A VIFF-ing We Will Go!

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Our coverage begins today of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival. Over the next week and a half, Sean, Melissa, and I will be posting reviews, recording podcasts, and getting lost in the wilds of British Columbia. We’ll be catching some of the most anticipated films of the year, including new works from Hong Sangsoo, Guy Maddin, and Hou Hsiao-hsien.

For the most up-to-date information, keep your eyeballs affixed to the Seattle Screen Scene Twitter. Elsewhere in the 140charactersorless-verse, Sean can be found at theendofcinema, Melissa at oneaprilday, and Sean agreed to do my laundry if I finally post stuff at geosandersshow. Don’t worry, I plan on getting my clothes really dirty.

strangebrew

O Canada!

Friday September 25 – Thursday October 1

Featured Film:

The Vancouver International Film Festival

It’s stretching the definition of “Seattle-area”, but that’s where most of us are going to be for the next ten days or so. We’re heading across the border to Vancouver for one of the best film festivals in North America, which features a tremendous selection of international art house films, with a special focus on East Asian cinema. We’ll have lots of coverage, with reviews and probably some podcasts too. Where to follow us.
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Playing This Week:

Central Cinema:

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Fri-Weds
The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995) Fri-Weds

Crest Cinema Center:

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

Stonewall (Roland Emmerich) Fri-Thurs 

Century Federal Way:

Veteran (Ryoo Seung-wan) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Jimmy’s Hall (Ken Loach) Fri-Thurs
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) Fri-Thurs
The Winding Stream (Beth Harrington) Tues Only
Dune (David Lynch) Weds Only
Attack on Titan Part One (Shinji Higuchi) Weds & Thurs Only
We Were Here (David Weissman & Bill Weber) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Welcome To Leith (Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker) Fri-Thurs
Local Sightings Film Festival Sat, Weds & Thurs

Landmark Guild 45th:

Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs
Attack on Titan Part One (Shinji Higuchi) Weds Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Sicario (Denis Villeneuve) Fri-Thurs
Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (Abbas Mustan) Fri-Thurs
Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) Fri-Thurs
Katti Batti (Nikhil Advani) Fri-Thurs
Ghost (Jerry Zucker, 1990) Sun & Weds Only
Attack on Titan Part One (Shinji Higuchi) Weds & Thurs Only

Regal Meridian:

Sicario (Denis Villeneuve) Fri-Thurs
Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) Fri-Thurs
Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Local Sightings Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program 
Hit 2 Pass (Kurt Walker) Fri Only Our Review

AMC Loews Oak Tree:

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) Fri-Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

Office (Johnnie To) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Podcast
Lost in Hong Kong (Xu Zheng) Fri-Thurs
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs

Kirkland Parkplace Cinema:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) Fri-Thurs
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Kaun Karey Insaaf (Baljit Singh) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Dark Star (John Carpenter, 1974) Fri Only
Wet Hot American Summer (David Wain, 2001) Sat Only
Laggies (Lynn Shelton, 2014) Sun Only
Chris Marker Group Mon Only
Back to School (Alan Metter, 1986) Tues Only
Wild Boys of the Road (William Wellman, 1933) Weds Only

Landmark Seven Gables:

The Second Mother (Anna Muylaert) Fri-Thurs

AMC Southcenter:

Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) Fri-Thurs

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) Fri-Thurs
Stonewall (Roland Emmerich) Fri-Thurs
Meet the Patels (Ravi & Geeta Patel) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Goodnight Mommy (Ulrich Seidel) Fri-Thurs
Racing Extinction (Louie Psihoyos) Fri-Thurs
Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes (Kahlil Joseph) Fri-Thurs

Hit 2 Pass (Kurt Walker, 2014)

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Hit 2 Pass is a documentary which takes at its focus not just its subject (a demolition derby race – you have to hit to pass your opponent – and the community surrounding it), but the film grammar required to tell its story. Beginning with a surreal black & white bit with some kind of Jerry Lewis or Professor Pluggy-inspired MC that announces that the film will be presented in 4:3 and then pointing out that the image the viewer is watching is, in fact, a 4:3 image, the film explains its subject and how it will explore it. From the start, we’re conditioned to interrogate every image not just for what it’s showing, but also for what it’s saying about the people doing the shooting.

Continue reading “Hit 2 Pass (Kurt Walker, 2014)”

Office (Johnnie To, 2015)

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The world of Office, the latest from director Johnnie To, is a world without walls. Or, rather, a world where walls do nothing to differentiate space. It’s hard to tell where one place begins and another ends. Each scene takes place in a largely artificial environment where geometric figures and shapes suggest the outline of a room; this strategy essentially means that at any given moment there’s tons of action happening on multiple planes of the frame. Whether it’s a hospital room, a character’s apartment, there is no personal space. There’s only a series of transparent chambers where only emotional/financial transactions can take place.

Chow Yun Fat plays Chairman Ho. While his wife is in a coma, he’s been having an affair with CEO Chang for the last 20 years (played by Sylvia Chang, the film is an adaptation of her 2009 play, Design for Living), and his daughter, Kat, is now working at an entry-level position to gain knowledge of the business. One of his underlings tries to get an accountant to cook the books. Meanwhile Lee Xiang, played by Wang Ziyi (Lee for Ang Lee, Xiang for Dream – aspirational!), also starting at the company, just wants to make a good impression, achieve his dreams and ride that direct elevator to the 71st floor. The film uses all of them to explore certain attitudes and ways of living in capitalist society by testing their bonds after the 2008 crash.

Continue reading Office (Johnnie To, 2015)”

Friday September 18 – Thursday September 24

Featured Film:

Office at the AMC Pacific Place

The latest from Hong Kong director Johnnie To is a musical based on a play written by Sylvia Chang, who also stars along with Chow Yun-fat. Set in the world of high finance at the time of the economic meltdown, it promises to be a fascinating companion to To’s 2011 duo of Life without Principle and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. We’ll have full coverage coming this weekend, with reviews and a podcast recorded on-location from the theatre lobby. Our review. Our podcast.
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Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Chicago (Rob Marshall, 2002) Fri-Tues Our Podcast
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Fri-Tues
Lion’s Mane Art Collective: QTone Thurs Only

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Cooties (Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion) Fri-Weds
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975) Sat Midnight Only

Century Federal Way:

Veteran (Ryoo Seung-wan) Fri-Thurs
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Jimmy’s Hall (Ken Loach) Fri-Thurs
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs
Best of Enemies (Morgan Neville & Robert Gordon) Fri-Thurs
The Lives of Hamilton Fish (Rachel Mason) Sun Only
Listen to Me Marlon (Stevan Riley) Tues Only
Fresh Dressed (Sacha Jenkins) Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Horse Money (Pedro Costa) Fri-Thurs Our Review
A Poem is a Naked Person (Les Blank, 1974) Sat-Weds
Korla (John Turner & Eric Christensen) Thurs Only

Landmark Guild 45th:

Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) Fri-Thurs
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Bhale Bhale Magadivoi (Maruthi) Fri-Thurs
Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) Fri-Thurs
Katti Batti (Nikhil Advani) Fri-Thurs
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) Fri-Thurs
Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Stanley Nelson Jr.) Fri-Mon
Puget Soundtrack: Tim Held Presents Predator (John McTiernan, 1987) Sat Only Live Performance
Recess Monkey Presents “Hot Air!” Sun Only Live Performance

AMC Pacific Place:

Office (Johnnie To) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Podcast
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs

Kirkland Parkplace Cinema:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

The Element of Crime (Lars von Trier, 1984) Fri Only
Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, 2014) Sun Only
Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995) Mon Only
The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956) Tues Only
Rachel Rachel (Paul Newman, 1968) Weds Only
Ruby in Paradise (Victor Nuñez, 1993) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, 1945) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

The New Girlfriend (François Ozon) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

Paper Planes (Robert Connolly) Fri-Thurs

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) Fri-Thurs
Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Phoenix (Christian Petzold) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Decline of Western Civilization Part 1 (Penelope Spheeris, 1981) Fri Only Our Interview
Wayne’s World (Penelope Spheeris, 1992) Fri Only Our Interview 
Women in Cinema Festival Fri-Thurs
Dead End (William Wyler, 1937) Mon Only

Varsity Theatre:

Dragon Blade (Daniel Lee) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Phoenix (Christian Petzold) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock) Sun & Weds Only

Dragon Blade (Daniel Lee, 2015)

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A historical epic with Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrian Brody, set along the Silk Road as a fugitive Roman legion encounters a Chinese security force, this was even worse than I imagined it would be. Let’s set aside the complete and utter ahistoricality of it all (despite the “based on real events” title card at the start), (OK, one point: it’s set in 48 BC, but all the Romans refer to themselves as being part of the Roman Empire: Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, and the Empire not really established until 27 BC, and even then it wasn’t called that for quite awhile later) or the simplistic naiveté of Jackie Chan’s vision of interracial harmony, the uplifting and apparently inevitable side effect of manly exercises like play-fighting and building stuff, and just focus on the action, which is ostensibly all one looks for in a Jackie Chan film. It’s pretty boring. Chan looks old and tired, the costuming pads him out (the better to absorb blows he would have taken bare-chested 30 years ago?) and slows him down. The choreography occasionally makes creative use of found objects, but that only reminds one of better scenes in other Chan films. The editing has the same peripatetic rhythm of 21st century wuxia, but with none of the surreal flair that CGI effects can give such films (Chan remains the most committed to actuality of his peers). Most absurdly though, director Daniel Lee continually frames Chan as an angelic figure, beaming beatifically on the men he has lectured and unified, awkward grin on his poorly-coiffed head (some things never change) as he is haloed by the backlighting sun. It makes one long to return to the striking image of a crucified, eyeless, John Cusack, if only out of a longing to take his place.

Dragon Blade continues, somewhat surprisingly, at the Varsity Theatre.

An Interview with Penelope Spheeris

DECLINE Producer Anna Fox and Director Penelope Spheeris
DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION Producer Anna Fox and Director Penelope Spheeris

One of the most heralded home video releases of the year has been the long overdue appearance of director Penelope Spheeris’s underground music trilogy, The Decline of Western Civilization. Spheeris is touring the country in support of the release and will be at SIFF Cinema Uptown on September 18 as part of their “Women in Film” series. SIFF will be screening the first installment of Decline, which features performances from seminal L.A. punk bands Black Flag, X, and The Germs. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Spheeris moderated by director Lynn Shelton. Afterwards Spheeris will introduce a screening of her mega-hit Wayne’s World.

Penelope Spheeris was kind enough to answer a few questions via email in advance of her Seattle appearance.

Continue reading “An Interview with Penelope Spheeris”

Horse Money (Pedro Costa, 2014)

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Horse Money opens this week at the Grand Illusion. The following is a slightly modified version of my capsule review from the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Pedro Costa’s Horse Money is possibly the richest and most-baffling film of the entire festival. A trip through the underworld, or purgatory at least, as one man, Ventura, relieves his past through the black and brown industrial landscapes of Lisbon’s Fontainhas district. A haunted, ghostly presence, Ventura slips in and out of memories and hospitals, wandering through impossible black spaces, both above and below the industrial ruins that pass as living spaces for much of the world’s forgotten classes and talking to acquaintances and friends, obliquely recounting crimes committed, mistakes made and losses witnessed. Dominated by shadow, splitting the screen, creating ancient irises, forming a primal void from which yellow apartment lights float like islands of life in a universe of emptiness, with vertical lines relentlessly drawing our eye upwards and out of the archaic 1.33 frame. It’s an astonishing film, unique and yet deeply cinephilic, forging connections across a century of cinema, not just The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Here is a partial list of the movies I thought of while watching Horse Money: The Phantom Carriage, Goodbye Dragon Inn, It’s a Wonderful Life, Pedicab Driver, The Thin Man, A Matter of Life and Death, Apocalypse Now, Ikiru, The Phantom of the Opera, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and well, just DW Griffith in general. After watching it, I was overwhelmed, but sure that this would be a one-time experience, so draining and difficult was it to watch at times. After a couple of days though, all I really wanted to do was see Horse Money again.

Horse Money opens Friday, September 18 at the Grand Illusion Cinema.

Queen of Earth (Alex Ross Perry, 2015)

Moss laughing with finger in mouth

“My face hurts.”

“My face hurts all the time.”

Alex Ross Perry, in his new film, Queen of Earth, trains his camera on faces – and on interior and exterior spaces – in such a way that these faces and spaces take on an alien quality. The women’s faces are beautiful; the outdoor world location – shimmering water, sunlit leaves – is breathtaking; the rooms inside the film’s vacation home setting are spare and pleasing. But in the same way that a horror film might take a very mundane, ordinary space and fill it with inexplicable Otherness and dread, Perry’s efforts accomplish a similar effect. A lovely face, an ordinarily refreshing lake, a tastefully refined home – these all set my teeth on edge, or, at least, disrupt my usual sense of their essence. If horror is often a startling, unsettling defamiliarization of the everyday, then Perry’s film is that – and he uses discordant music, odd camera angles, and lingeringly long takes to achieve a sense of horror.  But comedy might be described in a similar way – for it sets something very ordinary in a new, surprising frame – and the thing becomes ridiculous, even hilarious. Queen of Earth straddles that line between horror and comedy delightfully, making it something like black comedy but evading that definition just enough – perhaps because there is a certain poignancy running through it all – to make it one of the most unique film experiences of the year. Continue reading Queen of Earth (Alex Ross Perry, 2015)”

Friday September 11 – Thursday September 17

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Featured Film:

Queen of Earth  at the Sundance Cinemas

Director Alex Ross Perry’s latest is a variation on the female psychological dramas of the late 60s and 1970s, in the vein of Persona or 3 Women, with the ultra-black comic spirit of Roman Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy (Repulsion in particular). But far from a mere pastiche, the film is gorgeously shot (those pale 70s colors!) and edited (those dissolves!) and anchored by two dynamite performances, from Inherent Vice‘s Katherine Waterston and Elizabeth Moss, who is proving that she might well be the best actress working in Hollywood today. (Our Review)
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:

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Fri-Weds
This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984) Fri-Weds Our Review

Cinerama:

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) Fri Only
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer, 1982) Fri Only
Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) Fri Only
Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Sat Only
Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986) Sat Only
Blade Runner: the Final Cut (Ridley Scott, 1982) Sat Only
Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1989) Sat Only
Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950) Sun Only
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) Sun Only
Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) Sun Only
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) Sun Only
Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) Mon Only
The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994) Tues Only
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Tues Only
Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter, 1986) Tues Only
The Sting (George Roy Hill, 1973) Weds Only
Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986) Weds Only
The Hunt for Red October (John McTiernan, 1990) Weds Only
Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988) Thurs Only

Crest Cinema Center:

Love and Mercy (Bill Pohlad) Fri-Thurs Our Interview 

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Century Federal Way:

The Beauty Inside (Baek Jong-yeol) Fri-Weds

Grand Cinema:

Phoenix (Christian Petzold) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs
Noble (Stephen Bradley) Tues Only
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

A Poem is a Naked Person (Les Blank, 1974) Mon-Thurs
Top Spin (Sara Newens & Mina T. Son) Tues & Weds Only
Love Live! The School Idol Movie (Takahiko Kyogoku) Sat-Mon Only

Landmark Guild 45th:

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Hero (Nikhil Advani) Fri-Weds
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Weds
Bhale Bhale Magadivoi (Maruthi) Fri-Weds
Welcome Back (Anees Bazmee) Fri-Weds

Regal Meridian:

Irrational Man (Woody Allen) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Mend (John Magary, 2014) Fri-Thurs
City Stories Youth Videos and Even The Walls: Seventy Years at Yesler Terrace Mon Only Filmmakers in Attendance

AMC Pacific Place:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs

Kirkland Parkplace Cinema:

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Meru (Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs
Ex with Benefits (Gino M. Santos) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Lounge:

Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987) Fri Only
Miss Representation (Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2011) Sat Only
Real Women Have Curves (Patricia Cardoso, 2002) Sat Only
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991) Sun Only
Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997) Mon Only
Il Sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1963) Weds Only

Landmark Seven Gables:

Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

We Come as Friends (Hubert Sauper) Fri-Thurs
Station to Station (Doug Aitken) Fir-Sun
Listen to Me Marlon (Stevan Riley) Mon-Thurs

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Queen of Earth (Alex Ross Perry) Fri-Thurs  Our Review
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (Alex Gibney) Fri-Thurs
Slow Learners (Sheena M. Joyce & Don Argott) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) Fri-Thurs Our Review 
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Phoenix (Christian Petzold) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975) Weds Only
It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (Emily Ting) Thurs Only

Varsity Theatre:

Dragon Blade (Daniel Lee) Fri-Thurs