Friday December 15 – Thursday December 21

Featured Film:

On the Beach at Night Alone at the Northwest Film Forum

Yes, there’s a new Star Wars movie out, and it is great, truly the movie we obsessives have been waiting for, the Reddest corporate franchise movie there’s ever been. There are also two highly anticipated Chinese films opening this week: Feng Xiaogang’s Cultural Revolution-set Youth and Yuen Woo-ping and Tsui Hark’s remake of The Miracle FightersThe Thousand Faces of Dunjia. But I’ll been writing about both of those at Mubi later this month. No, the Featured Film this week has to be Hong Sangsoo’s On the Beach at Night Alone, the first of his three 2016 movies to be released in Seattle (the other two are scheduled for 2018, by which time Hong will likely have completed another movie or two). Evan wrote about it for us here way back in March, not long after it picked up the Best Actress prize in Berlin (alas, my campaigning did not earn Kim Minhee a Seattle Film Critics Award nomination). His review is much better than my letterboxd response, which for reasons I can’t entirely fathom but which nonetheless still seems to explain the movie to me, contrasts a cosmically expansive passage from the Walt Whitman poem referenced in the film’s title to the self-critiquing and celebratory chorus of Kanye West’s “Runaway”. Anyway, The Last Jedi will be out for awhile, but you can only see On the Beach at Night Alone through Sunday at the Film Forum.

Playing This Week:

Ark Lodge Cinemas:

Female Trouble (John Waters, 1974) Thurs Only

Central Cinema:

Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Fri-Tues
Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003) Fri-Tues

SIFF Egyptian:

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro) Fri-Thurs

Century Federal Way:

Sat Shri Akaal England (Vikram Pradhan) Fri-Thurs
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Sun & Weds Only

Grand Cinema:

The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990) Sat Only Free Screening
Rare Exports (Jalmari Helander, 2010) Sat Only
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos) Sat Only Our Review
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Mon & Thurs Only
Window Horses (Ann Marie Fleming) Tues Only
Desk Set (Walter Lang, 1957) Weds Only

Grand Illusion Cinema:

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Fri-Thurs 35mm
Elves (Jeffrey Mandel, 1989) Sat Only VHS

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro) Fri-Thurs
Love Ni Bhavai (Saandeep Patel) Fri-Thurs
Aruvi (Arun Prabhu) Fri-Thurs
Maayavan (C.V. Kumar) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Malli Raava (Gowtam Tinnanuri) Fri-Thurs
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) Sun & Weds Only

Regal Meridian:

The Thousand Faces of Dunjia (Yuen Woo-ping) Fri-Thurs
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman) Fri-Thurs
My Friend Dahmer (Marc Meyers) Fri-Thurs
Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Sat Only

Northwest Film Forum:

On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sangsoo) Fri-Sun Only Our Review
Porto (Gabe Klinger) Fri-Sun Only 35mm
Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) Weds Only 35mm
Beggars of Life (William Wellman, 1928) Thurs Only

AMC Pacific Place:

Youth (Feng Xiaogang) Fri-Thurs

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Jane (Brett Morgen) Fri-Thurs
Fukrey Returns (Mrigdeep Singh Lamba) Fri-Thurs
Unexpectedly Yours (Cathy Garcia-Molina) Fri-Thurs

AMC Seattle:

The Florida Project (Sean Baker) Fri-Thurs Our Review Our Other Review

SIFF Film Center:

Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988) Fri-Sun
Die Hard (John McTeirnan, 1988) Fri-Sun
Rare Exports (Jalmari Helander, 2010) Starts Thurs
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954) Starts Thurs Sing-Along

Regal Thornton Place:

Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) Sat Only

Varsity Theatre:

The Square (Ruben Östlund) Fri-Thurs

In Wide Release:

The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson) Our Review
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
The Disaster Artist (James Franco) Our Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh) Our Review
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) Our Review

The Disaster Artist (James Franco, 2017)


James Franco’s story of the making of the latest “Worst Movie of All-Time”, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (which plays monthly at the Central Cinema and other places around town) feels like all the cool kids got together to make fun of the freakiest, geekiest kid in school. I mean, the movie opens with an actual Disney princess talking about how terrible the guy’s movie is, kicking off a series of so-bad-it’s-hilarious proclamations by Hollywood successes. I haven’t seen The Room, bad movies just make me feel bad. And laughing at them only makes me feel worse. And from what I have seen, and from its depiction here in exacting recreations, seen side-by-side with the original over the closing credits, it is impossible not to laugh at The Room.

The obvious comparison is with Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, of course. But that was a film that really tried to understand its subject as an actual human being, rather than just an opaque manifestation of weirdness. We want Ed Wood to fulfill his dreams and we feel for him at every failure and (humble) triumph: it doesn’t matter that his art is terrible, at least he succeeded in making something that meant something to him. And Glen or Glenda, at least, is so personal and horrifying an object that it arguably qualifies as great art, despite the fact that the corporate video store I worked at in the 90s deemed it so bad we would rent it out free of charge.

Franco never bothers to look at Wiseau the same way: he’s too opaque a collections of quicks to have an actual personality to express, and he isn’t even allowed to be the center of his own story. This is a story about Greg, a wanna-be actor (played by Dave Franco) who met a weirdo and together they made a terrible movie that everybody laughed at. And in our degraded age that has somehow become the same thing as making something great.