The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)

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…a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated—so:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

–Rudyard Kipling, “The Explorer”

And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood
straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them
to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up
with their bare hands
What we still can’t do today.

And I know she’s living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can’t remember when
Or how I lost my way.

He came dancing across the water
Cortez, Cortez
What a killer.

–Neil Young, “Cortez the Killer”

James Gray’s adaptation of the story of early 20th Century British explorer Percy Fawcett, based on a New Yorker article and subsequent book by David Grann, is as beguiling, beautiful and ultimately confounding as the Amazonian jungle in which it is largely set. Shot on actual film by the great Darius Khondji (Seven, My Blueberry Nights) the film has a granular opulence rarely seen in the Hollywood cinema today, lush details of both the rain forest wilderness and the rich dark warmth of the woods and leathers of English libraries that are overwhelmingly tactile and mesmerizingly immersive, which, combined with the film’s languorously fluvial pacing washes away all the gaps and inconsitencies and oddities in the screenplay, leaving only the impression of the grace and tragedy of the human impulse toward transcendence.

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Graduation (Cristian Mungiu, 2016)

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There is a seemingly inconsequential moment roughly a quarter into Graduation where the protagonist, Dr. Romeo Aldea (Adrian Titieni), enters the office of his friend, the police inspector (Vlad Ivanov), and sees two bowls filled with marbles. The inspector explains with no small degree of weary acceptance that he uses them to symbolize two time-based demarcators and to reflect on his current state of affairs. The first represents the amount of days he has lived, and the second is for the amount of days before he can retire at 65, something he quickly states could change based on a revision in Romania’s laws.

This moment of interaction, perhaps the least plot-related moment in an otherwise intensely focused movie, is a kind of key to Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation. The Romanian director burst out into the world cinema stage with his 2007 Palme d’Or winning film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a singularly harrowing and powerful movie about a woman’s struggle to obtain an illegal abortion for her friend in 1987 Romania. In many ways, Graduation functions as an elaboration of that film’s immensely compressed dealings with the nature of bureaucracies and corruption–something, it should be noted, that forms a primary concern for various filmmakers in the Romanian New Wave.

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Friday April 21 – Thursday April 27

Featured Film:

HyperNormalization at the Northwest Film Forum

There are a lot of highlights this week on Seattle Screens, from new releases (James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation), continuing runs (Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name.) and the next films in retrospectives on Yasujiro Ozu, David Lynch and Douglas Sirk (Good MorningBlue VelvetDune and Imitation of Life, respectively), as well as the start of the Cinerama’s big Anime Festival. But if I had to see one movie this week, it would be the Northwest Film Forum’s free screening on Saturday of Adam Curtis’s HyperNormalization. Curtis is a documentarian for the BBC, and if you’re familiar with his work, this new one won’t be anything new. It’s rather another facet in his continuing argument that our modern world is the result of elite fear, a reaction to the instability of the post-industrial world, defined by corporate and governmental desires for stability and commodification. The story this time traces the careers of Muammar Gaddafi and Donald Trump, with sidelines on Russian manipulation of media and the deadening effect of the internet and social media (Our Fake World) on movements for social change. It’s three hours of horror, humor and Brian Eno, and, flawed or incomplete as Curtis’s argument may be, it explains our present moment as well as anything else I’ve seen.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo) Fri-Thurs
Their Finest (Lone Scherfig) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Kedi (Ceyda Torun) Fri-Tues

Central Cinema:

Porco Rosso (Hayao Miyazaki, 1992) Fri-Mon Subtitled Sun & Mon Only
Airplane! (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker, 1980) Fri-Tues

Cinerama:

The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, 2013) Tues Only Subtitled
Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon & Shôgo Furuya, 2003) Tues Only Subtitled
Wolf Children (Momoru Hosada, 2012) Weds Only Subtitled
Summer Wars (Momoru Hosada, 2009) Weds Only Subtitled

SIFF Egyptian:

Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Manje Bistre (Baljit Singh Deo) Fri-Thurs
Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo) Fri-Thurs
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Trainspotting 2 (Danny Boyle) Fri-Thurs
Tommy’s Honour (Jason Connery) Fri-Thurs
Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996) Fri Only
The Void (Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski) Sat Only
Sonita (Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami) Sun Only
Ayanda (Sara Blecher) Mon Only
Tanna (Martin Butler & Bentley Dean) Tues Only
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Void (Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski) Sat, Weds & Thurs Only
Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo (David Fairhead) Sun & Mon Only
Who’s Crazy? (Thomas White, 1966) Fri-Thurs

Landmark Guild 45th:

Your Name. (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Our Review Subtitled or Dubbed in English, Check Listings
Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo) Fri-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Your Name. (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Our Review Subtitled
Noor (Sunhil Sippy) Fri-Thurs
Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo) Fri-Thurs
Their Finest (Lone Scherfig) Fri-Thurs
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Trainspotting 2 (Danny Boyle) Fri-Thurs
Tommy’s Honour (Jason Connery) Fri-Thurs
Their Finest (Lone Scherfig) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Alive and Kicking (Susan Glatzer) Fri & Sat Only
HyperNormalization (Adam Curtis) Sat Only Free
Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production (Briar Levit) Weds Only

Paramount Theatre:

Selected Silent Shorts (Various) Mon Only

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Trainspotting 2 (Danny Boyle) Fri-Thurs
Can’t Help Falling in Love (Mae Czarina Cruz-Alviar) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Equinox Flower (Yasujiro Ozu, 1958) Thurs Only 35mm

Landmark Seven Gables:

Graduation (Cristian Mungiu) Fri-Thurs Our Review

SIFF Film Center:

Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986) Fri & Sat Only
Dune (David Lynch, 1984) Sat & Sun Only 35mm
Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959) Tues Only 35mm

AMC Southcenter:

Your Name. (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Our Review Subtitled Only

Sundance Cinemas:

Their Finest (Lone Scherfig) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

Your Name. (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Our Review

SIFF Uptown:

Your Name. (Makoto Shinkai) Fri-Thurs Our Review Subtitled Only
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (Dash Shaw) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

Queen of the Desert (Werner Herzog, 2015) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

The Lost City of Z (James Gray) Our Review
Free Fire 
(Ben Wheatley) Our Review
The Fate of the Furious 
(F. Gary Gray) Our Review

Free Fire (Ben Wheatley, 2016)

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Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire is as pointless an exercise in nihilistic violence as Seattle Screens have seen in some time. For some reason it’s set in the late 1970s, as a representative of the IRA played by Cillian Murphy (The Wind that Shakes the Barley) attempts to buy machine guys at an abandoned factory in Boston. The deal has been put together by Brie Larson (Room) and Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger), the latter unrecognizable in turtleneck and beard. The dealer is South African actor Sharlto Copley (Chappie), leading a gang of ruffians, one of whom got in a fight with one of Murphy’s gang of ruffians the night before. When the two men recognize each other, they begin fighting, someone pulls a gun and soon the two sides are, as they say, freely firing at each other. Later some other people will show up and start shooting at everyone, but no one, apparently, knows why. One person will survive, of course, but it doesn’t matter who, or why, or for how long, though the final shot manages the unique feat of cribbing from both Reservoirs Dogs and The 400 Blows.

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