Friday December 15 – Thursday December 21

Featured Film:

On the Beach at Night Alone at the Northwest Film Forum

Yes, there’s a new Star Wars movie out, and it is great, truly the movie we obsessives have been waiting for, the Reddest corporate franchise movie there’s ever been. There are also two highly anticipated Chinese films opening this week: Feng Xiaogang’s Cultural Revolution-set Youth and Yuen Woo-ping and Tsui Hark’s remake of The Miracle FightersThe Thousand Faces of Dunjia. But I’ll been writing about both of those at Mubi later this month. No, the Featured Film this week has to be Hong Sangsoo’s On the Beach at Night Alone, the first of his three 2016 movies to be released in Seattle (the other two are scheduled for 2018, by which time Hong will likely have completed another movie or two). Evan wrote about it for us here way back in March, not long after it picked up the Best Actress prize in Berlin (alas, my campaigning did not earn Kim Minhee a Seattle Film Critics Award nomination). His review is much better than my letterboxd response, which for reasons I can’t entirely fathom but which nonetheless still seems to explain the movie to me, contrasts a cosmically expansive passage from the Walt Whitman poem referenced in the film’s title to the self-critiquing and celebratory chorus of Kanye West’s “Runaway”. Anyway, The Last Jedi will be out for awhile, but you can only see On the Beach at Night Alone through Sunday at the Film Forum.

Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Female Trouble (John Waters, 1974) Thurs Only

Central Cinema:

Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Fri-Tues
Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Sat Shri Akaal England (Vikram Pradhan) Fri-Thurs
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990) Sat Only Free Screening
Rare Exports (Jalmari Helander, 2010) Sat Only
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos) Sat Only Our Review
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Mon & Thurs Only
Window Horses (Ann Marie Fleming) Tues Only
Desk Set (Walter Lang, 1957) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Fri-Thurs 35mm
Elves (Jeffrey Mandel, 1989) Sat Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro) Fri-Thurs
Love Ni Bhavai (Saandeep Patel) Fri-Thurs
Aruvi (Arun Prabhu) Fri-Thurs
Maayavan (C.V. Kumar) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Malli Raava (Gowtam Tinnanuri) Fri-Thurs
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

The Thousand Faces of Dunjia (Yuen Woo-ping) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
My Friend Dahmer (Marc Meyers) Fri-Thurs
Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Sat Only

Northwest Film Forum:

On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sangsoo) Fri-Sun Only Our Review
Porto (Gabe Klinger) Fri-Sun Only 35mm
Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) Weds Only 35mm
Beggars of Life (William Wellman, 1928) Thurs Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Youth (Feng Xiaogang) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Unexpectedly Yours (Cathy Garcia-Molina) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review

SIFF Film Center:

Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988) Fri-Sun
Die Hard (John McTeirnan, 1988) Fri-Sun
Rare Exports (Jalmari Helander, 2010) Starts Thurs
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Starts Thurs Sing-Along

Regal Thornton Place:

Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Sat Only

Varsity Theatre:

The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson) Our Review
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
The Disaster Artist (James Franco) Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Our Review
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) Our Review
Advertisements

The Shape of Water (2017, Guillermo del Toro)

hawkins

Evaluating a film based upon the awards it has won or is expected to win is, by its very nature, a dubious endeavor. The tastes of a particular organization or festival (especially one whose jury is reconfigured every year) are fickle and often unreliable in selecting the very best films in competition. But the case of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water presents a curious case. As the winner of the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival and an unabashedly romantic fantasy, it represents a sharp break with the winners of the past few years. The previous recipient of the prestigious award was a typically protracted, ascetic effort from Lav Diaz, and in general the tastes of the festival juries have tended towards the more extreme ends of the arthouse.

The Shape of Water, by contrast, lies as close to the mainstream as a film dedicated to an interspecies romance can. Set in early Cold War-era Baltimore, it follows Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a woman who works the cleaning night shift at a governmental research facility. Rendered mute as a child, her existence is simple but fulfilling, with companionship found in her fellow janitor Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her neighbor Giles (Richard Spencer), a closeted advertising artist. Into this cozy existence comes two distinctly separate, equally emblematic forces: an amphibian creature (Doug Jones) revered in the South American jungle as a god, with whom Elisa quickly develops a longing rapport and attraction born out of common loneliness, and Strickland (Michael Shannon), the authoritarian agent who discovered him.

Continue reading

The Disaster Artist (James Franco, 2017)

the_distaster_artist_e

James Franco’s story of the making of the latest “Worst Movie of All-Time”, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (which plays monthly at the Central Cinema and other places around town) feels like all the cool kids got together to make fun of the freakiest, geekiest kid in school. I mean, the movie opens with an actual Disney princess talking about how terrible the guy’s movie is, kicking off a series of so-bad-it’s-hilarious proclamations by Hollywood successes. I haven’t seen The Room, bad movies just make me feel bad. And laughing at them only makes me feel worse. And from what I have seen, and from its depiction here in exacting recreations, seen side-by-side with the original over the closing credits, it is impossible not to laugh at The Room.

The obvious comparison is with Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, of course. But that was a film that really tried to understand its subject as an actual human being, rather than just an opaque manifestation of weirdness. We want Ed Wood to fulfill his dreams and we feel for him at every failure and (humble) triumph: it doesn’t matter that his art is terrible, at least he succeeded in making something that meant something to him. And Glen or Glenda, at least, is so personal and horrifying an object that it arguably qualifies as great art, despite the fact that the corporate video store I worked at in the 90s deemed it so bad we would rent it out free of charge.

Franco never bothers to look at Wiseau the same way: he’s too opaque a collections of quicks to have an actual personality to express, and he isn’t even allowed to be the center of his own story. This is a story about Greg, a wanna-be actor (played by Dave Franco) who met a weirdo and together they made a terrible movie that everybody laughed at. And in our degraded age that has somehow become the same thing as making something great.

The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)

Star-Wars-Last-Jedi-New-Character-Photos-Rose

The following are a few brief thoughts on The Last Jedi rather than a proper review. I try to keep it vague or completely unmentioned for fear of spoiling. Depending on how sensitive you are to such things, you probably shouldn’t be reading any reviews at all. Maybe I’ll come back to it in a few weeks, after I’ve had a chance to more fully absorb it and to see it again.

The Last Jedi is the Star Wars movie we’ve been waiting for, the culmination of years of ancillary products building on and expanding the mythos developed over the first trilogy and inverted in the second. Like The Force Awakens, its structure is explicitly modeled on a film from the first trilogy, in this case, The Empire Strikes Back. Despite our heroes’ triumph in the last film, a rag-tag band of freedom fighters find themselves under assault by the fascistic enemy. They escape, but the principal good guys are separated and their storylines play out individually, one set on the run in space, while another tries to get advice from a reclusive Jedi master. All threads come together in an ending more bittersweet than triumphant, setting the stage for a final showdown in part three of the story. But this, aside from a handful of gags both visual and verbal here or there, is where the similarities end. In fact, The Last Jedi deftly subverts the expectation of repetition, resolving some conflicts while deepening others, breaking out of the series’ ringlike story and calling for a radical break with the past. To put it into the terms of our contemporary politics: if the original trilogy is about the triumph of neo-liberalism, and the prequel trilogy about the corruption of that ideology by the forces of fascism, then The Last Jedi is where the trilogy truly embraces revolution.

Continue reading

Friday December 8 – Thursday December 14

Featured Film:

Irma Vep at the Northwest Film Forum

Continuing their miniature festival de Léaud, the Northwest Film Forum this weekend has the new restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le gai savoir, in which Jean-Pierre Léaud and Juliet Berto discourse on language, meaning and learning. It’s one of the few 1960s Godard features I haven’t seen yet. The film it’s paired with, a 35mm print of Olivier Assayas’s Irma Vep, is one of the very best European films of the 1990s. Maggie Cheung plays Maggie Cheung, an actress hired by famous French director Léaud to star in his remake of Louis Feuillade’s silent serial Les vampires. A scathing satire of the state of the French film industry in the ashes of the New Wave, anchored by a brilliant fish out of water performance by Cheung, it’s one of the very best films ever made about making movies. I wrote a bit about it way back in 2011, after we had tried and failed to play it at the Metro.

Playing This Week:

AMC Loews Alderwood:

Titanic (James Cameron, 1997) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Fri-Tues
Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988) Fri-Tues

Century Federal Way:

The Swindlers (Jang Chang-won) Fri-Thurs
Sat Shri Akaal England (Vikram Pradhan) Fri-Thurs
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Faces Places (Agnès Varda & JR) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Blade of the Immortal (Takashi Miike) Sat Only
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Sun Weds & Thurs Only
The King’s Choice (Erik Poppe) Tues Only
Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings (Various) Weds Only Free Screening

Grand Illusion Cinema:

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Fri-Mon 35mm, Free on Monday
Christmas Evil (Lewis Jackson, 1980) Fri, Sat & Weds
Potamkin (Stephen Broomer) Tues Only 16mm
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, 1969) Thurs Only 35mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen) Fri-Thurs
Jawaan (B. V. S. Ravi) Fri-Thurs
Gruham (U. Milind Rau) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Malli Raava (Gowtam Tinnanuri) Fri-Thurs
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Daisy Winters (Beth LaMure) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
My Friend Dahmer (Marc Meyers) Fri-Thurs
Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989) Sat Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas, 1996) Sat & Sun Only 35mm
La gai savoir (Jean-Luc Godard, 1969) Sat & Sun Only
Perfume of the Lady in Black (Francesco Barilli, 1974) Weds Only
On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sangsoo) Starts Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Unexpectedly Yours (Cathy Garcia-Molina) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Thelma (Joachim Trier) Fri-Thurs
The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Snowpiercer (Bong Joonho, 2013) Fri-Sun Our Podcast
Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990) Fri-Sun

Regal Thornton Place:

Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989) Sat Only

SIFF Uptown:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs
Tribes of Palos Verdes (Emmett & Brendan Malloy) Fri-Thurs
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Our Review
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) Our Review

The Post (Steven Spielberg, 2017)

__5a1ca2f7832cc

Steven Spielberg’s latest couldn’t be more obviously a grasp at contemporary relevance if it was titled The Post #TheResistance. Like his last film, Bridge of Spies and 2012’s Lincoln, it’s a procedural about the levers of American power, in this case the argument within the Washington Post about whether or not to publish excerpts of the Pentagon Papers, the lengthy report on the history of American involvement in Vietnam which was leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times in 1971. The hero is Katharine Graham, beloved socialite, who finds herself unsteadily in the position of Post publisher after her husband’s death (he had inherited the position from Graham’s father). Pushing her to publish is Ben Bradlee, editor-in-chief and old school newspaperman, while an army of relatives, board members and advisors urge her to be more concerned with the bottom line (the controversy around the Pentagon Papers could threaten the paper’s IPO). With Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the leads, and Spielberg’s unparalleled felicity with composition and movement, The Post has everything Liberal, Elite America could want in a movie about itself.

Continue reading

Friday December 1 – Thursday December 7

Featured Film:

La chinoise at the Northwest Film Forum

If you’re not buried in awards season like I am (yeah, I know, I still haven’t seen Lady Bird) then this is the perfect week to spend some time at the Northwest Film Forum. Not only do they have, on Wednesday and Thursday, two different short film programs by celebrated experimental filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky, with the director himself in attendance, but this weekend they’re playing the recent restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s La chinoise, in which Jean-Pierre Léaud, Julie Berto and Anne Wiazemsky bring Maoism to Paris. One of the last films of Godard’s early period, with one foot in popular cinema and another in serious political thought and activism, it’s a difficult film to get a handle on. The last time I saw it, I was convinced it was a wicked satire on rich kids playing at Leftism, but now I’m not so sure. I should see it again.

Playing This Week:

AMC Loews Alderwood:

Titanic (James Cameron, 1997) Fri-Thurs
The Swindlers (Jang Chang-won) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990) Fri-Mon
Better Off Dead (Savage Steve Holland, 1985) Fri-Mon

SIFF Egyptian:

The Disaster Artist (James Franco) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

The Swindlers (Jang Chang-won) Fri-Thurs
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Novitiate (Margaret Betts) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Bill Nye: Science Guy (David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg) Fri-Thurs
Tragedy Girls (Tyler MacIntyre) Sat Only
Te Ata (Nathan Frankowski) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Free Lunch Society (Christian Tod) Fri-Thurs
The Nightmare (Akiz) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Aval (Gruham) (U. Milind Rau) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Showtimes
Jawaan (B. V. S. Ravi) Fri-Thurs
Firangi (Rajiv Dhingra) Fri-Thurs
Oxygen (Jyothi Krishna) Fri-Thurs
Mental Madhilo (Vivek Athreya) Fri-Thurs
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Explosion (Chang Zheng) Fri-Thurs
Daisy Winters (Beth LaMure) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
My Friend Dahmer (Marc Meyers) Fri-Thurs
A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983) Sat Only

Northwest Film Forum:

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Fri Only Live Score
La chinoise (jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Sat & Sun Only
Bruk Out! A Dancehall Queen Documentary (Cori McKenna) Sat Only
Seasonal Songs (Nathaniel Dorsky) Weds & Thurs Only Two Different Programs, 16mm, Director in Attendance
All the Colors of the Dark (Sergio Martino, 1972) Weds Only

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs
Thiruttu Payale 2 (Susi Ganeshan) Fri-Thurs
Daisy Winters (Beth LaMure) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) Thurs Only

AMC Seattle:

Thelma (Joachim Trier) Fri-Thurs
The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990) Fri-Sun
The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982) Fri-Sun
8 Women (François Ozon, 2002) Weds Only

Regal Thornton Place:

A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983) Sat Only
Black Clover (Tatsuya Yoshihara) Weds & Next Sat & Sun Only Subtitled Monday

SIFF Uptown:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs
The Neverending Story (Wolfgang Petersen, 1984) Weds Only

Varsity Theatre:

The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Our Review
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) Our Review

Friday November 24 – Thursday November 30

Featured Film:

Lady Bird in Limited Release

I still haven’t seen any of the big art house movies, including Lady Bird. And I’m running late this week because of the holiday, so I’m going to stick with this, now expanded to a few more theatres around the Sound. Although it should be noted that Takashi Miike’s Blade of the Immortal is now in its fourth week at the venerable single-screen theatre, so you should probably check it out. Here’s Ryan on Lady Bird: A24 continues their remarkable streak of films that played at the New York Film Festival and focus on young people with Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut Lady Bird. While it has clear strands of DNA from Gerwig’s prior great films co-written with Noah Baumbach, the movie possesses a easy sprightliness all its own. Starring Saoirse Ronan as the eponymous high school student over her senior year as she navigates filial, romantic, and platonic relationships in the staid environs of Sacramento, it is one of the sweetest and most deeply felt films of the year.

Playing This Week:

 

AMC Loews Alderwood:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940) Fri-Tues
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Century Federal Way:

Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday
Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Bugs (Andreas Johnsen) Tues Only
Of Race and Reconciliation Thurs Only Free Screening
Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life (Bill Finnegan) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Blade of the Immortal (Takashi Miike) Fri-Sun, Tues & Thurs
The Light of the Moon (Jessica M. Thompson) Fri-Thurs
Wheels of Terror (Christopher Cain) Sat Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Tumhari Sulu (Suresh Triveni) Fri-Thurs
Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (Vinoth) Fri-Thurs
Mental Madhilo (Vivek Athreya) Fri-Thurs
Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday
Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Explosion (Chang Zheng) Fri-Thurs
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Novitiate (Margaret Betts) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
My Friend Dahmer (Marc Meyers) Fri-Thurs
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday

Northwest Film Forum:

We the Workers (Wenhai Huang) Fri-Sun
Escapes (Michael Almereyda) Fri-Sun Our Review
Brimstone & Glory (Viktor Jakovleski) Sat Only
Shadowman (Oren Jacoby) Weds & Thurs Only
Don’t Torture a Duckling (Lucio Fulci, 1972) Weds Only
The Illinois Parables (Deborah Stratman) Thurs Only 16mm

AMC Oak Tree:

Tumhari Sulu (Suresh Triveni) Fri-Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Tumhari Sulu (Suresh Triveni) Fri-Thurs

 

Seattle Art Museum:

Pretty Poison (Noel Black, 1968) Thurs Only

AMC Seattle:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review

SIFF Film Center:

Hook (Steven Spielberg, 1991) Fri-Sun
Bill Nye: Science Guy (David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg) Thurs Only

AMC Southcenter:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Thornton Place:

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004) Sun, Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday

SIFF Uptown:

The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey) Fri-Thurs
The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

Novitiate (Margaret Betts) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) Our Review

The 2017 Seattle Romanian Film Festival [TWO LOTTERY TICKETS, SIERANEVADA, SCARRED HEARTS]

car

The unexpected programming highlight of the fall 2017 slate in Seattle for me has been the fourth edition of the Romanian Film Festival at Seattle, which took place this past weekend at SIFF Uptown. This perhaps isn’t the biggest surprise in the world, as the Romanian New Wave has been one of the most exciting, motivated filmmaking movements of this century, but as far as I can tell, last year’s selection was roughly on the same level as most other country-specific festivals in this city. But with this year, the festival managed to gather, among other movies, three immensely exciting and worthwhile films, all without stateside distribution and from three directors that span the gamut, from Romanian New Wave old guard to venerated festival regular to even semi-subversive newcomer.

The latter filmmaker is Paul Negoescu, who has a small but passionate following on the basis of his extraordinary, incredibly low-key debut A Month in Thailand from 2012. His follow-up is the opening gala selection Two Lottery Tickets, a straightforward and totally hilarious comedy. While the previous film side-stepped much of the conventions that have codified the Romanian New Wave – the crushing nature of bureaucracy and the police, a single-minded pursuit of a goal, the need for money – this one manages to take on many of these DNA strands without sacrificing the wry warmness that suffused his first film, even as it moves from a late Dardennes-esque door-to-door approach to the road movie. Concerning a group of three hapless friends who lose a lottery ticket worth six million euros and embark upon a farcical journey to take it back from two thugs they believe have stolen it, Negoescu’s film manages to interweave in genuine emotional subplots that augment rather than distract from the humor. And there is a great deal of comedy here, including a handful of totally sublime setpieces and even more deadpan one-liners, all pulled off in well-composed static shots.

Continue reading

Last Flag Flying (2017, Richard Linklater)

NYC

Richard Linklater has cultivated a career based on two slightly clashing recurring interests: continual experimentation with the passing of time on film, and a love for the outsider and wanderer. As a result, Last Flag Flying is something of an anomaly because of its deceptively straightforward nature in the context of his oeuvre. A spiritual to Hal Ashby’s seminal The Last Detail co-written by the original novelist, the movie is at first glance a standard Iraq War drama. But this is first-and-foremost a Richard Linklater film, and through the lengthy, considered conversations that form its backbone the catharsis is generated naturally and truthfully.

I should note at this point that I haven’t seen the ostensible predecessor to Last Flag Flying, and while there are many seeming allusions to events that would logically have happened in The Last Detail, most of the references are apparently fashioned for the film or the novel it’s based on, and not the prior sources: the character names have been changed, their military branch has been altered from the Navy to the Marines, etc.

Continue reading