Friday October 13 – Thursday October 19

Featured Film:

The Princess Bride in Wide Release

Our VIFF coverage is on-going though the festival has come to an end, and there’s good stuff to be seen on the art house circuit (the TWIST film festival, Ex Libris at the Grand, Days of Heaven at SAM), and I wouldn’t normally feature one of these TCM/Fathom Events repertory showings, but it’s my wife’s birthday week and this is her favorite movie, an adaptation of the book by her favorite author. If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss it this Sunday and Wednesday at any of several multiplexes around the region. If you have seen it, you might as well watch it again. It never, ever gets old.

Playing This Week:

Admiral Theatre:

Rooted in Peace (Greg Reitman) Mon Only

AMC Alderwood:

Brave (Brenda Chapman & Mark Andrews, 2012) Fri-Thurs
The Outlaws (Kang Yoonsung) Fri-Thurs

Central Cinema:

Dial M for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Fri-Tues
Hausu (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) Fri-Tues
Get Out (Jordan Peele) Thurs Only

SIFF Egyptian:

TWIST Seattle Queer Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

Century Federal Way:

Bailaras (Ksshitij Chaudhary) Fri-Thurs
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

Lucky (John Carroll Lynch) Fri-Thurs
Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968) Sat Only
Ex Libris: New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman) Tues Only Our Review
The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock, 1938) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

M.F.A. (Natalia Leite) Fri-Thurs
Finding Joseph I: The HR from Bad Brains Documentary (James Lathos) Sat Only
Danger Diva (Robert McGinley) Sat & Weds Only
EXcinema Group Show Tues Only

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Judwaa 2 (David Dhawan) Fri-Thurs
Raju Gari Gadhi 2 (Omkar) Fri-Thurs
Mahanubhavudu (Maruthi) Fri-Thurs
Kaafi Thota (T. N. Seetharam) Sat & Sun Only
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

Chasing the Dragon (Wong Jing & Jason Kwan) Fri-Thurs
Wind River (Taylor Sheridan) Fri-Thurs Our Review
Mother! (Darren Aronofsky) Fri-Thurs Our Review

Northwest Film Forum:

Tasveer South Asian Film Festival Fri-Sun Full Program
TWIST Seattle Queer Film Festival Fri-Thurs Full Program

AMC Pacific Place:

Brave (Brenda Chapman & Mark Andrews, 2012) Fri-Thurs
City of Rock (Dong Chengpeng) Fri-Thurs
Never Say Die (Yang Song & Chiyu Zhang) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Judwaa 2 (David Dhawan) Fri-Thurs
Last Night (Bb Joyce Bernal) Fri-Thurs
Til Death Do Us Part (Chris Stokes) Fri-Thurs
Wind River (Taylor Sheridan) Fri-Thurs Our Review

AMC Seattle:

The Big Sick (Michael Showalter) Fri-Thurs Our Review
So B. It (Stephen Gyllenhaal) Fri-Thurs
The Secret Scripture (Jim Sheridan) Fri-Thurs

Seattle Art Museum:

Leon Morin, Priest (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961) Weds Only
Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978) Thurs Only

SIFF Film Center:

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (Anna Chai & Nari Kye) Fri-Sun
Crash Kids Sat Only
The Painting (Jean-François Laguionie, 2011) Weds Only

AMC Southcenter:

Brave (Brenda Chapman & Mark Andrews, 2012) Fri-Thurs

SIFF Uptown:

Dolores (Peter Bratt) Fri-Thurs
Lucky (John Carroll Lynch) Fri-Thurs
International Ocean Film Tour Thurs Only

Varsity Theatre:

Columbus (Kogonada) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review
Walking Out (Andrew J. Smith & Alex Smith) Fri-Thurs
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) Weds Only

In Wide Release:

Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) Our Review
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VIFF 2017: Faces Places (2017, Agnès Varda & JR)

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At this point, it seems moot to emphasize the collaborative nature of film. With almost no exceptions, every single movie requires the work of many talented, gifted artisans and craftspeople who provide incalculable contributions. Yet, with the very valid tenets of the auteur theory in mind, films co-directed by two distinct voices are special cases, especially in the case of the magnificent documentary Faces Places. The first credited director, Agnès Varda, the octogenarian filmmaker of Cléo from 5 to 7, Le bonheur, The Gleaners and I, and other such acclaimed works, almost needs no introduction to cinephiles. On the other hand, her creative partner JR is quite literally an unknown quantity: the visual artist and street photographer’s identity is uncertain, and while he has directed a handful of films, including a short starring Robert De Niro, to my knowledge he has made no significant splash in the world of cinema until now.

Varda herself is coming off of a partially self-imposed hiatus from feature filmmaking, having made her previous and ostensibly last documentary The Beaches of Agnès in 2008. But the fusion of their two diametrically opposed figures – she an elderly, world famous director with two-tone hair, he a 34-year-old visual artist with perpetually perched dark glasses à la Godard (according to Varda) – only enhances both directors’ innate sense of exuberance and sensitivity. Faces Places‘ ostensibly modest aims of photographing and plastering large photographs of average people onto structures across France provides a surprisingly humanist and playful backdrop, against which two remarkable artists create something both profoundly personal and entirely universal.

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Perhaps what strikes most is how Faces Places‘s sense of collaboration arises. The film begins with a playful series of scenes imagining how the duo could have met (on a road, in a bakery, and most amusingly on the dancefloor), and while the actual point of first contact is much more mundane, it arises without ambiguity from a place of strong appreciation for each other’s work. Flashes of film clips from Varda (including Cléo) and some of JR’s large posted photographs appear at the very beginning, but on the whole the film relies solely upon the interplay between the two artists and their many camera subjects.

Whether it be the last woman living in a row of miners’ houses, a photograph of an old acquaintance pasted onto the side of a toppled bunker at Normandy, or the wives of shipyard workers, Varda and JR continually manage to tease out the fascinating and even fantastical via their particular mode of documentation. This isn’t the realm of, say, Humans of New York; the filmmakers do happen across incredible stories, but they are augmented and enhanced by the act of photographing, both in still and moving form. And, at least for Varda, this process is soon coming to a close: throughout the documentary her eyesight is failing, and there is a scene of an ocular injection quickly likened to “Un chien andalou.” Yet Faces Places feels no burden to be a capstone or a simple elegy, even if Godard almost makes an appearance. It is buoyed by sheer humanity in many forms, almost always managing to hit the perfect balance between the sentimental and the clear-eyed, prone to flights of fancy but persistently aware of when to come back to earth.