Friday February 27th – Thursday March 5th

Featured Film:

Samuel Fuller at the Grand Illusion Cinema

The Grand Illusion celebrates one of the most singular Americans of the 20th Century this week: journalist, author, soldier, and movie director Samuel Fuller. Along with a week-long run of a documentary about Fuller directed by his daughter Samantha, they’re also presenting 16mm prints of two of his very best films, Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss. Our Preview.
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Playing This Week:

Central Cinema:

Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1951) Fri-Tues
The Apple (Menahem Golan, 1980) Fri-Tues

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Fri-Sat Midnight Only

Century Federal Way:

Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963) Sun Only

Cinerama:

Fists and Fury Festival Program Details Our Preview

Grand Cinema:

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman) Tues Only Our Preview

Grand Illusion Cinema:

A Fuller Life (Samantha Fuller, 2013) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 1963) Mon Only 16mm
The Naked Kiss (Samuel Fuller, 1964) Wed Only 16mm
The Devils (Ken Russell, 1971) Fri Only
Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-1990) (Scott Crawford) Fri-Sun
Saturday Secret Matinee (The Sprocket Society) Sat Only
Records Collecting Dust (Jason Blackmore) Thurs Only

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) Fri-Thurs
Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Badlapur (Sriram Raghavan) Fri-Thurs
Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963) Sun Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Shredder Orpheus (Robert McGinley, 1989) Fri Only 35mm
Princess Angeline (Sandy Osawa and Yasu Osawa, 2009) Sat Only
The Courage to Love (Paul Ginocchio) Sat Only
Festival of (In)Appropriation Thurs Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Triumph in the Skies (Wilson Yip and Matt Chow) Fri-Thurs
Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (Peter Pau) Fri-Thurs

Paramount Theater:

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) Mon Only

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Electric Dreams (Steve Barron, 1984) Fri Only

Seattle Art Museum:

La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961) Tues Only
Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti, 1971) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts  Fri-Thurs
Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Metalhead (Ragnar Bragason, 2013) Fri-Sun Only
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) Fri-Weds Our Preview
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya  (Isao Takahata) Sat-Mon Our Preview

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg) Fri-Thurs
Red Army (Gabe Polsky) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview 
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Sun & Tues Only 
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) Fri, Mon & Weds Only 
Sync Music Video Festival 2015 Sat Only
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Fists and Fury at the Cinerama

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This week, the Cinerama is playing what they’ve dubbed their “First Mixed Martial Arts Festival”, a collection of movies, Hong Kong and Japan mostly, in which kicking, punching and/or swordplay is prominently featured. Playing two or three different movies per day, mostly DCP but with some 35mm, its an eclectic mix of masterpieces, curiosities and what amounts to an almost-complete Bruce Lee retrospective.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as mixed about a film series as I am about this mixed martial arts series. On the one hand, and probably most importantly, there are a bunch of great movies playing here, included some films that haven’t played in Seattle since the heyday of Landmark’s Hong Kong repertory run in the mid-1990s. The chance to see Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Toshiro Mifune, Stephen Chow and Jet Li in that gorgeous Cinerama environment is not to be dismissed lightly. Even under less than ideal conditions, like digital projections of DCPs and Blu-Rays, seeing these films is a treat. But there appears to be no rhyme or reason to the way this festival was put together, with many of the best films showing at the most inconvenient times, no clear threadlike connecting the films from different countries or eras and a lot of sub-standard source material for a repertory festival.

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Samuel Fuller at the Grand Illusion Cinema

fullersamuel11

Playing at the Grand Illusion this week is Samantha Fuller’s 2013 documentary about her father, A Fuller Life. Aside from a short introduction explaining the concept, her movie consists entirely of excerpts from Fuller’s memoir, as read by a variety of his friends, co-workers and fans (generally shot in the kind of propulsive close-ups so recognizable from Fuller’s films). The images we see are a combination of archival footage, clips from Fuller’s movies and never-before-seen 16mm home movies shot by Sam over the decades. It’s a loving account of a remarkable American, one of the unique and definitive personalities of the 20th Century. Beginning his professional life as a newspaper boy in 1920s Manhattan, he quickly worked his way up to teenaged crime reporter. During the Depression he set out across the country, making his living as a freelance journalist and pulp novelist, chronicling the darkest corners of a turbulent decade (an anecdote he relates about a KKK woman is especially vivid). At the end of the 30s, he settled down in Hollywood, making a living as a screenwriter for hire.

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013, Isao Takahata)

kaguya bamboo

It is certainly a shame that The Tale of the Princess Kaguya lost to the pleasant if disposable Big Hero 6 in the Best Animated Feature category at last week’s Academy Awards, but it’s even more of a travesty that the film was not nominated for the biggest category, Best Picture. Yes, the Oscars are silly but there’s a special circle of silliness for the continued separation of films solely because they are animated or in a foreign language. Sure, the occasional film sneaks out of its categorical ghetto and garners larger attention, such as Toy Story 3, but by and large these vital films are given their token nod in these subcategories and forgotten. To extrapolate, if we are to have a category called Best Animated Feature, its nominees should only be judged on their animation, not their story nor their music nor their editing.  Continue reading

Friday, February 20th – Thursday, February 26th

Featured Film:

The 87th Annual Academy Awards

That most sacred of cinephile holidays arrives this Sunday night, as movie fans the world over gather together to complain about how all of the wrong things won and these silly awards that don’t matter and no one should care about them anyway. We guide you through the top contenders and let you know which theatres are hosting special Oscar Night events.
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Playing This Week:

Admiral Theater:

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts  Fri-Sun

Central Cinema:

Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) Fri-Sat, Mon
Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990) Fri-Mon

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975) Sat Midnight

Century Federal Way:

Oscar Nominated Short Films (Animated & Live-Action) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984) Sat Only
Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Last: Naruto the Movie (Tsuneo Kobayashi) Fri-Thurs
The Devils (Ken Russell, 1971) Fri-Sat, Thurs
Saturday Secret Matinee (The Sprocket Society) Sat only

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Oscar Nominated Short Films (Animated & Live-Action) Fri-Thurs
Temper (Puri Jagannadh) Fri-Thurs
Badlapur (Sriram Raghavan) Fri-Thurs

Regal Meridian:

Somewhere Only We Know (Xu Jinglei) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Hard to Be a God (Alexsey German) Fri-Mon
Big in Japan (John Jeffcoat) Fri-Thurs

AMC Loews Oak Tree:

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts  Fri-Thurs
Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts Fri-Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

Triumph in the Skies (Wilson Yip and Matt Chow) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

English Only, Please (Dan Villegas) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 19711) Fri Only
Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945) Sun Only
Reign of Fire (Rob Bowman, 2002) Sun Only
Chris Marker Group Mon Only
American Fabulous (Reno Dakota, 1991) Tues Only
Restless Natives (Michael Hoffman, 1985) Weds Only
The Devil Bat (Jean Yarbrough 1940) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966) Tues Only
David Lynch and Civil Rights Documentaries (Richard Beymer) Weds Only
The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971) Thurs Only

Landmark Seven Gables:

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts  Fri-Thurs
Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Gangs of Wasseypur Parts 1 & 2 (Anurag Kashyap, 2013) Fri-Sun Only
The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones) Mon Only

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview.

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) Fri-Thurs Our Preview.
Girlhood  (Celine Sciamma) Fri-Thurs
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939) Tues Only

The 87th Annual Academy Awards

Boyhood-Gallery-2

The Academy Awards are this Sunday night, and a pair of local theatres are hosting festivities. The Central Cinema‘s shindig starts at 4 pm while the Grand Cinema (hosting the party at Theatre on the Square) kicks things off at 4:30.

Here’s a brief look at the top contenders for this year’s Academy Awards:

Boyhood: Filmed a little bit at a time over 12 years, director Richard Linklater’s epic portray of one boy’s coming of age made a whole generation of male film critics weep with self-recognition. It’s a fine film, and Linklater, one of the best filmmakers of his generation, may finally get some awards recognition. Almost certainly Patricia Arquette will for her supporting performance as The Boy’s mother.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): The inexplicably parenthesized title of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s study of an actor on the edge of insanity is the dark horse (dark bird?) contender for the major awards, but will almost certainly take home the prize for Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography, given how many people equate length-of-shot with quality-of-shot. Less certain are Michael Keaton’s chances at Best Actor. He should be in more, better things.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson has his best ever shot at the Oscars this year, with his first Directing and Picture nominations to go along with his third Screenplay nomination (he was also nominated for Best Animated Film in 2009). He’s never won, and his best shot this year is probably in the Original Screenplay category. The film is also a heavy favorite in Production Design, Costume Design and Makeup.

American Sniper: Clint Eastwood’s latest box office smash is a stealth Best Picture contender, but will likely have to settle for simply making a ton of money. Brady Cooper received his third and fourth nominations in the past three years for Producing and Acting in this film. remember when he was Jennifer Garner’s goofy best friend on Alias?

Selma: The biggest snubs of the season were Ava DuVernay missing out on a Directing nomination and David Oyelowo for Best Actor. This might be the best of the Best Picture nominees, but it has no chance to win. It will likely earn only Best Song as a consolation prize, which is pretty awful in a lot of ways.

The Imitation Game: This won the Writer’s Guild Award for Adapted Screenplay, which is absolutely appalling. And it’ll probably win the Oscar too. There is likely to be no less deserving winner Sunday night.

The Theory of Everything: The best chance this by the numbers biopic has for a win is for Eddie Redmayne, for his performance as a real person with a disability, which is perennially an Oscar lock. Only sentimentality toward cinema’s third greatest Keaton can stop him. The film has a shot at Best Score, too.

Whiplash: A lock for Best Supporting Actor for JK Simmons, who has been one of our best supporting actors for years. A very good chance in Sound Mixing as well. I like it’s chances for Editing, though that could go to Boyhood instead. The Academy tends to favor volume in that category, and Whiplash has the most editing of the year. That the quick cutting is impeccably timed and used to expressive purpose is a bonus, largely irrelevant to its Oscar chances.

Best Actress: It’s been making the rounds on the internet in recent weeks the fact that the films that annually contend for the Best Actress Oscar are almost never winners, or even nominees in any other categories. That is again the case this year, with Julienne Moore likely to win for Still Alice. It’s kind of shocking considering just how good Two Days, One Night and Gone Girl are, both of which should have been multiple nominees anchored by terrific lead performances (by Marion Cotillard and Rosamund Pike, respectively). Also shocking is that Anna Kendrick isn’t nominated despite giving three fantastic lead performances in 2014, in Happy Christmas, The Last Five Years, and Into the Woods. Perhaps it was her supporting turn as Jennifer Aniston’s ghost-mentor in Cake that knocked her out of contention (Aniston got shut out as well).

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: Isao Takahata’s film, likely the last production by Studio Ghibli’s two masters (Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises lost to Frozen last year), probably has no shot at Best Animated Feature (How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the heavy favorite), but if it did somehow get the prize, no win on Oscar night would make us happier.

Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973) at the Scarecrow Screening Lounge (February 14, 2015)

lady-snowblood-revenge

One of my earliest and happiest Seattle film experiences was in the late summer of 1998, when I saw Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo at Scarecrow Video. It was upstairs, in a little room (I think it’s an office now, but it might be the comedy section) with a dozen folding chairs and a very small screen. The movie played, I believe, in 16mm, a tiny strip of Cinemascope ten feet away. There were four of us in the audience, two strangers and a friend who had never seen a Kurosawa film before, though his films had been seemingly everywhere that August (I had earlier caught Rashomon, Throne of Blood and The Hidden Fortress at the Varsity). It was, of course, a great movie and my friend loved it, sparking his own trip through one of the great 20th Century filmographies. The film showings at Scarecrow ceased sometime shortly after that, I don’t know when or why, but the experience has always stuck with me. We tend to get caught up with the incidentals of our film-going: comfy seats, giant screens, and ear-blasting sound in our multiplexes; giant TVs, plush couches and remote controls in our homes. But all of that is sideshow, what really matters is the movie, and going out to the movie, leaving our own space and sharing a darkened room with a bunch of strangers, all looking at the same pictures on a wall. I’ll see a movie anywhere, in any format, because what matters most is that movie, and there’s no better way to see a movie than in a theatre, any kind of theatre.

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What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement/Taika Waititi, 2014)

what we do in the shadows waititi

Last year, Jim Jarmusch reestablished himself in many eyes with the existential ennui of Only Lovers Left Alive. The film interrogated the realities of being a vampire, looking at the practical ramifications of living for hundreds of years. How do the centuries affect one’s outlook on life, love and art? Now an unlikely companion piece arrives from New Zealand with the mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows, from Eagle vs. Shark director Taika Waititi and frequent collaborator, Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords.

clement what we do in the shadows

What We Do in the Shadows follows the daily humdrummery of a household of vampires, all of various vintages and dispositions. There’s the dandy, the slob, the troubled one, and Nosferatu. House meetings are called to revisit the neglected chore wheel which has resulted in a stack of blood-drenched dishes in the sink. The film is basically variations on this joke for 80-odd minutes and somewhat surprisingly, it works. It’s a slight but amiable feature, low-key but consistently fun.

what we do in the shadows group

In keeping with the documentary facade, much of the film is shot closely with a spotlight shining directly on the leads, leaving their surroundings bathed in titular darkness. This style is particularly effective when the film introduces special effects such as flying and mutation, all of which are blended seamlessly and provide an occasional jolt amongst the chuckles. And it is mostly chuckles. But they’re consistent chuckles.

what we do in the shadows

The funniest scenes occur when Clement and Waititi decide to go for broke. Despite being a low budget comedy, the film doesn’t shy away from its horrific roots, occasionally doubling down on gore with fountains of deep red blood. Sure, they lay down a newspaper first but come on, that stuff gets everywhere.

(What We Do in the Shadows is now playing at the Sundance Cinemas, The Majestic Bay Theatre, and the SIFF Uptown.)

Friday, February 13th – Thursday, February 19th

Featured Film:

A Very Seattle Valentine’s Day

Screens across the city celebrate this most romantic of holidays with a collection of love stories spanning 80 years of cinema history. From Clark Gable in the 1930s to Marilyn Monroe in the 50s to the very latest in 21st Century European and Japanese kink, Our Annotated Guide will be sure to match you and your date up with the perfect night out at the movies.
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Playing This Week:

Central Cinema:

Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) Fri-Tues
True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993) Fri-Tues
The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003) Thurs Only

Century Federal Way:

C’est si bon (Kim Hyun-seok) Fri-Thurs
Giant (George Stevens, 1956) Sun Only

The Cinerama:

Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) Sat Only
Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955) Sat Only
Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) Sat Only

Grand Cinema:

Stagecoach  (John Ford, 1939) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2013) Fri-Thurs Our Preview.
VHSex Sat Only
Saturday Secret Matinee (The Sprocket Society) Sat only

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Roy (Vikramjit Singh) Fri-Thurs
Temper (Puri Jagannadh) Fri-Thurs
Giant (George Stevens, 1956) Sun Only

Regal Meridian:

Somewhere Only We Know (Xu Jinglei) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Seattle Asian-American Film Festival Program Details
Fort McMoney Thurs Only

AMC Loews Oak Tree:

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts  Fri-Thurs
Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Spare Parts (Sean McNamera) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Wet Hot American Summer (David Wain, 2001) Fri Only
Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973) Sat Only
It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) Sun Only
Eastern Europe/Russian Experimental Animation Mon Only
Secretary (Steven Shainberg, 2002) Tues Only
Go Fish (Rose Troche, 1994) Weds Only
Batman: The Movie (Leslie H. Martinson, 1966) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion   (Elio Petri, 1970) Thurs Only

Landmark Seven Gables:

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts  Fri-Thurs
Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Monk with a Camera (Tina Mascara & Guido Santi, 2013) Fri-Mon
The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland) Fri, Sun-Weds
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright, 2010) Sat Only Teens Only
Dear White People (Justin Simien) Mon Only
Citizenfour (Laura Poitras) Tues & Thurs Only
Inside the Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci  (Julian Jones) Thurs Only in 2D

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) Fri-Thurs
Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts Fri-Thurs
Hits (David Cross) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) Fri-Thurs Our Preview.
Citizenfour (Laura Poitras) Fri-Thurs
Inside the Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci 3D  (Julian Jones) Fri-Weds
Harold & Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971) Fri-Sun Only
You Can’t Take it With You (Frank Capra, 1938) Tues Only
5Point Film on the Road Thurs Only

Seattle Screen Valentine Scene

GoneWiththeWind1

Valentine’s Day hits Seattle screens weird this weekend, with off-kilter romances old and new taking over theatres all across the city. Here they are in alphabetical order:

The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2014) at SIFF Film Center: I haven’t seen this yet, but it was our friend Matt’s favorite movie of 2014. It’s an homage to the European softcore art-porn films of the 1970s. So I assume it’s pretty romantic with great music and some nifty dissolves.

Giant (George Stevens, 1956) at Cinemark theatres in Federal Way and Bellevue: James Dean makes a fortune in oil to impress Elizabeth Taylor, spends his super-wealthy life in misery when she still prefers Rock Hudson, apparently because she can’t understand a word Dean says because he’s always mumbling.

Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) at the Cinerama: Vivien Leigh’s feisty Southern Belle falls for the one man she can’t dominate (Clark Gable), submits to him (sort of), then sabotages their romance with all the incandescent fire of an orange only achievable in Technicolor.

Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955) at the Cinerama: Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando gamble on whether or not Brando can sleep with Jean Simmons (or “take her to Cuba” as they say). He gets her drunk, they go to Cuba. Also there’s gambling. And music. And everyone talks funny.

Harold & Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971) at the SIFF Uptown: Suicidal teenager falls for batty old lady. A favorite of every girl I went to high school with.

It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) at Scarecrow Video: Paparrazzo Clark Gable stalks runaway heiress Claudette Colbert, destroys the undershirt industry with his daring chest.

Lady Snowblood (Toshiba Fujita, 1973) at Scarecrow Video: Meiko Kaji revenges herself on the people who raped her mother and killed her family. It is snowy and there is blood. Like all Valentine’s Days.

Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) at the Central Cinema: Ewan McGregor invents the mashup and falls tragically in love with Nicole Kidman’s tubercular prostitute and then Kurt Cobain rolls over in his grave.

R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2013) at the Grand Illusion: Mike saw this movie and wrote about it. I assume the “R100” rating means it’s fun for all ages.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright, 2010) at the SIFF Uptown: A video game universe teaches bassist Michael Cera the key lesson about relationships: the other person is irrelevant, the important thing is to know that you are awesome.

Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) at the Cinerama: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dress in drag to escape mobsters. Curtis pretends to be Cary Grant to sleep with Marilyn Monroe. Lemmon hooks up with Joe E. Brown. Marilyn Monroe is pretty.

True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993) at the Central Cinema: Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are so cool falling in love over a Sonny Chiba triple feature, coffee and pie. Then they travel across the country to make a fortune selling stolen cocaine. As we all do.