VIFF 2015: The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015)

the assassin

Hou Hsiao-hsien structures his new film, The Assassin, as a sort of once upon a time tale. It begins with narration, a mix of the historical and the mythic, and I am at once immersed in a dream-like tale that will, indeed, haunt my memory, just as history and myth so often do, becoming reference points in my present, even when I am not consciously aware of their influence.

It is ninth century China, and political struggle infects the kingdom. The royal court fears a strong, militarized outer province, Weibo; too much delegated power is a threat to the court’s own strength. Weibo, with a century of nearly complete self-governance, fears a reduction in its autonomy. It is a struggle that absorbs everyone.

And yet within this kingdom, there is a mother who tells another story, the story of a single bird. Caged and alone, the bird sits silent, a small stranger in the human world around it, unable to sing to those so unlike itself. Its human keepers feel compassion for it and give it a mirror. Recognizing something like itself, it sings a song of sadness. It dances, and then it dies.

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Friday October 16 – Thursday October 22

Featured Film:

The Forbidden Room at the Northwest Film Forum

One of the best films of the year opens this week at the Northwest Film Forum, Guy Maddin’s phantasmagoric ode to the weird and beautiful in cinema. A kaleidoscopic accordion of stories, about thirty different narratives, embedded within each other and branching across time, space, genre and logic, The Forbidden Room is without a doubt the most Guy Maddin film ever made, and probably his best too. We reported on it from Vancouver on The George Sanders Show, and Mike’s review is here.
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Playing This Week:

Central Cinema:

Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984) Fri-Tues
The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 1982) Fri-Weds

SIFF Cinema Egyptian:

Victoria (Sebastian Schipper) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Century Federal Way:

The Throne (Lee Joon-ik) Fri-Thurs

Grand Cinema:

Coming Home (Zhang Yimou) Fri-Thurs
Peace Officer (Brad Barber & Scott Christopherson) Fri-Thurs
Run Free – The True Story of Caballo Blanco (Sterling Noren) Sun Only
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (Alex Gibney) Tues Only
Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974) Weds Only
Attack on Titan Part 2 (Shinji Higuchi) Weds & Thurs Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The American Genre Film Archive and Something Weird Video present Smut Without Smut: The Mad Love Life of a Hot Vampire & The Haunted P***y (Ray Dennis Steckler, 1976 & Doris Wishman, 1971) Fri Only
A Nightmare On Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984) Sat & Mon Only 35mm
A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (Jack Sholder, 1985) Sat & Tues Only 35mm
Rampaging Mutant 35mm Triple Feature Pizza Party Sun Only
Science Crazed (Ron Switzer, 1989) Weds Only
Valley of the Sasquatch and Creature from Black Lake (John Portanova, 2015 & Joy N. Houck Jr., 1976) Thurs Only Filmmaker in Attendance 35mm

Landmark Guild 45th:

Freeheld (Peter Sollett) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Freeheld (Peter Sollett) Fri-Thurs
Bruce Lee – The Fighter (Srinu Vaitla) Fri-Thurs
Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (Luv Ranjan) Fri-Thurs
Rudrama Devi (Gunasekhar) Fri-Thurs
Back to the Future Triple Feature (Robert Zemeckis) Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Goodbye Mr. Loser (Yan Fei & Peng Damo) Fri-Thurs
Ladrones (Joe Menendez) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton (Guy Maddin) Sat Afternoon Only
Ben Gibbard in Conversation with Lynn Shelton about scoring Laggies Sat Only
Urgh! A Music War (Derek Burbidge, 1981) Sat Only 35mm
Head (Bob Rafelson, 1968) Sun Only
The Seattle South Asian Film Festival Mon & Tues Full Program
The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil  Weds Only
Shredder Orpheus (Robert McGinley, 1989) Thurs Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Freeheld (Peter Sollett) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Etiquette for Mistresses (Chito S. Roño) Fri-Thurs
Ladrones (Joe Menendez) Fri-Thurs

Scarecrow Video Screening Room:

Goodbye, Lenin! (Wolfgang Becker, 2003) Fri Only
The Invisible Man (James Whale, 1933) Sun Only
The Invisible Woman (A. Edward Sutherland & Joe May, 1940) Sun Only
Spaced Invaders (Patrick Read Johnson, 1990) Mon Only
Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991) Tues Only
Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957) Weds Only
The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935) Thurs Only

Seattle Art Museum:

Pitfall (André de Toth, 1948) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukanaga) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Film Center:

The Seattle South Asian Film Festival Fri-Sun Full Program
Archie’s Betty (Gerald Peary) Weds Only
The Decline of Western Civilization Part One (Penelope Spheeris) Thurs Only Our Interview

Sundance Cinemas Seattle:

Mississippi Grind (Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden) Fri-Thurs
Meet the Patels (Ravi & Geeta Patel) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Cinema Uptown:

Goodnight Mommy (Ulrich Seidel) Fri-Thurs
My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) Tues Only
French Cinema Now Festival 2015 Starts Thurs Full Program

Varsity Theatre:

Time Out of Mind (Oren Moverman) Fri-Thurs