Friday September 23 – Thursday September 29

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Featured Film:

Cameraperson at the SIFF Uptown

Documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson assembled a personal yet expansive memoir out of outtakes and unused footage from the many films she’s shot over the course of her twenty year career, traveling the world from Bosnia to Liberia, Alabama to Wyoming. It was one of our favorite films at SIFF this year, and it begins its theatrical run at the Uptown this week on Wednesday night, along with a Skype Q&A with Johnson herself. We’ll have more coverage of this very fine film later in the week.

Playing This Week:

AMC Loews Alderwood:

The Age of Shadows (Kim Ji-woon) Fri-Thurs
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, 1975) Fri & Sat Only Quote-Along

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (John Hughes, 1986) Fri-Weds
Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004) Fri-Weds

SIFF Egyptian:

Peaches Christ’s Return To Grey Gardens Thurs Only

Century Federal Way:

The Age of Shadows (Kim Ji-woon) Fri-Thurs
Dharam Yudh Morcha (Naresh S. Garg) Fri-Thurs
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer, 1982) Sun & Weds Only Director’s Cut

Grand Cinema:

The Beatles: 8 Days a Week (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs
The Hollars (John Krasinski) Fri-Thurs
Complete Unknown (Joshua Marston) Fri-Thurs
Café Society (Woody Allen) Fri-Thurs
Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1979) Fri & Sat Only
A Town Called Panic (Stephane Aubier & Vincent Patar, 2009) Sat Only
Speed Sisters (Amber Fares) Sat Only
Zero Days (Alex Gibney) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Zoom (Pedro Morelli) Fri-Thurs
I Drink Your Blood (David E. Durston, 1970) Fri Only
Time Bandits (Terry Gilliam, 1981) Sat Only
solid objects: Films by Brian Short Tues Only
Private Vices, Public Virtues (Miklós Jancsó, 1975) Thurs Only

Landmark Guild 45th:

Come What May (Christian Carion) Fri-Thurs
Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Queen of Katwe (Mira Nair) Fri-Thurs
Banjo (Ravi Jadhav) Fri-Thurs
Majnu (Virinchi Varma) Fri-Thurs
Thodari (Prabhu Solomon) Fri-Thurs
Jyo Achyutananda (Srinivas Avasarala) Fri-Thurs
Pink (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury) Fri-Thurs
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer, 1982) Sun & Weds Only Director’s Cut

Regal Meridian:

Soulmate (Derek Tsang) Fri-Thurs Our Review
No Manches Frida (Nacho Garcia Velilla) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The 19th Local Sightings Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

AMC Pacific Place:

Queen of Katwe (Mira Nair) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Pink (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury) Fri-Thurs
No Manches Frida (Nacho Garcia Velilla) Fri-Thurs
The Hollars (John Krasinski) Fri-Thurs
Barcelona: A Love Untold (Olivia Lamasan) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding) Thurs Only Our Podcast

Landmark Seven Gables:

The Hollars (John Krasinski) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Don’t Think Twice (Mike Birbiglia) Fri-Sun

Sundance Cinemas:

Don’t Think Twice (Mike Birbiglia) Fri-Thurs
Southside with You (Richard Tanne) Fri-Thurs
Operation Avalanche (Matthew Johnson) Fri-Thurs
My Blind Brother (Sophie Goodhart) Fri-Thurs
Other People (Chris Kelly) Fri-Thurs
Three Days in Auschwitz (Philippe Mora) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary (Gay Dillingham) Fri-Thurs
The Beatles: 8 Days a Week (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs
Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1979) Sat Only
Promised Land (The Salcedos) Tues Only
Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson) Weds Only Skype Q & A

Varsity Theatre:

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs

Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016)

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Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson provides an extraordinary experience for viewers—those already familiar with her body of work and those new to it alike. Johnson is a documentary cinematographer best known to most for her work on Fahrenheit 9/11 (dir. Michael Moore, 2004), Pray the Devil Back to Hell (dir. Gini Reticker, 2008), and the Oscar-winning Citizenfour (dir. Laura Poitras, 2014). Those who have seen these films will know to expect bracing, sometimes unsettling, sometimes even devastating images, but they might not be as aware of Johnson’s eye for scenes of almost unbearable beauty and joy. The images Johnson assembles in Cameraperson reveal the full range of her remarkable gifts, in all their weight and force and radiance.

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The Age of Shadows (Kim Jee-woon, 2016)

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Hot off its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and the announcement of its being chosen as South Korea’s submission for the Foreign Language Academy Award, the latest film from director Kim Jee-woon (The Good, The Bad, The WeirdI Saw the Devil) opened this past Friday. But not in Seattle: it’s only playing at the Alderwood Mall AMC in Lynnwood and the Cinemark theatre in Federal Way, another example of the mixed-blessing that is the state of Asian film distribution in the United States. On the one hand, were this exact same film French or German, you could expect it to be picked up by one of the major art house distributors and get a nationwide roll-out, eventually playing somewhere like SIFF or a Landmark theatre. Along with that would go critical attention and a much wider audience. Instead, as Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Indian films are increasingly only released in the US in small runs targeted at diasporic and immigrant communities, with no advance publicity and little advertising to the public at large, it’s likely that if The Age of Shadows does develop an American following, it will come only once the movie is widely available to stream on the internet. But on the plus side, for those of us that happen to live near a major urban center, we get to see some of the best movies in the world in a theatrical setting, with no waiting.

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Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016)

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The following is a Guest Review by Ryan Swen.

When I first heard about the significant buzz surrounding Cameraperson, it seemed heavily reminiscent of Sans soleil, Chris Marker’s 1983 magnum opus that I regard as the greatest film I’ve ever seen. The description, detailing how it was comprised of outtakes from various documentaries all shot by the same cameraperson, Kirsten Johnson, was intriguing, only slightly removed from the other film’s freewheeling examination of the human condition and memory using footage shot mostly in Tokyo, Guinea-Bissau, and San Francisco. But it took me more than half the runtime to realize that the film is not Sans soleil, and that it was just one of the many, many aspects that makes Cameraperson the stunning, quietly revolutionary work that it is.

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Soulmate (Derek Tsang, 2016)

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A young woman, Ansheng, is tasked by her boss with tracking down the author of an in-progress serialized web novel, as their company would like to option it for a movie adaptation. (This is a thing that happens: the best film of 2014, Fruit Chan’s The Midnight After (now streaming on Netflix) was adaptaed from an unfinished serialized web novel written by an entity known as PIZZA.) She’s given this assignment because one of the main characters is apparently based on her: it’s an account of Ansheng’s lifelong friendship with a woman named Qiyue, from their instant communion as middle-schoolers to their inevitable growing apart over twenty years. The bulk of Derek Tsang’s film is the text of this novel, which has the appearance of a flashback, but with a few key subjective elisions and time-warping montages, hints that reality is not as reliable as it appears. One of those montages is scored by the title track from Faye Wong’s Restless (Fuzao), which speaks to the film’s excellent taste within a fundamentally unoriginal framework.

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Friday September 16 – Thursday September 22

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Featured Film:

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the Grand Cinema

John Ford’s last great Western (assuming 7 Women doesn’t count), in many ways a repudiation of the genre, trading the vast expanses of Monument Valley for the claustrophobic interiors of a frontier town. Not an epic of revenge, but a psychological investigation forms the framework of one of his greatest studies of community-building. James Stewart plays a lawyer attempting to bring law and order to a remote village, where John Wayne is the gruff man of action. The two compete for the love of Vera Miles, and oppose the chaotic menace that is Lee Marvin. A film that becomes more inexplicable the closer you get to it, I guess it might as well be Ford’s Vertigo. It plays Wednesday only at the Grand Cinema in Tacoma, with a special discussion following the evening show.

Playing This Week:

AMC Loews Alderwood:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, 1975) Fri & Sat Only Quote-Along

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1999) Fri-Mon In Japanese Sun & Mon
Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990) Fri-Tues
The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1967) Thurs Only

Cinerama:

70mm Film Festival Fri-Mon Full Program

Century Federal Way:

Dharam Yudh Morcha (Naresh S. Garg) Fri-Thurs
Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Indignation (James Schamus) Fri-Thurs
Don’t Think Twice (Mike Birbiglia) Fri-Thurs
Complete Unknown (Joshua Marston) Fri-Thurs
Charlotte’s Web (Charles A. Nichols & Iwao Takamoto) Sat Only Free Doughnuts!
The Beatles: 8 Days a Week (Ron Howard) Sun Only
Gleason (Clay Tweel) Tues Only
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

In Order of Disappearance (Hans Petter Moland) Fri-Thurs
Attack of the Killer Refrigerator with Love Drugs & Violence Sat Only VHS

Landmark Guild 45th:

The Hollars (John Krasinski) Fri-Thurs
Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Baar Baar Dekho (Nitya Mehra) Fri-Thurs
Jyo Achyutananda (Srinivas Avasarala) Fri-Thurs
Pink (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury) Fri-Thurs
Nirmala Convent (G. Naga Koteswara Rao) Fri-Thurs
Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Cock and Bull (Cao Baoping) Fri-Thurs
Jyo Achyutananda (Srinivas Avasarala) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Don’t Blink – Robert Frank (Laura Israel) Fri-Sun
Chatty Catties (Pablo Valencia) Sat Only
Paul McCarthy & Mike Kelley: Heidi (Paul McCarthy & Mike Kelley, 1992) Sat Only
The 19th Local Sightings Film Festival Starts Thurs Full Program

AMC Pacific Place:

S Storm (David Lam) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Pink (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury) Fri-Thurs
No Manches Frida (Nacho Garcia Velilla) Fri-Thurs
Camp Sawi (Irene Villamor) Fri-Thurs
Baar Baar Dekho (Nitya Mehra) Fri-Thurs

Landmark Seven Gables:

Mia Madre (Nanni Moretti) Fri-Thurs Our Review

SIFF Film Center:

Department Q Trilogy (Mikkel Nørgaard) Fri-Sun, Tues-Thurs

AMC Southcenter:

Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1974) Fri-Thurs

Sundance Cinemas:

Don’t Think Twice (Mike Birbiglia) Fri-Thurs
Southside with You (Richard Tanne) Fri-Thurs
Max Rose (Daniel Noah, 2013) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Author: The JT LeRoy Story (Jeff Feuerzeig) Fri-Thurs
Other People (Chris Kelly) Fri-Thurs
Mr. Church (Bruce Beresford) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Don’t Think Twice (Mike Birbiglia) Fri-Thurs
Author: The JT LeRoy Story (Jeff Feuerzeig) Fri-Thurs
The Beatles: 8 Days a Week (Ron Howard) Fri-Thurs
Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil (Pieter van Huystee) Fri-Thurs
/fterForever (Charlebois / Hostynek) Weds Only

Varsity Theatre:

Disorder (Alice Winocour) Fri-Thurs
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs
Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Weds Only

Max Rose (Daniel Noah, 2013)

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Max Rose marks Jerry Lewis’ first starring role in a film in about 20 years. It tells the story of the eponymous character, an 87-year-old former jazz pianist whose wife has recently died. While going through her belongings, he finds evidence of a possible relationship his wife had with another man.
This is the material of a somber drama, but the film never quite arrives there. This is mostly because first time director Daniel Noah’s script is rather banal and trite. The film’s insights into marriage are sketched out in a series of flashbacks of Max with his wife, Eva (Claire Bloom), which are simply clichés of what a long-term companionship consists of. There’s nothing unique at all about their interactions, or about their conception. The film also throws in Max’s relationship with his son Christopher (Kevin Pollak) and his granddaughter Annie (Kerry Bishé). The former has some sharp moments; primarily, a tense, awkward scene where Max refuses to say “I love you” to Christopher. The latter is downright maudlin and has Bishé be reduced to putting on a clown nose and trying to get Max to smile. Noah’s staging is also flat and usually cut up into a series of unnecessary reaction shots which betray a lack of visual imagination (the film’s final shot is a catastrophe). The lighting at points reminds of a bad TV movie.

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Kensho at the Bedfellow (Brad Raider, 2016)

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Kensho at the Bedfellow, the feature debut film, starring, and written and directed by, Brad Raider, opens with a bang. A literal bang. And a cat. A towering, talking puppet cat, who, when the man we will come to know as our main character, Dan (Raider), staggering, asks, “Is this a dream?”, answers, “It’s an opportunity – to know thyself.”  It seems preposterous, of course: what can an over-sized puppet with whiskers have to say about the ontological questions of the self? And on another, more meta, level, a cinema-goer, in the age of slickly immersive computer graphics and special effects, might ask, why am I sitting here looking at a stuffed animal, creakily moving its pretend mouth? Something like Falkor, the Luckdragon, from The Neverending Story, certainly has its place in a children’s movie, in fondly nostalgic memory, or in the evolution of visual effects, but now? This kind of thing in 2016 in a film for adults?

The very audaciousness and seeming ridiculousness of such an opening prepares us for the journey and tone of the film, winding as it does down unexpected paths and embracing both playfulness and seriousness. Even further, the opening gets at the heart the film’s central questions: who am I and why am I here, and how can art – which might not look like life but like only a crude, perhaps silly, representation of life – have anything to say to those fundamental questions of self?

The film explores these questions as it follows a few days in the New York City life of Dan, a one-hit wonder playwright turned Bedfellow hotel doorman, an appropriate career for a man who cannot decide where he belongs and who does not really have a home but co-opts the bed  and apartment of a long-suffering friend who gets only promises, not rent-money.   Dan’s habit of taking freely from his friends extends into other parts of his life as well: borrowing from his own body’s health, he consumes diet pills and gorges on desserts; carelessly using the women around him – a woman staying at the Bedfellow, a troubled ex-girlfriend – he takes sex and the women’s emotional investment as his right, leaving them behind when convenient. Continue reading

Mia Madre (Nanni Moretti, 2015)

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Mia Madre, Nanni Moretti’s latest film, tells the story of Marguerita (Marguerita Buy), a filmmaker in the middle of making a political drama about a factory strike. She’s dealing with her mother’s failing health and other personal relationships. The film is reportedly based on Moretti’s experiences with dealing with the death of a loved one while making We Have a Pope. So, in essence, Marguerita is something of a Moretti stand-in but the character has shades that wouldn’t quite fit if Moretti played the role, and allows for new wrinkles to Moretti’s cinema (three generations of women). Instead, Moretti settles for a supporting role as Marguerita’s brother, who seems to have abandoned his job in order to care for their mother. His scenes and performance act as counterpoint to the work/life balance difficulties of Marguerita. Mia Madre finds Moretti in European Master mode with measured compositions, Arvo Pärt strings and a general tastefulness that makes the whole project somewhat bland.  And yet it remains of interest.

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Cosmos (Andrzej Zulawksi, 2015)

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At the end of his life and career, Andrzej Zulawski brooked no wasted time. His Cosmos screams into existence at a howling pitch and hurtles forward unhindered. The Polish director’s final film immediately thrusts frustrated young law student Witold—Jonathan Genet, as limber and deranged as the film itself—into a warped pan-European bed and breakfast populated by cranks and character actors. A galaxy of ideas orbits Witold’s extended stay, emanations from a mind wracked by scholarly frustrations and writerly ambitions (he shares both his name and aspired-to profession with Witold Gombrowicz, author of the novel on which Zulawski based his film). The mossed old lodgings and Witold’s attempts at writing form the only real center for the strange events that unfold in Cosmos, but even that center cannot hold for long. Things break into increasingly fragmentary pieces: Buñuelian doubles appear, characters invent their own linguistic code, and the filmmaking process itself eventually takes center stage. Attempting to divine a clearer narrative path is a fool’s errand, and rather beside the point.

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