The Adventurers (Stephen Fung, 2017)

2F4A1455_x

Almost thirty years after A Moment of Romance, Andy Lau still looks impossibly cool riding a motorcycle. He does it here as the lead of a small gang of jewel thieves in Stephen Fung’s heist movie, his first film since the lunatic double punch of 2012’s Tai Chi 0 and Tai Chi Hero. Those films are the most successful yet adaptation of the comic book steampunk aesthetic to the kung fu film, supplementing its basic conceit with a breathless storytelling verve: the on-screen titles introducing the film’s stars all end in exclamation points. The Adventurers finds Fung in a much more relaxed mode, the idiosyncratic personal expression bound within the generic form of a movie designed to meet audience expectations rather than defy them. To this end he’s helped immeasurably by Lau, who has spent much of his long career making otherwise interminable movies watchable (for example Ringo Lam’s laziest film, also called The Adventurers, released in 1995) and Shu Qi, who’s undeniable greatness as an art house actress (Millennium Mambo, The Assassin) tends to overshadow, in the West, a sparkling, magnetic movie star charm (as in Ringo Lam’s goofiest film, 2003’s Looking for Mr. Perfect). The two great stars, ably supported by a multinational cast of veterans (Hong Kong’s Eric Tsang and France’s Jean Reno) and relative newcomers (Zhang Jingchu from China and Tony Yang from Taiwan), enliven what is blatantly a Mission: Impossible knock-off (Reno of course featured in the first film in that series, while Zhang was in the latest one, a performance which amounted to nothing but a superfluous 30 second pandering to the Chinese audience).

Continue reading The Adventurers (Stephen Fung, 2017)”

Friday August 11 – Thursday August 17

Featured Film:

Dawson City: Frozen Time at the Northwest Film Forum

Two of my favorite films from this past SIFF open this week, and while I really loved Kogonada’s ode to Ozu and modern architecture, Columbus (playing at the SIFF Uptown), our Featured Film this week has to be Bill Morrison’s sprawling documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time. Springing from the discovery of a horde of silent films buried under an old swimming pool to the concurrent histories of a Klondike Gold Rush town, the North American West and early cinema, and constructed to a large degree out of images from the discovered and decaying nitrate trove, it’s a movie about a specific time and place and about the ghostly interconnectedness that links us inescapably to our past.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Wind River (Taylor Sheridan) Fri-Thurs Our Review
A Taxi Driver (Jang Hoon) Fri-Thurs
Velaiilla Pattadhari 2 (Soundarya Rajinikanth) Fri-Thurs
Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
Battleship Island (Ryoo Seung-wan) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Central Cinema:

The Goonies (Richard Donner, 1985) Fri-Weds
City of Lost Children (Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro, 1995) Fri-Weds

SIFF Egyptian:

The Little Hours (Jeff Baena) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Century Federal Way:

A Taxi Driver (Jang Hoon) Fri-Thurs
Battleship Island (Ryoo Seung-wan) Fri-Thurs
Bonnie & Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Maudie (Aisling Walsh) Fri-Thurs
13 Minutes (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2015) Fri-Thurs
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Little Hours (Jeff Baena) Sat Only Our Review
This is Spinal Tap (Marty DiBergi, 1984) Mon Only Our Review
Score: A Film Music Documentary (Matt Schrader) Tues Only
National Velvet (Clarence Brown, 1945) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Pop Aye (Kirsten Tan) Fri-Thurs
Endless Poetry (Alejandro Jodorowsky) Sun-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Step (Amanda Lipitz) Fri-Thurs
Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Wind River (Taylor Sheridan) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Nene Raju Nene Mantri (Teja) Fri-Thurs
Velaiilla Pattadhari 2 (Soundarya Rajinikanth) Fri-Thurs
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (Shree Narayan Singh) Fri-Thurs
LIE (Hanu Raghavapudi) Fri-Thurs
Jaya Janaki Nayaka (Boyapati Srinu) Fri-Thurs In Telgu with No Subtitles
Bonnie & Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Wind River (Taylor Sheridan) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (Shree Narayan Singh) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison) Fri-Sun Our Review
Tango Negro (Dom Pedro, 2013) Fri Only
Bless Their Little Hearts (Billy Woodberry, 1984) Sat Only
A Life in Waves/Snakes (Brett Whitcomb, 2017/Art Names 1974) Weds Only Digital/35mm
Turn It Around: The Story Of East Bay Punk (Corbett Reford) Thurs Only
Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977) Starts Thurs

AMC Pacific Place:

Once Upon a Time (Zhao Xiaoding) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Wolf Warrior 2 (Wu Jing) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Regal Parkway Plaza:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
Finally Found Someone (Theodore Boborol) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Seattle Art Museum:

To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

I Am the Blues (Daniel Cross) Fri-Sun
Landline (Gillian Robespierre) Tues & Thurs Only Our Review
Les cowboys (Thomas Bidegain, 2015) Weds Only

Regal Thornton Place:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review

SIFF Uptown:

Columbus (Kogonada) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Step (Amanda Lipitz) Fri-Thurs

Varsity Theatre:

13 Minutes (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2015) Fri-Thurs
Maudie (Aisling Walsh) Fri-Thurs
The Little Hours (Jeff Baena) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Bonnie & Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967) Weds Only

In Wide Release:


Baby Driver (Edgar Wrighht) Our Review

Once Upon a Time (Zhao Xiaoding, 2017)

imageproxy.php
The intersection between myth and teen drama, between cartoon wuxia and soap opera, with a dash of Hitchcock just to make things interesting, Once Upon a Time is unlike anything likely to play on Seattle Screens this year. The directorial debut of longtime Zhang Yimou cinematographer Zhao Xiaoding (he shot all of Zhang’s films from House of Flying Daggers through The Great Wall), it’s as lushly gorgeous as anything in higher profile releases like Journey to the West: Demons Strike Back, with acres of peach blossoms, castles in the clouds, and godlike beings morphing freely into animals. The story is adapted from a 2008 online fantasy novel called Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms by Tang Qi, which may have been plagiarized from an earlier online fantasy novel called The Peach Blossom Debt by Da Feng. (You can read about the allegations and compare some evidence for yourself here. I can’t read Chinese, so I can’t judge if it is outright plagiarism or simple imitation. The fact that both works were published online and that in Da Feng’s the romance is homosexual (LGBT depictions are officially banned on television and online media in China) makes the issue particularly complicated). The novel was also adapted earlier this year as the Chinese TV series Eternal Love starring Mark Chao and Yang Mi.

Continue reading Once Upon a Time (Zhao Xiaoding, 2017)”

Wolf Warrior 2 (Wu Jing, 2017)

3

Somewhat surprisingly, Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior 2 is smashing box office records across China, on pace to overtake last year’s The Mermaid as the number one Chinese film of all-time. Wu is probably the greatest Chinese martial arts star of his generation, best known here in the US for his starring role in SPL 2: A Time for Consequences, which the best action film to play here last year. He both stars and directs, as he did with Wolf Warriors, released in 2015. In the first one, he plays Leng Feng, a badass soldier who gets recruited into the Wolf Warrior brigade of the People’s Liberation Army, an elite special forces unit. During a training exercise, he and his squadmates are attacked by a multiethnic band of vicious mercenaries led by Scott Adkins who was hired by a drug lord seeking revenge on Leng for murdering his brother, and also as the cover for a scheme to steal a virus that only kills Chinese people. The film is an unabashed propaganda piece about the skills, technology and valor of the PLA, but it’s got a lot of cool jungle action and it moves along quickly.

Continue reading Wolf Warrior 2 (Wu Jing, 2017)”

Friday August 4 – Thursday August 10

Featured Film:

Ugetsu at the Northwest Film Forum

There are some fine new movies this week, led by João Pedro Rodrigues’s The Ornithologist at the Film Forum and the new Imtiaz Ali film, Jab Harry Met Sejal, playing at a handful of area theatres, along with some excellent repertory films: They Live at the Ark Lodge, Do the Right Thing (what a great choice for the hottest week of the year) at the Central Cinemas, the late George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead at the Grand, and Howard Hawks’s Monkey Business, the penultimate film in SAM’s Cary Grant series. But it’s been awhile since Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu played here, and the NWFF has it this weekend in a new restoration. It’s a ghost story about two doomed men and the women who ultimately pay the price for their ambition. It’s the best movie by one of the greatest filmmakers ever.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

NY Dog Film Festival Sun Only

AMC Alderwood:

Battleship Island (Ryoo Seung-wan) Fri-Thurs
Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
The Lion King (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, 1994) Fri-Thurs

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
They Live (John Carpenter, 1988) Thurs Only

Central Cinema:

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) Fri-Mon
The Muppet Movie (James Frawley, 1979) Fri-Mon
Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) Tues & Weds Only

Century Federal Way:

Vekh Barataan Chaliyaan (Ksshitij Chaudhary) Fri-Thurs
Toofan Singh (Baghal Singh) Fri-Thurs
Battleship Island (Ryoo Seung-wan) Fri-Thurs
Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Maudie (Aisling Walsh) Fri-Thurs
An Inconvenient Sequel (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk) Fri-Thurs
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd) Fri-Thurs
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968) Sat Only
Food Evolution (Scott Hamilton Kennedy) Tues Only
Deconstructing the Beatles: Revolver (Scott Freiman) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

The Untamed (Amat Escalante) Fri-Thurs
Endless Poetry (Alejandro Jodorowsky) Mon-Thurs

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
An Inconvenient Sequel (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk) Fri-Thurs
Fidaa (Sekhar Kammula) Fri-Thurs
Mubarakan (Anees Bazmee) Fri-Thurs
Vikram Vedha (Pushkar and Gayathri) Fri-Thurs
Nakshatram (Krishna Vamsi) Fri-Thurs
Darsakadu (Jakka Hariprasad) Fri-Thurs In Telgu with No Subtitles
Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
An Inconvenient Sequel (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk) Fri-Thurs

Northwest Film Forum:

The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues) Fri-Sun Our Review
Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) Fri- Sun
The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz) Weds & Thurs Only
Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk (Corbett Reford) Weds Only
Bless Their Little Hearts (Billy Woodberry, 1984) Thurs & Sat Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Wolf Warrior 2 (Wu Jing) Fri-Thurs
The Lion King (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, 1994) Fri Only

Regal Parkway Plaza:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Jab Harry Met Sejal (Imtiaz Ali) Fri-Thurs
Finally Found Someone (Theodore Boborol) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

Landline (Gillian Robespierre) Fri-Thurs Our Review
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
An Inconvenient Sequel (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk) Fri-Thurs
Some Freaks (Ian MacAllister McDonald) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Monkey Business (Howard Hawks, 1952) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

The Skyjacker’s Tale (Jamie Kastner) Fri-Sun
Business in the Black (Anthony Brogdon) Thurs Only

AMC Southcenter:

An Inconvenient Sequel (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk) Fri-Thurs
The Lion King (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, 1994) Fri-Thurs

Regal Thornton Place:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
An Inconvenient Sequel (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Uptown:

Landline (Gillian Robespierre) Starts Thurs Our Review
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd) Fri-Mon, Weds-Thurs
The Little Hours (Jeff Baena) Fri-Mon, Weds Our Review
An Inconvenient Sequel (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk) Fri-Thurs
Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade/Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1989/1993) Thurs Only 35mm(?) Double Feature

Varsity Theatre:

Maudie (Aisling Walsh) Fri-Thurs
Fun Mom Dinner (Alethea Jones) Fri-Thurs
Brave New Jersey (Jody Lambert) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:


Baby Driver (Edgar Wrighht) Our Review