Buzzard (Joel Potrykus, 2014)

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Marty Jackitansky works as a temp at a mortgage company. He takes three-hour breaks, reads comic books at his desk, and orders office supplies so he can flip them for a cash refund. His life is an endless parade of desperate scams that net him $20 here, $30 there, the effort of which is clearly not worth the payoff. But Marty keeps doing it anyway because he believes he’s sticking it to the Man. And because he’s a total moron. Marty is like an adult Butt-head who grew up without a Beavis by his side. He listens to metal, eats terrible microwaveable food, and makes stupid decision after stupid decision.

Marty also happens to be the subject of writer-director Joel Potrykus’s new film, Buzzard. The film begins with a lingering shot of star Joshua Burge’s face. Rarely does the camera leave it for the next ninety minutes. Burge’s excessive features give Marty an alien look, well-suited for his character’s isolation. His bulging eyeballs are frequently deployed to convey Marty’s relentless desperation.

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Friday March 6th – Thursday March 12th

Featured Film:

Casablanca at the Kirkland Parkplace Cinema

The best Best Picture winner ever plays this weekend only in Kirkland. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Paul Henried, Peter Lorre and Sidney  Greenstreet star in Michael Curtiz’s screwball wartime noir romance, with a script by the Epstein Brothers and Howard Koch and a soundtrack featuring a Max Steiner score, La Marseillaise and a collection of swell 1940s tunes. 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:

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (Tim Burton, 1985) Fri-Tues
An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981) Fri-Tues

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

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

Century Federal Way:

Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950) Sun Only

Grand Cinema:

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (Mary Dore) Fri-Thurs
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour) Tues Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Buzzard (Joel Petroykus) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Records Collecting Dust (Jason Blackmore) Fri & Sun Only
Saturday Secret Matinee (The Sprocket Society) Sat Only
Revenge of the Mekons (Joe Angio) Thurs Only

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

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

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Surya vs. Surya (Karthik Ghattamaneni) Fri-Thurs In Telugu with no subtitles
Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950) Sun Only

Northwest Film Forum:

Wild Canaries (Lawrence Michael Levine) Fri-Thurs
Jeremy Moss: Space immaterial/Immaterial Place Sat Only
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (Mary Dore) Sun Only
The Clouds That Touch Us Out of Clear Skies (Lynn Shelton) Sun Only

AMC Loews Oak Tree:

Faults (Riley Sterns) Fri-Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

12 Golden Ducks (Matt Chow) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (Peter Pau) Fri-Thurs

Paramount Theater:

Faust (FW Murnau, 1926) Mon Only

Kirkland Parkplace Cinema:

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Fri-Thurs Our Preview.

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Desk Set (Walter Lang, 1957) Fri Only
20 Million Miles to Earth (Nathan H. Juran, 1957) Sat Only
Belle of the Nineties (Leo McCarey, 1934) Sun Only
Because Why (Arto Paragamian, 1993) Sun Only
At Five in the Afternoon (Samira Makhmalbaf, 2003) Mon Only
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (WD Richter, 1984) Tues Only
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, … and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003) Weds Only
Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965) Thurs Only Our Preview

Seattle Art Museum:

L’Eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962) Tues Only
Ginger and Fred (Federico Fellini, 1986) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

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

SIFF Film Center:

A Year in Champagne (David Kennard) Mon Only
The Squid & The Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005) Weds Only
Dwarves Kingdom  (Mathew Salton) Thurs Only

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

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:

Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) Fri-Weds Our Preview
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview 
The Salvation (Kristian Levring) Fri-Thurs 

12 Golden Ducks (Matt Chow, 2015)

16373802198_ccb18997c2_b  As one Matt Chow movie leaves AMC’s Pacific Place this Thursday, another one opens on Friday, as his collaboration with director Wilson Yip Triumph in the Skies leaves Seattle screens and is replaced by 12 Golden Ducks (both films were released on February 19th in China, part of the Lunar New Year festivities that are the peak of the Chinese movie-going season, like if the US crammed all their releases between Memorial Day and Independence Day into one single week). I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, because it’s so new and because it’s playing as part of AMC’s Asian-Pacific Film program, which doesn’t ever seem to advertise or screen anything for mainstream audiences or critics (this has been the case with several releases in recent months, including major films such as Johnnie To’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 and Pang Ho-chung’s Women Who Know How to Flirt are the Luckiest and (more or less) Tsui Hark’s The Taking of Tiger Mountain). Given the lack of attention the release of 12 Golden Ducks is likely to receive, we hope this preview post will be somewhat helpful, absent an actual review.

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Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg, 2014)

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The latest from Canadian director David Cronenberg finds him, for the first time, working in America (well, he was here shooting for five days, which is not nothing). Specifically Hollywood, which is a kind of America only in the very loosest sense. He finds it a tangled wasteland of venality and corruption, naturally enough, but one especially marked by all manner of family relationships gone horribly wrong. Julianne Moore (in a performance that might have won her the Oscar in an alternate world where such awards don’t automatically go to the most diseased performance) plays an aging actress trying to win a role that her mother played 30 years earlier. Said mother is now deceased, having died in a fire some years before, and may have sexually abused Moore as a child. She works through these issues with her therapist, John Cusack (his technique with her is talking-while-massaging, though he appears to make his money primarily via infomercials  and airport speaking engagements). Cusack and his wife, Olivia Williams, struggle to maintain their 13 year old son’s acting career while dreading the reappearance of their daughter (Mia Wasikowska), who has been in a sanitarium for seven years after she tried to marry her brother while setting the family home on fire. Wasikowska, through her internet-friendship with Carrie Fischer (playing herself, I guess), gets a job as Moore’s personal assistant and carries on a tentative romance with a chauffeur played by Robert Pattinson (a demotion from his starring role in the last Cronenberg film, Cosmopolis, in which he spent most of the film being driven around town in a limo). Drugs, violence, more incest and more fire ensue.

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Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965)

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This Thursday, Orson Welles’s most-underseen masterpiece Chimes at Midnight is coming to the Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge. Welles, of course had a legendarily messy filmmaking career, one that can be reasonably-evenly divided between his studio films and his independent productions. The studio films are the most famous, featuring also the former consensus all-time #1 Citizen Kane, the butchered masterpiece The Magnificent Ambersons and the too-twisted-for-Hollywood noirs The Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil. His independent films include the dishonest documentary F for Fake, the schizophrenic and multiform funhouse Kane Mr. Arkadin, an adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial (which Welles quite rightly notes is a comedy) and three Shakespeare films: Macbeth, Othello and the greatest of them all, Chimes at Midnight, in which Welles combines parts of the two Henry IV plays with bits from Henry V to tell one story about the fat, blustery rogue Sir John Falstaff.

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Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

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A rather trite, unnecessarily-complicated wartime romance in which the most cynical drunk in the world is persuaded, after getting a second chance with the love of his life, to sacrifice his happiness (and hers, but that’s not really relevant) for the war effort, by tricking her into returning to her anti-Nazi activist husband and continuing her loveless sham of a marriage. He and the corrupt local chief of police (he uses his powers to extort sexual favors from pretty young women in exchange for the chance to flee the Nazis), then wander off into the desert.

Depending on how you define your terms, Casablanca might be the greatest motion picture ever made. An example of Hollywood studio filmmaking at its finest, with assured direction by Michael Curtiz, perhaps the greatest non-auteur director of all-time, and brilliant performances not just from the leads but also from a remarkable cast of character actors bringing depth, nuance and personality to even the smallest role (I’m not kidding: even the croupier manning the roulette wheel is a major talent, Marcel Dalio, who only three years before had starred in Jean Renoir’s masterpiece  The Rules of the Game). Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, Sidney Greenstreet, Dooley Wilson, SZ Sakall, Leonid Kinskey and John Qualen are simply overkill in a film that already features Paul Henreid and Claude Rains in the major supporting roles. Ingrid Bergman is luminous of course, on the precipice of superstardom, she has the kind of purity that almost makes you forget she’s trying to exchange sex for her husband’s freedom. But Humphrey Bogart reminds you (and her husband – how bold that line is, said by Bogart to Henried, “She did her best to convince me she was still in love with me. . . and I let her pretend.”) It’s his finest performance, cynical cruelty melting before our eyes into wounded romanticism and self-sacrificing heroism. He’s everything America aspires to be: too cool to care about right and wrong, but determined to do the right thing anyway.

If you’ve never seen Casablanca, or if you’ve never seen it on the big screen, or if you’ve seen it a hundred times already, go see it this week at the Central Cinema.