Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, 2014)

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The latest from French director Olivier Assayas finally makes its way to Seattle screens this week, opening at Landmark’s Seven Gables Theatre. It stars Juliette Binoche as a very Binochian actress, highly accomplished in both the commercial and artier realms of her trade, as she reluctantly takes on a role in a play by the writer who gave her her big break at age 18. The play is about the toxic relationship between an older businesswoman and her ambitious young intern, and Binoche, having played the young half 20 years earlier, is now asked to take on the older part, a character whose weakness she despises. Kristen Stewart plays Binoche’s assistant, young and plugged into the world, who encourages Binoche to see the play and its characters in a new light. The bulk of the film follows their discussions as they practice lines in the picturesque Swiss Alps, and their relationship draws some expected parallels and unexpected divergences from the play itself.

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Kung Fu Jungle (Teddy Chan, 2014)

kfj-pics-1The latest acclaimed Hong Kong film to sneak onto Seattle Screens at the AMC Pacific Place (following Johnnie To’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 and Tsui Hark’s The Taking of Tiger Mountain, among other recent hits) is a new collaboration between director Teddy Chan and star/choreographer Donnie Yen. The two were previously paired in Chan’s 2009 period adventure film about Sun Yat-sen, Bodyguards and Assassins, but this new film is more in line with Yen’s present-day cop films SPL and Flash Point, both made with director Wilson Yip. Yen plays a kung fu expert serving a prison sentence for accidentally killing a man in a duel. Three years into his term, the cops are on the hunt for a serial killer, one who appears to be targeting kung fu experts. Donnie volunteers his services to track down the killer, but of course he knows more than he’s letting on. As with the Yip films, the action is brutally physical, aided in no small measure by CGI special effects, the impact of which is still working its way uneasily through the language of Hong Kong action cinema.

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Oklahoma! (Fred Zinnemann, 1955)

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The Cinerama’s Saturday Classics series concludes this weekend with the laser projection of 1955’s smash hit musical Oklahoma!. The following is the review I wrote of the film last year, after finally bringing myself to watch it all the way through.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are generally credited with ushering in a Golden Age of musical theatre, this 1943 play marking the first truly integrated show, with music, lyrics and story seamlessly interwoven. Of course it wasn’t the first (Show Boat did much the same thing 15 years earlier, to say nothing of the operettas from the 19th century onward that did as well, but whatever), but it was a huge hit, inspiring many imitators, some of which are actually good. Similarly, the 1955 film adaptation was followed by a new form of musical film: more or less direct translations of stage musicals, often excruciatingly long, presented as roadshow extravaganzas (more expensive tickets, super widescreen formats, elaborate sets and locations). These films, increasingly bloated and dull, eventually killed the musical as a viable American film genre and played no small role in bankrupting the studio system that had been in place in Hollywood since the 1920s.

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Friday April 24 – Thursday April 30

Featured Film:

The Tales of Hoffmann at the Cinerama

The Cinerama this week presents Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s musical follow-up to The Red Shoes. An adaptation of the Jacques Offenbach opera, itself based on a trio of stories by author ETA Hoffman, melding ballet, music and romantic melodrama into a glorious Technicolor fantasy. Our Preview.
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Playing This Week:

Admiral Theater:

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

Central Cinema:

Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948) Fri, Sun-Weds
Slither (James Gnn, 2006) Fri, Sun-Weds

Century Federal Way:

Twenty (Lee Byeong-heon) Fri-Thurs
Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982) Sun Only

Cinerama:

The Tales of Hoffmann (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1951) Fri-Tues Our Preview
Oklahoma! (Fred Zinnemann, 1955) Sat Only Laser Projection Our Preview

Landmark Crest Cinema Center:

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Shlomi & Ronit Elkabetz) Sat & Tues Only
Captain Abu Raed (Amin Matalqa, 2007) Sun Only
TCC Diversity Film Series Short Films Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Amour fou (Jessica Hausner) Fri-Thurs
Roar (Noel Marshall, 1981/2014) Fri-Sun, Thurs
Planetary (Guy Reid) Sun Only
Excinema (Various) Tues Only Video & 16mm

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Dohchay (Sudheer Varma) Fri-Thurs
Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982) Sun Only

Majestic Bay Theatre:

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

Regal Meridian:

Let’s Get Married (Liu Jiang) Fri-Thurs
Desert Dancer (Richard Raymond) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Yakona: Journey Through the Eyes of a River (Paul Collins and Anlo Sepulveda) Fri-Sat Only Live Music, Filmmakers in Attendance

AMC Pacific Place:

Kung Fu Killer (Teddy Chan) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

Regal Parkway Plaza:

You’re My Boss (Antoinette Jadaone) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995) Fri Only
Fandango (Kevin Reynolds, 1985) Sat Only
The House of Mirth (Terrence Davies, 2000) Sun Only
The Hedgehog (Mona Achache, 2009) Sun Only
A Pistol for Ringo (Duccio Tessari, 1965) Mon Only
Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948) Tues Only
The Taste of Tea (Katsuhito Ishii, 2004) Weds Only
Women Without Men (Shirin Neshat & Shoja Azari, 2009) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Shlomi & Ronit Elkabetz) Fri-Sun 
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Sun, Weds Our Preview 
Mommy (Xavier Dolan) Mon Only
In Country (Mike Attie & Meghan O’Hara) Thurs Only

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Deli Man (Erik Anjou) Fri-Thurs
Black Souls (Francesco Munzi) Fri-Thurs
5 to 7 (Victor Levin) Fri-Thurs
Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
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) Sun-Tues, Thurs Our Preview
GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Shlomi & Ronit Elkabetz) Mon-Thurs
Adult Beginners (Ross Katz) Mon Only Nick Kroll in Attendance
Best of HUMP! Tour 2015 Starts Thurs

The Tales of Hoffmann (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1951)

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After the smashing success of 1948’s The Red Shoes, with its lengthy fantasy ballet sequence fusing the stage arts with effects possible only in cinema, the writing-directing-producing team of Michel Powell and Emeric Pressburger wanted to make a truly operatic film. In 1951, they adapted Jacques Offenbach’s mostly-finished fantasy opera The Tale of Hoffman, adapted from three stories by writer ETA Hoffmann. Truly pan-European in concept, it’s an English film adapting a French variation on an Italian art form based on stories from a German author drawing on Central European folk traditions (whose story The Nutcracker is also the basis for the most famous of all Russian ballets). The film is entirely dialogue-free, every line sung in an English adaptation of Offenbach’s score by opera professionals, all pre-recorded with the film edited to match the score (all but two of the actors are dubbed, only star Richard Rounseville and Ann Ayars sing their own parts). Divided in three sections with a frame story, Rounseville plays Hoffmann, who is in love with a ballerina named Stella (Moira Shearer, star of The Red Shoes). During an intermission in her performance, he goes to a bar and gets drunk, telling an assembly of students stories of his three past loves gone wrong. Those stories, about women named Olympia, Giulietta and Antonia, are then dramatized as operettas within the whole.

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Friday April 17 – Thursday April 23

Featured Film:

Jauja at the Northwest Film Forum

Viggo Mortensen stars in the latest from acclaimed Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso, playing a Danish engineer in 19th Century Patagonia who must set out across the desert in search of his runaway daughter. Inspiring comparisons as diverse as The Searchers, the mystical films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and the Insanity Pepper episode of The Simpsons, it was one of the best films of 2014. Our Preview.
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Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

Central Cinema:

The Last Starfighter (Nick Castle, 1984) Fri-Tues
Drop Dead Gorgeous (Michael Patrick Jann, 1999) Fri-Tues

Century Federal Way:

Patta Patta Singhan Da Vairy (PVS) (Naresh S. Garg) Fri-Thurs
The Sound of Music (Robert Wise, 1965) Sun & Weds Only

Cinerama:

North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) Sat Only Laser Projection

Landmark Crest Cinema Center:

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

The Hunting Ground (Kirby Dick) Fri-Thurs
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975) Sat Midnight Only
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (Brett Morgen) Starts Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Annie (John Huston, 1982) Sat Only
The Little Tin Man (Matthew Perkins, 2013) Tues Only
Planetary (Guy Reid) Weds Only
Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory (Michael Rossato-Bennett) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Of Horses and Men (Benedikt Erlingsson) Sat & Sun Only
1971 (Johanna Hamilton) Fri-Thurs
Backcountry (Adam MacDonald) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Ex Machina (Alex Garland) Fri-Thurs
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy (Dibakar Banerjee) Fri-Thurs
The Sound of Music (Robert Wise, 1965) Sun & Weds Only

Majestic Bay Theatre:

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

Regal Meridian:

Let’s Get Married (Liu Jiang) Fri-Thurs
Desert Dancer (Richard Raymond) Fri-Thurs
Ex Machina (Alex Garland) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Jauja (Lisandro Alonso) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Cheatin’ (Bill Plympton) Fri-Tues
World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt) Sat, Sun & Tues Only Short, plays with Cheatin’ 
Maria Tallchief (Sandy Osawa) Fri Only Director in attendance
Speaking of Dying Sat Only
Sweet 16 (Millimeter) Sat Only 16mm
North by Pacific Northwest: the Films of Kelly Sears Sun Only
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) Mon Only Live score by Newaxeyes
Horrorism for Beginners, Beginners for Horrorism (Juan David González Monroy & Anja Dornieden) Thurs Only 16mm, Filmmakers in attendance

Regal Parkway Plaza:

You’re My Boss (Antoinette Jadaone) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Whale Rider (Niki Caro, 2003) Fri Only
The Seventh Curse (Lam Ngai Kai, 1986) Fri Only
April Fool’s Day (Fred Walton, 1986) Sat Only
A Room with a View (James Ivory, 1985) Sun Only
Last Life in the Universe (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 2003) Sun Only
Chris Marker Group Mon Only
Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) Tues Only
The Cat (Lam Ngai Kai, 1992) Weds Only
Listen to Me (Douglas Day Stewart, 1989) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982) Sat Only Cinema Dissection 
White God (Zsófia Psotta) Mon-Thurs

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Deli Man (Erik Anjou) Fri-Thurs
Desert Dancer (Richard Raymond) Fri-Thurs
Beyond the Reach (Jean-Baptiste Léonetti) Fri-Thurs
5 to 7 (Victor Levin) Fri-Thurs
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
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
GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Shlomi & Ronit Elkabetz) Fri-Thurs
White God (Abderrahmane Sissako) Fri-Sun
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) Mon Only
The Long Night (Tim Matsui, 2012) Weds Only
Wild & Scenic Film Festival Thurs Only

Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

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The latest from acclaimed Argentinian auteur Lisandro Alonso finds him working for the first time with a major international movie-star in a recognizable genre. Viggo Mortensen stars in a Western about a Danish cartographer attached to a military expedition in 19th Century Patagonia. When his 15 year old daughter runs off with a young soldier, he sets off on an increasingly weird quest across the desert wilderness, part Ethan Edwards in The Searchers, part William Blake in Dead Man. Like many so-called Slow Cinema films, the cinematic form that has become the dominant international style for festival films and the better art houses, Jauja is paced deliberately, with long takes and very little camera movement, the characters framed at a distance such that they are dwarfed by both the landscapes and, importantly, the sounds of their environment. It certainly isn’t among the slowest of such films (Pedro Costa’s equally impeccable Horse Money (hopefully coming soon to Seattle Screens?) is even more meditative, among great 2014 films), and seeing it a second time I actually found it quite brisk (it’s possible my speedometer has been miscalibrated after a month watching New Taiwanese Cinema films).

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Ned Rifle (Hal Hartley, 2014)

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The third film in Hal Hartley’s lunatic epic trilogy about an ex-con with literary delusions and his relations with a garbageman from Queens and his sister opens this week at the SIFF Film Center. Released in 1997, the first film in the trilogy, Henry Fool was, as far as I can tell, Hartley’s most successful release, taking in almost one and a half million dollars at the box office. While his reputation rests on the series of films he made in the early 90s, hallmarks of that decade’s American independent film movement (Trust, The Unbelievable Truth, Amateur, Flirt), his career seems to have sputtered over the last 20 years, with only a couple of features seeing completion. The second film in the trilogy, 2006’s Fay Grim, grossed only 10% of its predecessor, and the new film was funded by Kickstarter. I believe this says more about the state of independent film production distribution and exhibition in the United States than it does about Hartley as a filmmaker.

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Friday April 10 – Thursday April 16

Featured Film:

Ned Rifle at the SIFF Film Center

The latest from veteran independent auteur Hal Hartley is the third in his series about the Grim family and their relation to itinerant author, raconteur, degenerate, terrorist philosopher Henry Fool. Ned Rifle, child of Fool and his wife Fay Grim (Parker Posey), now 18 years old and a committed Christian sets off on a quest to find his father and kill him. He’s joined by a mysterious, brilliant woman played by Aubrey Plaza. 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:

The Wrecking Crew (Denny Tedesco, 2008) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951) Fri-Tues
Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) Fri-Weds

Cinerama:

Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959) Sat Only Laser Projection

Landmark Crest Cinema Center:

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) Fri-Thurs
Selma (Ava DuVernay) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

White God (Zsófia Psotta) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
Dancing in Jaffa (Hilla Medalia) Sun Only
Match (Stephen Belber) Tues Only
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) Weds Only Our Preview 
Selma (Ava DuVernay) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Of Horses and Men (Benedikt Erlingsson) Fri-Thurs

Landmark Guild 45th Theatre:

Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

Cinemark Lincoln Square Cinemas:

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy (Dibakar Banerjee) Fri-Thurs
While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs

Regal Meridian:

Let’s Get Married (Liu Jiang) Fri-Thurs
How to Fight in Six-Inch Heels (Tran Ham, 2013) Fri-Thurs
’71 (Yann Demange) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

ByDesign 2015 Festival Fri-Tues
Interiors (Woody Allen, 1978) Sun Only 35mm
100 Years After Birth of a Nation Mon Only
Cheatin’ (Bill Plympton) Weds & Thurs Director in attendance

AMC Pacific Place:

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

You’re My Boss (Antoinette Jadaone) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Demon Queen (Donald Farmer, 1986) Sat Only
Enchanted April (Mike Newell, 1991) Sun Only
Comanche Station (Budd Boetticher, 1960) Mon Only
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Tues Only
Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998) Weds Only
Scared to Death (Christy Cabanne, 1947) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Elevator to the Gallows (Louis Malle, 1958) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

Kill Me Three Times (Kriv Stenders) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Ned Rifle (Hal Hartley) Fri-Thurs Our Preview 
The Wrecking Crew (Denny Tedesco, 2008) Fri-Thurs

AMC Southcenter:

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) Fri-Thurs
Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke) Fri-Thurs
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview

Regal Thornton Place:

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Fri-Thurs Our Preview
GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Shlomi & Ronit Elkabetz) Fri-Thurs
The Human Experiment (Don Hardy Jr. & Dana Nachman) Thurs Only

Varsity Theatre:

The Wrecking Crew (Denny Tedesco, 2008) Fri-Thurs