarnath (Abhishek Kapoor) Fri-Thurs 
Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) Fri-Thurs 
Subramanyapuram (santhossh jagarlaupdi) Fri-Tues In Telugu with No Subtitles 
Johny Johny Yes Appa (Marthandan) Sat & Sun Only 
Mumbai Pune Mumbai 3 (Satish Rajwade) Sat & Sun Only 
Naal (Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti) Sat & Sun Only 
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

The Wife (Björn Runge) Fri-Thurs 
2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs 
Anna and the Apocalypse (John McPhail) Fri Sun & Mon Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

Burning (Lee Changdong) Fri-Thurs 
In the Soup (Alexandre Rockwell, 1992) Fri & Next Sat Only
The Apology (Tiffany Hsiung) Sat Only Free Event
I am Evidence (Trish Adlesic & Geeta Gandbhir) Sun Only Free Event
From the West (Juliane Henrich) Tues Only Filmmaker in Attendance
Wobble Palace (Eugene Kotlyarenko) Weds Only 

AMC Oak Tree:

The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

A Cool Fish (Rao Xiaozhi) Fri-Thurs 
Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) Fri-Thurs 
The Tag-Along: Devil Fish (David Chuang) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs 
Kedarnath (Abhishek Kapoor) Fri-Thurs 
The Wife (Björn Runge) Fri-Thurs 
Three Words to Forever (Cathy Garcia-Molina) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Seattle:

The Wife (Björn Runge) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

Goon (Michael Dowse, 2011) Fri Only
The Cutting Edge (Paul Michael Glaser, 1992) Sat Only
Youngblood (Peter Markle, 1986) Sat Only
I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie) Sun Only 
Mystery, Alaska (Jay Roach, 1999) Sun Only 

AMC Southcenter:

Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Fri-Thurs 
Return to Seattle (Brock Mullins) Fri-Thurs 
Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Thornton Place:

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) Fri-Thurs 
Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Sat Only Our Review Our Other Review 
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Sun & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

At Eternity’s Gate (Julian Schnabel) Fri-Thurs
Border (Ali Abbasi) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

Bathtubs Over Broadway (Dava Whisenant) Fri-Thurs 
Maria by Callas (Tom Volf) Fri-Thurs 
Moomins and The Winter Wonderland (Ira Carpelan & Jakub Wronski) Tues Only 
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Weds Only

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Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda, 2018)

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A small 4-year-old boy named Kun plays with his trains in the living room. His exasperated grandmother tries to clean up the house. Soon the boy’s parents come home from the hospital with Kun’s newborn sister in tow. She does not have a name. Later, Kun is amazed by her and the reality of being an older brother – it feels like a small revolution. The rest of Mirai is an extension of this first feeling, witnessing the thousand private awakenings which constitute a childhood, the growing awareness of the self and others.

The bird’s eye view. In Mirai, it works two ways: in the beginning it directs our attention toward the family home, one among many, situating the film among the essentially domestic; later, we drop from the sky, not toward the domestic, toward realism, but rather toward the fantastic, the characters going from the past to the future. Mamoru Hosoda’s strategy is to combine these approaches – to illuminate the realistic through the fantastic. In Hosoda’s best films, Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the balance between these is almost right–neither is overwhelmed. In Mirai, the results are mixed.

Going back to the family living room. Kun whines for attention while his parents busy themselves looking after the baby; soon enough he loses patience and begins to cry as he’s ignored. Instinctively he understands that his little sister is monopolizing his parents’ attention so he strikes out, hitting her with a toy train. Kun’s mother loses her tempers and yells at him. All of this happens fairly quickly, each action escalating inevitably until we’re left is crying children, frustrated parents, and a quiet domestic chaos. Variations on this scene happen early in the film–Kun is ignored, lashes out, rinse and repeat. After establishing the family dynamic (the mom wants to go back to work, the dad is going freelance to watch the children), Hosoda introduces his fantasy.

Initially, the switch toward fantasy seems entirely unmotivated and it risks being a minor disaster. Kun walks down a few steps, the scenery shifts around him and all of a sudden the family dog is turned into a character called The Prince, who remembers when Kun was born, and his parents stopped paying attention to him. The film then resets and the pattern is established: each domestic mishap is followed by a flight toward fantasy. Kun meets his sister when she’s in middle school. He meets his mother when she’s a little girl and they make a huge mess. He meets his great grandfather who takes him on a bike ride. But soon enough these encounters grow in depth, and when at film’s end we revisit these characters on last time, Hosoda has made perfectly clear the million tiny tremors across his family tree which paved the way for Kun.

But this idea that it’s all quite arbitrary does not quite go away.  Kun’s leaps through time eventually lead to him losing his way, ending up in a giant train terminal with no one there to recognize him. Although the design of this train terminal is quite impressive and the details behind the challenges placed in front of Kun ring true to his experience (he’s four so he doesn’t actually know the names of his parents, they’re just mom and dad), it does not feel natural. The logic which has developed the scenario seems tossed out the window for an impressive design; something similar occurs at the end of The Boy and The Beast, where the emotional narrative conclusion is suddenly resolved by defeating a weird giant spirit whale. The emotion which leads Kun to recognize Mirai as his sister feels true, but it is surrounded by an abstraction which seems at odds with the feeling which is animating it. The finale of Wolf Children is instructive in this respect. Hosoda achieves a perfect harmony between the realistic and the fantastic – the final emotional leaps of his narrative are set against roaring winds and heavy rains, the transformative power of nature understood as necessary, just as much as the inner revolts that forever change our characters. Mirai does not reach the same heights; perhaps there’s something more powerful and immediate about breaking away from family, asserting your own individuality, rather than accepting that you are a part of a continuum of people and choices, understanding your place in the whole big thing. Perhaps it is just harder to get to a place like that when dealing with the growing consciousness of a four-year-old like Kun. Instead of leaving feeling like Kun is forever changed, Hosoda leaves us with the idea that this is just the beginning – the first of many small revolutions which mark a child’s life. No doubt we will return to the bird’s eye view, and one day see a small memory of Kun being passed along to someone else. Another growing consciousness.

Mirai was previously reviewed by Sean when it played at VIFF (here’s the link)

Mirai is currently playing at Lincoln Square, Regal Meridian and Regal Thornton Place.

Friday November 30 – Thursday December 6

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Featured Film:

Mirai at Various Regal Cinemas

It’s getting into awards season and you know what that means: Seattle Screen Scene recommends you go out and watch anime. Last week it was Liz and the Blue Bird, which criminally only played for a handful of shows around town. This week, it’s Mamoru Hosada’s Mirai, which is playing sporadically at various multiplexes in the area, mostly Regal but also at the Cinemark in Bellevue. Much like the other truly great anime from this year, Night is Short Walk on Girl, it’s playing as part of some kind of specialty release program (targeted at, I don’t know, Cruchyroll subscribers?) rather than getting proper theatrical distribution. I don’t know why but it’s too bad, because in a just world Mirai and these other films would be getting the kind of art house rollout even the most mediocre (or outright bad) Oscar hopeful gets this time of year. Anyway, Mirai is very good. Like Hosada’s best film, Wolf Children, it’s a deceptively wise look at growing up, this time from the perspective of a child who comes to see themself as a part of a wider continuity through time and space. With a light touch and moments of striking beauty, it’s one of the very best films from what has been an exceptional year for (non-American) animation.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs
Default (Choi Kook-hee) Fri-Thurs
Unstoppable (Kim Min-ho) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984) Fri-Tues
Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990) Fri-Mon

SIFF Egyptian:

Border (Ali Abbasi) Fri-Thurs
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos) Weds & Thurs Only

Century Federal Way:

Default (Choi Kook-hee) Fri-Thurs
2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs
Sleepless in Seattle (Nora Ephron, 1993) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000) Sat Only
The Great Buster (Peter Bogdanovich) Tues Only
Cat Video Fest 2018 Weds Only
The Mercy (James Marsh) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Great Buster (Peter Bogdanovich) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Fri & Weds Only Our Review Our Other Review Subtitled
2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs
Oru Kuprasidha Payyan (Madhupal) Sat & Sun Only

Regal Meridian:

Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Fri Sun & Mon Only Our Review Our Other Review Subtitled
2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival (Fabrizio Terranova) Fri-Sun
Memoir of War (Emmanuel Finkiel) Fri-Thurs
In the Soup (Alexandre Rockwell, 1992) Weds & Next Fri & Sat Only

AMC Pacific Place:

A Cool Fish (Rao Xiaozhi) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

2.0 (S. Shankar) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Heat (Michael Mann, 1995) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

The Cutting Edge (Paul Michael Glaser, 1992) Fri Only
Slap Shot (George Roy Hill, 1977) Sat Only
The Mighty Ducks (Stephen Herek, 1992) Sat Only
Ice Castles (Donald Wrye, 1978) Sun Only

Regal Thornton Place:

Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Fri Sun, Mon & Weds Only Our Review Our Other Review Subtitled

SIFF Uptown:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Prospect (Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl) Thurs Only Directors in Attendance

Varsity Theatre:

Maria by Callas (Tom Volf) Fri-Thurs

Friday November 23 – Thursday November 29

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Featured Film:

Liz and the Blue Bird at the Grand Illusion

2018 has been a terrific year for under-the-radar anime on Seattle screens, with a pair of Masaaki Yuasa films (Lu Over the Wall and Night is Short, Walk on Girl), Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s Ghibli-lite Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and Mamoru Hosada’s Mirai (which opens on a few screens around town next week). But the best of them all, and one of my favorite films of the year, animated or otherwise, is also the most fleeting. Liz and the Blue Bird played for only three days two weeks ago, but the Grand Illusion is bringing it back this weekend, Saturday and Sunday only. A romance/coming of age story set in and among a group of girls in a high school band, director Naoko Yamada’s film is as attuned to the smallest, and most expressive, movements and gestures as any acclaimed festival film. It’s slice-of-life anime, perfected.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theater:

Superman (Richard Donner, 1978) Weds Only

Central Cinema:

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Fri-Tues
Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse, 1973) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Border (Ali Abbasi) Fri-Weds

Century Federal Way:

Rang Punjab (Rakesh Mehta) Fri-Thurs
2.0 (S. Shankar) Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) Sat Only
Inventing Tomorrow (Laura Nix) Tues Only
Alternate Endings, Activist Risings (Various) Weds Only Free screening
The Trans List (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) Thurs Only Free screening

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Liz and the Blue Bird (Naoko Yamada) Sat & Sun Only Our Review
Searching for Ingmar Bergman (Felix Moeller, Margarethe von Trotta & Bettina Böhler) Fri-Thurs
Best of Cinekink 2018 (Various) Sat Only
The House that Jack Built (Lars von Trier) Weds Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

24 Kisses (Kumar Krishnamsetty) Fri & Sat Only
Varathan (Amal Neerad) Sat & Sun Only
Taxiwaala (Rahul Sankrityan) Fri-Thurs
2.0 (S. Shankar) Weds Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Museo (Alonso Ruizpalacios) Fri-Thurs
Charm City (Marilyn Ness) Fri-Sun
Cat People (Paul Schrader, 1982) Sat Only Our Podcast
Call Her Ganda (PJ Raval) Sun Only Free Event
The Passion of Berenice (Jaime Humberto Hermosillo) Sun Only
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) Tues Only Our Review Free screening
Short Circuit Pacific Rim Film Festival #PNW Tour 2018 Weds Only
Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival (Fabrizio Terranova) Starts Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

A Cool Fish (Rao Xiaozhi) Fri-Thurs
Maria by Callas (Tom Volf) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Thurs
2.0 (S. Shankar) Weds & Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Lilith (Robert Rossen, 1964) Thurs Only 35mm

SIFF Film Center:

Slap Shot (George Roy Hill, 1977) Fri Only
The Mighty Ducks (Stephen Herek, 1992) Sat Only
Ice Castles (Donald Wrye, 1978) Sat  Only
I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie) Sat Only
Mystery, Alaska (Jay Roach, 1999) Sun Only
King Curling (Ole Endresen, 2011) Sun Only

Regal Thornton Place:

Superman (Richard Donner, 1978) Sun & Tues Only

SIFF Uptown:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
The House that Jack Built (Lars von Trier) Weds Only

Varsity Theatre:

Superman (Richard Donner, 1978) Weds Only

Friday November 16 – Thursday November 22

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Featured Film:

Monrovia, Indiana at the Northwest Film Forum

The Grand Illusion’s Jim Jarmusch series comes to an end this week with the very Thanksgiving appropriate Dead Man, playing in a new restoration. Which is good, because when we played it at the Metro a dozen years ago the print had a nasty scratch on the soundtrack. But as much as I love Dead Man (you can hear all about that on Episode 2 of The George Sanders Show), I have to go with the new Frederick Wiseman film as the Featured Film of the week. A portrait of the small Indiana town, Monrovia is a blunt portrait of the alienation and loss that mark aging rural American outposts. Beautiful and sad and cruel and fascinating and almost, but not entirely, hopeless.

Playing This Week:

Central Cinema:

Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988) Fri-Tues Hecklevision Sun
Addams Family Values (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1993) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Weds
Reel Rock 13 (Various) Thurs Only

Century Federal Way:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Sun, Mon & Tues Subtitled Mon

Grand Cinema:

Tea with the Dames (Roger Michell) Fri-Thurs
The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery) Fri-Thurs
Pokemon 4Ever (Kunihiko Yuyama/Jim Malone, 2002) Sat Only Free Screening
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn (Jim Hosking) Sat Only
Black ’47 (Lance Daly) Tues Only
The Wiz (Sidney Lumet, 1978) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995) Fri-Weds Our Podcast
The Last Race (Michael Dweck) Fri-Weds
Blood Tracks (Mats Helge, 1985) Sat Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The Front Runner (Jason Reitman) Fri-Thurs
Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Mon
Sarkar (A.R. Murugadoss) Fri-Mon
Amar Akbar Anthony (Manmohan Desai) Fri-Mon
Kaatrin Mozhi (Radha Mohan) Fri-Mon
Taxiwaala (Rahul Sankrityan) Fri-Mon
Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Sun, Mon & Tues Subtitled Mon

Regal Meridian:

Prospect (Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman) Fri-Weds Our Review
Narcissister Organ Player (Narcissister) Fri-Sun
Harry and Tonto (Paul Mazursky, 1974) Sat Only
Cuban Food Stories (Asori Soto) Weds Only

AMC Pacific Place:

A Cool Fish (Rao Xiaozhi) Fri-Mon
Last Letter (Shunji Iwai) Fri-Mon Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco (James Crump) Fri-Sun
The Laws of the Universe-Part I (Isamu Imakake) Fri-Sun

Regal Thornton Place:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Sun, Mon & Tues

SIFF Uptown:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Tues
Seattle Turkish Film Festival 2018 Fri-Sat Full Program
Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008) Sat Only English Dubbed, Free Screening
Sadie (Megan Griffiths) Sun-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) Tues Only

Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman, 2018)

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Alienation from the Land: The Movie.

The new Frederick Wiseman film is always one of the film events of the year, and this week his new one opens exclusively at the Northwest Film Forum. Wiseman, despite his advanced years, has been one of the most productive American directors of the last decade, with a string of documentary masterpieces (La danse: The Paris Opera Ballet, National Gallery and In Jackson Heights are my personal favorites from among his post-2008 work) that would be enough to mark him as one of the finest ever to work in that form even if he hadn’t been making films just as often and just as high-quality since the late 1960s.

Monrovia, Indiana starts with and continually returns to the rich farmland and livestock of the Midwest, worked almost completely by machines. Every turn in the editing shows a population disconnected from their past, from their environment. The landscapes, gorgeous skies and verdant croplands alike, are almost completely devoid of human life. The fascinating and weird diversity of Wiseman’s 1999 look at a small American town, Belfast, Maine, is almost nowhere to be seen, as is the vibrant chaos and struggle of Jackson Heights.

Instead bored students listen to a history lecture about the high school basketball stars of the 1930s. City council meetings vainly negotiate against the totalizing onslaught of cookie-cutter development, development literally severed from the land in that it cannot get proper water service to protect its residents from fire. People eat cheap pizza and drink Budweiser and get tattoos and guns and dock their dog’s tails for no apparent reason (in one of the most disturbing film scenes of the year). President Obama’s assertion about clinging to guns and religion is never far from one’s mind as the film continually circles back to the church, but the solace found there, however real (and that shaft of light shining in the penultimate funeral scene has a beauty the minister’s sermon can’t touch) seems hollow. The young are just as bored with God as they are old white guy basketball. The final shot is as perfect a capper as we’ll see this year.

Looking forward to the sequel, Monrovia, Liberia.

Liz and the Blue Bird (Naoko Yamada, 2018)

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Shunji Iwai’s Last Letter wasn’t the only tear-jerking teen romance to sneak onto Seattle screens this past week. Naoko Yamada’s anime Liz and the Blue Bird, based on a novel called Sound! Euphonium by Ayano Takeda that has already been adapted into two seasons of a TV series and a couple of movies by Tatsuya Ishihara, is playing at the Varsity and the Grand Illusion, where it will be held-over for a couple more shows this coming weekend (the 24th and 25th of November). It’s about the relationship between two girls in the school band. Nozomoi, a flautist, is lively and gregarious, while the oboist Mizore is shy and withdrawn.  After a brief prologue, we follow the two girls on their walk to school for practice on a Sunday morning, Mizore following behind, her gaze, at Nozomi’s feet, her legs, and, most of all, her gaily swishing ponytail, brilliantly establishing the obsession that is her crush. The two girls are assigned a duet as a part of the band’s end of the year competition, and there negotiating that piece, their interpretations of the children’s story on which it is based, is the vehicle through which their delicate negotiation of teen love and self-actualization will be realized.

More muted and intimate than the other high-quality Japanese animated films that have played here this year, specifically the bombastically inventive Night is Short, Walk on Girl and the generationally-expansive Mirai (coming soon to a multiplex near you), Liz and the Blue Bird is no less breath-taking, both to look at and in narrative. Interspersed throughout the slice of life real-world story are the girls’ imagining of the eponymous fairy tale, given a story-book smudginess and an orange and yellow glow that contrasts sharply with the steely blues of the classroom interiors and rainy sidewalks of the city. But most of all it’s Yamada’s focus on small gestures and behaviors, the way Mizore tugs at her hair when she’s nervous, or how the camera, when adopting her point of view, tends to face downwards, like it’s afraid to face the world, that marks Liz and the Blue Bird as one of the most keenly observed romances of recent years, animated or otherwise.

Friday November 9 – Thursday November 15

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Featured Film:

Last Letter at the Pacific Place

We started Seattle Screen Scene almost four years ago because we discovered that there were a bunch of movies we really wanted to see playing in multiplexes around town. Specifically, there were Johnnie To and Tsui Hark movies playing at the Pacific Place with absolutely no press or coverage in the media, social or otherwise. Every week I go through the listings of every theatre in town hoping to find similar gems that we can review and highlight. This week, it’s Last Letter, the latest film from Japanese director Shunji Iwai (A Bride for Rip van Winkle, All About Lily Chou-Chou). It’s his first film made in China, and stars Zhou Xun (from last year’s Our Time Will Come). Like his previous Love Letter and Chang-ok’s Letter, it’s about the disappointments of life and the loves of youth, about discovering people through stories, stories told in letters. A cross-generational film about love and coping with the loss of a loved one, it’s one of the finest films to hit Seattle Screens this year and it deserves an audience. Don’t miss it.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theater:

Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Weds Only

AMC Alderwood:

Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Thurs
Intimate Strangers (Lee Jaegyu) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven, 1997) Fri-Tues Hecklevision Sun
The Witches (Nicholas Roeg, 1990) Fri, Sat, Mon
The Growing Season (Evan Briggs) Sun Only Director & Editor Q&A

SIFF Egyptian:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Weds
Reel Rock 13 (Various) Thurs Only

Century Federal Way:

Intimate Strangers (Lee Jaegyu) Fri-Thurs
Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs
Tea with the Dames (Roger Michell) Fri-Thurs
Wildlife (Paul Dano) Fri-Thurs
Hausu (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) Sat Only
Little Pink House (Courtney Balaker) Mon Only
Brewmaster (Douglas Tirola) Tues Only
Horn From the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story (John Anderson) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991) Fri-Mon & Thurs 35mm
Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 1989) Fri-Sun & Tues-Thurs 35mm
Liz and the Blue Bird (Naoko Yamada) Sat-Mon, Weds
Hannah Piper Burns: Hijacked Mastery, Metaphysical Mundanity Tues Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs
A Private War (Matthew Heineman) Fri-Thurs
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Thurs
Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton) Fri-Thurs
Sarkar (A.R. Murugadoss) Fri-Thurs
Ani Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar (Abhijeet Deshpande) Fri-Thurs
Badhaai Ho (Amit Sharma) Fri-Thurs
Varathan (Amal Neerad) Sat & Sun Only
Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Thurs
Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton) Fri-Thurs
Prospect (Chris Caldwell & Zeek Earl) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Life and Nothing More (Antonio Méndez Esparza) Fri-Weds
Tribal Justice (Anne Makepeace) Sat Only
Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindo, 1968) Sat Only
Sticky Shed Syndrome Sun Only
Meow Wolf: Origin Story (Morgan Capps & Jilann Spitzmiller) Thurs Only Skype Q&A
Narcissister Organ Player (Narcissister) Starts Thurs Skype Q&A

AMC Oak Tree:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
A Private War (Matthew Heineman) Fri-Thurs
Last Letter (Shunji Iwai) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Badhaai Ho (Amit Sharma) Fri-Thurs
First Love (Paul Soriano) Fri-Thurs
Thugs of Hindustan (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Wildlife (Paul Dano) Fri-Thurs
Time Freak (Andrew Bowler) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955) Thurs Only 35mm

SIFF Film Center:

Descent into the Maelstrom: The Untold Story of Radio Birdman (Jonathan Sequeira) Fri Only
Seattle Turkish Film Festival 2018 Fri-Sun Full Program

AMC Southcenter:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Sun & Weds Only

SIFF Uptown:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton) Fri-Thurs
Cinema Italian Style 2018 Fri-Thurs Full Program

Varsity Theatre:

Wildlife (Paul Dano) Fri-Thurs
Liz and the Blue Bird (Naoko Yamada) Sun & Weds Only
The Advocate (Billy Clift) Tues Only
Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Weds Only

Friday November 2 – Thursday November 8

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Featured Film:

Jim Jarmusch at the Grand Illusion

There are a couple of excellent post-Halloween scary movies opening this week, John Carpenter’s The Fog in a new restoration at the Northwest Film Forum and the Brazilian werewolf/child-rearing thriller Good Manners (directed by Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas), at the SIFF Film Center, but there’s no doubt about what the must-see film event of this week on Seattle Screens is: the start of a two week retrospective on the films of Jim Jarmusch at the Grand Illusion. This week they’ve got his first three features: his debut, Permanent Vacation, on 16mm and his next two, Stranger than Paradise and Down by Law on 35mm. Stranger is the masterpiece of the bunch, a minimalist comedy of manners about a Hungarian woman who comes to visit her cousin in New York City where the two do almost nothing. Then they go to Cleveland. Then they go to Florida. It’s one of the few great American films of the 1980s. It puts a spell on you. Down By Law is more expansive, with a trio of convicts (John Lurie, Tom Waits and Roberto Benigni) escaping prison into the Louisiana woods. Next week, the retrospective continues with Night on EarthMystery Train and Dead Man, which is probably Jarmusch’s greatest film, if it isn’t Stranger than Paradise. Or Paterson. Or Ghost Dog. . . .

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

The Happy Prince (Rupert Everett) Fri-Thurs
Rampant (Kim Sunghoon) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) Fri-Tues Subtitled Fri, Sat, Tues, Check Listings
V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2005) Fri-Tues
Dune (David Lynch, 1984) Thurs Only Hecklevision

SIFF Egyptian:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Rampant (Kim Sunghoon) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Grand Cinema:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs
Tea with the Dames (Roger Michell) Fri-Thurs
Noche de Animas. Tzintzuntzan Sat Only Free Screening, In Spanish with No Subtitles
The Dead Zone (David Cronenberg, 1983) Sat Only
Lizzie (Craig William Macneill) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 35mm
Permanent Vacation (Jim Jarmusch, 1981) Sat & Tues Only 16mm
The Public Image is Rotten (Tabbert Fiiller) Sat & Tues Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller) Fri-Thurs
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Kayamkulam Kochunni (Rosshan Andrrews) Fri-Thurs
Andhadhun (Sriram Raghavan) Fri-Thurs
Badhaai Ho (Amit Sharma) Fri-Thurs
Savyasachi (Chandoo Mondeti) Fri-Thurs
The Villain (Prem) Sat & Sun Only

Regal Meridian:

Wildlife (Paul Dano) Fri-Thurs
What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Fog (John Carpenter, 1980) Fri-Sun Our Review Our Other Review
The Price of Everything (Nathaniel Kahn) Fri-Thurs Discussion Fri
Chris Marker’s Cat Films (Chris Marker) Sat Only
Jack Straw Shorts (Various) Weds Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Late Life: the Chien-ming Wang Story  (Frank W. Chen) Fri-Thurs
Viper Club (Maryam Keshavarz) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Badhaai Ho (Amit Sharma) Fri-Thurs
Baazaar (Gauravv K. Chawla) Fri-Thurs
The Happy Prince (Rupert Everett) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Wildlife (Paul Dano) Fri-Thurs
Viper Club (Maryam Keshavarz) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Wicked Woman (Russell Rouse, 1953) Thurs Only 35mm

SIFF Film Center:

Good Manners (Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas) Fri-Sun

AMC Southcenter:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Uptown:

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Fri-Thurs
Romanian Film Festival 2018 Fri-Sun Full Program
The Reluctant Radical (Lindsey Grayzel) Tues & Weds Only

The Fog (John Carpenter, 1980)

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This guest review comes courtesy of critic Jaime Grijalba.

John Carpenter seems to be the most prominent living horror director, even if he hasn’t made a film since 2010. His presence in the modern landscape of the genre is mostly due to his legacy, and the permanent mark he’s left behind with his films, from classics like Halloween, which defined the slasher genre, to cult films that have marked generations like They Liveand Big Trouble in Little China. His presence is unavoidable on the landscape of horror to this day, from his constant touring in support of his fascinating musical abilities, to his more active association with films associated with his brand, like the new Halloween, a continuation of the original, directed by David Gordon Green, for which he served as executive producer and score composer.

Although his fourth theatrical outing, The Fog, was commercially successful (more due to the very low budget it had), it was far from being critically well-received at the time, and even if it warranted a lackluster remake in 2005, it still remained one of the least discussed films in Carpenter’s filmography until recently. Now, thanks to a restoration done by Studiocanal in 4K and a re-release through Rialto Pictures, there’s a way to re-experience or enjoy for the first time on a big screen the Lovecraft-inspired and Stephen King-flavored horrors that are still completely owned by Carpenter.

The film opens, fittingly, with an old man telling kids some ghost stories, which fits the overall tone of the film, which follows the events of the 100th anniversary of Antonio Bay, a coastal town in California. In the same way as the old man tells these old tales, we are introduced to a voice that seems to narrate the life of the town, DJ Stevie Wayne (played by Adrienne Barbeau), who has a radio station at the lighthouse that she also commands. Her tone, verging on eroticism while at the same time assured of her position of power (she’s “above” the town, as she’s on the lighthouse, and at the same time separated from it), accompanies various characters that will eventually come together under the threat of the fog.

And it’s the DJ, from her vantage point, who is the first to see the threat of the fog, as it approaches a nearby ship, just as midnight strikes. Through clever parallel editing, all of it linked through her voice, we see many supernatural events happen around the town, from the discovery of an old diary written by one of the original settlers of Antonio Bay, to the shattering of all the windows on a truck, all of which builds up to showing what’s behind the bright fog that envelops the coast: vengeful ghosts that a hundred years ago were killed by the founders of the town, and not only that, were robbed from the gold they carried on their ship, which eventually was used to build the church and the rest of the structure of the village.

So, the film becomes more an exploration on the subject of moral living, which resonated with me in ways that I wouldn’t suspect. What’s our responsibility to our ancestors, colonizers who killed or displaced people that originally lived there? Is there any moral dwelling possible in colonized territory? Now, of course, in the story of The Fog, the vengeful ghosts weren’t actually living in the territory of Antonio Bay, but it’s as if it were the cause. We see the next night a massive event in which the founders are honored on the 100th anniversary, and knowing what we already know, we can feel the rage of these ghosts as they maim and kill and gut people, maybe not strictly related to the founders, but it’s their way of exacting revenge on a town that doesn’t know on which crimes it was founded, and even celebrates those who committed the murders.

Visually, the film is a treat, and even with the low budget it manages to create a chilling atmosphere that goes beyond the idea of just pumping lots of fog onto exteriors and interiors. There’s a blue tone that, I assume, the new restoration will hinge on to bring forward the spooky imagery of the shadowy figures that in a brute manner slit throats, decapitate heads and dismember bodies. Much like in Halloween, Carpenter conjures a sense of dread out of the emptiness of the frame, devoid of human figures–we often just see empty streets, houses and the church from outside, slowly being surrounded by the bright fog, just as we see the sea, flowing, coming and going. We only hear the tones of Carpenter’s magnificent score, as if it were the fog itself, creeping into the frame, slowly building toward the final confrontation.

What one appreciates more about a film like The Fog is that although it is only 85 minutes long, it seems to live beyond the opening crawl and its final frame, the town exists beyond this horrifying event, and what helps build that is a sense of place, which is built through the landscape shots as well as the assured nature of the performances, where we seem to know everyone from the moment they open their mouths and that’s because they know each other beforehand. The only progression the film has, as it barely even has what one could call a character arc, is with the two characters that meet each other on the midnight of the anniversary, played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins.

Beyond their travels, in which they first find each other (him, a truck driver, her, a hitchhiker looking for a ride) and then find out what’s happening in the town, the film is pretty much free-form, as it seems to be made out of patches of lived life in town, a special day that is, but one that is given its sense of normalcy through the voice of the DJ that keeps on commenting through the night, through the attacks and even is confronted with the ghosts themselves as she is both at a point where she can give information to others, but at the same time is alone and isolated, incapable of defending herself. It’s that lived-in quality what gives the supernatural a child-like wonder that makes it one of the most fascinating horror films of the 1980s.