Friday February 15 – Thursday February 21

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Featured Film:

Noir City at the SIFF Egyptian

Our Featured Film is a no-brainer this week, as Eddie Muller is back with another festival of film noir, this year focusing on noirs from the 1950s. All the shows are playing at the Egyptian, many of them on 35mm, and it’s a superb mix of recognized classics, underseen gems and films even a long-time noir fan like me doesn’t know anything about. If you’ve seen the big names (Touch of EvilKiss Me DeadlyPickup on South Street), don’t miss the less well-known, but just as good, File of Thelma JordanAngel FaceNightfall and Murder by Contract. The latter plays back-to-back with Touch of Evil on Wednesday night, which is as good a single night of movies that Seattle is likely to get this year. Best thing to do though is to go to some shows you don’t know anything about: you’re almost certain to find something special.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Afro-Punk (James Spooner, 2003) Thurs Only 

Central Cinema:

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) Fri-Tues  
Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles) Fri-Mon, Weds 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Trapped (Richard Fleischer, 1949) Fri Only 35mm
The File on Thelma Jordon (Robert Siodmak, 1950) Fri Only 35mm
The Well (Russell Rouse, 1949) Sat Only 
Detective Story (Detective Story, 1951) Sat Only 
The Turning Point (William Dieterle, 1952) Sat Only 
Angel Face (Otto Preminger, 1953) Sat Only 35mm
Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953) Sun Only 
City That Never Sleeps (John H. Auer, 1953) Sun Only 
Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954) Sun Only 35mm
Private Hell 36 (Don Siegel, 1954) Sun Only 35mm
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955) Mon Only 35mm
Killer’s Kiss (Stanley Kubrick, 1955) Mon Only 35mm
The Scarlet Hour (Michael Curtiz, 1956) Mon Only 35mm
A Kiss Before Dying (Gerd Oswald, 1956) Mon Only 35mm
Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1956) Tues Only 35mm
The Burglar (Paul Wendkos, 1956) Tues Only 35mm
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) Weds Only 
Murder by Contract (Irving Lerner, 1958) Weds Only 35mm
The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959) Thurs Only 35mm
Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959) Thurs Only 

Century Federal Way:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
Fall in Love at First Kiss (Chen Yu-Shan) Fri-Thurs 
Kala Shah Kala (Amarjit Singh) Fri-Thurs 
My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Sun & Weds Only 

Grand Cinema:

2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
An American Tail (Don Bluth, 1986) Sat Only Free Screening
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015) Sat Only 
Bathtubs over Broadway (Dava Whisenant) Tues Only 
Laurel & Hardy Short Films (Various) Weds Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Donnybrook (Tim Sutton) Fri-Thurs 
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Anandi Gopal (Sameer Vidwans) Fri-Thurs 
Dev (Rajath Ravishankar) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Listings
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Lover’s Day (Omar Lulu) Fri & Sat Only In Telugu with No Subtitles
Nine (Januse Mohammed Majeed) Sat & Sun Only 
Natasaarvabhowma (Pawan Wadeyar) Sat & Sun Only 
My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Sun & Weds Only 

Regal Meridian:

Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Mon Only Our Review Our Other Review Dubbed

Northwest Film Forum:

To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990) Fri & Sat Only 
Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999) Fri-Sun 
Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2019 Sat Only 
Tivoli (Alberto Isaac, 1975) Sun Only 
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) Mon & Tues Only 
The Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (Arwen Curry) Mon-Weds 
Kaili Blues (Bi Gan, 2015) Weds & Next Tues Only 
Ganja & Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973) Thurs Only 

AMC Oak Tree:

2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Fall in Love at First Kiss (Chen Yu-Shan) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

The Invisibles (Claus Räfle) Fri-Sun 

Regal Thornton Place:

My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Sun & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
Capernaum (Nadine Labaki) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Tito and the Birds (Gustavo Steinberg, André Catoto & Gabriel Bitar) Fri-Thurs 
Love Eclectic (Bill Brown) Sun Only 
My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Weds Only 
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Fists of Fury: POLICE STORY and POLICE STORY 2 (1985/1988, Jackie Chan)

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With the general, distressing decline in the state of action cinema, not only (but most noticeably) in the United States but in general film at large, standouts like the occasional Hong Kong film and Tom Cruise’s reign over the Mission: Impossible franchise become increasingly lonely lights in the darkness. So it comes as a relief to have the opportunity to reexamine works from more halcyon times, when pre-Handover Hong Kong served as one of the most exciting places for the production of film in cinematic history.

One of the most internationally well-known purveyors of Hong Kong’s particular mode of action cinema was (and to some degree still is) Jackie Chan, who, after a large amount of work as an actor and stunt performer and a brief, unsatisfying stint in Hollywood, returned to the colony to create his most enduring work as a director: 1985’s Police Story, which was followed by the equally popular (if not as artistically successful) Police Story 2 in 1988. Both star Chan as Inspector Chan Ka-Kui, a bold and talented police officer in the Hong Kong Police Force, who uses substantial martial arts skills and near-superhuman endurance to best the numerous criminals and gangs who beset him. This double-header cemented Chan’s status in the West as a presence equally gifted in death-defying action and physical comedy, and provided a path for his career going forward.

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Keeping all this context in mind, the actual manner in which Police Story proceeds is often surprising in a gratifying way; for all the surface pleasures that Chan provides in lightweight films like the Rush Hour series, this is a film that consistently and impressively touches upon structures endemic to Hong Kong society. (Not for nothing did Richard Roud select the film for the 25th New York Film Festival.) Police corruption almost serves as the subtext that threatens to become text throughout the film, as Ka-Kui’s compatriots are either incompetent, bribed by the drug dealers, or hamstrung by bureaucratic expectations and regulations. Chan fills the role of the rogue cop who gets results almost too well, and yet (at least in the first film) he never becomes just the hero: his character is always complicated by his all-too human traits.

Like many a great director, Chan is interested in the processes that run microcosms, and the slow build-up to the first great setpiece of the franchise — involving extreme vehicular destruction — observes the police force outlining an operation. This idea is taken even further in Police Story 2, which is half taken up by a full-on surveillance investigation led by Ka-Kui, a development which lends some nice Hawksian charm that, if not essential, is missing from its predecessor.

But of course, the one and only star of the Police Story films — not to discount the efforts of a very game Maggie Cheung (in her breakout role) as Ka-Kui’s long-suffering girlfriend May, and Brigitte Lin in the first film as a material witness — is Jackie Chan, and the films’ best moments focus squarely on him, whether in total action mode or in very deft physical comedy. The latter may be the more unfamiliar, but such moments as when Chan must juggle four telephones and conversations simultaneously in a police station manage to feel both completely self-contained and yet endemic to the flow of the film.

That flow, of course, is centered around the action, and this trait is key to the first film’s astonishing power. Police Story‘s trajectory feels almost predestined, as Ka-Kui is thrown further and further into the machinations of the triad until he quite literally cannot restrain himself from causing untold amounts of property damage and corporeal devastation (though not to the point of death). Action is reconfigured as a motivating force that overrides every character’s moral and physical capabilities; in both films every character — even and especially Cheung’s May — gets brutally injured. Chan’s brilliance, at least in the first movie, is that the lines are at once blurred and totally clear, where Ka-Kui still remains the hero because of his herculean feats. And the fact that it is Chan himself hanging on to a bus with an umbrella, or sliding three stories down a light-covered pole, makes it that much more impressive, that much more legitimately, wondrously dangerous.

Missbehavior (Pang Ho-cheung, 2019)

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This week’s snow has certainly thrown a wrench into my Lunar New year movie-watching plans, but fortunately my kids’ school actually started on time today so I was able to make the long drive to the Pacific Place to catch an early morning show of Pang Ho-cheung’s latest before it disappeared forever. Famous as the director of the Love in a. . . series of films, the first of which, Love in a Puff, was a vibrant breath of fresh air into the mostly moribund Hong Kong romantic comedy genre. Notoriously given a Category III rating (the equivalent of our NC-17) because of its use of foul language, it captured life among the disaffected professionals of an urban metropolis, at once highly culturally specific in its language and references while universal in that its story could take place in any highly developed center of global capitalism. The sequels continued in this vein, along with the fine but unrelated 2014 rom-com Women Who Know How to Flirt are the LuckiestMissbehavior does as well, though it is not a romance but rather an ensemble farce. And while it’s a great deal of fun, it’s Pang’s least interesting, and least essential film to date.

Reportedly put together in just two weeks, Missbehavior is about a group of old friends, all young urban professionals who have grown estranged from each other for various reasons, who band together to help out a friend who is in trouble at work. She managed to misplace her boss’s bottle of breast milk, and every works together to find a replacement by the end of the day so she doesn’t get fired. The plot alternates madcap schemes for milk retrieval with flashbacks that explain how various pairs of the friends became alienated from each other. It’s little more than an excuse for Pang (and us) to hang out with a bunch of fun actors goofing off, and on that level the film is a delight. Occasionally it gets bogged down in lesson-learning and hugging, which feels extremely heavy-handed in a film so packed with ridiculous gags (from wordplay which is pretty funny even in translation to the basest body humor).

Gigi Leung heads the cast and seems the most like a real actor. But the best performance, no surprise, comes from Lam Suet, as the world’s worst waiter. Other familiar faces abound: Isabella Leong, Miriam Yeung, Derek Tsang, June Lam, Roy Szeto, Susan Shaw, and many more.

Friday February 8 – Thursday February 15

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Featured Film:

Holiday Movies All Over Town

The convergence of Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day had blessed us with an embarrassment of cinematic riches this week on Seattle Screens. On the former front, we have new releases The Wandering EarthPegasus and Integrity, along with the continuing run of Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year and revivals of one of Sammo Hung’s best movies (Pedicab Driver, on 35mm at the Grand Illusion) and Jackie Chan’s best (the restoration of Police Story and Police Story 2 at the Uptown). Valentine’s gives us some inspired programming: Takashi Miike’s Audition at the Northwest Film Forum, Cries and Whispers at SAM, Natural Born Killers at the Central Cinema, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas at the Cinemark theatres (albeit dubbed, apparently), Dick and Jane Drop Acid and Die at the Grand Illusion, alongside more traditional fare like Before Sunrise at the Grand, and Dirty DancingWings of Desire and Cold War at various other theatres. Here’s hoping the snow passes us by, or at least melts quickly, so we can actually get out to some of these great movies.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Hit and Run Squad (Han Jun-hee) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) Fri-Weds
Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1993) Fri-Weds 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Fri-Tues  
Integrity (Alan Mak) Fri-Tues 
Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only 
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Shin’ichirô Ushijima) Sun Only English Dub

Grand Cinema:

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross) Tues Only  Our Review
Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995) Thurs Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Pedicab Driver (Sammo Hung, 1989) Fri, Sun & Thurs Only Our Review Our Podcast 
Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Fri-Weds Our Review Our Other Review Dubbed or Subtitled, Check Listings
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
Funny Fellows: Laurel & Hardy Comedy Shorts, 1924-1930 (Various) Tues Only 16mm 
Dick and Jane Drop Acid and Die (Matt Mitler, 1991) Thurs Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
Yatra (Mahi V. Raghav) Fri-Thurs In Malayalam or Telugu, Check Listings
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Bhai – Vyakti Valli Uttarardh (Mahesh Manjrekar) Sat-Tues 
Joseph (M. Padmakumar) Sat & Sun Only 
Natasaarvabhowma (Pawan Wadeyar) Sat & Sun Only 
Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only 
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Shin’ichirô Ushijima) Sun Only English Dub

Regal Meridian:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Fri-Weds 
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Weds 

Northwest Film Forum:

Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) Fri, Sun & Weds Only 
2018 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Fri Only  
Capturing Cascadia’s Cassettes Sun Only  
To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990) Starts Weds 
Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999) Starts Thurs 

AMC Oak Tree:

2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) Fri-Thurs 
Pegasus (Han Han) Fri-Thurs 
Integrity (Alan Mak) Fri-Thurs 

Paramount Theatre:

A Man There Was (Victor Sjöström, 1917) Mon Only 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

2019 Oscar Documentary Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985) Fri-Sun Our Review
Police Story 2 (Jackie Chan, 1988) Fri-Sun 
The Women on the 6th Floor (Philippe Le Guay) Thurs Only 

Regal Thornton Place:

Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Sun & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Capernaum (Nadine Labaki) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
2019 Oscar Animated Shorts (Various) Fri-Thurs 
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church (John McDermott) Weds Only 

Varsity Theatre:

The Amityville Murders (Daniel Farrands) Fri-Thurs 
Berlin, I Love You (Various) Fri-Thurs 
The Divorce Party (Hughes William Thompson) Fri-Thurs 
Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) Weds Only 

Friday February 1 – Thursday February 8

 

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Featured Film:

Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year at the Meridian and Parkway Plaza

Tuesday marks the start of Lunar New Year, and this most holiest of seasons for Chinese film gets a robust start on Seattle Screens this week. The Pacific Place has the new Pang Ho-cheung romantic comedy, Missbehavior, which promises more of the same from the director of Love in a Puff and Women Who Know How to Flirt are the Luckiest. The Grand Illusion concludes the Hong Kong Kung Fu series they presented jointly with the NWFF with a couple of Sammo Hung movies, 1993’s Blade of Fury and 1989’s Pedicab Driver, one of his very best (it continues into next week as well). The Varsity and the Admiral have Chen Kaige’s Legend of the Demon Cat, which originally premiered in 2017 but was greeted quite positively at the Toronto Film Festival this past fall in a supposed “Director’s Cut.” I haven’t been able to find out which version is playing here. But the most exciting Lunar New Year film of the week has got to be Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year, a Chinese film in which the beloved animated pig learns all about the holiday. My kids love Peppa almost as much as my wife and I do, and we’re taking them to see it even though we’ll have to read the subtitles for them.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige) Tues Only 

AMC Alderwood:

Extreme Job (Lee Byung-heon) Fri-Thurs 
The Gandhi Murder (Karim Traïdia) Fri-Thurs 
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs 

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Afghan Cycles (Sarah Menzies) Tues Only 

Central Cinema:

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) Fri, Sat, Mon, Tues
The Last Boy Scout (Tony Scott, 1991) Fri-Tues 
The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001) Weds Only 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Egyptian:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Kaake Da Viyah (Rai Yuvraj Bains) Fri-Thurs 
Uda Aida (Ksshitij Chaudhary) Fri-Thurs 
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun, & Tues Only 

Grand Cinema:

Piercing (Nicolas Pesce) Sat Only 
A Private War (Matthew Heineman) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Genesis 2.0 (Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev) Fri-Thurs  
Blade of Fury (Sammo Hung, 1993) Fri & Sun Only
Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Sat-Tues & Thurs 
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
Pedicab Driver (Sammo Hung, 1989) Weds and Next Fri, Sun & Thurs Only Our Review Our Podcast

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
Sarvam Thaala Mayam (Rajiv Menon) Fri-Thurs 
The Gandhi Murder (Karim Traïdia) Fri-Thurs 
F2-Fun and Frustration (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Vandha Rajavathaan Varuven (Sundar C.) Fri-Thurs Tamil with No Subtitles
K.G.F. Chapter 1 (Prashanth Neel) Sat & Sun Only 
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun & Tues Only 

Regal Meridian:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Tues Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

Children’s Film Festival Fri-Sun  
The Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (Arwen Curry) Fri Only 
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) Starts Weds 

AMC Pacific Place:

Miss Behavior (Pang Ho-cheung) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

The Gandhi Murder (Karim Traïdia) Fri-Thurs 
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Shelly Chopra Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) Starts Tues 

Seattle Art Museum:

The Passion of Anna (Ingmar Bergman, 1969) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 
Destroyer (Karyn Kusama) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

The Heiresses (Marcelo Martinessi) Fri-Thurs  

Regal Thornton Place:

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun, Tues & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 
Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration (Martyn Atkins) Thurs Only 

Varsity Theatre:

A Breath Away (Daniel Roby) Fri-Thurs 
Piercing (Nicolas Pesce) Fri-Thurs 
Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige) Tues Only 

Friday January 25th – Thursday January 31

 

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Featured Film:

Blackkklansman at A Few Multiplexes

In a futile attempt to get my hopes up, the Academy this week nominated Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman for a bunch of awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. I thought after I first saw it this summer, that this would probably be Spike’s best chance to win the Best Picture Oscar that has eluded him for so long, and the narrative of him beating Green Book, after Do the Right Thing didn’t even get nominated the year Driving Miss Daisy (Green Book‘s closest cinematic analogue) won is irresistible. But it’s probably not going to happen. But maybe? It’s playing this week for a handful of shows at the AMC Seattle (formerly the Metro) and the AMC Alderwood, along with the Regals in Auburn and Lakewood. I never wrote about it here, but I did write a blurb for it a couple weeks ago as part of InReview Online’s Best Films of 2018 round-up, wherein I claim it’s Spike Lee’s Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988) Fri-Sun, Tues
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009) Fri-Sun 
Real Genius (Martha Coolidge, 1985) Weds Only 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Egyptian:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun, Tues & Weds Only 

Grand Cinema:

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) Sat Only Final Cut
Mademoiselle Paradis (Barbara Albert) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Sun, Tues & Thurs  
Sicilian Ghost Story (Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza) Sat-Mon, Weds
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm
Blade of Fury (Sammo Hung, 1993) Weds and Next Fri & Sun Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs 
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Kangana Ranaut & Krish) Fri-Thurs 
Thackeray (Abhijit Panse) Fri-Thurs 
Mr. Majnu (Venky Atluri) Fri-Thurs
F2-Fun and Frustration (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Mikhael (Haneef Adeni) Sat & Sun Only
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun, & Weds Only 

Northwest Film Forum:

Children’s Film Festival Fri-Sun  
The Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (Arwen Curry) Fri, Weds & Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

Destroyer (Karyn Kusama) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Simmba (Rohit Shetty) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Shame (Ingmar Bergman, 1968) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs  

SIFF Film Center:

Mirai (Mamoru Hosada) Fri-Sun Our Review Our Other Review

Regal Thornton Place:

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sun, Tues & Weds Only 

SIFF Uptown:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

An Acceptable Loss (Joe Chappelle) Fri-Thurs 
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Weds Only 

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross, 2018)

 

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You can read Sean Gilman’s previous review here

Hale County is a documentary in the poetic mode – it is not straight reportage with talking heads and a didactic method, but rather built of texture and mood. RaMell Ross has staked his film on the belief that his image fragments can sustain the viewer’s interest, and for the most part he is right. He films those in his community, the young men who become fathers, who go off to school but remain attached, the people in their orbit and their stories. Every so often an intertitle will appear, marking a new section, “whose child is this?”

When watching the films of Frederick Wiseman one marvels at his precise distance. Over 50 years he has honed his craft to the point where the distance between camera and subject is always finely judged, never out of place, his gaze never tips the scales. Ross works differently in that each image works as a moment-by-moment recalibration of this distance, between observer and participant; his gaze trembles before his subjects as he is intimately involved in their lives. Certain images would not be possible without this collapsing of distance – the sharing of a cellphone background image, the small child back and forth in the living room, literally walking up the camera’s lens and obscuring it with his presence. Sometimes he does not get things right and his gaze feels invasive, such as when he films the digging of the grave or the intrusive angles of the mother’s face after she has given birth (this after an intertitle tells us she does not care about the film).

Each image is linked to another one by a series of visual and aural echoes and gains strength through these repetitions and reworkings. There is no straight through-line besides the general one of the years passing. Certain images stick in the mind: a basketball shooting drill where the camera sticks closely to the figure, the physical gesture made visceral; the inside of a locker room with players in every corner, testosterone and energy waiting to be released; the children playing outside while lightning is visible in the background. Each moment sticks momentarily and then we are on to the next. Sometimes what sticks is a small detail, the look of a child curious about the camera, water on the ground, a shadow. The editing makes these images abstract, become a tapestry of daily life.

In today’s cinema one of the pressing issues is the matter of representation. So it is necessary to see these images – modest domestic images, shot with sensitivity. We have small-town Alabama, its parking lots, its gatherings, made strange and beautiful, given focus. As in the newly restored 1898 actuality Something Good – Negro Kiss, we are witness to intimate moments of black life, which have longed been missing in American cinemas. We have been robbed. Charles Burnett should have made a film every single year, like Renoir in the 30’s. Julie Dash and Cheryl Dunne and Kathleen Collins and Bill Gunn and more. Each time a struggle, each time necessary. When Ross uses footage from 1914’s Lime Kiln Field Day, Bert Williams in blackface, it is not just a comment on representation, the effect of this figure emerging the woods, seemingly observing the everyday events in front of it, as it cuts back and forth, acts as a specter haunting these images, the distant past commingling with the right now. Soon after however Ross films the smoke of a bonfire rising from the trees, the speech of a bystander comes on the soundtrack and says, “You see, we need more black folks making photos in the area and taking pictures and stuff, you know?” It’s beautiful and troubling.

Hale County remains fascinating, imperfect; in an interview Ross states that his film language is “growing” and this feels right. It feels like a first step, but hopefully one among many.

Playing at Northwest Film Forum

Friday January 18 – Thursday January 24

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Featured Film:

Cold War at the SIFF Egyptian

It’s been four year since we launched Seattle Screen Scene, and if there’s one thing I hope we’ve established over that time, it’s that there are a great many more Asian films, specifically films from China, Korea, and India, playing around town than anyone ever seems to notice, and that quite a few of them are very good. If there’s one other thing, it would be that European cinema, at least for the last several decades, has been a vast wasteland of drab, dull, self-important, ugly, and overrated movies. European cinema has been, in my opinion of course and with notable exceptions, for lack of a better word, dead. So I was as surprised as anyone when I watched Pawel Pawlikowski’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning Ida at VIFF last fall and absolutely loved it. A vibrant, breathless, decadently romantic love story set against the sweep of mid-20th Century history, anchored by two fine performances, excellent music and lustrous black and white cinematography that ranks with the best Europe has ever produced (by which I mean Luchino Visconti’s White Nights), it was almost enough to make me rethink my sweeping condemnation of the cinema of an entire continent. Almost.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

The Secret Mission (Eom Yu-na) Fri-Thurs 
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs 
Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs 
Perfect Strangers (Manolo Caro) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

The Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979) Fri-Weds
The Muppets Take Manhattan (Frank Oz, 1984) Fri-Tues 

SIFF Egyptian:

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski) Fri-Thurs 
The Muppet Movie (James Frawley, 1979) Thurs Only 

Century Federal Way:

Kaka Ji (Mandeep Benipal) Fri-Thurs 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008) Sat Only Free Screening
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Sat Only 
Border (Ali Abbasi) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966) Fri-Mon, Weds  
Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972) Sat-Sun & Thurs Only  
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs 
NTR: Kathanayakudu (Krish) Fri-Thurs
Accidental Prime Minister (Vijay Gutte) Fri-Thurs
F2-Fun and Frustration (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Ente Ummante Peru (Jose Sebastian) Sat & Sun Only
Viswasam(Siva) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Meridian:

Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

2018 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Fri-Sun  
All that Passes by through a Window that Doesn’t Open (Martin Diciccio) Fri-Sun
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross) Sat & Sun Only Our Review 
The Rattlesnake (Raúl Araiza, 1977) Sun Only 
The Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (Arwen Curry) Starts Tues 
The One-Armed Swordsman (Chang Cheh, 1967) Weds Only Our Review 

AMC Pacific Place:

Destroyer (Karyn Kusama) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Aurora (Yam Laranas) Fri-Thurs 
Simmba (Rohit Shetty) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Hour of the Wolf (Ingmar Bergman, 1968) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs  

SIFF Film Center:

Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945) Fri-Sun
Elvis, Evergreens, and Umbrellas: 50 Years of Seattle on the Big Screen Sat Only 

AMC Southcenter:

Perfect Strangers (Manolo Caro) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Uptown:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 
The Bruce McMouse Show (Barry Chattington, 1977) Mon Only 

Varsity Theatre:

Adult Life Skills (Rachel Tunnard, 2016) Fri-Thurs 

Friday January 11 – Thursday January 17

Featured Film:

Dead Souls at the Northwest Film Forum

Oh sure, the easy way out would be to highlight the Cinerama showing in its glorious theatre a bunch of digital projection (ahem, “laser projections”) of movies that play around town all the time, but never let it be said that Seattle Screen Scene takes the easy way out. No, we’re gonna recommend the eight-hour documentary about Maoist political prisoners playing at the Film Forum this weekend. Wang Bing is one of the most important, least watched directors of our time, a Robert Caro of the cinema, making monumental yet minimalist documents of Chinese society past and present. Dead Souls, consisting entirely of interviews with survivors of Anti-Rightist re-education camps, with Wang’s usual lack of cinematic ornamentation, is surely a better way to spend your movie budget than watching Brazil or A Clockwork Orange for the zillionth time.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs 
Perfect Strangers (Manolo Caro) Fri-Thurs 
Viswasam (Siva) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston, 1975) Fri-Tues Our Review
The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001) Fri-Weds

Cinerama:

Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987) Fri Only  
Dredd (Pete Travis, 2012) Fri Only  
Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006) Sat Only  
The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984) Sat Only  
Battlefield Earth (Roger Christian, 2000) Sat Only  
Titanic (James Cameron, 1997) Sun Only  
Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985) Mon Only  
12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995) Mon Only  
Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Tues Only  
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971) Tues Only  
Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993) Weds Only  
Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Weds Only  

Century Federal Way:

Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs 
Do Dooni Panj (Harry Bhatti) Fri-Thurs 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988) Sat Only
What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko) Tues Only
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Aspern Papers (Julien Landais) Fri-Thurs
Sicilian Ghost Story (Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza) Sun Only
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs
Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs 
NTR: Kathanayakudu (Krish) Fri-Thurs
Simmba (Rohit Shetty) Fri-Thurs 
Accidental Prime Minister (Vijay Gutte) Fri-Thurs
F2-Fun and Frustration (Anil Ravipudi) Fri-Thurs
URI (Aditya Dhar) Fri-Thurs
Vinaya Vidheya Rama (Boyapati Srinu) Fri-Thurs
Viswasam(Siva) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Meridian:

Petta (Karthik Subbaraj G.) Fri-Thurs In Tamil or Telugu, Check Listings

Northwest Film Forum:

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (Alexis Bloom) Fri Only
Over the Limit (Marta Prus) Fri-Sun
Dead Souls (Wang Bing) Sat & Sun Only
Golden Swallow (Chang Cheh, 1968) Weds Only Our Review
2018 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour Weds-Fri
Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1979) Thurs Only

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Simmba (Rohit Shetty) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman, 1963) Thurs Only

AMC Seattle:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs  

SIFF Film Center:

Becoming Astrid (Pernille Fischer Christensen) Fri-Sun

AMC Southcenter:

Perfect Strangers (Manolo Caro) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Thornton Place:

Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Uptown:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 

Friday January 4 – Thursday January 10

Featured Film:

2018 Documentaries at the Pacific Place

I said I’d do my best not to name whichever film was playing in the Northwest Film Forum’s Shaw Brothers series as our Featured Film every week, so I’m definitely not picking Come Drink With Me, the King Hu classic that started it all, which is playing Wednesday night only. Instead I’m going with the AMC Pacific Place, which is playing 15 of the best documentaries of the year (the ones shortlisted for the Academy Awards nomination) for a couple of shows each over the course of this week. The ones not to miss are: Shirkers, which has otherwise only be available on Netflix, Minding the Gap, and Hale County This Morning, This Evening, each of which had unfortunately brief runs here in Seattle. This might be your last chance to ever see them in a theatre.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Swing Kids (Kang Hyeong-cheol) Fri-Thurs 
Take Point (Kim Byung-woo) Fri-Thurs 

Central Cinema:

Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) Fri-Tues
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) Fri-Mon, Weds

Century Federal Way:

Swing Kids (Kang Hyeong-cheol) Fri-Thurs 
Take Point (Kim Byung-woo) Fri-Thurs 

Crest Cinema Centre:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) Fri-Thurs  
Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs 
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino) Sat Only
Supa Modo (Likarion Wainaina) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The House that Jack Built (Lars von Trier) Fri-Thurs
Sicilian Ghost Story (Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza) Fri-Thurs
Saturday Secret Matinee Sat Only 16mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder) Fri-Thurs
Njan Prakashan (Sathyan Anthikad) Fri-Thurs
Simmba (Rohit Shetty) Fri-Thurs 
Bhai Vyakti Valli Purvardh (Mahesh Manjrekar) Fri-Thurs

Regal Meridian:

Simmba (Rohit Shetty) Fri-Thurs 

Northwest Film Forum:

On Her Shoulders (Alexandria Bombach) Fri-Thurs
The Trouble with Wolves (Collin Monda) Fri-Sun
Seattle Arabian Nights Festival 2019 Sat Only
Come Drink With Me (King Hu, 1966) Weds Only Our Review
Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (Alexis Bloom) Thurs & Next Fri Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Mojin: The Worm Valley (Fei Xing) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Ben is Back (Peter Hedges) Fri-Thurs 
On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder) Fri-Thurs
Charm City (Marilyn Ness) Fri & Mon Only
Crime + Punishment (Stephen Maing) Fri & Thurs Only
Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri & Mon Only
Communion (Anna Zamecka) Fri & Mon Only  
The Silence of Others (Almudena Carracedo & Robert Bahar) Fri & Mon Only
RBG (Betsy West, Julie Cohen Sat & Tues Only
Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle) Sat & Thurs Only
Minding the Gap (Bing Liu) Sat & Tues Only  
The Distant Barking of Dogs (Simon Lereng Wilmont) Sat & Tues Only  
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Morgan Neville) Sun & Weds Only  
Dark Money (Kimberly Reed) Sun & Thurs Only  Our Review
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross) Sun & Weds Only  Our Review
Of Fathers and Sons (Talal Derki) Sun & Weds Only  
Shirkers (Sandi Tan) Sun & Weds Only  

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Zero (Anand L. Rai) Fri-Thurs
Simmba (Rohit Shetty) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

Sawdust and Tinsel (Ingmar Bergman, 1953) Thurs Only

AMC Seattle:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs  
Free Solo (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs  

SIFF Film Center:

Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable (Sasha Waters Freyer) Fri-Sun

Regal Thornton Place:

On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Uptown:

Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu) Fri-Thurs