Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)

millennium-mamboOne of the great things about a retrospective of a great director’s works such as the one we’re in the midst of enjoying with this Seattle Hou program is finding previously unsuspected connections between the films. Millennium Mambo, released in 2001 and Hou’s first to be theatrically distributed in the US, is his first film set entirely (well, almost) in the contemporary world since Daughter of the Nile, and like that film it tends to be passed over in favor of more ostensibly serious works (which also, perhaps not coincidentally, have male protagonists). A chronicle of a young woman in a bad relationship struggling to get by in the trancelike neon club haze of Taipei, the film is told in voiceover from ten years in the future, as Shu Qi’s Vicky looks back on her life in a tangled chronology of memories, impressions, dreams and failures. There doesn’t appear to be a definitive order of events, and how one chooses to place the film’s final scene in the timeline goes a long way toward determining if you see the film as ultimately hopeful or depressing.

Continue reading Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)”

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Friday March 27 – Thursday April 2

Featured Film:

The Seattle Hou Hsiao-hsien Retrospective, Part 2

“The film event of the year” retrospective of the great Taiwanese director continues this week with four more films at three different venues across town, with two on film and two on video (and free!).  Our Preview.
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Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Sat Only Our Preview

Central Cinema:

Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) Fri-Weds
Shrek (Vicky Jenson & Andrew Adamson, 2001) Fri-Weds
Dune (David Lynch, 1984) Thurs Only

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Gigi (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) Sun Only

Cinerama:

Giant (George Stevens, 1956) Sat Only

Grand Cinema:

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs
It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) Fri-Thurs
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine (Michele Josue) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Spring (Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead) Fri-Thurs
Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001) Sat Only 35mm Our Review
Saturday Secret Matinee (The Sprocket Society) Sat Only
Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams Vol. 3 w/ the Best of Felt-A-Thon Sun Only
EXcinema presents Roger Beebe Sun Only

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

Serena (Susanne Bier) Fri-Thurs
Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke) Fri-Thurs
Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Jill (Radha Krishna) Fri-Thurs in Telugu with no subtitles
Gigi (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) Sun Only

Regal Meridian:

’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs
It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1995) Fri Only 35mm, w/Intro
VHSEX 3 Fri Only
Films for One to Eight Projectors: Multi-Projector Experiments by Roger Beebe Sat Only 16mm w/Director
Sabbatical (Brandan Colvin) Sun Only w/Director

AMC Pacific Place:

Lost & Love (Peng Sanyuan) Fri-Thurs
That Thing Called Tadhana (Antoinette Jadaone) Fri-Thurs
The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985) Tues Only

Kirkland Parkplace Cinema:

The African Queen (John Huston, 1951) Fri-Sun
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

Regal Parkway Plaza:

It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009) Fri Only
Men… (Doris Dörrie, 1985) Sat Only
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1963) Sun Only
A City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1989) Mon Only
The Puppetmaster (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1993) Tues Only
Only Yesterday (Isao Takahata, 1991) Weds Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Touchez pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

SIFF Film Center:

Belle and Sebastian (Nicolas Vanier, 2013) Fri-Sun Only
Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) Mon Only

AMC Southcenter:

The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985) Tues Only

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) Fri-Thurs
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Like Sunday, Like Rain (Frank Whaley) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview 
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
The Wrecking Crew (Denny Tedesco, 2008) Fri-Thurs

Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1998)

flowers-of-shanghai-1With Flowers of Shanghai, the Seattle Hou Retrospective takes a big leap forward in time and makes a somewhat less drastic transformation in filmmaking style. When we left off, Hou had moved from his series of coming of age memoirs into an epic trilogy encapsulating much of the history of Taiwan in the 20th Century. I’ll be writing about those history films in a few days, after I see Good Men, Good Women on Friday (I missed the show on Sunday), and then as A City of Sadness and The Puppetmaster play at Scarecrow at the end of the month. Hou followed up that trilogy with 1996’s Goodbye South, Goodbye, a languid film about scheming low-level gangsters trying to make a buck in contemporary Taiwan, it’s the closest Hou has ever come to making a Hong Kong-style triad movie. That one will be playing at Scarecrow Video on April 6th. Less concerned with history or memory than any film Hou had made since 1983 (excepting Daughter of the Nile), it represented a sharp turn into the next great series of films Hou would make, about young people in 21st Century urban centers, films inflected with a very peculiar kind of cinephilia. But before that train really got rolling, Hou would take a brief sidetrack into the 19th Century.

Continue reading Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1998)”

Dust in the Wind (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1986)

Dust in the Wind 1

The fourth in the series of coming-of-age films that marked Hou Hsiao-hsien’s transition from competent movie-maker to celebrated auteur, Dust in the Wind is based on the experiences of New Cinema multi-hyphenate Wu Nien-jen, most famous in the US for his starring role in Edward Yang’s Yi yiThe Boys from Fengkuei is generally not included in what has become known as Hou’s Coming of Age Trilogy, for some good reasons (it’s more fictionalized than the other three films and it is set in the present rather than the past) and some bad ones (film critics really like trilogies – quartets and quintets are confusing. Hou also has a Taiwan Trilogy and an Urban Female Youth Trilogy. And then there’s his 2005 film Three Times, which is like a trilogy all on its own). If we just take the last three in the series, we have one film each based on the memories of a single person (Chu Tien-wen for A Summer at Grandpa’s and Hou himself for The Time to Live, The Time to Die), with each focusing on the life of a young person in rural Taiwan in the 1950s-60s. The first film begins with a young girl and her brother moving from the city to the country, the third involves a young man and woman moving from the country to the city, while the middle film is set entirely in the country. The main characters age progressively as the series goes along, youngest in Summer, oldest in Dust. Taken as such, it can be seen as the history of a generation filtered through the life stories of three individuals, personal memory as cultural history.

Continue reading Dust in the Wind (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1986)”

The Time to Live, The Time to Die (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1985)

title-timeAfter his turn toward more personal filmmaking with 1983’s The Boys from Fengkuei, which was based on incidents from his own life transplanted onto a story of contemporary youth, and the following year’s A Summer at Grandpa’s, based on the recollections of Chu Tien-wen, an author whom Hou had met and begun a lifelong collaboration (she will write or co-write all of Hou’s features from Fengkuei on), Hou tells his own autobiographical story in 1985’s The Time to Live, the Time to Die, which remains one of his most-acclaimed films and is generally considered one of the greatest Chinese-language films of all-time (it placed third on the Golden Horse Film Festival’s Top 100 list in 2010 – Hou had two other films  in the top ten: Dust in the Wind was seventh and A City of Sadness was #1 overall).

Continue reading The Time to Live, The Time to Die (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1985)”

The Boys from Fengkuei (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1983)

6a014e86c28c66970d01675f0c40cb970b-800wi Seattle’s Hou Hsiao-hsien Retrospective kicked off last night with his fourth feature and self-proclaimed “first real film”. It followed a trio of totally pleasant romantic comedies starring Hong Kong pop star Kenny Bee, who was then trying to make it as an actor in Taiwan. Already in those films Hou was demonstrating some of the tropes that would recur in his later work, most especially an emphasis on space and the placing of characters within their environments, explicitly the theme of two of those films, Cute Girl and The Green, Green Grass of Home, with their contrasts of rural and urban life. But after a pair of fortuitous and near-simultaneous meetings (with author Chu Tien-wen and the young directors that would make up the New Taiwanese Cinema) that would turn into career-long collaborations, Hou began a sharp move away from the generic and formal strictures of mainstream cinema toward a more personal and idiosyncratic vision.

Continue reading The Boys from Fengkuei (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1983)”

Friday March 20 – Thursday March 26

Featured Film:

The Seattle Hou Hsiao-hsien Retrospective

The great Taiwanese director comes to Seattle in retrospective form with five of his very best films playing on 35mm film, and five more on video, across fifteen days and three venues. “The film event of the year.” Our Preview.
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Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

Central Cinema:

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953) Fri-Tues
Spaceballs (Mel Brooks, 1987) Fri-Tues

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) Fri-Thurs
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975) Sat Midnight Only

Century Federal Way:

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Sun Only

Cinerama:

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Sat Only Our Preview

Grand Cinema:

Antarctica: A Year on Ice (Anthony B. Powell) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs
Triumph of the Will (Leni Riefenstahl, 1935) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Beloved Sisters (Dominik Graf) Fri-Mon
Saturday Secret Matinee (The Sprocket Society) Sat Only
Killer Workout (David A. Prior, 1987) Fri Only
The Time to Live, The Time to Die (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1985) Fri Only 35mm, w/Intro Our Review
Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1995) Sun Only 35mm
Dust in the Wind (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1987) Tues Only 35mm Our Review
Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1998) Thurs Only 35mm Our Review

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs
Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke) Fri-Thurs
Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

NH10 (Navdeep Singh) Fri-Thurs
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Sun Only

Regal Meridian 16:

’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The King and the Mockingbird (Paul Grimault, 1979) Fri-Sun Only
An Honest Liar (Justin Weinstein, 1979) Fri-Thurs
Dust in the Wind (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1987) Sat Only 35mm, w/Intro Our Review
Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1998) Mon Only 35mm, w/Intro Our Review
The Time to Live, The Time to Die (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1985) Mon Only 35mm Our Review
Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001) Weds Only 35mm, w/Intro

AMC Pacific Place:

Lost & Love (Peng Sanyuan) Fri-Thurs

Kirkland Parkplace Cinema:

The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) Fri-Sun
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) Fri Only
Twice Upon a Time (John Forty & Charles Swenson, 1983) Fri Only
Love Crime (Alain Corneau, 2011) Sat Only
Little Annie Rooney (William Beaudine, 1925) Sun Only
Island of Terror (Terrence Fisher, 1966) Sun Only
Chris Marker Group Mon Only
The Night Stalker/The Night Strangler (John Llewellyn Moxey/Dan Curtis, 1972/1973) Tues Only
Red Sonja (Richard Fleischer, 1985) Weds Only
The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

The Passenger (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975) Tues Only
Casque d’Or (Jacques Becker, 1952) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

SIFF Film Center:

Still Alice (Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland) Mon Only
Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012) Weds Only

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Ballet 422 (Jody Lee Lipes) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Red Army (Gabe Polsky) Fri-Thurs
Treading Water (Analeine Cal y Mayor) Fri-Thurs
The Lovers (Roland Joffé) Fri-Thurs
Zombeavers (Jordan Rubin) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview 
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
The Wrecking Crew (Denny Tedesco, 2008) Fri-Thurs

The Seattle Hou Hsiao-hsien Retrospective

23cp_outtakes_hou__1307319g

My pick as one of the Top Three Greatest Living Motion Picture Directors, Hou Hsiao-hsien, gets the retrospective treatment over the next ten days at a trio of terrific venues across Seattle. It’s a truncated version of the complete retrospective organized by Richard I. Suchenski (Director, Center for Moving Image Arts at Bard College), in collaboration with the Taipei Cultural Center, the Taiwan Film Institute, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of China (Taiwan), that has been traveling the world for the past six months. The Grand Illusion and the Northwest Film Forum have joined forces to present five of Hou’s very best films on 35mm (each movie plays one night at each theatre), while Scarecrow Video supplements the series with five additional movies, presented on video free of charge in its Screening Lounge. I’ll even be there introducing movies at each venue, covering six movies in total over the next nine days.

Continue reading “The Seattle Hou Hsiao-hsien Retrospective”

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner, 2014)

kumiko snow

There is a lot to like about Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. The hypnotic soundtrack by The Octopus Project is a delight. At its center is a wonderful performance from Rinko Kikuchi. Best of all is the premise. The film, based on a true story, is about a Japanese woman who believes the events depicted in her VHS copy of Fargo are real and that somewhere in the Midwest lies a bunch of money, buried in the snow by a bloodied Steve Buscemi.

An engaging opening twenty minutes establishes Kumiko as a fish-out-of-water in her homeland. She steadfastly refuses the hollow aspirations pinned on her by family and society, be they marriage or a cushy job. When tasked with watching a child for a few minutes, Kumiko panics and runs away. Unfortunately, the film becomes much more obvious once she arrives as a fish-out-of-water in America. From here, the movie mostly deals in scenes of the fanatical, clearly demented young woman (we never once explore Kumiko’s very real pain) as she gets a blitz-in-a-blizzard of Minnesota nice.  Continue reading Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner, 2014)”

Friday March 13 – Thursday March 19

Featured Film:

Alfred Hitchcock at the SIFF Uptown

Six of the Master of Suspense’s very best films return to Seattle Screens this week in all-digital presentations at the SIFF Uptown. All four of his remarkable string of masterpieces made between 1958 and 1963 are featured, along with two films from 1954, including a special digital 3D presentation. Our Preview.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of Seattle arthouse and repertory programming in your Inbox every Friday morning.

Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

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

Central Cinema:

The Cutting Edge (Paul Michael Glaser, 1992) Fri-Mon, Wed
LA Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997) Fri-Mon, Wed

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Sat Midnight Only Our Preview

Century Federal Way:

The Seven -Year Itch. (Billy Wilder, 1955) Sun Only

Grand Cinema:

Antarctica: A Year on Ice (Anthony B. Powell) Fri-Thurs
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Kon-Tiki (Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg, 2012) Mon Only
Human Capital (Paolo Virzì) Tues Only
Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Weds Only Our Preview

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Beloved Sisters (Dominik Graf) Fri-Thurs
Saturday Secret Matinee (The Sprocket Society) Sat Only
Revenge of the Mekons (Joe Angio) Sun Only

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs
Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

NH10 (Navdeep Singh) Fri-Thurs
The Seven -Year Itch. (Billy Wilder, 1955) Sun Only

Regal Meridian 16:

’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Seattle Web Fest Sat Only
The King and the Mockingbird (Paul Grimault, 1979) Thurs Only

AMC Pacific Place:

12 Golden Ducks (Matt Chow) Fri-Thurs Our Preview 
Seattle Jewish Film Festival Program Details

Paramount Theater:

People on Sunday (Robert and Curt Siodmak, 1930) Mon Only

Kirkland Parkplace Cinema:

The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1945) Fri-Sun

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Pi (Darren Aronofsky, 1998 ) Sat Only
The Edge of Quarrel (David Larson, 2000) Sat Only
Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone, 1943) Sun Only
Let It Be (Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 1970) Sun Only
Where Do We Go Now? (Nadine Labaki, 2011) Mon Only
Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962) Tues Only
Grbavica (Jasmila Žbanić, 2006) Weds Only
The Boys from Fengkuei (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1983) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) Tues Only
The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

SIFF Film Center:

Kung Fu Elliot (Jaret Belliveau & Matthew Bauckman) Fri-Sun, Tues-Thurs
Cinema Dissection: Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977) Sat Only
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Mon Only
Kicking & Screaming (Noah Baumbach, 1995) Weds Only

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Ballet 422 (Jody Lee Lipes) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Queen and Country (John Boorman) Fri-Thurs
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) 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:

Seattle Jewish Film Festival Program Details
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview 
Eva (Kike Maillo, 2011) Fri-Thurs
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) Fri Only Our Series Preview
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) Fri & Sat Only
North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Sat & Sun Only
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Sat & Sun Only
The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963) Sat Only
Dial M for Murder 3D (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Sun Only